The $4 British Tea That’s Taking over My Pantry This Winter (and Summer)
Because I grew up in Florida, winter as a concept downright confounded me. On more than one occasion I’ve been teased by my family for this confusion — the time I packed a bathing suit for a family trip to visit my Philadelphian grandparents in the dead of winter (just in case) or asked my mom “Why is winter a season if it’s only two weeks?” are prime examples.
Since then, I’ve spent many college and post-college years in polar vortices. One thing I learned very quickly living in very cold apartments (where my windows often froze from the inside), is to cultivate my “positive winter mindset,” and that can be done very quickly with very good-quality tea.
I’m a decidedly joy-based grocery shopper — especially in the winter when I’m deeply in need of anything that can be described as a “warm hug.” So when that same hug-like quality combines itself with the glee of getting a far-flung package in the mail, I’m damn near clicking my heels while doing a cartwheel through the snow. Wouldn’t you know, that’s nearly what I did when I stumbled upon Bird & Blend Tea Co. on a recent (early January and very cold!) visit to London.
What’s So Great About Bird & Blend Tea Co.?
During these aforementioned polar vortices, I discovered a (now sadly very-closed) local tea shop called Tealuxe. It had the most incredible creamy Earl Grey tea (aka crème de la Earl Grey) — so good that it became the flavor of my winter and summer (the seasonal in-house iced creamy Earl Grey latte tasted just like birthday cake). Once Tealuxe had closed, I went on a decade-long hunt to find something that rivaled its signature Earl Grey, and then I tried Bird & Blend’s Earl Grey Creme (EGC). Because of course the Brits, masters of all things tea, had the solution to my problem all along.
Bird & Blend has more than packaged the joy that Tealuxe had in all its Ollivander’s Wand Shop-esque variety of teas. The shopkeepers immediately lured me in with a sample of Deckchair Dreaming (an apple-y, chamomile-budded Sleepytime-style tea that absolutely tastes like a breezy nap in a hammock), and they didn’t stop there. Oh no, I got fitted for all kinds of teas for all kinds of situations (with even more ever-flowing samples).
I ended up leaving the shop with a piping-hot London Fog (naturally), plus bags of Earl Grey Creme to take home as a souvenir, one I doled out to myself ever-so-slowly. I still left the shop with a running list of must-buy teas — especially those with transporting names that match their unique blends like Moondrop Dreams (a rooibos blend with lemon and lavender), Enchanted Narnia (Turkish delight with bits of rosebuds and cocoa), and Bonfire Toffee (smoky black tea with apples and caramel).
Nearing my last bag (and two days into those wintry 4:30 p.m. sunsets), I knew I’d have to bulk order my beloved EGC, plus some other hygge-producing blends from the U.K. tea maker to keep me cozy all winter long. As you might estimate, the super-speedy shipping did set me back ~$26 USD to fly all the way to my California apartment, but I think it’s plenty worth it when my seasonal order will yield me a whopping 130 cups of tea.
What’s the Best Way to Use Bird & Blend Tea Co.?
As you might expect, brewing these teas hot (or cold-brewed in some cases) is simply the way to go. As it is still winter (and I’ve not yet solidified my summertime tea order), I have the Earl Grey Creme, Nearly Nirvana (a jasmine-mint blend), Deckchair Dreaming (an apple-chamomile Sleepytime tea), and Tea & Toast (English Breakfast with notes of raspberry jam) flavors on a rotation.
Be sure to brew your tea the Proper British Way (capitals my own): with boiling water (not just warm, boiling!) and one teaspoon of loose tea (or your bag) per cup steeped for no more than four minutes (it’ll be over brewed at that point and a bit too tannic, in many cases).
Beyond drinking Bird & Blend teas straight up, the Earl Grey Creme is just begging to be steeped into a batch of cream to whip into peaks for topping really everything (chocolate layer cakes, a spoon, a coffee). I’ve also been known to mix up a batch of Earl Grey chocolate cupcakes with lavender frosting, but feel free to take that flavor pairing wherever you so choose.
Buy: Earl Grey Creme Tea, £3.50 GBP ($4.45 USD) for 20 grams (10 cups) of loose-leaf tea, plus shipping at Bird & Blend Tea Co.
What tea are you stocking in your pantry this winter? Tell us about it in the comments below.