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A Taste of Paradise

I don’t enjoy the grey we get in the winter days of January and February.  Once again made more difficult by Covid and its Omicron variant. Though I have so far avoided the variant, the consequence has been further restriction to my contact with other people. Travelling to London and meeting with customers who so regularly make a point of visiting us at 79 Duke Street.

In an effort to put aside my “Winter Blues”, I turned to our archive. This year is H. R. Higgins 80th anniversary and we have so many new and exciting things planned to celebrate. But for a moment, it was amazing to look back and reflect on how far we have come since those early days back in 1942. As I sifted through our collection, I enjoyed reliving moments from the past, immersing myself in the decades of history documented.

The archive contains not only information about the formation and early years of the company, but also the collection my father began into the history of coffee and tea. He began collecting before he founded the company.

At the end of the second world war when a lot of material was being offered for sale, he had an arrangement with Sotheby’s and other auction houses and dealers, informing him of any interesting items that were coming on to the market. This is the period when he expanded our collection. We have continued his enthusiasm and continue to collect.

My father had a somewhat haphazard habit of using letters and documents as bookmarks in his newly acquired items. Even to this day, I discover things that I have never seen before. To my surprise and delight I came across something recently that I thought I would share with you.

I discovered a handwritten document, with no clue to its source. It is entitled “The Art of Making Tea”. Some words have through age and the somewhat indifferent handwriting become difficult to read. These I indicate with *.

“The art of making Tea”
by Quang Tsi  (723-757)
Take a blue urn of Ni-Hurnin*. Fill it with water which has been melted from snow gathered at sunrise upon the western slope of the mountain Son Chu.
Place urn over a fire of maple twigs that have been collected from among very old moss and leave it there just until the water begins to laugh.
Then pour it into a cup of Hven Tcha in which you have placed some leaves of this tea.
Cover the cup with a piece of white silk woven at Hamachan* and wait until your room is filled with a perfume like that of a garden of flowers.
Lift the cup to your lips - then close your eyes - you will be in Paradise.


It made me smile, for though I have no mountain snow from which to gather my water, collected at sunrise, or maple twigs or old moss, I share the passion and enjoyment of the writer. The sheer enjoyment of freshly prepared tea and coffee can take me into another place.

Even with all the uncertainties around us, and I shall no longer think of water simply coming up to temperature when I prepare my tea or coffee, but as the writer says, wait “Just until it begins to laugh”

“A taste of Paradise” A bit over the top? Perhaps. Yet we know all too well the simple pleasures of a cup of coffee or tea and how much it can mean. That’s why we continue to go to the ends of the earth to find the varieties with flavours that will delight by giving give you the most pleasure.  

Please do not hesitate in contacting us online, or by phone at the Roastery or the Shop for the latest information about our new selections. If you have a question, please just ask us. At H. R. Higgins you can talk to real people who are there to help you,

Hopefully in the UK we are returning to something like a new normal, whatever that may mean, it won’t be like the old normal, but whatever it is we shall be there to bring you your special coffees and teas.

With my very best wishes

Tony Higgins


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