You may be wondering why I’m back on the topic of tea so soon, but my column on the stuff last month was only half the story. That was about tea tea. The fastest-growing sector, and one of the most significant drinks trends full stop, is flavoured teas and infusions, which are particularly popular among the under 35s, who just don’t seem to get black tea.
It’s entirely possible, for example, that the mothers in your family would prefer a selection of fruit and herbal teas to a bottle of prosecco for Mother’s Day on Sunday. My daughter-in-law certainly would: she always has six or seven different types in her kitchen cupboard, and I suspect she’s not untypical.
In a single day recently, I was sent three press releases about new infusions, including one from the venerable Fortnum & Mason, which has 12 new flavours in its range, among them a spectacular Rose And Violet Tea (£7.50 for 15 bags), designed to accompany the store’s rose and violet creams. The whole set comes in beautifully designed caddies, which makes it perfect for what these days we call “gifting”.
Even Tetley, better known for its builders’ tea, has got in on the act with a range of flavoured teas called Indulgence (all £1.99 for 20 bags), which may make traditionalists choke on their Hobnobs. Or ginger nuts: the new range features one called Gingerbread, “inspired by the traditional ginger biscuit”. To tell the truth, I quite enjoyed it, as I did the spiced apple, which at least tastes reasonably natural. Cleverly designed to gratify a sweet tooth without piling on calories, it shows you can have your cake and drink it.
Bristol-based Pukka, the second biggest herbal tea outfit in the UK, is promoting an infusion called Womankind for Mother’s Day that contains shatavari, a root that is claimed to boost the reproductive system. Though somewhat given to purple prose – “She is one of India’s most regal roots, so let shatavari weave you her hammock of respite” – Pukka at least uses organic and ethically sourced ingredients. I prefer its Three Fennel and Turmeric Gold (£2.49 for 20 bags), which I like with a slice of lemon and made, as I prefer most infusions, with water that’s just come off the boil.
My current favourite, however, is another Bristol company, Attic Tea, which has the best range of infusions I’ve come across. I particularly like Sleep Tea (£3.95), a fragrant but not at all sickly mix of pu’er, camomile, lavender and rose. Attic also sells an easy-to-use infuser (£19.95) to make your brew in: you’re unlikely to be able to get one in time for Sunday, but you could order Mum one for Easter.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010