The recently opened Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham has brought with it an array of brand-spanking-new restaurants and stores, making the city an even better retail destination. One such store is Whittard of Chelsea, which is nothing like any of their shops that I’ve been in before. I was invited down last week for a tea-tasting session in their new place to sample a few teas from their brand new range of loose leaf blends.
If you’re a hot beverage lover then Whittard will surely be a firm favourite already, but the recent re-brand of the company as well as a stronger focus on the real-deal (rather than instant tea) means this store is getting even better. The Grand Central shop has a far more modern style to it than the slightly ‘mumsy’ feel of older stores, and it also is one of the few Whittard stores that offers their ‘Drinks to Go’ service which allows you to pick up an expertly created cup of tea, coffee or cocoa on the go.
From their range of a whopping 100 teas, I was introduced to their ‘signature collection’ of 21 loose leaf varieties. The signature collection includes a range of black, white, green and fruit teas and last week we sampled one of each to get a feel for the different types. To begin with we sampled ‘White Peony’ which was pleasantly surprising in it’s fresh and cleansing feel. This is definitely an everyday tea and something to bring you round gently in the mornings.
The peppermint green tea was equally as refreshing and the peppermint adds reviving qualities making it perfect for when you’re feeling run down or hungover! The black tea that we sampled was the ‘Regal Blend’, which contained red, white and blue flowers (hence the name) and had a hint of Madagascan vanilla, making it quite a rich, creamy tea even without any milk. The fruit infusion on the menu was the ‘Very Berry Crush’ (which we all agreed was also a brilliant colour for lipstick!) and though quite tart, it was bursting with flavour, and honey can always be used to take off the edge.
We also sampled a couple of other loose leaf teas from the wider range, my favourite of which was the ‘Mulled Wine’ blend. This was everything you could wish for in a warming, festive drink – perfect at Christmas for an alternative to alcohol as unlike the real thing, it’s socially acceptable to have in the morning or even at work! Each tea in the range has a creatively given number, for example the ‘Whisky Tea’ is No. 251 as Burns Night is the 25th of January!
After learning about the fascinating world of tea at the new Whittard store I am now a loose-leaf convert. The ethos of Whittard is to make time for tea, and since discovering a world beyond the Tetley tea-bag it has been a pleasure to make a proper brew my daily ritual. Thank you to the lovely ladies at Whittard Birmingham for having me and passing on some of your wisdom – now I’m off to put the kettle on!