From growing up in France and spending my twenties in the US, my drink of choice had always been coffee. This was all going to change when I first arrived in England, a country where most problems are sorted out with a cup of tea. Just as I was getting used to my daily builders’ tea break, one of my French tea-loving girlfriends introduced me to Mariage Frères’ loose tea. I was astonished by the difference. Still, it seemed like too much effort to use a tea infuser everyday.
Around the same time, another tea-lover friend of mine introduced me to what was then an upcoming brand of English tea, Teapigs: whole leaf tea in tea “temple” mesh bags. The burst of flavour and taste in the practical format I had been looking for.
As I strolled into Teapigs’ 10th Birthday Tea Party last week, it became obvious that a lot had been going on since my first cup of Teapigs.
Back in 2006, founders Nick and Louise went on a mission to get the nation drinking real tea again. Their high quality teas (with none of the dust found in regular tea bags), quirky packaging and innovative tea “temple” mesh bags was an instant hit.
Ten years on, the range is now 28 products strong, the tea “temples” are biodegradable, Teapigs teas are available in thousands of shops and the company has offices in London and in the US.
Louise is a passionate professional tea taster who has travelled the world sourcing all kinds of teas. She strives to find the best quality teas for Teapigs to use. The current range includes traditional black teas; aromatic herbal teas ; white, green, oolong, matcha and rooibos teas as well as a “grab and go” matcha green tea with spring water and juice. Using whole leaves, berries, herbs, flowers and spices, Teapigs’ teas and herbal teas are an explosion of taste and flavours.
Always on the lookout for business ethics, I was glad to see that Teapigs has very good ethical and environmental credentials. The English Breakfast (everyday brew) Blend has Rainforest Alliance certification. The packaging is not only printed with vegetable-based inks but it is also fully recyclable and the cardboard used to make the packaging is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
Sourcing its signature everyday brew from Gisenyi in Rwanda, Teapigs also works with the Point Foundation supporting orphans and vulnerable young people in the area. A donation to the Point Foundation is made with every pack of everyday brew sold. Teapigs also matches donations made on its website and runs regular fundraising efforts. So far they have raised over £150,000.
Back at Teapigs HQ, Louise took us through a tea tasting session to get our retronasal smell going. Louise is obviously a professional. My slurping was much less elegant 🙂
I learned that fermentation or “oxidation” makes the difference between white, green, oolong and black tea. Oolong tea (which is partly fermented) was a revelation. So much more fragrant than white or green tea and not as strong as black tea. In fact, just perfect.
We then tasted some of Teapigs’ herbal blends. A delight to the taste buds that is nothing like other brands’ herbal teas. I highly recommend the peppermint tea and the liquorice and mint tea.
To celebrate its 10th birthday, Teapigs is taking a big red Routemaster bus around London tomorrow to give away LOADS of free tea! Full details of the Teapigs Free Tea Day can be found here! If you are not London, you can still celebrate with this birthday treasure hunt on the Teapigs website.
Since my visit to Teapigs HQ, I have been enjoying their delicious birthday herbal infusion “Jelly & Ice Cream”, a (very) addictive blend of apple, berries, orange peel with a hint of natural cream and biscuit flavouring. I am just loving it!
Happy 10th Birthday Teapigs! Cannot wait to see what Nick and Louise have in store for us next.