Hoogly Blogs / vegan

Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-Sabi

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope you are all safe and well. While we are still under the long shadow of the pandemic, I thought I’d share something I’d discovered over the last month that made me sit up and pay attention; something that offered a well-timed shift in perspective, and simply put a smile on my face. As with our company’s beloved Hygge ethos, the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi provides an inspiring and philosophical way of looking at the world, and—just like Hygge—offers a way of reducing stress and feeling better, even in difficult circumstances.

In essence, the ancient Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi seeks to counter the world’s obsession with perfection, trends and the purchase of new and fancy items. It views imperfection as meaningful and valid, and in its own way, beautiful. It offers a way to navigate the unpredictability of life by embracing the idea that all things pass, that what we have now is truly worthwhile, even if it is damaged or worn, as long as we love it, and appreciate it.

Wabi-sabi is a cracked and re-glued vase. It’s a misshapen, homegrown fruit or vegetable. It’s a Lego construction built from a box of leftover pieces. It’s an old floor with scuff marks that echo a life well-lived. It’s a button wonkily re-sewn on an old jacket. It asks us to appreciate simplicity, modesty and imperfection in all its guises. By learning to be content with our lot without yearning for more, we can select what we truly love and need, offering a cheery antidote to a materialistic, mass-produced society.

Wabi-Sabi can help us in our everyday lives, too. It allows us to pause and take a mindful step back from the relentless pursuit of perfection, offering the opportunity to count our blessings and rejoice in the way things are rather than the way they could be. It does not diminish or reject the complexity of life and its trials, but chooses to see life as temporary, incomplete and imperfect. A great example is the Japanese art of kintsugi, in which cracked pottery is filled with gold-dusted lacquer to highlight its age and imperfection rather than concealing it.

By utilizing seven Zen aesthetic principles, including Kanso: simplicity, Shibumi: beauty in the understated and Shizen: Naturalness without pretension, Wabi-sabi can also be used to help curate and shape your home. By following the principle of less-is-more, Wabi-sabi seeks to reduce consumption and lessen the strain on our planet. It allows us to appreciate the natural world around us and encourages us to incorporate long-lasting options like wood, steel and stone into open, spacey decors. If you can’t use these natural materials, then you can always take inspiration from nature in your choice of colours, suiting your mood and personality, and bringing a rustic, humble aesthetic into your life that will enable you to treasure the space around you, and imbibe its transience. By getting rid of unloved or unused items, you allow your most cherished items to flourish and shine, and you increase the tranquillity of your surroundings.

Hoogly fans will be delighted to learn that Wabi-Sabi has roots in a Japanese tea ceremony introduced by Zen monk Murata Shukō, who incorporated simple, plain and imperfect Japanese pottery and utensils into the original Chinese ceremony that was traditionally luxurious and lavish, in order to help guests better appreciate what was in front of them. Whereas guests had previously drunk tea and admired the full moon; Shukō wished them to appreciate a half-moon, or a moon covered by clouds. Shukō did not entirely replace the extravagance of the traditional ceremonies, choosing instead for coexistence, but he is credited as being the founder of the more minimalist Wabi-cha ceremony, which then led to Wabi-sabi.

And to celebrate Wabi-sabi, as well as Hygge, why not indulge in one of our most delicious brews, Apple Strudel, which combines Chinese and Japanese green teas, as well as a gorgeous combination of spices, fruit and petals, giving you a taste of the ancient, as well as a cheeky slice of Danish delight!

Until next time, stay safe, look after each other and try a little Wabi-sabi in your life!

 Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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COME DINE WITH ME

COME DINE WITH ME

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope everyone is doing well. It’s great to see the country creeping back into some sort of normality after such a long and difficult few months. While there still seems a fair way to go in this surreal and unprecedented journey, we can at least begin to do some of the things that have been denied to us during lockdown, including eating out! This is a favourite pastime of mine; I love everything about the experience of dining away from home. I especially enjoy the simple pleasure of not having to cook my meal: this is an underestimated joy, and is matched only by the delight of avoiding the washing up. These factors most easily explain why I spend far too much time (and money) in restaurants and pubs—but I can’t help it. There’s something magical about it.

Another huge part of the pleasure of eating out, of course, is the sociability. I think this was one of the things I found hardest about lockdown; the inability to meet regularly with friends and family over a table of good food and catch up on gossip, or put the world to rights with far-reaching debates and conversations. The love of cuisine is something that binds us together; and the experience of the restaurant is something that is best when shared. It starts with the perusal of the menu; the giddy anticipation that comes with the wealth of choice; the slight disappointment that your decision must be boiled down to only one selection, and the promise of something sweet to end the meal.

Then comes the wait. The mouth-watering pause between waiter/waitress visitations, and the smell of the kitchen wafting through the room. And then the plate arrives, placed in front of you like a dream, artfully presented or piled high; a glorious, indulgent reason to be cheerful. The first bite is everything: perhaps you go quiet for a moment. Block everything else out. Spend some alone-time with your main course; taking in the flavour, the texture, the delicate acrobatics of your taste-buds as they are caressed by the food. Once you’ve got to grips with the treat in front of you, the conversations can begin again; declaring how delicious your meal is to others as they confirm the quality of their own dish; swapping stories of where inferior or superior versions of the same meal have been experienced in the past, or perhaps tales of cooking the same dish at home with good or bad results. Sometimes things are left unsaid, however. Jealous glances followed by rueful thoughts. I wish I’d chosen what she’s having. I knew I should have ordered chips. Would it be wrong to ask for seconds?

But food aside, as I mentioned earlier, the loveliest part of dining out is being in the company of those you love and cherish, experiencing a joint adventure that keeps us connected and in touch, creating memories that sustain us through the working week, and through the hardships that inevitably arrive at our door. And the most recent global hardship has made the art of eating into a quite different experience, but one that I think will gradually help us move away from the darker months that preceded these. It will take time, of course. There is naturally, and rightly, an undercurrent of caution to getting back into our old habits, but I think a shared love of quality grub, conversation and lack of kitchen chores will eventually become second-nature once again.

And, of course, there is no better way to round off an evening—whether you’ve been at work, out for a meal, or spending the day at home—than flipping on the kettle and settling down with one of our amazingly relaxing Hoogly teas! We have a huge range of brews that represent our cosy, mindful ethos, helping you find that perfect moment of calm in the storm of modern life. The Hoogly range have scents that are as enticing and delicious as their flavours, and will soon find a special place in your daily routine—and maybe even your heart! We’re all about treating yourself to something special, which is why we love having a meal out, and which is why we design all our teas to put you, the customer, first, helping you focus on the simple things in life that bring you joy and calmness.

Our recommendation today is: Baked Apple Chai black tea. This versatile delight is an excellent accompaniment to any occasion and climate, working from a base of mellow Sri Lankan black tea, which overlaps with the dazzling flavour combination of apple, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla pieces. Throw some blackberry and lime leaves into the equation, and you’ve got yourself a luxurious mug of happiness that will put a smile on your face time and again.

So until next time, stay safe, go at your own pace, and love tea!

Written by Chris Bedford, 

www.hooglytea.com

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Summer Sensations!

Summer Sensations!

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope you are all safe and well. The summer is here and the sun is (mostly) shining, and the world is creeping back to something like ‘normal.’ Now is the time to discover all the ways in which you can make the most of the warmer weather with our spectacular selection of luxury brews, which are the perfect accompaniment to a hot day, whatever your plans!

As you know, Hoogly is all about relaxation, mindfulness and being kind to yourself, and what better way to chill and unwind than sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine, fresh air and all the scents of summer. To make the most of your sunny experience, we heartily recommend one of our latest and greatest brews: Apricot Blossom. This is an elegant combination of Chinese Pai Mu Dan white tea and Sencha green tea, underscored by a refreshing drench of fruity flavours. It’s perfect for an afternoon tea, a picnic, a sunbed sidekick, or even as a cheery reminder of good weather on a classic English rainy day. This charming tea comes in pyramid bags or loose leaf, and makes an ideal gift, putting a smile on the faces of your friends and loved ones, and giving them a treat they can return to time and again.

Another newcomer is the tantalising and tempting Tiramisu black tea, a rich and indulgent pick-me-up that combines coffee beans and cocoa within a body of Sri Lankan black tea and roasted dandelion root. This creamy indulgence is an exhilarating new way to enjoy a classic cup of tea, and absolutely perfect to share with family and friends. Give your taste buds something to exciting to work on this summer, whether you’re serving with a picnic, enjoying at breakfast, or capping off a delicious meal!

Our next newbie is also incredibly versatile, ideal for any occasion or season! Introducing Ginger Biscuit rooibos tea! This is Hoogly’s take on the classic snack: a light, warm and subtly spicy blend of rooibos and ginger that will hit the spot no matter what. This winning blend is a great way to relax at the end of a long day, and equally good as a treat, or an accompaniment to any kind of meal. And, yes, we’ve even tried it as a cheeky caffeine-free midnight cuppa, and it does the trick! Just don’t tell anyone your secret!

Summer is not summer, of course, without a lolly—and our brews are perfect for frozen family fun! We recommend Sweet Orange Rooibos for your icy delight—it’s bursting with South Africa’s unique rooibos taste, and alive with juicy, zesty citrus flavours and a playful hint of strawberry! Simply brew the bags for twice as long as usual, pour the contents into a mould of your preference, and leave in the freezer overnight. When you wake up, you’ll have a sensationally sweet summer treat for all the family!

If lollies aren’t your thing, then give a Hoogly ice tea a go! Place two teabags of your choice in a heat-proof pitcher, pour in four cups of boiling water, and leave for around five minutes. Then remove the teabags, sweeten, add slices of fruit for a lush twist, and pour in five or six cups of ice until they melt. Allow everything to settle and then whack it in the fridge until the sun gets too hot to handle, and you’re good to go! For an ice tea that’s full of glamour and inner balance, why not try our Rhubarb and Vanilla green tea, which carefully caresses tart and sweet flavours, creating a note-perfect accoutrement for a chill day in the sun.

So that’s it for this time, Hoogly lovers. Stay safe, enjoy the weather and keep flipping the kettle on!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com 

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A walk on the wild side!

A walk on the wild side!

Greetings Hoogly fans! As the lockdown is gradually eased, many of us are taking the opportunity to step outside and cautiously enjoy exercise in the wider world once again. Spending such a long time indoors has been truly testing (even with our endlessly varied and delicious Hoogly brews to enjoy!) and now that we are starting to stretch our legs, the surroundings that we’ve barely seen in weeks take centre stage once more. But it’s not just the beautiful woods, forests and parks, replete with plump trees, radiant flowers and vast swathes of glistening grassland that demand attention; it’s also the amazing creatures that dwell within. Personally, I love nothing better than to watch wildlife busily going about its business: squirrels scurrying and pestering nuts; ducks with fluffy chicklets drifting across glinting ponds; geese sculling overhead in military formation; foxes on a dusk prowl, flitting into hedge furrows with a flash of orange. And, of course, there are the hundreds of varieties of dogs, hauling their humans around, blissfully unaware of the world’s problems, tongues lapping out like slabs of bacon as they urge yet another lap of the park. Don’t forget, too, the insects, arachnids and reptiles that dart about, burrowing, hiding, marching, flying and hunting beneath and around our feet—a whole other world of stunning intricacy, complexity and imperious design…if only we look close enough.

Watching animals go about their lives has always given me a sense of calm, an escape from whatever else I’m thinking about. It’s oddly comforting knowing the simple, binary prerogatives of these creatures: safety, warmth, food, sex. But it’s not always simply about survival; there are secrets and magic to be found in the wild; chase and play, fun and games, mating rituals, elaborate communication, tender acts, and lifelong relationships. There is so much to admire—and envy—In the animal world that I thought I list a few amazing facts for your enjoyment—nuggets of information that will dazzle, surprise and give you fresh perspective on our wild neighbours!

    

  • In 1945, a Colorado farmer decided chicken was on the menu, and chopped one of his rooster’s head off with an axe; unfortunately, his aim was slightly off, and despite removing the head, the rooster’s brainstem remained mostly intact, and a clot saved it from death by blood loss. When ‘Mike’ continued to run around, the farmer knew he had something incredible on his hands, and soon the rooster became famous, delighting and shocking visitors for eighteen months, before he eventually succumbed to the inevitable!
  • The bombardier beetle, when threatened, cooks up a chemistry set of destruction in its belly: hydroquinone, hydrogen peroxide, catalysing enzymes and water, a jet of which shoots out of its rear end with a loud pop, scaring and stinking predators away! Thankfully, the beetle also has an inner valve which closes so that the beetle doesn’t explode!
  • Some lizards and salamanders can ‘drop’ their tails when a predator grabs it; this process of autotomy happens when the lizard contracts certain muscles, cleaving a vertebra and causing the tail to fall (and sometimes wiggle independently to further befuddle an attacker) Often, a new tail tip made from cartilage may grow back, but the bones are gone forever.
  • It may not surprise you to know this, but cats have adapted to skilfully manipulate their owners. A study showed that cats that want something from their humans emit a unique, high-frequency purr, which is of a similar pitch to the impossible-to-ignore wails and cries of a human baby, ensuring we soon top up the bowl and put a smile on moggy’s whiskers.
  • In 1986, a five-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo, knocking himself unconscious. Jambo, the head of the gorilla group, took the situation into his own hands, guarding the boy, and stroking his back, keeping his curious fellow gorillas back. When the boy came round and started to cry, Jambo stepped back, allowing keepers to rescue the boy unharmed!
  • An African Grey Parrot called Alex, according to his handler, had the ability to understand concepts, recognise colours and shapes and knew around 100 words, including some the parrot had made up himself! When Alex saw his first apple, he christened it ‘banerry,’ a portmanteau of ‘banana’ and ‘cherry,’ two fruits he already enjoyed!

 

To celebrate the outside world, and all the majestic creatures that inhabit it, why not indulge in one of our finest summery brews: Spiced Orange herbal tea! This fresh, zesty delight has a generous dose of mulled spices, and is infused with a fruity centre that will quench your thirst and thrill your taste buds at any time of day!

Until next time, stay safe, be Hoogly, and don’t let the cat twist your arm!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hoolgytea.com

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IKIGAI

IKIGAI

Here at Hoogly, we base our products on the concept of Hygge: the Danish lifestyle ethos that values cosiness, mindfulness, and focussing on the things you love the most. Although Hygge is our driving force, we’re always on the lookout for other concepts and ideas that can have a positive influence on our everyday lives, and we think we’ve found just the ticket with an ethos that originates on the other side of the world in Japan.

Ikigai (pronounced ick-ee-guy) is, at its most simplistic, your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Finding your purpose, or a calling, can be a huge factor in living a long, healthy and fulfilled life. But Ikigai goes further. It asks you to examine yourself, listen to your instincts, and to step outside of the practical routines we adopt in our day-to-day lives, moving closer to the things we feel passionate about.

Your ikigai is a combination of four elements:

-What you love.

-What you are good at.

-What the world needs (your mission)

-What you can get paid for.

Ikigai sits in the centre of where these four elements converge, and helps clarify what makes our life worthwhile. It’s worth spending some time examining the list, making detailed notes on each category, and seeing if there are any overlaps that you hadn’t thought about before. It could be that this is the starting point for finding your ikigai. And even if things don’t seem rosy now, many people who live by ikigai use the concept as a means of looking forward to a brighter future. Much like Hygge, Japanese people see happiness as the sum of small joys experienced in everyday life, whether that is in work or at home. And the more you focus on what it is you actually love, the more you increase the small—and big—joys you will experience.

In order to unlock our purpose, we have to cling on to curiosity. Philosopher and civil rights leader Howard W Thurman states, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The Japanese have some of the longest-living people in the world, and there’s a strong chance ikigai plays some part in this. Author Dan Buettner, who has written about longevity, thinks it is not enough to simply know your purpose: you have to put it into action. “In Japan, older people are celebrated, and they feel obligated to pass on their wisdom.” This gives them a focus outside of themselves, in service to the wider community. In Japanese work culture, the team is valued more highly than the individual, and workers are driven by being held in high esteem by their colleagues, being thanked, and being useful to others.

If your work is a strong part of your ikigai, it does not necessary follow that working harder and longer is vital to your happiness. Fulfilment comes, in many cases, from feeling that you are making a difference or helping people. Small gestures matter, even something seemingly trivial as acknowledging someone and smiling. Bigger gestures follow later, as we discover what we love, what breaks our heart, and what makes us come alive (or possibly a combination of all three!) When we know more about these three things, we are a step closer to changing our lives—and even the world—for the better.

We’ve got a pretty strong idea of our purpose here at Hygge: making incredible tea that helps you unwind, relax and find that special moment of bliss in your busy life. We feel good about what we do, and we want you to feel good too, which is why all of our teas are vegan—as well as delicious!

Hoogly’s pick for this month? Well, it has to be Genmai Cha green tea! Like ikigai, this brew comes all the way from Japan, and is now enjoyed as a worldwide delicacy in its own right! Indulge in the intriguing mix of vibrant sencha and toasted rice, combining to create a fresh and invigorating brew that will give you a brand-new way to feel refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed!

So, until next time, it’s ikigai and goodbye!

 

Written by Chris Bedford

 

www.hooglytea.com

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Black and White Tea!

Black and White Tea!

Greetings Hoogly lovers! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year! How are your resolutions coming along? Congratulations to everyone who is attempting Veganuary! This is a truly exciting and virtuous mission, helping the planet and its animals in numerous ways, and we at Hoogly are fully behind you! Don’t forget that all of our tantalising teas are vegan, so you can complement your new menu with our relaxing, eclectic selection of scent-sational brews!

Aside from being tidier and better with money, my resolution for the new year is to indulge in a regular routine of retro movie nights. This is a simple and relaxing pleasure I have drifted away from in recent years, especially since the advent of streaming, and the constant deluge of new content provided by the giants of TV subscription. When I was younger, my parents introduced me to some of their favourite films, and watching them I discovered a whole new world that seemed distinct and separate from the films I was watching at the time. Firstly, the oddity of black and white. It took a while for me to fully understand that this was a limitation of technology and not evidence that previous generations had actually lived in a world without colour! As I grew older, the films my parents raved about so much began to take on new meaning for me. I began to appreciate the craft involved, the style and scale of some of the productions, the beautiful orchestral music, the purity of the dialogue, and the magnetic draw of the shining stars that appeared in them. Humphrey Bogart, Laurence Olivier, John Wayne, Vivien Leigh. Names my parents spoke about with such reverence, such joy, such fond recollection. I began to understand why Mum and Dad had watched these films over and over, endlessly, never tiring of what was being offered. It was an escape—all good movies are, of course—but these films of the forties, fifties and sixties seemed a breed apart. They were reassuring. Comforting. Like an old friend. They reminded people of a different era, and in many ways (although reality almost certainly differed) a better time. A period of respect and understatement. A period where awful things were implied but not shown. A period in which everything felt ordered, safe, aligned. An idea that, for ninety minutes, nothing else mattered, and everything was as it should be.

From the hundreds of films my parents introduced me to, a handful have stayed with me forever, and now make up the hit-list of retro movie night. But before I get into the details of this glorious rollcall of cinematic delight, I must share with you the proper way to enjoy your relaxing retro evening.  First of all, you must wear pyjamas. If you don’t own a pair of PJs, then a t-shirt and lounge pants are acceptable. Secondly, you must have a duvet or sheet: you never know when the movie night may extend beyond reasonable hours—it might be midnight already when Gone With the Wind starts, and you’ve got four hours to get through yet, so it’s wise to make arrangements to sleep where you sit! Thirdly, you need copious snacks, preferably popcorn, but I will allow any reasonable assortment of chocolates, crisps or nuts. Fourthly, you must have an endless supply of Hoogly Tea at your side! As you know, like Hollywood movies, our teas range from the classic to the exotic, from elegant simplicity to flavour fiestas, taking your around the world on a chilled and refreshing journey. So get your kettle and bags ready—lights, camera, action!

And so to my favourite retro films. If you haven’t seen these already, then you’re not living your best life. Sort it out!

 

  1. Brief Encounter. A chance meeting of a married woman and a doctor at a steam-covered train station leads to a romantic affair, and a dramatic exploration of loyalty, regret and the choices we make. Has one of the greatest—and most English —endings in cinema history.
  2. Wuthering Heights (1939) This adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel is a wind-swept and moody saga of love, loss and obsession, with a sweeping and underrated orchestral score, and fine performances by Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. Have a hanky ready!
  3. Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart plays night club owner Rick, who agrees to help his former lover and her husband stay a step ahead of the Nazis—but old feelings are soon rekindled. This masterpiece has some of the greatest lines of dialogue ever written, a beautiful score, high drama, and never fails to delight, no matter how many times you watch it.
  4. Carve Her Name With Pride. The true story of Violette Szabo, an English war-widow who became a secret agent in occupied France during World War 2. A film about courage, love and doing one’s duty, this a fitting tribute to a remarkable heroine—the first woman to be awarded the George Cross. Included in the film is the reading of a love poem Szabo was given to help encrypt messages while she was in France—it is a thing of rare beauty, and the moment the poem appears will stay with you forever.

 

If you fancy a seductive treat to add a little bit of Hollywood glamour to your movie night, why not try one of our Hoogly hot cocoas?! We have three decadent flavours to choose from: Luxury Hot Cocoa, Cocoa & Mint, and Salted Caramel Cocoa! These sweet sensations will knock your cosy socks off, and keep you coming back for more! So give one an audition today!

Until next time, good luck with all your resolutions and enjoy your movie night!

www.hooglytea.com

Written by Chris Bedford.

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Turn Over a New Leaf in January!

Turn Over a New Leaf in January!

Greetings Hoogly lovers! Today I’m going to talk about the New Year, and all the opportunities this brings to treat yourself to some Hygge magic. Yes, it’s soon going to be January, that wonderful period of calm reflection, a period collective exhalation after the mayhem of December, turning thoughts away from shopping lists and decorations towards longer-term goals and projects.

Every year, my resolutions are the same: eat better, spend less, tidy more, and read more books. I like to think I’m relatively consistent in sticking to them—at least until mid-March. But the resolution that brings me the most joy and satisfaction is the book-reading. I think carving out time to chill out and become absorbed in a book is one of life’s true pleasures, and one of the most Hoogly things you can do. Hygge, after all, is about focusing on the things that bring you comfort and happiness, and doing those things in the cosiest way possible. So, this January, get in your PJs, pull on your big socks, plop yourself down in your softest chair, and let yourself be fall in love with the literature!

And if you need some top tips for books to read in 2020, then here are Hoogly’s top five books to inspire, thrill and comfort!

  1. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. This is a stunning gift book for all ages, featuring exquisite illustrations and beautiful conversations between the four animals that will lift your heart, stir your emotions and bring a smile to your face. One to keep on the shelf forever.
  2. Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley. A stark departure from the first choice on the list, this is a wonderfully disturbing little horror novel about a couple who have lost their young son. In the mother’s despair, she turns to a group called The Beacons to find answers about the visions she sees of her son, but in her desperation to find hope, she may possibly unearth something terrible. A gothic rural setting and a pacy narrative make this essential reading for the dark nights of winter!
  3. Blue Moon by Lee Child. Jack Reacher is back! The six-foot-seven former military cop must use every inch of his brawn, logic and intellect to get the better of two criminal gangs who are vying for control over the town where Reacher has just shown up. If you haven’t read Lee Child before, fasten your seatbelt for the best thriller writer in town! The plots are devious, the action is intense, and Jack Reacher one of the coolest, most addictive characters ever created! Electric, white-knuckle stuff!
  4. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. A romantic novel set in 1930s Kentucky, this absorbing read tells the story of Alice, who, disillusioned with married life, joins a travelling library led by feisty and rebellious Margery O’Hare. But not everyone is overjoyed with the women’s desires to spread the love of books and they come up against stiff resistance that threatens to crush their dreams. Can the women’s belief in each other, and the power of books, win the day?
  5. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. Now the hit BBC show is underway, huge swathes of us are rediscovering the classic His Dark Materials series, in which plucky Lyra and her shape-shifting animal daemon embark on an adventure that will bring them in contact with witches, child-snatchers and warrior ice-bears, whilst seeking to discover the dark secret at the heart of her world. This is the first in the original trilogy that has captured the imagination of children and adults alike with its imagination, narrative skill and epic world-building.

 

And what better way to accompany your bestselling book than a beautiful brew? Make Hygge one of your New Year’s resolutions and enjoy the scintillating scents and tantalising tastes of Hoogly Teas, bringing tranquillity, relaxation and joy wherever and whenever you need it.

If you aren’t quite ready for the end of the festive season, why not spend January indulging in our uniquely wonderful Christmas Cake Rooibos—a harmonious blend of fruit and spices that will delight friends and family, even on the coldest, darkest days. Truly, a gift that keeps on giving!

If it’s luxury and elegance you’re after, then look no further than White Choc & Chilli White Tea! This creamy and sweet Chinese brew is an aromatic treat, perfect to add a little heat to winter, with a taste that will lure you back time and again!

So that’s it for this month, friends. I hope Santa brings you everything you wish for, including some good books and, hopefully, some delicious Hoogly delights! You deserve it!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

 

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A Clean Start

A Clean Start

So, I’m not sure if anyone told you, but Christmas is coming. Looming ominously and gathering size and speed, like the giant rolling ball in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. And when it is done, we are most likely to have an influx of stuff. Good stuff. Prezzies, gifts, gestures of goodwill, items from our Santa wish-list. Bag after bag of generosity from friends and family, sitting in our living rooms or on our spare bed, waiting patiently for us to finish our leftover sandwiches and fifth box of chocolates, and maybe also a few naps, before attention is turned back their way, as we try to find a home for all those socks and scarves and underpants; those games and toys and books. Not to mention the fancy and oversized kitchenware and the bathroom smellies. Now I don’t know about you, but in my house, those bags are usually left unattended for a few days before I can summon the energy to find everything a home. This is because, in years gone by, I have been a little bit…how best to put it…messy. I’ve let my tidiness and organisation slide and adopted a policy of ‘that’ll do,’ with a dollop of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ And, unsurprisingly, when the festive season hits and I add more stuff to an already heaving system, things usually end up going awry.

But there are worse things at sea, right? What’s wrong with a bit of mess? No harm, no foul. Well, actually, there may be something to the old saying about ‘tidy house, tidy mind.’ If we think back to all those moments in our lives when we had a massive clean, I’m willing to bet that nine times out of ten it was a hugely positive experience. Personally, I remember tidying my student digs after weeks (OK, months) of screwed up essays, takeaway pizzas and parties, fuelled by the fear that government agents in hazmat suits were ready to burst through the door and arrest us for crimes against hygiene. And when we were done—weary, sweating and with ten binbags in hand—the place looked amazing and we felt amazing. Being clutter free and clean made us feel invigorated, creative, focussed and happy. We vowed that, from that moment on, we would never be messy again. And we weren’t. For an entire week. And then life happened.

But my point is, tidying works. But we so easily forget. There seems to be a disconnect; the euphoria of being clutter free and relaxed, followed by the gradual accumulation of stuff, and a feeling of underlying stress as a result. It boils down, in essence, to control. If our space is clean and tidy, we feel in control, on top of our tasks, ready to focus on others things. If we are messy, that feeling of control seeps away, creating an ever-increasing feeling of helplessness. Too many rooms, too much grime, too little time. And it’s hard—really, really hard to create change.

But help is at hand. There are now a wealth of writers, bloggers and Instagram stars who dedicate themselves to helping others find the tranquillity and calm that comes from tidiness. Marie Kondo, author of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ offers a wonderfully precise and ruthless ethos to kickstart your cleaning routines. Here are five useful tips from her writing:

1: Does is spark joy? Those items/clothes/books etc loitering in drawers, boxes, cupboards. Do they actively give you proper, smile-inducing, laughter-provoking pleasure? If not, get rid!

2: Don’t let your family see you tidy: Parents, especially, can often try and ‘save’ things from being thrown out. Own your choices, go solo, and if it doesn’t spark joy, you know what to do!

3: Tackle categories, not rooms. For example, deal with all clothes first, then move onto books. It gives you focus and stops you creeping from room to room!

4: Nostalgia is not your friend: Get your blinkers on, people. Don’t be distracted by old photographs, or some pretty rock you found at a beach once, or that blade of grass that Lady Gaga walked on at a festival that one time—focus on your categories and don’t fall down the memory lane rabbit hole, because that’s a perfect way to achieve absolutely zero!

5: Purging feels good. You can give the bulk to charity, or children of friends and family, and the rest can be recycled or put in the bin. You will feel so much lighter, freer, happier and content knowing that you’ve rid yourself of things you neither need nor care for. And, once this stuff is gone, the things that do spark joy are clearly accessible without solving a Krypton Factor puzzle in order to find them!

And…breathe.

Of course, we at Hoogly love the idea of being kind to ourselves. We don’t claim to be the tidiest people in the world (Come on, we make a lot of cakes!), but we do try to follow the Danish ethos of Hygge as best we can, which shares some key themes with Marie Kondo’s books. In Hygge, we seek to fill our lives with the things we love the most: people, food, mementos and places. If it doesn’t bring us cosiness, contentment and happiness, then we say farvel to it—good riddance. Because Hygge is about treating yourself well, spoiling yourself with life’s little luxuries and simple pleasures, and remembering to make a habit of it!

We think Marie Kondo would really dig our Hygge-inspired Hoogly teas. For a start, they are delicious—but they are also crafted with no unnecessary excess—just simple ingredients, well chosen, allowing the scent and taste to speak for themselves.  And not to brag, but our tea boxes are also small, neat and easy to stack! So our kitchen will look pristine… just as soon as we’ve organised all the stray plastic bags, Tupperware, pan lids, bottle tops and recipe books…

So, how about our recommended tea of the week?

Well, what better than a brew that makes you feel cleansed and refreshed inside and out? The cool and classic Chill Out Mint! Our invigorating menthol cuppa not only tastes amazing, but, in some cases, can also aid digestion, freshen breath and ease certain headaches. It’s also naturally caffeine and calorie free, meaning you can enjoy this sumptuous tea without feeling sinful. So simply sit back, relax and let the natural flavour wash over you.

That’s it for now Hoogly fans. Hope you have success in pruning your possessions, and we’ll see you again soon for a nice cup of tea and a chat!

Written by Chris Bedford.

www.hooglytea.com

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WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU COCOA!

WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU COCOA!

The weather has turned. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and for most of us, works start and ends in the gloom. Umbrellas are out, flapping and spraying; puddles pepper the roads; the grass is muddy, the pavements are slippy, and you find yourself wearing more and more clothes, outside and in. A few weeks of this grizzly, shivery nonsense, and it feels like it’s been this way forever. Does the sun actually exist? Was its warming fingers on our eyelids just a distant, lovely dream? Did we really go to the beach that time? Were the scents of the barbecue a figment of our collective imagination? Did we really go out for a picnic in the park and watch the dog nosedive into the cocktail sausages?

Yes, we did all those things, and more. But they are in the past. To be filed and treasured. Now, things have changed, people. This is the season for staying in. The season for cranking up the fire or the heating, pulling out your cosiest socks and jumpers, and gathering the board games from the attic. This is the season for scented candles, a good book and a hot water bottle. It’s the season for treating yourself to all the joy of your biscuit cupboards, and then refilling and doing it all over again. In other words, it’s the season of Hygge!

We all have different ways of overcoming the dark and the cold and the winter blues. The Danes use Hygge to focus on all the people and things that make them happy and content—and once they have decided, they introduce these treasures into their lives at every given opportunity. It sounds simple, but it actually takes a bit of getting used to; our fast-paced, digitised society makes it harder and harder to take a step back, breathe, and be mindful of what really matters in life. But with practice, and the help of our nearest and dearest, all of us can be as gloriously cosy and happy as the Danes!

One of the most important elements of Hygge is making connections: with the things you love, but also with nature and its beauty, and the people around us. In the social media age, there can be a tendency to become isolated as a result of the ease of interaction through our phones and computers, with all our news being announced, jokes being told, and stories being shared in a text box, rather than face-to-face. Hygge gently invites us to gather together, in groups large or small, to remind ourselves of the joy and comfort of belonging; of baking messy cakes on a rainy day; of watching a scary film in the dark and chucking popcorn at your mates when someone screams; of having titanic Scrabble matches, whilst keeping an eye on that aunt who gives herself extra points; of simply having a nice cup of tea with friends and remembering the good old days, and planning better ones for the future.

And speaking of cuppas, don’t forget to supplement your cosy gatherings with the only brews that recreate the Danish delight of Hygge—Hoogly Teas! We have a wide range of delicious, healthy, scent-sational and vegan teas to choose from, including rooibos, green tea, herbal blends and traditional tastes such as English Breakfast, peppermint and Earl Grey.

But this year, we’re going one better in the cosy stakes. We’re about to roll out the ultimate winter comfort; the sweet pick-me-up that makes all things better; the treat that thrills kids and adults alike. A night-time settler that is just as good the following morning. In fact, its always the right time for this legendary beverage.

Drum roll please…

Yes, you’ve guessed it.

HOT COCOA IS LANDING!

Feel free to picture confetti falling, balloons rising, trumpets blaring, crowds cheering, and Maroon 5 playing energetically in the background.

(This is our ideal launch party, but the band haven’t replied to our emails as yet)

We have three incredible flavours to choose from: Salt Caramel cocoa (which uses pink Himalayan salt), Mint and Cocoa and Luxury Hot cocoa! All of our fabulous flavours are vegan, and full of the wonderful antioxidant goodness of the cocoa bean, and all made with natural ingredients, including nectar sugar.

We know, we know…unbelievably exciting. We’ve only just stopped dancing ourselves.

Winter is now officially sorted. When the wind howls outside, when rain droplets slalom down the window pane, when the clouds gather and threaten to blot out all memory of summer, pop the kettle on, take a seat, and chill with the globetrotting, taste-tastic, super-cosy phenomenon that is Hoogly Cocoa! …And then get all your friends round and tell them about it!

Or don’t.

Sometimes it’s worth keeping things this good a secret.

Until next time Hoogly lovers…have a happy, spooky Halloween!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A Time of Waste

A Time of Waste

Plastic is a pretty remarkable material. It’s cheap, strong, long-lasting, and can be made into any shape you can imagine. Humans are so enamoured with the invention that since the fifties, it’s estimated that we’ve created over eight billion metric tonnes of plastic. Although plastic has been put to good use and has been a success in many areas of our everyday lives, the impact of its supreme durability is now becoming horribly evident.

 

Nearly eighty percent of plastic made in the last seven decades has been discarded onto landfills or into the general environment. Less than ten percent is recycled, and the rest is incinerated. This has led scientists, conservationists and activists to call on the population, from top to bottom, to urgently reassess the way we think about and use plastic.

The statistics they cite are damning. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the sea each year, and some experts estimate that, by the middle of the century, there will be more plastic than fish, and that 99% of all seabirds will have eaten some plastic during their lives. The sea also contains over fifty trillion particles of micro-plastic—five hundred times the amount of stars in our galaxy. Sea turtles can mistake plastic bags for tasty jellyfish, floating plastic can tempt a swooping seagull, and young perch will readily eat plastic over plankton. Scientists think that this waste effects over six hundred species, and the damage done by consuming this indigestible poison is often lethal, which is not only an obvious disaster for the creatures themselves, but also has a knock-on effect on our species, as we eat so many sea-dwelling creatures ourselves. Owing to the fact that plastic can degrade into fragments tiny enough to pass through the gut and into the flesh of fish and other animals, we are already consuming the waste plastic that is polluting our oceans. This is not good news, as some plastic is toxic and can cause disruption to the normal functioning of hormones. Additionally, plastic has been known to attract other spilled pollutants and poisons like a magnet, which simply heightens the importance of removing it from our oceans.

It’s not just the sea that is affected, of course. There are over three hundred billion pieces of plastic in the once-pristine Artic, and some of the remote Pacific Islands have some of the highest levels of plastic pollution anywhere on the globe.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s now thought that plastic may be contaminating the air. Microparticles from cosmetics and microfibres from synthetic clothes wash into our sewage systems and enter treatment plants, finally finding their way into the sea. Some particles, however, combine with the sewage and are then used to fertilise farmers’ fields. Once these dry, and the wind picks up, these particles may be blown into the atmosphere where they can be inhaled as we go about our lives.

The good news is, the world is beginning to respond to the problem. The United Nations has engaged in a ‘War on Ocean Plastic,’ creating a CleanSeas campaign which have notable signatories, including the UK and France, Brazil and Italy. The UK itself has enforced a ban on microplastics in “rinse-off” cosmetics, and has tried to raise awareness in communities about the best ways to recycle, and how to avoid single-use plastics where possible.

And we at Hoogly are doing our part too. Our ethos, Hygge, is about being cosy and content, focussing on the things that bring you joy, and most importantly, being kind to yourself. But being cosy starts in your surroundings and your environment: we want the natural world, from which we take so much pleasure, to be as beautiful and healthy as possible, so that it can provide purity, safety and comfort to us now and in the future, helping us find balance and tranquillity in our everyday lives.

To this end, all of our tea pyramids are fully biodegradable, giving you peace of mind every time you flip on the kettle and indulge in our tasty range of brews. In addition to this, we will very soon be packaging and presenting our tea pyramids in fully biodegradable cellophane bags made from natural, renewable sources. The new NatureFlex bags are static-free, compostable, heat-seal viable, and won’t biodegrade on your shelf. So now you can relax, enjoy the Hoogly moment, safe in the knowledge that you’re sharing a smile with Mother Earth.

And if you’re looking for help navigating your way through our delicious selection of eclectic treats, look no further than our Hoogly Brew of the Week: Early Grey black tea. Our riff on an old classic provides the perfect way to unwind in style, with a delicate blend of Sri Lankan tea leaves, infused with bergamot oil and complemented by zesty lemon and sweet orange, offering a scintillating scent as well as a treat for the taste-buds!

That’s it for now. Until next time, look after yourself and the beautiful world around you—and don’t forget, for a huggable cuppa…it has to be Hoogly!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Take my breath away.

Take my breath away.

Can you remember the first song you ever learned? The first song you ever loved? Incy Wincy Spider? Round and Round the Garden? The Hokey Cokey? Our fascination and obsession with music starts early and, for most of us, locks in for the rest of our lives. The rhythms and comforts of the womb are replaced by the rhythms, beats and melodies of the songs our parents teach us, and the tunes we hear in the world around us. And there are so many reasons we listen, so many reasons we enjoy songs and music: the joy of dance and expressing ourselves; relaxation; hearing a story, or something that relates to us; hearing something that makes us laugh or cry; being blown away by the power or soul of the singer or band; being mesmerised by the intricacy of the arrangement, the sounds of the instruments both familiar and strange, the movement of the melody, the surprises that musical genius offer. Our relationship with music almost feels innate, coiled in our DNA, fundamental to who we are and where we are going. It has the ability to transport us instantaneously to a moment in our past, a form of time travel keenly linked to our emotions, both joyful and sombre. As soon as song that means something to us plays, our mind can recall seemingly every detail about the time and place we last heard it, and what was going through our minds at the time. It can be quite surreal, unsettling even. It shares this trait with our sense of smell, which can also wrench us away from the present, back to a time and place we had long since forgotten.

I remember the first time I discovered the angelic low timbre of Karen Carpenter’s voice at aged ten, listening rapt to such songs as Close to You, Yesterday Once More, Goodbye to Love and There’s a Kind of Hush. When I played these songs, something came over me: an instant sensation of peace, tranquillity and unadulterated pleasure. I listened on loop and couldn’t get enough. I was slightly miffed to find out that I wasn’t the first person to discover The Carpenters; I had been keen to spread the word and claim some of the glory for myself. But when I told my parents about my new obsession, my mum smiled and told me that it wasn’t a great surprise. She told me that when I was a baby, I was a pain in the backside because I would never fall asleep. I would cry and scream and generally cause headaches and chaos. The only thing that calmed me down and lulled me into slumber was a drive in the car with the cassette player turned up, listening to the heavenly tone of Karen Carpenter. I was shocked. I had no memory of this whatsoever, but it was somewhere deep down in my subconscious, just waiting to be released once again. The power of music. And it made me enjoy the Carpenters even more.

Another wonderful aspect of music is the way that it can unite us. Anyone can enjoy music, share in it, sing it, dance to it, and some of the most pleasurable musical experiences are formed at gigs and concerts and festivals, with huge crowds massed for a singular purpose, moving as one organism as the musicians and singers hypnotise and entertain. For me, the unifying power of music took place across generations. When I was young, my Dad introduced me to the Beatles, who had taken over the world when he was a child, creating an excitement and ‘mania’ the likes of which may never be seen again. In the car he would play their early tracks: soulful, roaring rock and roll numbers, but layered with incredible harmonies, jangling guitars and thoughtful lyrics. Hearing the ‘oohs’ and ‘yeah, yeah, yeahs,’ I was intoxicated, and I set about listening to everything they had ever recorded, which took me on a journey through a decade of musical genius. My Dad, however, had very strong views about the Beatles later work, saying he felt ‘betrayed’ by their more experimental, surreal and kaleidoscopic songs, feeling that they had moved too far away from the sweet, ‘pure’ love songs that had been so important to him (and his failed romances) when he was a young man. I didn’t feel the same way, and this was the first time I had experienced music as a divisive topic, but it wasn’t the last—just simply something to accept with a subject that inspires such an emotional response.

The next song that I obsessed over was ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin. Now, this wasn’t because I was a fan of the Hollywood movie Top Gun, with which the song became eternally linked, but, well…OK—full disclosure—I am a HUGE fan of the Hollywood movie Top Gun, and I’ve watched it about fifty times…but I love the song even more. The first time I heard the strange, otherworldly synth bass riff that drives the power ballad, I was transfixed. It felt magical, dreamlike; almost as though it had been written just for me. I listened to it over and over, revelling in the effect it had on me, and found myself, for the first time in my life, truly connecting to a song’s lyrics. As an anxious child, I had always escaped my worries by turning inward, to my imagination and safe spaces in my head, and hearing lines like turning and returning to some secret place inside and, more powerfully, …turned to hear you say, if only for today, I am unafraid, I felt comforted and understood, even though it was a song about romantic love, which at that point I didn’t understand, it was also a song about finding safety and shelter. Well, that and flying supersonic jet planes whilst wearing massive aviator shades.

We at Hoogly understand that a good cup tea is something almost as universal as music, a simple pleasure that brings people together, provides comfort and joy, and a national treasure that elicits strong emotions—even if it sometimes provokes a disagreement or two! (Milk first or second, anyone?)

With the cosy ethos of Hygge as our guide, we’re dedicated to creating experiences that surprise, scintillate and soothe: teas that, like the best songs, will become obsessions, urgent routines, and then trusted old friends. We want you to indulge in our wide variety of tastes, travelling the world with our eclectic mix of brews, but always feeling like you’re in the safety of home.

This week’s Hoogly recommendations are:

-Danish Pastry Rooibos: With the aroma of chocolate and cinnamon tinkling like piano keys over the powerful bassline taste of delicious pastry, this Danish delight will thrill and seduce tea lovers like a catchy chorus.

-Cosy Chamomile herbal infusion. This is a lullaby of a brew, perfect to snuggle up and unwind with, as the smooth chamomile is perfectly harmonised with rose hips, lemon verbena and lime leaves.

-Darjeeling Afternoon Black Tea. Discover the ancient melody of Himalayan Darjeeling, combined with Sri Lankan and Chinese black teas, to create the perfect pitch and tone, giving you a refreshing liquor of delicate complexity.  This is the way tea was meant to be taken.

 

That’s all from us for now. Have a wonderful summer and don’t forget to give Hoogly a chance! It may well take your breath away!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Going vegan

Going vegan

At Hoogly Tea, we adhere to the Danish ethos of Hygge: a cosy, relaxed way of living that challenges us to focus on the things we love the most, and asks us to incorporate these things into our life as much as possible in order to be regain balance and tranquillity. It is an ethos that allows us to indulge in fluffy socks and naughty treats. It inspires us to create a soft nook of joy in our house, and spend all day reading, or invite friends and family around to bond over board games and baking. It reminds us to explore the beauty and restorative joy of nature, and releases us from the stresses of the everyday slog, while whispering gently in our ear: be kind to yourself.  It’s no surprise that the Danes, who created Hygge, are amongst the happiest people on the planet, and through our range of Hoogly teas, we wish to pass on this happiness, making the flick of the kettle switch a starting point for a whole new—and more mindful—way of experiencing the world.

And in the spirit of exploring new ways of looking at the world, Hoogly is proud to announce our recent Vegan certification, meaning that our entire range is now both Vegan and Gluten-free! We know there are a lot of Vegan Hoogly fans out there, and we’d like to take this opportunity to say hello, thank you for your support, and to talk a little bit about the lifestyle that over three million people in the UK have adopted.

Veganism, in essence, is about making a series of choices in both diet and lifestyle that will help alleviate animal suffering and exploitation around the world, with particular focus on reducing animal slaughter, poor livestock living conditions, the use of animals for cosmetics, makeup, furniture or clothing, as well as attempting to counteract the negative effects of the meat and dairy industries on the climate and environment.

Excitingly, incorporating a plant-based diet can provide a variety of health benefits, and there are many reasons why this may be the case. Vegans avoid red and cured meats, which have been linked with colon cancer. In addition, plant-based diets tend to be higher in fibre, fruit and vegetables, consumption of which usually leads to better long-term wellness. Vegans are also statistically leaner than non-Vegans, perhaps owing to a lower consumption of saturated fats, which in turn may lead to a reduction in diabetes and heart disease.

One aspect of the plant-based diet that often surprises people is the way that cutting out dairy can improve health. Milk products have been linked to a number of chronic ailments, including acne, nasal congestion, digestive issues and migraines, and there are plenty of delicious alternatives to try if you wish to give it a go, such as almond milk, coconut milk and soy milk.

In terms of food, you can enjoy many of your favourite meals such as curries, pizzas, lasagnes, pasties and stews with wonderful, plant-based ingredients—not to mention a whole load of cakes, cookies and brownies! Nowadays there are a huge amount of resources available to give you mealtime ideas: bookshops have entire sections devoted to Vegan recipes, and you can find simple and effective recipes at the click of a button online. And speaking of the web, one of the great parts of adopting this lifestyle is networking with likeminded people on social media, sharing hints, tips and photos, as well as offering support and unity, and keeping the message at the forefront of people’s minds.

And the message is, at its heart, is to act with compassion—to our fellow beings as well as our planet—which is something that we at Hoogly are very keen to promote. For our part, we make all of our tea pyramid bags out of plant extract, which means they are fully biodegradable. It’s a small, very positive step, which, combined with other similar steps, will help us get closer to the kind of world we all wish to see.

Finally, as Summer draws near, we’d like to recommend a juicy June gem…Berrylicious herbal infusion. This fruity treat is bursting with the gorgeous flavours of apple, raspberries and strawberries, counterbalanced by the rich, caramelised notes of roasted dandelion root. So, drag out that deckchair, pop on your sunnies, and indulge in the luxurious taste of sunshine, smiles and endless balmy nights.

Disclaimer: Good weather not guaranteed. Umbrellas advised.

That’s all for now, Hoogly heroes. Be kind to yourself and others, and try adding a little Danish delight to your life…

 Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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