The title for this post may seem a little strange, however all will be revealed.
Whenever I visit a new area I am on the hunt for individual and unique shops. Many high streets seem to be carbon copies of each other, so finding these unusual gems can sometimes take a bit of homework. One such search recently turned up a shop called Postcard Teas near Oxford Circus in London at 9 Dering Street.
When I walked in I was expecting to see a tea shop but this store was so much more than just that. The left hand wall had shelves of small tins full of teas from all over the world, each with a description of taste, origin and the name of the grower. Quite a few were from very small estates, making them extremely unusual and exclusive.
Along the right hand side of the shop was a long table with stools (the tasting area!). While I am an avid tea drinking and much prefer leaves to teabags I quickly realised that I knew little about these rarer varieties. I started by tasting a couple of teas called Nilgira Frost and Korean Breakfast.
My personal choice out of these two was the Nilgira Frost. Unlike my tea at home these varieties are best enjoyed black without milk or sugar. I never thought I could enjoy tea without milk, but I’m thoroughly converted, especially for these yummy blends.
The name ‘Postcard Teas’ is certainly an unusual one, it is actually based around a wonderful and quirky idea. The store has postcards that you can write to a friend or relation, they are then put in a clear envelope with a sample of the tea you have chosen and whisked away to the happy recipient. I love this original idea, especially when the humble holiday postcard seems to be drifting out of our culture.
I was having such a wonderful time that I couldn’t resist trying two more varieties, Big Smoke and Original Lapsang. At this point the owner Tim came over and explained that you could brew the Lapsang twice! The wealth of knowledge is mind boggling, it’s like attending a wine tasting (but no headache or inability to drive afterwards!) Each tea caddy is like an education in itself with information on the growers, conditions and much more.
The shop also sells tea caddies, tea cosies, fabric shopping bags, coasters, pots, tea cups and other tea related gifts. Most of these can be seen on their website Postcardteas.com. The fabric items are all beautifully made and embroidered, being made from old saris and sold to help people in India earn money from their work.
The tea caddies are amazing, quite pricey but with the potential to become heirlooms of the future. They are all made by Kaikado of Kyoto, the oldest makers of handmade tin tea caddies in the world!
Tea has been my drink of choice since I was young but I really feel that I have learnt a lot from my visit to this wonderful store and I’ll definitely return on my next visit to London.