Do you love tea? Well, us too! Here at About Time HQ, we’re big tea lovers – so we’ve teamed up with We Are Tea for a special week dedicated to the stuff – follow them on Twitter and get involved by using the hashtag #WeAreTeaWeek. Here we catch up with Daren Spence, the man behind the magic to discuss tea, shortbread and more:

So, what inspired you set up We Are Tea?


I don’t drink coffee and was pretty disappointed with the tea on offer in the coffee shop chains, so decided to redress the situation. In fact, I was particularly inspired by a tea shop that my wife and I had visited on a trip to Budapest back in 2005, it had such a dazzling array of choice, that it really opened my eyes up to the possibility for a similar offering here in the UK.

What’s your favourite whole leaf tea?

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It really depends on the time of day. In the morning, I like a good strong Assam to help get me going. In the afternoon, I prefer something a little lighter so a Darjeeling is usually my preferred choice.

How do you source your tea leaves?

We follow a simple philosophy – we ethically source, exceptional whole-leaf tea from some of the finest artisan producers on the planet.

Why do you think tea is so popular in the UK?

Tea is not just popular in the UK it is ingrained in the fabric of society. That said, I think most people drink tea out of habit as opposed to finding it pleasurable. We are trying to change that.

What’s the secret to making a good brew?

Just like with cooking where it is impossible to make a beautiful dish from average ingredients, the same can be said of tea. Start with a great product and you cannot go far wrong.

How are whole leaf teas different to tea bags?

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Most teabags, due to space limitations, contain smaller particles of tea known as fannings so whereas I would say whole-leaf tea is more like a fillet steak, the tea in most teabags is more like minced beef. It can, of course, be a good quality minced beef but give me a fillet steak any day of the week.

What’s your favourite cocktail to make with your tea?

My favourite cocktail is the Assam Grape Smash, which I make with our Assam tea, Rock Rose Gin, elderflower cordial,  freshly squeezed lemon juice and white seedless grapes.

What’s your favourite dish to make with your tea?


My favourite dish has to be my very own Earl Grey shortbread. I start by infusing sugar with our Earl Grey Supreme and then follow a regular shortbread recipe.

How are you different to other tea brands on the market?

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We are a truly independent tea brand and as such our key focus is the consumer. From our colour-coding system to help our customers navigate through our range to our Simplicitea infuser to help consistently deliver the perfect cup, the consumer is at the heart of everything we do.

We strongly believe that speciality tea does not have to be complicated and all that we do is focused on opening up this wonderful world to anyone willing to listen. Still a long way to go but we are making a difference.

London’s best breakfast can be found at:

The Albion in Shoreditch is always a great choice.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

There are so many brilliant London restaurants these days but Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte is a fantastically simple proposition. I like the fact that they do one dish very well.