Sunday, 13 November 2011

It's that time of year again!

Christmas will rapidly be upon us (is it just me or did last Friday seem to herald the start of the Christmas advert season?) Anyway, I thought I would give a round up of exciting and interesting gifts for the tea lover in your life. The only criteria I had when selecting these gifts is whether I would like them! (Hint, hint)

 Hidden Fox teacup- £18 V&A Shop

 Handmade Teapot tote £12.00 Skulls and Ponies Folksy store 

 Chai gift box £14.50 Cup of Tea

Darjeeling Mist Candle £29.50  Tea Palace

Small Wooden Teabag Chest £50.00 Fortnum and Mason

Monday, 17 October 2011

Eteaket Rosy Apple

Eteaket were kind enough to send me a sample of their Rosy Apple green tea, which I had read about on Twitter (they're @eteaket if you like your tweets to be tea related!). I am very, very pleased that they did. I'm usually well into black tea in this stage of the year, but Rosy Apple is a light, refreshing tea that manages to capture lovely flavours associated with autumn.

The tea is gorgeous, it's a Chinese green tea (Chinese teas tend to work better in flavoured green teas, in my opinion, as they work with the added flavours. Japanese green teas can be a bit... grassy and overpowering) and the taste is fruity and sweet. The apple pieces give the tea a comforting seasonal taste, which is surprisingly enhanced-rather than overpowered- by the interesting addition of lemongrass, papaya and orange pieces. Had I seen this blend before drinking, I would have been very wary and have maybe expected the tea version of a desert island. However, rather than be completely dominated by tropical flavours, these additional elements combine to create a brilliant taste. Don't expect a summery flavour- the apple is the star of the show in this blend (although it would be lovely as an iced tea.)

The tea is limited edition, which is a shame, as it's a tea I can see being a stalwart of my tea cupboard (along with this tea) and one of the ones I would return to in an effort to show people how lovely green teas can be. I have put in an order for a caddy and I'm eagerly looking forward to its arrival!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The mis-selling of tea: Cho Yung tea

Forgive me, this may be a long post.

The other day, I was in Holland and Barratt buying some bits and pieces when I heard a lady asking for Cho Yung tea. The sales assistant gave the lady a leaflet and spoke about how good the tea was for weight loss. The customer then agreed to pay £39.99 for what looked to me like a small packet. I decided to investigate.

For £39.99, you get THIRTY tea bags. You're supposed to drink two cups a day. So a month would set you back £80. Blimey, this must be some miracle, right? Wrong. As far as I can tell, it's just green tea with some traditional herbs associated with weight loss thrown in.. I thought I'd break it down:

Oolong tea: on its own, oolong is used as a weight loss aid. So you could pick up a decent packet of this from Cup of Tea for around four quid (you'd get more than thirty cups out of it too...)

Hawthorn: Again, another ingredient that is used in Eastern medicine for digestion. You can buy tablets from Holland and Barratt if you really want to try this (but fennel and peppermint are much cheaper and nicer as teas)

Lotus leaves: basically another digestive aid, with added roughage.

Alisma rhizome: stimulates the kidneys and makes you pee. So you'll lose water weight. Which you would put back on really easily. You could just drink more liquids (including green tea and water) if you want to cut down on  the bloat.

Cassia seeds- most commonly used in laxatives.

Gynostemma Pentaphyllum- this may lower cholesterol. But so do apples, brown rice and avocados. Still not seeing how this tea is worth eighty quid a month.

Poria- another pee-inducing ingredient.

So, in essence Cho Yung tea makes you spend a lot of time on the toilet. I have no background in herbalism (I just really like tea!), but this is stuff I was able to Google and find out. There are plenty of herbal teas that do a lot of the same jobs and that don't cost you a fortune. Although there is no such thing as a magic bullet- with the teas, you have do change diet and lifestyle to see any major changes. (Even Cho Yung Tea admits this)

The company also has a reputation of offering free trials and not sending anything , as well as charging £60 to bank accounts. You also have to wonder when Holland and Barratt put a disclaimer on their UK and Irish sites that they won't take any money other than what you have paid for. This is only on the Cho Yung tea page. Fishy, non?

All in all- it's a very expensive case of smoke and mirrors that gives green tea a bad name.

Friday, 2 September 2011

The London Tea Company

The London Tea Company is one of those tea companies that a) should be massively popular and b) I'd like to work at. This is all because of their positive ethos and a cheerful passion about what they do that is evident when you take a look at their website. I'm also always impressed with companies who give back to the communities that provide them with tea. So, two thumbs up for the company... but what about the tea?

The range of teas at The London Tea Company is small but wide ranging and many of them are organic and/or fair trade, so you can have a cuppa and feel good about the choice. I tried four teas from the range.

English Breakfast

A very well-rounded, flavoursome black tea (I'm not sure where the tea comes from, but I suspect it's Sri Lankan...) which works very well as an enhancer of other flavours, as a breakfast tea should be. Low tannin after taste and very refreshing. I found that it worked very well with Marmite and toast!

Vanilla Chai

Quite frankly, this is one of the best chais I've tasted and is the best vanilla chai I've come across. Clean, creamy and rich, I will be stockpiling this as one of my go-to teas for autumn/winter. I would recommend this as a healthier alternative to chai lattes; still a decadent tea!

Green tea, Mango and Ginger

This tea is an unusual blend that you'll either love or loathe.. It has a distinctive smell, which doesn't seem to match the list of ingredients. But the taste is very refreshing, although I couldn't really distinguish the taste of ginger or mango. The tea is slightly sweet and grassy and I think it works really well with a bit of honey added into the mix. An interesting tea for when you're feeling a bit adventurous!

White tea, Elderflower and Apricot

This is lush. Delicate, fruity and fragrant, this is like a cup of summer! I would recommend that you drink this on those dark, cold days in deepest winter when you want to remember sunny days. Also, the white tea is an excellent tea for purifying and detoxing... so you can be healthy AND have delicious tea.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

What makes a perfect brew?

Throughout the ages, there has been some debate as to what makes a perfect brew...  milk or no milk? Milk first or last? Black, green or white tea? Bag or no?

For me, I use loose tea (the example in the picture is Tea Palace Organic Earl Grey St Clements) and I put them into a tea filter- about a teaspoon and a half of tea. I then let it brew, adding milk (if applicable) afterwards; I like quite a lot of milk! How do you make your tea? 

I'm putting together a post about perfect summer teas- please leave some suggestions in the comments!

Friday, 1 July 2011

That Alice Temperley and Twinings Collaboration

Fashion blogs have being going mad for the Temperley/Twinings scarf, which is on sale from today, but I though a tea blog should dedicate a bit more to it too. But then I found this rather fab video which explains how the bergamot flower inspired Temperley (one of my favourite designers; if I was a) fashionable and b) rich, I would buy SO much of her clothing) to design such a lovely design. What excites me more is that there might be more tea-influenced designs coming out from this collaboration. I would love one of the scarves, but I doubt I'll be able to afford one. But tea caddies? Possible  Chinaware? Oh my, yes. 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Desired

It's been a long time since I updated this blog; I've been busy with work and getting married and other stuff like that. I spent a week in Paris drinking horrendous tea in Montmartre and I visited Palais des Thes in Marais. I realised that I needed to get home to my own tea stuff and my favourite teas, pronto. I will be scouring the web for new, interesting teas- any tips, please do leave a comment below and I will chase them up!

For now, though, I thought I would post a list of desirable tea related items for your perusal...

British designer, Alice Temperley has designed this scarf for Twinings Tea, to celebrate their Earl Grey blend. The scarves are of a limited run of 1000. It's beautiful, but pricey at £115 and deliveries start July 1st. If you get one, I will be very, very jealous!

A perennial favourite of the blog, Mrs Stokes China  has expanded her site and includes lots of reasonably priced china for you to enjoy your daily cup of tea from. I am loving this little beauty, £15.

Although I don't think I would fit  into most of Urban Outfitter's clothes, I do quite like some of their homewares. This very cute teapot is part of a range of pretty, practical tea accessories.

This has been on my wishlist for a while... perfect if you want some pointers on high tea and some delicious recipes! Tea at Fortnum and Mason, £5.96

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Belfast Brew- Suki Tea

Today has been a day of doing stuff (I haven't actually finished- I only came in because my hands are icy from repotting sweet peas) and the first flushes of spring are inspiring me to have a sort out of teas in my cupboard. This is one I discovered spring cleaning the tea cupboard. Yes, I have a tea cupboard. There is a lot of tea in there.

Anyone who knows me knows I am in love with anything Irish, so I had high hopes of this black tea. Belfast Blend is just Suki's branding of their Irish Breakfast tea. It's a combination of a malty assam and a new one for me, a Tanzanian tea (if you're interested in learning about Tanzanian tea, check out this link here)

I brewed the tea for about two minutes and added milk. The tea itself has a smooth, earthy and almost sweet and fruity flavour, with a punch of tannin at the end. The tannin however is not unpleasant, it just adds to the whole mouthful of tea. The overall taste is one of a quality black tea with a satisfying cleansing element.

I  must admit, before drinking, I was a bit apprehensive. Irish Breakfast Tea is stronger than English Breakfast tea and it can be foul if not brewed correctly- this, however, is lovely and is one I would consider giving to guests when they turn their noses up to 'posh' tea. I defy anyone not to fall in love with this Irish charmer! (I could have inserted jokes here about Blarney, but decided to spare you all...!)

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Tea adverts from the past: Part 2

The blog will be back to regular action in the next few days. I am planning a few bits and pieces and thought, as a way to whet your appetite, I'd dust off a few vintage adverts for your delectation:

I've posted  vintage Japanese tea ads before, but I think that they are so pretty. I wouldn't mind one of these in a frame in the kitchen (but then, I am a known Japanophile, so where's the surprise in that?) These ads come from the period 1900-1929,  a time when Japanese culture was still very traditional.

I'm guessing that this is early 20th-century. Sri Lanka became a tea producing country after the British tried to plant coffee plants, which failed due to a disease. Production was changed to tea and  and the rest, as they say, is history.

I lovelovelove this one. When I first saw it, I was taken as to how much it reminded me of Tolouse Lautrec. Then I realised that owning this company would have been a dream job- tea and chocolate in one Parisian company? Bliss. Apparently, the artist always added cats to his work. I like him immensely.

(You can buy a print of this here)