The title might be somewhat misleading, because this month’s tea of the month is not one tea, but rather a whole world of teas, ever expanding. It’s such a simple yet wonderful idea that I almost wish I’d had it first. Tea Tourist send a selection box of six loose-leaf teas every month, supplied in taster-sized portions (in a letterbox-friendly container). They source the finest and most unusual teas from suppliers around the world, introducing tea lovers to new and interesting varieties which they can then order direct from the suppliers themselves, usually with a discount for being a Tea Tourist customer. The company has been running since March 2016 and already seem to have become a huge success, with their trademark blue boxes and hot air balloon insignia all over social media.
Each tea comes with a little card detailing the supplier, the ingredients, and lots of useful information: the brewing time, the water temperature, how many teaspoons to use, and what type of cake to drink it with (no, really. Though it isn’t always cake. Sometimes savoury food is involved too). The easy-to-read details will appeal to tea nerds like myself, and the information on each tea company adds a lovely personal touch. The caffeine level indicator is a vital tool, too, particularly for someone like me, for whom after a few cups the very mention of caffeine can cause palpitations. It’s good to be able to look at your tea collection and find the perfect tea in an instant, whether you’re craving high caffeine for those tricky mornings, or zero caffeine for a relaxing bedtime cup.
Best of all, though, as the name suggests, Tea Tourist takes you on a tea adventure, enabling you to try a wealth of interesting blends that you would never otherwise discover. My favourite example of this has been the Turmeric Root Chai from the Chai Kai Tea Company, included in the March box. I would never normally choose a turmeric tea, as I’ve had them before and found them rather disgusting. The smell of this blend was powerful with turmeric, but I persevered and made a cup anyway. I am heartily glad I did, because the combination of green tea, spice, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, peppercorns and coconut is rather addictive. It has a warming, almost savoury kick with a delicate creaminess from coconut and a very slight earthy aroma from turmeric. Best of all, it isn’t an alarming yellow colour. I’ve been enjoying a cup of this most mornings at my desk, and it feels like it’s doing you a world of good as well as being wonderfully soothing and aromatic. As Tea Tourist pointed out, when I posted my enraptured feelings about this blend on Instagram, that is exactly what they are all about. I was truly taken out of my tea comfort zone, with excellent results. As they say, this is an adventure not a holiday (which also applies to pretty much all travel I’ve ever undertaken).
Other favourites from the March box were the Wilderness Honeybush tea by Leopard Friendly, a light, decaffeinated tea reminiscent of rooibos but slightly sweeter and less woody, all profits from which go towards Cape leopard conservation, and the Mulled Apple Brandy from Nothing But Tea, a beautiful white tea blend with a warming sweetness from apple and spice. It really does smell like brandy, but fortunately doesn’t pack so much of a punch when brewed! (Although it did just the job as a pick-me-up after a very stressful day of racing around the shops on a Saturday).
I’m currently enjoying my April box, particularly the wonderful variety of tea within – it includes a pouch of beautiful hibiscus flower tea, which I am excited to try cold brewing, as I’ve just acquired a stylish Japanese cold brew teapot. The Thieves’ Brew from Bev’s Tea is an unusual Sri Lankan blend produced on a very small scale, the type of thing you would never normally come across, which for me is what Tea Tourist is all about. It has a delicious coppery aroma and is wonderful at breakfast. Shades of Grey from MD Tea takes the classic Earl Grey and adds the wonderful flavour of rose, which I love in black tea. There is also a highly unusual Pumpkins Go Bananas blend from Leaves of the World, featuring apple, carrot, ginger, pumpkin, coriander and bananas, which smells like the milkshake of dreams.
The thought and care that goes into each Tea Tourist box is evident, from the quirky, eye-catching packaging through to the practical tea sachets, heat sealed for freshness, and the accompanying tasting notes. Best of all is the variety, including a great range of decaffeinated options (good ones are quite hard to find, in my experience – plain rooibos just doesn’t cut it for me, I’m afraid), choices perfect for cold brewing, if that’s your cup of tea (so to speak), and intriguing variations on the good old black tea. The generous discounts they offer with their Tea Partners and the comprehensive emails sent to subscribers with links to purchase the teas means it’s easy to acquire more of your favourites from each box, and you will definitely want to.
Thank you to Tea Tourist for generously providing me with your fabulous tea adventure boxes; all opinions are my own.