PICTURE the scene: it’s the weekend, the sun is shining, you’re relaxing in the garden and you’re just about to make yourself a drink to cool down. So what do you do? Get out a beer? Pour a cold glass of juice? Grab a bottle of water?
No. You boil the kettle and make a brew.
According to Edinburgh’s best-known tea enthusiasts, there’s nothing better than a refreshing tea-infused smoothie, fruit drink or even a cocktail on a summer’s day.
“People think tea is just a cup of tea with a bit of sugar and milk but we want to show people how exciting teas are,” explains Sarah Chanter, general manager of Eteaket Tea Room on Frederick Street. “We want to show people the diversity of tea and make it a bit of fun.”
Eteaket has teamed up with top chef and Evening News columnist Mark Greenaway to pass on the wonders of this versatile plant.
They will be hosting a tea party on Tuesday at Restaurant Mark Greenaway, on North Castle Street, with a masterclass featuring a dozen ways to enjoy tea that don’t include simply plonking a bag in a cup.
The event is part of Marie Curie’s Blooming Great Tea party campaign, which raises money by encouraging people to host their own charity events.
With the theme “more than a cup of tea”, the Eteaket team are showing people how to produce mouth-watering delights such as Royal Earl Grey gin and cold press cranberry apple riot.
Sarah says the drinks are the perfect example of how tea can be used creatively and how it makes refreshing alternatives to summer drinks.
“A strawberries and cream iced tea was designed with Wimbledon in mind,” she says. “It’s a beautiful fruit infusion which is really simple – just brew the tea with a touch of sugar and serve it over ice with strawberries.
“The Royal Earl Grey Gin is Edinburgh Gin infused with Earl Grey, served over tonic. The citrus in the tea works well with the juniper in the gin and is a great tea cocktail.
“Iced chai latte is the frappuccino of the tea world. It’s a beautiful spiced black tea brewed really slowly and mixed with ice.”
As well as being used as a refreshing and unusual drink, the team at Eteaket also use tea for its health-boosting properties, and will pass on their secrets at the Mark Greenaway tea party, which will feature afternoon tea classics – including a teapot cake – prepared by Mark himself.
Matcha smoothies – powdered tea mixed with banana, mango and kiwi – apparently give your body a huge healthy boost, as well as a detox.
“Powdered tea is really good for you and gives you six times more energy than caffeine,” says Sarah. “If you imagine eating your greens, then this smoothie is like eating your green times ten.
“We are on a bikini diet in the office so there are a few smoothies being made. They are really good for detoxing, energy and all the benefits you get from green tea. It’s all about showing how much fun we can have with tea.”
Marie Curie’s Blooming Great Tea Party events will be held between now and June 29, and the charity is encouraging everyone to get involved.
“We’re so excited that Mark has chosen to hold a Blooming Great Tea Party and his passion for the event has got everyone excited to see what treats he’s got in store,” says Marie Curie’s fundraising manager Fiona Bushby.
“We’d like to say a big thank you to Mark and his team at Restaurant Mark Greenaway and also to tea boutique Eteaket for their support. It’s thanks to everyone holding a Blooming Great Tea Party that last year we were able to raise more than £24,000 needed to provide essential care to terminally ill people and their families at the Edinburgh hospice and at home across the Lothians.”
For ideas and information on hosting your own tea party, visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/teaparty or call 0845 052 4184.
Marie Curie has five pairs of tickets to give away to Mark’s tea party and exclusive masterclass. For details of how to enter visit www.facebook.com/mariecuriescotland. Closing date is 9am on Monday.