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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Time for tea with Yumchaa

Tea is something of a national pastime here in the UK. But I think it is fair to say quite a few of us don’t know much about it beyond the obvious; “milk, no sugar please.”

The folks at Yumchaa are keen to change all that. So last night S and I headed over to their shop in King’s Cross to find out more about this most popular of drinks.

The Yumchaa King’s Cross tea room is a delightful spot. It is a glass-walled haven of all things tea tucked away in Granary Square. The walls carry bags of teas and blends I have never heard of and the sheer array of options and accessories on offer behind the bar means you could happily spend an entire afternoon there and not get more than halfway through the list.

On top of that, the staff really know their stuff. Pilar, who was leading the masterclass, was a veritable fountain of knowledge and every other member of the team could – and enthusiastically did – offer their expertise and insights at the drop of a hat.

Set up round the little tables in the shop, we kicked off with an informative masterclass covering everything from how tea is picked and prepared to perfect pub quiz facts like the number of cups of tea drunk in the UK every day. No I’m not telling you here. Go and ask them.

All of this was punctuated with a tasting session of six different teas. I could quite happily have sat and sampled the teas which were being poured into my glass cup, but the rest was just too interesting.

This little beauty changes colour when you put lemon in it.

After we had been given tips and tastings we were heading for the main event – creating our own tea blend.

But first? Cake. You can’t have an evening of tea without cake.

Then we were unleashed on the teas and ingredients to make our own blend. Pilar and the team took us through the method and a few tips, before letting us have a go.

I have to be honest, I was not confident in my ability going into this. S set off with the confidence of someone who knows and likes their various teas and knew what she wanted to do.

I had a plan. But it quickly went out of the window.

Last year I tried making my own gin blend at an event and the result – a concoction of berries and chilli – was described by the bartender as “the worst thing” he has ever tasted. It’s still sitting untouched in my flat.

But I waded in with confidence. Keep it simple, that was my idea. Assam black tea, rose buds, hibiscus and a blue flower, which I was tipped off is more aesthetic than flavour.

I was quite pleased with that.

Then Pilar asked me what I had put in there and raised her eyebrows when I told her. I’ve got a bag of it but I have no idea how well it worked.

Yumchaa is a brilliant brand. Set up in 2004 as a market stall, it now has a mix of tea shops, market stalls and an online shop where they sell their own blends of tea. Check them out here.

We had a brilliant evening; it was fun and we learned lots about tea. Now I need a cuppa.

#culture #London

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