Wednesday, 30 April 2014

PG Tips: Vibrant Mandarin Orange Green Tea: Not What I Was Hoping For

Now, this review is a first. You may (or may not!) of noticed that this is the first review for a blend of PG Tips tea. I will be completely honest with you, I've not brought PG Tips in years. It's a long story, but to give you a very brief idea, I brought a box of their tea when I started drinking tea and it wasn't quite right. It wasn't a big issue, but I contacted customer services after I was referred to them from Tesco's. And to this day, I've never been sent an apology, an explanation or even 'we are looking into this'. I was completely ignored. 

It's things like this that can make or break a brand for me. I know if it were Twinings, I would of been contacted. I know if it had been most brands of tea, I would of heard from them, so, I just never really purchased tea from them again. Not out of protest, but, I had simply discovered Twinings and that was that!

Recently, PG Tips had been advertising big time. In fact, it's almost a battle now between Tetley Tea and PG Tips for air time. 

PG Tips have launched a new fruity based tea. I have to say  the adverts are amusing, I like the monkey dressed up in exotic fruits. When I saw they had released a mandarin flavoured green tea I was kind of eager to try it. Yes, I'll admit that clever advertising won me over, something which I'm not normally prone too.

So, whilst visiting my local Sainsburys (a store I don't often visit) I checked out the tea aisle and saw they had it for £1 a box. A bargain, so I picked one up. 

This tea has everything I love about tea. I love green tea and I love orange. And I love the two together. Would this be straight up my street? I thought it probably would be!

When I brewed a cup this afternoon I was interested in how it was going to taste, and to be frank, was interested in how a company that specialises in black tea would come up with a green tea.

I did, however, like the monkey!


I followed the instructions to the letter and took my first sip. 

To say I was underwhelmed would be about right. The flavour of this tea is lovely. The mandarin is just a little bit tart, which is different and enjoyable. There is nothing wrong with the blend of this tea, it's downfall is it's just a bit too weak. I had to work really hard to detect the fruity flavour. I was just a bit disappointed.

So, this evening, I brewed a second cup, using two teabags this time. 

The flavour was a little stronger, but still, it's missing something. It just lacks a certain oomph, it lacks a bit of power, and it lacks depth.

There is no way that you should have to use two teabags just to get a decent brew. 

It's such a shame because the flavour of the mandarin is gorgeous, the green tea is nice and the two flavours work well together. It's just a shame that it's not just a bit stronger. 

However, this tea may work for you if you don't like fruit flavours in tea being too strong. It's great for lovers of pure green tea as well, as it has just a dash of mandarin flavour!

I really had high hopes for this tea, and  it didn't quite work for me. I think I'm used to very prominent flavours and this is just a bit too delicate for my tastes. 

But, considering it's price of £1 for a box of twenty, it's no big deal. I'll send some off to a fellow blogger, Rebecca and finish off the box. At least I've tried it!

Everything's Coming Up Tea In Laura Towers! What An Exciting Day!

As people will probably know I love my tea. I absolutely love trying new blends, new brands and basically anything new at all!

So, today was quite a exciting day (well for me anyway!).

First of all I had a delivery from Teapigs. Teapigs specialise in high quality loose tea contained in tea temples.

I'm going through a slightly obsessional stage with Jasmine Pearls, so the large box contains 15 Jasmine Pearl temples. What I love about Teapigs is that you can purchase sample packs of tea, called, quite sweetly, Teapiglets. I have a Teapiglet pack of their Earl Grey Strong. And I got a free sample of their Creme Caramel tea, (which I wasn't too keen on so it will go to a good home!). I really can't wait to try their Jasmine Pearls, which I will do shortly as I'm running low on my Twinings Jasmine Pearls.

The next new tea I've experienced today is PG Tips Vibrant Mandarin Orange. This is currently on sale at £1 a box at Sainsburys. I've seen quite a few of the PG Tip's television ad's so I was hugely interested in what these tea's are like. I love orange in tea so was keen to try it out. Now, you may notice a lack of PG Tip's reviews on here. For various reasons, I don't buy the brand but interest took over and brought this pack. A review is coming very soon!

During my trip to Sainsbury's, which took ages, the postman delivered this. I was astounded to see some samples from The Tea Shed. What a generous set of samples to send out. I also got a lovely note too! Thank you Tea Shed!

So much tea to try and I have no idea where to start!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Flora Tea's Lovely Lily Fairy - A Very Special Experience

I know I've just recently reviewed a flowering tea, but, today I received a lovely package through the post. Flora Tea kindly, actually, very kindly, sent me a lovely package which included a glass for flowering tea, a box of flowering tea, and some fabulous information about their tea, plus, a really wonderful handwritten note!

Flora tea specialise in flowering tea and they even featured in a episode of Dragon's Den UK. 

As you can see below, their packaging is bright, inviting and modern, and it really appealed to me. I love the simplicity of the packaging and it's fresh crispness.

Flora Tea has also won numerous great taste awards. I can understand why!


I was wondering what flavour tea I should try first, so I opted for Lily Fairy. I'm going to add photographs now of the flowering process. It's really pretty!

Here is a photograph of Lily Fairy, before I've added the water.

This is the tea as soon as I've added water and it's settled down.

You can just start to see the lily appearing!

It's uncurling now to reveal a lovely pink flower in addition to the lily.


All of a sudden the flower suddenly pops right out of it's hand tied package. Isn't it beautiful?

I really loved watching the flowering process. But, as well as watching the tea flower, I enjoyed the gorgeous aroma.

I'm currently obsessed not only with green tea, but with Jasmine tea as well, so as this is a green tea with jasmine, well, it's as near as perfection as I can get!

After watching the flower for a brief time, I sat down to try the tea. The glass got quite hot, so I let it cool for a few minutes and then took my first wonderful sip of this luxurious tea.

It is utterly delightful. The taste of jasmine is so strong, but fragrant and tasty. I do think jasmine flavour in tea takes a little bit of getting used to but it's something that appealed to me since I started drinking it, and in my opinion, the stronger, the better!

I loved this tea because it's crisp and refreshing. It was quite warm when I tried this tea, and it cooled me down immediately. It was lovely just to sit for ten minutes, in the peace and quiet, and enjoy this marvelous drink. It had a sweetness to it that I found pleasant. 

Lily Fairy makes for a really wonderful cup (or glass, in this instance!) of tea. It's floral taste, and slightly herbal element of green tea is just plain gorgeous. 

This tea, and you may think this odd, had a calming affect on me. I'm prone to worrying and fretting about things (normally that I have no control over!) but as I sipped and sipped at this tea, I felt really relaxed and at ease. It was a marvelous feeling and one I enjoyed.

Flora Tea's Lily Fairy made a huge impression on me. It looked utterly beautiful, tasted divine and had a wonderful calming affect on me. It's utterly stunning and I do consider myself fortunate to have been able to try this tea.

I'd also like to mention Simon, and the Flora Tea team who are so lovely. The friendly letter that was included in my unexpected parcel really made my day. I can only judge by the lovely emails and letter that I have received, but they seem like a wonderful group of people, who are, quite fairly, extremely proud of the items they sell. 

Please visit Flora Tea's website for more information on Lily Fairy and the rest of the flowering tea's they have. It's a fun website, and you'll see exactly what awards they have won for what items. 

I'd like to take the chance to thank Simon and the Flora Tea team for the lovely parcel and their encouragement towards this blog.

Monday, 28 April 2014

How Much Are You Prepared To Pay For A Decent Cuppa?

Today I received a email from a lady called Kath who lives in the USA. She has told me how expensive she felt silky pyramids were, and that it was just a rouse for companies to get us to pay more for our tea.

Oh, how I bitterly disagree... and I told her so.

The triangular teabags that have grown in popularity recently are called different names. You have silky pyramids, tea temples, gems, infusers (and much more besides). For the purposes of this piece I will refer to them as pyramids.

So, what is so special about these pyramids? Well, they are different from normal teabags because they contain high quality tea. I have yet to try a temple or pyramid that contains bad quality tea.

Not only that, it's loose tea, so you have best of both worlds. You can experience the luxury of drinking loose tea in all the convenience of a bag. When your busy, or are at work, you don't have to faff around with a pot, and the time consuming cleaning of said pot. You can just pop the bag into the cup, add water, sit back and relax and enjoy the wonderful loose tea with ease and convenience.

The next point that Kath raised in her email was why are they only half filled. Well, quite simply, because they are filled with loose tea's and loose tea expands when water is added. So, by the time your cup is brewed, your pyramid will have gone through changes and will appear to be bursting at the seams. You are not "paying for less" with these tea's. Your getting a little bit of luxury.

And there is the rather thorny issue of cost. I will admit that I, myself, have stood in the supermarket looking up the prices and wondering if I can afford them. On the surface they can look expensive. But what you get when trying these tea's is perfection in a cup.

They are nearly always (well, actually, always, if I'm honest!) well blended. They come uniquely flavoured, and I will openly admit that a cup of Twinings Jasmine Pearls Pyramid tea is the only way I can start my day.

With pyramids, temples, gems, (whatever you wish to call them) you pay a higher price then the average box of fifty, but you get a superb tea, that tastes - and feels - wonderful.

Of course, everyone will have their own opinions on tea. Some, like me, will celebrate them, others will think they are a waste of money.

But I'm proud to be a tea temple/pyramid drinker. I love them. Love the quality, the flavours and the feel of the actual teabag. For me, they are a luxury product. And don't we all love a bit of luxury sometimes?

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Cup Of Tea's Valencian Sun Really Brighten's Up My Day

I woke up today to find that it was a miserable day. It's chilly, a bit overcast, and doesn't at all feel like the heat wave we were told was coming our way!

I needed a cheery tea to lift my mood and warm me. I knew what was the perfect tea: Cup Of Tea's Valencian Sun.

Valencian Sun consists of Oolong tea that is blended with orange pieces and vanilla. With the added extra of cocoa.

As you can see from the picture below, it's a vibrant and colourful tea. I love how the black tea is mixed with bright orange and yellow pieces. I love loose tea as there are so many pretty blends around, and this is one of them!

In it's pre-brewed form, this tea smells deliciously like oranges. I love citrus flavours in black tea, in particular orange, which is why I'm such a huge fan of Lady Grey. This tea felt like a little burst of sunshine in an infuser. I couldn't wait to try!

I placed a heaped teaspoon into the infuser. 

This tea can be brewed for up to four minutes so I decided to time it exactly for four minutes. I tend to err on side of slightly under brewing black tea, but, I wanted to fully experience the orange flavour, so left it to brew for the full four minutes.

Whilst brewing, it was absolutely amazing. The bright citrus smell combined with the smooth richness of vanilla filled the kitchen with a scent that is so lovely.

When fully brewed Valencian Sun has a straw like colour to it. It looks light and refreshing, and was positive it would taste that way, too.

This is a utterly delightful tea to taste. It's full of flavour - this most certainly isn't a wishy washy tea, you know the sort, where you have to really try hard to detect what flavours you are drinking.

The first taste you'll experience (if your like me anyway!) is the rounded, strong taste of orange. It's very powerful and it packs a punch. I absolutely loved it! I love how refreshing the citrus flavour is, and how it makes your mouth leap with joy. Orange works so well in tea, and whenever I try a orange tea, it feels healthy, natural and good for you.

The vanilla is richly smooth and is just about balanced right with the orange. Vanilla in tea can be so strong it's sickly and difficult to drink, but there is just about enough to pleasantly flavour the tea without making your stomach churn.

Alongside the vanilla flavour I can detect a chocolate taste, but it's not overpowering and can barely be detected.

I actually think this is a really unique tea. I've not really experienced a citrus based tea blended with vanilla, and the two flavours work extremely well.

I'm really excited about this blend because it's luxurious (throught it's vanilla content) and refreshing (because of the orange). I really found this lovely and the kettle is brewing for a second cup.

I'm so glad that this tea was sent to me. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cup Of Tea is a lovely company with a lovely and modern website. You will have fun browsing, I can be sure of that.

And just when I thought I've seen everything on there, just discovered another tea. Winter Fairy Tale ... yummy ... seems just up my street. ...

Adagio's Red Bloom Flowering Tea: So Beautiful To Watch, So Lovely To Taste

My friend, Rebecca, who writes the wonderful Good Coffee, Good Tea blog has been very kind to send me samples of different tea's. She has been very positive about Adagio's tea, and kindly sent me a couple of tea's to try. One of them, I was surprised to see, is this wonderful flowering tea.

I've always loved, and wanted to try, flowering tea's, but to be honest, unless you have a glass cup or mug or a glass pot it's pretty pointless as you simply can't see what happens. I was kindly sent a glass mug from Dan at Chash tea  so Rebecca kindly sent me a flowering tea.

Upon opening the sealed packaging I saw the wonderful, handwoven tea. This tea is a black tea. It has a wonderful aroma of chocolate to it, which I really loved. It's surprisingly weighty, too.

On the packaging it said to pour boiling water on this tea and leave to infuse for five minutes. So I did just that. Within seconds of adding the water, the ball of tea started to bob around and unfurl.

The ball started to uncurl and open up. It was like watching something coming alive in front of my eyes. I was absolutely mesmerised by this tea. In fact it's like a flower coming into bloom and watching the process on fast forward.

It grew bigger and bigger and bigger!

Finally, the flower started to emerge. It was a pale pink colour (though it looks yellow here). It was so exciting to see it emerge from within the tea's leaves.

 As the flower was emerging, the tea was also brewing and it soon developed into a light amber colour.

The five minutes of brewing time just flew by. This photograph was taken at the end of the brewing process. As you can see it's now deep amber colour and the pink flower has fully emerged. I utterly loved every minute of the brewing process. It was enchanting, almost magical to watch. To think this lovely little flower emerged from a ball of tea that resembled a tiny ball of brown wool was astounding. 

The whole process was beautiful but what would the tea actually taste like?

The tea was made up of a black tea from China. I found it to be absolutely tasty. It was fairly strong, not at all weak, but pleasantly so. It was not bitter, I did not feel the need to add sweetener to it. It was perfect on it's own.

Despite it's strength it was also kind of delicate as well, and there are certainly tones of chocolate in this tea. It's really gorgeous. I found it to be wonderfully tasty and refreshing. I did worry slightly that the element of the flowering tea may mask a not very good tea to taste. I was utterly wrong. The tea is obviously of a very high quality and thoroughly lovely to drink.

There is also a floral element to the taste which meant it is a tea which has flavours on many different levels. With one sip you get tones of chocolate, but on another sip, it's slightly floral. The two tastes combined together make for a interesting cup of tea.

This is a beautiful tea both inside and out. It's pleasing and exciting to look at, but, at the same time, it's tasty and you get a really satisfying cup of tea from it. The content does certainly match up to the style. The two work hand to hand to provide a truly special tea. 

This is the first tea from Adagio that I've tasted and I'm certainly very impressed. But, it's also given me a tea experience I won't forget in a hurry.

I can't thank Rebecca enough for sending me this utterly beautiful tea. 

If you'd like more information on Adagio Tea UK and it's lovely Red Bloom tea, please follow this link.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Kandula's Ceylon Ivory: A Wonderfully Luxuriant Tea

This is the third tea by Kandula that features on my blog. Just a quick refresher on Kandula: they are a wonderful tea company who specialise in Sri Lankan tea.

Ceylon Ivory Tea is a white tea. Due to it's delicate character, this tea comes with some strict brewing instructions. The kettle is to be boiled and left to cool for five minutes, after which you brew for up to two minutes.

Kandula sell Ceylon Ivory tea in both loose form and pyramid teabag form. I had the latter.

I love watching white tea brew as it brews to a wonderfully golden colour.

As most white tea's are, this is a soft and delicate tea. It's light and refreshing and incredibly inviting.

Ceylon Ivory makes for a very smooth, easy to drink brew. Perfect for a lazy afternoon, it's incredibly moreish. 

You may not know that white tea is extremely low in caffeine content, but, out of all the tea's groups, has the highest level of anti-oxidants, so it's a very healthy tea to drink and to enjoy.

This is a pure and simple tea, that is extremely satisfying to drink.

For more information on Kandula's Ceylon Ivory please click here.

Twinings Spring Sale

I wouldn't normally promote someone's sale's but today I'm making an exception.

Twinings is now running it's Spring Sale, and I have to say that they are selling lots of their wonderful teaware.

From cups and saucers to items from Bodium, from the last few Christmas Baubles to some of their Floral range. There are plenty of bargains to be had!

Honestly, I could spend a fortune on some of the sale items!

I'm not too sure how long their sale lasts, so please visit The Twinings Spring Sale Page and check out all the wonderful items.

I would like to stress that I'm not connected to Twinings in a professional way, (I'm just a huge fan not a employee!) and haven't been asked to promote their sale. I just think there are some great bargains to be had and hopefully you'll treat yourself to something nice!

Happy shopping, folks!

Revolution Tea: Green Earl Grey ... A Gorgeous Organic Tea

Revolution tea is a company that sells a very varied amount of tea. From blacks, to whites, from herbal tea's to chocolate tea. It's company principles are simple: provide excellent customer care alongside selling high quality tea's. And to promote the health benefits of such tea's.

Revolution Organic Green Earl Grey tea is a high quality tea which is packaged in it's own infuser, which is a pyramid shaped bag. The bag feels wonderfully smooth and silky and the leaves are large and healthy looking. Each infuser comes in it's only teeny little box, which is so cute.

Out of all the flavours I was sent to sample, I chose Green Earl Grey, not least because I'm a Earl Grey addict, as most readers will know, but also because in all my time of drinking tea, and in particular green tea, I've never tried a green tea based Earl Grey.

As this is a high quality tea, the teabag can be used more then once. 

When taking the infuser out of the box, I was delighted with the smell. The lovely scents of citrus and bergamot are  strong and delicious. And the gorgeous scent is blended in with the wonderful grassy aroma of green tea.

I'm a fan of Earl Grey, and I'm a fan of green tea. This tea will be perfection I thought whilst brewing.

This tea brewed to a wonderful amber colour.

Settling down after a morning's housework, I curled up on the sofa and took the first sip. It was glorious. This tea is one of the best blended Earl Grey's I've come across. The citrus and bergamot flavour's blend together so well to make a mouthwatering, totally luscious brew.

Using green tea, instead of the usual black tea is a stroke of genius. Green tea has a vastly different taste to black tea, and so it makes for a completely different sort of Earl Grey. The green tea is of high quality and has a nicely rounded depth of flavour.

The green tea used, which is an organic Chinese Sancha, is of a high quality and has none of the bitterness usually associated with the cheaper green tea's that are available.

With it's high quality tea and perfectly balanced flavours, this makes for a refreshing drink. It's incredibly moreish and I've brewed three cups of this tea now. I did notice that by the third brewing, though still lovely, the flavour was weaker, so I would suggest using each bag just twice. Anymore and you will notice that it isn't as robust and fully flavoured.

Revolution Tea's Green Earl Grey is both delightful and exceptional. I really, really did enjoy this. Okay, you may say that by loving Earl Grey and being fanatical about green tea I was bound to like this. But, it's the superb quality of this drink that makes it so enjoyable.

Sublime ingredients, stylish packaging and a wonderful company ethic means that Revolution is a fantastic tea company and I hope that it carries on producing wonderful tea's for many years to come.

I'd highly suggest you have a read of Revolutions company profile. It's fascinating.

And for more information on Organic Green Earl Grey then follow this link.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Colne Valley Tea Company's Spring Fragrance. A Tea, And A Company, Close To My Heart

When I was browsing the internet recently, on the hunt for small tea companies, I stumbled across the Colne Valley Tea Company. Looking at the companies profile page, I was staggered to see that they were based in Colchester, Essex. Coming from Dagenham, the company is based not a million miles away from where I grew up, so I browsed their website with interest.

The sheer amount of wonderful teas that the Colne Valley Tea Company have to offer is amazing. They stock tea's that range from black tea's to herbal tea's. White tea's to oolong tea's. It's pretty awesome!

The first tea I've decided to try is Spring Fragrance. It's a wonderful looking blend as you can see, and it immediately caught my interest.

Spring Fragrance is a black tea that is flavoured with various fruits and spices.

The ingredients of this tea include:

Lemongrass, candied pineapple bits (pineapple, sugar), apple bits, orange peels, ginger bits, cardamom, coconut rasps, flavouring, red currants, sunflower blossoms.

What a fantastic mix of flavours there!

The tea is very interesting to look at and to smell. Below is a picture of the tea all ready to go in it's infuser.

Within the tea there are pieces of pineapple, lemongrass and beautiful red currants. (The picture was taken in a bad light so doesn't really show the beauty of this tea). 

As this blend has a black tea base, you don't have to be overly specific with how long you brew it for. The instructions on the packet said to brew for three minutes, but as I got caught up in a job it was brewed for a little over four minutes.  When it was fully brewed, it had a wonderful coppery colour. 

This tea has so many wonderful flavours that it's really hard to know where to start. On tasting my first sip the strongest flavour was the gorgeously sweet pineapple. It was the one taste that I could single out  and it tasted as good as the fresh pineapple that you'd buy at the grocers. 

But, beneath the sweetness was the very spicy taste of cardamon, a spice that I've tasted in tea's quite a lot recently. This is a very unique, perfectly blended tea, that will have you hooked from your first sip.

As well as the sweet pineapple and spicy cardamon, you have the ever so slightly tangy taste of fresh, crisp apple. Together, all of the flavours work well, they compliment each other, are the tea is very evenly balanced. Although the pineapple was the flavour I found most easy to detect, no one flavour out does any of the others.

The tea retains it's sweetness till the last sip you take and doesn't go bitter as it cools. It's really fantastic.

As I'm sitting here writing this review it's turned cold, the sky is grey and heavy and it's raining.  But Spring Fragrance just seems to brighten everything up. From it's name, to it's fruity taste, you feel as though your experiencing just a little bit of the joys of spring. 

This is a delicious, tasty tea, that is lovely to look at, has a heady aroma and a richly smooth taste. I'm so glad I managed to try Spring Fragrance. It will certainly brighten up your day.

For more information on Spring Fragrance then please go to the black tea section . But, aside from Spring Fragrance, I would highly recommend you to have a good look around the site. I'm positive you'll find a dozen teas (a least) that will tickle your fancy!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Northern Tea Merchant's Super Keemun

When I was little, and went shopping with my parents, I used to read on the coffee jars words like "mellow" and "smooth". Somehow, I never really thought of words like that in relation to tea. Tea is just tea isn't it?

Well, actually it's not! With tea you can experience not only different flavours, but different textures too. I've often mentioned about not always liking the odd texture you can sometimes get with fruit tea's. Tea is just like coffee in that respect, you can have mellow blends, or stronger ones. Tea's with lovely textures, and tea's that just make your tongue squirm.

This morning, whilst watching a early  morning showing of "The Birth Of The Beatles" (I'm a Beatles fanatic) I wanted to brew a tea that was strong and robust. I opted for Northern Tea Merchant's loose Keemun tea.

I have tried Keemun before, in teabag form from Twinings, and really loved the blend. So I was keen to see how this loose tea version would stand up.

Keemun originates from China and is a black tea.

Watching the tea brew was utterly fantastic. The picture above was taken about midway through the brewing process (just under two minutes). When it was fully brewed it made a wonderful coppery colour. Totally lovely to look at.

The aroma from this tea is utterly gorgeous. Just like Yunnan tea, Keemun has a nutty tone to it, albeit Keemun is far more subtle. 

Settling down, I took a sip and fell in love with Keemun all over again. It's so smooth, so easy to drink, and very flavoursome.

Northern Tea Merchants only use good quality tea, and when you drink a black tea, especially when it's pure and unflavoured, it's vital to use a quality tea. Cheap tea can have that bitter, almost astringent taste to it that I loathe and which makes many a cup of tea undrinkable for me. 

This is very gentle and very mellow. It's soft on the tongue, but strangely, at the same time, is quite powerful. Not in a malty way that Assam or English Breakfast can be, but  it's unique flavour really packs a rather wonderful punch. 

I really do love the nutty tones to this. It adds a nice depth and substance to the tea and takes it from an ordinary tea to a sublime one. It's a moreish tea, and have to admit that I made two more cup's of this tea. It's perfect to get someone up and running in the morning, particularly if your slow at waking up like I am!

This tea would be brilliant with some lemon added. In fact I'll try that over the weekend!

When you think of black tea, most people, understandably think of Assam. I really do believe that Keemun should be promoted far more as it's totally lovely. It's a tea that has a unique flavour, has a lovely smooth texture to it and is a pleasure to drink. 

It's really rather a simple little tea, but makes such a strong impression on those who drink it. 

If you'd like more information on Keemun then please Northern Tea Merchants page.

This really is a must if you love black tea, love anything with nutty tones, or if you just fancy something different!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

I'm Really Lucky ... I Have Some Great Friends

I'm really lucky to have some great friends in life. So, when staying at my boyfriend's parents house over Easter one of Paul's friends popped around to give us our Christmas presents. (Sadly, we are busy as is Dave and Julie so haven't caught up this year).

Whilst Paul had biscuits and sweets (which he loves), I was kindly brought this really lovely teapot and matching cup and saucer.

Isn't it cute? I just love the pot with the little bird on the lid. And the cup and saucer is pretty and sturdy which is good if your a bit clumsy like I am.

Thank you Dave and Julie for my lovely gifts.

Now, what tea should I brew first, do you think?

Chash Tea's Chrysanthemum Tea. A Utterly Perfect Tea.

Firstly, I must apologise for lack of photographs in this post, but, as usual, my phone battery died during the brewing of this tea which I found really frustrating, but, I wanted to review this tea tonight when the wonderful taste was still fresh in my mind.

If I could give Dan from Chash Tea a virtual hug I would, because, this tea is really rather extraordinary, and without him sending me this as a sample, I would never of been able to enjoy tasting it.

I will freely admit that I'm not a huge fan of herbal tea. I've tried camomile, which, to my unrefined tongue, tastes like wet grass. But, there is something very special about the dried flowers that drew me in and I've been wondering for days what it will taste like. (I was away at Easter and didn't have access to a teapot so have been relying on teabags).

As I brewed this tea, I was still a little unsure, as it does smell very herbal.  But, as I watched the small buds uncurl and brew, natural interest in this tea went way beyond any doubts I may have had.

It brewed to a light amber colour. This tea is like a mini version of the wonderful flowering tea's I've seen around that haven't managed to try  just yet.

Still, at this point I was reluctant. It looked like it was a beautiful tea, but would it taste like one?

The honest truth is ... it's absolutely gorgeous. Oh the taste, it's going to be very hard to put into words what this taste's like, but I'll try!

This isn't an overpowering tea. It's very, very delicate. It' has a herbal taste to it, but it's very different to camomile. There is a light sweetness to it, and it's very gentle.

I sipped the tea slowly at first, but as I started to enjoy the wonderful taste, I have to admit, I consumed the rest of the cup rather quickly. Some things you should sit and savour, but are just too nice to do so.
Luckily, I had enough to brew a second cup which I did drink slowly.

This is just such a unique tea, it's really rather hard to put into words how it tastes. It has a floral taste to it, wonderfully natural.

It's very light and refreshing.

According to Chash Tea's website, Chrysanthemum tea also is very good to take when your not feeling well. It can help reduce temperatures, help a sore throat and help you recover from colds and flu.

If you like herbal tea's then this is a must for you to try. But if your not keen or new to herbal, it's delicate enough to try without overpowering you. I cannot fault this tea in anyway. It tastes good, looks beautiful and had a very different aroma that is pleasant.

For more information on this extraordinary tea please visit Chash Tea's website.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Dragonfly Tea's Swirling Mist Organic White Tea.

(Picture sourced from google)

Dragonfly's Swirling Mist Organic White Tea is a utter surprise to me. Not least for the fact that I found it available in a supermarket. This is the FIRST brand of white tea that I've not had to order online.

I love the very subtle packaging of this tea. The white and grey colours work really well together, and it's rather stark colour scheme stands out amid the brightly packaged teas. It's just as eye catching as any other tea on the shelves. In fact, it's vastly different to what else is on offer, when it comes to the packaging.

As I've written about only today, white tea is a very delicate tea and to get the best out of it, you have to brew it precisely. So, I boiled the kettle and let it cool for two minutes (timed it). Then, I slowly poured the water on the teabag and let it brew for two minutes.

Contrary to other white tea's I've tried, this actually does brew to a dark colour which was surprising as most other white tea's have a pale, almost translucent hue to it.

When I started to drink this tea, I was expecting something really rather different. The other white tea's I've tasted are delicate tasting, and the flavour is subtle. This is not overpowering, but it has a delicious, nutty undertone which makes it extremely interesting.

It's very light and refreshing and incredibly moreish and I actually had the kettle boiling before I had finished the first cup.

What I liked about this tea is though it's white tea in a pure form (as opposed to the fruity flavours that are often added to white tea) it's tasty and has body to it. It's incredibly cleansing, and would be perfect served with a light meal such as a salad, or, with a chocolatey dessert.

At £2.00 for twenty envelopes, some could consider this a pricy tea, but I find it reasonably priced considering the high quality of the tea. I don't mind how much I pay for a tea - as long as the quality justifies it, and this tea really is worth paying for.

I love white tea because of it's lightness. It's perfect if you feel you want a change from drinking black tea, or indeed, if you want to try something a bit different to green tea.  It's also fairly low in caffeine so if you don't like the side effects of tea with too much caffeine this would be a perfect blend.

I couldn't resist putting up a picture of these words of wisdom that come attached to the paper part of the teabag string. How cute is this?

If you would like more information on Swirling Mist Organic White Tea or the company in general, please click here.

Kandula's Spice Mango Tea Makes For A Brilliant First Cup Of The Day!

Kandula's Spiced Mango green tea infusion is an aromatic tea, that is a perfect "wake me up tea" if taken first thing in the morning or as a early afternoon pick me up when your energy levels are low but you don't want anything high in caffeine.

Initally, I didn't realise that this was a green tea, I thought it was a fruit one instead, so when I looked closely at the tea you can see pieces of mango interwoven with green tea leaves. This was going to be perfect, right up my street.

Having a quick look at the Kandula website, (the site is full of information) I was interested to read that the tea is spiced with cardamon. It's a very strong, potent spice and wondered how it would work in the tea.

Brewing this tea is a delight because the mango is very evident straight away. I love mango it's very sweet and in tea it gives off a wonderful aroma, particulary through the brewing process.

I brewed this for perhaps a little longer then I should of.

However, the slight over brewing for me did not detract from the lovely taste at all. The mango is sweet and it's paired wonderfully with the spicy kick of the cardamon.

The cardamon in itself is very spicy, which I really enjoy. It really hit's your tongue with force and you are left in little doubt that this is a spicy tea. In fact, I think cardamon could be used with lemon instead of the traditional ginger to make a very different tea. I love how it dances across your tongue, making your tastebuds come alive. It's a fabulous spice to use in a tea.

I would highly recommend this tea. It makes for a lively change from the normal lemon and ginger and really gives you a powerful kick start in the morning, and I think it would give you a lovely boost if your feeling under the weather.

To mix these flavours with green tea is also inspiring.

Kandula's motto is "Drink with joy" and you certainly will with this tea!

What Tea Will Appeal To You? Black, White, Green Or Red(bush)?

There are several different teas, all with different tastes and different brewing times. Here is a little run down on each tea.

1.Black Tea

 Black tea is the most robust of all of the teas.You can brew it for anything up to six minutes, though I have seen 12 minutes on one particular tea! Of course, if you overbrew the tea, it can go rather bitter. I would suggest, when buying a teapot to use black tea, try to get one with a removable basket so that you can take the leaves or teabags out, therefore avoiding any bitterness.

Black tea can come from China, India, Sri Lanka or Africa. It can range from rather strong in taste, such as Indian in particular, to sweet, as you find with Kenyan black tea. Chinese tea has a element of nuttiness to it, whilst Sri Lankan tea is rather more gentle then it's Indian cousins!

Black tea is often used as a base for Earl Grey and Lady Grey in particular. But you can have wonderful blends too that are unflavoured. Keemun is favourite of mine, whilst I love Yunnan for it's slightly nutty flavour.

Twinings Prince of Wales blend is a wonderful black tea. But Assam is a little too strong for me as I don't take milk.

Of course though, the flavoured tea's are lovely too. They range from citrus tones to floral flavours. Chai is also wonderful for it's spicy flavours.

There is a lot of choice out there, and black tea is really good for a satisfying brew.

2. Green Tea

Green tea is an acquired taste for some people. You either love it or loathe it! I, personaly, love it!

Green tea has a herbal, slightly grassy smell and taste to it. That is why, I feel, it's important to get the highest quality tea you can afford.

Green tea is a delicate tea, and as I'm always saying, you have to be extremely careful how you brew it. It's vital to let the  water cool for four or five minutes before pouring on the tea. And it's to be brewed for a short time, only two minutes maximum.

What I love about this tea is that it can be paired up with most fruits and it works really well. So, you don't just have to have the usual citrus fruits, such as lemon or orange. Peach works really well with green tea, but exotic fruits such as pineapple, grapefruit and papaya really compliment  it's unique taste as well.

Jasmine works in this tea also.

As long as your careful how you prepare green tea, it can made for a light, refreshing cup of tea. Perfect for serving after a heavy meal.

3. White Tea

I consider green tea to be very delicate, but there is one tea that is even more so and that is white tea. You don't see white tea much in shops and supermarkets and I've had to either wait till I visit Twinings or order it online to restock.

You have to prepare this tea as you would green tea, but brew it no longer then a minute.

I really like white tea, and enjoy it most in it's pure form. It's delicate, freshly scented and light. But, I have tried it flavoured with peach, and I have to say, I prefer it pure. There are some teas that take well to having flavouring added and there are others, in my opinion, that are served best as a pure tea.

I have served this to friends on a particularly hot day and the general opinion of my group was that it's so light, so refreshing and cooling that it's a great tea to drink during summer.

I love the ever so slightly nutty flavour of this tea also. It's wonderful and a real treat!

4. Rooibos (sometimes sold as Redbush).

Rooibos tea is my least favourite of all the tea's. I have attempted, on several occasions, to get to like this tea, and it's just not happening.

But, in all fairness, rooibos is a interesting tea. It brews to a wonderful coppery red tone, and with rooibos you can brew it for up to twelve minutes, so if your caught up doing something else whilst brewing and forget it's there, it won't ruin the flavour too much!

Rooibos is a African tea and it has a natural sweetness to it, so it's great if you enjoy tea without milk. Due to it's sweetness, if it's sold as a flavoured tea, it tends to be blended with other sweet tastes, such as vanilla or peppermint rather then citrus tones that are often used in black and green tea.

Rooibos is also naturally caffeine free which is great if you can't drink too much caffeine. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Chash Tea: Venetian Rose, A Tea of Simple Beauty.

Sometimes, a tea comes along that is utterly beautiful. Not just tasty, not just aromatic. Not just enjoyable, but utterly, wonderfully, beautiful. Chash Tea's Venetian Rose is beautiful.

I was sent some tea from Chash to review on here, and it was a mixture of both loose tea and tea pouches.  This evening I decided to try a tea from it's tea pouch range. It was hard to choose, but ultimately, I settled on Venetian Rose.

I didn't know too much about this tea, so I brewed it blindly.

The tea comes in a triangular pouch. Inside the pouch you can see all of the dark tea leaves alongside dried rose buds. It's nice to look at. Sadly, I couldn't get a photograph as my camera battery died on me. But you can slightly see it above.

Due to it being called Venetian Rose, I assumed, wrongly, that there would be a strong scent of rose. But,  instead I picked up the smell of pure black tea, which in itself is lovely.

Being a black tea, I boiled the kettle and let it cool for only a short while before adding the water. I brewed for around four minutes.

Included in this tea, are tea's from China, India and Sri Lanka. I've recently started to drink tea's from Sri Lanka and it's a really different black tea. It's every so slightly sweet and brings a different dimension when blended with black tea's from different countries.

The aroma of this tea is wonderful. The black tea has it's strong scent, but within that is a delicate floral scent. It's not overly strong, but it isn't masked by the strength of the black tea base. I couldn't possibly tell what this was going to taste like as it was already so different to what I was expecting.

Taking my first sip I deeply enjoyed the familiar taste of the black tea. My current obsession with green tea has meant that black tea has ever so slightly been put on the back burner for a while, so it was good to taste a really fine black tea. It is robust, as black tea's generally are.

The taste of rose bud is very fragrant and very enjoyable. It's gentle, discreet even, but it works really well with the strong taste of black tea.

You can take this tea with milk, but it's been a long time since I've added milk to tea, so I prefer now to take it black so I can really experience all the tastes the tea has to offer. I feel that by adding milk, you could potentially loose the delicate taste of rose bud.

Drinking this tea is like being embraced by someone you love deeply. It's comforting, warming and lovely. Every sip is beautiful, and you experience a variation of flavours from the strong black tea to the light and breezy rose bud.

Because of the high quality of the tea used the flavours are strong but not undrinkable as lesser quality black tea's can be.

When I finished this cup of tea, I felt relaxed. But also, like I had experienced something really quite lovely and very special.

This is one blend of tea I won't easily forget. Chash tea have blended a truly wonderful tea, which, I hope is enjoyed by many.

For all the information on you may need on Venetian Rose please click here.

I would highly recommend you try this utterly gorgeous tea. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will be purchasing a pack as soon as I can.

Teapigs Creme Caramel: A Rare Miss For Me

(Photo sourced from

I will put my hands up and admit that I've tried and tried and tried with rooibos tea. I have given it a go both in pure form and with added flavours, and, sadly it just doesn't work for me.

But, I never give up. So when I am sent a rooibos tea, I will always clear my mind of previous thoughts and try it with a clean slate.

Rooibos tea (or redbush as it's otherwise known) is a tea that originates from South Africa. It has a natural sweetness to it, and also, it's rather smokey in taste, and I think it's the sweetness with the smokiness that puts me off.

When my friend Rebecca kindly sent me a sample of Teapigs Rooibos Creme Caramel, I decided to give it a whirl. I may be surprised and actually like it. So, I decided to brew the envelope.

As it was brewing I could smell an extreme smokiness to it, and I think, from the offset I realised that I may not be this blends biggest fan.

I let it brew for around four minutes.

This tea has a natural, lovely red, coppery colour to it which is, I'll admit, very pretty!

And then for the tasting. I took a sip and was kind of surprised at how sweet this tea is. The natural sweetness from the rooibos and the added sweetness from the creme caramel really does make this a tea for someone with a real sweet tooth. And, with the benefit of having just 3 calories per cup, it would make a really good chocolate/sweet replacement if your dieting.

This tea is rich, smooth and mellow. It's a nice experience for your tongue as the tea is blended very well. The caramel is lovely and natural tasting.

But, I will admit to you, that the overall sweetness to this made it very difficult for me to finish my cup, and I had to stop with a little over a quarter left in the cup. I do not have a natural sweet tooth so this was just a little bit too much for me.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a disgusting tea. It doesn't turn my stomach or make me feel ill, as Lapsang Souchong, for example, does.

I think, when I get to the bare bones of it, this isn't my type of tea as I just can't like rooibos, no matter how hard I try. If the creme caramel was blended with a black, white or green tea, I think it would of appealed a little more to me.

I think you'll enjoy this if:-

- You love rooibos tea
- Love caramel
- Have a sweet tooth
- You are on a diet and need a sweet fix

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this tea at all. It just didn't sit well with me, not to my own personal taste.

I will have to admit that the rooibos battle is one I will always loose, no matter how much I try.

Click here if you'd like more information on Rooibos Creme Caramel

Company Profile: Northern Tea Company

Northern Tea Merchants is a tea company that is based in Derbyshire. It's a really wonderful company, and I have been very lucky that the (tea) world's loveliest man, James, has spared some time to answer some questions for me so that I can write this company profile.

Northern Tea Merchants sell high quality teas that are both loose and in teabags. And for the coffee lovers out there, they sell coffee too!

I have been very lucky to try some of their teas and they are delicious. I have already reviewed their chocolate tea  and will be reviewing others at a later date. It was a totally luxurious tea that I really enjoyed and gave me a wonderful chocolate kick that a girl needs from time to time!

Brian and James's enthusiasm, and their very evident passion for tea, come through clearly when you speak to them. This isn't just a job, it's in their blood. It's very nice to meet people who not only love tea, but have a respect for it too. 

Their customer base is varied. They sell to the Co-op right up to Harrods food hall, via Sainsbury's and Tesco's. From the chat's I've had with James, their customers are loyal to them and many have been going to the Northern Tea Merchants for decades - and I can understand why.

Aside from their regular customers, Northern Tea Merchants also sell into the trade, and supply hotel's and cafe's as well as some of the largest catering organisations with their blends of tea. 

Northern Tea Merchants take their tea very seriously and test every batch of tea and coffee before it's sold. It's also interesting to note that they were one of the very first tea companies within the UK to sell their tea in the form of teabags. 

They have also been part of the Fairtrade scheme since the 1980's and also are part of the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Coffee Programme. This is a tea company that stay true to the ethical principles of fairtrade tea and coffee, and that in itself is something to be proud of.

Earlier this week James kindly answered some questions that I could add to the profile. Here is what I asked, and here are his answers.

1. When was the Northern Tea Merchants established and why?
 Northern Tea Merchants was actually the second generation business name of my family’s involvement in the Tea trade. The history is this… In 1926, my grandfather, Albert Pogson, took a job with the Ceylon Tea Growers association on Meadow Lane in Nottingham, where he worked until 1936. In 1936, he moved to Chesterfield, and established his own door-to-door and wholesale tea business called the Spire Tea Company. My father worked for him until 1959, when he decided to do the same thing and open his own tea business, this time selling the new-fangled tea bag (Northern Tea Merchants were one of the first companies in the UK to sell tea bags) to grocers and also door-to door. The huge growth in the popularity of the tea bags enabled my father to expand his business very successfully, and it became a wholesale orientated manufacturing business, which supplied hundreds of cafes, restaurants, hotels, corner shops (there were plenty of corner shops in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s), and in 1982 (the year I started senior school), my father made the significant decision to become involved with Traidcraft and Oxfam and we commenced contract packing work for them, some of which we still hold today in spite of their policy to have their products packed at origin. I joined the business in 1988 and worked as a Van Driver, Warehouseman, Packer, Shop Operative etc. etc. etc. until in 1998 I became Operations Manager which allowed me to start steering the business in directions I saw that would improve our acumen and secure the business’ future. We become Northern Tea Merchants Ltd in 2007, and amongst our list of satisfied customers, we now supply Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, the Co-Op and Harrods as well as maintaining our strong presence in the wholesale market, with many of my Father’s (and even grandpa’s in some cases!) customers still buying from us after many years. The reason? Because we sell good quality. Simply that! 

 2. What are your personal favourite blends? 
 At home, I drink our Gourmet Classic Tea as a day-to-day cuppa, although I always have some Ti Quan Yin Green Tea, some Keemun Peony Black Tea, some whole Chamomile Flowers and some Kenya Blue Mountain coffee beans in my cupboard for when I fancy a change.

3. What do you think makes for a good tea?
 Easy. There is a direct correlation (usually) between the cost of a tea and its quality. That’s why if you buy some of the bloody awful ‘Value’ Tea bags that usually retail for about 30p for 80 tea bags, they taste like cement water, and if you spend £2.00 or thereabouts on a box of better quality tea bags, they are much more likely to appease your palate! HOWEVER, please accept that I’m not being a tea snob. The cost of tea affects so many people down the line in the production of said tea – i.e. the Tea Pickers, the workers in the factory at origin that turns the green picked leaf into the black leaf that we all use in our tea bags, the shippers, the humble tea merchant (!), and I suppose that what I’m saying is IT PAYS TO BUY GOOD TEA!

4. What do you think makes a bad tea?
Cheap Tea, which has a lack of character and flavour, poor colour, unpleasant characteristics such as a burnt or toasty flavour, dull flavour notes like dirty water… All of these attributes are easy to discern by anyone. As a rule, we are a nation of good quality tea drinkers, and the cheaper alternatives are all retail discount driven.

5. What is your general opinion of high street blends?
I admire the high street blends for their consistency. Imagine being in the situation where you are selling over 70 tonnes of tea per day (approx. what Tetley (the market leader in the UK) are producing for the UK every day). There is only a finite amount of good tea available at origin, and bids for it are often hotly contested. The laws of supply and demand, plus the fact that a lot of the world’s tea is auctioned and so has no real fixed price, weather conditions at origin plus new legislation within Europe that deals with MRL’s (pesticide residue) and bacterial counts makes the buyers job very difficult indeed to provide a consistent blend every day and I take of my hat to the skill of some of these fellows who are occasionally charged with the job of making a silk purse out of teas that are sometimes only good enough to make a sow’s ear. I am lucky in that we don’t have to buy every day, and so I can seek out good teas over time and I hope you agree that the quality of my teas is that bit better than you can get on the high street. If my business were to grow in size, I may not be in that enviable position of being able to wait for the right lots of tea to come along, and so would have to wear my accountant’s hat, rather than my Tea Merchant’s hat to compose my blends, with the corresponding drop in quality that this would give.

6. How do you develop new blends?
By experimentation, and having developed my palate memory (i.e. I can remember what teas taste like). I blend for flavour, strength, character and colour. Usually flavour and strength are provided by North Indian Teas (Assams), colour is added to blends by using teas from the East of the Rift Valley in Kenya, and character comes from teas from the beautiful island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). This list is not exclusive, and other origins (e.g. Rwanda) have their own characteristics that can alter or improve a blend. I suppose the concise version of what I have just written is – by practice and good memory!

I'd like to say a huge thanks for James for taking the time to answer my questions - and indepth, too!
For more information on Northern Tea Merchants then please click here.