So many beautiful independent cafés seem to be popping up all over the place, specialising in more rare and flavoured teas and home-made cakes – and they’re doing really well. Take one of my favourites in York, for example. Usually more of a coffee drinker myself, I thought I’d give these teas a try and see what all the fuss is about.
I was recently given a selection of loose-leaf tea from The Tea House, Covent Garden – one of which was Strawberry and Cream flavoured black tea. Strawberry and cream flavoured tea – what a quintessentially British idea – and, smelling the packet, it really does smell like strawberries and cream – it’s like I’ve stepped into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory!
There are, apparently, very strict rules for what temperature and for how long you brew how much tea at a time: so, after 3-5 minutes of 2 scoops of tea at 100°C, I poured the tea through my newly-acquired tea-strainer and added some milk. Again, there seem to be many different opinions regarding whether or not to add milk to black tea, though in the UK it seems to be fairly widespread to drink black tea with milk. Granted, the strawberry and cream flavour was slightly weakened by adding milk, but you could still definitely taste it coming through. It was a lovely, if unique, taste. And, a few cups later, I would indeed drink it again – though maybe not every day.
But what is this obsession with drinking these exotic tea flavours? And why the resurrection of loose-leaf tea? It definitely seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon; and rather appropriate alongside the huge popularity of vintage crockery and tea cups and TV programmes such as The Great British Bake Off . It leads me to wonder whether, during a troubled economic time and the decline of Britain as a world power, this is a comforting look back to Britain’s past, a grappling for some sense of unified identity and belonging in a time of great change.
Whether or not this is the case though, I can’t help but love a bit of tea and cake.