Behind the scenes with our Isle of Harris Gin Tea: unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, we’re sure you’re heard of the wonderful Isle of Harris Gin. But did you know that eteaket tea created the Isle of Harris Gin Tea, a beautiful botanical-based brew taking tea drinkers by storm since last December?
Our founder Erica visited the distillery recently so we thought we’d share more about this tea-riffic collaboration.
As fate would have it, Erica’s mum was born and raised in Tarbert, Harris and a large part of her childhood was spent running along our endless sandy beaches and wading in the shallows of Luskentyre. This island connection has stayed strong over the years as Erica explains…
“My family still has close ties to the island so when my mum was given a bottle of Isle of Harris Gin for Christmas 2015 I shared a few glasses with her and it got me thinking. I loved the fresh botanical tastes in the gin and (along with the rest of the world) adored the bottle with turquoise hues. It seemed like a perfect fit for eteaket.”
Erica and the distillery’s MD Simon Erlanger got together and agreed to the creation of a special tea blend from the same botanicals used in the Isle of Harris Gin. The Isle of Harris Gin Tea blend was launched as a limited edition in December 2016. Although Erica had blended enough to last about 2 months we were all flabbergasted when it sold out in just 2 days.
“That Christmas was spent covered in sugar kelp trying to keep up with demand. I’m pleased to say the demand is still growing and we’re managing to keep stock up at the same time. As with most things when you’ve got your own business, it has been quite a learning curve.”
The success of the tea means it is now a permanent fixture in their considered range of products. And it’s not just Scottish tea lovers who have embraced the clean and refreshing flavours of this unusual herbal infusion.
“We’re regularly sending it to Japan, USA and Australia without us having done any marketing over there. It works well hot but I prefer to cold brew it with a tiny bit of Scottish heather honey. Simply put 2 tsps of the Isle of Harris Tea Blend into about 500ml of cold water and leave for a minimum of 3 hours (overnight is best). It’s just like having a G&T but without risking a hangover. Of course it also works well with the amazing Isle of Harris Gin itself in a tea cocktail.”
The herbal blend has beautiful ingredients like juniper berries and bitter orange peel but it’s the addition of Sugar Sea Kelp which is the key to the subtle coastal notes that mark out our tea and the spirit. Hand-harvested by a local diver, Lewis MacKenzie, from the deep underwater forests of the Outer Hebrides, this natural and sustainable ingredient completes the wider aspects of the gin’s flavour profile.
Erica was fortunate enough to take a trip out with Lewis during her recent visit to Harris and was amazed to see how huge the Sugar Kelp was in situ. Erica said, “I thought I had a dream job travelling the world, tasting tea and cake every day but Lewis actually gets to explore the wonders of the Outer Hebrides (above and below sea level) on a daily basis. He even gets paid to walk on Luskentyre beach! Not only did he teach us all about Sugar Kelp, he took us fishing, showed us porpoises, dodged the attacking Skuas (aptly nicknamed the aggressive pirate of the sea) and then fed the great White Tailed Sea Eagle (which he’s licensed to do)… .”
If you’re ever visiting that way but sure to drop Lewis a line. His company Hebrides Fish ‘n’ Trips does private boat tours for 1-5 people. More details can be found here.
Back on the mainland, we recently co-hosted a wee celebration of this wonderful G&Tea in our Concept store, with Isle of Harris Gin Tea Cocktails going down a treat.
We’ve got big plans for the coming 12 months, not least is a trip to Japan at the request of the Kyoto Prefectural Government to talk about tea culture in the UK. We also plan to visit tea gardens there and to research the tea market to hopefully start selling more eteaket tea over there – particularly our Isle of Harris Gin Tea.
These are exciting times and we’ve got lots more exciting ideas up our sleeves.
“I’m continually learning every day about the amazing world of tea and coming up with new ideas. I’m constantly battling to stay on an even keel with the challenges of eteaket and family life but it’s a fun challenge and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have to say a wee glass of Isle of Harris Gin at the end of a hectic week does help me keep things in perspective and for a moment I can be back on Luskentyre beach paddling in the shallows.”
We’ll drink to that!
ISLE OF HARRIS GIN TEA IS £7.95 AND AVAILABLE FROM: