No my friends, this is not tea that has been collected by our simian friends, bullied off of them by locals who get paid $1 per week to get physically abused by a monkey irate at being separated from his hard-earned leaves, boxed up, sent to a civilized, advanced Western land where that self same tea retails at around $50 per kilo by hippies who want to do their bit to support the developing world while at the same time accumulating hipster points. This is something else entirely. Something beautiful, something pure, something unrelated to monkey slavery.
Tea Monkey is both a company and a concept, determined to offer consumers an alternative to the world empire coffee chains springing up in every city, town and street corner. They are a chain of specialist Tea Cafés set up and self-financed by Tracey Bovingdon in 2011, with Tracey wanting to deliver an eco-friendly, modern café concept, and all their cafés offer customers 40 varieties of loose leaf and bagged tea, free wi-fi and complimentary iPad use and visually pleasing surroundings in order to make their visit as enjoyable and accommodating as possible. To ensure all staff are able to provide helpful, accurate advice to budding tea drinkers or seasoned veterans of the leaves, all staff are trained by a UK Tea Council Consultant.
Tracey asks: “England’s a nation of tea drinkers so why isn’t there a chain of tea cafés to rival the likes of Starbucks and Costa?”
Their ethical approach to business and focus on environmental sustainability, combined with their exemplary customer service and quality products resulted in them being named “Best Tea UK” at the Beverage Standards Awards 2011.
They opened their flagship café in Milton Keynes, UK very close to where I was working at the time, and although I’ve never enjoyed the taste of the more traditional teas like Earl Grey, Assam, Darjeeling or the widely used Breakfast blends, I do enjoy Green and Fruit teas, and found Tea Monkey offered a great range of teas for a non-traditional tea drinker like myself.
Their drinks menu is comprehensive, and covers the main groups of tea including Flavoured Teas, White Tea, Black Teas, Green Teas, Tisanes/Herbal Infusions, and Specialist Teas, while also offering a short but perfectly adequate coffee menu and an absolutely wonderful range of cupcakes for you to nibble on while you work your way through their teas.