My eagerly-awaited birthday present from my wife was an evening of tea-related learning at the Bluebird Tea Co (now called Bird and Blend) in London. After a quick rush into London from work, I arrived in plenty of time, so was able to browse the shop for a while before Hannah arrived. There were so many blends of tea to look at, and some fascinating contraptions to assist with the brewing. At around 6.30pm, the shop started to fill up with other participants and the odd passer-by. We made some name tags and were offered a menu to tea cocktails from which to choose. I went for the warm apple strudel, with a shot of brandy – it was just what I needed to take the chill of the cold winder evening.
The workshop was split into three parts, with each part beginning with another tea cocktails! The first part bean with introductions to fellow attendees along with a selection of teas to smell. With my knowledge being a little sketchy, at best I was able to differentiate between black teas and green teas. We learnt about the different processes that were applied to to the tea leaves in order to produce the different varieties. I was not aware that the different types of tea all come from the same tea plant, and that it is the processing that resulted in different types. Becky was very knowledgeable, and Gill was taking one of her first tea workshops and was certainly getting into the rhythm of it as the evening went on.
After about an hour it was time to head upstairs and have another of the tea cocktails. This time I opted for the mulled cider – an excellent choice too. Whilst the drinks were prepared, Gill started setting up the tea tasting on the counter. We were first handed round the dry loose leaf to smell, followed by some of the brewed tea to taste. Tasting involved taking a spoon of tea, and giving it a jolly good slurp. Pleasingly, I was judge to have the best slurp out of everyone! We must have tried about 10 or 12 different teas of varying types. It was an excellent way to try tea that I probably would not have had by choice. My favourite was the Smokey Russian. I ended up buying a tin with the 10% discount offered on anything in the shop.
After one more tea cocktails (I actually opted for a cup of their Builder’s Brew – a nice, strong black tea blend) it was time to blend our own. Were were each given three pouches in which to blend and seal our own tea to take home. I decided to go for a black spied tea, a flowery tea, and a green tea.
Having been to this workshop, I am now much more open-minded when it comes to trying different teas. I also would not hesitate to recommend the workshop. A thoroughly enjoyable three hours on a Friday evening!