Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Golden Tips: Thurbo Moonlight Darjeeling White Tea

My last post was a article about white tea so I thought it was pretty apt to now review a white tea.

Just recently I was extremely fortunate to receive a set of samples from Golden Tips tea. In the packet was a sample of Thurbo Moonlight Darjeeling, a stunning white tea.

Thurbo Moonlight comes from Darjeeling in India, from the Thurbo estate. It's a first flush tea, meaning it was harvested in Spring. In this case the tea was harvested on the 7th April 2014.

The tea's "moonlight" element came because it was picked just before sunrise.

I really like white tea. I like it pure and flavoured, though I will readily admit it's not for everyone as the flavour can be extremely delicate, and, compared to black tea that is full of flavour and green tea that has it's own unique taste, white tea can be seen, by some, as a sort of "nothing" tea that is both unsatisfying and a little lack lustre.

But I like the gentleness of white tea. I like the light, refreshing flavour and it's a tea that is perfectly matched with lighter meals such as salad and light sponge cake. Personally, at times, such as really hot weather, I find black tea too heavy on my stomach, so white tea makes a wonderful change.

 (Thurbo Moolight Darjeeling is a pretty tea to look at and tasty too).

This morning I had a craving for white tea and brewed up a pot of this wonderful blend.

To look at this tea is exceptionally pretty. It's curly green and white leaves are very attractive and parts of the tea still visibly have the fine white hairs remaining. Just an attractive tea to look at, but of course a tea goes deeper then it's appearance.

I set up the tea maker and brewed it for three minutes. It brewed to a rich caramel colour. 

I was quite surprised by this tea as it was a lot stronger in taste then I am used to in white tea. It is certainly a white tea that packs a punch.

I adored the mellow element of this tea. It's smooth and refreshing and very, very enjoyable.  There is a delicate sweetness to this tea, which makes it easy to drink and a wonderful blend to relax to at the end of the day.
There are slight honey tones to the aroma, and a very discreet floral taste when you drink the tea. It's very light and delicate but at the same time fulfilling and full of flavour. 

I will sit here and write that this, by far, is the nicest white tea that I've ever tasted. It has flavour, but is not strong, making it perfect for tea lovers who like subtlety rather then obvious flavour. It's the perfect blend of taste but is not bitter or astringent either, which white tea, like it's green cousin, has the tendancy to go.

Lovers of green tea will certainly like this. But I think that even if you are a committed black tea fan, I'm positive that after one cup you'll be totally addicted.

There is absolutely nothing nicer then curling up with a cup of good tea, and this is by far the best example of a white tea.

It's perfect as it is, no added flavours are needed. And, the quality and freshness is very apparent, too. I feel healthy drinking this tea, and really good after I've taken a cup or two.

White tea need not be a tea reserved only for tea connoisseurs. And, through the email's I receive through this blog, that tends to be the general concensus about white tea. But it's not a special tea, reserved for special tea drinkers. White tea should be out there enjoyed by everyone and I believe that Golden Tips has provided tea drinkers with the chance to enjoy something really rather special with their Thurbo Moonlight Darjeeling.

I have purchased several white tea's in the supermarket and they have, actually, all been really nice quality.

But, if you want to take white tea to the next level then Golden Tips is the way to go. Yes, it may be a little bit more expensive, but again, it's the best quality you can drink.

Thank you to Golden Tips for the samples, especially of this glorious white tea. I hugely appreciated being able to try something so mouthwateringly delicious.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

A Spotlight On: White Tea

(In this picture sourced from Google you can see the pale, almost translucent, fully brewed white tea).

White tea may not be the first tea you think of. Indeed, it's not that easy to source, supermarkets do not sell a great deal of it and reputation wise it falls way behind it's black tea and green tea cousins.

However, white tea can make a really wonderful, refreshing cup of tea that is a pleasure to drink. So, here is a little run down on this lesser known and extremely dainty tea.


White tea is harvested mostly in China but in recent times has been produced by countries such as India, Nepal, Taiwan and Thailand. However, it's mostly harvested in the Fujian province of China.

How is it processed?

White tea is the least processed of all the tea's. It's harvested, withered in sunlight and processed only lightly.

The tea consists of leaves and unopened tea buds.

Why is it called white tea?

White tea doesn't infuse to a white colour. The tea gets it's name from the white and silvery fine hairs that cover the unopened tea buds.

How do you prepare white tea?

Green tea is famous for taking on bitter and astringent elements if not brewed properly. However, it has nothing at all on white tea!

I have said in previous posts that white tea is so delicate and fragile that it needs to be walked hand in hand through the brewing process.

Firstly, on no circumstances, must you ever use boiling water on white tea. You will scold the leaves and deny yourself the chance to taste this tea in all it's natural beauty.

Boil the water to 80-85 degrees. This is hard to do and it's extremely difficult to test the temperature of water, so my advice is to boil the water to a rolling boil then let it stand for a minute to a minute and half before pouring it onto the tea leaves.

Also take care with your infusion times. If you are using white tea in loose leaf form then you can infuse for up to six minutes and then add a further minute with every infusion you make after that. However, if you have brought white tea in teabag form from a supermarket I have found that five minutes is way too long, it goes nasty and bitter. I tend to limit infusions to no more then two minutes.

What appearance does white tea take when fully infused?

I have been asked once if white tea takes on the appearance of milk when infused! Well no, actually it's at the other end of the spectrum. White tea brews to a very pale amber colour. So much so that it's almost translucent, like pure water. It's simply gorgeous to look at.

And the flavour?

White tea has a delicate flavour, an extremely delicate flavour in fact. Someone once said it was totally flavourless, and I can understand that as we are used to the strength of black tea or the unique qualities of green tea. So it's very important to follow the brewing instructions closely, this is a tea that can spoil with just a minute of over steeping.

It's hard to describe the taste of the tea. Perhaps a less grassy version of green tea perhaps.

It is the perfect candidate to be served with afternoon tea, sandwiches or salads as it isn't at all over powering. However, you will loose the flavour of this tea if taken with strong foods.

Added extras

This tea goes well with both fruity and floral flavours. It's perfect on it's own, of course, but it's beautiful with flavours.

So far I have found peach, pear, pomegrante and even white grape are wonderful flavours from the fruit side. It doesn't sit too well with traditional fruits that are added to tea's such as lemon and orange.

From the floral side, peony, rose and jasmine work well with this delicate tea. In fact one of the nicest white tea's I've had was at Hever Castle in Kent where it was served with a very delicate dash of jasmine. And it was served in bone china cups, too. Very graceful and elegant.

Why do I like this tea so much?

I adore the light and refreshing elements to this tea.

At times, (particularly in hot weather) I find black tea can sit a little heavy on my stomach. I don't tend to drink much black tea during heatwaves for instance. At times like this white tea is perfect as it makes a nice change from the grassy elements of green tea.

It's refreshing, light, delicate, yet still gives me a satisfying cup of tea.

Some of my favourite white tea's are:

Revolution Tea: Pear White Tea
Teafields: Silver White Rose
Dragonfly Tea: Swirling Mist Organic White Tea
The Teashed: Out Of Milk Tea

Why not give white tea a try?

My Tea Journey: Five Years Of Discovery, Change And Experimenting

(The now defunct Mulled Spice by Twinings. A near constant companion in the early days).

It's hard to believe that it's almost five years since I started to drink tea. What is more extraordinary is how I drink my tea. Long gone are the days of sweetners (or sugar sometimes!) and milk (except when drinking chai!). Now, I take it black and unsweetened. 

Reflecting on the last five years, I am quite astounded at not only the sheer volume of tea I've been able to put away but the large variety, too! Just this year alone I have enjoyed Lapsang Souchong  and have been converted to peppermint tea, courtesy of Northern Tea Merchants fantastic Fine Cut Cuban Peppermint blend.

The world, for a tea lover, is your oyster. And I suspect it's the same thing for coffee lovers, too. The huge amount of tea available is astounding, with it varying in price, quality and taste. The internet has been a marvelous invention for tea lovers as it has opened up the door to such an amazing variety of choice.

And, to be fair, supermarkets are also doing their best to make sure customers have a good selection of tea too, eagerly inviting names such as Teapigs, Dragonfly and Dorset Tea to appear on their shelves. They seem to want to take risks in the tea's they stock, willing to give the established brands a run for their money. And that can only be a good thing.

In five short years I've seen such a big change in the tea world. From the quick rise in popularity of tea temples (or pyramids as they can sometimes be known) to the resurgence of loose tea and the subsequent popularity of one cup pots and quirky infusers. It's staggering to sit down and think of how much the tea world has changed. 

Perhaps one of the biggest changes I've seen is the quality of green tea. No longer, (thanks to high quality suppliers and the use of good tea in tea temples) do you have to put up with bitter, astringent, grassy tasting tea. Green tea comes in all manner of flavours, some flavour combinations stun you into silence! 

When I was little green tea would be the reserve of health shops and chemists. No longer. It was extremely trendy a few years back to drink green tea but that fad seems to have passed, but it's left consumers with knowledge and appreciation that green tea can not only good for you, but good to taste too, and now green tea is mentioned almost as regularly as black tea. 

I can honestly say I've loved every single minute of my tea journey. It's been utterly fun and I have had some truly wonderful experiences through tea, also. My recent tea tasting with Northern Tea being a highlight.

What I find most endearing, and possibly so exciting, is that every single tea lover I've encountered has a equal amount of excitement and, dear I say, obsession. Nothing is as nice as talking tea with a fellow enthusiast. 

As I've written on the blog before I also gain a lot of emotional and physical comfort from tea. It's warming, thirst quenching and healthy. And, on another level, it's a comfort blanket to fall back on, especially when things can get a bit rocky in life, as it does for everyone at some point. 

Years ago, before I started drinking tea, which I did to help me on my WeightWatchers diet, I would drink cordial's and fizzy drinks. Now, I barely touch them. Occasionally I may have a Coke or Pepsi with a meal, but that is increasingly rare. If I can't have tea then I'll opt for a fizzy water with lemon or lime. 

No longer do I consider tea that fuddy duddy drink that my parents would drink, and I'm encouraged to see younger people purchasing tea, especially loose tea. 

I could not envisage my life without tea anymore, it's my constant friend. It's certainly made a huge impact on my life. And if you're reading this the chances are it's done the same for you. 

I've gained so much the day I decided that tea was the only way to go in relation to what I drunk. And for me there is no looking back as there are still tea's to be discovered, tea's to be tasted and tea's to be reviewed here on this blog. 

I cannot wait to see what I'll try next, for there is one thing I can be sure of. No two tea's taste the same. And that, for a tea blogger, is perhaps as exciting as it can possibly be!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Jollybrew Tea: London Calling

(Photograph kindly provided by Jollybrew tea).

This week I was really fortunate to receive some samples from Jollybrew tea. I really love experiencing new blends and the companies behind them, too. So I was really excited to have chatted (via email) with Greg about their tea's.

I got sent two samples, and naturally, seeing that one tea had the words "Earl Grey" included in it's name - well, I just couldn't resist.

London Calling is a black tea with hints of Earl Grey and delicately flavoured with Jasmine. This was going to be a really interesting cup of tea.

Firstly, I really, really enjoyed the delicate aroma of this tea when I opened the sample packet. You can really detect the jasmine. Even though it's delicate, you can easily smell the special aroma you get with jasmine - and jasmine just happens to be a aroma that I love.

The tea is very pretty to look at too. The leaves are dark and the added ingredients of blue cornflowers add a dash of colour. It's gorgeous to look at.

(Of course the taste of a tea is important but when a tea looks pretty, it adds that extra element!).

So, what does this tea include? Well according to Jollybrew's website this interestingly named tea contains both black and green tea's, cornflowers and jasmine petals. Now, I found the mixture of both black tea and green tea interesting and certainly not something I've experienced much, if at all!

I took several generous scoops of the tea and loaded up the tea maker's basket with the tea and to be fair, added an extra to the pot! I altered the settings and custom brewed this for five minutes.

It was fun to watch this tea as it brewed from a amber colour, through to a copper colour to a dark brown.

(Over half way through the brewing process the tea reached a dark amber, copper like colour)

I think this is a really interesting tea, due to it's combination of tea's and it's name which is very original.

London Calling  is a very robust tea. On their own site Jollybrew describe the tea as "a mix between a English Breakfast and Earl Grey" and I think I would pretty much go along with that. It has the strength of English Breakfast (thankfully lacking the maltiness which I don't get along with) and will provide you with a brilliant cup of tea in the morning that will get you up and going for the day.

I love the strength of the tea, the robustness of it. It's full bodied and satisfying. And it's quite unusual to have a black tea (or partly black tea) infused with jasmine as jasmine normally goes with green tea.

The tea is of a high quality and extremely pleasant and has a mellow, chocolately taste.  Enjoyable and incredibly moreish.

But what I love most about London Calling is Jollybrew have successfully taken a quite strong tea and paired with the wonderful jasmine element. So you get the best of both worlds.

The jasmine element of the tea is light, floral and delicate but holds it's own against the strength of the tea. Jasmine is a wonderful flavour that only enhances any tea that it's blended with and that is no different with London Calling.

As some readers may know my Sage tea maker has the ability to keep tea warm for some time after initial infusion. During the time London Calling was kept warm, the jasmine flavoured developed further. So, on my second mug, it tasted slightly more of jasmine, which was gorgeous.

With this tea I feel as though I'm drinking something very traditional with something slightly exotic and luxurious.

London Calling is a tea that takes elements of established blends - through the English Breakfast elements - and something fairly modern to British tea drinkers - Jasmine. In essence this is a tea that contains flavours that are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, yet, come together to forge a tasty and elegant tea.

I am ashamed to admit that prior to tasting this tea I didn't know much about Jollybrew. However, it's a brand I will be exploring in more depth. It's great to see new (to me) brands and I'm always excited about what they have to offer and if all of their tea's are like London Calling then we are all in for a treat!

After drinking London Calling I felt relaxed, refreshed and just wonderful. The tea's jasmine flavour stayed in my mouth for some time which was lovely.

This tea is really different, yet, at the same time also familiar in some ways. I can't recommend this highly enough.

A big thumbs up to Jollybrew for providing us with a gorgeous, tasty and slightly addictive blend!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Northern Tea Merchants: Mandarin Black Tea

(Mandarin tea. A wonderfully dark, black tea with star like flashes of colour which come from the mandarin peel).

I have a lovely little system in place now. A system that allows me to try all of the wonderful tea's that Northern Tea Merchants have to offer. Each month I'll replace the missing "essential's" from my tea collection and order a small amount (50g's) of a new tea so that I can try it and blog about it here.

The latest acquisition from Northern Tea is their Mandarin Tea which consists of Chinese black tea with the addition of dried mandarin peel and mandarin oil.

I have often written on here that I love tea's that have citrus elements to them, which is why Earl Grey, for instance, is a popular blend with me. So, when deciding what to purchase this month I felt I had no choice but to opt for the Mandarin Tea.

Northern Tea use Keemun tea (a particular favourite of mine) as the base tea. I love Keemun tea as it strikes the right balance between being tasty and full of flavour but lacking the overpowering quality some black tea's can have.

I fired up the tea maker, added the right amount of tea for the amount of water and waiting for this delightful tea to infuse. Whilst that was whirling away I had a lovely smell of the tea and first impressions were it was absolutely gorgeous. I reserve a special caddy for my monthly purchases from Northern Tea and when I took the lid off, oh the aroma was delightful. Very different to orange based tea's. The mandarin was a lot stronger then I'd imagined and I couldn't wait to try a cup.

I brewed the tea for three minutes and it seeped to a wonderfully golden colour.

My initial impressions of this tea (and an impression that would stay with me for the entire cup of the tea) was that it was wonderfully light and refreshing. Perfect to take when the weather is warmer, but, at the same time comforting enough for those greyer days. This is a shining example of a feel good cup of tea - it instantly lifts your spirits.
Firstly, the Keemun is a wonderful base for this tea. As I mentioned earlier on in this blog, Keemun is a great tea to add flavouring too because it has the ability to give you a satisfying and tasty brew but is light enough to accept mandarin, lemon, rose or whatever the added flavour is. The Keemun works hand in hand and quite often the flavour compliments the tea, and vice versa of course.

I absolutely loved the mandarin. I have tried quite a few orange tea's but the mandarin offers a totally different sort of taste. It's a fair bit stronger then the orange flavoured tea's that I have tried previously and there is a very slight sharpness to the mandarin flavour. I think it has far more depth of flavour then what you would normally experience with a citrus based tea.

It's very hard to describe in words exactly how refreshing this tea is. Unusually for me, I actually felt thirsty when I was preparing this tea. I don't normally feel thirst as I always have some sort of drink with me, but this afternoon I was in desperate need of a drink and this is a real thirst quencher tea, and it didn't take me long to drink two mugs of this fruity and spectacular tea.

I love the aftertaste that is left in your mouth after drinking this tea. It leaves your mouth feeling pleasantly fruity.

Northern Tea Merchants have really come up with a perfect, fruity cup of tea. It has a bit of zing to it and certainly makes an impression.

Between you and I, this was my second infusion of this blend. The first I had with a bowl of Weight Watchers orange jelly and it was delicious, so this is great to take with citrus based foods. Or with afternoon tea, when your serving a wonderful orange or lemon cake. To be honest, it's pretty much perfect with most things, but these are just handy hints!

I was delighted with this Mandarin Tea. It's a refreshing, spirit lifting, fruity tea with a very slight kick.

You'll come away feeling a bit more happier after drinking a mug of this wonderful blend. Well, that's how I felt, anyway!

Twinings: Intensely Beetroot Burst

(Picture taken from Tesco's)

Today I have experienced something totally new in the tea world. A tea that not only I disliked from the very first sip, but also, a tea that I couldn't quite see the point of.  A tea that has left me thinking, what on earth was that all about?

My friend Rebecca from Brunette Lifestyle blog and I have recently swapped tea's and included in her lovely little parcel was two samples of Twinings new addition to their Intensely range - Beetroot Burst.

Beetroot Burst was a tea I've been interested in and have been waiting to try, but I have felt cautious about it, and haven't stumbled across anyway so I was really happy to have been given the chance to try it.

The tea is made up of two ingredients. Beetroot and blackcurrant. Firstly, I love beetroot. Be it in a salad or on a sandwich. I also like the tart, yet sweet, blackcurrant. A tea made in heaven?

When the tea was brewing I got the loveliest aroma of blackcurrant. It was very full on and quite lovely to smell. I also loved the deep red colour the tea takes when it's brewed.

(Visually, this is a stunning tea to look at)

So far it was looking good. A wonderful aroma and glorious blood red colour.

But then I took a sip and instantly knew it wasn't going to be a blend that I'd like. Firstly, the earthy flavour of the beetroot didn't sit well when infused in hot water. It had a strange, gritty like texture and felt really weird in the mouth. It was just very odd. I like beetroot, honestly I do, but this was just plain weird.

The saving grace of the tea was the gorgeous blackcurrant flavour which was sweet and enjoyable. But, once you got that lovely fruity hit, quickly after you got the earthy taste of the beetroot which just seemed to wipe out any enjoyment of this tea.

For the sake of this blog I did try to go with this tea, but three quarters through the mug I just had to give up. I couldn't like it no matter how hard I wanted to. And it was just undrinkable.

Of course, just like any tea from Earl Grey to Green Tea with Lemon, it's all down to personal taste. What one person will love another will hate, that's life. But, I just didn't seem to gel with this tea at all.

It felt like a novelty tea. Something that will come and go in a flash.

Don't get me wrong, I love tea companies who go out on limb and produce something different. Since I've been blogging I've tried lemonade tea, lemon sherbert tea, chocolate tea, chilli tea ... the list is endless.

But the difference is where those tea's felt natural and fun, this tea felt contrived, like Twinings are trying too hard to be different and that's how this tea comes across.

Twinings have produced some wonderful tea. My favourites range from Lady Grey to Rose Garden.
From the glorious Diamond Jubilee Blend to a recent hit - Plummy Earl Grey. But this tea just didn't hit the spot.

Of course, when you try it you may feel very different about this blend.

I'd love to hear your opinions. And I'm sure I will!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Golden Tips: Mankota Exotic Assam

I will readily admit that it has been years - at least three years, in fact - since I've taken Assam tea. Years ago I would drink Assam with milk and sugar. It made for a fabulous cup of tea. However, when I decided to drink tea black, and when I stopped adding sugar and sweetener, I found Assam to be a slightly malty, off putting tea, and subsequently stopped drinking it.

When I recently received a sample of tea's from Golden Tips I was interested to see Assam tea in the pack of samples as it's not a tea that is usually sent out in sample packs. Considering I recently changed my opinion on Lapsang Souchong and Peppermint tea I thought I'd give this tea a try!

Mankota Exotic Assam is a second flush tea, meaning it was harvested during the summer season. It originates from the Mankota estate in Assam and was harvested on the 27th June 2014. (I love Golden Tips as on all their tea's you have stickers telling you the exact date it was harvested!).

As you can see in the photo below, the appearance of this tea is wonderful. I absolutely loved the dark tea leaves that had golden tips added to make a interesting, colourful tea. I also loved the chocolate like aroma that the dried leaves gave off.

(The dark leaves were stunning, the golden tips that were added provided a stark difference in colour. A rich tea which felt lovely to the touch, had an alluring chocolate aroma and was inviting for all the senses).

I carefully measured out the exact amount of tea I needed to put in my Sage tea maker. I was really glad to see the sample provided just the right amount of tea for two infusions!

The really good thing about the Sage tea maker is that you can see the entire infusion process from the start to the end and it gives you a really good opportunity to see the different hue's a tea can take during the brewing period.

(Halfway through the three minutes infusion time the tea was a lovely golden colour. By the time it had finished brewing it was a deep copper colour).

I brewed this tea for three minutes, the least amount of time recommended. However, being unsure about how I'd feel about the Assam tea, I decided to brew it for the least amount of time. Next time, though, I'd brew it for a little longer.

When I opened up the basket in the tea maker I had a good smell of the wet leaves and already I could tell this was going to be an extremely malty drink. Would I like it, considering I've often written on here that the reason I didn't drink Assam (and English Breakfast) was the fact it was too malty for me.

What I experienced when I took my first sip was that this was a perfectly brewed cup of tea. It has a robust, flavour that is gorgeous and ultimately, satisfying. This is absolutely perfect for those who like their tea to have a bit of a kick and which makes your tastebuds dance. It is perhaps not for those who like their tea light and floral!

On my first sip I took in the entire flavour of the tea. From that initial malty taste, right through to the chocolate like afterbite. And I was surprised that I liked it so much.

The much dreaded malty-ness, the thing I used to hate so much in tea, was actually a pleasant addition to the tea. I felt warmed drinking this tea, and as it was the first cup of the day, it certainly gave me that early morning boost! It really did wake me up and that is no mean achievement if you're like me - someone who wakes up slowly in the morning.

I just loved how full of flavour this tea is, I love how it makes your mouth feel after a sip, and even though it's a black tea, it's very refreshing and does cleanse the palate.

Mankota Exotic Assam is a tea that makes it's presence fully known. It's bold, bright and confident.  It's full of flavour and it's coppery red colour is extremely attractive to look at too. This is a brilliant example of a very high quality Assam tea.

And, despite it's strength, despite the fact I take this black, it has not a trace of bitterness or tartness that I have experienced with some black tea's.

So, have I been converted from a anti-Assam to a pro-Assam tea drinker? I'd say yes. But, as in many situations, this is a shining example of how quality can change your mind with regards to the tea's you drink.

Partly why I've been put off Assam at times is that the quality has been lacking, leading to a overt malty taste and a feeling that the tea is stale. With Golden Tip's Assam you feel the freshness in a cup, and although malty, this tea has other attractive characteristics, too.

I know I say this a LOT but .... quality, quality, quality .. it's the key, simple as that. This is a extremely high quality Assam and it has made the difference from me enjoying the tea and me not. Also, learning how to brew tea correctly also helps.

This year, so far, I've changed my opinion about Lapsang Souchong and Peppermint tea. And I'm glad (and proud) to be able to add Assam to that list, too.

I think, as we get older our tastes change, and I think drinking tea black for so long now, I see tea in a different light. I can enjoy every facet of a tea. When I first started drinking black tea Assam was the first blend I tried, and in retrospect, it was a little too strong to try black straight away, and that, I feel, is the mistake I've made.

It was a pleasure to try this tea and I can really say I enjoyed every sip.

Would I purchase more Assam? Well, yes, I would. But it would be from Golden Tips as this tea was just perfect. It's flavoursome, tasty and extremely enjoyable, yet, not overpowering at all.

If you love Assam you'll love Mankota Exotic Assam. It will certainly impress you!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Tetley: Super Green Tea Tropical

Firstly, I must apologise for the lack of posting recently. My mum has recently had a operation on her foot so it's been quite busy around here! Also, I've had a weird, gloomy mood recently which I've put down to the post Bootleg Beatles blues!

But, I don't stay down for long, and decided today to blog about a tea from Tetley's latest Super  Green range. The tea I've tried from this range is the Tropical Super Green Tea.

My friend and fellow blogger, Rebecca, had sent me a sample of this tea and I liked it enough to buy a box!

This delicious tea has been a perfect pick me up. Due to the added Vitamin C, which Tetley claim is good for your immunity, this could be considered a functional tea. In circumstances like these I am not qualified to blog about the supposed health benefits, only on the tea itself.

I love anything tropical. I love how refreshing the flavours can be and how it can be a change from the traditional orange and lemon flavours that is found in a lot of tea's.

Contained in this tea is pineapple and mango, they are two really light and lovely flavours that work well together. Just the aroma from the teabag reminds me of summer, sunshine and warmth! Tetley have blended the two flavours well and it's makes for a fruity, flavoursome drink.

I brewed this tea for a couple of minutes, which was timed, and it infused to a dark green colour.

I actually found the aroma of this tea to be quite mouthwatering. It just had a brilliant smell to it and it makes you unwilling to wait to try it!

The base tea is a green tea, that, of course, has it's own reported health benefits.

As I settled down I took my first sip and I really quite enjoyed this tea. Firstly, the flavour of the fruits is gorgeous and very smooth.It is light and refreshing and really cleanses your mouth.

The mango has a deep, rich sweetness to it which is the stronger of the two flavours. The pineapple which has a sharp sweetness to it is the perfect compliment. It's quite a sweet tea but has a very slight, tart, afterbite so though sweet, it's not so sweet that it hurts your teeth, that overly sweet things tend to do to me!

The green tea element is something that is just so so. It has a strange texture to it, which I couldn't quite put my finger on. It's pleasant and enjoyable, but I feel this tea has the ability to go very bitter if you are not precise on your water temperatures and brewing times. I made the mistake of leaving the bag in for just a minute longer then I should and it went terribly bitter. Acutally, it went undrinkable, for me anyway.

However, if you make sure you brew to the correct temperature for green tea, which is around the 80-85c mark, and infuse this tea for no longer then 2 minutes you will avoid the bitterness that could come with this tea and have a nice cup of tea.

For me, on a personal level, the best part of the tea is the tropical flavours, something that isn't always available in loose green tea - normally loose green tea comes with red berry flavours or something like lemon.

As a tea that you can purchase in a supermarket as opposed to specialist tea websites this isn't too bad at all. I was a huge fan of Tetley's Peach and Apricot but sadly that seems to be discontinued as I can't find it any supermarket no matter where I am in the country! That is such a shame and I really hope this Tropical blend doesn't disappear from the shelves also.

There are other tea's in their Super Green range too. But, I will admit, I've not tried them. The other flavours available (some contain Vitamin C, others Vitamin B) are: Lemon and Honey, Berry Burst and Lime. I will admit the other only tea that does interest me is the lime tea as I've not tried lime as a flavour on it's own in tea.

To sum up, this is a great little tea that you can find from most supermarkets. And, of course, the added Vitamins would mean it's great to take in the run up to Winter to help aide you against the dreaded lurgies. But, I also think this would make, because of it's tropical flavour, a fantastic iced tea in the summer too. I can't say often enough how delicious the mango and pineapple is.

I'll give Tetley a thumbs up for this - but I also appeal to them to not do what they did to the Peach and Apricot tea, and make it disappear after a few months!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Laura's Tea Room On A Night Out: The Bootleg Beatles

(The Bootleg Beatles).

Okay, I will admit this isn't a normal tea review. In fact tea won't be mentioned. But there will be a picture of a mug later on in this post!

But, I thought, it would be nice for you to learn a little more about the person who writes this blog.

I am a Beatles fan. In fact I'd say it goes deeper. More like a obsessive. I've liked the group who I call "my boys" since I was about ten or eleven. They have always been, and always will be, a huge part of my life.

Last night I went to see the Bootleg Beatles. I have seen this tribute band (who are exceptional) several times but this is the first time in easily 15 years, and so it's the first time I've seen the new line up. So yesterday, I toodled off, with mum, to Westcliff. They were performing at the Cliffs Pavillion.

Firstly, I did the most important thing. I brought some merchandise.

(My souvenirs. A programme, keyring and badge. Only cost me £10).

I had my heart set on a mug and couldn't find any, but after a short nip to the loo's found that the stall had piled up their table with even more souvenirs and low and behold I saw they did indeed do mugs. So I brought one!

(My new favourite mug).

As regular readers know that my heart belongs to one Beatle only - George Harrison. Yes, I love John's acidic wit, Ringo's cute humour. But it's George who I really love. His songs are beyond anything else I listen to, he had a dry wit and he was incredibly handsome.

So, it was somewhat lovely to see Andre Barreau, who used to play George back in the day when I was thirteen years old and madly in love with the mop top. For me, he was the closest thing to the real thing and just about sent me into a faint when I was a somewhat hysterical young teen. Andre hung up his guitar recently and now is artistic director for the band.

(Andre Barreau as George Harrison, and who I watched meander through the foyer yesterday. He once, to my delight (as the Beatle) told me he loved me in response to me shouting the same thing to him almost causing me to faint as a slightly hysterical 13 year old).

When Mum and I took our seats I was delighted to find that we had a marvelous, center stage view. The seats were so comfortable too, which was brilliant as mum is disabled and is struggling with her hips, legs and feet right now.

As we waited for the show to start I took the chance to read the souvenir programme which was fun.

(Our good view!)

When the show started I was just so excited. Tribute bands can be so so but the Bootleg Beatles have always had a reputation that has preceeded them. They are brilliant. It's great to hear the Beatles music performed live by artists that are beyond capable.

The costume's, sets and choice of songs was brilliant. The show was divided into four parts which covered their entire career. We had the early 60's where they sang "She Loves You" amongst others, but my favourite part was the second part.

The second part opened with Sgt Pepper and the performances were brilliant. They covered wide ranging songs such as A Little Help From My Friends to I Am The Walrus and loads inbetween. The Sgt Pepper costumes were fantastic. And I loved John Lennon's wit as he sat at his piano belting out I Am The Walrus, not a easy song to sing live.

I also loved Bootleg John's connection to the crowd. He was so funny and reminded me of the real John who could pop out funny one liners.

Prior to the concert I had emailed the group asking very politely if Bootleg George could sing Here Comes The Sun. This is my most favourite song ever. In previous concerts George never sung this song. So, when George came and did his solo slot, decked out in his denim "Abbey Road" outfit, he picked up his guitar and ... sang While My Guitar Gently Weeps. I was slightly disappointed but enjoyed the three minutes none the less, after all While My Guitar Gently Weeps is a brilliant song.

But, to my joy, a couple of songs later, John announced that George was doing his last song and it was Here Comes The Sun. I'm not proud to admit that I actually did cry during this song. I was just overjoyed that it was finally featured in a Bootleg Beatles concert that I attended. Everyone else who had ever seen them more then once had heard Bootleg George sing my perfect song, and now it was my turn to hear it.

So, what of the new George? Well he is played by a chap called Stephen Hill and is fantastic. His first song was Roll Over Beethoven and was stunned at how much he sounded like George. He did a marvelous job singing, Taxman, Whilst My Guitar Gently Weeps and Here Comes The Sun.

 (Stephen Hill as George. A worthy replacement for Andre. Photograph taken from Bootleg Beatles Facebook page).

I truely had a wonderful night last night. For someone of my age, it is the closest thing to the actual Beatles I'll ever get. I can never afford tickets to Paul McCartney's shows and Ringo doesn't seem to tour much anymore. I enjoyed every single moment.

The atmosphere there was electric . Of course it helps when all the audience have the same thing in common - all loving the Beatles. But I felt really at home there and if you wanted to sing along, it didn't matter. People (not me though) were up, dancing in the aisles. Everyone left with smiles on their faces. I left feeling quite overwhelmed.

I did even impress myself at one point realising that as I sung along I didn't make a mistake on a single song word. I know those songs all too well!

So, that was what Laura's Tea Room was up to last night.

I just wished I could relive it all over again. 

Thanks to the Bootleg Beatles for creating a magical night that everyone in that building loved. To see so many people walk away beaming was fantastic. And I had the biggest smile of them all!

t+ Wellness Tea: Apple And Blackcurrant Detox

(My samples, which arrived this week).

Several weeks ago I received a lovely email from a chap called James Dawson in which he explained to me that he was from a company called t+ Drinks and that he was about to launch a new range of tea's. Would I like some samples? Yes please!

t+ drinks specialise in "wellness" or "functional" tea's as they are sometimes called. The companies aim is to provide tasty tea's that have added vitamins to the tea's to make them healthy.

Here is a little bit of what the company say about themselves:

"We made t plus with a simple intention. The plan was to create some healthy, tasty and functional teas that can help everyone in this hectic world get the right goodness into their body where and when it's needed most."

Each one of their blends consists of green tea as a base tea with natural flavouring. Vitamin's are added to each of the tea's to make them not just tasty but healthy too. And of course, we all know the health benefits that are claimed to come along with drinking green tea on a regular basis.

Now, I will like to state that I am reviewing the tea on the flavour alone. I do not feel qualified to be able to judge the "health" aspect of the tea. I am not a doctor, nor am I knowledgeable on vitamins, nor have I been able to drink the tea long enough to know if it makes me feel super healthy. I feel it would be wrong to write about these elements.

However, I do know a bit about tea so will write about that!

t+ sent me two samples. One is Raspberry and Pomegranate. The other, which I reviewing today, is Apple and Blackcurrant.

(Apple and Blackcurrant. I love the colour of this blend).

The only other "functional" tea I've tried before is Twinings Defence. I used to drink it often in a attempt to protect myself against colds in the winter and I have to say, it wasn't a altogether pleasant drink. The flavour wasn't exactly inviting, but I used to take a cup a day to stave off colds. Most things that are good for us are not always nice to taste, and with Defence that was the case, if I'm honest. It was drunk under sufferance.

So, I wasn't too sure what to expect when the tea's arrived with the postman this week. And, to be frank, flavour wise, I wasn't expecting too much. And I'm glad to say that I was proven wrong. In fact, I was more then pleasantly surprised.

Firstly, the aroma of the tea is very delicate, not at all strong and not particularly fruity, either. I was expecting a slightly stronger scent as the fruit flavours - apple and blackcurrant - are two really powerful scents when it comes to tea. However, don't let the light aroma put you off. The taste more then makes up for it!

The green tea is absolutely superb. The flavour is lovely and there is no bitterness to this tea whatsoever. It has a well rounded, tangy flavour and brews to a really wonderful, yellow colour, as you can see in the photograph above. It's nice to drink a green tea that comes from a teabag (rather then loose) that isn't astringent and unpleasant.

Apple and blackcurrant works well together in almost anything - be it a nice fruit pie or crumble. And this tea is no exception. I love the sweetness from the apple, it's mouthwatering and refreshing. And there is just a little bit of tartness from the blackcurrant.

This tea is very light, refreshing and extremely easy to drink. It really revives you and is a brilliant candidate for a mid afternoon pick me up. I love the mixture of the flavours, love how it refreshes your mouth and is just lovely and summery. 

I loved this tea. It's truly nice to drink a functional tea that is not just healthy for you but tasty - and is incredibly moreish too. And I've just had a sniff of the empty mug and the fruitiness is still lovely.

I am really impressed with this tea on so many levels. I wouldn't never of guessed this was a wellness tea if I didn't know. There is none of the "weirdness" you can get with the functional tea's. The green tea is so tasty, too, and this is perfect for you if you are unsure of green tea because it lacks the not so nice properties green tea can sometimes have.

I must thank James for sending out the samples to me. It was a pleasure to try them. (I will be reviewing the other tea shortly). And I really do wish t+ well for the future.

If you are interested in the company and their range of wellness tea's then please visit their website.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Northern Tea Merchants: Earl Grey

(Northern Tea Merchants Earl Grey. Deliciously dark and aromatic).

Sometimes I can completely surprise myself with the things I do - or in this case - don't do.

I am absolutely hooked on Earl Grey and it's one of those blends that I'd be lost without. The thought of never again experiencing Earl Grey is just too horrible to comprehend.

When I visited Northern Tea it dawned on me that I had never tasted their Earl Grey. As horrifying as this may sound, it wasn't till a couple of weeks ago that I actually tried their take on the world famous blend.

So, when arriving at the shop I was asked what tea I'd like. Giving a mere half a second of thought I replied "Earl Grey, please". And I enjoyed a really lovely cup of tea. When visiting the shop I brought a 125g pack of their loose tea and today thought I'd review it.

When I reviewed Northern Tea's gorgeous Rose Congou I explained that floral and Earl Grey tea's are some of the hardest to get right, and I still stand by that statement. The quality of Earl Grey can swing from lovely and flavoursome to awful and oily dependent not on price but quality. I've purchased some relatively cheap blends and it's been lovely and some really expensive ones have been foul.

When I first started drinking tea, nearly five years ago, I stepped into the tea world amid a rambunctious tea storm. Twinings had changed the recipe of their Earl Grey and had renamed it THE Earl Grey. I was quite surprised that (what I thought) the quaint tea world was actually up in arms. I know, due to the change in recipe, Twinings lost lifelong Earl Grey drinkers, whilst many purchased the Twinings International Earl Grey Classic blend, turning their back on what was available in the supermarket. It seemed that Earl Grey had it's devotees - and they are loyal to the blends they love.

And I, in turn, have found the ultimate Earl Grey in Northern Tea Merchants wonderful blend. And it's one I'll stick with. Quite simply, nothing in the supermarkets seem to match up to it.

(Northern Tea Merchant's strong, powerful and utterly gorgeous Earl Grey).

First of all I love how the tea looks. A strange thing to say, I appreciate. However, I firmly believe that tea should be experienced by ALL the senses. Not only taste and smell but touch and sight, too. I love feeling tea leaves, rolling them in between my fingers. And this tea is a wonderful, dark, black colour. And also there are splashes of colour too!

The aroma of the tea is light and fruity.

This Earl Grey infuses to a light, golden colour. The first thing that struck me upon taking my first sip was the tea had a well balanced citrus flavour which is refreshing and brings a feeling of spring to your life when drinking this blend.

All Earl Grey blends contain bergamot in on form or another. Some contain bergamot flavouring whilst others use oil of bergamot. And it's the bergamot that makes all the difference in my opinion.

In some of the worst Earl Grey's I've tried the oil of bergamot is present in a oily substance that sits on top of your tea and gives that perfume like texture to the blend. But with Northern Tea's it's completely natural feeling and is very evenly balanced, too.

The base tea is extremely high quality black tea which is strong, robust and very, very gorgeous. Northern Tea's black tea's are just fab pure and flavoured, such as in the case of Earl Grey.

I loved how natural and fresh this tea tasted, and I added a slice of lemon to the second cup I had which made it even more tasty.

This tea is perfect to be served with lemon drizzle cake or a light Victoria sponge.

I brought 125g's of this tea from Northern Tea and the pack is HUGE. You get a lot of tea and it only cost's £3.55.  You can pay that now for 50 teabags in your supermarket but what you don't get is the quality you get with Northern Tea. Its' as simple as that.

From now on Northern Tea will be my go to company for Earl Grey. It's just about the nicest blended, gorgeous Earl Grey about.

Their Earl Grey is also available in teabags if you prefer them for convenience. The only difference is that a Kenyan tea is used instead of Chinese tea. (Small leaf tea is used in teabags, whereas in this blend, large leaf tea is used).

Northern Tea Earl Grey is a delight to drink and anyone will enjoy this wonderful tea.

And, to the Earl Grey obsessives out there ... and I know there are a lot ... you won't get any better then this!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Laura's Tea Room On The Move: Costa Coffee: Twinings Simply Sencha

This weekend I happened to find myself in a branch of Costa Coffee. I am not at all a coffee lover and rather then opt for a cold drink decided to ask the young man behind the counter what tea they had. He reeled off a fairly comprehensive list. Gingersnap Peach (didn't fancy that ), English Breakfast (me and this blend have issues), Mint or Green tea.

I opted for green tea.

What was served to me was a Twinings Simply Sencha green tea.

In Costa they seemed to know how to prepare green tea correctly and handed me a pot of hot water, which, being a green tea, I let cool down for several minutes. I loved the large latte cup that was I was given to use.

Whilst my friends were drinking their tea I waited patiently. This could possibly be the only cup of tea I'd have in ages so wanted to brew it correctly.

When I poured the cooled water on the teabag the tea brewed to probably one of the most incredible shades of green I've ever seen. It looks very clear in the photo but the tea brewed to a sparkling, light emerald colour. I was quite impressed with it.

Simply Sencha is a pure green tea that has no flavouring added. It's green tea in it's simplest state.

This tea has a very earthy, plant like aroma. I believe this would be possibly slightly off putting to those who hadn't experienced green tea before - I know some of the people I was with didn't like the smell of it at all. I found it to be quite interesting and completely natural.

Simply Sencha has a smooth, delicate and mellow flavour to it, and has slightly floral tones to it. It certainly tastes very different to how I expected it to.

I loved the mellow tones to this tea and found it to be a incredibly satisfying.

If you are new to green tea then it would be worthwhile learning how to brew it correctly. This would go slightly bitter if over brewed or if boiling hot water was added to the leaves - I can tell that this tea has the potential go go from something that is nice to something that is horrible if the time isn't taken to make it correctly.

Simply Sencha is a fairly new tea that is part of their silky pyramid tea that were released towards the end of last year.

I found this a thoroughly nice cup of green tea - certainly the best available that you can purchase in a supermarket.

The silky pyramids are on sale in Costa as well as supermarkets and cost £3.49 for twelve silky pyramids.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Northern Tea Merchants: Earl Grey With Lavender Tea Temples

(Lavender Earl Grey tea temple and the caddy they live in!)

There is no denying that perhaps one of the biggest "new things" that have emerged in the tea world is the tea temple, or, silky pyramid or tea triangle - the names vary depending on brand. In fact, this year is my fifth anniversary since becoming a tea lover and it's hard to think that tea temples where not around when I first started drinking tea.

Tea temples are hugely different from your average teabag because most of them contain a premium quality loose tea, usually a large leaved tea that is infused with flavouring or things like rose petals or pieces of ginger ... you get the picture.

One of the biggest criticisms of tea temples, which I hear through this blog, is you pay a lot for, what does appear to be, not a lot. Some of the highest priced tea pyramids are Twining's Plummy Earl Grey which are £3.50 for just twelve pyramids.  On the surface tea temples are hugely expensive, and yes, I would agree they are, and I use tea temples as a "treat" - not a tea I'd drink daily. However, what you do pay for is you get a higher quality tea that are wonderfully blended and provide you with a luxurious cup of tea and with the convenience of that tea being enclosed in a tea bag.

I am a fan of tea temples and I am not embarrassed to admit it!

When I recently visited Northern Tea Merchants I knew days before that their Earl Grey With Lavender Tea Temples was something I was going to be purchasing. And such is my faith in Northern Tea that I brought two boxes. For months I have had my eye on these cute little packages of tea but didn't have the chance to purchase any, so when I knew I was going to the shop it was on top of the list.

I adore lavender. Whether it be as a perfume, in cooking (such as shortbread biscuits) or in tea. There is just something so wonderful about this brilliant flower that effortlessly adds class and sophistication into any tea that it's used in.

Many years ago my Dad took me and my mum on a day out to Chartwell in Kent. Chartwell was the marital home wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine. Typical of my Dad, upon arriving the first thing he did was to scout out the restaurant to have a cup of tea before we explored. It was a gorgeous summers day and there was a plant sale on. As we sat outside with our drinks the aroma of lavender filled the air. I remember that day as being one of the loveliest of my adult life, and so, when I encounter lavender, I'm instantly taken back to sunshine, warmth, the beautiful Kent countryside and a general feeling of happiness.

Earl Grey with Lavender is wonderfully scented. The feel of the tea temples is gorgeous so I didn't really hang around when it came to actually trying this gorgeous little tea temples. So, I filled up the tea maker and let it take the strain - when I came back into the kitchen after doing some chores during the infusion process, the kitchen smelt glorious.

As I mentioned when recently reviewing Northern Tea's Rose Congou tea, I feel it's extremely hard to get the balance just right when producing floral tea's. If too little of the floral ingredient is used you get a weak, unsatisfying cup of tea. If too much is used, it's overpowering and unpleasant and very hard to stomach, actually. Many a time I've been left nauseous after trying a floral tea which doesn't make for a enjoying experience!

Earl Grey with Lavender is a wonderfully, evenly blended tea that strikes the perfect balance.

The base tea, which is black, is of a exceptional quality (I expect - and get - nothing less then exceptional from Northern Tea). It has a deep, rounded flavour, that takes on a wonderful dark black colour and has a very robust taste.

The lavender is well balanced too. It's easily detectible, and certainly tasty, yet, at the same time does not overpower and does not leave your mouth feeling as though you've gulped back lavender water. I love the fact the lavender lingers in your mouth for quite some time after you've finished the cup, yet, oddly, at the same time, it's not too strong so you can taste the quality of the tea that is behind it.

Thankfully, it also lacks that strange perfume like element that a lot of floral tea's (especially those at the cheaper end of the market) have which leaves a bitter flavour in your mouth and causes my lips to sting.

I also love the fact that I don't have bits of lavender floating in the tea - another experience I once had which was truly awful.

So, what of the price. Well you get 15 tea temples for £4.95. On the surface this looks expensive but, never more has the saying "you get what you pay for" ring true.

As with everything else I've tried from Northern Tea you pay for quality, quality, quality - simple as that. I have been fortunate in seeing behind the scenes and meeting the folk at Northern Tea and I fully understand now the effort that goes into making sure that the tea is of the highest quality possible.

With these temples you don't get bitterness, you don't get half empty temples, you don't get artificial flavouring in this tea. What you do get is a extremely high quality, natural tasting, adorable tea which leaves you wanting more, and more, and more.

I have to be honest, I have to ration this tea. I can't drink cup after cup as I would do with any other tea. I have to make them stretch, but that's brilliant because when something is a treat, to be savoured every now and again you truly do appreciate the tea more.

Earl Grey with Lavender is a perfect tea to serve up for afternoon tea. It will certainly impress your tea loving friends, without a shadow of a doubt. There is something about this tea that makes you feel as if only your finest bone china cup and saucer will do. I felt almost guilty pouring this into my battered old mug.

If this tea was a woman she'd most certainly be lady of the manor! High class, elegant with impeccable manners!

This tea is soothing, comforting and just the cutest tea possible - if you can describe tea as cute.

I will be purchasing more of this tea when I've used up the two boxes that I already have. There is something about this tea that just affects you in a wonderful way. In some ways it's a little too good to be wasted on me - well that's how I feel anyway.

I know, well I'm pretty positive, that you'll love this tea.

For me, it's become a nice little friend, and I hope we'll spend lots of time together.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Taylors Of Harrogate: Spiced Apple

I very rarely review fruit infusions on the blog. Not because I dislike them particularly, but because I enjoy tea with more "body" so to speak - black tea's in particular.

But, sometimes, it's nice to shake things up a bit. Today I really fancied something nice and fruity and remembered that my friend Rebecca had sent me some samples of Taylors of Harrogate fruit infusions so today thought I'd try their Spiced Apple infusion.

According to Taylors website the blend has been created in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, who are based in Kew. The tea is available to buy in Tesco's and Waitrose and from the Royal Botanic Gardens giftshop and online store.

Spiced Apple is obviously a apple flavoured tea but what spices are contained? Well quite a few and they all pack a mean punch. We have star anise, cardamon, cinnamon and a very fiery ginger root. Quite a exotic mixture of flavours.

From the very first sip to the very last, this makes for a superb drink. The apple is so gentle and very sweet indeed. If it were not for the spices it possibly would of been an over sweet infusion but working in conjunction with the spices the sweetness is much welcomed. The apple flavouring tastes very fresh and is a brilliant tea to clean the palate. And despite the addition of all the spices, the apple is a flavour that is very prominent which is brilliant.

The spices are well blended but are quite fiery. It's much more spicy then I had anticipated - and I loved it!

The very obvious spice that you can recognise is the ginger root. It's quite strong but it works very well indeed with the apple. Second to the ginger is the lovely smooth familiar sweetness of the cinnamon - a spice that works exceedingly well with apple. (I've recently reviewed Apple and Cinnamon from teapigs and those flavourings worked really well).

But what I really, really liked was the cardamon. When you take a sip of this tea you instantly recognise the flavour of apple and cinnamon - and of course the ginger. But the cardamon is brilliant because once you've experienced those flavours you get one very final, but very strong kick from the cardamon and it dances on the tongue for some time afterwards. The cardamon makes each sip last that bit longer. And I just love how alive it makes your tongue feel.

If you like your fruit infusions with a extra something, or indeed, if you like your drinks to give you that snappy kick then this is a perfect blend for you. It's by no means a typical - or boring - infusion. It's a incredibly satisfying and refreshing blend and if you want a change from your normal tea then this could be a good tea for you.

And why not try it as a iced tea in the summer. This is bound to impress at a party or BBQ. It's a very versatile blend and a tea that has many different sides to it.

As I sit here, ten minutes or so after finishing the mug of tea my mouth is still jumping for joy. The cardamon is still very present and it's great fun. I really enjoyed this tea.

Don't be fooled by the very simple (but effective) packaging. This isn't a quaint fruit infusion that blends in with the hundreds of other fruit tea's available. This has something really different about it,

On a cold winter's morning this will get you up and going. On a summer's day, as a iced tea, it's cooling and refreshing.

Why not try this wonderful fruit tea? It's certainly memorable.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Northern Tea Merchants: Keemun Mao Feng

(Keemun Mao Feng in the infuser. A glorious tea that is dark in colour, with thin leaves).

When I take the first sip of a new tea I'm trying the reactions can range from "that's alright" (meaning it's okay but I'm not overly keen) to "that's a lovely cup of tea" (which translates in non-tea talk as this is really nice and I'm loving this blend". Very occasionally you'll get "that's bloody nice" (meaning this is a tea that is beyond nice, beyond gorgeous, heading towards sublime).

I can safely say Keemun Mao Feng from Northern Tea Merchants is most certainly in the sublime category.

Each month I make a small order with Northern Tea. This is done so I have fresh tea to blog about but on a personal level I just love their tea and am enjoying everything they have to offer. In my last order came a packet of this tea. Sadly, I didn't have the chance to try it before I went on my tea tasting so this morning decided to fire up the tea maker and delve right in!

What I was able to do is decant the tea into a spare caddy. I do this promptly so that the tea is kept as fresh as possible. Today, upon opening the caddy had a good inhale and the tea smelt wonderful, with tones of dark chocolate to it.

The appearance of the tea is fantastic. It's very, very dark in colour, and the leaves are very long and fine, almost like spider legs. This is a tea that appeals to all of the senses. It smells gorgeous, looks intriguing and feels just lovely. And it tastes wonderful, too!

(Keemun Mao Feng infusing in the Sage tea maker. After a just a few seconds it was already a lovely golden, honey colour).

I infused the tea for six minutes as recommended on the website. What I did notice during the brewing process was just a few seconds in it had reached a gorgeous honey colour. This was going to be a lovely, dark tea.

(Once brewed the tea was a dark, ebony colour).

Last year I reviewed Northern Tea's Keemun which went down a right treat on Laura's Tea Room so was really excited about the Keemun Mao Feng.

As Northern Tea states on their website, Keemun Mao Feng is "one of the finest examples of Keemun tea produced today". And they are right.

Despite it's dark black colour, which could possibly make you feel it would be a very strong tea to taste, it's actually surprisingly gentle and "soft" to the taste, though it's a little bit more robust then the previous Keemun that I've reviewed.

Keemun Mao Feng is a very mellow tea, smooth and easy to drink. For me, anyway, it has a light, almost chocolate like taste to it. It's incredibly refreshing, too, and moreish. It certainly didn't take me long to polish off the four cups that I had brewed in the tea maker. And before long I was filling up the tea maker with fresh water ready for another infusion.

So what is the tea like after re-steeping the leaves? It makes for a wonderful cup of tea. And no bitterness which you can sometimes get during the re-steeping process. I was really impressed. I always re-steep with a degree of caution because I've had plenty of experience with tea's which were lovely first time, suddenly morphing into a monster of a blend on second steep!

Another thing I'd like to add about Keemun Mao Feng is it's a brilliant tea to drink black. (And that's also the case for Northern Tea's Keemun, too).

I've mentioned on here a while back that I drink tea black due to suffering from eczema on my skin. Sometimes this can be as bad as nearly 50% of my body covered in eczema. It can be set off by stress, worry, nerves amongst other things. But, too much diary products also affects the condition, so I made a conscious decision to stop adding milk to tea a few years back.

It was then that I hit a snag with black tea's because some, such as Assam and Chai's were too strong, malty or overly spiced to drink black. Keemun Mao Feng is a perfect tea to drink black, and if you are making the step from taking your tea with milk to taking it without, do choose this tea because it's gentle enough to ease you into the world of tea without milk.

On the second steeping I added lemon which works well with the blend. Brilliant if you want to make it a bit snazzy.

Keemun Mao Feng is just a perfect black tea, brilliant to take without milk and is gorgeously soft and gentle, yet, ultimately, satisfying.

I'm a lucky girl having been able to try this tea.

You must try it. You won't regret it. A brilliant example of a classic, black tea. Flavoured tea's are brilliant, but drinking tea in it's purest form has never been lovelier.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

teapigs: Apple and Cinnamon

As you may know, a friend of mine, Rebecca from Brunette Lifestyle blog and I often swap tea's. If we try something new then we often send each other samples to try. It's a system that works well, and besides, there is nothing nicer then to share - or swap in this case - the tea love!

Recently I sent Rebecca a pile of the Twining's Chai tea's that I know she loves, and in return I received a whole bundle of tea's ranging from the new Tetley line of healthy green tea's to this lovely little tea from teapigs.

Apple and Cinnamon is a punchy, tasty fruit tea and I was hugely impressed by it.

I have reviewed teapigs on several occasions and overall, I enjoy the tea they produce. I have reviewed their Red Winter Spice, Extra Strong Earl Grey, Popcorn and Chilli Chai. As you can see the tea they produce is very varied. As the tea's are all available in tea temples they are a little higher priced then the average but the tea is genuinely nice and I'm sure teapigs have a flavour to suit every taste!

Apple and Cinnamon is a tea that will appeal to the senses. It's incredibly fragrant and when I opened the little plastic envelopes the tea was enclosed in I got a lovely, and quite strong, hint of cinnamon. It's really gorgeous.

I love tea's that have elements of dessert about them and this is very reminiscent of a traditional English apple crumble. There is something naughty but nice about this tea - you can have something akin to a favourite dessert but without all the naughty bits.

The taste of this tea is rather appealing. The apple (I do like apple in tea, be it in a fruit infusion or added to black tea) is glorious. Really sweet and tasty and moreish. There is no sharpness to the tea that you can find in some apple tea's - this is certainly a tea for those with a sweet tooth. It is well rounded and full of flavour.

In addition, the cinnamon brings a warming, comforting element to the tea and this is a perfect winter tea, though the apple brings a lightness to it which would make for a great iced tea too, so it's a cup of tea for all the season's.

The kick that you get from the cinnamon, which hits just a few seconds after you've sipped the tea, is brilliant and for a few seconds after it feels as though your mouth is dancing! Though the cinnamon flavour is quite strong it's well balanced with the apple, so the two elements to the tea work well together rather then one flavour trying to outdo the other.

This is a brilliant addition to the teapigs family. It's just that little bit different to the average fruit infusion that you can get from the mainstream brands. Yet, it's gorgeous enough to make you want to include it fully into your tea collection.

If you like sweet desserts this is perfect for you, it's a crumble in a cup!

I enjoyed this tasty tea very much. Give it a try - I'm sure you will too!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Golden Tip's Tea: Avaata Supreme Nilgiri Green Tea

About a month or so ago, I received a wonderful email from a man called Siddhant Hardik from Golden Tips Tea. Within the email was a kind offer, with Siddhant asking if I'd like to receive a few samples to feature on this blog. I absolutely said yes, and just this past week the samples arrived.

Golden Tips Tea are a company based in India and have been in business since 1933. They specialise in unblended tea's that are "delivered garden fresh, direct from source".

There is something utterly exciting for a tea lover to receive emails such as I did from Siddhant asking if I'd like a sample kit. To experience something new, a little out of the ordinary, and then to have the sheer, unadulterated joy of writing about it is just heaven and something I attack with nothing less then gusto!

Sadly, I didn't photograph the parcel when it arrived (far too excited and was distracted) but it came wrapped in cloth that I had to cut off. A very unique way of sending a parcel. Inside the box were several different samples. Some black tea's mainly, but also a white tea and a green tea.

Today, I decided to try the Avaata Supreme Nilgiri Green Tea which was included. I have been drinking a lot of black tea so thought green would make a change!

On the front of the packet was some useful information about the tea, which I found interesting. From the packet I learned that the tea:

Came from Nilgiri, India from the Avaata estate.
Was picked on 1st April 2014 and is first flush, which essentially means it's the first picking of the year, in the spring.

There is something really lovely about being able to determine when your tea was picked. It certainly makes for a interesting fact if nothing else!

(The tea in the Sage Tea Maker basket).

The leaves of the Green Tea are large as you can see in the picture above and are a gorgeous shade of green. There is something amazing about seeing a loose tea close up. I love looking at the leaves, holding them in my hands, experiencing everything about a tea. And these leaves are so pretty. Full of colour they looked truly inviting.

I set the tea maker and it boiled the water perfectly to 80c and I watched as it infused for the set period of two minutes. It did say on the packet that it could be infused for two to three minutes but I set it for two and thought it was the perfect time.

The tea infused to a light, golden colour.

Now, this is where my recent tea tasting at Northern Tea Merchants came in useful. I learned a awful lot and the most basic - and important - fact that I've learned is to smell the aroma of the wet leaves to get a true sense of the aroma of the tea. So, I tried this and enjoyed every second!

The aroma of this superb green tea is delicate and ever so slightly grassy. But there is a freshness to it which is inviting. That, coupled with the gorgeous hue of the tea made for a very interesting appearing tea. I love green tea and was certainly looking forward to trying this one.

This Supreme Nilgiri green tea  is one of the loveliest green tea's that I've tried. It has a smooth, mellow taste to it, and leaves your mouth feeling nicely refreshed. It's has a light, almost honey like element to it, and it's a tea that tastes as though it's bursting with freshness. I love the gentle aftertaste that it has, and totally lacks any sort of bitterness that can come along with green tea, and which often put's people off. It's also addictive and as I write I have a fresh pot brewing away. If you like a light green tea that is soft, gentle, soothing and comforting then this is a perfect choice.

I love green tea's that are flavoured with fruits but sometimes, when you have a perfect green tea like we do here, then it's lovely to drink it pure.

This is an ideal green tea for those who are dipping their toes in the water when it comes to green tea. There are some strong, robust green tea's out there but this is perfect as a starter tea. It's freshness, along with gentle elements are just ideal. If I had tried this seven years ago, instead of a supermarket tea, I would of been a green tea drinker for a lot longer!

This is by far more superior then anything you can purchase in a supermarket. And the prices are good too! You can even purchase a sample size of 10gm's for £1.30!

Golden Tip's green tea is a brilliant example of how a good tea can really enhance your life. I was really impressed by this most delicate of tea's. I found it tasty, and despite it being a delicate tea, it's satisfying and leave's you feeling really good.

Any green tea lover will love this tea, of that I can be certain.

Thank you to Siddhant for sending the samples. I'm looking forward to trying the rest of the samples and seeing what delights are contained in the lovely little box!