Tea and Life, Tea Stories

Fusion

Our personal circumstances changed rapidly over the last few months.Life changes. Needs change. That is why there are different teas, to match your every circumstance.

We didn’t like what we were doing in the UK for all sorts of reasons, and we wrestled with whether to stay on in the UK and do something else, or leave and come back to Australia.

The decision was made in the middle of a Wednesday; we flew to Calgary on that Sunday. We spent two weeks in Calgary; then flew back to our hometown of Adelaide. We stayed in a serviced apartment for just over a week and have now moved into a house.

Phew!

As we were packing all our stuff in the UK, it was obvious we had way too much. We were allowed the usual meagre amount of baggage, and we budgeted for an additional giant suitcase as excess baggage, However, we were told that the airline could not carry a second excess baggage item, and that item was a duffel bag stuffed full of tea.

I realised I could only get a few kilos of tea in amongst our luggage; and so I had to think: what to take, and what to leave.

There was no point taking our own blends. We can create them again.

I threw in five kilos, all from Lochan teas who we are pleased to represent in Australia and the US.

  • A kilo of Rolling Thunder as our Canada-based son loves it – we actually forgot to give to to him.
  • Three kilos of Doke Black Fusion, as I knew we had no stocks of it in Australia
  • And a kilo of Margaret’s Hope, because… it’s Margaret’s Hope.

I had a small quantity of Persian Princess for the flight to Canada, duly consumed.

We arrived in Calgary at the home of Devotea Junior The Elder and his lovely partner, and we were immediately pleased with the fact there was a teapot, but less pleased as there was no tea.

One kilo of Doke Black Fusion to the rescue.

Over the next two weeks, there were a few other teas here and there, but we drank Black Fusion morning, noon and night. When we opened the packet, we filled a glass jar from the bag. The glass jar was filled again during our visit, and again with the remainder of the bag not long before we left. I’m therefore quite sure we drank about 5/6ths of a kilo of Black Fusion between us. I was most likely the biggest contributor to that consumption.

When Lady D and I arrived back in Australia and spent a week or so in self-contained accommodation, we opened another one kilo bag of Doke Black Fusion and apart from a couple of excellent teas whilst out and about, it was all I drank. The first night here in our new home we had a bed, a kettle and a toaster: and our bag of Black Fusion.

Over the past week or so, we have filled our new home will all the stuff you need to live and cook and sit on and wash clothes and entertain and watch. Over that time: Lots of Doke Black Fusion.

Yesterday, we picked up about 40 kilos of tea we had in storage. Now we have a huge selection to choose from, which is our usual state of affairs. As I write this, it’s now 6.30 a.m. and I’ve had my 650ml mega-mug filed twice: once with 1910 and once with Craigmore Estate.

But for just over a month, day in, day out, we drank Black Fusion.

This leads me to two observations.

One: I really like this tea.

Two: There is value on exploring a tea in such a deep way.

There’s no doubting it’s a lovely, deep, fresh tasting black. It’s got a vague Darjeeling thing going on, but to me is for more aligned to a good quality Keemun with a nod to Assam. It’s rich and vibrant.

The truly great thing about drinking the same tea all day every day for a month is that I never make it the same way twice, and of course it is sometimes made by others. So it tastes a little different every time.

I’ve gone on single tea benders before. A day or two, here and there. Sikkim Temi. Doke Silver Needle. Lord Petersham. Various others.

It really does not compare.

The only thing I can compare it to, sadly, is people who buy the same brand of tea for years on end, because ‘they like it’. I have previously found this a bit of a cop out – a bit lazy – and a pointer to sadly missed opportunities to explore the world of tea.

Now, I get it a bit more. There is validity in drinking the same tea all the time – if it is good tea – and enjoying the nuanced variations.

After oversteeping Black Fusion a few times, I’ve actually started making it a bit stronger to enjoy some of the tones I found accidentally. If I make it too light, I just enjoy its nod to traditional Darjeelings.

More than anything, the feeling of knowing one tea so intimately is a little new.

So, as all these teas come back into easy reach, Doke Black Fusion is sure to remain a favourite.

I’ll have to have a little Doke Silver Needle next to avoid sibling rivalry.

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Tea and Life, Tea Retail

Of Calgary

Two weeks and two days in Calgary.

Snow!

Snow!

It’s not like us to visit a country and not hop from place to place. Three days here, five days there: Two weeks and two days would normally be three to five locations.

Not this time. Lady Devotea and I had but two aims: to spend some time with our eldest son and his lovely girlfriend for the first time in over a year, and to not be where we were immediately beforehand.

R&R: Rest. Recreation. Relaxation. Recuperation. Recharging. Obviously I mean R&R&R&R&R. Not so much of the tourist thing. No tea conferences to speak at. No business, no booked tours.

How cold was it? Take a close look at the background.

How cold was it? Take a close look at the background.

We arrived more exhausted than a nine-hour flight should leave us, because we were exhausted when we got on the plane.

It has always struck me that the last place you want to be when you arrive in a country is at an airport.

Calgary Airport is different. The first person we saw was some sort of usher, like you used to get in cinemas, only without a torch and bathed in the bright sunshine coming in from the mainly glass walls. She said “Welcome to Calgary” and pointed us in the right direction.

The second person we saw was a gentlemen who did the same.

How happy were we to be on a day trip to Banff? Judge for yourself!

How happy were we to be on a day trip to Banff? Judge for yourself!

We collected our bags and went through passport control, which was outstandingly friendly. Ditto customs.

We had yet to enter the public part of the terminals when Lady D turned to me and said “Wow, Canadians are sooo friendly”.

That might sound like a snap judgement based on a small sample, but as I write this after leaving Canada, I can say we had nothing but corroborating evidence. The data was amazingly homogenous.

We were duly picked up, there may have been some tears, but soon we were rewriting the record books for amount of luggage you can cram into a small car with four people, and heading off toward the abode of our hosts.

Wall of The Oolong Tea House in Kensington. One of two great tea shops we found.

Wall of The Oolong Tea House in Kensington. One of two great tea shops we found.

The first item of business was to present them with a kilo of Doke Black Fusion and the second was to get stuck into that. When we left, I think there was about 10% of it left. Many wonderful times were had over this tea.

Obviously, we drank a few samples and other teas we picked up along the way. Blacks, rooibos, greens, flavoured and plains. We had tea out at a dozen places; in everything from delicate china to glass tumblers to waxy takeaway cups.

We saw some tourist towns, some tourist attractions. The zoo. We shopped. We ate out and ate in, cooked and were cooked for.

We arrived on a summer’s day: it was 25 degrees Celsius. The next day, it was winter, for it snowed. Then a few days later came the spring thaw, with clear skies and melting snow. Then all the trees turned golden and red. Autumn had arrived by about day nine. A year’s worth of weather in nine days.

Calgarians seem to like "Quick Fixin's" as this supermarket photo shows.

Calgarians seem to like “Quick Fixin’s” as this supermarket photo shows.

All the abovementioned R’s.

It’s maybe unfair to judge a whole country by one city.  And there are many unsettling things about Canada that I could point to, like the parts that deliberately speak French for no good reason* or the fact that they clearly know how to spell but choose not to: I went past places marked “tire center” and others marked “tire centre” and can only assume they have something to do with sleep deprivation. I never once went past a “tyre centre”. And unlike Britain where they spell “doughnut” the way adults should and the USA where they substitute the troublesome “donut”, Canadians seem to accept both.

They also seem light on fresh food and cooking, big on greasy spoons and microwaving prepared meals, but at least most of their supermarkets have a few loose leaf teas, sadly unlike a lot of UK ones and a growing number of Australian ones.

If even "Quick Fixin's" seems like too much trouble, why not just have a huge cake for breakfast, as recommended by Safeways

If even “Quick Fixin’s” seems like too much trouble, why not just have a huge cake for breakfast, as recommended by Safeways

But Calgary, and by extension, all of Canada, is now very close to our hearts. We would have been glad to go there, just to see our son. We would have been glad to go there, just to not be where we were prior to going there. But now, we love Calgary for its own sake.

Sure, we’d change it a bit. Get rid of the notion that Starbucks is drinkable, for example. Make them all drive on the correct side of the road.  Stop adding the tax after a purchase and just include it in the price, like they do in more sane places.

The snow we mentioned was unexpected, it was at the wrong time of the year, and I’m not 100% sure I’d care to be there at the “right” time of the year for snow. This trip, though, would give us impetus to try.

When all is said and done, Calgary is a great place to be.

And who doesn’t want to visit great places, eh?

 

 

* Maybe there IS one good reason to speak French. I’m all for “Coriandre” for “Coriander” instead of “Cilantro”, which sounds like a Marvel Comic villain.  But that’s it*

**Well, that’s it apart from poutine.

 

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Tea and Life, Tea Retail

Goodbye, David

A mini-blog today.

A week or so ago, I blogged about David’s Tea, and basically I said the jury was still out.

After a second visit, it isn’t any more.

We chose between us their Assam (Banaspaty), Oh Canada (Maple Rooibos) and a milky “Pure Chai”.

Pleasant, well meaning staff put the teas into these large paper cups.

Not one was strong enough to take that volume of water/milk.

With smaller, better cups, David’s could be worth visiting. Until then, it isn’t. Best to go elsewhere.

 

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Service, Tea and Life, Tea Retail, Tea Stories

Tea, Unexpectedly Naked.

If you read yesterday’s blog  (and if not, why not. What’s wrong with you?) you’ll know we left the Oolong Tea Shop very impressed. In fact, I left it believing it to be probably Calgary’s finest tea shop, and so, having business nearby, Lady Devotea and I decided to walk a few blocks and revisit the following afternoon.

We had walked for ten minutes and could see it. We were just a minute and a half away when the phone rang.

It wasn’t a dramatic phone call, not UNESCO calling to ask me to solve a tea dilemma or some world leader calling for some one-on-one tea coaching so as to not look ignorant at the G20 meeting, just a family call. But when one takes a call on a busy street, it’s often wise to duck into a quiet alley, doorway or niche in order to hear. As the call was for Lady D, I handed her the phone and we took a sideways step into a little alley that appeared beside us.

I know that diversions into unexpected alleys usually result in transportation to magical lands in fiction, so I had a quick check about for talking lions, lands of eternal winter or shops full of wizarding supplies, but failed to notice at first what Lady D was gesturing at: a large sign saying “TEA”.

I gave her the international hand signal for “I’ll check it out, and if it isn’t any good we can stick to the original plan” and sallied forth to do so.

Into The Naked Leaf.

The first thing I saw was the wall.

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The Wall

 

Well, it was kinda hard to miss.

I popped my head outside, gave Lady D the international hand signal for “We absolutely HAVE to have tea here” and returned inside.

The wall was composed of brightly coloured tins, and those magnetic spice holders that you normally see stuck to people’s refrigerator doors in clusters of 4 or 5. Here were a lot more.

I got talking to Jonathon, who owns the place, and we found we had not dissimilar tastes. In particular, I was drawn to a Taiwanese Black, Red Jade 18, which was redolent of the Ruby Red 18 which was the subject of my favourite ever of my own blog posts.

I had that, and Lady D had a Thurbo Oriental Moon from Darjeeling.

Mine was delicious, Lady D’s even more so. I then ordered a maple-flavoured Pai Mu Tan (Bai Mu Dan) for the hell of it. This is Canada, eh?

Nice descriptions and great sniffer cans.

Nice descriptions and great sniffer cans.

One of Jonathon’s brilliant innovations is he gets local artists to decorate his tins. When a picture is chosen, he prints 100 tins, no more. All the tins you see in the photo are tins that are no longer available. Needless to say, we bought a tin from his current crop and had it filled with his bizarrely titled “Too Good For A Name” blend.

The Naked Leaf does teaware, tea, and hot tea. Nothing else. Rather than sell you food, you get a little plate of biscuits with your tea. No coffee, no cake.

When I look at The Naked Leaf, I realise that it combines elements of all the tea shops we’ve been in over the last few days. It has the uncluttered layout of Communitea, the size of range of David’s tea and the expertise of the Banff Tea Co, the commitment to serving you a fine cup of tea that The Oolong Tea House has. The level of friendliness and service has been pretty universal in Canada, and it’s the same here, but it’s all wrapped up with some quirky individual features, such as the exquisite leaf design tea cups your tea is served in.

As an industry, we need chintzy tea rooms where you get scones and a choice of five teas. We need cafe-style eateries where tea is done well. We need places where you can pay way too much for a shiny china teapot and a bag of forty-seven fruits in a tea-free infusion.

We most definitely need places like Oolong Tea House where earnest young men with earnestly trimmed beards and earnest young ladies inexplicably wearing earnestly crocheted berets can converse earnestly over a cup of earnestly prepared pumpkin and pomegranate green tea.

But I need this. The treasure trove of teas, the familiar names, the intelligent discussion, the joy of new tea friends.

It comes down to two tea shops; a half a block apart. Both of them are class acts who any town should be proud to have. One of them is the best tea shop in Calgary (so far).

Which one is the best? It depends on who you are, and where you are on your tea journey. Our international circle of friends, I suspect, would favour The Naked Leaf. Our kids, who are in their 20s, would favour Oolong Tea House.

It’s tempting to suggest that Oolong Tea House is a Tea High School, and that The Naked Leaf is a Tea College. but that’s not quite the right analogy. Neither is it a schism, like Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader. There is no dark side here -you’ll find that in supermarkets.

Perhaps here’s what’s important: if we only get one more hour to spend in a tea shop before we leave Calgary, my preference would be to spend it in The Naked Leaf.

Unless we have a tea drinking companion in a crochet beret.

 

 

 

 

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Tea and Life, Tea Retail, Tea Stories

Mountain Tea

My self imposed rule about not reviewing tea places in countries where our own teas are available has meant not much action in the review arena for some time, and now here’s two at once!

Whilst the title of this post may briefly excite @lahikmajoe, @lazy_literatus and other Greek Mountain Tea enthusiasts, this post is not about GMT at all, so as you were, gentlemen.

Instead, it’s about yesterday’s day out, where we sat in a car, aimed it at the big lumpy things on the horizon, and drove.

They are called the Canadian Rockies and based on my limited experience of actual mountains, (coming from a country that basically doesn’t have them) these are in the class of “quite big ones”.

Of course, I had to remember that Calgary is a kilometre above sea level, so we are already quite high up.

Anyway, a day of mountains, food and tea was promised, so we duly set off at the crack of dawn. Let’s say 8a.m. I guess 9a.m. will be fine, we are in no hurry.

We set off at 10.20. I was already keen on getting some tea in.

We drove through quite a bit of snow by my standards i.e. I am used to none. Plenty of snow covered fields still.

Past some lovely lakes and fir tree covered hills, all the while the mountains got bigger.

Being English, Lady Devotea has some experience of snow and mountains. Being Canadian and pre-Canadian, our hosts have quite a bit as well. I have very little. I dressed for snow once on an excursion up the Pyrenees and it was 26 degrees Celsius. Today I took no chances and donned several layers. First stop: Canmore

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View from a bridge:Banff

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Main Street, Canmore

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French Press of Lavender Cream Earl Grey, Maple Black, Snowflake Black at Comminitea

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Communitea, Canmore

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Clouds through a window is not a new experience, but it is when it’s not an aeroplane.

Canmore is lovely. See!

Nice little alpine village, and a stop at Communitea Cafe.

Our experience at Communitea was patchy. The tea list is extensive, and numbered, Chinese menu style, so they actually want you to order that way: “a 120 and a 106, please”. Sadly, while they have numbers, they have no explanations or description..

Service was patchy, they seemed to have a lot of staff who were all quite busy on what was a fairly quiet service. Neither of the staff I spoke to had much idea of what ingredients were in the tea, and the canisters were inconsistent: some had ingredients listed, some didn’t.

I went for Maple black, and others had a Lavender Earl Grey and a Snowflake black (with milk & sugar). I did not try the Earl Grey (allergies) but it smelt over-lavendered, the other two were quite good, the snowflake (which seemed to have nuts and coconut in it ) was the better of them.

I also bought three little sample bags, enough to do one big pot each, and really quite expensive. So far at home base we’ve had the After 8 Rooibos (an impressive choc-mint blend) and Himalayan Chai (fear of ginger has reduced this blend to quite bland).

Overall, it’s the sort of tea shop where, if you lived nearby, you’d quickly get to grips with the 40 or 50 teas and get on well with the friendly staff, but as a one off, it was a bit lacking. Had I struck a real tea enthusiast behind the counter, all would have been much, much better.

There’s a bit of a pattern developing based on David’s and this one: perhaps Canadians would prefer a bunch of flavourings in most of their teas, as I am seeing very little single gardens or even single region.

Anyway,a quick walk around the lovely town and then off to Banff.

Banff! It’s a bit legendary, isn’t it?

We had a great pizza, and a fantastic stroll. Also something called a “Beaver Tail”, which is basically a fried lump of flat doughnut dough covered in confectionary. It conforms to the general rule of Canadian Traditional Cuisine I’ve seen here, which is fry the hell out of something and then cover it with something even more unhealthy. Needless to say, I’m loving it.

I had in mind the Banff tea Co for a final destination in Banff, but when we got there, it was no tables, no chairs, just a retail store front. I was disappointed in that – not their fault.

And it was stacked with people.

I asked for 100 grams of the tea I had been planning to drink (Moroccan Liquorice) and found an amusing infuser, and headed to the counter. During my purchase, I expressed my disappointment I  couldn’t get a hot cup of tea. “Of course you can” said the server. “What would you like”?

As I already had the tea I wanted dry style, I had to think fast

“Didn’t I see a ‘Canadian Breakfast” on your site?

“Yes”

“What’s in that”?

“I don’t know, this is my second day”

“Can I have a sniff of it”

The canister was duly produced. I had a sniff.

“African, Indian and Chinese tea blend” I pronounced.

“No, that’s not right”, she said, “the ingredients are on the back. It’s tea from China, Tanzania and India”.

Faced with providing a geography lesson or just ordering the tea, I chose the latter.

It turned out to taste like cheap English Breakfast tea.

I think Banff Tea Co are a wonderful tea shop, but one I didn’t get the best out of. If I’d arrived at a quiet moment, I would have had a ball talking tea.

I am yet to try the Moroccan Liquorice.

Anyway, a splendid day out and two tea experiences that  were encouraging, rather than spectacular.

But never fear, because my next post IS about a spectacular tea experience. Stay tuned.

 

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Tea and Life, Tea Retail

Short Circuit

Before I surprise all of my readers, let me just say I am quite surprised myself.

Barely three months ago, Lady Devotea & I announced an exciting new adventure: moving our headquarters to the UK and in that time, Lady D has been at the helm of a new tea shop that has presented our blends to the discerning English palate. With the notable exception of one gentlemen who objected not only to the Australianness but also the Americanness of our Lord Petersham, it has been very well received.

It was a great foundation for our next chapter, based in the UK.

So the stunning news is: we are returning to Australia.

The situation is not of our making. Neither of us is ill; we have not fallen foul of The English Tea Council and been run out of town for our stance on teab*gs. Our plans have simply and irrevocably altered.

Over the next few days, I’ll post something about the tea shop.

To our friends in Adelaide, we’ll be seeing you soon.

To the wonderful people we’ve met here, thanks for enriching our journey. It saddens us to go, but we are going.

At this point, we’re not making any further comment, and are heading off for a short holiday.

You’ll have to wait until our story is sold to Hollywood and released as a blockbuster.

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Service, Tea and Life, Tea Retail

Eight Minutes To Normalise

Eight Minutes.

I just set the timer beside me for eight minutes.

In eight minutes, the cake I have carefully made to Lady Devotea’s exacting recipe will be ready to come out of the oven. It’s strawberry and white chocolate. There is no flavouring except actual strawberries and actual white chocolate.

But I digress. I have a rant to get to.

I got up today in order to let three people into the building at 5am. I’m usually up by 5, although that’s not the same being showered and in full “pants-on” mode by 5.

Two of the three people did not arrive on time. One has just arrived 90 minutes late.

The five minute warning just went off. Maybe a quick check on the cake.

So, the guy that I let in at 4.50 is an electrician, and before long, I offered him a cuppa. I was delighted to find he was a tea drinker.

I asked him which of the 30 teas I had at my disposal he might like.

“I just like normal tea” he said.

I recoiled a bit. There’s that word again. “Normal”. “Normal tea”.

It’s an expression I hate.

What’s normal? I could be existential about it and ponder the true meaning of normality, or hazard  a guess about the paradigms that exist with his reality… Is that really eight minutes? Best check the cake.

Looking good, but might give it another four.

Back to “normal tea”.

Unfortunately, exploiting underfed, unwell, unhappy African workers, smashing tea up with machines and then shipping to somewhere else with cheap labour – perhaps Poland – to be encased in cheap bags before stocking UK supermarket shelves with them is ‘normal’.

Well excuuuuuuuse me for saying “NO! THAT’S NOT NORMAL”.

It may be usual. It may be common. It may be prevalent. But it is in no way normal.

To call low grade teab*g tea “normal” is to imply that a proper cup is “abnormal”. It’s suggesting that either the method or the leaves themselves are not the real way of having tea.

Well, get a grip, guys.

Everytime you agree to have a cup of teab*g tea, you are going down the “abnormal” route. Don’t try to pin that on us loose leaf lovers.

WILL SOMEONE SHUT THAT TIMER UP, I’M RANTING.

OK, cake out, scones in!

Someone once said “Cafe owners who use teab*gs are thieves, or stupid, or both“*. Someone once said “Nothing says how indifferent I am about you than a cup of teab*g tea”.**

We must fight, people!

Now that our first branded permanent tea shop has been open a week, I can look at the figures.

For starters, the tea to coffee ratio is really pleasing to see. But I digress.

Slightly over 50% of our tea sales so far are Lord Petersham. And people are coming back for more.

So as far as I’m concerned, that’s what’s normal, A blend of hand picked teas named after an obscure Edwardian Lord, crafted for the daytime palate and served with whatever you want on the side.

Normality has been restored. Thank you for your patience.

Scone, anyone?

* I've checked and that was me
** Once again, turns out that was me

 

 

 

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Tea and Life

One Kilo

I haven’t blogged for a while, and that’s down to an almost unprecedented level of activity and exhaustion

For those of you are unaware, Lady Devotea is opening a tea shop, in a pub in England. We are living above it and I am pitching in with the renovations to our living space as well as immersing myself in a writing project.

In a month or two, I’ll obtain the necessary paperwork and run it with her: in the meanwhile her effort is superhuman.

One thing she has done is install a one kilo container of Mokabari East Assam tea downstairs in the pub after the departing managers appeared to take the teab*gs with them.

Builders, painters and the odd punter have been enjoying pots of this delicious tea.

Inexorably it is being depleted.

One cup at a time, eh?

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Tea and Life

One Lump Or Two?

Life is frantic, and that’s my excuse for no blogging for more than a week.

Lady Devotea is working 18-20 hours per day in her new job. I am using that same time to work on extensive renovations, shop for every single thing you need in a new country and research and writing the new book.

When I crawl out of bed after a few hours’ sleep, rather than a leisurely two hours of blogging, I’m dismantling a kitchen. At least we now have one habitable room plus a working bathroom.

So, I was sitting around talking* to the staff who now work with Lady D, and one story tickled my fancy so much, I knew I had to blog about it.

One staff member was talking about a business she used to work in where the male owner and the female manager enjoyed a lot of “personal time”. Long impromptu meetings – champagne included – with muffled sounds coming from the behind the office door – a door they really should have locked on one apparently memorable occasion.

So, talking to the staff member who actually walked in on them in the act of sharing their great and abiding passion – a passion his wife may well have had some thoughts on – came this gem:

“Well, it wasn’t the first time I caught them at it, I came in early one day and found them <insert your favourite euphemism for going at it like the clappers here> on the front counter, next to two cups of tea”.

I’ll repeat that last but… “NEXT TO TWO CUPS OF TEA”.

My immediate thought was “Well, there’s a blog right there”. Followed by “never go buy a sandwhich where that front counter is”.

I just thrilled to the possibilities.

Were they planning a three minute act in order to time the brew to perfection? Perhaps they both drank it black and were waiting for it to cool when they were seized with an unstoppable passion?

Or maybe, just maybe, it was the tea itself that drove them to contravene the rules of polite society and enact a scene of infidelity, carnality and food hygiene offenses.

I’d like to think so. And I’ll leave it there, because your imagination is where this story is truly fleshed** out.

 

 

*Researching, not talking. Researching, definitely. 

** Yes, I said “fleshed”.

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Service, Tea and Food, Tea and Life, Tea Retail, Tea Stories

It’s Happening Now

A year ago today, on our Wedding Anniversary, Lady Devotea and I were having a bit of an adventure.

We were in Las Vegas, having flown in the day before. It was the day before World Tea Expo and we had a dazzling array of stuff to look at, sights and sounds to absorb, book launches to be at and afternoon teas to attend.

It seems so much more than a year ago, but it isn’t. Today is once again our Wedding Anniversary. 28 fantastic years.

I’ve been quiet of late, hinting at stuff happening, but not blogging much.

The truth is, we’ve been working on a project that is huge for us. And whilst I would like to have announced it in March, and in my birthday post in April, and almost did in my last post for Lady D’s birthday: at no point have I been able to say for certain what the immediate future holds for us.

Until today.

We are spending our anniversary in a hotel in Adelaide, and it is our last day in Adelaide. We have sold up. We are moving on.

I’ve lived here since 1983, Lady D since the early 70s. Two thirds of my life: my entire adult life, I’ve been a person residing in Adelaide, South Australia.

The seeds of change were sown by our trips to the UK/Europe two years ago and for me particularly, America. I loved the energy, the welcome and the optimism. I must say I returned feeling a bit dissatisfied with my life and work here.

Not so much the tea – our pop-up tea shops were a great source of delight in particular – but the HR consulting work we had been doing for years was starting to get really dull. And clients were nervous about the economy.

I couldn’t reconcile the staid conservatism and caution here with the extravagant energy and enthusiasm of everywhere* we’ve been in the last few years that was not here: Thailand. London. America.

And so, it happened. Lady D and I were mid-karaoke one day in January and we got a Facebook message from a cousin of my good Lady. A couple of “how are you?” type-messages were exchanged.

Then, as Tom Jones‘ “Sex Bomb” started, a two-sentence business proposal was put to us. And before the song was finished, we had accepted.

What followed was months of intense work, putting together a business plan to make our newly acquired dream a reality. Most if it throughout the night.

By early March, we’d put together the greatest plan ever. And we received a crushing blow when it seemed all for nothing.

A month later, we were working on Plan B, when we got the news that the people we had lost out to had pulled out. It was back on.

That was four months ago. In that time we have re-written the plan four times. We’ve had wins and we’ve had setbacks. Times when it was so close we could touch it. Times when it seemed impossible. We had marathon days of 24 to 30 hour of continuous work; other days where nothing happened at all.

And so here we are.

It’s not all gone to plan, but it’s happening. It’s happening now.

We are in a hotel room, as I said, surrounded by huge suitcases. Our furniture and household effects have been partly sold off, partly put into storage, and partly loaded onto a cargo ship. Our cats are residing in a four star kitty hotel in Melbourne, awaiting a tearful reunion in about 5 weeks.

Our beautiful house, where our children went from teenagers to fledglings and then flew the nest, became the place we ourselves flew from when it changed hands yesterday, gone to a lovely couple with three children of their own.

This is our last day in Adelaide. The Devotea Australia has been handed over to one of our sons to manage.

Tomorrow, we board the plane for England, and a new life.

Our business partners this week took over a traditional English Pub in a wonderful village 40 minutes from London.

We will be living and working there, after some remodelling (of the pub, not us!).

The most important part of that remodelling for all of our tea friends will be this: the fifty seat Devotea-branded tea rooms that will form part of the complex.

We will take the opportunity to relaunch our on-line business the UK, and we don’t believe this will be the only Devotea tea room in England. There will be more to come.

It’s not all plain sailing from here. I’ll have to spend some time back in Australia obtaining the right work visa which will mean a bit of frustration and twiddling my thumbs. The building needs a lot of work. There are renovations to both the pub and the living quarters.

The past six months or so of work may well pale into insignificance compared to the next six. We will need all of our boundless energy and enthusiasm. We’ll need all of Lady D’s skills in remodelling the space to transform it from “room in pub” to “tea room/cafe/bistro” (as well as the other spaces), and we plan to launch that side of the complex July-ish.

So, there you have it.

Its all happening.

And it’s happening now.

 

* Obviously not France
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