TOAST has worked with TIOSK, modern makers of tea in London's Broadway Market, to select four delicious single estate teas. Below we interview Natasha, the founder of TIOSK.
Where did the idea for Tiosk come from?
Almost 3 years ago now, my business partner and I were comparing our crazy work lives and many years of experience in senior roles in the fashion industry, when we decided that despite having eight children between us (4 each that is), it would be a great idea to start a totally new career while we still had half a life left! We then set about coming up with ideas, ranging from the completely daft to the potentially exciting. TIOSK was one of the latter, (although there is the odd day that we reflect on that moment, particularly if we have stayed up all night packing tea...).
We feel that tea is really due the same attention as coffee, in fact well overdue. Great quality looseleaf tea should be easily accessible on the high street in all its varieties, brewed perfectly and served in a contemporary, inviting environment - just like coffee. To date it remains the poor sister of coffee in most cafes.
As a nation, we no longer find it acceptable to be served granulated coffee in a cafe or restaurent, therefore it seems so old fashioned that we are still willing to pay for a cup of tea with a shrivelled up tea bag clinging to the cup.
In the same vein, it seems outdated to sell food that is bad for our bodies and given the many health benefits of tea, the Tiosk Natural kitchen was an obvious pairing, and so TIOSK was born.
We consider ourselves to be 'Modern merchants of tea'.
What did you do prior to Tiosk?
I have spent the last 30 years in the fashion industry. Most recently I directed the European Retail Operations of a global American fashion brand and prior to that I looked after the retail developed and European stores for several amazing fashion brands. My business partner has had a similar career on the wholesale side of the industry, together our business acumen puts us in a great place to develop and expand a brand.
How would you summarise the Tiosk philosophy?
Our food habits and desires are like the road map of our emotions. We desire differently if we are tired, happy, sad, stressed or excited. Some people are acutely aware of why they crave certain foods & how there bodies respond to those foods and can even manipulate their health and their mood through their food choices, others are completely oblivious and can end up exacerbating issues by not recognising their bodies signals.
At TIOSK we try to provide really healthy seasonal whole foods & natural teas that taste and looks delicious and are good for your body and mind - even if you don't know it yourself! We hope that we are the place people come to for lots of healthy options in both tea based drinks and in food. The place that you don't have to make any effort at all to be healthy.
Eating healthily should be simple and easy and if you make it a habit, just maybe you will start to get your tastebuds to prefer foods without refined sugars or bad fats for example. That said...there are times when what I call 'soul food' is the only solution and so we also have some pretty scrumptious traditional cakes & classic teas for those days!
At Tiosk, we quietly offer you the healthy option, but would not dream of judging you, whatever your food choices may be.
How did you discover your love of tea?
I think it was the first time that I tasted a particular black tea that tasted like ripe mangoes and orange blossom - I was hooked. There are so many amazing teas still to be discovered by most of the population. On the whole people still drink traditional teas like Earl Grey and English breakfast and are seldom exposed to all the other amazing teas available. Being able to share what we call 'teas best kept secrets' with everyone is really exciting.
What is your favourite TIOSK & TOAST tea and why?
My absolute favourite has to be the Milk Oolong. It is such a special tea, a luxury that can be enjoyed everyday. A Taiwanese high mountain tea, made from the Jin Xuan (aka Golden Lily) cultivar, this tea is lightly roasted and rolled, enhancing its creamy, buttery caramel like notes and bright liquor. Milk Oolong can also be re-brewed 2 or 3 times which makes it a sound economical investment too. Its one of our staff favourites.
What do you wear to work?
I like to wear practical, traditional workwear. Cotton jumpsuits, painters smocks, stripy tea shirts and canvas pumps are pretty much a uniform for me . A handful of simple wardrobe staples of hardwearing, quality clothes, make the morning mayhem with my four children a whole lot easier to manage and I don't need to worry when I get covered in Matcha or Avocado in the TIOSK kitchens!
Thoughts on collaborating with TOAST
The collaboration with TOAST has been one of our proudest moments. I have personally been a big fan almost since its inception. The TOAST product and lifestyle conveys a sense of practical quiet beauty, it is natural and unassuming. All qualities that TIOSK aspires to.
TOAST & TIOSK - THE FOUR TEAS (to be enjoyed with or without milk)
Little Melon SeedTea a sweet tea, with a slightly herbaceous, full, clean flavour and nutty aroma.
Smoked Assam Oolong Tea a luxurious, full-bodied tea with a subtle, smoky flavour. Unusually this Oolong is from India (most are from Taiwan).
Japanese Genmaicha Tea a nutty, green tea, bright and golden, with a slightly umami flavour.
Milk Oolong Tea a velvety, smooth Taiwanese tea with a delicate and creamy flavour.
The Oolongs can be re-steeped two or three times. Theglass and olive wood teapot, with its drop down filter, is clever, good-looking and just right for re-brews.