On Friday evening I attended a tea Mixology workshop at Bluebird Tea Co in Brighton. I had never heard of a tea mixology course before but as an avid (addicted?) tea drinker, when the man got me a ticket for my birthday, I was incredibly excited!
The evening began with a small group of us clustered around the tea counter in this beautiful shop, ordering drinks from the two lovely staff who were there to run the workshop. The ticket included free drinks for the evening whether hot or cold, or from the list of tea cocktail recipes that Bluebird have created.
It was therefore only logical to start with a mulled apple strudel cocktail which was a steaming blend of Nuts About You tea, apples, rum and cinnamon. My goodness it tasted delicious: the tea was full of almond flavours and really infused its way into the apple-y drink, and it was served in a mug I could clutch my little hands round.
For the first part of the evening, we learned about different kinds of tea: how they're picked, where they're from, their history and how they should be prepared. All kinds of tea (actual tea, not herbal or fruit blends) come from the same plant, but the different processes they go trough produces different qualities. For instance white tea is picked by hand and is made of the first leaves the plant produces. It has a delicate flavour and develops almost no caffeine. Green tea should be brewed at 80 degrees, not at boiling temperature as otherwise you can burn the leaves and the taste becomes bitter.
We also looked at samples of white, green and black tea, hybrids such as oolong, herbal and fruit blends, rooibos tea and South American mate. Bluebird also do a line of matcha tea which I'd never tried before: matcha is powdered tea, usually green, which is dissolved in water, so you actually drink the leaf rather than brewing and straining it. I've heard a lot about matcha as it suddenly seems to be everywhere and is included in baking, but I'd never tried it. The staff therefore immediately made some for us to try, serving it both neat and blended with vanilla and almond milk (so yummy). Matcha has a lot of health benefits (hence the trend) and antioxidants, particularly as you end up consuming the whole leaf.
My favourite part of the evening came next: the tasting. As I said, the staff could not have been more enthusiastic or helpful. They brewed about ten different kinds of tea for us to try including white, green and black teas, different blends and flavours, brewing each for the correct time.
Each one was delicious!
Actually, I lie, there was one tea blended with coffee beans that I didn't like, but I don't like coffee and that's what it tasted like to me. The coffee drinkers on the course loved it!
So, as I was saying, each was delicious! A few favourites were Nuts About You, the almond-filled tea that occupied my cocktail, Enchanted Narnia, a fruity herbal blend with a delicate taste of roses, and a wonderful tea called Mowgli's Fire Chai which was packed with an array of spices and had so many layers of flavour. Slurp!
For the final part of the workshop, we each got the opportunity to make three tea blends of our own, choosing a base and adding ingredients that we liked. It was lots of fun to experiment and I will share my blends another time. This was accompanied by a Mojitea cocktail: as the name suggests, like a Mojito but infused with a blend of tea (although I can't remember which one!).
To finish off the evening, I put a dent in my bank balance and treated myself to a Tea Advent Calendar, which I am really looking forward to starting. I also loved that you could get a sample size of any tea in stock for £3, which is enough leaf tea to make about ten cups without breaking the bank. The ladies in charge were very patient, hauling tin after tin down from the shelves for us to inhale the wonderful scents and chose what we wanted. Heaven! Plus as a course attendee, everything was 10% which is basically free so it's good economics to stock up on something as deliciously enticing as Dark Choc Chilli Chai (a personal favourite).
However, I think my ultimate favourite of the night was the Spiced Pumpkin Pie blend which was delicious as tea, but also tastes incredible brewed into a Pumpkin Pie Chai Latte. It's a black tea blended with pumpkin spices and carrot, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and everything that makes you happy in autumn, and served in frothy milk with honey and a dusting of nutmeg, which made this absolute perfection. It's also limited edition so I had to get some to try this at home.
So I had a wonderful evening, thanks to the knowledgeable and enthusiastic people behind Bluebird Tea Co, and thanks to the man for finding such a brilliant treat for me. If you're interested, you can find Bluebird Tea Co here in time to pick up their new Christmas blends, and I recommend following them for their brilliant recipes for hot, tea-based drinks and tea-inspired recipes.
Please can I go again?
PS I did try to recreate the Pumpkin pie spiced latte when I got home and it worked like a charm. I made a giant mug and slouched on the sofa in my pyjamas, candles lit, re-watching Gilmore Girls. This is the life!