Get your streamers and mugs out… it’s only National Tea Day today! Oh, how we LOVE a nice cuppa. Whoever you are and whatever you do, you’ve got to admit tea is a beautiful thing and to mark this most special of tea-drinking days, we’ve been chatting to Tea Expert Extraordinaire Euan Barker - can you be an Expert Extraordinaire? Ahh, you can when tea’s involved!! :)
Anyway, Euan’s the founder of Moo and Two and has a lovely speciality tea (and coffee) shop in Frome, so we asked him some stuff about tea of course!
Now’s your chance to pop the kettle on, relax with your warmest brew and have a read of his Four Thoughts. They’re cracking!
1. Can you tell us a bit about the idea behind Moo and Two - and about your lovely shop?
Moo and Two started because I was forever having tea made for me in the wrong way! I wouldn't say I’m a particularly fussy tea drinker… I just can’t stand sugar in my tea and I lived with a friend who, for whatever reason, was convinced I took sugar in my drinks. So, after a bit of thinking, I came up with a simple solution - personalised mugs that say exactly how you take your tea on them... “milk with no sugar’, for instance! I did a bit of research and found that no-one was making anything like it, so I decided I would. What simpler way to completely alleviate the problem I’d suffered with for so long! :)
The development from the success of these mugs, which were initially crowdfunded, was to open a little tea shop in Cornwall, a handmade tea and coffee trailer we’d take to festivals and now, finally, a fully established beautiful tea and coffee shop in the heart of Frome.
Myself and my dad built the shop out of recycled wood and along with help from some wonderful friends, we turned an empty building into a beautiful creation in just two weeks! It was instantly popular, with customers taking an interest in our wide range of organic whole leaf teas (we go to India to get and source them, then blend in-house), our delicious locally roasted coffee, wonderful small plates menu and our ever-growing collection of vinyl that’s always playing.
In the shop, we prioritise customer attention alongside a huge amount of knowledge about everything we offer and I think that encourages customers to try something new, or to keep coming back for their favourites. We have such a fantastic local following, made up of around 20-30 regulars who come in to the shop every week. These chaps fill the place. They’re fascinating individuals and have been so supportive in all of Moo and Two's progression.
2. It's National Tea Day. What cuppa will you be drinking on this most special of days?
For National Tea Day (a day we’ll be wholeheartedly celebrating in Moo and Two), I’ll be drinking two teas. My first will be my all-time favourite - a simple Earl Grey. This is my own blend of whole leaf black darjeeling, bergamot, a small touch of citrus and blue cornflowers. I encourage this to be left for around 3-4 minutes to infuse and then, a little splash of our organic Ivy House milk can be added to it if you so wish. This really is the most delicious milk known to man.
After a few cups of the Earl Grey, I’ll be moving on to a new favourite of mine - Tulsi Tea. Tulsi tea is simply holy basil tea, picked and dried and then I've blended it with a light Keralan green tea. There’s a very lengthy story that tells you how and why Tulsi tea is so wonderful, but at the risk of sounding like a complete arse I'll probably refrain for now ;). This tea should be left to infuse for around 3 minutes too, but be brewed at a lower temperature of 75-85 degrees. The taste is spicy, almost mint-like and completely stunning.
3. If you could sit down with anyone for tea and cake right now, who would it be and why?
If I could sit down with just one person? That’s a bit of a loaded question as there are so many people I'd love to enjoy a brew with :) If I really had to choose... it would be Tom Waits. There are very few days that go by in the shop where I don't spin a Tom Waits record. He’s quite possibly one of my favourite musicians of all time and to be totally honest, I just enjoy hearing him speak. Despite his love for coffee and cigarettes (if you haven't seen it, I would highly recommend the film), I think he’d be a wonderful companion for tea and once we'd got most of that gravel out of his throat, I'd like to talk to him about music - sad, dark, thought provoking music that makes you stop everything you’re doing and just breaks your heart each time you listen. And then maybe some cheery stuff too!
4. Tell us a secret about Moo and Two that no-one else knows :)
A secret about Moo and Two....? I don't feel like I can give you one good enough without getting someone, or myself, in to trouble! Come in sometime and I’ll have found a suitable answer.
Well Mr Moo (and Two), we’re coming in for National Tea Day, so I’m hopeful of getting a secret then :).
I don’t know about you, but listening to Euan talk tea really makes me curious about all the different blends it’s possible to try, so I can’t wait to go in for something new and brew-tea-ful (I know. Sorry/Not Sorry!!) in their ace surroundings.
If you’re in Frome, pop by to try out some tea from the heart and soul! A tea tasting would be very Somerset cool now wouldn't it? :)