When it’s cold and grey outside, when the rain is lashing down, or there’s a chill in the air, fewer things are nicer than a warm fire, and a cup of tea.
If I’m honest, I use just about any excuse for a cup of tea. It’s cold, I need a break, I’m thirsty, I’m hungry (and I can’t eat my lunch yet it’s only 9:30am), I need to think, I’m tired, I need to concentrate, I need…. Well, I need a cup of tea.
And I have one for every mood. Green teas, herbal teas, black teas, fruit teas, all the way down to a good old fashioned Yorkshire Tea. In fact, just writing this makes me want a cup of tea. Give me five, I’ll be back.
OK, that’s better.
I like tea cups and mugs, infusers and bags, blends, single origins and just those that remind me of somewhere, or something.
As I’m sure you can imagine, an email from tea experts Quinteassential had me all of a dither. I’d met the bloody lovely Bernadine at the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show and have some Quinteassential teas on my shelves. Their unique blends are not only delicious, and packaged beautifully, but are full of little touches that make them unique, such as a QR code on the box that plays music so you can time how long to steep your tea. I know how good they are.
And she wanted to blend a tea for me.
So it was with a mix of excitement and curiosity that took me to the Midland Hotel late one lunch time. We’d been asked to tweet a word that described us to Bernadine for her to use as inspiration. Despite recommendations from a lot of friends that ranged from ‘ginger’ to ‘busy’, it was a message from a friend that stuck in my head, where she not only referred to me as a ‘plus size sex kitten’ (saving that for later), but also reminded me that as a plus size distance runner, I’m also a little bit of a contradiction.
My word, ‘contradictory’.
We arrived to lots of tea, including three Quinteassential blends which are the house blends in the Midland Hotel. Bernadine took the history of the hotel, and created teas that are reminiscent of it’s history. From ‘1903’ an English style tea, based around the founding of the hotel with Indian and Indonesian tea, to ‘Due North’ blending whisky and Lapsang Souchong to recreate the smokiness of the industrial north, and Manchester as the northern end of the London railway line, and finally Midland Jubilee, a homage to the Victoria sponge and afternoon tea, that tastes of ripe strawberry jam, vanilla and cream.
So, what had Bernadine created for me? How did she see me, and my word?
I was speechless.
Recipes in one hand, jars in the other, we set about the table filled with leaves and petals, dried fruits and spices, to create our teas.
Layering our selected we pressed our noses into the jars to get a hint of what awaited our tastebuds. But not yet. We’d have to wait two days for the flavours to blend before we could taste them properly. In the meantime, a treat for the senses in the form of a Midland Hotel Afternoon Tea.
From cucumber sandwiches to scones with clotted cream and the somewhat infamous Vimto jelly, it’s been on my ‘must try’ list for some time. And still it wasn’t to be.
I had to return to the office.
But not before James and the team packed up some of the goodies, so I could sample them at my desk. It certainly made the rest of the afternoon a breeze.
And my tea? I was incredibly patient and waited my two days before I sampled it.
Soft round Nana mint, lightly sweet honeyed vanilla green tea, and layers of floral notes from the rose petals and pink cornflowers. It’s comforting and refreshing at the same time.
I’m not sure how like me it is, what I do know is that I have the most incredible jar of tea, created just for me, by a lady who really knows (and loves) tea.
For that I cannot be thankful enough.
If you want to sample Quinteassential for yourself, stop by the Midland for a pot, or head online to buy some of their incredible blends. If you fancy the latter, I’ve an extra treat for your, 15% off online using the code ‘Quintea’ at the checkout.
Or why not pop by my office and I’ll make you a brew.