To mark the national tea days this month Laura Cartledge shares a cuppa with Sussex-based business Hoogly Tea.
Tea has long been held up – whether it is with a pinky finger sticking out or in a thermos mug - as a British institution.
However one great Dane is helping the humble cuppa to really go new places with her brand Hoogly Tea.
“It is not just a tea it is an experience. I don’t want people to rush a brew. This isn’t a trend, it is a lifestyle we have been doing for ages,” says Tina Gloggengieser, a Brighton resident who moved to the UK when she was five.
“That is why our teas take five minutes to brew. People do everything too quickly. This makes them more aware and slow down.”
With a strong Hygge influence and a focus on health, Tina’s creations are all about treating yourself but without the guilt.
“I wanted to cover everything, but at the same time I started from things I love – like the rhubarb and vanilla which makes me think of the rhubarb and custard sweets and takes me back to my childhood,” she reveals.
“Making it healthy and adding that thing of Hygge, it can feel more like a meal or a treat. For instance the apple strudel is pure green tea, cinnamon – which has lots of benefits – apple pieces and no added sugar, but you get that warmth.”
Other delicious sounding options include Danish pastry, spiced orange, chocolate brownie and raspberry, liquorice and lavender.
“But if you like the oolong smokiness or the fresh mint, I have those too,” enthuses Tina.
Having always been fascinated by food and drink, Tina explains the journey to launching her own business in 2015 included working in food journalism, nutrition and ‘drinking a lot of tea’.
“It has been in the last three years I’ve thought I have to make this happen – I’m like that when I get an idea,” she smiles.
“It is always difficult setting out but I don’t have any regrets. It’s great in the sense that everyone loves tea but it is hard because it is quite oversaturated, that is why I am coming from a different angle.”
So how does Tina decide what to make and what makes the standard?
“The sparkling white is because I know prosecco is trending somewhat and I wanted something that is as refreshing as that,” she replies. “But it is normally what I love first, then I get friends around for tastings. If everyone gets a good feeling from it then I go for it. If I love it then hopefully other people will too.
“Having said that I have been surprised by the fact that one thing people love, other people might hate, like our marzipan – seeing people’s faces with that one fascinates me.”
The range has found fans, and influential ones at that, in the team for Selfridges which selected it earlier this year as part of the ‘Eat Happy’ campaign.
Bruce Langlands, Selfridges food and restaurant director, described the blends as ‘uniquely indulgent yet healthy’ and added: “I am sure they will be a huge hit with our customers.”
Tastings have already been held at the flagship store in London and Tina is confident the market is ready to branch out.
“It has got a great reaction from customers. Tea drinkers have become increasingly sophisticated over the past decade,” she insists. “Customers are more adventurous in the blends they want, are very interested in the health benefits of teas and, of course, are keen to buy ethically sourced products that are produced and package in a sustainable manner.
“Hoogly Tea aims to deliver on all these levels.”
If anything, Tina admits it is a shame we don’t grow tea in Sussex.
“I would like to make it as local as possible, there is a bit down in Cornwall,” she agrees.
In addition to keeping it local, Tina is also thinking global which begs the questions what about taking Hoogly to her home country?
“The Scandinavians don’t really drink tea, they are more about the coffee, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be introduced to it...” she laughs.
Hoogly Tea is hand-blended and packed in the UK, ethically sourced and fairly traded. The biodegradable tea pyramids are soil association certified. The range includes 18 blends of green, white, black and herbal teas and is currently on the menus of several five star hotels and Michelin star restaurants. For more information or to arrange a tea tasting contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hooglytea.com
The national tea days fall on April 21 and 22.
Read more about why tea companies are being urged to make sure their teabags are recyclable here.
What does a splash of milk really mean? Read here what these experts think.
Find out more here about the Brighton organisation that has designed a reusable coffee cup.