Drinking in the tea experts’ digital hot spots over a good old brew.

In 2012, husband and wife duo, Phil and Aideen Kirby, founded Brew Tea Co. In part, the move was a response to their growing suspicion that, despite being known as a nation of tea schlurpers, wine and coffee quaffers had long been getting the better end of the deal. Determined to celebrate their choice of drink, they decided to demonstrate just how good – and transformative to one’s mood – a good old cuppa can be when done right. As they say, it is never ‘just’ a cup of tea.

Despite not hailing from a tea background, their bold and colourful graphics; their willingness to be quirky; to ask a million questions of suppliers; and to work only with Ethical Tea Partnership growers soon made others sit up and take notice. Nine years on, Brew is stocked everywhere from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose to Harvey Nichols and specialist tea shops, their mission to create teas that taste as they should do evidently having answered the gap in the market that they spotted almost a decade ago.

Here, they settle down with a cuppa to tell us why a guide to birds is the app they couldn’t live without; how a self-confessed ‘wildlife weirdo’ is their Instagrammer of choice; and why meeting their drinkers still feels like magic.

My favourite website...

Aideen: Wikipedia. It's good for superficially scratching an itch about a date, someone's age, populations etc. I like trying out the random article button if I've got a spare few minutes... which usually ends up turning into an hour.

Phil: Right now I'm very much into the recipe section of Big Green Egg's website. But otherwise it's usually news that I read up on most.

My favourite app...

Aideen: The app I refer to the most is Bird Guide Pro. It's great for my daughters, who get to see some good photography of the birds that flit on and off our feeders – and they're obsessed with seeing bird egg photographs, for some reason!

Phil: Definitely the Weber iGrill app – nothing like charting the progress of the internal temperature of your food in real time is there really?

My favourite blog...

Phil: I'm not hugely into blogs but over the last year I've read a bit on Inc.com and also Gates Notes for book recommendations.

My Internet hero...

Phil: I'm listening to The Innovators by Walter Isaacson and there are some great people in there who paved the way for what we now know as the internet.

My favourite podcast...

Aideen: Technically not a podcast, but I do catch up with Mark Kermode's Scala Radio show at some point each week.

Phil: I definitely spend more time on Audible, but do try to keep up with Kermode And Mayo's Film Review. Love that show.

My favourite YouTuber...

Aideen: I confess, I am not a Youtube person. I've clocked up an impressive zero minutes over the past seven days.

Phil: I have absolutely no idea. Probably couldn't even name one.

My most recent buy online...

Aideen: A seat belt harness for our collie pup, who is slowly getting used to car time!

Phil: The Big Green Egg barbeque. I’ve wanted one for years after seeing a demo at a stockist of ours. It's living up to all expectations so far.

Last book you downloaded or read...

Aideen: The last audiobook I read was Marie Le Conte's Haven't You Heard? It's all about gossip in Westminster - it was fun but informative. Perfect.

Phil: One of my current Audibles is Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull. He's one of the founders of Pixar.

Favourite tweeter...

Aideen: Elon Musk - never a dull day, but the SpaceX/Starlink stuff is really interesting.

Phil: After the recent European Super League farce, it's got to be Gary Neville. It's tough to say that as an Evertonian, but he was right and funny.

Favourite Instagrammer...

Aideen: @lucy_lapwing. Her Instagram stories are always so interesting – especially all the bug stuff!

Phil: I don't really use Instagram, but probably @nickdougherty5 or @philmickelson. No time to play golf of late - this is as close as I get!

Favourite tech gadget...

Aideen: It's my watch - it helped me get back into running properly last year at the start of lockdown.

Phil: We got a free Alexa with a phone contract years ago – with two kids it's really come into its own. Very funny listening to the 18-month-old trying to get Alexa to play Moana!

The most useful gadget/item on your desk...

Aideen: My real camera.

Phil: Very much in the process of decluttering all distractions. So I'm going with a good old pen.

Most useful digital resource (website/app etc) during lockdown...

Aideen: Trello was vital for getting work down when everyone was working remotely. And for keeping emails in check.

Phil: For work, probably Google Sheets, but at home definitely Audible.

Most inspirational digital resource during lockdown...

Aideen: Scala Radio's In The Park for a gentle wake up during an incredibly stressful time. It was most valuable during those cold dark mornings.

Phil: I listened to David Epstein's Range earlier in the year. It's all about getting a breadth of experiences and I found it really interesting.

First thing/app you look at on your mobile when you wake up/in the morning...

Aideen: I do not check my phone until much later in the day – girls to get ready, dog to exercise etc.

Phil: Sadly it's emails. I do try not to, but I just can't resist the temptation.

Last thing you binge-watched...

Aideen: Schitt's Creek. And I'll binge watch it all over again. Eww. Which reminds me of the last thing I looked at on YouTube - A Little Bit Alexis!

Phil: For All Mankind on Apple TV. I love a good space film or show and this ticks the box. However, Ted Lasso season 2 will certainly be the next one!

Favourite brands have you discovered online...

Aideen: Yoto Radio - it's my eldest daughter's bedtime staple. And Space NK's brilliant customer reviews mean I can buy skincare online confidently – unheard of before the pandemic!

Phil: Not one brand specifically, but as I love cooking online is a great place to buy speciality food and drink that is hard to come by. I tend to flick between a good recipe site and trying to find nice ingredients. You can't beat Delicatezza for Italian food.

Social media allowed me to meet...

Aideen: A drinker on the tube. We'd been talking on Instagram for a while, then there he was on the train in front of me. Completely unexpected and to this day it makes me smile - this is the great side of social media.

Phil: No one person specifically, but in the early days of Brew it was great to meet our drinkers from social at real shows and events.

The best digital advice I've been given...

Aideen: As the early adopters, we made the mistakes that became the basis of good advice. The best lesson is to keep off social media in your teens!

Phil: If you've got nothing to say, don't say anything.

My screensaver is...

Aideen: An image from a Chemical Brothers gig a few years ago now. Very much looking forward to being able to get out and dance again.

Phil: Does it show my age that might first thought on hearing ‘screensaver’ was that endless moving into space from Windows 95?

My standout online memory...

Aideen: I'm 35, so my best online memories are from when we first had the internet at the house - I must have been fourteen or fifteen. It was the most amazing thing to use MSN chat and find yourself talking to people from all over the world. It provided some much-needed broadening of horizons!

Phil: I'm going old school on this too. Definitely trying to cover the old dial-up modem with a pillow to stop my mum hearing that I was logging into AOL. Remember that awful sound?

My pet online hate is...

Aideen: How social media seems to mostly be about fighting with each other. It's like a pub where everyone has had one too many. I'm from Northern Ireland – big fan of peace and quiet!

Phil: It's too easy to be really nasty and hide away.

Do you have any online rules or resolutions...

Aideen: I do not look at my phone in the morning, I get outside with the dog first and check out the sunrise/listen to the birds. Much healthier.

Phil: Over the last few months I've tried to cut out a lot of the apps that just eat your time. We've got kids, a dog and a business which I'd rather be doing things with.

The Internet. On balance, a force for good or ill?

Aideen: Like all things it's wonderful when used properly, but it's addictive and not all good things can be found online. Get outside often, listen to the birds and feel the sun on your face – there’s still no better feeling, not even a funny bitcoin meme.

Phil: The internet is very much a force for good. However, I think social media is getting a little out of hand, for lots of reasons.

By Nancy Alsop
June 2021

Andrew D’Ambrosi, Chef-Patron at D’Ambrosi Fine Foods
Anna Jones, Food Writer, Stylist And Author
Robin Gill, Great British Chef

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.