I’ve gone from loathing it, to liking it, but never quite loving it: for me, a big f**k-off flask of Starbucks will never be as treasured as a nice cup of tea.
I make no pretence to the contrary that by preferring tea to coffee I lump myself in the fringey, fuzzy, Kate Nash camp of hot drinks. A short and chic shot of espresso conjures up images of kohl-lined eyes and sultry Parisian girls shrugging in café corners. Meanwhile, a steaming mug of Earl Grey sits perfuming the air with a carpeted warmth, enveloping you with softly wrinkled hands delicately dusted with talcum powder. It’s certainly not sexy, but it’s sure as hell appealing. The offer of a cup of tea is Britain’s universal answer to the unanswerable, a comforting filler for unspoken feelings and irreversible truths. Whilst coffee prepares you for the world outside, tea welcomes you back in. With January drizzling miserably at my doorstep, I know which I'd prefer right now.
Given all this, it's no wonder I instantly loved the concept behind bespoke tea company Blends for Friends. Founder Alex Probyn is what they call a ‘master tea taster’, who spent years blending for one of the world’s best-known brands of tea. Things really took off when he began to make custom blends for friends and family based upon their personalities, and swiftly Blends for Friends was born.
Simply fill in a form online, either about yourself or (as the name implies) a friend, and Probyn will use his expertise to rustle up a tailor-made blend of tea, personally labelled with its own name and description. The form doesn’t just cover preferred flavours, bringing the person’s appearance, their job and any hobbies or interests into the equation as well. I imagine it’s something like that love potion in Harry Potter which has a different aroma for everyone who smells it based upon what they find most appealing - although thinking about it, that casts Probyn as a fictional wizard and me as a massive Harry Potter nerd, so let’s back-track on that metaphor for now. Still, what perfect presents those cute little caddies make! Who said tea couldn't be as cool as coffee?
And if you need any more incentive to turn over to tea, why not do a Lady Gaga and invest in a statement cup and saucer to sip it with? Pinkies poised at the ready...
|Reiko Kaneko Drip & Lip cups, stained with 24-karat gold|
|Blaue Blume lace and legs cup|
|Jasper Conran for Wedgwood Chinoiserie cup and saucer|