“Where there is tea there is hope,” wrote Arthur Wing Pinero in the play Sweet Lavender. It’s an opinion shared by Henrietta Lovell, founder of the Rare Tea Company, a London-based specialist sourcing “the world’s best tea” and bespoke blends. Lovell is rolling out a series of new subscriptions that ship “some of our most popular teas and herbs” (£75 for six months) or “teas from the smallest harvests and the most celebrated gardens” (£210 for six months, every other month), while the just-launched Tea Lady’s Personal Collection (£495 for six months) offers the rarest finds of all, sourced by Lovell on her worldwide buying trips.
“The Tea Lady Personal Collection is for true tea lovers who want something no one else can get their hands on,” she says. “I can only offer a very limited number of this subscription and once sold, it will be a year before it is open again.” The first shipment includes a ceramic teapot, two tea bowls and a strainer by Devon-based potter Jacob Bodilly, alongside 15g of a herbal infusion created from blossom handpicked across Europe and the Himalayas. “It takes hundreds of fresh flowers, all individually picked, to produce a few grams of dry tea,” says Lovell. “This blend combines peach, plum, almond and cherry blossom to make one of the most ethereally beautiful herbal teas imaginable. It’s both delicate and extraordinarily rich.”
Subsequent offerings include China’s Premium Tai Guan Yin, the highest-grade yellow oolong from high in the Anxi mountains, and the Premium Da Hong Pao, a sought-after dark oolong from the heart of the Unesco-designated Wuyi Shan forests. “This is handmade in small batches according to ancient traditions and has deep, mellow chocolate notes together with a silky feel, like a vintage Krug.” Also from China is the magnificently named Emperor’s Golden Eyebrow: “Only two to three kilos of this tea are produced each year, making it one of the most valuable black teas in the world – made entirely from hand-rolled spring buds.”
Lovell has also included two of her own blends: a mix of Japanese sencha green tea and wild sweet cicely, a herb foraged in the forests of Jutland in Denmark; and her Himalayan Blend of the finest hand-rolled teas from across the Indian and Nepalese Himalayas. Tea drinking will never be the same again.