When you think of afternoon tea, you probably conjure up images of perfectly cut triangle sandwiches, scones cut with jam and clotted cream and pots of steaming hot tea. Maybe there’s a picnic blanket in there somewhere, or a twee gingham table cloth, either way the whole concept of afternoon tea has seen a surge in popularity recently. So much so in fact, that it’s on the menu of pretty much every decent bar and restaurant in the city.
Prosecco Parties are also on the rise – a little more of a dangerous concept – the idea is that the prosecco flows until you can stand no more, and with places like No.28 leading the pack, these “tipsy tea parties” are very real.
But what if you could combine the two and have the best of both worlds? We know that in the North East there’s a huge drinking culture, we’re famous for it, but we’re also partial to a decent cup of tea. Well, Lukas Passia and Vincent Efferoth of Tea Venture think they’ve found the answer to our Geordie prayers with NovelTea.
NovelTea is billed as an alcoholic “tea experience”, which aims to provide a crossover for tea drinkers, and people who enjoy and alcoholic tipple. The packaging is slick meaning it certainly looks the part & there are two distinctly different blends, or “Tales” available – The Tale of Earl Grey and the Tale of Tangier. I was invited long to an exclusive launch event at Mason & Rye within Fenwick Food Hall to find out more about this strange new product.
I arrived at Fenwick Food Hall right on time and was handed a glass of The Tale of Tangier poured over ice. Sidebar, if you’re not familiar with the concept, alcoholic tea is massive in Austria. The leading brand, Jaegertee, just like NovelTea, can be served warm or cold and in Austria it’s a huge hit on the apres ski scene. Sounds gross right? I promise you it’s not.
Anyway, back to Fenwick. The Tale of Tangier is a rum based concoction with green tea and mint, it’s a drink that takes a little adjusting to but I found that after a few sips I really enjoyed it. It’s a moreish flavour and tastes like it was made for garden parties in the sunshine. Of the two, this is definitely my favourite.
The second of the two blends, The Tale of Earl Grey, is gin based, so think juniper and botanicals with black tea, and bergamot top notes. As a gin drinker I was looking forward to trying this but actually found that I preferred the minty after taste of The Tale of Tangier.
We’re treated to afternoon tea (natch), as well as a presentation and speech from the founders of NovelTea who are passionate about their brand and having it represented in the correct way. The pair have worked meticulously with the support of Newcastle university to ensure the product is ready for market and Fenwick are the first retailer to offer it for sale in their Newcastle store.
With many of the city’s newer bar offerings clamouring to sell NovelTea by the measure, it won’t be long before the warmer weather is here and the North East Fast Pack are out on some super secret roof terrace sipping alcoholic tea, because when it’s this good, it’s hard to refuse.