A Gentleman’s Guide to: Tea

Tea is perhaps one of Britain’s most fascinating cultural staples. Throughout the ages, it has marked our remarkable sense of decorum, our imperial ambitions and the rigidity of our class system. It’s started revolutions, provided comfort and generally born witness to the highs and lows of this rather unique little island of ours.


Everyone has their own way of drinking it. The warm, milky cup of comfort that’s barely been grazed by a teabag, the coppery mug that sings of the earth, the entirely milkless infusion that is generally eyed with suspicion. Some like it sweetened, some like it on its own, some have the bizarre habit of making “builders tea” which seems to consist of a thimbleful of milk applied to a very strong cup of oversteeped tea with copious amounts of sugar.


So where is all the enthusiasm for it when we come to having it done professionally? It seems rather uncommon for someone to visit a tea house and it seems to be seen as the mark of a foodie or, at the very least, someone who takes an extraordinary interest in what they drink. Go to any coffee chain in London and the air will be rich with scoffs about ‘proper coffee’ but ask the same people what they think of tea and they’ll maybe talk about Earl Grey, Assam and Chai.


For a nation of tea lovers, we are perhaps rather remarkable in the way that we think of it as purely being the blended infusion that we have come to love, without ever stopping to think that there are so many different options out there. The world of tea is bright and varied, and those that want to delve into it could do worse than look at a little site called Steepster. It’s been around for a while, and in the past generally functioned as a place in which lovers of any type of tea could find like minded individuals and share their recommendations and views.


An invaluable resource, its almost encyclopedic catalogue of blends was entirely user built and is comprised of everything from supermarket own brands, to handcrafted artisan teas. It’s open to users of all taste and those in love with Tetleys are just as welcome as those that adore the smoky notes of lapsang souchong. The users  there are more than happy to help you with any questions that you might have, and it’s one of the friendliest communities that you could hope to find on the net. Even so, many people are a little tentative about taking their first step.


Thankfully, being a newcomer has never been easier, thanks to services like Steepster Select.

Designed to take all the fuss out of getting good tea, it selects 5 of the best teas in the world each month and mails them right to your doorstep with all the equipment you need to make a good infusion. Each sample is provided with brewing instructions and a little bit of information about the blend, making it the ideal way to learn your oolongs from souchongs.


It’s rather dear, but the great thing is you only really need use it as an introduction. Once you know the basics, you can go off and explore on your own. There’s a whole world of artisan teas out there, just waiting for you to discover it. The Tea House in Covent Garden for example, is bursting with attentive staff and a wide variety of products to ensure you can make an excellent brew at home. Or you can head to one of London’s many tea bars, sink back in a soft armchair and have a cup made up for you without any of the hassle. However you choose to explore this fascinating world of aromas, blends and infusions, there really has never been a better time to be a tea lover.


Have you dived into the exciting world of tea? Are you one of those who wants, but isn’t sure where to start? Let us know.


September 5, 2017


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