I’m sure I don’t have to tell you guys, but tea is extremely popular. Our favourite beverage is consumed at a ridiculous rate in the UK—some 165 million daily cups, which equates to over 60 billion a year. Worldwide, tea grows in fifty-two countries—and the oldest Chinese tree is over three thousand years old! Did you know that all teas come from the same plant? The sub-tropical evergreen camellia sinensis is native to Asia and is the origin of green, white, oolong and black tea; the difference being how the leaves are withered, rolled and heated—and which additional steps are taken before packaging. Black tea leaves are left to ferment until they become the required dark colour. Oolong’s process is similar, but each stage is quicker. Green tea is steamed or pan fried rather than fermented. White tea is the least processed, mostly being left to dry briefly in the sun before packaging preparation.
But what about herbal teas like peppermint, I hear you ask?! Herbal drinks are technically called ‘tisanes,’ which describe any tea-like herbal infusion made from seeds, nuts, berries, flowers, roots and leaves. Mint and lavender are amongst the most popular herbs used for tisanes, but they are called ‘tea’ more often than not. Combinations of tisanes and teas are very popular, infusing tea leaves with herbs and spices, like fruit in iced tea or cardamom chai. Many of Hoogly’s delicious recipes are made in this way, as we aim for the best possible combination of comfort, scent and taste!
Do you have a penchant for the finer things in life? The priciest teabag ever was created by Boodles jewellers to celebrate PG Tips 75th birthday. The diamond-encrusted bag was valued at £7000 and sold at a charity auction! In terms of expensive cups, China’s Tieguanyin oolong will set you back a wee bit, coming in at £1,500 per pound. On the plus side, the leaves can be brewed up to seven times before the flavour is lost. The reason for the high price is the leaves’ bright colour, their thick, crisp texture, the unique ‘ringing’ sound when the tea is poured, the nutty aroma and the extremely rich flavour!
Until the Victorian era, the English upper classes pronounced tea ‘tay.’ It was seen as being exclusively for the rich, and wealthy ladies would even resort to hiding the key to the tea caddy, or carrying it around their necks in an attempt to keep it away from the maids. Thankfully, tea nowadays is for everyone—but some of us are still extraordinarily particular about the way it is prepared. It is thought that 7% of people are so fussy about how they take their tea that they wouldn’t let anyone else prepare it. Are you a milk-first or bag-first person? Well, milk wasn’t even a factor for a long time. Early tea drinks only happened upon the famous combination as a result of trying to protect their fine porcelain: milk was added to remove some of the tea’s heat so that the cups wouldn’t crack. 93% of tea drinkers now add milk in the UK. In the Himalayas, it’s traditional to add yak butter to a milky black tea. The salt helps high-altitude inhabitants stay hydrated, and it’s so popular that po cha has become the country’s unofficial national beverage!
Tea has also had some surprising uses outside of brewing. Slightly damp tea leaves are sometimes rubbed on uncovered skin as a mosquito repellent. Tea has also been utilised as a natural dyeing cloth, a floor cleaner, meat marinade and to patch up shaving cuts! As if that wasn’t enough—gardeners can often be found using tea leaves for their roses, which love to absorb the leaves’ nutrients through the soil. Tea can also accelerate the process of decomposition on a compost pile. And you thought a Swiss Army knife was versatile!!
Now allow us to recommend our very own versatile selection of relaxing and cosy brews to carry you through the tail-end of winter and lead you into the promise of sunnier skies and happier times ahead! For those of you still shivering and dressed in sixteen layers, stick the kettle on and settle yourself down with a cup of Around the Fire Oolong tea. This reliable customer favourite is cockle-warming combination of smoky tea leaves and hearty spices, licked by flames of safflower and complemented by the fiery charm of crushed chilli. The unique taste will dazzle your senses and the calming warmth will help alleviate the stresses and strains of everyday life.
For those who like to unwind with a sweet treat, why not indulge in our delicious Blueberry Muffin tea? This gorgeous toasty rooibos, infused with succulent fruity delights, is naturally caffeine-free and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. The perfect companion to a good book or TV show!
And finally, for those who enjoy zen and balance in all things, we invite you to discover our amazing Vanilla Chai black tea. In this tantalising brew, bold and fiery chai spices are tempered by smooth and luxurious vanilla, creating the perfect measure of calm, warmth and relaxation. Once you’ve finished the first cup, you’ll want to experience the thrilling sensation again and again.
Until next time, Hoogly lovers… stay safe, enjoy your teas and tisanes, and remember to create a little hygge in your life!
Written by Chris Bedford