Bluebird Tea Co are on a mission to make you happy with a cuppa. This thriving, young company want to open British minds to the idea that tea types and flavours can be mixed to create a variety of taste sensations. Going into their flagship shop in Brighton for a 3 hour evening of Tea Mixology woke up my palette from its Builders’ Tea slumber – but not to smell the coffee, mind - they “don’t mention the ‘c’ word here”.
I felt like I was drug-scoring in a civilized environment and left on a tea high
So why is making a cup of tea part of the Brighton Fringe?
The evening verges on a performance, starting with uber-enthusiastic tea-presenter Emi’s explanation of the company ethos to a group of five of us keen tea-drinkers. The session comprises of tea-guessing games, then a talk on different types of processing and forms of tea, followed by a tea-tasting session in which we were all surprised by how much the amusingly-named teas tasted just like they smelt. Rhubarb and Custard, for example, smelt and tasted just like the penny sweets, whereas Coco Chai No. 5 was creamy and chocolatey, and thankfully whiffed of cocoa rather than the designer perfume. After this we moved on to creating our own personal blends of loose leaf, three types each to take home, working with bases of green, black, mate or rooibos, and adding from a whole range of fruit, flowers and herbs to flavour. Which is why I’m sipping a cup of my own Cor bLIMEy! as I type - a mix of black tea with lime, my favourite builder’s, with a refreshing twist.
Throughout the evening we were encouraged to drink as many tea cocktails and concoctions as we liked, whipped up by James, another effervescent member of the Bluebird team.
Bluebird have their tins arranged on a Tea Wall in order of caffeine power, going through rooibos, to fruit to herbal to white, then green, oolong, yerba mate and finally black.
A sucker for a good Darjeeling, I asked James if there was any to buy. A furtive look crossed his face as he offered some ‘last season’ Purple Rain (first flush Darjeeling with a parma violet taste) from ‘under the counter’, and weighed me out 0.15kg. I felt like I was drug-scoring in a civilized environment and left on a tea high.