Based in Los Angeles, December Tea is a blog by Lauren Bailey. Her posts explore the world around her, through words, pictures, and constant cups of tea.

Put the Kettle On: Brew Tea Co.

Put the Kettle On: Brew Tea Co.

I’ve had this idea in my head for a while now. I want to start a new series all about tea and in part, about the pleasure that comes from doing something each day that requires patience, working with one’s hands, and produces something delicious. It’s no secret that I enjoy a cup of tea. It’s in the name of this blog, after all. Yet for me, it’s more than just a beverage. It’s a thing that brings people together, brings comfort, brings routine, and is something that I enjoy. Now I didn’t always love tea. I used to pile sugar cube after sugar cube into my teacup when attending tea parties with my mom and grandmother, and used to claim that all teas tasted the same. (How wrong I was.) It wasn’t until my second year at university that I really started getting into tea and it became my drink of choice. From there, the love has only grown. It may be small, and inconsequential to some, but as the days around me feel like they’re always go, go, go – I appreciate when I’m able to set aside 5, 10, 30 minutes to just sit and be and wait for my tea to cool to just the perfect temperature before I drink it. Sometimes, I will admit, I abandon my cup as I get swept up into other things and return to find it cold. Good thing there are two people around that enjoy these forgotten cups: Mr. H and Tiny Cat.

I see this series starting as a place where I will highlight my favorite brands (some old, some new), a place to discuss the stories behind my everyday equipment and methods for brewing the perfect cup, and a place where I can highlight my favorite teahouses and cafes. My tea cabinet is overflowing with brands I’ve collected on travels and others that have arrived in my mailbox. As I attempt to drink my way through it, I would like to share some of the discoveries I’ve made along the way. It will evolve over time and may involve new features as time goes on, but for this my inaugural entry, I would like to talk about one of my favorite companies: Brew Tea Company, based in Manchester. Founded in 2012, Brew Tea Co. loves tea with a passion. It’s their mission to find the perfect blend for each tea they produce. They taste each batch, craft the blends, and hand pack it all at Tea HQ. They even make their own tea bags, which are now biodegradable.

I placed my first order with Brew Tea Company back in March 2016. How I stumbled upon them, I don’t recall though I may have been researching UK based tea companies, or was poking around on the internet, falling down rabbit holes, and before I knew it, found myself on their charming, brightly colored website. After a few weeks of debating whether or not I should order, I rolled the dice, and went for the loose leaf starter kit: a ¼ lb. of loose leaf English breakfast and their glass tea pot.  (The kit now comes with a scoop, which I highly recommend. In one of my most recent purchases, I bought their glass storage jar and a scoop. I use both every day when making my daily brew. The scoop's bright yellow handle is a pleasant sight during those first waking moments.) You can tell a lot about a tea company based on their English breakfast. This seemed like the best way to test whether or not I would enjoy their “real tea.” One of their goals is to bring real tea to people. That means flavorful loose leaf teas for all occasions. 

I waited eagerly for the order to arrive. Even called the post office – waiting on hold for an hour before reaching anyone – and asked why my package was still going through customs after five days. They were incredibly unhelpful and couldn’t give me a time estimate on when it would exit customs nor when I could expect the parcel. A few days later, it arrived. I was sitting at my desk, typing and answering phones. It was month three on my desk and the level of excitement I felt upon receiving this package was matched only by the arrival of a different box of tea and snacks arriving at my desk, months later for my first office tea party. Inside it’s brown box sat a single package, wrapped in yellow and white-stripped paper, tied with black and white stripped ribbon, and featured two cards on top: one of “things to do whilst you brew”, and the other, a yellow postcard saying, “Tea is Dead. Long Live Tea.”

Inside the carefully unwrapped paper, sat a yellow box of loose leaf English breakfast tea and another box of equal size, containing my new glass teapot with its yellow lid. Well, I wasn’t about to sit on a bunch of tea and not take it for a test drive. I promptly went to the kitchen, conveniently located in front of my desk at the time, and made my first cuppa. I was surprised by the quality. I was expecting it to be good, but when ordering products online, it can be a challenge to know just how it will taste until it arrives. The best way I can describe the tea is that it tastes like a warm hug. Mild yet packs a punch of flavor that sits harmoniously on your tongue. It’s bright and refreshing, but also has a hint of smokiness. Perfect for when you have moments to spare to just sit and relax, great for on the go when you’re speeding through traffic, even good when you’ve forgotten your cup on your desk for too long and its grown cold. I’m a drink my tea straight kind of gal, no sugar, no milk, but I will say that the English breakfast tea is also great with a splash of milk, especially if your tea cup or mug doesn’t hold the full teapot and the leaves are left to sit for a tad too long while you gulp down those first delicious sips. It’s the perfect accompaniment to an oatie biscuit or a digestive or a piece of coffee cake.

Since this initial purchase, I’ve also tried their Earl Grey and cold brew lemonade, which I bought as a birthday gift for my father. The birthday wrapping went above and beyond anything I was expecting. Their presentation is always top notch and is bound to bring a smile to your face. I’m due to try the other flavors, though I always find myself returning back to the classic breakfast tea.  It’s become my go to brew for the morning.

So what makes Brew Tea Co. so great anyway, aside from their delicious tea and cheerful yellow accessories? First off: the people. All the employees are incredibly helpful and friendly, and really care about what they’re doing. Get to know the people on the other side of your emails. It’s worth it. Second: the brew times. The brew times used to be a weekly newsletter – it’s now published biweekly on Fridays – that appears in my inbox complete with a weekly challenge that could earn you brew coins, the latest blog entry, and news from the company. The challenges vary week to week but in the past have included Morse code puzzles you had to solve before anyone else. So be quick. It may require an early wake up, depending on your time zone. This was how I ended up winning my “make tea awesome” pin. Third: Brachiosaurus – the machine that makes all the tea you get to enjoy.

Forth: each month a new “Things To Do Whilst You Brew” card will be sent out with each purchase. The last one I received was “Botany Practice.” On the back were pictures of British wild flowers and came with a package of seeds for me to plant my own mini wildflower meadow. As someone who loves flowers, especially the kind that looks like they’ve been picked from the hedgerow, this series was my favorite yet. Past series include: “Become A Papercraft Pigeon Fancier,” “Risky Whiskey” (how to make the perfect tea whiskey cocktail), and “Dinosaur Heights.” You never know what you’ll find in your parcel. There’s always bound to be something unexpected. Fifth: the aforementioned brew coins. By buying tea or referring a friend, you’ll receive brew coins. For every £1 you spend, you’ll receive 1 brew coin. There are also coins on your tea boxes so don’t throw those away before snipping off the coins. When you’ve reached at least 50 coins, you’ll be able to apply a discount code to your next purchase. There are all sorts of ways to earn brew coins, so get out there and drink more tea. Sixth: it’s delicious. Now, I’ve already harped on this point but using my yellow scoop every morning brightens up the days, even the tremendously sunny and warm ones, and we should all have something that brings us joy during those first minutes as we welcome the day. Also, who doesn’t love a good cup of tea?

I could keep going but for now, this is my recommendation: browse the Brew Tea Co. website and see what they have to offer. It might be just the thing you’re looking for to spice up your tea collection. I recommend starting with one of the packs that include a teapot and loose leaf tea of your choosing, or their new pick and mix box of teabags that includes a few bags of each variety, or one of the choose three packs in either loose leaf or tea bags. They ship international, so if you’re anything like me, and often wish there were other tea choses in your local stores, look no further as the tea will come to you. And if you're ever in the area and want to try it for yourself, pop on over and I'll put the kettle on.

Where to find the Brew Tea Company: on the web, on instagram, on twitter.

This post was not sponsored. I simply love this company and its products, and all opinions are my own.

84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road