Tea isn’t just a quick cuppa to Ann Davis.
It’s a passion. “I live, sleep and breathe it,” enthuses the retired Royal Mail employee who now has her own tea company.
She drinks pots of it, too – though the first brew of the day at her Bessacarr home has to be fresh coffee.
It’s a throwback to just a few years ago, when coffee was all she would drink.
Husband Paul, formerly export manager at Rotherham engineering firm Guest and Chrimes, would come back from business trips to China waxing lyrical about the wonderful teas he had tasted on his travels and proffer little packets for her.
“But I turned my nose up. We gave them away to friends. I can’t believe how silly I was,” she says now.
It wasn’t until Paul brought back a tiny Yixing teapot, made since the 14th century from special clays found only in the area near Lake Tai Hu, that she turned over a new leaf.
She began collecting the teapots, realised she really ought to put them to good use and began trying leaf teas. A passion for loose tea began and on taking early retirement from her job in human resources, she decided to launch her own tea company.
Online and at farmers’ markets and craft days, The Tea Experience sells around 25 imported high quality loose tea from the Far East and Europe, plus tea ware – from strainers and bamboo tea scoops to old-fashioned caddies and those highly sought-after Yixing teapots.
“I don’t hate teabags; there’s a time and a place for them, just as there is a time for a cheap bottle of wine and another for champagne,” says the woman who has a tea costing £74 an ounce in her cupboard awaiting special occasions.
Not that the ones she sells are anywhere near as pricy. She recommends osmanthus, a steamed green tea with the peach overtone of osmanthus blossom, as a refreshing drink after a heavy meal, or as a thirst-quencher on a summer day, and Yumman flowers orange Pekoe, a rounded, black Chinese tea great as a morning cuppa with or without milk, both at £2 for 50g. Says Ann: “We buy teas you can’t get in a supermarket.’’