“I’ve got nasty habits, I take tea at 3”.
I recently returned from a trip to New York city. If there is one thing that clearly separates a Londoner from a New Yorker: it’s Tea. The Big Apple runs on coffee: cold coffee, heavy lattes and drip coffee. For the power suits on Wall Street or the fashionistas on 5th Avenue, the cup of coffee is a necessary accompaniment. In London, in that peculiar and polite British way, both drinks co-exist in harmony, although the secret preference is always for a cup of the Queen’s best (Breakfast Tea).
Perhaps it’s because tea has a more feminine aura than coffee. One thinks of knitted tea cosies, floral printed Wedgwood China tea services and your Grandma’s delicious array of desserts with a spot of tea. All this is eschewed in the land of the American Dream, with a predilection for the bold and the decisive rather than the gentle and subtle taste of tea.
Well if I can reconcile the two. I’d recommend Lapsang Souchong (LS). The tea gets a special mention in the Art of Manliness for being one of the most masculine tea’s around and one for which war time PM Winston Churchill had a penchant. Fortunately Tea Trails does an excellent variety.
The all glass tea service is simple and comes with a useful timer to ensure you brew your tea correctly; however it does feel a bit like your back bean counting in nursery school. For those that have not tried LS imagine walking into a smouldering room where dry logs are being burnt. The tea is a dark orange in colour and has a bold smokey aroma that first time users can find disconcerting. LS, despite being a black tea, is to be enjoyed without milk.
The small puff pastry palmier is a nice addition on the side, but one I refuse to indulge in so as not to detract from the centerpiece. Every sip is magical and warms the cockles of the heart. As Jagger notes in my titular quotation this is a nasty addiction, but very much a joyous one which one can revel in even in public.
From that point of view, I see Tea Trails as just a mere conduit between the user and substance. Hence the shabby wood work, the intrusive lighting or the tacky seating are of no odds.
Now my advice would be to try LS. If you are of the same opinion, the cafe (the peddler) will provide you with a month’s worth of stash for INR 750.
You might even be able to share your experience with other users when you enter this new realm.