Sunday, 30 November 2014

Laura's (Fantasy) Tea Christmas.

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat (well, morbidly obese actually if the geese I saw in Norfolk the other day is anything to go by - those fella's were HUGE!) so I was thinking what would my fantasy Christmas day be? Which tea items (if I were lucky to be brought them, of course!) would make the day absolutely perfect.

Well, actually there are loads of things that I'd really love to own. So here are a few of them! Hopefully this (tongue in cheek, by the way) blog may give your partners or family members, some idea's for the perfect present for you!

1. Heston Blumenthal Sage Tea Maker

This is the gift which would make me love the person giving the gift for the rest of my life. It's absolutely fantastic. But, just use a kettle, I hear you say .... oh, no. If you think that you've underestimated the power of this baby.

The Sage teamaker does boil water, obviously. However, it also serves as a teasmaid. You can set the water temperature depending on what tea you are brewing (and we all know we don't use boiling hot water to make green tea, don't we?) and according to what tea you are using, this automatically lifts the tea leaves out of the water after the set time, therefore making you the perfect cup of tea. It's fabulous.

It's also expensive, so it's top end (well of me anyway) and there is no real chance of me getting this from Santa, but, a girl can dream, right? please visit the Sage website for more information.

2. Perfect Stocking Filler: Yellow Submarine Infuser.

Being a Beatles fan and tea obsessive this is a ideal gift. How cute is this? It's just beyond funny and is perfectly suited for the Beatle nut.

It's available from Amazon and comes in at just under £4 so it's a really good little stocking filler.

I'd like to say there are some really fun infusers out there from those shaped like a man to those shaped like a shark's fin which helps turn your tea infusing experience into a mini scene from Jaws. Who knew that brewing up could be such fun!

3. Teasmaid

Everybody in my tea drinking life, from my mum to my ex-partner has cruelly denied me the chance to own a teasmaid. The reactions to the suggestion that I may buy one has ranged from hysterical laughter to sheer panic. Frankly, I do not understand the anti-teasmaid feeling. I mean, if you're like me and don't have anyone to gently wake you up in the morning with a nicely made brew, then you have to rely on items such as these. And, in all seriousness, when I manage to find my own home it will literally be the first item I buy. Unless of course I hit rich and are able to purchase the item featured on the top of this list!

I think they're fab and I love the kitch 1970's element to teasmaids.

4. Twinings Luxury Gift Hamper

Sadly, I couldn't source a photo for this item, however, I got a email from Twinings the other day in which they featured this hamper.

It costs £84 - I know it's a lot, however, included within the hamper there are such delights as the new Plummy Earl Grey, several infusions, cakes, biscuits and a teapot.

I think there is something really, really lovely about receiving a hamper with all your favourite things.

For more information, please visit the Twinings website.

5. Matcha Making Kit

Matcha Making Kits are fantastic gifts for those people in your life who like ... well, matcha, obviously! I have been sent two separate samples of matcha and no matter now I whisked and stirred, the matcha never frothed up like it was meant to. I asked a tea friend of mine, who told me, quite bluntly that normal whisks and forks "... won't cut the mustard ...". 

As the festive season is fast approaching, funds are tight, but I will be investing in a matcha making kit in the New Year. I'm really interested and excited about matcha and can't wait to give it a go. Roll on the new year!

So here are a few things from the tea world that I've been lusting over. But, I can honestly say there are some awesome tea and tea accessories out there. I think the tea world, instead of being staid and boring, which a lot of people think it is, is actually really good fun. 

Of course, this is a light hearted blog, mainly because I'm just starting to get into the festive spirit. 

But, on a rather more serious note, never more then this year have I fully understood the joy of having family and friends in your life during the festive period. It doesn't matter what people get you, big or small, it's the thought that counts.

However, a girl can dream can't she? And whilst a lot of my friends are drooling over the latest handbag or pair of shoes, I can quite happily stare at the Sage Teasmaker for hours. But, that's the kinda girl I am!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Slightly Off Topic But .... Don't Forget It's Small Business Saturday

I know this is a little off topic, but, just wanted to spread the word that today is Small Business Saturday.

We all love chain shops and we need them to be successful so that our high streets flourish. We also know what large businesses do for the economy, too.

However, there are plenty of small, local and independent shops and businesses that provide good service, good value for money and fantastic products.

Relating this to tea, there are so many good small tea companies out there that provide not only unique and excellent customer service but most importantly sell good products.

I expect a lot of people like to drink the brands of tea they are used to. But on Small Business Saturday why not google some of the smaller companies out there and give them a go. You will, I can assure you, be pleasantly surprised.

In a former life I was self-employed in a small business. I know how back breakingly hard it is to run your own business. It's hard and stressful, but rewarding to. So, we should try and support those small businesses and give them every chance to succeed.

After all, from small acorns, mighty oaks grow.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Drink Me: Tea Latte: Earl Grey

As regular readers may know, I do not take milk or sugar in my tea. This is for two reasons. Firstly, I'm a perpetual WeightWatcher and diary items are slightly too high in "points". Secondly, I suffer from eczema and too much diary can often bring on an attack of said skin condition. The last bout lasted about twenty months making me feel under the weather, stopped me from sleeping and left my legs looking as though they had been (un)lovingly caressed by Freddy Kruger. Thankfully, skin has cleared up and is now smooth, soft and peachy.

Sometimes though you just fancy something totally special and delightful and today, in a box of samples, I found it. Fellow blogger Rebecca kindly send me a sample of Drink Me  Tea Latte: Earl Grey.

Drink Me are tea's that come in tubs or packets and are a powdered tea. The powders also have dried skimmed milk contained within it as well as sugar (this is going to be a treat, so I don't mind it as a one off). But, it's a relatively low calorie treat at only 90 calories per 20g serving. (Most of the other range of drinks are available in tub form but Earl Grey is only available in sachets which are conveniently measured out in 20g's).

I was unsure about this product for the sole fact that the only other powered tea I'd tried was one by Whittards which, in retrospect, was less of a treat.

As you can see in the photograph below, the tea comes powdered and looks a lot like hot chocolate powder.

Already, when tipping the powder into the mug I could smell the lovely sweetness and aroma of Earl Grey, though subtle, is certainly present.

Making the Tea Latte is ever so easy. You simply add hot water and whisk it vigorously for a minute or so. This is all in the wrist action however, and it wasn't as frothy as I was expecting, however, it is really lovely to enjoy a latte, which are normally made from coffee.

After a rather frantic morning, I took a few minutes out to enjoy this tea. And I have to say, I was not disappointed with it. It's incredibly milky and, possibly due to my lack of drinking anything milky normally, it felt really indulgent and very, very lush.

The first sip was rather heavenly for me. It's so creamy and tasty and something really, really different too. It's almost like drinking your favourite hot chocolate, sweet and comforting.

The flavour of Earl Grey is very delicate indeed, but is easily detectable. It's reminds me rather of Twinings special edition Delicate Earl Grey which was released a year or so ago. It's a gentle, soft addition to the tea, not a full on flavour. But it's fragrant enough to make this tea something lovely.
I thought that making this a Earl Grey flavoured tea was unique. It was rather scrummy.

Strangely enough, I felt really full after drinking this tea, and the lovely sweetness remains in your mouth for some time after. I was quite disappointed when I reached the bottom of the cup, because I wanted it to last a whole lot longer!

Drink Me  have other tea's in the range, which I am now eager to try. These include Chai, Vanilla, Peppermint, Mango, Chocolate and a green tea version.

The Chai, I have seen in supermarkets, so think that is probably the next one I'll experience.

I was pleasantly surprised by Earl Grey Tea Latte. I wasn't sure what to expect from the drink and did not feel let down at all by it. It's really different and it's actually so different it's a hard review to write as I could'nt seem to find the right words to describe it.

However, due to the sweetness, which I am unused to, it's not a tea I'd drink several times a day. It may not be a tea I'd even drink on a daily basis. But for a rich, indulgent treat, I can't beat it.

When making the tea, just be careful to stir it firmly and for some time. It's very much like hot chocolate in as much as if you don't stir it correctly you can have lumps of sweet tea powder left in the bottom of the cup, which is what happened to me. I wasn't put off by this, but it is something worth noting for when you decide to make a cup (and when I make another).

If you'd like more information on Drink Me click here. For a direct link to Tea Latte: Earl Grey click here.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Laura's Tea Rooms First End Of Year Awards Ceremony .... And The Winners Are ...

As we reach the end of 2014, and with Laura's Tea Room almost being a year old, now is the perfect time to reflect on what a totally awesome tea year this has been. I cannot even begin to describe how much fun it has been to try so many different tea's and to meet so many fantastic people.

I'd also like to take the chance to thank some people who have made this blog what it is. Firstly, all the tea companies who have happily and willingly sent me tea's to sample. In particular, those companies who showed a little trust in me at the beginning when I had nothing to sample and who kindly sent me out so many samples. For the readers of the blog, and thankfully there are many, who make this all worthwhile, and fellow bloggers who have supported me and have kindly spread the word that this blog existed.

Sadly, there are no awards being sent out in the post, however, each of the winners get a virtual kiss on the cheek and a hug!

So, let the fun begin ....

1. Tea Company Of The Year - Winner - Northern Tea Merchants 

Northern Tea Merchants are based in Chesterfield. Not only is there a shop where you can buy tea but there is also a tea room that you can visit to and treat yourself to a piece of cake and cup of tea or coffee. Northern Tea produce fine quality loose tea and produce their own house blend teabags. They are the winners of the category because, quite frankly, their Keemun is second to none. Also, James Pogson is a walking encylopedia of tea knowledge and I hugely appreciate the time he has spent answering my many tea questions. And, Northern Tea kindly sent me my second ever box of samples and helped me establish this blog.

2. Best Green Tea Of The Year - Kensington Tea Company - Jasmine Pearl Superior

(photo sourced from

Kensington Tea Company are specialists in green tea (though they do sell other tea's too). They are the winners in this category because their Jasmine Pearl Superior is second to none. It's a deliciously smooth, gentle and exquisite tea and a joy to experience. I have tried other JP's and often get a strange plastic like taste from it. This is wonderful, pleasant and feels very healthy to drink. A worthy winner!

3. Best Black Tea Of The Year - Northern Tea Merchants - Keemun.

 There could be no other winner in this category. Northern Tea Merchants wins hands down because their Keemun is second to none. It's smooth, rich and flavoursome and incredibly fresh. Keemun has taken over where Assam once stood as my favourite black tea simply because it's so easy to drink without milk or sugar. I have tried one or two Keemun's which were seriously lacking, so well done to NTM - quality win's over everytime.

4. Best Herbal/Fruit Tea - Wise Owl - Bali Bamboo

Wise Owl Tea are a funky, fun and seriously cool tea company. I love my social interactions with them on Facebook and Twitter, the staff are really lovely. But their tea is also delicious too, so the Wise one's are winner of this category with their uber tasty Bali Bamboo tea.  From the moment I tried this tea I fell totally for it, because it's so different. I'm not normally a herbal tea fan but this is tasty. It's blended with nettle and has a nice, strong, robust taste to it. It makes a pleasant change if you want something lighter then black tea and don't fancy green tea. It has a almost nutty taste to it and has hit the spot with me!

5. Best Seasonal Tea - Marks And Spencer - Mulled Fruit Tea

Marks and Spencers are not the first company I immediately think of when I think about tea, but this year they have come up with a hit. Their Christmas tea, Mulled Fruit Tea has been a sure fire hit, as I have since been totally unable to source (after purchasing a pack in Bluewater)it in any M&S that I have visited. It's a unique blend of different fruits (spiced apple, cranberry and sweet clementine) and makes a lovely change from the normal Christmas tea's that are usually black tea, which some of my readers find hard to drink as they are overly spiced. This is light and perfect to be served on Christmas afternoon when you or your guests, may need a slight break from the heavy food that is normally served on Christmas day! A refreshing change from the normal.

6. Best New Product Launch - Twinings - Gingerbread Indulgence/Caramelised Apple/Salted Caramel

There is no doubt that when Twinings launched their new range of green tea's earlier this year, it was a massive hit. These three flavours proved almost impossible to be found for some of us and the reaction to the tea's in some parts of the tea world was extraordinary. I have never sensed such excitement at a new product launch. The tea's themselves are great and are a fab replacement for desserts. Well done to Twinings as there was nothing quite like it when these were launched!

7. Best Packaging - Wise Owl 

A second victory for Wise Owl! I love the tea but I also love the product packaging. Each of the caddies are made from thick cardboard. There is something really, really different and unique about the packaging and they are very eye catching, too. There is something a bit quirky about the packaging that really stands out for me! They really look fab when displayed in your kitchen. Well done Wise Owl!

8. Best Tea Shop - Wilkinsons Of Norwich

 (photo sourced from Google)

I visited Wilkinsons last month whilst on holiday in Norfolk. Their shop can be found on the nicely names Lobster Lane! Wilkinsons have won this award for many different reasons. Their selection of tea is varied and of a very good quality. The expertise the staff showed about their products was fanatastic. But above all the customer service is wonderful. Nothing was too much trouble for the lady who served me. I will certainly go back when I'm next in Norwich.

9. Best Mail Order Experience -  Kensington Tea Company

Kensington Tea Company win this category for several reason's. Firstly, I love the fact that they provide a loyalty scheme when you make a purchase from them. So when you order you get a certain amount of points which you can, at a later date, use towards payment on future orders. But the way they package their tea orders makes you feel really special when your order arrives. The enclosure of a free sample with orders always goes down well!

10. Best Supermarket Purchase - Teapigs - Mao Feng Green Tea

(photo sourced from Ocardo)

Teapigs win with their Mao Feng green tea because there is something really different about Teapigs. They are a great alternative to the standard brands you normally find in supermarkets - it's something completely different whilst at the same time providing decent quality tea. I love Teapigs because if you order tea online, you can try samples of other blends in a clever idea called Teapiglets. However, back to the supermarket. Their packaging is so clever and their tea, though appearing to be on the pricey side, is of a standard that surpasses some of it's shelf mates. Check out their website on the link above and have a look around. A brilliant company! Their Mao Feng green tea blend is tasty, subtle and I think is a absolute must try for the pure green tea lover.

11. Best Tearoom - Hazelmere - Grange- Over- Sands

(photo sourced from Google)

Earlier this year I was fortunate to visit Grange- Over- Sands, a really stunning place situated in Cumbria. It's very picturesque and the views are absolutely stunning. During my visit I was lucky enough to stumble on the Hazelmere tea rooms. What a enjoyable visit! The tearoom is clean, comfortable and the staff are friendly. The cakes (though I didn't partake, the other people in my party did) are apparently delicious. I tried the Chai Latte tea and it was beyond marvelous. A must have if you visit the tearoom! Even though we visited late in the day the tearoom was absolutely heaving. If you are in the area, please do visit, you wont be disappointed!

12. Best Tea Accessory - Floatea Infuser

This was a difficult category to choose. It was between the Floatea Infuser and my Bodum Travel Mug. However, Floatea won over. I purchased mine with some birthday money in July and did not look back. I love the Floatea as it's so convenient, making loose tea ever so easy to enjoy. I love the fact that it's easy to clean, unlike my one pot, and can be taken anywhere. It's tiny too, so can be popped into your handbag. I also love the fact it has it's own stand, making it less messy then some infusers. A accessory I cannot be without.

13. Best Tea Based Social Media - #teaclub

#teaclub can be found on Twitter, Facebook and here. It's run by two fantastic chaps, Michael and Benn whose love of tea and loyalty to Yorkshire Tea can only be admired. If you've had a bit of a rubbish day then it's fun to go onto their Twitter page where many laughs are had. A recent discovery of mine but I'm glad I found them! They have over 3,000 Twitter followers which says a awful lot!

14. Best Tea Company To Watch- Tea Huggers

 Tea Huggers is run by a lovely lady, Esther. The company was established in 2013 and specialises in herbal tea's. The tea comes in silky pyramid form and is absolutely delicious. I can highly recommend their Skinny Fit tea. With it's added chilli and aniseed, it gives you a real kick. I know that Tea Huggers have won taste awards for their tea, and that is a great achievement for such a young company. I really look forward to seeing this company grow and I hope one day to see their tea's in supermarkets.  It's certainly one to watch! You can tell that Tea Huggers have a real passion for their product and that comes through.

So, here are the winners for my first virtual tea awards. I cannot wait to see what happens in the tea world during 2015. I'm looking forward to some adventures ... and am planning on visiting as many tea rooms and tea shops as I possibly can.

Thanks to everyone who read's the blog and here's to a brand new year of tea filled frivolity. :-)

Friday, 21 November 2014

Laura's Tea Room First (Virtual) Annual Awards Ceremony

As we approach Christmas, and indeed, as Laura's Tea Room is heading for it's first birthday, I have decided to bring some levity to this blog and will be publishing the list of winners in my first, virtual, awards ceremony!

I have been mulling over the list of winners for the past couple of weeks. (Not sleeping well does have it's benefits).

Results will be announced here very, very shortly! ....

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Twinings Mango Tango

I will admit from the get go that I did not buy this tea. It actually came through a Orcado order my mum made, so when she wasn't looking pinched a teabag and decided to make a cup so I could include it here!

Mango Tango is a mango flavoured green tea that has a hint of ginger. It consists of loose tea in a silky  pyramid and is part of their new range, which also includes ranges such as Plummy Earl Grey (which I'm keen to try), Popcorn Tea and Chocolately Assam.

The packaging for their new range is really lovely. As you can see in the photo above it's bright, interesting and certainly eye catching. The designs are really, really lovely. Also, rather conveniently, they are resealable so your tea stays fresh. It's certainly a clever way to package your tea and is far better then a cardboard box with plastic inner bag. 

The tea is certainly fragrant and the smell of mango is fresh and invigorating and is very reminiscent of when you open a tin of mango's, the fruity blast is really inviting.

The teabag is silky and within the tea is bright and colourful with pieces of mango adding a dash of colour to the tea.

I boiled the kettle, let the water cool a a little and let it brew for two minutes.

I let the tea cool down quite a lot, as rather strangely (and this is odd I will admit) green tea always seems to be hotter then black tea!

Mango Tango, as I said earlier is a green tea with mango and ginger. 

The tea is of a nice quality. It is a large leaf tea and the tea is a marvelous, lush colour.

Now, what about the added flavours. Well, I have to be totally honest, and say I'm a little disappointed in this blend.

I love mango, I love the juiceiness of it, so I generally love mango flavoured things such as ice cream, yoghurt or mango juice.  And if the tea were mango alone this would get the thumbs up from me. However, it's the addition of the ginger that left me slightly deflated.

I feel the ginger does not work with the lovely mango, and I'm not totally sure why it's been added. It's a strange combination and for me, anyway, it doesn't work. Maybe it's been added to counterbalance the sweetness of the fruit. Maybe not. But it just doesn't gel as a pairing for me, and I would go as far as to say it's rather odd. Ginger and lemon, yes, ginger and mango, no! Yes, the mango is sweet, but it's fine, it doesn't need something so sharp to offset it, in my opinion.

But, if I take the ginger as a lone ingredient, it's doesn't have as much as a kick as I'd like, so it's rather odd, but its been blended into the tea, yet somehow, hovers in the background like I do when in the midst of a large gathering - there and present, just not confident enough to make my presence fully known! So the ginger will forever be in the background, not really serving much purpose.

I tried this tea earlier on this morning and felt there was something just a bit "off" about it, something that just didn't work and about a hour ago it finally hit me, it was the fault of the ginger!

I really wanted to like this drink alot. Okay, it's far from awful, it's totally drinkable but it just didn't work for me. On the other hand my mum, who brought the tea, loved it and has enjoyed several cups so I guess it's down to personal preference. 

I am also baffled by the amount of tea you get in the pack. 12 teabags is rather a strange amount as most of Twinings special ranges come in 15's. It's currently on special deal, via Orcado at £3.00 for 12 but I think the original price is £3.50.

I do take my hat off to Twinings for creating some super flavours in the new lines they have recently released and it certainly won't put me off trying others in the new range - I'm currently obsessing over the Plummy Earl Grey. A must have for me!

Sometimes, we all come across a tea that doesn't quite work. This blend is just that. And as hard as it is to write a negative review, I feel I have to be honest. 

As I said earlier, though, it's down to personal taste. What one person doesn't like, another will fall madly in love with it. So why not give this tea a try and make your own mind up! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

My Special Delivery From Kensington Tea Company

A couple of days ago I ordered two teas (of which I both reviewed before) from Kensington Tea Company. I ordered Christmas Green Leaf which is a magnificent brew that features chocolate pieces and sugar snowflakes. I also purchased their Jasmine Pearls (which I have reviewed but such review seems to have gone missing). Anyway, needless to say, the tea is wonderful.

But this isn't a review of tea. This is a review of how lovely the tea comes packaged. As you can see in the photograph below, once opening the box you can see the tea is wrapped in a lovely green tissue paper. It's not only classy but there is something lovely and old fashioned about unwrapping tissue paper.

Inside the box, the tea is packed carefully and I also had a lovely couple of samples thrown in, just enough for a couple of cups of tea each. I love the idea of samples because it enables you to try something you may not of even thought about.

I love Kensington Tea Company. The tea is exceptional, the people are absolutely friendly and as you can see, they treat their tea - and your orders - with the upmost care.

If you'd like to know a little bit more about the company you can read my company profile or click here for their website.

They are such a lovely company and have a loyalty scheme too, so when you purchase tea or tea accessories from them, you earn points which you can spend on further purchases at a later point. What's not to love about that!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Suggestions For Autumn & Winter

On the strike of 2.30am this morning I woke, as I normally do. Sometimes I manage to get back to sleep, other times I do not. So I put my trusty iPod on and listened to Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds. When "Forever Autumn" came on, that heartbreaking song about two lovers split up by death in the midst of alien invasion, it got me thinking about how autumn and winter are perfect season's for tea lovers.

So, here are my suggestions for some wonderful winter warmers.

Firstly, in the black tea section I'd like to suggest keemun. Yep, a personal favourite of mine and perhaps I'm being biased, but it's wonderful. It's such a smooth, flavoursome tea that is very easy to drink. It's warming and good to snuggle down with on a cold afternoon. As I've recently stated, Northern Tea Merchant's Keemun is by far the best. A soothing tea, it's honestly good for the soul. NTM sell only the best quality tea, so if you feel like you want to treat yourself to something rather special then their tea can be found here.

If you are a green tea lover and fancy something sweet but low on calories, I would like to suggest Twining's Gingerbread Indulgence Green Tea. The launch, earlier this year, of Twinings green tea range which was made up of Gingerbread Indulgence, Caramalised Apple and Salted Caramel was unlike anything I had seen before. Everyone seemed to go mad for the new lines meaning they were difficult to get for some of us! Gingerbread Indulgence is actually quite a impressive tea. It tastes just like gingerbread (and not at all like ginger tea which is hugely different) and really hits the spot if you have a sweet tooth. It's a brilliant candidate for a winter tea, what with the shops now stocking gingerbread houses for Christmas. My advice on this would be if you do find a box, then stock up on it as it's never on the shelves when I try to find it!

If you like your tea fruity why not try Marks and Spencers Mulled Fruit Tea. I won't go on too much about it because I've only just reviewed it but it's marvelous, and I have already converted two friends to it already! A very similar, but equally pleasant tea would be Twining's Winter Spice, which is very tasty but also has liquorice added which gives the tea a bit of bite.

If you are a rooibos lover then I have a great tea for you. Teapigs Winter Spice is absolutely lovely. I'm not the worlds greatest red tea fan, however, with the bonus of added cloves, cinnamon and other winter spices it makes for a really wonderful winter tea. I do struggle sometimes with winter spiced tea's as often the blends of spices are a little too strong for me, however, this is quite a nicely balanced tea and is perfect if you want to take a little less caffeine.

For a spot of uber indulgence, and perfect to serve to visitors on Christmas day why not try Twining's Christmas cake tea? Last year it was called  Christmas Thanks but it's since been rebranded so search for Christmas Afternoon instead. I think it's a really impressive tea and brilliant for Christmas afternoon. It does actually taste like Christmas cake and is hugely indulgent. It's quite expensive but quite worth the money.

So, here are plenty of ideas for tea's that are perfect to enjoy the dark, cold, winter months with. Winter doesn't have to be gloomy if you treat yourself to some of the aforementioned delights that are available.

I think, with the help of tea, we may just get through it!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Five Minutes + Tea + iPod = Bliss

During those sorts of times when the world is too loud, too hectic and too manic,sometimes it's hard to deal with.  We all have those sorts of day's when you want to shout "stop the world, I want to get off".

It's on these days when the tea lover comes into their own. We, as people, are fairly easily pleased, and the simple joy of a nicely brewed cup of tea is what calms us. The simple act of adding boiling (or nearly boiled, depending on what you're drinking) water to either loose leaves or those encased in a teabag makes everything stop, if just for a minute.

Today  I had the pleasure of a sitting with a cup of tea and my other beloved possession - my iPod. I popped the earbuds in cranked the volume up and sat back sipping on a nicely brewed green tea.

Besides being a George Harrison fanatic, my musical tastes are varied. Robert Palmer is high on my list of must listen to's. I love music from the 1980's and the odd bit of classical.

This weekend, my older brother, Stephen, introduced me to an artist that I have known of for many years, but never really listened greatly too - guitarist extraordinaire Ry Cooder. His two songs, "Little Sister" and "Tattler" are my two favourites, so far.

It's so lovely to sit and watch the world go by, warming your hands on a hot mug of tea and listening to quality music. A simple pleasure, no doubt, but one I would not be without. 

It's days like this that I'm really grateful that I'm a tea lover. It's calming affects are much appreciated. And, because of it's brilliant properties, one cup is all it takes to boost your energy and keep you going to fight the good fight of life. :-)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Northern Tea Merchants: Apple Tea

Unlike a lot of my female friends, when a spot of retail therapy is required, I do not sit and drool over expensive shoes or handbags. Mostly, (with the exception of looking for cross stitch patterns) my online version of window shopping is done on tea websites. Of course, I do not stray very far at all from my favourites.

Earlier this week, with not much money but the will to spend it, I was browsing Northern Tea Merchants brand spanking new website and come across their apple tea.

Having a almost insatiable craving for apples this touched a nerve so I ordered 50g's of the tea. Today, it arrived.

There is nothing quite like Northern Tea's lovely packaging.  Almost magpie like, I am attracted to the shiny gold packets!

Apple tea uses Keemun as it's base tea. In addition the tea also has apple pieces and apple oil. Part of the reason that I choose this tea is because keemun is my favourite black tea. It's smoother and far easier for me to drink then, say, assam, which can be strong. Northern Tea's keemun is by far the best I've tasted and what you can find boxed up in supermarkets just doesn't seem to compare, and believe me, I've tried several different brands of keemun over this past year.

If you'd like to read my review on Northern Tea's keemun it can be found here.

Anyway, I digress.

Upon opening the packet, the lovely aroma of the tea was quickly evident. I was expecting a very strong, fresh scent of apples. Instead, the scent is warmer, rather caramel or toffee like. In fact the smell that comes to mind is toffee apples that you get around this time of year. It's very pleasant indeed, and very warming.

As you can see in the picture above, the tea leaves are wonderfully dark and inviting, and within the leaves there are pieces of dried apple which add a contrasting splash of colour.

I filled up my Floatea infuser with a perfectly round teaspoon and poured over the water. One of my favourite things to do, with new tea's, is to watch the infuser bob around in the water, seeing the wonderful colour of the tea seep into the water.

This apple tea, though not best reflected in the photograph below, brews to a golden honey coloured tea, then to a coppery red. I brewed the tea for around five minutes. As there were no brewing instructions with the tea, it was a guess, but it worked out wonderfully well.

The first thing I will say is that this blend, probably due to it's base tea being keemun, is incredibly comforting and warming, and it's perfect for the grey days ahead. Although it's a apple tea, which could be related to summer, I think it's perfect for this time of year. It's also brilliant if you want a warming autumnal drink but dislike the strong blends such as chai which are very popular at the moment.

First of all, I will mention the Keemun base. Oh what joy it is to once again experience Northern Tea's Keemun. It's so tasty, mouthwatering so, that a cup of this tea doesn't last very long at all. It's smooth and mellow. Because of it's softness it's happiness in a cup.

Keemun tea is a bit like Darjeeling in the respect that when you are drinking a top quality blend you know it, but when you experience one of a lesser quality, you know that too. Without a doubt this blend retains the quality which I experienced when I first tried Keemun from Northern Tea.

High quality is what I have to come to expect with everything I've tried from Northern Tea, and this is no different.

What of the addition of apple to the tea? Well, I really liked it. Quite often, when I've tried apple tea (and I think I may of tried three or four), it's either been lip smackingly bitter or teeth shudderingly sweet. With the exception of Twining's Apple Crunch, this blend is the only tea that gets the balance just about right.

The apple flavour is not overpowering, it's hinted at more then actually taking center stage, however, that is not a criticism. It means the tea is evenly balanced. If you want a tea that tastes mostly of apple it would be advisable to buy a fruit tea. The fruit is blended within the tea, and works in partnership rather then being at odds with it.

Very much like the aroma, there is a sweet, caramel like taste to the tea. I may even put my neck out and say there is something almost chocolatey about this tea, which may seem odd, but it's honestly how I feel about it. This element of the tea is probably due to the base tea used.

I re-infused the tea leaves three times with this tea. The second infusion was still very lovely and enjoyable, full of flavour, the third was a fair bit weaker. I would say the leaves are good for reinfusing up to three times but if you want the full on flavour I'd say no more then two times. 

I was pleasantly surprised with Apple Tea. It's much softer then drinking a fruit tea and a whole lot more fulfilling, too. There is not much I can add except that I'm really pleased that I brought this tea, it's a wonderful tea to experience.

I would also like to say how impressed I was at the turnaround between purchasing the tea and the actual delivery. I ordered this late Wednesday afternoon and it arrived very early this morning (never have I jumped out of bed so quickly then when the postman knocked today!).  And, what's also brilliant is with their new website you can now check at what stage your order is at!

I only paid £1.95 (this, obviously is just the price for the tea) for 50g's of this tea, which is a really good price.

So why not treat yourself to some of this fantastic tea? It will keep you very warm on the colder winter nights!

Friday, 14 November 2014

What Normal Tea Drinkers Fail To Understand About The Tea Obsessive.

(Half of my tea collection, before my recent move).

Whilst fancying some retail therapy recently, but with funds seriously lacking, I decided to treat myself to a sampler of apple keemun tea from my favourite teashop. (It's yet to arrive, but review coming ASAP). I didn't think to mention this to my mum (who is putting me up after my recent split) until this morning. "What, more tea?" she asked. "Yeah, I have a spare caddy floating around so I wanted to try it", I replied. With much (joking) huffing and puffing mum mumbled something under her breath (but secretly I think she likes my tea obsession, as it means she gets to try some really fabulous stuff).

Mum, like the rest of my family, simply does not get my obsession with tea. For them, it's a nice relaxing drink, but it's just that - a drink. It doesn't really matter if it's Tetley, PG Tips, Typhoo, or Twinings. They find one tea they like and stick to it. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it doesn't actually quite work like that for the tea obsessive.

The first thing you need to know about a tea obsessive is that tea run's through their blood. If you cut them, they would bleed Keemun, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or whatever their favourite tea is. Physically, you cannot go very long without tea, which is why a lot of obsessives have things like Bodum travel mugs so they can make the trip to or from work with tea. For me, the mere thought of going without tea for a few hours sends me into a state of near panic.

Secondly, tea isn't just tea for the obsessive. It's their lifeline, their emotional support, their life. It keeps them going, give's them comfort and calms them. A hug in a mug. A crutch to lean upon. The list is endless.

Thirdly, for the obsessive tea is to be savoured. Each taste, each sip cherished and appreciated. Slugging back a brew whilst heading out of the door just isn't something a true obsessive (well, me, to be honest!) would not do. If I don't have the time to enjoy the cup, I'd rather go without. It's almost treason like to drink it any other way.

Fourthly, a tea obsessive is incredibly proud of their collection. I actually take it to heart, and take umbridge, when anything relating to MY tea is criticised in the slightest manner. That awful phrase - "tea is tea" has led to one or two people getting a telling off when said in my earshot. We are loyal and incredibly defensive.

But there are downsides to loving tea so much. I have morphed into a younger version of Hyacinth Bucket, taking a slightly superior air when I drink my tea! Terrible ... I know! But I'm honest enough to admit it.

My obsession with tea is hard to understand. My family are certainly perplexed by it. What confuses them even more is once I hated tea so much I even resented making it for my parents, so the change is staggering for them to see, I suppose.

Today I was called a tea-aholic, and I think that's about right. And if my never ending desire to try just one more blend, or to find that ultimate of ultimates continues, I will have to resort to behaving like shopaholics do. Maybe I'll have to start hiding tea in the back of the wardrobe, in empty cereal packets and behind the kitchen cupboard! Who knows?

But life without tea is something almost incomprehensible, a alien concept. Would I have it any other way though? Absolutely not. I've made lovely mates, and experienced some incredible tea. 

So, I'm Laura. And I'm a tea obsessive. Do I care? No! Will I ever change? Certainly not. Will my family ever understand it? Nope! But I'm happy as I am. Now I'm off to make a brew ... Wild Cherry anyone?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Northern Tea Merchants: Gourmet "Classic" Tea Bags.

There is nothing more disheartening (or annoying, mood depending!) then going to your tea cupboard (or caddie) and finding that your favourite tea, the one you simply can't get through the day without has run out. But, on the reverse there is nothing nicer then thinking you've run out of something and finding, squirreled away in a box, just a little bit left of the tea you enjoy.

This week this exact thing happened to me. 

Not all of my tea survived my recent trip from North to South which for a tea obsessive is saddening. However, I was overjoyed to find, packed away safely in the corner of a box, my last few remaining Northern Tea Merchants Gourmet Tea Bags.

Naturally, I was overjoyed at this discovery. 

Now, I've long been an advocate for loose tea. And you may be thinking, well, she doesn't like teabags. However, with this tea you get something totally different.

I enjoyed the Gourmet Tea Bags from the first try because the tea is of an impeccable quality. And that makes all the difference. My general dislike of teabags is simply because the quality of the contents (and indeed the bags themselves) is quite often not up to my (high, I admit) standards. 

Gourmet Teabags are impressive because it is just like drinking loose tea, such is the standard. And I'm quite fond of these teabags because according to Northern Tea's website, they produce the teabags on site, and when you purchase the boxes of 40 these are made by hand. Nothing as special as that, is there?

So what does it actually taste like? Well, it's quite simply, blinking marvelous. The tea itself is a small leaved tea with ingredients from Assam, Ceylon and Kenya. 

Although Northern Tea suggest to take the drink with milk, I only drink tea black which is the best way because you get to really taste the tea and all it's flavours. And it's perfect to take if you like black tea because it's, quite frankly, scrumptious.

I brewed the teabag for around five minutes, a little longer then suggested, but it doesn't detract for the lovely flavour. This is a very pleasant tea to look at as it brews to a dark coppery, reddy colour. It's very pretty indeed. 

I like the smoothness to this tea. It's very well blended and has a nice, relaxing mellow taste to it. Though it's strong and plentiful, and you feel like you're getting a really nice and high quality brew, it's still quite dainty at the same time. It's a perfect 'everyday' type of tea or to serve at a tea party. 

Thankfully, it lacks that strange malty taste that supermarket everyday tea's can have, and which I find incredibly off putting and rather distasteful if I'm to be utterly frank. 

This afternoon when I made cup of Gourmet tea, (rather sneakily as I have so few left and didn't want my mum to know I'm in possession of teabags) I sat down and drunk the whole cup without even registering. So when I picked up the cup for a sup to find the cup was empty it was one of those "ooh no ..." moments. 

I really do think that Northern Tea produce a fantastic teabag that is perfect for everyday use (but in my mind it's something special, if I'm honest). The fact it's made on the premises is also impressive. It makes the brew even more special, a hint of luxury rather then something that is mass produced. 

I have been fortunate enough to try lots of tea's from Northern Tea Merchants.I've not been disappointed with anything that I've tried from NTM. I'm pretty sure you won't be either. 

And to the lady readers of this blog, they do a quite extraordinary chocolate tea.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

My Other Love In Life (After Tea)

I may, (or may not!) have mentioned on here that I am mad on George Harrison. Absolutely love him, he is second to none musically, my absolute idol, hero, and his music is something I enjoy curled up in bed, on the ipod with a cup of tea at my side. I'd say I'm slightly obsessed with the cheeky mop top.

I also love meme's. I found this one.

Now, I've seen so many funny meme's of George drinking tea. I have heard he was a tea addict (well before he found stronger stimulants!) as were all the Beatles.

But I cannot add anything else to the caption of this picture. George and tea. Perfect!

So, not strictly a tea review, but just a little glimpse into the world of the girl who writes the blog!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Marks And Spencers Mulled Fruit Tea

This is no doubt that Marks and Spencers know how to do Christmas. I recently brought a wonderful Christmas tin from this well respected store. It contained shortbread, which I gave to my niece, and it now serves as a huge tea caddy.

This morning I was fortunate to find myself in the food hall at Bluewater, and, as a (fairly well known) tea snob or tea geek which I've been called recently (thanks #teaclub) found myself browsing the tea section. Amongst the regular Earl Grey's, English Breakfasts and Ceylon, I found this beautiful little packet. New in for Christmas - Mulled Fruit Tea.

I love Christmas tea's but sadly, because I no longer take milk or sugar, don't enjoy many of them, except, of course Twining's Christmas Afternoon! Sadly, the use of cloves and other Christmas Spices, although delicious with milk and sugar, are a little too strong for me when taken black so I was particularly happy to find this alternative.

There are three fruits contained within Mulled Fruit Tea. Spiced apple, cranberry and that traditional Christmas favourite, clementine. The tea comes in tea temples, and you get 15 for £2.90. Not a bad price considering the actual quality of the tea.

When I opened the packet the tea smelt of spiced apple, the type that nanna would put in her apple pies. It was delicious and really fruity. I have to be honest, at this point, I didn't detect in the aroma any of the other ingredients, but that was not a problem. The spiced apple was gorgeous by itself. This tea is rather like my favourite Yankee Candle - the aroma stays in the house long after the tea has been finished, so the whole house smells like Christmas.

I brewed the tea for the maximum three minutes ( I believe that the longer the brewing time the better in all honesty) and kitchen smelt lovely. Just a lovely Christmasey smell, fruity, warming and gorgeous.

Normally, I can drink tea fairly hot but this one I had to let cool down a little.

When I managed to finally drink this tea I was not disappointed. The spiced apple, as with the aroma, came through first and foremost and, to me, anyway, it was like eating warm apple pie. It's a very warming tea with a plentiful and comforting flavour.

Underneath the rich sweetness of the spiced apple came a tartness which most only come from the cranberry and it's a bit shocking as it comes from nowhere. If this was not combined with the other flavours I would imagine that this tea would be hard to drink as it's not a sweet cranberry often found in other brands of fruit tea, this is sharp and slightly bitter, but it keeps your tongue on it's toes - this was not going to be a totally sweet tea and is all the better for it. The mixture of sweet and sharp is brilliant!

Sadly, clementine, which is what I was most looking forward to, is the least easy to detect in the blend. With some sips you can slightly detect it, other's it's not there at all. A strong presence from the clementine would make this tea perfect all in all it's pretty fantastic. I'm really impressed with Marks and Spencers on this one. (I do try to remember though that taste is a personal thing, and, some readers may find that the clementine comes through strongly, so don't let this put you off trying this amazing tea).

The gorgeous spiced apple, by far my most favourite element of the tea, stays in your mouth for a while after you've taken the last sip and it's incredibly refreshing and very moreish (second cup on the go already!). 

I came away feeling really impressed. I don't think I've tried a M&S tea before, and it's just a shame that it's a Christmas tea. However, I can see why this is limited as it has Christmas written all over this tea. It's absolutely perfect for serving on Christmas evening with some rich fruit cake or a mince pie. Or, if you're having New Year's fireworks why not serve this to your guests to warm them up on a cold evening. This tea is made for such occasion's. I would even of recommended this for fireworks night - but I'm a little late!

This tea is a great chance to try a seasonal drink and especially if you find the spices of other Christmas tea's a bit overpowering, or, indeed if you are a fruit tea lover. I've been less then keen on fruit tea's for sometime now, much preferring the substance of a hearty black tea, or, the healthy benefits of drinking green tea. But, I will make an exception with this tea.

In a nutshell it's totally gorgeous, very apt for the time of year and is about as comforting as you can possibly get. Marks and Spencer's prove yet again that they can produce something that extra special at Christmas time.

I will certainly be restocking this tea over the next few weeks. I'm not too sure how long 15 tea temples will last.

For me, this drink will make the perfect partner, curled up with a favourite book or television show. Now the nights have drawn in, this tea is the perfect companion for those special moments.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

When Reputation Alone Is Not Enough

Recently, I visited a friend who asked me around for tea. As she was boiling the kettle she asked me to get the box of teabags out of her cupboard, which I happily did. Upon opening the box (brand will not be revealed) I was somewhat shocked to see that most of the contents of the tea bags sat in the corner of the box, not inside the teabag. When I mentioned it to my friend, she just rolled her eyes and simply stated "again? they are all like that now".

I am not exaggerating when I say that if I had my Floatea with me, I'd be able to fill it with the loose tea that had collected in the corner and brew a cup. 

This was a brand of tea that I remember advertising on television when I was a child, and was firmly established decades before I was born. Their reputation proceeds them.

Of course, accidents happen. I've worked in retail for most of my working life and have seen items damaged in transit and that is not the company's fault. These things happen. However, for my friend to brush the incident off as something that occurs on a regular basis, and admitting that sometimes, to get a decent brew, she has to use two bags, I was flabbergarsted.

So, the question is, are mainstream tea companies letting their standards slip, are they becoming too complacent, happy to sit back and revel in past successes and not realising the standard they set so high previously needs improvement?

Over the past four years, since I started drinking tea, I've seen all manner of things when I've opened up a box of tea. Weird sticky substances, leaking teabags, perforated teabags that I've had to use scissor's to to separate and teabags that tasted of bleach. Again, I understand that during the manufacturing process things can go wrong, and most companies are more then happy to put those things right if you let them know.

It is, perhaps because of this, that I started to drink loose leaf tea a couple of years ago and have not looked back. Like any tea I've tasted some awful ones but I've also tasted some exquisite tea's too. And with the availability of one cup pots and infusers, it's never been easier to drink loose leaf tea. It's just as easy to use loose leaf tea nowadays then it is to use a tea bag.

And, now, with the internet, you can find a loose tea that will suit any palate. The choice out there is fantastic.

But, there are people out there who simply like the convenience of a teabag, so it's really important that tea companies keep their standards up, so their customers get the best quality they can - and the quality they pay for. And lets be honest, the competition out there is high, there is no way any tea company can rest on their laurels. You can be sure there will be someone willing to take their place.

Nothing urks me more then bad quality tea. I really want every one who drinks tea to get as much pleasure out of it as I do. And I'm sorry, but teabags who leak their contents into the box isn't right. How can you get a satisfying brew with a half empty teabag?

If you are a tea lover and use teabags for convenience, let the companies know if it's not up to standard. Let them know if you can't seperate the teabags, if the contents have leaked or if you're not happy with the contents.

Every cup of tea should be special and satisfying. Why settle for less?

Friday, 7 November 2014

Thanks, Mum ... And HelloTo Twinings Christmas Afternoon.

This morning my lovely mum took delivery of her weekly shop. And within the bags sat this little gem.

I have been desperate to get my hands on Twining's Christmas Afternoon since last month when I saw that Twinings released their Christmas range.

Christmas Afternoon was, for me, the star of last year's Christmas range. It was previously called Christmas Thanks and I reviewed it in February this year.

This year it has been rebranded as Christmas Afternoon. On Twinings website it's described as the perfect tea to drink after a heavy meal, ideally with something sweet.  I would actually agree with this, but I'm sat here drinking it this morning, getting just a teeny bit of Christmas spirit.

I'm not going to review the tea again, you can read my original post here. All I will say is it feels as though I've welcomed a old friend into my home, one I've not seen for some time and not likely to see again for a while.

Do pop over to Twining's site and have a look around. They have launched plenty of new blends and a Christmas range too. A lovely way to spend a spare few minutes.

The only sad thing is they didn't take up my suggestion of making a mince pie flavoured tea .... shame!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Why Tea Is Medicine For My Soul And The Greatest Thing On Earth

I think I can safely say that 2014 hasn't been the best year for me. Much like the Queen, in 1992, when Princess Diana almost single handedly brought down the House Of Windsor, I could consider this year my "annus horribilis".

But amongst all the turmoil was one thing that stood like stone - tea.

By it's very nature it's warming, but it's something that has never left my side, brought me comfort and aided those moments of reflection.

What I've realised is it doesn't really matter what tea you like. Green, black, white or yellow.  Fruit, or herbal. Once you've found your favourite (and in my experience that can vary on a daily or even hourly basis) you have a friend for life.

Despite the chatter and general hubbub you experience in places like Costa or Starbucks, I have felt that there is a real community with tea lovers. It's like a extended family, and whilst there is a high rate of tea drinking around the world, it still feels as though being a dedicated tea drinker, you are a member of an exclusive club - and a very special one at that.

The absolute kindest people I know I have met through my tea journey. And all of us brought together by our love for  camellia sinensis.

Quite often, my obsession with tea leaves people with a total lack of understanding. 'It's just a drink' is a term that I've heard often recently. But to me it's not. Due to the different types of tea, the different flavours, textures  and strengths, each cup is like taking a special journey. In my mind I can imagine being someplace else, each tea has it's own story and I love to read where they are from and how they are made.

I have been labelled recently a "tea snob" and I'm quite proud of that. Life is too short to drink substandard tea. Everyone deserves a treat and when you know you are infusing a really special tea there isn't anything quite like it. But, I do understand that others do not see tea as I do, and to many it's just something to drink, to guzzle back as they head out of the door.

One of the best purchases I've made this year was a Bodum travel mug, meaning I can have excellent tea on the go. I can take it everywhere with me now!

To be a tea addict is utterly lovely. To enjoy every sip, every single flavour is marvelous. There is, I feel, nothing else quite like it.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wilkinson's Of Norwich: Lady-In-Waiting Earl Grey

At the weekend I wrote about my visit to the utterly fantastic Wilkinson's of Norwich.  I had a utterly brilliant time and today I'm going to review my favourite of the three tea's I purchased there, Lady-in-Waiting Earl Grey.

Lady-in-Waiting is a variation on the Earl Grey theme. The nearest standard tea I can compare it to is Twining's Lady Grey.

When I visited the shop I stood for what seemed like an eternity and looked at all the tins of tea lined up on the shelves. Lady-in-Waiting caught my eye simply because of it's name!

Lady-in-Waiting is a black tea. According to Wilkinson's website it has the double whammy of not only having citrus oil in the tea but also citrus zest too! You can see a lovely blue flower contained and also pieces of zest, so it's quite a pretty tea to look at. 

One of the myriad of reason's why I love loose tea is the sheer joy of opening a caddy and being hit full on with the lovely aroma of the tea. And this tea is certainly a winner. As soon as I open the lid the lovely orangey aroma is gorgeous. It's really strong, but when you take a full teaspoon out and pop it into the infuser, it's not overbearing at all. There is also a lovely malty tinge to the aroma too. It's full bodied if nothing else.

I tend to be a little more relaxed when I'm brewing black tea, in as much as I don't clock watch like I tend to do when brewing green tea (note to self, must buy a proper tea timer!). So, I popped the infuser into the water, finished a couple of jobs later and came back a few minutes later to find a wonderfully brewed, lovely dark tea.

This is a brilliant tea because the tea tastes utterly natural. An odd thing to say you may think, but I cannot tell you how many Earl Greys, (and variations of) that taste artificial. Those tea's tend to smell mostly of perfume and leave that horrible feeling in the back of your throat very similar to what you can get when walking through the perfume department of Debenhams or Boots. 

Lady-In-Waiting is a smooth tea, without a hint of bitterness, even if you have brewed the tea for a little too long. The citrus flavours are gorgeous, I love the orange taste, so fulfilling and refreshing. The base tea is of a high quality and is lovely and tasty. 

This tea is perfect to serve with cakes for afternoon tea. It's quite a feminine tea, light and delicate, but at the same time, particularly on a cold, damp day, is warming and comforting. And in times of sadness, it's guaranteed to lift your spirits!

I brought 125g's of this tea priced very reasonably at £3.40 but honestly, I do wish that I had treated myself to 250g's which is still only £6.46. I think that's a great price for something that is lovely.

As a confirmed Earl Grey lover, I would say this is one of the best variations I've tasted. And it's perfect if you find Earl Grey, in all it's bergamot loveliness, a little too overwhelming! A great blend if you want to make a few ginger steps into the world of Earl Grey.

I shall be ordering more. Another item on my never ending list of things to buy!


Clipper: Pure Green Tea With Strawberry

(Photograph sourced from Google)

Whilst on my recent Norfolk soujourn, I forgot to pack my trusty Floatea, so, I had to pop down to the local supermarket. As I browsed the shelves I picked up a box of Twinings Earl Grey and stumbled across Clippers Pure Green tea with Strawberry.

Now, I will admit I have had a less them smooth relationship with Clipper.  I have previously reviewed their St Clements Infusion and though I held up quite a bit of hope it lacked somewhat, so I was surprised that my eyes were drawn to this tea. Probably because I love strawberry flavoured things, and because there were only ten envelopes in the pack thought I would give it a go.

The tea comes in tea tents (otherwise known as temples or pyramids depending on what brand you buy)

The brewing instructions were to use water off the boil and leave to infuse for a few minutes, which I did. The aroma of strawberry was really pleasant. It was strong, too, and quite mouth watering. When you are on a perpetual diet, as I am, sometimes the very thought of having something so sweet is lovely and this was a very fragrant tea. The tea brewed to a light green hue which was attractive to look at.

The day I tried this tea was a day when we were suffered a mild amount of flooding in the garden of the accommodation. Well it was acutally about 9 inches deep, so, after a period of extreme panicking I decided to go with the flow, sit on the decking and watch the water slowly sink away.

Taking my first sip of this tea I was surprised that I liked it quite as much as I did. I've never really been Clippers biggest fan as though their tea's are not horrible, they seem to lack punch and be extremely underwhelming.

Initially, the strawberry flavour came through and it was really lovely and strong. The tea tastes as though it's bursting with fruit and full of flavour. And I was really impressed.

The green tea was the strongest of the flavours and was quite astringent. Worrying that I had perhaps left the tea to brew for too long, I brewed a second cup, timed it perfectly, and it still came through as rather bitter. Following tea instincts, I made a third cup and brewed it for a minute and no longer. Though the green tea was less bitter, the strawberry also lacked flavour too.I gave up after that, and decided to just accept that this tea had a bitter tang, and got to quite enjoying it after a while!

However, despite the bitterness, this wasn't too bad a green tea. (Perhaps adding a bit of sweetener will help combat the bitterness). It certainly is a massive improvement on their St Clement Infusion as it's flavoursome and has a nice texture to it. It's not bad for a mass produced green tea. The strawberry flavour works well with the green tea. It makes a really nice change because most of the flavours added to green tea tend to be citrus based.

This was certainly one of the better Clipper tea's around. Though I don't think I'll ever be one of their greatest fans, they have produced a reasonably decent blend here, and their packaging is really pretty too.

As I said in a previous review, what I do like about Clipper is they make mini packs of their tea, which contain ten temples. This is a fantastic idea because it allows you to try a blend without having to purchase a full box, and a lot of tea lovers I know have commented on their frustration of buying a full box and wasting half of it. I myself, when trying Twinings Lapsang Souchong, barely managed to drink a quarter of a cup leaving 49 teabags untouched!

I would honestly say that this tea is worth giving a go. As long as you are very careful on how long you brew the tea, and don't mind a slightly bitter taste to your tea (and I know several tea people who like the bitterness that comes with some green tea's) it will make for a very pleasant cup of tea.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Snow Mist Organic Tea: Premium Flavoured Black Tea

Whilst I was on holiday recently my brother kindly took receipt of a huge box of tea samples. The amount of tea was large and the variety was equally as massive. This morning, I sat down to watch a favourite episode of Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure Of the Copper Beeches" and really wanted a cup of tea. When going through the box of samples I stumbled upon this tea. Yes, I will admit I was led by the packaging but I decided to try this very lovely black oolong tea.

Snow Mist tea are a tea company that specialise in wild grown, organic tea. The company, who are based in Taiwan, was founded in 1987. They take a totally ethical approach to tea production, and a holistic one too, working with the delicate ecological system around them to produce a high quality tea. They take a totally natural approach to working the soil, which is vital to the quality of the tea. Reading their website I certainly got the impression that they are as passionate about the environment around them as they are about producing their high quality, special tea's.

I really appreciated their obvious enthusiasm about the products they produce.

The tea that I tasted today was their Premium Black Tea, which is a new oolong tea that the company have started to produce. To look at the unbrewed tea is interesting. It's a long leaved, black tea. My eight year old niece described it as looking like worms but she is currently obsessed with all things creepy crawly so it's not unusual a description for her!

I took a generous amount of tea and popped it into my infuser. I waited for the tea to brew for around six minutes and I have to say the colour of this tea was utterly breathtaking. I was really impressed that I even showed my mum, who isn't into tea at all, and she commented on it's beautiful hue.

Aesthetically, this tea is stunning. It shines and glimmers in the cup and therefore is inviting. Honestly, I couldn't stop looking at this tea it was so lovely.

Upon taking my first sip, I can truly say I fell deeply in love with this tea. It has a sweet, almost peachy taste to it. It's a fairly delicate tea, but makes for a totally satisfying and refreshing cup. It's pleasurable and smooth to drink and warming too. Drinking this could be described as a experience - and one that should be treasured. I believe to fully enjoy this tea you need to unwind whilst drinking. This isn't the sort of tea that deserves to be supped quickly during the early morning rush. It NEEDS to be enjoyed at a slow pace, to drink it any other way gives the tea no credit.

This tea leaves a gentle and pleasant aftertaste in your mouth after you have finished drinking it. It's rather a sweet aftertaste which is lovely. 

Within  a few minutes of finishing the first cup, I reinfused the leaves a second, a third and a fourth time. The quality of the brew did not diminish with each brewing, but you do need to brew the tea for a little longer the more you have infused the leaves, but that is not unusual when rebrewing leaves.

Never has a tea affected me quite like this one. It's a really rather odd emotion if I'm honest with you. I have fallen in love with other tea's, but this just seems to hit every spot going from the way it looks, to the way it tastes and it's wonderful aroma.

The quality of the tea is amazing which probably is why rebrewing is not a problem. It was a genuine pleasure to taste this tea. Years ago, before I started drinking tea, I never thought tea - which I then viewed as a simple drink -could provide you with such wonderful emotions.

This is a cup of tea that is good for the soul. And I'm very lucky to have been able to treasure it.

I tend to be almost evangelical about tea, which, leaves those closet around me rather baffled. They do not tend to understand what is special about tea. And at times, it's quite lonely being a tea lover! But when one gets the chance to experience such a wonderful drink, I fail to understand how people cannot be like me and just seen tea as something to drink!

And now, I'm reloading the infuser for the fifth cup of this wonderful tea. I'm sitting back and going to enjoy every single sip. Aren't I the lucky one!