While the number of coffee roasters per capita consistently appears to be on the increase, tea is still one of the most popular drinks on the planet. Closely associated with one's elders and baked goods, bland, luke warm and weakly flavoured tea is becoming a thing of the past. Exquisitely fragrant herbal teas are beginning to overtake single origin coffee brews as the currency of the hip and cool.
When I was younger tea consisted of boiling water, a Dilmah tea bag, a dollop of milk and, if I was lucky, a Tim Tam on the side. Today, tea drinkers are presented with an ever-growing selection of flavours, caffeine-free teas, weight loss teas, bedtime teas, wake up teas, teas for detox – and that’s only at the supermarket.
Tea has taken the hot beverage scene by storm. Or should I say recently launched Storm and India have taken on tea, becoming well acquainted with the industry. The sisters market their teas as a luxury, organic product. Storm and India Bellamy (their actual names, not just a pretty brand I.D) see their product as a fashion accessory, describing it as more like a beautiful candle than a beverage, “We market it as a lifestyle choice.”
With healthy lifestyles trending, drinking tea has risen in popularity. Storm believes that tea has, over time, become a ‘cooler’ beverage of choice. A decision that she feels is being led by the younger generation. People are becoming a lot more health conscious and it’s ‘cool’ to eat healthy. As Storm says "we’re becoming a pure health conscious society.”
When I think of tea a few connotations come to mind, warmth, comfort and the notion that it is, nutritionally, much better for you than coffee. Not only are a large majority of these steaming beverages better for you, many teas come with several potential complimentary health benefits thanks to containing an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Storm and India’s sales show that the detox range is amongst their most popular brews. There are teas for everytime of the day, like the Morning Detox blend with green tea and coriander, which is said to be most effective in the early hours, or the Vervain Citron, designed to be drunk after meals, supposedly diminishing your desire for something sweet.
Scientists may have devised a formula for making the perfect cup of tea, but in Storm’s mind there are no rules when it comes to brewing. According to the eldest of the tea sisters, it’s actually quite simple - the higher the quality, the more you can produce; unlike coffee, good quality tea can be reused several times.
Coffee is still fierce competition within the hot beverage scene but with tea trending, a rise in the industry can clearly be seen. In support of this beverage trend many cafés and restaurants now offer customers a range of high quality teas for their drinking pleasure. As we evolve into a more health conscious society, tea slowly has become a more popular hot beverage of choice. A hot beverage that one day, may be the most popular choice.
Basic brewing guidelines:
Type of tea Brew time Temperature
Black Tea 2-3 mins 100°
Herbal or Fruit 5-6 mins 100°
White, Green, Oolong 2-3 mins 70-80°
Five places in New Zealand that tea enthusiasts should try:
Storm and India’s Tea Van
In 2014 the tea sisters toured around New Zealand sharing their knowledge and love for tea. Keep updated on the tea van’s whereabouts via the Storm and India Tea Sister’s Facebook page.
t leaf T, Wellington
Located in the heart of the city, this shop plays host to over 160 different types of teas, of which more than 5 million cups are brewed every year. Customers are encouraged to experience the large variety of infusions by sampling the teas in store.
This speciality food store has ‘popped up’ in Auckland’s CBD and is soon to be a permanent feature. Located on Victoria Street East, and using only the best seasonal produce, the café prides itself on selling healthy and affordable meals. Complimenting the good quality food is great quality tea. Supplied by Fine and Dandy, traders of fair trade organic loose-leaf tea, Scarecrow invites its diners to taste an impressive array of hot beverages.
C1 Espresso, Christchurch
C1 may be the future of cafés. In a place where customers receive sliders from tubes that travel at 120km/ph, it is not surprising that this innovative establishment won café of the year. What is surprising is that owner, Sam Crofskey, has created his own tea company known as Golden Panther Teas. This unique Christchurch café offers 35 of it’s own teas, all of which are produced in Samoa.
Zealong Tea Estate, Hamilton
For those that live and breathe tea, this is the place to go. Located 10 minutes outside of Hamilton sits the Zealong tea plantation. Visitors are encouraged to take part in a tea tour where they have the opportunity to experience a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Not only is it the only tea plantation in New Zealand, it also has some of the world’s purest tea.