When I was a student, I purchased a pair of sunglasses from Woolworths for a wallet-busting sum of £3.99. They may have been relegated to the car but they are a prized possession.
Whoever crafted the lenses did a fantastic job of pre-empting the Instagram-driven craze of photo filters by a good 10 years. Slipping them on as I navigate a regular drive down the A19 changes my world to a better time and place. It’s like living in an instagram world. The brown lenses turn the glaring sun into a heartwarming glow with golden tones drenching the otherwise monotone Teesside, and a standard blue sky into a still from 70s America. At this point I reach for the CDs looking for some moody jazz - 'GoGo Penguin' I can recommend or maybe
the soundtrack to DeNiro’s Taxi Driver, evoking a land of frequenting smoky bars, where cigars & whisky are the only menu items – and that’s ok.
They’re good sunglasses.
So what has this to do with Cake Stories?
Lapsang Souchong is a tea that offers a sensory filter onto any hour of any day akin to a pair of £3.99 sunnies.
Opening the jar fills the nose and the room with a smoky fragrance that makes you reminisce about evenings spent in formal wear, smoking cigars next to roaring fires in a wealthy mans country house that never happened - further endorsed by relaxing into the Chesterfield Wingback in the Cake Stories window.
After the loose leaves have been brewed for 3 minutes, the smoky tones are further enhanced as the first cup from the pot is poured, 'Instagramming’ the inners of my cup with golden tones and a heartwarming glow.
Drinking it black, the smoke is not harsh, but earthy and real. Pouring the milk is like moving a filter's 'intensity slider' as the tones are smoothed. The flavor is enduring, barely fading over minutes until you reach for another sip to accompany the conversation. Instead, it develops and matures from plumes to smoldering hints of wood and fruits.
It’s more than a step up from a bag of ‘T**ley’s everyday’, it’s a whole different world.
As I write this, the rain is bouncing off the Cake Stories window, but I don’t mind. Sipping my Lapsang Souchong I’m in a hazy bar in Nixon era down-town San Francisco, and the rain drops on the glass only prompt me to put my sunnies on indoors and take another sip as I drift into my instagram world.