Saturday, February 28, 2015

Time for Tea

It is snowing again here in the Ozark Mountains, cold and still coming down. It has been snowing us in the last 3 weekends and we've been stuck at home and mostly indoors. We try to get out and enjoy the wonderland but the cold limits that time. So inside we've been drinking more tea than ever, especially since I just received a giant order of my favorite teas from across the pond.

It's been nearly a decade since I visited Bath, England, since I stopped in the Jane Austen Center, since I drank that first cuppa Winter Mix in The Regency Tea Room about the Center on a cold English January day. And even though it has been so long, the aroma and taste of that tea takes me back in memory with surprising clarity and immediacy. Scent memories are powerful magic. 

The tea that the Jane Austen Center serves if from Gillards of Bath and after tea that afternoon I found their booth in the Guildhall Market and bought a few bags to savor back at home. They've been selling tea since 1886 and they know what they are doing. The Winter Mix is a black tea peppered with orange peels, almond pieces, cloves, and petals of cornflower, sunflower, and hibiscus. I rationed that souvenir bag for some time before it dawned on me that they might sell their tea on the great wide web. And so they did. I've been ordering from them for 9 years now. 

I have tried many of their blends by now and haven't been disappointed once. I have to warn you, though, that for US customers the shipping is quite steep. I pay as much for shipping as I do for the tea.** That said, Gillards Teas are so reasonable that it is still quite affordable. And I find loose leaf tea a bit steep in my area. With shipping and all, it is still cheaper than anything one could find at the new/booming/overpriced Teavana. The more you order with Gillards, the better deal you get. If you order 8-10 bags of tea  (125 grams/4.5 ounces) they cost about $8.75 a bag, shipping included. (FYI Teavana is selling tea for $6 -10 for 2 ounces). Usually a couple of friends and I pool our orders to make a large order.

Gillards Tea comes beautifully packaged in bags that keep well. And if you'd like you can have them traditionally wrapped which makes a beautiful gift or treat for yourself. I usually opt for the cello bags because they keep the tea fresher. I reccommend the Winter Mix, of course. The Earl Grey is the best ever. The Jane Austen Blend is a great black tea and Chai is wonderful, too. I've also been pleased with smoky, mysterious Russian Caravan, the Apricot, Mint, Mrs. Woodward's Blend, Christmas Tea, and Summer Mix. All just fabulous. So gather your friends and make an order!

Worth every penny/pence.

**Gillards informed me that because many packages were getting lost in transit, they now deliver packages that require signatures, resulting in a higher shipping rate. They, too, wish they could offer less expensive shipping for international customers

Just a portion of my tea loot.

Traditional Flat Wrapped - Add a note during checkout if you'd like it.

An old photo of Gillards Tea in Bath, England

Where you'll find them now in the Guildhall Market
My first cup of  Winter Mix in the Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Center, Bath.

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