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Time for Tea

Sheffield's Birdhouse Tea and Batch Tea Co share their love of tea – and why a daily cuppa can soothe us and boost our wellbeing.

Bird House cup of tea
Birdhouse Tea

Tea is infused with history, travel, trade and stories of ritual. There’s something about making a cuppa, whether it's a pot to share or one just for yourself.

The British have been drinking it for hundreds of years, but it’s believed the origins of tea lie in China. It’s rumoured to have been an accidental invention, discovered after the leaves of a camellia tree fell into some boiling water.

Today there are many types of tea to enjoy and what makes a great cuppa is a conversation in itself, which in some cases could benefit from a Pantone colour chart to get it just right.

However you like yours, tea gives comfort, builds connections and starts conversations. Its calming effect isn’t just due to the chemical compounds – it’s also about how it makes us feel and who we are with when we are drinking it.

To get inspiration on what to drink, and even cook with tea, Rebecca from Birdhouse Tea Company and Marc and Owen from Batch Tea Co told us more in their own words.

Bird House tea KELHAMISLAND
Birdhouse Tea

Birdhouse Tea

I think we love tea not just for the flavour, but also the way it makes us feel and the people we share it with.

Tea has a rich history of ceremony, and although we may not take the same pace as a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in our daily lives, there’s still a ceremony.

Whether that’s using your favourite mug, the sound of the kettle boiling, the aromas as the tea brews, listening to the spoon clinking on the side of the cup - and that first sip, especially first thing in the morning!

Popping the kettle on and having a cuppa is something we do in times of comfort too. It’s something we look forward to sharing with a friend over a chat and some treats.

The variety is exceptional now, with herbal blends to help you sleep to more adventurous single origin teas.

Being able to tell stories with my tea blends is very important to me.

I love watching customers take a sip of Kelham Island and enjoy the idea of Sheffield’s industrial heritage encapsulated in a cuppa. I love telling fellow indie businesses’ stories through blending too, and the joy it brings them to know their ideas have come to life to share with their customers.

Having a huge pantry of nature’s best ingredients and being able to see how they work together in a blend is my favourite part - and adjusting measurements to create my own recipes, which have gone on to become award winners and cupboard staples.

Birdhouse Tea
Birdhouse Tea

It all depends on the type of tea when it comes to making the perfect cuppa.

For a start, the timing and temperature will need to be adjusted based on the style of tea. Ultimately, I'd recommend using loose leaf tea, fresh filtered water, and try to make time to enjoy and savour it.

At the moment, I’m very much in love with our newest collection dedicated to Britain’s best loved biscuits, with custard cream taking the lead this week.

Tea as a culinary ingredient is definitely something to be celebrated.

We began our journey eight years ago with tea-infused baked treats. Our best sellers were Earl Grey shortbread and chai-spiced bundt cakes.

Tea is not just limited to sweet treats. We were luckily enough to have our Duchess Georgiana tea used in the demo tent at Chatsworth Food Festival one year by the angling author and artist Charles Jardine. He used it to smoke freshly-caught trout. It really was incredible and so simple.

One of my favourite ways to use tea in the summer is to grind Lapsang Souchong, a naturally smoked tea, with a pestle and mortar and add it into my blender when making hummus. It’s such a great twist for BBQs and adds a new dimension.

I love infusing oils with many of our teas to jazz up salads and create marinades. Perhaps my most used 'tea outside of the teacup' hack is to infuse base alcoholic spirits to create cocktails for the tea bar. Rhubarb tea infused in gin is absolute essential sunshine sipping.

Learn more

Birdhouse Tea Bar and Kitchen, Sidney Street, Sheffield, S1 4RG

Batch Blends Tea Gift Set
Batch Tea Co

Batch Tea Co

Most people love a cuppa because it's what we've always known and there's emotional comfort in that.

[Marc] It's that feeling of closeness and care from our loved ones when we're feeling down or need a pick-me-up. It's a fuzzy morning wake-up call or a thermos of tea on an over-optimistic picnic, sitting on a blanket in a field on a wet, blustery day.

For the enthusiast, there's a whole other spectrum of enjoyment. It's the understanding of the art of tea, and where the art meets the science.

It's the huge variety and the complexity of the process. It's the care taken in preparation and the impact that has on the experience. It is the experience. It's the delicate nature and subtlety of the flavours, discovering new flavours you didn't think possible from a single leaf.

Tea is an incredible product. It’s healthy, diverse and versatile.

[Owen] It has a rich history and it’s grown by tea masters and craftspeople who often have experience gained over generations of tea production. It’s the second most consumed drink after water around the world, so suffice to say there is a lot that we could say about it.

A lot of my passion and enjoyment stems from tea’s ability to bring people together and there’s a growing and thriving tea community here in the UK.

Much like wine, everything about tea’s journey from leaf to cup will affect the end product, meaning there are many thousands of teas to experience before we even start talking about blends, flavouring and tisanes [herbal infusions].

I’m inspired by the opportunity that tea provides; by the history and the culture, by experimenting with new methods of enjoying it and by sharing my passion with whoever will listen.

Batch Tea Darjeeling 2nd Flush

Batch Tea Co's Darjeeling 2nd Flush.

Batch Tea Co

I’m a fan of Jinjunmei, a Chinese black tea from the same region as Lapsang Souchong.

[Owen] I’m also really into my aged teas like pu-er and Lui Bao, and I’ve got some amazing Korean green teas.

[Marc] In terms of my favourite teas, I can't get enough of our Darjeeling 2nd Flush or our Phoenix Black tea. That's not to just focus on our products in a big-headed way, but we genuinely sell them because we think they're the best products on the market.

You can use tea in all sorts of ways, like infusing spirits with it for your favourite cocktails.

[Owen] You can use it like a herb in your cooking, put matcha (powdered green tea) in your baking. Cooking is all about experimentation, so get in the kitchen and play around. You never know what you’ll come up with.

[Marc] You could try a spread of Earl Grey fluffy American pancakes with an Earl Grey syrup, or the same but with chai instead of Earl Grey.

The floral, orangey nature of Earl Grey lends itself naturally to so many recipes, so long as you don't overdo it. Green tea works beautifully as a broth in Chinese dumplings.

We run a Tea Bar service, where we infuse tea into spirits and make awesome cocktails, so we have a list of great tea cocktails as long as your arm...

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