About fifteen years ago I was in Vancouver one Saturday just before Christmas. It was a  chilly afternoon, slightly foggy, and just as daylight started to fade, snow started to fall like icing sugar from heaven, dusting the pavements and parked cars.

Time for a hot cup of coffee. Tempted  by the glowing orange window of a specialist coffee shop I ventured in. It turned out it wasn’t just a coffee shop, it was a whole tea and coffee emporium. There were rare, exotic blends displayed in tiny wooden boxes, gold embossed tins that looked like square gold bars and large glass jars.  I was peering at the tea labels, to see where each tea was from when a tall, handsome tea “guru” who could have been soul singer Maxwell’s brother appeared from nowhere.  Soon we were on a whirlwind tea tour.  In the end I chose some chai, which Mr. ‘Maxwell’ wrapped up in a glossy gold foil pack and green gauze ribbon. I walked back to the hotel in the snow with my little package of “new discovery” chai tea gleaming like a gold Christmas decoration.

Steenbergs Organic Christmas Tea reminds me of that Saturday in Vancouver.  A fusion between mulled wine and tea, this chai tea is slightly spicy and very warming, it’s hand blended in small batches at the Steenbergs Tea factory in North Yorkshire to Axel Steenberg’s own secret recipe. It’s a mix of organic black tea from POABS Estates in Kerala along with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, vanilla and orange peel – all Fairtrade/organic.  It’s a lovely winter’s evening tea, and a good afternoon pick-me-up if your energy levels are flagging a bit.  The tin’s lovely too – hide the chocolate biscuits it in when you’ve finished the tea.

STEENBERGS ORGANICS Organic Christmas Tea (loose)

£5.50/125g  (free UK delivery for all orders over £20)

How to make it: You can brew it like normal tea and add milk if you’re in a hurry or at the office, but simmering 500ml water and 500ml milk together with a little honey or sugar and 4tsp of the organic Christmas chai tea for about 4 – 5 minutes takes the spiciness and aromas to a different level (careful though, don’t boil it).

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