It’s the latest craze to pep up your daily cuppa. The bath bombs for your brew!
First there were bath bombs, which transformed boring bath salts into an explosion of colour and scent. Then there were hot chocolate bombs, which added a bit of pizzazz to a traditional cup of cocoa. Now — wait for it — there are tea bombs.
It is the latest craze to beset the beverage world. Tea bombs come in various guises. But all promise to convert a dull old cuppa into something more magical.
Like most trends these days, they appear to have taken off thanks to social media, with videos with the #teabomb hashtag garnering 25million views on TikTok.
But, as one expert pointed out, adding theatre to your morning cup of tea is not entirely new. ‘Considering how long tea has been around, I suppose these are a very new idea,’ says Sam Sameen, who runs The Tea Makers of London. ‘In fact, they’ve been quite a thing in China and Taiwan for at least 25 years or so, but these trends can take a while to come across to Europe.’
The latest trend tea bombs promises to make your cuppa a magical experience. Videos on TikTok with the #teabomb hashtag have accumulated 25million views
The version he sells are often called tea ‘bulbs’, which look like dried and scrunched up bits of vegetation. But when you add them to hot water they slowly unfurl to create these large sculptures made of tea leaves and dried, edible flowers.
‘It is a more sensory experience and I think in recent years they have become more in demand because of the rise of mindfulness. This is a very relaxing, mindful way of enjoying a cup of tea,’ says Sam.
They are painstakingly handmade, using bits of cotton to tie the leaves together ensuring they will blossom in the right way. ‘It’s a bit like complex origami,’ says Ottilie Cunningham, head tea buyer at the venerable Fortnum & Mason, which sells five different ‘flowering teas’.
‘They are definitely being bought by those looking for novelty rather than serious tea aficionados,’ she says. ‘But they are incredibly beautiful and great fun.’
More modern tea bombs involve encasing either looseleaf tea or a tea bag in a shell, invariably made from isomalt, a sugar-free but sweet substance that you can sculpt into interesting shapes.
Some involve edible glitter. When you pour on hot water the shell should dissolve and you are left with a cup of tea — a very colourful and sweet one.
But which tea bombs have a proper bang, and which are just a whimper?
Flowering Tea Gift Set (£13.95, fortnumandmason.com)
Fortnum & Mason’s new tea gift box contains four ‘bombs’ – captured heart, jasmine fairy, sweetheart and double dragon
Fortnum & Mason is famed for its amazing, and amazingly expensive, tea selection. This little gift box is very much part of that tradition.
You get just four ‘bombs’ — captured heart, jasmine fairy, sweetheart and double dragon — and each one works out at nearly £3.50 a pop. But the result is quite spectacular.
Each ‘bomb’ unfurls into an exotic garden in your tea cup or pot. You need to make sure it is glass to enjoy the full effect. The tea tastes nice and delicate. 4/5
The Tea Makers of London Artisan Flowering Tea Bulbs Gift Set with Five Bulbs (£20.95 theteamakers.co.uk)
The Tea Makers of London Artisan Flowering Tea Bulbs Gift Set with Five Bulbs includes jasmine basket and lily heart
You get five tea bulbs, such as jasmine basket and lily heart, along with a rather nifty glass tea cup infuser. This is made up of a central container holding and showing off the flowering ‘bulb’, with small holes allowing the drink to drain into the main cup.
This means you can enjoy the spectacle without having a mouthful of tea leaves. Clever. The green tea is delicious. 5/5
A STICKY SITUATION
Chocolate Digestives Tea tea bomb (£7.50, birdandblendtea.com)
Chocolate Digestives Tea tea bomb. The tea is wrapped in a shell that dissolves in the hot water
This is a classic modern tea bomb: some tea wrapped in a shell that dissolves in the hot water.
However, the shell, made from isomat, melted but not fully. Instead of dissolving, it remained a sticky residue in the bottom of the mug, into which the bag sank and got stuck. The end result created a mess, which the floating bits of ‘gold’ leaf did little to alleviate. The tea was OK, but a bit thin; I’d much prefer a standard cuppa and a proper digestive. 2/5
NOT QUITE A POP STAR
Classic Tea tea-pops (£8.99, myteapop.com)
Classic Tea tea-pops contains six pops about the size of a large sugar cube but in the shape of a heart or star
These are curious. You get six ‘pops’, about the size of a large sugar cube but in the shape of a heart or star, with each one stuck on to a natural straw.
The flavours are English breakfast, Earl Grey and jasmine green tea. The pop immediately dissolves in hot water, as you stir to make a quick cup of tea. Which does make one wonder why you’d get these rather than a tea bag — apart from the novelty value.
Founder Tan Diep says the pops — made by distilling tea and freeze-drying the extract — make for a purer cup, without the fertiliser and dust found in cheaper loose-leaf teas. That’s hard to prove. But it’s a smooth cup of tea. 3/5
SWEET AND FLORAL
Fennel & Lemon Zest infusion tea bomb, (£3.75, Cocoa Bombs and Beyond, etsy.com)
Fennel & Lemon Zest infusion tea bomb. Inside, you get a fennel and lemon Twinings tea bag, plus the edible flowers that were embedded in the shell
Be warned : these are pretty huge — almost as big as a tennis ball. You’ll need a large mug or small teapot. But they are clearly hand-made and the large shell dissolves more successfully than some.
Inside, you get a fennel and lemon Twinings tea bag, plus the edible flowers that were embedded in the shell.
It’s a tasty herbal tea — if you like it on the sweet side.
The dissolved shell may have zero calories, but it tastes like you’ve added at least one lump of sugar. 3/5