My tea habits have become somewhat noteworthy in an office consisting, almost entirely, of die-hard coffee drinkers (many of whom have special mugs/signs on their office doors professing their ardent affection for the stuff). Multiple times a day I stand patiently by the sink waiting for the kettle to boil, carefully decanting fragrant leaves into a flower-shaped Fortnum & Mason strainer which I then place in a mug with the slogan ‘Keep Calm and Drink Tea’. During this precious ritual, one of my colleagues will bustle in, pick up the pot of filter coffee that is always kept topped up on standby, slosh it into a mug and rush out again to deal with whatever demands university life has placed on them that day. I think they think I’m a bit mad, especially because the office has a large collection of various teabag teas, which I ostentatiously shun in favour of my fancy loose leaves. When the office kettle broke, I clamoured for one of those hi-tech models that allow you to set the exact temperature for different types of tea (only a philistine would consider brewing green tea at anything above 79 celsius, after all). Needless to say, my wish was not granted. Denmark is very much a coffee country.
However, I have a sympathiser in the form of Jane, our office secretary, who shares my passion for the good stuff and recently recommended me a tiny little tea shop in Copenhagen, ‘Den Franske Tehandel’. Fortune saw me visiting the capital a few weeks ago, and with an hour to kill I made a pilgrimage to this absolute gem of a place, its simple exterior (a very Scandi-chic display of pastel teapots) belying the true wealth within. It’s a franchise of Palais des Thes, a fine tea company based in Paris who pride themselves on choosing the best suppliers, buying responsibly and ensuring they use only the finest ingredients in their teas – no artificial flavourings. The highlight of my visit was managing to converse about tea in Danish with the shop assistant for about twenty minutes, which basically constitutes fluency in the language in my eyes, although I also came away with a fabulous range of teas and eyes opened to the prevalence of artificial flavours in some of the cheaper tea brands. I’ve been spoiled for life by that fateful visit to Copenhagen, because you really can taste the difference with these teas – they are beautifully refined and subtle, and a pure joy to drink.
Although I took home an intriguing lavender oolong, a grassy white tea, a cherry blossom green tea and a vanilla white tea, this orange blossom green tea wins tea of the month thanks to its truly intense orange flower flavour, so difficult to get right without it tasting overly soapy. However, a steaming cup of this is like wandering through Morocco in the summer, the delicate green leaves harmonising perfectly with the soft, fruity perfume of orange flowers. In fact, you can barely tell the difference between the aroma of this tea and the scent of my indoor lemon tree when it is in flower, so perfectly balanced is the blend. I didn’t think the dried flowers would pack the same flavour punch, but they absolutely do.
This is my favourite to drink in the morning with a fruity, summery breakfast – roasted apricots on granola, perhaps, or an apricot and blueberry breakfast crumble. The fruit and flowers just seem right together. If you love Middle Eastern flavours or the perfume of citrus blossom, this is for you. You can order it online at the Palais des Thes website, visit one of their nearby franchises…or head to Copenhagen!