Joe Kinch has been a purveyor of fine organic teas since founding Joe’s Tea Co in 2012. ‘The Brits love tea,’ he says, ‘I wanted to create a product that tasted great and looked great, but without the pretension of fine tea.’ He learned from a young age how to combine flavours and the right ingredients, having originally trained as a chef, and he approaches tea-making in the same way. We’ll drink to that.
Secret to a perfect cuppa?
Select your favourite English Breakfast tea, preferably our Ever-So-English Breakfast. Fresh water in the kettle is a must; the oxygen in the water brings out the flavour of the tea leaves. Use your most-loved mug and steep to your liking. We recommend 4–5 minutes, but it’s down to personal taste; then add a splash of milk. Find a friend, sit down, take fives minutes and have a good old natter. Maybe treat yourself to a Bee’s Bakery jammy dodger.
Who serves London’s best brew?
London has so many amazing places to eat and drink at now, but I don’t think you can beat The Breakfast Club or Ben’s Canteen for a cup of Earl of Grey alongside brunch. When I’m in Paris I like to visit Mariage Frères tea rooms as they have a wonderful selection of blends and serve them with great style and etiquette.
Favourite foodie outings?
Give me fresh seafood by the sea and I’m happy. A road trip out to West Mersea on the Essex coast in the summer is where it’s at. There’s a fishing shack that serves seafood caught from local boats, you can’t book, you just rock up and they allocate you a table in a few hours. It’s a family business with so much charm; the specials are what’s been caught that day and the food and the service is perfect. You take your own bread and wine and they just look after the fresh fish. Afterwards you can go crabbing and take a walk on the beautiful coast. Order EVERYTHING: The Company Shed. When I’m back home in Clerkenwell, it has to be Morito on Exmouth Market or The Eagle on Farringdon Road. Both serve simple but brilliant food. I also recommend food at 10 Greek Street rounded off with a soothing Proper Peppermint.
What makes your tea unique?
When I set up Joe’s Tea Co, I wanted to make organic, premium, great-tasting tea accessible to a younger generation. I source the best tasting tea I can find cultivated by farmers using old-school, organic methods which ensures there are no nasties in the ingredients. I’m passionate about ethical sourcing and we’re proud to be certified as organic by the Soil Association. Alongside the classics, we have a few unusual blends to give you something a little different.
What is special about Ceylon tea?
For me, it has be the people. I work closely with my chosen Sri Lankan partners and I’m fortunate enough to be able to call them my friends. The tea, in my opinion, is second to none. It’s light, fragrant, floral and so moreish.
Sri Lanka tips?
I’d head to Galle on the southwestern coast and stay around Unawatuna beach so I can surf badly and eat well! Then I’d take a trip inland to one of the local national parks while en route up to the hills to search out a new tea or two.
We have a no-nonsense approach to tea and truly believe that tea should be drunk how you like it, not how anyone else tells you to drink it. That being said, it is best not to use boiling water on green, white or herbal teas, the heat scolds the leaves and gives the bitter taste that so many people associate with green tea which is such a shame, as it’s such a deliciously smooth flavour when brewed with slightly cooler water. You don’t need to obsess about it, if you have a temperature gauge on your kettle then boil it to 80°c, if you don’t, then just put an inch of cold water in the bottom of your mug or teapot. Black teas prefer boiling water for a fuller brew. If you’re brewing tea like ours then give the ingredients time to brew properly, they’re left real and whole so they need a little longer to extract their full flavour. We highly recommend having a go at cold brewing to experience a slightly different flavour profile of tea; add 10g of tea leaves to 2 litres of water and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours. Taste, play around and experiment and work out your perfect cold-brew technique.
Earliest tea memory?
Making tea for my mum in the mornings before school. She’s always been a tea-aholic – it must be where I got it from.