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A Festival of Tea

Culture vultures of the world, unite: it’s glorious August, and festival-goers from up and down the country are flocking to Edinburgh for their annual Fringe binge.


With so much going on in one place, there’s no shortage of advice about where to go and what to see—from cutting-edge comedy to pop-up operas. But we couldn’t help thinking that there was one important piece of advice missing. How on earth will you know what teas to bring along?


Fret no more—we’re on the case. With our handy guide to tea at the Fringe, you can get on with enjoying the huge range of events and performances going on around the city.


English Breakfast


Ah, good old English Breakfast. It’s the most English tea of all … isn’t it?


In fact, you might be more than a little surprised to learn that English Breakfast doesn’t come from England at all. Stories of its origin vary, but a popular version alleges that it was invented in Edinburgh by a Scottish tea master. Little did he know that his innovative blend would soon catch the attention of Queen Victoria herself—today it’s one of the most popular teas drunk in England. Who would’ve thunk it?


Naturally, a good breakfast tea needs a good breakfast play—we’ve heard the Traverse Theatre’s Breakfast Plays are going to be one of the highlights of this year’s Fringe. Rumour has it you even get a free cuppa with your ticket…


Robert Fortune Blend


Here’s a riddle: what connects Edinburgh, culture, costumes and adventure? (Clue: it’s not the Fringe.)


The answer can be read in the leaves of history. Almost exactly a hundred years before the first Edinburgh Fringe, an intrepid Scottish botanist named Robert Fortune was sent on an undercover mission that would change the face of British culture: steal the secret to Chinese tea. Disguising himself as a Chinese merchant, he infiltrated a green tea factory and discovered the ancient techniques of fermenting, rolling and drying. We’ve learned a lot from Robert—for one thing, never to trust tea merchants in fancy dress.


You won’t need to steal the secrets to great tea as you trek to Auld Reekie—instead, we recommend you pack our Robert Fortune Blend in honour of the great man himself. Have a fresh cuppa before going to see Kat Woods’ new play Mule, an exploration of the darker side of adventure.


Whisky Tea


No, that’s not a review of the Fringe’s latest interpretive dance act—it’s Robert Burns’ “Tam O’ Shanter”, a poem so celebrated in Scotland that they named a hat after it. Every Burns Night on the 25th of January, we raise a toast of our Whisky Tea to the Scottish bard.


If you can’t wait till then, why not smuggle a caddy of our malty blend to Edinburgh? It might not fit in your bootleg, but it’s sure to keep you warm.


Burns often makes an appearance at the Fringe, and this year is no exception: Robert Burns: Rough Cut promises to introduce “the real edgy Bard”, while a guided Book Lovers’ Tour will map out the city of Edinburgh through its literary legends. Put on your walking shoes, and pack a Contigo Travel Mug —it’s thirsty work hiking through history.


O Gude Tea Comes and Gude Tea Goes…


Whether supplies run low or you just fancy a break from all that culture, our store in Edinburgh Old Town is well worth a visit. We can’t promise any improvised performances, but we can promise free tastings and friendly tips. You’ll find us on Princes Street—just around the corner from Edinburgh Waverley Station.


If You’re Travellin’ to the North Country Fair…


Do you have your own picks for this year’s Fringe? Comment below—whether it’s a hidden treasure or a year-on-year sell-out, we’d love to hear your tips.


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