It’s always exciting when an invite to a blogger event pings into your inbox, none more so than an invite to afternoon tea at Ringtons…
This would be the first time this historic family-run business opened its doors to bloggers and Prosecco and Pie certainly felt honoured to receive an invite to this unmissable event and go behind the scenes of one of the North East’s most iconic businesses.
Our party of six were made to feel more than welcome throughout the whole afternoon – from the welcome sign at the entrance to our very own personalised place settings and tiers upon tiers of afternoon tea for us to enjoy. It’s impossible not to love the heritage behind Ringtons, and today was a fascinating opportunity to learn how it all began in 1907 to become the household name it is today.
Running my own business has taught me so much about building a brand that’s recognised for its family values, integrity and trust and today we discovered that this is very much a part of Ringtons’ ethos as a company. Despite now having offices across the UK, their roots are very much Northern and the business is still run by generations of the founding Smith family. Eagle-eyed visitors to open air museum Beamish might have seen the old Ringtons horse and cart in the town there? Did you know that is only one of two left in the world now? The other is currently on its way to Beijing, China to attend a tea exhibition.
Over the course of the afternoon we were treated to a visit inside the all-important tea tasting room and understand what a day in the life of Ringtons’ tea blending team is like. We had the opportunity to talk to the Ringtons Tea Taster who’s travelled the world tasting tea in ancient tea gardens and sampling over 400 teas a day!
Working our way down the line of black teas, white teas, oolong teas, green tea and fruit infused teas – we had a hilarious time trying to copy the “proper” tea tasting method of rapidly sucking the tea to the back of your tongue and spitting into the spitoon. My favourites were the incredibly moreish Strawberries and Cream fruit infusion (which I first sampled whilst enjoying afternoon tea at Jesmond Dene House) and rather surprisingly, their aromatic “Birds of Paradise” loose leaf tea which won a prestigious Great Taste Award in 2014.
(Click on images to enlarge)
Despite knowing very little about the mechanics of what makes a “proper brew” – I quickly learnt to appreciate the complex beauty of tea thanks to my afternoon with Ringtons. The subtle difference between green tea and white tea, trying teas I would never have normally tried and learning tips like not to reboil the kettle after the water has cooled as it creates a stale cup of tea or coffee.
As the loose tea leaves dried in the warm air, their burnt orange, fiery red and delicate green residue left strangely beautiful stains atop their teapot lid, reminiscent of an artist’s watery paint palette.
The joy of being presented with three tiers of afternoon tea treats and endless cups of freshly brewed tea and getting to call it “work” will never cease to be a pinch-me moment for me. We rounded the afternoon chatting more about our favourite teas, fond memories of getting tea delivered to our door (or seeing our grandparents answer the door to the familiar Ringtons man) and getting to know everyone better as we sat around the board table sipping tea and eating a seemingly endless supply of biscuits.
Thank you for such an insightful and enjoyable afternoon Ringtons, we’ll have to do it again some time – after all, I’ve heard the kettle is always on at your place…