Ask anyone that knows me well and they’ll tell you ‘Beth doesn’t do tea’. A lot of people find it weird when I tell them that I don’t drink regular tea or coffee because most people believe that tea is the backbone of England and that ANYTHING can be cured with a brew.
Bad day? Have a cup of tea. Broke a nail? Have a tea. Lost your dog? Tea.
Unbeknownst to me, this was all about to change as I was invited to T2 in Shepherds Bush (Westfield) for a one-on-one masterclass to be taught everything there is to know about tea and to completely open my eyes to a whole world that I knew absolutely nothing about.
T2 is a loose leaf based luxury tea brand which started in Australia in 1996, this began their mission to reinvent tea, change people’s perceptions and to make tea drinking more exciting and experimental. In the last 20 years or so T2 have branched out from Australia and are now trading worldwide, including 13 locations throughout England alone.
Although I live extremely close to Westfield and often find myself walking around the centre aimlessly and spending money that I don’t have, I’ve never actually set foot inside the T2 store. Probably because for all of these years I’d been so sure that I didn’t like tea (except for the occasional peppermint or fruit tea which I forced myself to be able to tolerate after university so I felt more like a grown up). When in fact, it wasn’t that I didn’t like tea, it was that I simply hadn’t experimented far enough to find one that I actually liked.
As you walk into the store, you’re confronted with a whole lot of colour, enough to wake even the sleepiest of people from their daze. Down one side of the shop there is a tea wall. Yes, a wall of tea, an assortment of different flavours that you can browse and sniff until you find the perfect one for you! To make sure that you’re making the right choice you can always ask one of the lovely staff members to whip you up a small sample to try and ask them any questions – they seriously know their stuff.
Image from T2 website
Each month T2 introduce a special host of feature teas and this month’s range was based on desserts. This was right up my street as I have the ultimate sweet tooth, just looking at the names of some of the teas was making my tummy growl. This range consists of a variety of loose leaf teas blended to remind the drinker of indulgent puddings.
So, which would take your fancy? • Caramel Swirl • Caramel Brownie • Banana Bake • New York Breakfast (pancakes & maple syrup) •
• Terrific Toffee • Crème Brulee • Toasty Warm (almond nougat) • Baxter’s Buns •
• Cocoa Loco • White White Cocoa •
The first one I tasted was the Caramel Swirl. I’m not a fan of actual caramel but am slightly obsessed with caramel flavoured things (especially salted caramel). It was delicious, albeit a little bit weird, I don’t think my brain could fully figure out whether it was drinking tea or hot chocolate. The least tea tasting tea I’ve ever tried – hopefully the others would follow suit!.
Next up was the Crème Brulee ( I tried this one without milk), whilst the taste was great and very crème brulee-ish, it certainly made me realise that I enjoyed these teas with milk as it allowed them to be more creamy and therefore feel like more of an indulgent treat… without anywhere near the amount of sugar or calories of the real thing. Could life get any better than that?!
I then chose the Terrific Toffee to continue on with for the rest of the masterclass. I was taught 3 different ways to make a tea latte. A tea latte you ask? It’s a black tea which you add milk and froth (a milky froth if you will) to create a cosy tea latte that resembles that of the coffee form. If you want to know more about Tea Lattes then there’s a page HERE that explains more about them (including recipes).
The first latte was made using the T2 Stainless steel flask (TIP: if you purchase one of these and take it to a store on a Friday they will fill it up with free tea! FREE FILL FRIDAY) which comes with interchangeable components (can be used to infuse water with fruit) and can keep your tea hot (or cold) for up to 6 hours! You simply brew the tea using the flask’s infuser and then add milk. This wasn’t a very frothy latte but it still tasted good!
The next latte on the list was made using an exciting contraption called a T2 Teamaker, you simply pour the tea leaves and water into the top part of the teamaker and leave to brew for your desired time (in this case it was 3 minutes), then you rest the bottom part of the device on your mug or teapot and the pressure activates it so that the water flows through freely whilst leaving the remnants of the tea leaves behind. We then added milk and frothed some more milk to go on the top using the T2 Milking it milk frother (there are also other ways of frothing milk). It was beautiful, the frothy milk definitely makes a huge difference and the loose tea leaves resulted in a slightly more fragrant flavour.
The third and final way was using the hob, everyone has one of these at home and it’s very simple. You pour the tea leaves and a little water into a pan and heat for 1 minute before adding milk and heating for a further 3 minutes – stirring all the while. When this is finished you simply use an infuser to strain the tea. As soon as you taste the tea made from this method it becomes apparent that there is a LOT more flavour, you can really taste the toffee notes and it just reminded me of Christmas! This was definitely my favourite way of the 3 (although I may think about adding froth on the top too)
As well as my wonderful masterclass I also got given a little goody bag to take home with me including the Terrific Toffee Tea that I used during the masterclass, a cute little infuser and some samples of other tea that I am yet to try! Thanks!
My lovely tutor
I learnt a lot during my masterclass and had a great time trying a variety of teas that I’d never even have thought about. I now believe that I have been converted to tea drinking, even if it’s not your average tea. It’s special tea! I would urge people to pop into T2 as it may open your eyes to the way you think about tea and you may new find a new flavour you fall in love with!
If you want to find out more about T2 then take a look at their website HERE They have various stores up and down the country so be sure to pop in and smell and try some of the amazing teas that they have to offer!