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My friend Wendy and I live a reasonable distance apart. We grew up together, went to the same school, college and for a time, the same university. On the occasions that we get to see each other there?s nothing we enjoy more than a chat over a good cuppa. There?s nothing better than catching up on old times over a cup of tea and that?s exactly what we do. She?ll come through the door, sit down and I will offer a brew. ?Oh I love your tea? is the usual compliment. Whether she actually means it is anyone?s guess but her comments are in line with my sentiment when it comes to choosing the type of tea I use. For me there is no contest between my favourite choice Nambarrie and the other brands proliferating the supermarket shelves. You might describe Nambarrie as Northern Ireland?s answer to Yorkshire Tea. It?s a tea almost exclusive to the province although recently it has been made available in larger parts of Scotland. Based in Belfast the brand was established some fifty years ago with the actual tea itself having been produced since 1860 at the same premises in Victoria Street in Belfast. Within the supermarket these days there are umpteen brands of tea. From the dust like supermarket economy brands to Darjeeling, Earl Grey and such like, Nambarrie is in a category of its own. The tea itself is a blend of Kenyan and Assam leaves and it is this blend that gives Nambarrie its unique flavour. It?s difficult to describe the taste of tea for, to many of you, it probably tastes the same no matter what the brand or the place it was made. I beg to differ and my friend Wendy would certainly agree for whenever she descends here she just can?t resist the charms of my mug. On the spectrum that is flavour, tea has a rating level starting at ?dish water? and ending in ?mud?. Nambarrie is firmly in the middle being neither too strong nor too weak to the extent you might be forgiven for thinking it had been dredged from the Thames. Imagine the smell of a house you?ve just spent hours cleaning and you will begin to understand the level of refreshment you obtain from a cup of Nambarrie. Being a student tea is as much a part of my diet as alcohol and it?s important I enjoy it and that it?s readily on tap. I like to make what I describe as a ?workman?s? cuppa ? the type where you fling a teabag in a cup, add some water, milk and sugar and you have a perfect cup of tea. To ascertain the quality of Nambarrie you might like to understand just how well the tea infuses in the water. There are teabags that turn water like mud in two seconds flat. There are those that you have to stir for an eternity before you get so much as a hint of brown in your mug. Nambarrie is different ? it?s the type where in a few seconds the golden hue of a freshly brewed tea is released into the hot water and should you require extra strength a few seconds longer is all it takes. In a fast moving lifestyle like mine Nambarrie is sold as being a quality tea for quality time and if you ask me this is marketing genius. Ok so you might want to call me a sucker for advertising but true to form this is a tea that seems to compliment those situations where your best friend is in tears and you are trying your best to console her. A tea that refreshes you after a hard day at the office and one that calms your nerves prior to a final exam. I rely on Nambarrie to guide me through the stress of exams, essays and even the annoying customers I encounter in work. Occasionally - usually on a Sunday evening - I like to settle down and relax. If I?m working the next morning and cant afford to be drinking alcohol there?s nothing I enjoy more than bringing out the teapot and making a brew the traditional way. The instructions on the side of the box advise that you warm the pot before using it and allow one bag for every two to three cups. Leave it for three to four minutes and you have the perfect blend. It really is refreshing to sit down , unwind, relax and savour the taste of tea at its best. If caffeine were a class A drug then I would surely have been arrested for supplying it a long time ago. If there?s one aspect of social etiquette that I firmly believe in it?s that you should always offer your guests a drink and the kettle is the first thing I reach for. I dish out countless cups in the course of a day and it?s no surprise that I drink my way through a 160-bag box in your average month. At a cost of £1.49 for 80 teabags Nambarrie is a competitive brand and is by no means a speciality tea. If like me you consume enough tea in a month to warrant starting your own production plant then you will be pleased to know that Nambarrie comes in boxes of 40, 80, 160 and 440 bags. If you still brew your tea the traditional way (and why not if you have the time) then you?ll be pleased to know it?s available in 125 and 250-gram boxes at a cost of 79p and £1.55 respectively. Perhaps you are thinking by now that it?s all well and good me having this particular brand as my favourite thing but what about those of you who happen to live on the mainland? Before I discovered their website I used to ship cases of Nambarrie to my friend in England because she simply couldn?t resist the flavour of what she described as ?Irish tea?. Now the company has gone one better and provided an online facility for worldwide visitors to buy Nambarrie and have it delivered to their door. The online price is somewhat more expensive at around £1.89 for 80 bags and that doesn?t account for delivery. Nonetheless you would easily pay this at the local corner shop here and the £1.49 I quoted earlier is reflective of the price you?d expect to pay in your local Tesco. With so much doom and gloom having come out of Northern Ireland in the last thirty odd years it?s nice to be able to write about something positive. Here in our tiny province the distinctive red and yellow logo of Nambarrie has been an institution for generations and as a child it?s one brand I always remember as having a place in our kitchen cupboard. There are many things unique to Northern Ireland and Nambarrie is a brand of tea that has proven itself to be dynamic, innovative and as synonymous with quality as it?s marketing department would have us believe. From an ethical point of view the company has helped in raising £1 million for a local cancer charity and is forever present in sponsorship of local competitions and events. Next weekend my friend Wendy is certain to land on my doorstep to tell of how her boyfriend has just dumped her and how her world has fallen apart. Never one to be good at solving other people?s emotional problems the least I can do is sit down listen and console her in the best way I know how ? with a nice cup of tea. Which leaves me with one last thing to say. In my best Northern Ireland accent ?stick the kettle on there love?. Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined dooyoo, or you've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August. www.nambarrie.com
Established for over 50 years Nambarrie is 'Northern Ireland's favourite tea'