I just love when travels lead to a new tea discovery. On a recent UK press trip, I came across London-based teapigs tea while staying at the Great Northern Hotel. Each floor of the beautifully restored railway hotel features a pantry stocked with freshly baked goods, coffee pods and tea — jars of colourful teapigs tea temples to be precise (you can read more about that here).
Recent news of teapigs reaching our side of the pond led me to contact the Canadian team for some more sampling. Yep, they’re available here in Canada (via Canada Post and in Urban Fare, Save on Foods and Safeway stores). I imagine there’s lots of readers out there who’ve not yet heard of this whimsical tea brand.
Nick Kilby and Louise Allen, two tea lovers who worked together at a large tea company, decided to explore the world of quality, loose-leaf tea, giving birth to teapigs nearly a decade ago in the UK. Their first account was British luxury department store chain Harvey Nichols.
Through the years, the brand’s become wildly successful: teapigs is sold in restaurants, pubs, hotels and shops across the UK.
Louise has over a decade of tea tasting experience and has ventured around the globe to visit tea estates in order to procure the finest teas available. Nick brings a marketing background to the mix.
The collection uses whole leaf tea loosely packed in biodegradable tea bags (aka temples), leaving enough space in each to allow a proper infusion. In keeping with the eco-friendly footprint, the packaging is printed with vegetable-based inks on sustainably-sourced cardboard.
My husband and I are dedicated tea drinkers and chose five from the lineup to sample, from Mao Feng green (green with envy) to Rooibos Creme Caramel (skinny dessert).
Opening the package leads to a sealed plastic bag containing the temples (tea is a religion in the UK after all). Opening each one reveals an enticing aroma true to each product’s name. Directions for brewing are on the side of the box. And with that, we bring you teapigs: Mao Feng Green, Popcorn Tea, Chocolate Flake, Darjeeling Earl Grey and Rooibos Creme Caramel.
Mao Feng Green | green with envy
This green tastes mild and infuses to a clear pale green colour when steeped. It’s also not as bitter as many green teas I’ve tasted and the notes of peaches and apricots add to the delicate balance of the Mao Feng tea leaves.
Popcorn Tea | fab Japanese treat
With tiny popcorn kernels, you get a strong toasty sense of what this tea brews like from the moment you open the bag! The toasted rice with green tea mix – aka Sugar Puffs in a cup – imparts a nutty flavour yet doesn’t overpower the green tea.
In Japan (a country high on our bucket list), popcorn tea translates to Genmaicha. Centuries ago, pure green tea was too costly; Japanese peasants added grains of toasted rice to make their tea supplies last longer.
Chocolate Flake | melt away
Black tea fans will enjoy this unique tea with the addition of tiny chocolate flakes. It smells amazing – a great balancing act of black tea and chocolate, cocoa beans plus natural flavouring, something we treasure in this growing market of trendy teas. It’s a distinctly black tea but with a soft chocolate flavour in the background.
Darjeeling Earl Grey | the new grey
This Earl Grey tea contains gorgeous floral notes, marrying Himalayan Darjeeling with cornflower petals and natural flavouring. The taste is nutty with hints of citrus and vanilla, not as strong as your typical bergamot. Suggested brew time is three minutes in order to allow the leaves and petals to open for a full-bodied cuppa.
Rooibos Creme Caramel | skinny dessert
We’ve saved room for dessert! teapigs Creme Caramel has an almost bourbon vanilla aroma to it, great for serving with pound cake or shortbread cookies after a long day at work. It smells stronger in the bag pre-brew but retains a soft variant of that initial aroma once steeped.
Hey readers! We’ve partnered with teapigs Canada to offer one lucky entry the entire Canadian collection (seven packs) plus a $50 gift card to add to your new tea assortment. Follow along on Instagram for details. Contest open to Canadian residents only and ends on June 29 at 5 pm.