One day last week when I was walking down a busy street, winding in and out of shops, I saw a beautiful floor-to-ceiling glass door leading into a colorful store. Naturally, I wandered in and discovered it was T2, one of the more popular tea shops around. I soon realized the high prices of such wonderful teas and matching dish ware, but that wasn’t enough to make me leave the store, even though I knew I’d be risking a lot to stay! I’m a tea lover, viewing it as a romantic and sophisticated pastime to enjoy with friends and good conversation, as was intended. The store was breathtaking, although I suspect my awe stemmed mostly from my obsession with tea, and how excited I was to have great quality surrounding me for the first time; it was filled with so many teas from around the world and every box, every teacup, every saucer was made so beautifully and seemed to have its own story to tell. At this point I discovered the “tea for one” cups, which is one teacup or mug with an individual strainer for loose-leaf tea and a lid. I had never seen this before and was so excited! Especially when I saw the sale shelf and literally stopped in my tracks; there, on the top shelf, was a teal “tea for one” mug with a decorative gold handle and rim. Among it were other colors, patterns and designs, but my infatuation with blue drew me back to choose the first cup. It’s a simple cup, but regal – very much my style. I had to move very slowly and work to contain my excitement in the store, because if anyone would be responsible for knocking something over, it would be me.
Lower down on the shelf were a variety of reasonably priced loose-leaf teas to choose from, and I almost left with a box of my favorite – Earl Grey – when I saw a deep blue box labeled “The Breakfast Bunch,” which contained 12 breakfast teas from around the world and 20 individual loose-leaf packets. What better way to discover new teas! I purchased both items (and ended up setting up an account with T2 to get 10% off in the future), and headed back to my flat.
Later that day I went grocery shopping, and when I caved to go pick up some Digestives (these are classic English biscuits shaped as discs) I saw an adorable little tin of shortbread cookies. You can guess what I ended up doing. Now with everything I need to have tea in the mornings, I’ve decided to turn it into a segment, “12 Days of Tea,” in which I will review each of my new teas and eat cookies. I like to think I know a good deal about tea having worked as a Brand Ambassador for Pique (a form of instant tea purely sourced and made in Asia), because I had to learn a lot about the science behind tea, what deciphers good quality from poor quality, and levels of caffeine for each. Coffee has more caffeine than any cup of tea, but right under it is black tea, then green, then herbal; unlike coffee, tea gives you a steady stream of energy that lasts longer and doesn’t have the caffeine crash at the end. Each type of tea has its own nutritional benefits, and throughout history cultures have consumed various types of tea for a variety of reasons, and at different times of the day. Black tea is great in the morning because of the higher caffeine level, hence, “The Breakfast Bunch.” I can’t wait to try them all and expand my knowledge on British tea culture!