Polly, put the kettle on...
Suki made the tea!
We recently had the pleasure of being invited to Suki Tea HQ to take part in their Tea Academy.
Oscar and Annie started Suki Tea on our home turf of St George’s Market 11 years ago, selling £118 worth of loose leaf tea on their very first day. Last year a cup of Suki Tea was being drunk every second of every minute of every hour of every day, with it now being listed in top coffee shops, restaurants and hotels as well as a small retail chain called Marks & Spencer - pretty impressive growth eh?
Upon our arrival Oscar took us into their recipe development room stacked from floor to ceiling with antique drawers filled with ingredients that they use to create their unique tea blends. Being a *little bit* of geek I felt like I’d been transported to Professor Snape’s potion lab, half expecting a Mandrake to leap out at me at any moment and Oscar to say “You’re a Tea Wizard, Phil”!
Caroline and I tried around a dozen very different tea blends from their ever-growing range (54 blends and counting), with Oscar encouraging us to SLURP our tea to aerate it to get the most flavour. Caroline’s favourite was the Goji Berry and Pomegranate, with mine being the new White Tea Elderflower. It was fascinating learning the difference between white teas, black teas, Assam teas etc. and we even got to try a Darjeeling blend that there’s only 18kg of in the whole world. Oscar used an awesome goldfish bowl type device *scratches head as have forgotten name* which I will obviously have to add to my kitchen gadget wish list (along with a Chemex, Sous Vide machine, Pizza Oven and more…).
The quality control that they have in place is rigorous, with each blend being tested weekly by their Tea Experts and they’re always encouraging their team to play around with blends and develop new recipes to try out.
The Suki Tea team have a real passion for ethically sourced loose leaf tea, and Oscar and Annie travel the world each year visiting tea farms ensuring that they’re happy with not only the quality of the tea, but also the condition of the farm and its workers. Oscar took great pride in telling us that they’ve even imported their own tea plants, unfortunately losing around 75% of them on the journey due to their fragility, with the surviving plants going strong in Portaferry - so expect the very first Northern Irish grown Suki Tea blend in the near future.
We’ve been big fans of Suki Tea for years, but it really was fascinating learning about the growing, fermenting and blending process involved. Oscar was also delighted to tell us about their two 3 Gold Stars wins at The Great Taste Awards for their Ayurvedic and Oolong Orange Blossom blends. Hooray!
Oh and I’m also glad to report that they’re bringing back a Belfast Food Tour favourite blend - ‘Russian Caravan’ is returning due to popular demand.
Thanks to Oscar and the team for having us up and for encouraging us to slurp our tea in public.
Visit www.sukitea.com to find out more about their blends and the Tea Academy.