|T2 Tea, Richmond, London|
So if you've not been living under a rock lately, you might be aware of the unicorn memes on social media that have inspired food from the Rainbow Bagel to The Unicorn Frappuccino, which has in turn inspired the Dragon Frappuccino which is sort of an Iced Matcha Latte, whose main ingredient is actually derived from Tea. You may then ask, what is Matcha? and why is this vivid green tea based supplement popping up everywhere? Well, stick around because the kind folks from T2 Tea gave me a masterclass in Matcha, Tea and the unlimited ways in which to enjoy it.
|Experience Tea hands on, T2 Tea, Richmond London|
For me, the most inspired I ever get with Tea is to enjoy a lovely High Tea with scones, strawberry jam, clotted cornish cream and if available, a pot of Darjeeling 1st flush or Yorkshire Tea and that is as far as it goes for me. So when I went to T2 I'd classed myself as a traditional tea drinker, I was bought up on tea - before the invention of tea bags. Back then it was all loose tea leaves, it maximises flavour but you were invariably left with the remnants sitting at the bottom of your cup, and if you've every had a mouthful of tea leaves, you very quickly learn to always leave a bit of liquid at the bottom. Incidentally, to this day I still leave about 20 mil of liquid in the bottom of my cup.`Old habits die hard.
|Bright & inspired Tea Pots, T2 Tea, Richmond, London|
Well not today, at the T2 Tea masterclass I was about to learn how much tea has moved on and how there is so much more to it. We started on a turmeric tea, like Matcha turmeric has been linked to having some well-being benefits. The BBC conducted a basic study (not peer reviewed) and did find some positive health impacts from turmeric and beneficial changes in the gene associated with anxiety, depression, asthma and even cancer. At T2 the turmeric tea was spicy - more than I expected actually because turmeric usually isn't that spicy it is more of a peppery taste. However, I was happy with the flavour, it could definitely divide opinion but for the health benefits alone, having this as your daily dose of turmeric is worth it.
|Matcha, T2 Tea, Richmond, London|
We tried some refreshing and subtle flavoured Ice Teas, and then moved on to the Matcha. The knowledgable chap conducting the masterclass explained that authentic Matcha must come from Japan and is Green Tea ground by stone into a fine powder form. He demonstrated how Matcha is traditionally prepared. Water is heated to 80 degrees and is added to a pre-warmed bowl. You then add the matcha powder, only a small amount is required (about 1/4 of a teaspoon) and then whisk (bamboo whisk is used) and whisk. It's whisked to where a foam forms on top. Matcha is very popular now, in this powdered form it has three times the amount of antioxidant than green tea alone. It is for this reason that Matcha has become very desirable and its versatile powdered form allows it to be used in ice creams, cakes, cereals as well as health drinks.
|Tea's to try Galore, T2, Richmond|
It seems with the invention of Tea Bags some of the more traditional ways of drinking Tea was lost but now we are seeing a resurgence of loose tea, you have strainers and shakers and all sorts of bright modern pots and paraphernalia. At T2 I was shown that you no longer need to stick to the traditional ways. You can put teas into a shaker and even make into cocktails with inspired flavours not seen in traditional drinks. The T2 Teas are also infused with all sorts of flavours, from exotics to florals, the very impressive and complex Buddha Tears Tea blew me away. There's chocolate to mango and now Matcha seems to have taken on a life of its own.
|Library of Teas, T2 Tea, Richmond, London|
Tea leaves also have this amazing ability to absorb flavours and I was delighted to discover a Tea based on the flavours South Pacific Lamington cakes (I think only kiwis & aussies will understand this) and another called Banana Bake. T2 Tea originated in Melbourne, Australia so I assume this is homage to the aussie (and kiwi) favourite. I was given a taster of the two flavours mixed together with soy milk and honey - it was blissful. The chap clearly saw I was taken with it and kindly gave me the rest of the pot to enjoy. I ended up drinking that and buying the two teas and making a cup for my firmly habituated, coffee drinking hubby when I got home. The verdict, like me he gave T2 a big thumbs up.
|How to do Tea, T2 Tea Richmond, London|
|Making my Lamington/Banana Bake Tea at home, T2 Richmond, London|