Saturday, 28 June 2014

Teavivre: Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea

This evening I have another review from the excellent Teavivre.

I have kindly been sent several of their tea's so I just dived right into the box and choose this one at random!

The tea I've picked is called Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea.

As you can see in the picture below this blend of tea is made up of very, very small leaves.

They have a green and silver colour to this tea, it's quite a firm tea, and a teaspoon goes a long way!

Upon opening the sealed packet the blend had a strong aroma to it which reminded me of chocolate. It is a very strong tea which has a sweet smell and is very inviting.

Brewing instructions for this tea is between 3-5 minutes so I erred on the side of caution and brewed the tea for just three minutes. It took on a light green colour which is very attractive to look at.

When brewing the scent changes. It goes from a chocolate scent to a nutty/popcorn aroma which I thought was very interesting.

Lu Shan Yun Wu has a smooth, nutty flavour, something akin to Yunnan or Keemun in black tea. It's rich and though it has strength it's also subtle too.As the tea cools the nutty flavour is enhanced and reminds me of hazlenuts!

This is a really lovely blend of green tea and am so glad I got the chance to try it.

It's smooth and soothing - perfect to unwind to after a busy day.

I Can't Help Falling In Love With ... Loose Tea.

(Image sourced from google).

There is nothing quite as lovely as drinking loose tea that has been brewed in a gorgeous pot and taken from a marvelous cup and saucer. It's very rare that I can drink my tea like this, sadly. Christmas and bank holidays are the times when I do.

Of course, on the flip side, if you don't have a pot with an inbuilt infuser drinking loose tea can be, quite frankly, a pain the backside. There is nothing more tedious and time consuming then trying to clean a pot of loose tea leaves. (This especially happens if you have a one pot as infusers never come with these).

We all have ever busy lives so have fallen into the pattern of dunking a teabag into a cup, leaving it for the shortest time possible and supping it on the run. But, this is no way to enjoy tea.

I recently opened a box of tea, (of quite expensive teabags) only to find the teabags covered in tea that resembled dust. When transferring tea from box to caddy, I can pretty much say that there was more tea in the discarded box then there was in the actual teabags. This just wasn't going to do.

There is a very handy bridge between the two. They are either called pyramids or tea temples and most tea companies now produce them. They contain loose leave tea but with the convenience of being enclosed in a bag. Normally, these bags come about half full as to allow the tea time to expand as the tea brews. However, these tea's are normally quite expensive and boxes come in small quantities only, but for me, they are well worth the money.

At the start of the year, a tea company called Chash kindly sent me an infuser. What a difference this gift has made on my tea drinking life.

Now, every day, I can enjoy loose tea and it's really wonderful to drink tea's of high quality that make for a satisfying brew. I have so many wonderful tea's sent from many different companies that the infuser is used again and again, day and night.

It's so easy to enjoy loose tea throughout the working day. You just put as much tea as you want to into the infuser, pour over hot water and let it brew. In some cases, such as Kensington Tea Company's Chinese Jasmine Pearl Superior, Green Christmas Spice or Japanese Cherry With Flowers, you can infuse the leaves up to three times, so making a cup with a infuser is just as easy as popping in a teabag.

What tea has amazed me the most though is Twinings Lady Grey. There is a difference in the flavour from brewing loose tea to teabags. The flavour, somehow, is richer, is stronger and tastier. (Of course I still love the teabags, convenient to take out to cafe's with me!).

Infusers are relatively cheap to buy. They range from £1 on Amazon up to £12, depending on what sort you want. You can get basic metal ones, or shaped ones. Comedic ones and traditional ones. Whatever your taste there is probably one that will suit you down to the ground.

Loose tea can be a little more expensive then tea in teabag form. But I honestly think it's worth it to get a decent brew. And you won't be missing out on choice. All your favourite black tea's come in loose form, there is a great amount of specialist green tea sites out there, and even white tea is available in loose tea form, too.

I have a renewed love and admiration for loose tea now that it's so easy to use on a day to day basis. Of course, on special days, the pot does come out. But I generally now stick to an infuser. Why settle for lesser quality tea when you can still drink fine tea's in a convenient way?

I have so much to learn about loose tea after years of relying on teabags. But I can't wait to experience all the flavours out there.

So, I'm off now, to brew a tea. But what should it be? Lady Grey, Gunpowder Green, Russian Caravan or Darjeeling? Choices, choices ....

Friday, 27 June 2014

Tea Huggers: Slow Down

I find it really exhilarating discovering new tea companies. Since I started this blog in January I've discovered so many new brands. In actual fact only a very small percentage of tea companies appear in supermarkets and grocery stores. Thanks to the internet I've found a plethora of companies out there who make fantastic and interesting tea's. 

Last week I was approached by Esther who runs Tea Huggers (what a fab name!) and she kindly asked if I'd like a couple of samples, which of course, I jumped at the chance. 

Luckily, I was sent two boxes, Skinny Fit and this wonderful blend, Slow Down. I chose to try Slow Down first because it contains several lovely and interesting ingredients. 

As you can see the contents are varied. The tea has a Chinese green tea base, with the addition of apple, lime leaves and thyme. The blend is designed to help you relax and it's perfect to curl up on the sofa with after a hard day at work.

Slow Down comes in a pyramid teabag and contains large leaved tea with fruit and spices. The pyramid is quite large, nice to the touch and is full of tea. If you look really closely you can see the fantastic pieces of apple which appear as if they had just been cut up this morning!

I brewed this tea for several minutes and I have to say, probably due to it's thyme content, it's very aromatic. Of course it is as soon as you open the box but when you add the water, something happens which makes the tea burst alive with flavours and scents. 

Although this tea contains several ingredients, for  me there are two very strong elements that dominate (in a nice way) the flavours and that is the lime leaves and thyme. Supping this tea is really rather extraordinary because you can taste these two flavours at the same time.

The lime leaves add a wonderfully tangy citrus tone to the tea. The thyme brings a herbal taste. Surprisingly the two taste's work well together. The thyme, I will admit, took a little bit of getting used to simply because I've not tried such a herb in tea before. But, it's tasty and gives the tea a totally different angle. 

Amongst these two strong flavours I detected, as a after bite, the sweetness of the apple. This tea is quite a mixture of flavours and textures and it makes for one very interesting cup of tea. 

I loved the smoothness of this tea. It feels almost silky to drink and has a lovely depth of flavour. Drinking this tea is interesting because the different tastes almost develop in your mouth one by one. 

As it contains thyme this tea could possibly take a little bit of getting used to. I loved it immediately. There is something about this tea that suits, and appeals, to my taste buds. It's quirky, but, at the same gives you a decent cup of tea that you can rely on to satisfy, warm and relax you. It's a bit different whilst still retaining that quality that I love in teas - the ability to soothe you and make everything better!

I'd really recommend this tea, particularly if you like garden herbs in your tea. 

Tea Huggers is a very unique blend and can't wait to try their Skinny Fit tea soon! 

Have a look around Tea Huggers website and introduce yourself to the brand. If you like tea's that are different to the norm then it's the company for you!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

T Box Teas: Gunpowder Mint - Yep, I'm Trying Mint Tea!

It is indeed very surprising that I'm reviewing a mint based tea. You'll all know that mint tea just doesn't agree with me. Well, not in it's pure form at least (peppermint tea makes me gag!), however, I've been enjoying tea that contains mint in addition to other flavours. 

Recently I was very kindly sent some samples from Sally who works for T Box Teas and included in the samples was this Gunpowder Mint.

Gunpowder is a gorgeous green tea, but how would it fair with mint added? 

Each silky, hand stitched envelope came wrapped in it's own plastic wrapper. The first thing I noticed about this tea was how much tea was in each teabag! A really impressive amount. The teabag is lovely to touch. 

When I took the envelope out of the plastic wrapped I inhaled the scent of the tea and it really reminded me of Trebor's Soft Mints. It's more of a spearmint aroma to it rather then peppermint, so the minty scent was soft and delicate, not as strong as peppermint.

It said to brew this tea between three to four minutes so timed it at three as I didn't want it to be too strong. As it brewed it took on a wonderful green colour, which I admired very much.

You can see in the photo above how full of tea the teabag is. You really do get your money's worth. The leaves are nice and large too which make for a better quality tea.

What will it taste like though, and indeed, will I even be able to finish the cup what with it's mint content?

I took my first sip rather tentatively. Just like when I first tried Earl Grey, I must admit, I really was apprehensive. I was pleasantly surprised.

There is a real earthy element to Gunpowder green tea. I must admit such earthiness took a bit of getting used to when I started to drink green tea but it's a taste now that I really enjoy. There is a herbal element to it and you can't help but feel you are drinking something really healthy. It's a strong green tea, which I really appreciate. It's tasty, strong and very moreish.

Now onto the mint. This was the one part I was hesitant about. But I liked it. It's delicate and not at all overpowering and a good balance to the strength of the green tea. It leaves your mouth feeling refreshed and I can say, after a long day, I really enjoyed it. It's a perfect tonic.

Having been caught up writing this blog about a quarter of the cup went cold but I still found it pleasant to drink even when it had cooled. I was genuinely surprised that I would like this, but, I should of listened to Sally at T Box Tea's who said herself that she liked the tea even though mint wasn't her favourite type of tea.

I don't think I'll ever enjoy peppermint tea - if something makes you gag you won't do, but I really loved this and will probably be buying a full box. It's really refreshing and light, and if you like iced tea's this would be a ideal candidate on a hot day.

Thank you so much to Sally for sending me this! She thought I'd like it and she was right. It was fantastic to try this tea. If you're a mint tea lover you'll certainly like it, if you're not and want to try mint tea, this is the perfect tea for that first step into the world of mint tea!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Wise Owl Tea: Antiguan Cinnamon Spice

(Photo sourced from Wise Owl Tea)

There is something I really like about Wise Owl Tea, a tea company that I've only recently discovered. They are young, the products are delicious and the people involved are really, really nice. 

I have already reviewed one of their products, the extremely delicious Bamboo Organic Leaf Tea so this evening I thought I'd review the Antiguan Cinnamon Spice.

Firstly I will say that I love tea with oomph, I love spicy and even hot chilli tea. This tea has oomph in bucketloads. For as much as Bamboo Leaf is subtle, discreet and delicate, this is firey, spicy and leaves a strong impression.

The ingredients in this tea are:

  • Cinnamon
  • Oat flower
  • Liquorice
  • Clove 
  • Peppermint
So, as you can see, each of the flavours within this tea are strong. It's quite an experience drinking this tea, but, as my review will show, it was a totally pleasant one.

When I started to brew this blend instantly the different aroma's from the ingredients started to emerge and as the brewing process progressed the wonderful scents got strong and stronger. I brewed this tea for five minutes and settled down to take my first sip.

The strongest flavour which came through was the cinnamon. I have had cinnamon tea before which was so strongly scented and powerful to drink that I struggled to get to grips with it, but the cinnamon here, though strong was well balanced. The team at Wise Owl have been so clever because not one flavour out does any of the others - it's a perfectly balanced tea.

As regular readers know I'm not keen at all on pure peppermint tea, it churns my stomach. However, I do enjoy that kick and extra something peppermint brings to other blends - and I never thought I'd ever write that! Peppermint adds a spicy but sweet addition to a cup of tea and I'm really started to appreciate and enjoy what it can bring to a blend.

What is really smart about this tea is that despite the cinnamon and peppermint, you can still detect that slight after bite and kick that the liquorice causes. I've tried liquorice in all sorts of tea and I just love the way it makes your tongue fizz after you've taken a sip of tea.

Antiguan Cinnamon Spice really takes you on a wonderful journey as you drink it. I love how refreshing this tea is. We are currently going through a warm spell here in the UK and I find that despite the spicy element to the tea, it's actually quite cooling on a hot day and is a utter joy to drink. It smells and tastes wonderful and to be frank, you NEED this in your tea collection.

It's so well balanced, so nicely blended that it's totally different and unique. It makes a wonderful change from your normal tea drinking routine.

Wise Owl Tea have done it again - blended a fantastic and fun tea.

For more information on Antiguan Cinnamon Spice please follow this link.

As I said at the start Wise Owl are a fab company who produce some really glorious tea's. I'd love to support them as much as I can because I truly think they are worth it. They care about their tea and care about how it's produced. And you can't get any better then that, can you?

Sorry for lack of posting ....

It's been a bit quiet here lately. My boyfriend and I have had family up and we have been enjoying the fab weather.

However, normal service will be resumed tonight!

Question is ... what tea shall I review?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Company Profile: Wise Owl Tea

Wise Owl Tea is a London tea company who are based in Crystal Palace.

They specialise in organic herbal tea.

I have written in the past that I'm not overly keen on herbal tea, mainly because the only herbal tea I had tried was chamomile. However, after tasting blackberry and nettle tea I started to see the appeal in herbal tea. I'm still not keen on chamomile but can enjoy it when mixed with other flavours.

However, when the lovely Lucy from Wise Owl Tea sent me some samples of their tea, I instantly fell in love. Their Bali Bamboo Leaf is truly something out of this world. Totally different, positively moreish and wonderfully tasty. I also have two other tea's that I've tried (but as of yet not blogged about) which are equally as gorgeous. (Blogs appearing soon!).

Wise Owl tea was created in 2013 at home in the kitchen. Lucy and a friend both enjoy traveling and often go to far off lands to not only experience the wonderful food but to see how people use herbal infusions and how they blend the different flavours. Lucy Wise explained "Wise owl tea was set up in 2013, prior to that we spent time exploring the herbal infusion industry here in the UK.  We wanted to offer something a little different to the industry whilst focusing on organic blends and their health benefits."

After bringing back some herbs Wise Owl started to create their own teas. Wise Owl hand make all of their own silky tea temples, each being created with respect and love. The ingredients in the tea are ethically sourced and totally organic and are certified as so.

Their love for traveling and all things exotic is not just reflected in the tea but also the packaging too, if you look closely you can see the old world maps that feature on the tea's packaging!

(Photo sourced from

Wise Owl Tea sell their products on Amazon, through smaller health shops and on their online shop.  Impressively, they also sell into the luxury hamper market too. 

And, if you're going to Jamie Oliver's Big Feastival between the 29th and 31st August then pop by and say hello as they have a stall there!

Of course, herbal tea's are not exclusive to Wise Owl. There are plenty of blends available. Even supermarkets have their own blends, but the general opinion of own brands is that they are a little bit bland and lack flavour. I asked Lucy what she thought of mainstream herbal tea,  "I've always felt that the tea industry in the UK was a bit of a dinosaur! However, it's great that attitudes are changing. It has really only been in the past few years that it has been considered 'normal' within the mainstream to do such a thing! The industry is relatively small, and will grow due to the change in demand away from traditional tea. Demand for herbal tea is on the rise and has a bright future ahead".

Wise Owl appeals to me because they are not afraid to take risks and become inventive with the flavours of their tea's. Their blends range from Bali Bamboo Leaf to the really rather wonderful Tahitian Night Night, a gorgeous blend that contains lavender and chamomile and valerian root which aids restful sleep. You have the exciting and lively Antiguan Cinnamon Spice and the very wild sounding Peruvian Azteca Fire!

Of course, there is nothing wrong with chamomile, but Wise Owl are creative and are able to make herbal tea's interesting.

I also like that Wise Owl have used, what they call, silky tea temples. I have evangelised on here before about the marvelous benefits to drinking silky tea temples (or pyramids or temples, depending on the brand!) rather then the average teabag. As Lucy so wonderfully said "whole leaf silky tea temples is the way for me. Anything else is just not my cup of tea". I cannot disagree with her. The quality of tea in temple (or pyramid) tends to be much higher and the fact you're getting whole leaf tea rather then dust is only something to be happy about!

I have stated that (so far) my favourite tea is Bali Bamboo leaf. What's Lucy's? " I always get and oo with Bamboo.  Our Bamboo and Nettle blend is one of my favourites due to it's light silky taste and Silica benefits. I also love the combination of Olive leaves with apple, which is also very popular".

I have been so impressed with Wise Owl.  They have opened up doors to herbal tea, which is a tea I never thought I'd enjoy. They are inventive with their blends and creative with their packaging. A thoroughly modern tea company but one which has old fashioned values - high quality tea, well packaged and healthy to boot!

With Wise Owl there is the sense that they have so much yet to do, so much lovely tea to produce. It's a company full of energy and a dedication to producing high quality and totally individual tea's. It's forward thinking and has bags of potential.

If you love herbal tea but feel what that the choices available in standard shops is limited, do check out the website, your bound to find something that appeals to you. If you're wondering what herbal tea is all about contact the lovely Lucy who will give you any advice that you need.

I really wise Wise Owl tea all the best for the future. The company and the people behind it are lovely. I hope to be able to review many more of their blends on here in the future!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Wise Owl Tea: Bali Bamboo Organic Leaf

Lucy from Wild Owl Tea kindly sent me some samples of their products, and, one of those samples is this wonderful and very different Bali Bamboo Leaf Organic Tea.

Wise Owl Tea is a new company to me. They are based in Crystal Palace, London and they specialise in organic herbal tea.

I had decided to try the bamboo tea because I was really interested in how it tastes. In my (short) time reviewing tea's I've come across a lot of tea but never a bamboo one! I was really excited to try this. I appreciated it was going to be a really different sort of tea and couldn't wait to try it.

Bali Bamboo Leaf comes in silky pyramid's which I am a huge, huge fan of. The quality of tea in pyramids tends to be of a much higher standard and the tea is that bit more special.

Bamboo tea contains organic bamboo leaf and nettle. I'm a huge fan of nettle tea and enjoy it hugely, so to see that this tea contained nettle was a extra little bonus.

I brewed this tea using boiling water and left it to infuse for five minutes. During the brewing process the tea gave off a wonderful herbal aroma. It smelt sweet, nutty and, in a strange way, reminds me of woodland when it has just rained. A perculiar description I know, but it's what it reminded me of.

Bamboo Leaf tea is delicious and I enjoyed it far more then I thought I would. Not because I was expecting the tea to be awful as I always try new teas with a clean slate, but, rather I'm not overly keen on some herbal tea's. But this tea is absolutely gorgeous.

It's a very sweet tea, so you don't need to add any sugar or sweetener. This tea reminds me so much of other blends. There is something almost pepperminty about this tea. It's also has a nutty, earthy taste which is very similar to Yunnan (in black tea).

I like the different tones to this tea. On first tasting you have a wonderful sweet taste. Then, just after you have the herbal, mint like taste, then you have the nuttiness. It's really rather odd (in a good way) but this tea almost develops whilst in your mouth. You can taste the different flavours coming through one by one which is extraordinary.

It's so rich and interesting in flavour that this is one blend you will never tire of. I had my first cup of tea around 8.20pm, in just under an hour I've made another two cups. That is quite some tea drinking, isn't it? But it's interesting, different and pure heaven in a cup.

As the football has started and as it's Friday, a lot of people are reporting on Facebook that they are drinking wine or beer and are posting pictures up to prove it! I'm proud to say that I'm drinking Wise Owl's Bamboo Tea. It's simply gorgeous and very tasty with rich tones and flavours.

I don't drink coffee, but I would imagine that this would make a brilliant replacement for after dinner coffee! It's a really fantastic tea that you must try.

What with it being herbal, it also could possibly have health benefits. This tea contains silica which helps the bamboo grow strong yet retain it's flexibility. In humans, it's could possibly help with hair and nail growth. Of course, I'm not a doctor with any sort of medical knowledge but I do think it's common knowledge that tea is a great source of antioxidants which helps keep us healthy.

I think it would be a great shame if you didn't try this tea. It may sound very different, and may be many miles away from what you normally drink, however, you'd be missing out on a great experience if you didn't give it a go.

The tea comes in a cardboard caddy, which is really pretty. And of course, once empty the caddy can go in the recycling bin, so this tea is good for the environment also!

Pop over to Wise Owl's website and check out the bamboo tea. I know you won't regret it!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Cup Of Tea: Copa Cabana

(Photo sourced from

We are all going a bit Brazil crazy here in the UK at the moment. Apparently, there is some sort of football thingy occurring. Not that I'm a fan of footie. I prefer Midsomer Murders or Miss Marple but there you go!

Anyway, I've tried (and reviewed) some fantastic tea's from Cup of Tea. So, last week, when a email popped into the inbox announcing a tropical new tea, and that there were free samples to be had, I wasted no time in filling in the box. This morning the tea arrived safe and sound.

There is enough tea in the sample to fill the infuser twice so you have the chance to try this tea two times!

Copa Cabana tea is described as being very tropical and suitable for being taken hot or served up as a ice tea. It can be brewed for as little as five minutes or as long as eight.

Visually, this tea is very bright to look at. Just like Brazil itself, it's colourful, fruity looking and a little bit exciting.

The list of ingredients is so varied I'm going to list them for you. You wont believe what is in this tropical tea! Here is the list ....

  • Pieces of Apple
  • Hibiscus
  • Lemongrass
  • Orange Peel
  • White hibiscus
  • Rosehip Peel
  • Pineapple Pieces
  • Beetroot
  • Pieces of mango
  • Carrot
  • Raspberry pieces
  • Sweet blackberry leaves
  • Strawberry pieces
  • Cornflowers
As you can see the sweetest of fruits are mixed with beetroot which has a slightly vinegary flavour and also carrot! I've never experienced carrot in a tea before. This was going to be one interesting cup of tea!

I stood in my kitchen, opened the packet and closed my eyes, inhaling the scent of the tea. I was really surprised because it's smell instantly took me back to childhood, for the tea reminded me of the smell of strawberry Hubba Bubba bubble gum that I used to chew in great quantities as a young girl. It was so full of strawberry scent it was just gorgeous and I'm sitting here now still smelling the empty packet.

I made two cups today. One this afternoon when I was working and didn't have much time so I brewed it for just four minutes, whilst this evening I brewed the second cup to eight minutes. The longer the brewing time the stronger the flavour, of course, so with this tea I'd highly recommend you brewing it for as long as you can.

When I took my first sip I was kind of expecting it to be very sweet, what with the vast amount of fruits the tea contained and the size of the fruit pieces, which are quite large. I was almost bracing myself for that teeth churning sweetness you can get with some fruit tea's but I was pleasantly surprised.

Although the tea contains a large amount of fruit pieces, it's a wonderfully balanced tea. There is a gentle sweetness to it, but also a slightly tart after bite, which I assume comes from  the pineapple and raspberry and the beetroot, too.

Copa Cabana is a very smooth blend. With each mouthful you pick up different flavours. One sip you can detect the strawberry, in the next you can detect mango. It's a like a little festival in your mouth. The flavours buzzing around everywhere giving your taste buds a real run for their money!

All of the flavours work well together. They are evenly balanced and this tea is just bursting at the seams with flavour. It really is the perfect blend for summer.

If you love fruit tea then this is a dream come true for you.

I found this tea tasty and pleasant enough and I enjoyed trying it. However, for me, it's not something I would drink a huge amount of as, though I like fruit tea, I prefer green tea. But if you are a fruit tea addict, or, if you want to avoid drinking caffeine then please give this tea a whirl.

For the fruit tea lover this is going to hit so many spots.

I'd like to thank Cup of Tea for sending out the free sample. I got the chance to try something really different and this tea is certainly unlike any other fruit tea available on the market. It certainly sums up summer really well, and you will get a flavour of Brazil where ever you live. 

If you'd like to try the tea then please visit this page. I'm not sure if they are still giving away the free samples but there is a option on the page still to select a sample so give it a whirl!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Calling All Tea Companies: Can You Do Something Special For Charity?

Today I was contacted by a lovely man called Joel from a tea company called Stir and Sip.

Stir and Sip are a unique company because it's 100% not for profit. Their aims and goals are simple: any profit they make from the sale of their tea's go to their local homeless drop in centre. The funds that are sent to the centre go towards providing homeless people with a much needed hot drink and hot meal.

The profits that Stir and Sip make go to their local charity Spitalfields Crypt Trust that was established in 1965 and who offer a drop in service for homeless people and provide support to those who are recovering from addiction.

Stir and Sip sell a variety of different tea's that come from across the world, both black tea and green tea. Their supplier is also from a non profit background, and who send their profits to help educate children in Darjeeling.

Stir and Sip are calling on all tea companies to follow in their footsteps and back an exciting initiative which is fairly simple to do, but could mean such a lot to a great many people.

In the week starting the 13th October 2014 Stir and Sip are asking tea companies to choose ONE blend of their tea and donate the profits to their local homeless charity. It's as simple as that. So, for every box of Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Afternoon Tea (or, any blend you want to!) sold, you will be helping those less fortunate, and who are in desperate need of a hot cup of tea and a meal. 

As the year progresses and the weather starts to turn, any donations that you could send to a homeless shelter could do so much, whether it be feeding someone, providing a bed for them or just giving them the opportunity to keep warm. And this is particularly vital over the winter months and in particular the Christmas period. 

Any of us that have been to our major cities will probably have seen those sleeping out on the streets in the most horrendous weather, and it's hard not to feel moved by their circumstances. 

If you'd like any further information then please contact Joel through Stir and Sip's contact page.

Wiltshire Tea Company: China Green Gunpowder

I've always liked the name Gunpowder Green. It's a really cool name for a tea, I think. I read recently that it has it's name because it resembles the old style gunshot in shape and that it makes a very nice "clang" as it hits the bottom of the pot!

I've seen Gunpowder Green in many shops and have always wanted to try it, but, for some unfathomable reason, it's never really made it's way into my shopping basket. I think, because of it's name, I imagine it to be very strong and of course green tea can be a little off putting when it's too strong.

When I received the sample, I was keen to give it a go!

I really love the appearance of this tea. It's bright and colourful, smells nice and is just interesting to look at. Here it is nestled safely in my infuser. 

I followed the brewing instruction's on this tea. I boiled the kettle, let it cool for a minute and then brewed the tea for two. Interestingly, I found this tea to brew to a really dark colour. Most green teas take on a light yellow or green hue which is almost translucent, but this is a very full dark orange coloured tea, which is very different from what you normally get with green tea.

As I set up the computer to write this blog, the tea cooled slightly meaning I could drink it once away once I settled down.

China Green Gunpowder is a green tea with strength. I would compare it to the black tea, Assam. It has oomph, is not delicate like some other blends, but at the same time, it's not bitter or astringent.

It is a smooth blend, slightly fruity and grassy. It has almost herbal elements to it, which, though I dislike herbal tea, is quite tasty. It feels like a very "natural" tea if that makes sense, that it's healthy and full of goodness. I felt as though I'm drinking something really good for me, which can't be bad, can it?

It is pleasantly rounded and it's perfect if you like your tea strong. Some green tea's are very delicate so when people try it (if they are used to heavy black tea's) it's doesn't always make a satisfying brew. Not so with Green Gunpowder. It has strength, is tasty and deliciously moreish.

Green Gunpowder has surprised me. I thought the stronger the blend of green tea the less tasty it would be. But I am genuinely struck by how nice this blend is. Lovely tasting, strong and fulfilling.

According to websites that specialise in green tea, Gunpowder is the strongest green tea you can find. So, it's even more impressive that I like it. Immediately after drinking my first cup, I brewed a second and liked it just as much on the second tasting.

However, if you're wary of green tea or are so so on it, this is not the blend for you. You'll probably find it a bit too strong, and, dare I say it, unappealing.

I've proven to myself by drinking and enjoying this tea, that I am now a fully converted green tea addict. I love the delicate blends, I love the flavoured blends and now I love the strong ones. I'm really, really impressed by this, and can only thank Wiltshire Tea Company for sending me to sample.

If you'd like more information on Wiltshire Tea Company, please click here. and if you'd like to read about Gunpowder Green then follow this link.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Twinings Lemon And Honey Green Tea

(Photo sourced from Twinings)

I'm not a lover of honey. I don't like it on porridge, spread on toast, added to tea or in chocolate bars. I don't like it sweetened or unsweetened. And, if I'm honest, I have no idea why I brought this tea when I visited the Twinings shop last month. I think sometimes I tend to get over excited when I go to the store and look at things (and in this case buy things) that I wouldn't normally be interested in.

Earlier this week I was stood in the kitchen totally unsure about what I fancied. So, I decided to crack open my box of lemon and honey green tea. I'd brought it so I may of well try it, I thought.

After boiling the kettle and letting it cool a little I was surprised by the nice scent the brewing tea gave off. Maybe, despite my dislike of honey, this could be okay.

I let it brew for just over a minute and sat down with my breakfast ready to try the first mouthful.

And I was happily surprised. This tea wasn't bad at all .... in fact, it was quite nice.

I loved the tangy mixture of lemon, which can be a big sharp, and the sweet taste of honey. It was a really impressive cup of tea.

First of all, lets talk about the honey. Well, it's add's a gentle sweetness to it, and though it tastes of honey (obviously!) it's not too rich or over done. It's a light taster of honey but not at all heavy from the it.

The lemon brings a tangy twist to the tea. I've had a couple of cups of this tea, and the second cup I brewed for slightly longer and it took on a perfume like element, but if brewed for the time suggested on the box, one to two minutes, it tastes just perfect.

Together this tea was rather tasty. Not sure how I'd fair with a pure honey flavoured tea, but the lemon balanced out nicely with the honey.

Although I enjoyed the tea, and will certainly finish the box, it's not a blend that I would buy again. It just didn't hit the spot like some other blends have done.

However, having spoken to a lady who loves honey and has it on cereal, on yoghurt and who uses it as salad dressing and a sauce for chicken, I've found out that if you love honey it's a blend that you'll certainly love.

My friends review of it was that it was 'gorgeous and a honey lovers dream'. Well, I certainly couldn't sum that up any better!

If you'd like more information on this blend or if you'd like to buy a box then please visit the Twinings online store.

I've been told that this isn't a blend that is readily available in shops so please purchase online if you're struggling to find it in your local shops.

Teavivre: Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea

Last month, through Twitter, I received a fantastic message from Angel who works for Teavivre kindly asking if I'd like to try some samples of their green tea. As a relatively new but enthusiastic convert to green tea, I couldn't say anything else other then yes please!

It was really lovely to have a tea company come to me and offer me some samples which proved that this blog is actually being read!

Teavivre sell all types of tea from green to black via white. They sell oolong, pu-erh, flowering tea, herbal and fruit tea as well as tea accessories. It's a brilliant go to website that have an extensive amount of stock. I do believe that you will never come away without buying something, or at least, seeing something you'd like to buy.

Anyway, just this week I got a huge packet of tea (see below) from Teavivre. This bag of tea is massive and contains a substantial amount of samples. I can't tell you how excited I was when the parcel arrived from China.

From each sample I guessed I can get two freshly brewed cups of tea. This was going to be really exciting!

This afternoon I took out all the samples and wondered what to try first. After quite some time I decided to go for Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing. Each sample arrives in their own packet.

The packets are vacuum packed foil packets. Due to these being sample packs I can't say what the packaging will be like if purchasing a full sized pack, but, I think the tea keeps really fresh and fragrant  in these little packages.

When opening this packet I smelt the most gentle, fragrant aroma. It is absolutely gorgeous.

I found this tea to be the most interesting tea to look at. As you can see below, the leaves are really long!

I use an infuser and so you can't get a huge amount of tea in the infuser, however, that is a good thing because it makes the tea last longer!

The brewing instructions said you could brew this tea for anything between one and six minutes. I opted for midway and brewed it for  just over three minutes, partly because I don't like green tea too strong, but mostly because I couldn't wait to taste this gloriously smelling tea.

This tea brews to a pale yellow colour. Of course how you drink tea is a personal thing but I take no milk (as suggested) or added no sugar. Milk doesn't sit well in green tea, but this tea is so delicate that adding any kind of sweetener, I believe, will detract from it's flavour.

I will openly admit now, that I loved this tea from the very first sip. It's flavour, like it's aroma, is delicate. It doesn't have that grassy taste that you can get from some green tea's. It has a pleasant sweetness to it.

I found green tea hard to drink at first thanks to a badly brewed cup many years ago, so I always take any new green tea with a speculative view. I always expect the tea, no matter how pretty it's packaged to taste awful.And it hardly ever does! But I taste it with caution ...

I should not of doubted my love for green tea in this instance. I absolutely can't describe enough how lovely this tea is. It's refreshing with a pleasant taste of orchid. It is not only mouthwatering, but it's palate cleansing as well.

Each sip is just heavenly. An over exaggeration of words you may think  but it's how I honestly feel. There is a softness and gentleness to this tea with no bitterness at all. It's is rounded and the flavour has depth, but pleasantly so.

I felt almost greedy when drinking this tea. This wasn't a cup of tea that lasted very long if I'm totally honest. As soon as I finished one sip, I wanted another one! It's quite an addictive tea, a lovely flavour that left you wanting more. 

This tea is ideal for summer days. It's light and a perfect companion for light meals such as salads. I would also highly recommend this tea if your either taking tentative steps into drinking green tea or want to start drinking green tea unflavoured.

For more information on this blend, please click here.

As you will see you can buy this tea packaged or in a caddy. (I love caddy's so will say, gone on, treat yourself!).

I will recommend this tea to any green tea lover or to anyone wishing to try it. It's of a superior quality and, according to the website, this batch was harvested on April 15th this year, so it's as fresh as you can possibly get!

Gone on, treat yourself and try some! You certainly won't regret it!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Whittington's Tea Emporium & Adagio's Earl Grey Lavender

There is something quaint about the name emporium. I've been to many emporiums during my holidays and they tend to be cute little places stacked full of knick knacks and oddities, but they tend to be dusty, cramped and a little dingy! Without a doubt though, you can always find something that appeals to you.

When I came across Whittington's Tea Emporium online, I was delighted to find a fresh, modern and thoroughly engaging website.

Whittington's Tea Emporium was formed in 2012. It stocks high quality tea, gorgeous teaware and handy tea related items such as paper filters and infusers. There is absolutely nothing tea related that you can't find at Whittington's.

What I found really great is they sell glass teapots, but have the forethought to sell replacement lids in case you have a mishap! I think that is really clever and smart thinking.

You will find on the website many different brands of tea and if you like the luxury of loose leaf tea you have ample choice. But, if teabags are more your thing, they sell them too. They sell tea from brands that I know, such as Canton and Adagio, and tea's from other companies that I do not.

Last month I wrote to Whittington's Tea Emporium and received a lovely response from Kyle. I like Kyle as his passion for tea is quite evident and as the owner of the company, he has turned a passion into a way to earn a living, and I think that is something most of us would like to do!

Kyle kindly sent me some of the tea's that you can purchase from the website. The first tea I have chosen to review is Adagio's Earl Grey Lavender.  As you all will know I love not only Earl Grey but the very different versions of the classic blend.

Adagio Earl Grey Lavender comes in loose leaf form and in a packet that is simple and easy to reseal, which is handy as tea can quite often loose it's flavour or scent if you can't keep it airtight. 

As you can see tea has a rich, dark colour with the pieces of lavender adding a bright splash of colour. It's a really attractive tea to look at! 

I brewed a cup and let it infuse for four minutes. The aroma from this tea is quite surprising. It's not lavender like I expected it to be, but has a rich vanilla scent. I was really, really surprised by this! It made for a really different tea to what I was expecting it to be!

As I sat down after a incredibly long day, I curled up in front of Dr Who and took a sip. Earl Grey Lavender is a rich tea, full of flavour and depth. I have to say, I didn't taste lavender as a flavour. Instead I picked up a lovely taste of vanilla, and it's almost caramel like, too.  However, as I made my way through the cup I did actually start to notice a floral taste to this tea. There is a lot going on with this blend!

This is so, so different from your normal Earl Grey it's quite extraordinary. I'm positive that if you like rich vanilla and caramel flavours then you will love this tea. Even those who love the traditional take on Earl Grey will be impressed by this high quality, high taste tea.

Earl Grey Lavender is perfect for those moments when you want to take ten minutes out of your hectic day to gather yourself. It's pure luxury, indulgent and perfect if your dieting as it gives you just that hint of something spectacularly sweet without all the calories!

Earl Grey Lavender really does get the thumbs up from me. It's tasty and it's a modern spin on a classic tea.

Adagio's Earl Grey Lavender can be purchased from Whittington's Tea Emporium, with prices starting from £5.

Do have a look around Whittington's Tea Emporium. There is plenty to see there, and Kyle even has a blog on the website too. You will spend a good amount of time on the site - there is so much to catch the tea lovers interest.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Ahmad Tea: Earl Grey - I Just Couldn't Resist!

Not another Earl Grey review, you may be thinking! I know and I'm sorry. But, if I have a Earl Grey sitting in the cupboard, how can I not review it?

Ahmad Tea, as readers will know, kindly sent me two selection boxes. One featuring green tea, one featuring pure and flavoured black tea's.

The first black tea I tried was their gloriously delicious English Tea No.1 and it was incredibly tasty. But, being a Earl Grey lover (and addict!) I found it very hard to leave this in the cupboard and not try it. So, last night I decided to. Since then I've had three more cups!

This Earl Grey is a very strongly scented take on the famous tea. It has a wonderful citrus aroma with is fresh and inviting. As you can see above, each tea comes in it's own foil envelope, so when you pull open the envelope the lovely scent is very strong and tempting, too.

I just wanted to spare a minute to talk about their packaging. Each tea from the Classic selection box comes with a painting of various London sites, and, being a native Londoner, I feel just a little homesick each time I see them. But the illustrations are wonderful and are really pretty to look at.

Back to the tea. The brewing suggestions on the tea say to brew between three and four minutes. Last night I brewed the tea for four but found it a little too strong for my tastes so opted today to brew it for three minutes which was far better suited to my tastes.

The tea used in this blend is very strong, so the addition of bergamot oil which adds a lovely citrus based taste is lovely. However, this blend is one of the stronger blends of Earl Grey I've tasted, so I think you have to already be a Earl Grey lover to totally enjoy this. If your just stepping into the Earl Grey world, or are unsure if you will like the famous blend, then this may not be the one for you. It's quite overpowering and I find that one cup is enough, so I tend to have a cup, then have a cup of something else till a bit later on.

I don't think I've had a tea that is quite this robust. But it's totally enjoyable. It does not lack oomph that's for sure!

I absolutely loved this tea. It hit all the spots for me that make for a perfect Earl Grey:

  • A good quality base tea (which all Ahmad tea's have)
  • A fresh, fragrant aroma
  • A lovely fruity taste
  • A richness that leaves your mouth feeling refreshed
I don't take milk with this tea, though of course, there is nothing stopping you if that's your thing! But, I love to add a slice of lemon to really bring out the tastes wonderfully.

For more information on Ahmad's Earl Grey, and if you'd like to buy it online please visit their shop.
The good news is you can purchase Ahmad's Earl Grey in lots of different quantities, as well as loose and in teabag variety.

Of course Earl Grey also comes in as part of Ahamd's Classical black tea selection box. If you fancy treating yourself then check it out! It's gorgeous to look at and the contents are not too bad either!