I love tea. When we lived out near Seattle I tried swapping to coffee but while it is a good drink it left me feeling unwell. Kate and I drink a lot of tea, I get out of bed every morning and make us each a giant mug which we drink in bed while we chat through the coming day.
Back when I was much younger, and Kate and I were dating, we use to pop up to London at the weekend and stop in The Tea House in Covent Garden (it’s still there) to stock up on different teas. Our favourite was black cherry flavoured (they don’t seem to do this one any more 😦 ) Then in the week, after SEEVIC, Luke Stoneham and I would walk home and sample various brews. I’m not sure I remember this correctly, but I think our favourite was Formosa Oolong, though we were partial to a nice Lapsang Souchong too.
Now I’m much older (42 not 17) and I find my favourite is Assam. The one pictured at the head of this post is from The Tea House in Covent Garden again, Will and I picked it up before Carmen at the RoH. It’s their posh one: 2nd Flush. Excuse the bits floating on the surface, visible in the photo, I’d refreshed the pot with more boiling water – the first cup looked much better. Assam is amazing. It is a robust tea, best drunk (I think) alongside food. It has real subtlety and can stand up alongside anything from a thin slice of Madeira Cake through to egg and chips. The revelation for me came supping a cup at The Alpine Coffee Shop in Betws-y-Coed. Don’t be fooled by the name, their teas are amazing. And don’t be fooled by the look of the place either. It looks like a friendly, clean, but functional cafe for tourists and hikers to get a cheap bite to eat. But it is more than that. Throughout my childhood whenever we went on holiday Mum and Dad would take us to umpteen tea shops, and it’s a habit I’ve kept alive. So I do know my tea shops. But I wasn’t prepared for just how exquisite the single estate Assam that they serve is. I jotted down the details so I could hunt it out but they’ve fallen out of my wallet long ago. Amazingly (it has nothing added save milk) you can taste lychee underneath the tea flavour. Do go to The Alpine Coffee Shop if you find yourself in Betws-y-Coed, and keep ordering their posh Assam!