On-trend ways to take your tea
A quirky exhibition celebrates centuries of tea drinking and its ever-more-refined paraphernalia
ACCORDING TO FIGURES released ahead of National Tea Day next weekend (yes, it’s a thing), British people drink more than 165 million cups of tea a day – and those aged 16 to 24 are increasingly turning to tea over coffee and soft drinks. So it follows that the accoutrements of tea drinking are becoming more trend-led.
The ritual of making the drink is, for many, part of its appeal, and the various means used by different cultures have inspired the Chitra Collection of more than 1,700 tea-making objects, some of which will be on display next weekend for a tea festival at Chiswick House, west London.
The collection, which has been amassed by Nirmal Sethia, founder of high-end brand Newby Teas, documents global tea drinking from its roots in China to the present day. Objects range from 10th-century Song-dynasty bowls to modern designer cups, via Fabergé caddies, Russian samovars and a pot that belonged to Nelson – along with the world’s most expensive teapot, a diamond-encrusted creation worth £2.3 million (not among the pieces on display at Chiswick House – its location is a closely guarded secret subject to a non-disclosure agreement).
Taking tea to the millennial masses with modern twists on the traditional black leaf is the Australian brand T2, whose research suggests that health-conscious 25-to-34-year-olds are increasingly drawn to herbal and flavoured varieties. ‘Tea is no longer simply about the “builder’s cuppa”,’ says brand director Jane Hoban. ‘It’s about new, interesting styles that are being driven by trends. As with coffee, the way we consume it is evolving, and innovation in brewing methods is fuelling interest in loose-leaf products.’
T2’s tea mugs with integrated infusers, and its Teamaker device, which brews leaf tea and is designed to sit on top of a cup, are pretty and colourful, aimed to appeal to a younger buyer. Hoban notes that such buyers are also increasingly consuming tea in different formats, for example as powder that can be added to cocktails and cakes.
Powdered and flavoured teas may not make it into purists’ pots, but whatever your drinking tastes, the brand’s elegant tea sets and clever brewing devices certainly put a contemporary spin on an ancient pastime. nationalteaday.co.uk
A jewelled elephant teapot designed by Nirmal Sethia, 2012
The Egoist teapot, by Nirmal Sethia, is valued at £2.3 million