Our Speciality Tea From Golden Monkey Tea Company - Warwick
At The Famous Virgins & Castle we’re particular about the brands and products that we source for our food and drink. Where possible we like to work with local businesses in and around Warwickshire and we love working with companies who are as passionate about their products as as we are about our pub.
It takes a lot of time to find these great suppliers but it’s definitely worth it when the end product stands out as some of the best we’ve tasted.
One of the products that we’re proud to serve is our tea that we source from Golden Monkey Tea Co of Warwick. It goes without saying that as a pub we’re renowned for serving great beers, ales, wines and spirits, but for some of our customers, you just can’t beat a good cup of tea! Especially after enjoying a delicious meal from our menu, a cup of English Breakfast Tea might be exactly what you need!
We spoke with Maria at Golden Monkey Tea Co to get a little behind the scenes of her tea business and find out why many of our customers will be enjoying one of the best cups of tea served in Kenilworth!
Maria told us that Golden Monkey Tea Co are one of the only tea merchants in the area.
"The popularity of coffee has risen dramatically over the last few years. People enjoy going out for coffee which is now associated with experiencing a quality product that is difficult to replicate at home.
Tea on the other hand has been left behind and our association is now more intimate and homely with a massive 165 million cups per day in Britain. That has caused people to leave their tea drinking habits at home not expect equal quality when going out.
As a tea merchant we are trying to change this attitude and are excited to supply businesses like Virgins and Castle that believe tea and coffee should receive equal attention and therefore quality. This can only be achieved when using loose tea and not your average teabag."
Maria has been running Golden Monkey Tea Co in Warwick since 2008. The shop is situated on Smith Street in Warwick and is probably one of the only streets in the country that has all independent shops. On Smith Street there are around 50 independent shops.
Golden Monkey Tea Co has an extensive range of tea with over 120 different varieties, but Maria explained that there are so many more she could and would like to supply. As well as selling tea directly to customers who walk in off the street, Golden Monkey Tea Co supply restaurants, cafes and pubs like The Virgins & Castle with a range of different teas.
At The Virgins & Castle our range of teas include:
Gunpowder Green Tea
Bora Bora Fruit Tea
We chose Golden Monkey Tea Co because we really wanted to serve a loose leaf tea for its quality and for its environmental benefits. Most teabags create waste and are bound with unrecyclable plastic, so loose leaf was an easy decision. Also, Golden Monkey Tea Co have such a great reputation for quality and service. We wanted to start off with a good balance of teas on the menu to cover different tastes and times of the day and we really hope our customers will let us know what they think.
As well as serving direct to customers and businesses, Golden Monkey Tea Co provide tea tastings and this is something we really look forward to organising at The Virgins & Castle when we can open again.
Maria brings a selection of teas and shares her extensive knowledge, stories and anecdotes that help you appreciate tea in such a different way. Maria explained that there are more tea varieties than all other beverages put together in the world and yet they all derive from the same plant - Camellia sinensis. It’s incredible how exciting a relatively simple plant can be.
Maria had studied Industrial Design at university in Canada and met her English husband in Australia while travelling. She moved to Warwick and Maria realised that she wasn’t really loving what she was doing in design. Maria did however always have a fascination for tea. Its history, its health benefits and how every country and every person has a relationship with tea in some way.
In fact there’s a legendary story about Lapsang Sounchong tea. Apparently there was a factory in China that was making tea and one day as they were processing the tea they heard bandits were coming so they fled into forest to escape their anarchy.
When the factory workers came back they realised the tea hadn’t been dried properly so they panicked and got some pine from the nearby pine forest and smoked it in order to dry the tea more quickly. It worked, but the tea didn’t have a great taste and certainly not a taste they were used to. It coincided with a time when tea was being traded with the Dutch and so they sold this accidental tea as a new 'delicacy' to be brought back to the European continent. This newly discovered tea was a hit that everyone would come to love.
We asked Maria about the name Golden Monkey and she said:
“Monkeys are so naughty and fun. It’s a memorable name and also the name of a rare Chinese black tea. I seek monkeys when I’m travelling. There’s a magical place in Japan open just a few months in the year and a young monkey jumped out and kicked me during one visit and it’s this kind of mischief and curiosity that really appeals to me.”
Tea plantation located in Uji province south of Kyoto
When our pub manager, Andy, was introduced to Golden Monkey at the time, Andy described his attitude to tea as:
“If it doesn’t taste like English Breakfast then it’s not tea! If you were to tell me that I’d be drinking Peach Tea then I’d say never! I really like walking down Smith Street – there’s loads of great shops down there and you just get drawn into Golden Monkey’s tea shop! Now I just love trying all the different varieties and I think it only adds to what we already offer at The Virgins & Castle.”
Of course we asked Maria for her favourite tea and one that she recommends we try. A Caribbean Dream Black Tea is apparently top of her list at the moment although Maria explained that it’s so hard for her to decide. Whenever someone makes her a cup of tea they have to choose the variety for her because there is just too much choice!
For more information and to see the range of teas available at Golden Monkey Tea Co you can visit them on Smith Street in Warwick when they will reopen again on Saturday May 23rd 2020.
Golden Monkey Tea Co's website is www.goldenmonkeyteacompany.co.uk and you can also keep up to date with their Facebook page @goldenmonkeyteacompany