Tea Masterclass at T2 Birmingham

Tea is one of the things in my life that I genuinely don’t think I could live without. And why should I? It’s delicious! I was first introduced to T2 by my cousin, who lives in Chelsea. She took me to the Chelsea store on a recent visit, where I took home their French Earl Grey and Sydney Breakfast loose leaf teas, both of which are absolutely delicious in their own way. When I heard that T2 had opened a store in Birmingham, I contacted them right away to espouse my love of their tea, and they kindly invited me to come in for a tea masterclass.

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The store in Birmingham is located on floor 3 of the Bullring, just round the corner from Goldsmiths Jewellers. It’s a lovely store, with their beautiful crockery displayed everywhere and hundreds of teas to smell.

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There’s even a tasting bar to sample their brews!

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As I arrived, I was greeted by the lovely Jordan, who was my tea guide for the morning. She explained a bit about the T2 range, the types of tea they stock, asked me about my preferences, then decided on a range of products for me to try out.

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We started off with a fruit tea infusion called Pumping Pomegranate, which we brewed to make iced tea. Packed with gorgeous, chunky dried fruit, the smell was absolutely intoxicating!

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Jordan recommended to use double what you’d normally use for hot tea and brew for 5 minutes to make sure it’s super fruity once chilled.

Once this was ready, Jordan got to demonstrate the really handy T2 Teamaker. I’m all for a proper teapot where you strain out the leaves as you pour, but this little gadget makes everything easier and less messy.

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You simply pour in the water, add the tea leaves and brew. Once it’s ready, you place the Teamaker on top of your cup and push down. There’s a pressure plate on the bottom of the jug which releases the liquid and strains out all the tea leaves, leaving them in the jug which you can just rinse clean afterwards.

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I love it! It’s so simple, and only £20 so would make a great gift. I’m tempted to buy myself one for the office so I can enjoy my favourite teas at work without the mess.

Onto the tea, the Pumping Pomegranate was absolutely delicious. It was really fruity and juicy tasting, with a lovely tartness so it’s not too sweet. Unlike some fruit teas, this really tasted like pomegranate and didn’t have the perfuminess which often puts me off. I could see myself drinking pitchers of this all summer long.

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Next we moved onto black tea, firstly trying their Irish Breakfast. This is similar to an English Breakfast, but lighter and smoother. If you’re not a fan of really strong tea, the Irish Breakfast is a great substitute, with plenty of flavour.

When we’d been chatting as we first met, Jordan picked up on my love of a chai latte. I’d expressed my disappointment at places like Starbucks who use flavoured syrups instead of brewing fresh tea, so Jordan decided to show me how T2 do it.

First up we brewed some straight up chai tea for me to taste, which was so lovely. The freshness of the spices really came through, especially the cardamom! After that, Jordan wanted to show me her failsafe way to make a chai latte, but with a bit of an Easter twist.

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T2 have a variety of seasonal feature teas, the Easter one being Baxters Buns – a hot cross bun flavoured black tea, with loads of citrus and spices. She decided to make me a Baxters Buns latte using her chai method.

We started by putting 500ml of milk in a pan to heat, then adding a 4-5 spoonfuls of tea.

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This should be brought to a rolling boil before being turned down to a simmer. Jordan told me that she used to heat the milk really gently when making a chai latte, but once she’d completely forgotten about the milk she was heating and it ended up boiling over. She was disappointed that she thought she’d ruined her drink, but decided to taste it anyway, and discovered that boiling the milk actually gave it a really creamy texture.

When she met an Indian customer in the store on another occasion, she told him this story and he revealed that in India, they also boil the milk, sometimes boiling and cooling several times before serving to get the drink really creamy, so she’d accidently done it the right way after all!

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After the milk has boiled and the tea has infused giving everything a gorgeous, aromatic smell, add honey to taste and serve up.

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Strain the tea leaves out of your milk, give it a shake if you want to froth it right up, then pour into a cup and drink.

The milk really did have a creamy, silky texture, and the flavour of the Baxters Buns tea was simply amazing – it really did taste like hot cross buns! Like the Pumping Pomegranate earlier though, it wasn’t too sweet, so all the natural flavours came out.

Next up I got to try Oolong tea, which is something I’ve always looked at but never really understood. Jordan explained that Oolong is partially fermented, meaning it’s halfway between black tea and green tea. It’s not as oxidised as black tea, but more oxidised than green, and depending on the style, it can be more like a black or a green in flavour.

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The caffeine content of Oolong tea means it’s great for mental alertness, and although not proven, it’s highly regarded for its health benefits and polyphenol content which could help with weight management.

Jordan’s favourite is Oolong Fresh, which is a blend of Oolong tea and spearmint.

www.gastronomicgorman.com Gastronomic Gorman Birmingham Food Blogger T2 Birmingham Tea Masterclass Oolong Fresh 2

It’s super light in colour and has a cooling effect from the spearmint. This would be perfect after a meal to soothe the digestive system and leave you feeling fresh!

Lastly I set Jordan a challenge. I want to love matcha, but when I try and make it at home, I end up with a bitter, green mess, so I asked if she’d make me a matcha tea the proper way to see if I really didn’t like matcha, or if I was just doing it wrong!

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The key to matcha, Jordan told me, is the quality of the tea and the temperature of the water. T2 matcha is ceremonial grade, meaning it’s the best of the best, so we were off to a good start. You want your water to be around the 80C mark, but if you don’t have a thermometer handy, Jordan says to 1/4 fill the cup with cold water and top up with boiling. The outside of the cup should be hot to the touch, but not too hot to hold.

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Add in around 1/4 teaspoon of matcha and whisk until frothy. You can get proper matcha bowls and whisks from T2.

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Once you’ve got a froth on the top, you can drink your matcha as is, or add to warm milk for a matcha latte.

I tried it as it was, and although I can’t say I was a huge fan, it definitely tasted better than when I make it myself! It had a grassy flavour with a hint of nuttiness, but none of the bitterness I found in my own matcha.

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If you’re a matcha aficionado, T2 have a great selection of matcha, including some flavoured varieties.

After a whistle stop tour through some of the T2 range, my masterclass had come to an end, but Jordan happily showed me around the store and told me about some of the T2 teaware you can buy.

These T2 Tea Kits make a great gift, with a measuring spoon, tea infuser basket and two loose leaf tea cubes. There are also a range of travel flasks with built-in infuser baskets so you can brew your tea on the go, and infuser jugs, ideal for iced tea.

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What I really love about T2 is the way they combine practical and modern products, designed for busy people like me, to help me enjoy great quality loose leaf tea on the go, with traditional crockery, teapots and teacups in bright, bold patterns.

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I couldn’t leave the shop without buying some new teas to try. Inspired by Jordan’s love of Oolong, I picked up a cube of Oolong tea and I decided to try the Japanese GMC Sencha, which is a blend of Japanese green tea and toasted rice, which I just loved the sound of.

Jordan was also kind enough to give me a little gift from T2, a cube of Choc Chip Chai so I could test out her method at home, and a tea infuser basket in aqua – which perfectly matches my tea set!

I left the shop feeling very happy, and brimming with new tea knowledge. Whether you’re mad about tea or don’t know the first thing, I highly recommend a trip to T2. All the staff are really friendly, totally knowledgeable about their products, and as Jordan beautifully put it “if you like your good old English breakfast with milk and 2 sugars, there’ll be no tea shaming here!”

So, for next time you pop in, here’s my top 5 teas to try:
Irish Breakfast – for regular tea drinkers
French Earl Grey
Sydney Breakfast
Jade Mountain – Green tea that tastes like Ferrero Rocher!
Oolong Fresh

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I was invited to my masterclass as a guest of T2, so all the teas I tasted were complimentary, as were my infuser basket and chocolate chip chai gifts. The Japanese GMC Sencha and Oolong tea cubes were purchased by me. All opinions are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 

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