20 October 2009

postcard teas

When presented with a tea menu, my response until now has been to stare completely dumbfounded, then (embarrassed by my own incompetence) order 'ordinary black tea.'

I suppose I could be forgiven, coming from American, coffee-drinking stock. But after so many years in London, it was time for a change. So I enrolled in the Tea School at Postcard Teas:

The shop is in an 18th-century building just off New Bond Street. Elegantly minimalist, the white walls and single wooden table provide the perfect backdrop for the caddies...

and pouches of tea,

as well as the Tea Mail,

by which you can send a pouch of tea anywhere in the world.

The Tea School is actually a series of four tastings led by the owner, Timothy d'Offay. Tim travels throughout Asia, working with and buying from the world's finest small-scale, family tea producers.

While the first session was a general introduction, the second focused on white and black teas. The most surprising was the Pu-erh tea: extremely earthy, with definite notes of hay, leather, and stable yard...not one I'll be ordering from the tea menu!

The third session covered green teas. I'd always thought all green teas were the same, so this was a revelation: six very different flavors from three different countries.

The next session (when Tim returns from Japan) will be on oolongs. I'm particularly excited about this one, as these were my favorites in the first tasting.

I was a bit nervous at the start, but I didn't need to be. While Tim is incredibly knowledgeable, he's also very friendly and down-to-earth. Definitely the most fun I've ever had in school!


  1. Oh you really do do the very nicest of things Kristina.

    I am a confirmed green tea drinker and recently discovered a very good tea shop in Lavenham with resident expert. They sell several different green teas and he spent almost 15 minutes discussing my likes and dislikes before selecting the right tea for me!

  2. Great post :) I am just like you when it comes to those big tea menus. Also, like you, I really prefer black tea. Every time i've had green tea, I thought it had a bad aftertaste (but then again, that was when i was living in america, and i realize tea in this country tastes much different). I'd be very interested in taking a tea class myself.
    When its done, you should treat yourself to a fab afternoon tea with all the fixings! :D

  3. It sounds like a lovely treat! Though I have to say, with a name like Pu-erh, what did you expect? ;-)

  4. I've tried green and oolong.. don't like either. But I've never found a variety of black I don't like, so will stick with those!

  5. I just love black tea - preferably Ceylon - to the point of suspecting that I'm a bit addicted. Green teas (and white) - yuk. But pu-erh is lovely if you drink it very weak (not my usual style at all) - in fact, very weak is probably the easiest way to get used to a new taste. Oooh, have to put the kettle on now.....

  6. Glad to hear the tea was more or less drinkable. Perhaps you will be inspired to make a new batch of Green Tea ice cream!

  7. Really interesting - and I don't even enjoy tea very much, apart from a weak darjeeling and that's more because it reminds me of my childhood (not in India, sadly!).

    But I can vouch for the fact that you make a lovely cup of coffee, in an elegant white coffee cup.

  8. what a wonderful course to go on xxx

  9. Your photo of the tea shop makes me want to book an airline ticket! There's a shop in Toronto called David's Tea, I love sampling the various blends. It's not nearly as quaint though.

  10. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I really don't know much about tea either, sounds like a fun class to learn about it. I'm really enjoying your blog, will definitely be back.


  11. What a lovely, lovely shop. I don't know this one; and now I feel so happy and grateful that I can remedy that so easily!

    I suppose that this is all loose tea that you are drinking? I am a thorough convert to "builder's tea," but have previously been too lazy to have proper tea ceremonies.

  12. I love that you find all these amazing things to do!
    I only started drinking tea again a year ago and I'm not very adventurous (Twinings English Breakfast is my favourite), though I do love mint teas.

  13. Oh, I have walked by Postcard Teas many times but have never gone in. It looks lovely though so I shall have to make the effort some time soon. The tea class sounds fascinating!

  14. 'Ordinary black tea'...uh, yes, that's me in a nutshell.

    You mean there's hope???

    I need tea school!

  15. you do find the most interesting courses!!

    Seriously fab.