On-trend ways to take your tea

A quirky ex­hi­bi­tion cel­e­brates cen­turies of tea drink­ing and its ever-more-re­fined para­pher­na­lia

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents - Jes­sica Doyle

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

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