I’ve decided to dedicate a small corner of my blog to a passion that occupies a large corner of my heart: tea. From now on, each month I’ll feature a different favourite tea (or tea company), with the aim of introducing other tea obsessives like myself to exciting and unusual blends. Given that I now have three separate shelves devoted to my tea collection in my apartment, and a further shelf in my office at work, I also consider this a means of unburdening myself slightly of my ever-growing tea knowledge. I hope you love my suggestions and that they inspire you to seek out new brews from all over the world. To kick off, we have the True Tea Club, with their exciting tea subscription boxes. It’s exactly as it sounds: a fabulous collection of innovative blends delivered directly to your door on a monthly basis.
Based in York, so already close to my heart (I lived there for four years and now pine a little for its glorious landscapes and excellent scones), the True Tea Club send out monthly tea subscription boxes featuring four different types of loose-leaf tea in varying quantities depending on the level of your subscription. They specialise in white, green, black, oolong, chai, rooibos and herbal tea, but there is the option to specify if you don’t want a certain type of tea in your box. The True Tea Club ‘tea library’ comprises over 200 loose-leaf teas from all over the world, and subscribers can purchase their favourites from the online shop (where they also receive 15% off). Each box also comes with four empty tea bags, so you can make up your own portable bags of loose-leaf goodness to have on the go (for those tragic times when there is no teapot or strainer to hand).
The True Tea Club are serious about tea, and I particularly enjoy their insightful blog posts on the joys of this miraculous beverage (their recent post on the merits of loose leaf versus teabags will essentially become required reading for anyone who asks me why I’m such a snob about teabags). The blends in their boxes are a mixture of the classic and the novel, and are sure to delight any adventurous tea-lover. This month, I received:
Earl Grey Rebel, which I wish I could turn into an aromatherapy candle for my apartment because the smell of it is absolutely divine. Where normal Earl Grey (especially the cheap kind in teabags; see above) can have a slightly dulled, nondescript floral aroma, this loose-leaf beauty packs a real citrus punch, a result of combining the classic bergamot with stronger, zingier lemon and orange flavouring. It’s gloriously fresh and tangy, and certain to perk up your mornings or afternoons more than any Earl Grey you might be used to. It would be fabulous with a slice of lemon to boost the citrus sensation even further, should you so desire. The tea (black Assam) is also strewn with beautiful blue cornflower petals which are a nice touch, both in terms of looks and flavour.
Vanilla Cupcake (left in the top photo) takes the slightly woody notes of rooibos – a tea I don’t really like on its own – and transforms it into a sweet, fruity delight by adding vanilla, orange, banana, papaya, rose petals, cornflower petals and marigold petals. The slightly smoky note of the rooibos works wonderfully with all the other assertive flavours, although I find the aroma more akin to a fruity smoothie than a cupcake (which is no problem at all, I should add). There is a lusciously strong scent of tropical papaya and banana, but the assertive flavour of the rooibos balances it out so it isn’t too sweet. It brews to a beautiful golden cupful, and is caffeine-free. Perfect for a sweet hit mid-afternoon or after dinner.
Rainbow Chaser (right in the top photo) is a thing of beauty, both pre- and post-brew. True to its name, it’s a colourful blend of apple, blackberry leaves, sultanas, orange peel, safflower, peppermint, lemon myrtle, lemon peel, nettle leaves, strawberry, cornflower blossoms, marigold and rose (whew!) You’d think all those flavours would jostle unsuccessfully for space, but the end result is smooth, slightly herbal from the mint and blackberry leaves but with an underlying sweetness from the citrus and apple. I often find apple can hugely overpower herbal or fruit teas to quite unpleasant effect, but the balance here is perfect. I love this one as a post-dinner digestif, because of the mint and citrus, and it’s a lovely calming cupful to savour slowly, and to admire as you spoon the vibrant, multi-coloured tangle of leaves, fruit and petals into the pot. It’s nowhere near as in-your-face as the other teas in the box, but I quite like it for this – it’s one that grows on you.
Mighty Mango takes advantage of the classic pairing of green tea with mango, peppering the mix with golden sunflower blossoms. It has a powerful fruity aroma and a sweet, mellow flavour. This is one to drink on its own and to really savour; it’s a perfect morning pick-me-up, transporting you to sunnier climes with one mouthful. I imagine it would also make a fabulous iced tea in the summer, perhaps with a slice of lime.
One of my favourite things about this tea selection is the attention to detail involved in the blends – they taste great in the cup but they also look beautiful before you brew, with their smatterings of vibrant petals, fruits and herbs. The balance between classic combinations and innovative twists is perfect, too: enough to satisfy both tea conservatives and adventurers. I’m always on the lookout for interesting caffeine-free teas to drink after dinner, too, so it’s nice that half the box was devoted to this – no boring chamomile or simple peppermint here.
Interested? All the teas come with an ingredients list, information on origins and brewing instructions, in stylish simple packaging that fits through your letterbox. What’s more, delivery is free to the UK, and they also deliver internationally. Subscriptions start from £10 a month, but you can get 50% off your first box using the code LOVE at checkout. There’s no long-term commitment – subscribers can cancel at any time.
Thank you to the True Tea Club for sending me one of their tea boxes to sample; all opinions are my own.