Hello you lovely lot! I hope you’re well and that you’ve had a good week. My week has been a little hectic and safe to say I’m still reading my current read, so this week I wanted to share with you something super exciting that I attended from the comfort of my own sofa last Saturday.
As you would expect from a woman with a book and tea blog (and a Yorkshire lass at that), tea practically flows through my veins. If we’re talking about a ‘proper brew’, then it’s got to be builders, no sugar. I love a tisane or an infusion, but when it comes to a good old fashioned brew, I’ve always prided myself upon my ability to make a decent cuppa. I despair when people do crazy things like throw milk on a dry teabag before the water or worse… barely introduce the tea bag to the water..bleh!!
So, when I saw the opportunity to go to Tea School with teapigs, I jumped at the chance. I’ve often purchased their teas as I find them to be so full of flavour yet delicately balanced and I love their product mix and packaging. I wanted to know more about how to get that perfect brew, as well as where tea is grown, the manufacturing process and how we can get the most from the leaves.
Firstly, I was SUPER excited to receive a box of teas that we would be sampling live during the tea school, plus some cold brews which I’d never ventured into. I literally shrieked with excitement when the postman knocked on the door. Each of these mini boxes contain two teabags a piece and they’re honestly the cutest things ever.
Secondly, we were told to set up a list of items (including many, many cups) ahead of our call and also to bring snacks. Therefore I decided that I would treat myself for losing 2 pounds that week (lol) and ordered myself some of the absolutely incredible Donuts from Revival Coffee and Donuts based here in Hull. These vegan beauties are about the size of my head and were offered on a ‘knock and run’ basis so I ordered myself some of those bad boys and got my peanut butter drizzled pretzel donut ready for munching (thankfully I cut it up first!).
Also virtually joining me on my tea adventure was one of my best friends Danielle, and we had a mini call about 10 minutes before the tea school because we were too excited about getting everything set up (such nerds).
The tea school went live and we were introduced to our lovely tea experts for the next couple of hours, Andy and Leonie who were going to teach us all things tea and we were warned – there would be a quiz at the end!
So first things first, we were taught the history of tea which I found absolutely fascinating! I think we take it for granted that tea is just an everyday joy that we find on our supermarkets shelves, our cupboards and our mugs and I’ve never really thought too much about how we’ve got to where we are. Did you know tea was first referred to as early as 2737BC? Yep you read that right..BC. The most interesting thing I took away from the slide below myself was about the invention of the teabag. As with most things we’ve come to know and love, it was created by pure accident. A chap in New York packaged his loose leaf tea to some customers using a fashioned teabag to keep it dry and not spill everywhere and when his customers received it they thought it was some new hip NY thing so went ahead and dunked and drank it, like we do today! The rest is history.
We were then taught about the many different varieties of tea such as white, green, black, oolong, herbal, rooibos etc, and how they are created either from rolling or withering and how long they are fermented for by tea type. We examined the teabags and the tea within them and learnt how the teabags and packaging are made (all good for the planet, yay!).
Then, the fun stuff – TEA TASTING!! First of all we boiled our kettles with fresh water, and here’s the most important part I took away from the session – we let it brew for 3 MINUTES EXACTLY!!
I don’t know about you but I am often guilty of brewing for considerably less than that (particularly at work when ‘who wants a brew’ means making tea for 12..). I’d say at least a minute.. but never 3. I’m always worried of ‘stewing’ the tea and spoiling it, therefore waiting for 3 minutes certainly concerned me, but what a difference it makes!
Each tea we smelt and then took a spoon to and slurped in exactly the way you’d be told off for doing in normal circumstances. We sampled so many teas but my standout teas where the super fruit (it smells like jelly sweets and tastes incredible), and I loved the light taste of the white tea and rooibos. The peppermint was punchy and fresh and the everyday brew was so powerful and quite fruity. We learnt that it is in fact three different types of tea; Rwanda, Ceylon and Assam teas, and its a beautiful blend.
Interestingly we also learnt about the temperature at which we should brew our teas at. I’m sure like me you know to not ‘burn the beans’ with coffee, but with tea I’ve always just thrown 100c at it and hoped for the best. This is not the way! White, Green and Oolong actually need brewing at 80c, so either make sure your kettle is cooled for 3 mins post boil or put some cold water in the cup first! This is because only fermented and herbal teas should be brewed at 100c, everything else prefers a gentler temperature.
I also asked about water hardness on brewing time and temperature as in Hull we live in a very hard water area, so seeing ‘scum’ and segments of limescale in your cuppa is unfortunately a common sign. Teapigs advised that we don’t need to brew differently, but we should filter our water! So if you have a filter, filter your water and then put it into the kettle.
And a final fun fact for you… try your favourite brew in a red mug – it’s scientifically proven that you’ll think it tastes better!
The quick takeaways:
- Always draw fresh water for the amount you need, never reboil
- Filter your water first if you live in a hard water area
- Always brew for 3 minutes
- White, Oolong and Green Tea should be brewed at 80c
- Black and Herbal Tea always brew at 100c
So what changes have I made since Tea School? Well, I drink tea in a mug we have with a red stripe (on the lookout for a red mug!), I insist on brewing for 3 minutes and I do so at the right temperature. I’m yet to buy a water filter (there’s not yet space in the fridge for a filter) and I’m 100% going to buy teapigs Rooibos, its absolutely incredible! It’s also caffeine free and great for post workout muscle recovery, so as a novice weight lifter this will be perfect for me once the gym reopens.
What was super lovely is my ticket for admission went straight towards some of the ethical and charity work that Teapigs provide in Rwanda, which was a fantastic surprise.
Finally, I can confidently say that I was indeed over estimating my previous abilities to make tea – I think my colleagues will be very happy to have me back in the office with my new tea making skills when the time comes!
I even have a certificate to say so.
Dates available throughout July at time of publishing
Be warned and have plenty of washing up liquid at home, this is the post tea school carnage!
I’ll see you back here next week for my next book review, but as always you can catch up with me daily on instagram @papyrusandpeppermint or on Facebook with the same name.
Until the next chapter,