Friday, 30 July 2010

Earl Grey Taste Challenge- Day 10

A good quality Earl Grey really speaks for itself and I have recently enjoyed one that does just that- Grey's Teas- Earl Grey. This tea is a fine blend of China Keemun tea and Indian Darjeeling (I must admit, I really like knowing where my tea is coming from and it seems that the best quality teas don't mind telling you this) with a really nice balance of bergamot- refreshing and sharp, another sign of this tea's high quality. At the moment, this is my favourite EG tea that I've tried so far- and I don't say that lightly. The balance between tea and bergamot is just right, the tea flavour is smooth and delicious and the bergamot kick is just perfect.
This tea is refined and refreshing. I love it.

As a side note, something to send the tea enthusiast's heart a-fluttering is that the company's founder not only has a long career in tea, but is also a descendant of the Earl Grey, Charles Grey after whom the blend is founded. If that's not an exceptional pedigree, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

China in (my) hands...

Remember I had china envy last week? Well, thanks to the delightful discovery of Mrs Stoke's Vintage China, I am now the proud owner of two very spiffing tea trios:

This one is made by Foley and dates from about 1908. It's so pretty and dainty, I worry that I might accidentally break it. I shall have to learn to behave like a lady at tea time.

This one has a pattern called 'Pagoda'. I'm not sure when it was made, but it is totally lovely and, as an added bonus for me, the saucer and plate have birds on them! Herons to be precise.

Now all I need is a milk jug...

Earl Grey Taste Challenge- day 9

So, I've been fairly consistent in my love for Palais des Thes, as they were the first tea company that made me realise that tea can be something really lovely and worth taking time over.

Their The des Lords tea is amazing. A perfect Earl Grey for a serious tea drinker. The scent is floral and sharp, but mellowed by the tea itself. PTD have a range of EG teas, but this one is the strongest in terms of bergamot. The taste is quintessentially what I would expect from a good quality EG blend- strong, but not artificial and of high quality. The aftertaste is fruity, but not cloying.

I have often turned to this blend when I've not been feeling well; I personally find Earl Grey to be very comforting when I feel a bit sniffly or grumpy, and this really improves my mood. If you like your EGs strong, this is definitely the one for you!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

I so want this to be true....

There are internet rumours abound that Lady Gaga is in talks to launch a brand of tea. As a massive Gaga fan and a devoted tea blogger, I would be very interested in this venture. What do other people think? What type of tea would you expect from her? And would you buy it?

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Earl Grey Taste Challenge- Day 8

So, as previously mentioned, I have become acquainted with Metrodeco's teas and I couldn't resist the opportunity to try their 'Shades of Grey' Earl Grey tea.

What sets Shades of Grey apart is that it has rose petals in there, to give an interesting dimension to the familiar EG taste. The smell is lovely, not overpowering or over the top.

The taste is interesting (in a good way)- the bergamot is definitely there, but there is a slight hint of rose too, which makes for an elegant and ladylike brew. I know Metrodeco are a 30's specialist and I could imagine one of the stars of the period (Joan Crawford, Bette Davies, Jean Harlow) drinking some of this from some fabulous Art Deco teacups in Hollywood. A very nice tea for grown ups who like their tea sophisticated and a bit special!

Treacle and Co.

I have found a new tea/cake shop in Hove, which although I would like it to stay a secret, I think is well worth a visit. Treacle and Co. is, to quote someone in Mary Poppins 'practically perfect in everyway', luscious cakes and a gorgeous 1930's feel to the place make it a really nice place to sit and relax.

And the tea is just fantastic. I tried three teas whilst I was there (one was not for sale, but I like to be nosy when tea is involved.) I will discuss one here and one in my next Earl Grey Challenge.

The main tea I tried was from Metrodeco, a tea shop based in Kemptown. I had the Parisian Floral Calm, a highly perfumed and decadent infusion that involved (I think) chamomile and rose, amongst other things. I am a massive perfumed tea fan and this ticked all my boxes- the smell was like a posy of wildflowers and the taste was just, well, heavenly. I will definitely be buying some of this when I get paid! It was. gorgeous.

It looks like a green tea, but I'm pretty sure it's not. Anyway, it is lovely and one I might buy to add to my low/non-caffeine collection.
 Also, see that teapot in the background? Isn't it gorgeous? As is the china- everything is beautifully presented and I now have serious china-envy. I need new tea cups!

A close up of the gorgeous teapot:

I also had a mini pecan and maple tart, but it didn't last long enough for me to take a photo... There is a whole list of cakes; my ambition over the summer is to try as many as I can, even if it means doing exercise on a regular basis..

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Earl Grey Challenge- Day 7

So, I have quite a collection of teas now, thanks to the blog and I have a backlog of Earl Grey teas. As I break up for summer next week, I'm hoping that my energy levels will perk up and I can write more reviews!

Today's EG is from Lipton, a brand I know features in a lot of hotels around the world (having not been very well travelled, I have to take my friend's word for it.) It's one of those teas that people have a strong opinion of and that 'proper' tea drinkers seem to distain.

So, I decided to give it a go as someone who is completely neutral and has never tried the brand before.

Lookswise, the tea is fine, a nice colour, nothing special. There's not a strong smell, but that doesn't always put me off. There's a hint of bergamot, which is fine. (Notice the repetition of 'fine' here?)

The taste is OK. A bit watery and thin, but OK. I can see why this is given in hotels- it's not offensive, it's pleasant and it does the job. The taste is slightly flowery and leaves a nice aftertaste. It's a good EG for people who maybe haven't tried it before, but to someone who likes EG to pack a bit of a punch in one way or another it's just... OK. I would drink this when on holiday if nothing else was on offer. I don't dislike it at all. I just don't have remarkably strong feelings for it either way.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Tea adverts from the past- Part 1

1920's Japanese advert for tea suitable for pregnant and nursing women. Apparently it was also good for colds!

Nice Dutch tea advert from 1920's/30's. I really like this because it's fairly simplistic and the girl looks like she's really enjoying her cuppa.

Blog will be back to reviewing tomorrow- green tea and another Earl Grey are the next ones up!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Earl Grey Taste Challenge- Day 6

So, after a hiatus due to heat, I am taking advantage of a cooler evening to try my sixth Earl Grey. I'm finding, that as part of this experiment that I am becoming picky about EG already. Maybe that's not a bad thing.

Anyway, today's Earl Grey comes from Hampstead Tea. Hampstead Tea is organic and good quality, but really reasonably priced.

The smell is perfect EG- sharp, tangy and crisp. The colour is bright and not insipid (something that I've noticed a lot of EG can be). The taste is excellent and reflects the smell; it's definitely a grown-up's tea. The taste is sophisticated and natural. After my first sip, my mouth felt refreshed and there was no stickiness. This tea is perfect with biscuits and cakes (actually, I ate stroopwaffles with a cup earlier) as it's not sweet or sickly, so it compliments the choice of treat, rather than battles for the notice of your tastebuds.

A really nice, grown up tea!

Tetley green tea with honey

In Britain, I think a lot of people were first introduced to green tea by Tetley (which also had an advert for green tea banned after claiming it had super-duper health benefits) and I know that I was disappointed when I did; I was nearly put off green tea for life, had it not been for the tea that's served in Japanese restaurants. I remember that the mint green tea tasted a bit like toothpaste and the lemon, well, let's just say that there was more than a hint of bathroom cleaner to that one.

Anyway, I'd seen a sample of their green tea with honey knocking around the staffroom at work for a few weeks and decided I would nick it, all in the name of research, obv. Maybe Tetley's green tea had improved in the last few years?

So, I made the tea in my usual manner. First off, the smell is, well, non-existent. There is maybe a tiny whiff of honey, but it's miniscule. The colour is nice enough, though.

On the back of the sample packet, Tetley proudly say that green tea can be a bit bitter, which is why they've 'specially blended a smoother, more gentle-tasting green tea.' In fact, it's so gentle, it hardly tastes of anything. I mean, it's clearly not water, but there is no obvious green tea taste. Again, the honey is there, I suppose, but only just. If it was an actor, it would be described as phoning in its performance. Nothing there.

Now, I don't mind subtle teas; in fact, I often rather like them. But there has to be something there to like. This is just bland.  It's like the James Blunt of green tea...

Monday, 5 July 2010

'A Nice Cup of Tea'

George Orwell is one of my all-time favourite authors and I know that he was a big tea fan. So I was pleased to stumble across his famous essay 'A Nice Cup of Tea' and read his thoughts on the taking of tea, particularly as it relates to tea drinking in the time of rationing. I thought you might like to have a read, it's fairly quick and it has Orwell's eleven top tips for the perfect cuppa.

I'm hoping to put up some lovely recipes to accompany various types of tea soon, once I get my baking mojo back. Any suggestions?

Sunday, 4 July 2010


Today, I visited Alfriston with my aunt and my grandma (my favourite ever bookshop, Much Ado Books, is there, so any excuse to visit is fine by me!)

After we arrived, we stopped for lunch and, of course, tea was involved.

I decided against going for my usual type of cuppa and was tempted by Toppers Teas Treasure Chocolate- a blend of rooibos tea, chocolate, vanilla, almond and coconut, with a dash of black tea thrown in for good measure.

I've only ever tried rooibos once, when I drank a chocolate/peppermint blend; I guess the natural sweetness goes well with a chocolatey blend.

The smell was lovely and chocolatey and the distinctive smell of rooibos was instantly recognisable. I added milk and what looked to be small flecks of chocolate floated to the surface of the tea. This was surprising, but not unpleasantly so, it just made me want to taste the chocolate!

The taste was very smooth, the rooibois again coming to the fore. It has been a while since I drank rooibos and this tea makes me think I should drink more. It really does have a lovely sweetness to it, which was complemented, not overpowered by, the combination of other flavours. Another factor that works in rooibos' favour is that fact that it is low caffeine and that it's healthier in other respects too. I may have to order myself some of this.

Also, whilst in Much Ado, I bought The History of Tea, which looks at literary portrayals of tea (hopefully you know what I mean...) and has some recipes based on scenesin which tea is taken, such as Mary Poppins and The Importance of Being Earnest. As the holidays fast approach, I am hoping for some time to bake and read. I shall let you know what I think of the book as soon as I read it!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Earl Grey Challenge- Day Five

I've hardly had time to breathe this week- meetings, parents' evenings, leaving dos. So today, I thought I would take a quick breath and tell you about my latest EG. This one is from Cup of Tea, the website of which I can highly recommend (some tea websites are nothing but confusion. This website makes my lazy perfectionist brain happy) For this review, I am trying their loose EG tea. For the record, I love loose tea, probably because I love all of the accessories and ritual that comes with carefully preparing each bag.

The smell is delicious. Subtle, understated and classy. The colour is a very pretty gold. All in all, this is a very inviting cup of tea.

One criticism I find I often have of Earl Grey is that the taste can be, well, offensively violent. Cup of Tea's EG is far from this- in fact, it is very delicate delicate and delicious. The flavour itself is refreshing and cleansing. Unlike many of the other teas I have tried so far, this one has no sticky aftertaste.  My favourite thing about the taste of this tea is that it has a lovely hint of sweetness after the initial taste of the tea and bergamot. I don't know why, but it just makes me happy. This is the sort of tea I would love to drink as part of Afternoon Tea.