In July 2016, I was lucky enough to have a cheeky holiday in Spain, full of hot weather, sandy beaches, stunning architecture and plenty of cocktails! Unexpectedly, and most importantly, I was also lucky enough to have a few tea related finds along the way!
Being eager to start the holiday in style, myself and partner headed to Osteria 60, recently renamed Baglioni, situated in Kensington opposite regents park, for a vegetarian 3 course meal. I got into the holiday spirit with “The Smoky”; a gorgeously dark, yet sweet, cocktail that contains deep smoked notes and a syrupy orange sweetness. Made from Facundo Eximo rum, lapsang syrup and chocolate bitters; this cocktail is an intrinsic beauty. If this isn’t your style then there are plenty more cocktails and mocktails. Most notably “The 60” which contains a gin infused earl grey and a jasmine tea mojito.
Once travelled overseas, the first stop in our journey was Barcelona, where after a quick google, I was surprised to find a good collection of tea shops.
Caj Chai, which specialises in pure tea, and Tea Shop, which offers a mixture of pure and blends, look to be among the most popular. Unfortunately I didn’t make it in… Boyfriends hate tea shopping apparently… Does anyone else feel my pain with this? Fortunately, I did make it into Sans & Sans, which boasts a huge collection of tea.
Sans & Sans has seriously upped the tea shop game, with the inclusion of some super cool interactive screens to help customers explore their many blends! I spent wayyy longer than I should have marveling at their digital catalogue (perhaps this put boyfy off the other tea shops?), but felt it was such a cool addition to the shop, bringing this little corner of Barcelona into the modern day, a stark contrast to the medieval surroundings just outside. I finally decided on getting Barcelona No.553, due to sharing its name with the city I was in, and Madamme Li, as it contains the unusual combination of mint and jasmine.
Foodie Travel Tip: Isabella’s, in the Sarrià Sant Gervasi area, do a really good steak. Don't be alarmed when the waiter sets fire to a garland (I say garland because it was a sizeable sprig) of rosemary, which is then doused in a pot olive oil. The charred rosemary is then used as a brush to coat the steak. Spectacular. They are also some great signature cocktails.
After 3 days, we then ventured South to Benicassim where we stayed for a further week with friends. Unfortunately no tea shops were to be found, but there is a beach front bar that has an array of tea cocktails! A word of warning though, the Spanish aren’t shy when it comes to shot measures, making one cocktail go a long way…
As for non-alcoholic teas, I found that most eateries stocked a fair selection of black and green teas, more than most UK establishments even.
Sight Seeing Travel Tip: In the mountains behind the town of Benicassim is a fairly easy hiking trail, which leads through Centro de interpretación Paraje Natural del Desert de les Palmes (a nature park basically), to a 17th century monastery built in 1697 by Carmelites (a type of Catholic). It's just breath taking. The hike is a few hours long and in the summer you need to be on your way before 6AM in order to beat the heat. Make sure to pack enough water and a little snack and its totally worth it. We managed find it by about 8.00AM (it was already so hot!) just as the bells of the more modern monastery, situated about 500m away, started tolling. There has never been anything more peaceful! Since arriving back home, I also found out that you are able to contact the working monastery and arrange to visit their museum and winery!
Foodie Travel Tip: A short walk, about 50m, from the working monastery is restaurant Bruno, over looking the town of Benicassim and providing views across the mountains and monasteries. A great place for breakfast after the hike.
Finally we ventured to Valencia for a day trip, where to my delight, we stumbled upon La Petite Planethe, a shabby chic styled tea shop. I opted to purchase a green tea blend called Esencia de Valencia, again due to it being named after the city I was in!
Don't forget to check out the tasting notes of these teas in related posts. Also, don't be shy to comment and share any Spanish experiences you've had and how you found the tea!