“Big Issue!” cries the woman I’ve passed innumerable times on Tottenham Court Road. “No thank you” I mumble, a phrase that I’ve uttered and she’s no doubt heard innumerable times. “Come on, it’s my last one” she reasons with a smile. And so I buy it. Not because I’m particularly interested in reading about Benedict Cumberbatch’s failing love life, not because I’m scared of what she’ll think or even because I’m trying to make myself feel better, but because it’s a kind gesture: £2.50 will do a lot more for her than it will for me. I can’t help but feel the world has become overwhelmingly self-absorbed and helping out the odd Big Issue seller is, I suppose, a way of fighting the self-absorption that at times I find myself sucked into.
You may be wondering what all this talk of charity, virtue and self-absorption has to do with Pukka. It’s very simple: their new tea is as virtuous as they come.
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Whereas many teas in the Pukka range have romantic aliases ( think ‘Love’, ‘Relax’ and ‘Harmonise’), this tea is candid from the get-go. There aren’t any hidden ingredients, surprise flavours or demons of the small print. It doesn’t claim it can fix your relationship, get you a first class degree or make you beautiful. ‘Peppermint and Licorice’: it simply is what it says on the box. But frills or no frills, there is something else I find so compelling about this tea… its morality.
Launched a month ago, Pukka’s latest tea is the philanthropist of the tea aisle. Why? Because when you purchase a box of ‘Peppermint and Licorice’, you’re also purchasing a pledge of 20p to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). While we may all dream of protesting for the preservation of the rain forest or bungee jumping into the Grand Canyon for charity, in reality the rigmarole of daily life tends to force such aspirations onto the back burner. But do not fear! A few cups of this magnificent blend will bring you that little bit closer to fulfilling your philanthropic fantasies, all within the confines of the daily grind.
Taste-wise, this tea is as refreshing as its charitable ambitions and as vibrant as the box it comes in. Each sip brings a breath-taking wave of peppermint, an explosion of flavour and a resuscitation of the taste buds. But if you’re thinking it sounds reminiscent of the countless other mint infusions on the market, you’d be wrong. This tea is truly special: it could be the licorice, it could be an illusion, but I think it’s probably down to the manufacturer. Pukka understands tea. More than this, Pukka understands tea’s potential in the 21st century. Blend by blend, they are reforming the world of tea with their groundbreaking vision. They are smashing the traditional mold of the teacup in a fresh yet logical and realistic fashion and it works, as the winning combination of peppermint and licorice goes to show.
This tea is first-class. If it were a movie character, it’d be Austin Powers: psychedelic, undeniably endearing and dedicated to saving the world. It’s guaranteed to wake you up, pick you up or simply make you smile. But its charitable commitments are also guaranteed to make you feel that little bit more selfless. They say charity starts at home, but Pukka has proven it can also start in the shopping basket. This is consumerism with a heart and I ‘heart’ it.