Friday, 28 August 2015

The Joy Of Jasmine Pearls

(Image sourced from Google).

This week has been manic. The job hunting continues with vigour, and a nasty fall which I suffered last week has finally caused problems to my thinning bones. So, it's been all go.

Just as exercise is good for the body (and I have been making fine use of my new bike) tea drinking and blogging is good for the spirit and after a nice bath and hair wash I am indulging in a wonderful cup of Jasmine Pearls.

Drinking Jasmine Pearls is an experience that is utterly different from other tea's. Black tea is like a lifelong friend, offering me comfort and solace when things are sad, and merrily feature in all the nice celebrations too. Green tea is the slightly lofty but exotic cousin to black tea, providing a wonderful, refreshing drink. And Jasmine Pearls is the stately head of the family, slightly towering above all others.

So what are Jasmine Pearls?

Well, Jasmine Pearls are made from a delicate green tea. This tea is usually left very close, or indeed amongst jasmine flowers so they are, infused, for want of a better word, with the scent of the jasmine flowers. They are then hand rolled into tiny balls.

This is a very delicate tea to work with, and it's tea's like these that make the Sage tea maker worth it's weight in gold. The water used to brew Jasmine Pearls should not be any higher than 80c and the brewing period should be closely timed. Some producers say it's okay to brew for up to five minutes but I tend to leave mine for a lot less than that. I love the delicateness of a tea brewed for slightly less time.

Jasmine Pearls, naturally, have a lovely, fresh and invigorating floral scent. I have tried many different Jasmine Pearl's from different sources and the tea can even sometimes take on a honeysuckle scent which reminds me of my childhood garden, when the neighbours grew honeysuckle. There was nothing nicer then going to play, around dusk, in the garden so I could enjoy the rich aroma of the honeysuckle plant.

Being a green tea you can also enjoy the health benefits too, whilst at the same time, drinking something so fabulous.

Due to it's light colour and particularly fragrant elements, this tea is ideal to take with afternoon tea. It works especially well with sponge cakes, particularly those cakes lightly infused with lemon. It brings a element of sophistication to any afternoon tea and instantly lifts the occasion from being mundane to sublime.

I suppose the only downside to Jasmine Pearls is the price. It is expensive compared to black and green tea, which can be brought cheaply anywhere. For instance, a typical Jasmine Pearl will sell for between £2 to £3 for 10g's, £10 to £15 for 50g's and even in the supermarket, a box of 15 tea temples sell for just over £5, so, it's a luxurious tea. But is it worth it? It certainly is. Though this tea isn't affordable to use daily (though loose Jasmine Pearls can be infused more then once) it's nice to have some in for a treat on those special occasion's, whether it's to cheer yourself up when you're not quite yourself or to celebrate with. For instance, I always make sure I have Jasmine Pearls in for Christmas.

Though Jasmine Pearls will probably not be as widely drunk as black or green tea, those that I know are fans are almost evangelical about this tea, and will happily pay the slightly elevated price for the joy drinking this tea brings.

Kensington Tea Company  sell a wonderful Jasmine Pearls. Likewise, Talisman Tea's also sell a wonderful Jasmine Pearls which I reviewed last weekend. You can read it here.

If you'd like to try this tea, there is a blend available in the supermarkets. Jasmine Pearls  by Teapigs is available in most major supermarkets.

For a cup of tea that is really different Jasmine Pearl's is a great one to try. It's a brilliant tea for those who would like to drink green tea but cannot drink it pure and unflavoured. It's gentle, refreshing and just glorious.

I am a huge fan of Jasmine Pearls and can never see that changing. It has a loyal base of followers and I can understand why. I'm so glad that I was given the chance to try this wonderful tea. I've never looked back, and I'm positive that once you have tried it, you'll feel exactly the same!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Plymouth Tea: Drakes Blend

It's safe to say that Plymouth Tea's fabulous Armada blend was a huge hit in my house. I come from a family of well established tea drinkers and they like what they like. It's not easy to introduce new tea to my family. But, when I made my Mum a cup of the Armada Blend she was instantly impressed and has been occasionally hinting that she'd quite like a cup of the delicious tea!

This evening I thought I'd try another of Plymouth Tea's blends. This time it's Drakes Blend.

Plymouth Tea describe this blend as being strong, perfect for those of you who like your tea strong and meaty. And indeed it is!

Drakes Blend is a mix of Indian and African tea, both tea's are famous for their strength. I decided to first of all try this tea without milk. I was a little nervous as I'm only just getting back into drinking plain black tea (as opposed to something like Earl Grey) so wasn't too sure how I'd handle the tea, and indeed, how the strength of the tea would alter the taste.

When I took the first sip, I realised that this is REALLY strong, well it is for me!

This is a powerful, smooth, nicely blended tea. It really does pack a punch and is very strong and for me it takes a little bit of getting used to drinking it black. So if you like really strong tea then this is for you.

I loved the rich, almost slightly nutty taste of the tea. It leaves you feeling very refreshed, but the tea also has a slight bite to it too!

This is a traditional, strong tea of a very good quality.

Recently, I have been diagnosed with thinning bones and one of the pieces of advice I have been given is to reintroduce diary into my diet. I will still be drinking tea's such as Earl Grey, Lady Grey and Yunnan black as I love the flavour and the addition of milk tends to tamper the flavours, but what the re-addition of milk has done is allow me to enjoy tea's like Assam again, tea's that were a little too strong for me to take black.

So, when I had the second mug of Drakes Blend I added a drop of milk and a tiny bit of sugar, and oh my, what a wonderful cup of tea this tea makes.

The natural strength of the tea still comes through with the addition of milk and sugar - it does not take away from the tea at all. For me to have it slightly sweet and milky just makes this an adorable cup of tea. Perfect for breakfast time, as it lacks that malty element I do not like with breakfast blends, but still giving you a kick start.

Drakes Blend is perfect for those strong tea lovers. However, if you take your tea black and prefer a gentler tea, go for the Armada blend. 

But this is just wonderful with liberal dashes of milk and a tiny bit of sugar. It's also advised that this tea goes well with a slice of lemon. I haven't tried that yet, but will shortly, so I will report back to you.

Overall, I love this tea. And I'm sure you will to.

And I have to say, so far, I'm so impressed with Plymouth Tea. I cannot fault the quality of the tea, and what I did forget to say in my previous review is you get more then a generous amount of actual tea in the bag, it's almost bursting with tea. And that is certainly a huge positive.

I hope to see Plymouth Tea on the shelves of supermarkets one day. They really do the basic's very well. And I'm uber excited to see that they do Earl Grey - my personal favourite blend. I will be treating myself to a box shortly, I'm so excited to see what they do with that particular blend. And, I think I may even pop a box of green tea into the shopping trolley, too!

What I can't thank Plymouth Tea enough for is actually creating a blend of tea that is great to take with milk and sugar. There is something comforting about taking a tea in the traditional manner, and still having the strength remain.

I'm a huge fan of Plymouth Tea. And I wish them well for all they do in the future. And I will be watching with keen interest what they will create in the years to come!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Talisman Teas: Organic Jasmine Pearls

Everybody likes a little luxury in their lives every so often. Some like fine wines, others like to indulge in chocolate truffles. My luxury, of course, is tea. And the very apex of luxury in tea is Jasmine Pearls.

Jasmine Pearls is quite an expensive tea (though it's worth it's weight in gold) so it's a rare treat for me nowadays seeing that I am job hunting. When Andy from Talisman Teas kindly sent me some samples I was overjoyed at the presence of a little packet of their great taste award winning Organic Jasmine Pearls. 

It's been quite a manic week so I thought I'd earned some indulgence. Snipping open the packet of these glorious little pearls I deeply inhaled the fragrant aroma. Just beautiful.

The appearance of the tea is just perfect. It's shaped into tiny, perfectly formed balls. They are a rich green colour and I put two decent sized teaspoons into the basket.

One of the best things about owning a Sage tea maker is that the machine has easy to use general settings, but you can also customise the settings, making the perfect cup of tea. The brewing instructions said to brew to a temperature of 80c for 2 minutes so I set the machine and waited patiently.

This wonderful tea brewed to a pale amber colour which is always so pretty to look at. The aroma of the tea developed slowly and in the final twenty seconds of the infusion time, really developed into a light, sweet floral scent.

Oh, how I have missed Jasmine Pearls!

These Organic Jasmine Pearls are as smooth as silk to drink. It's gentle to the taste and feels as though you are drinking honey, it's so soothing and the perfect tea to unwind to at the end of a rather busy week.

The flavour of the tea is well balanced, with fruity, peachy tones. It leaves a ever so slight after taste which is both pleasant and refreshing.  This tea is extremely delicate and gentle to the taste and would make a perfect companion to a light cake such as Victoria sponge or lemon drizzle.

There is something emotionally soothing about this tea, it calms you and with each sip you can feel yourself relaxing and unwinding. It does not sit heavy like some tea's can do, particularly when the weather is warm and muggy as it is currently here in London.

The good thing about Jasmine Pearls is you can re-infuse the leaves too.

On the second infusion the tea retains most of it's flavour though it is a little weakened of course, but because Jasmine Pearls is a little more expensive I would recommend a second infusion as it's still lovely, fresh and flavoursome on it's second brewing.

Talisman Teas Organic Jasmine Pearls has won two Great Taste awards. One in 2013 and it's most recent award was this year in which it won a two star award. I can totally see why this tea has won two awards, it's simply delicious and well worthy of it's prize.

This is a wonderful, luxurious tea which is indulgent and essentially perfection in a cup.

This tea would make the ideal gift for a tea lover, especially those who like light tea's that have floral tones.

A huge thank you must go to Andy at Talisman Teas for sending this little packet of perfection.

I have yet to have a awful or terrible Jasmine Pearl tea, but the smoothness of this tea put's it into a slightly different league. And it's one tea that I am incredibly lucky to have been able to try.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Congratulations To TG Green Tea For Their Great Taste Award

I would like to take the opportunity to say a huge congratulations to TG Green Teas on the occasion of their wonderful green tea being granted a Great Taste Award!

TG Green Tea's are a brilliant company who I have had the honour of working with this year. They produce truly fabulous tea bags and iced green tea. All very flavoursome and healthy and bursting with flavour.

For me, the star of their show, is the wonderful Mandarin Iced Green Tea. The iced tea range have also won a Healthy Living award this year!

The story and belief behind TG Green Tea's is truly inspirational. You can read all about them here. 

From the contact I have had with Hua and Sophia I know how much hard work these two ladies put into the business and are truly dedicated to bringing you excellent green tea, and of course, mouthwatering iced green tea.

Congratulations to you both and I hope that you go from strength to strength!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Plymouth Tea: Armada Blend

I love being a tea blogger. Firstly, there isn't anything nicer then being able to write about something you love very much. Secondly, you get to try some great tea's and through that have contact with really nice, like minded people.

Plymouth Tea kindly approached me one afternoon asking if I'd like to try some tea to sample, which of course, I would never refuse. The email pinged into my inbox whilst I was away for a few days and made the getaway even more pleasant.

There is something really nice about a family run business and that is exactly what Plymouth Tea is. It's aim's are relatively simple but extremely effective - they want to provide tea drinkers with a luxury tea that is of a high quality, and, can be served at a afternoon tea or taken alone at home, whilst at the same time providing the best tea drinking experience that the tea lover can possibly have.

I am proud to support new, independent and family run tea businesses. It is vital to offer tea drinkers something other then the most well known brands that saturate every supermarket. And I'm proud to be able to review their Armada Blend.

For those from abroad who may not be familiar with British geography and history, Plymouth is a city on the South Coast of England. It has a strong naval heritage. Sir Francis Drake, for instance, who was second in command during the Spanish Armada, when Spanish and French ships tried to invade British waters, was said to have played bowls on Plymouth Hoe before the ships arrived. In September 1620 the Mayflower departed from Plymouth, taking the first pioneers to the new world, heading for New England.

On a personal level, my grandfather was in the Royal Navy and my own father spent part of his childhood in Plymouth, and I have visited several times.

So, this was a tea that touched my heart. But would it make the same impression on my taste buds?

I was kindly sent three tea's to sample. Not sure what to try first. I simply closed my eyes, reached into the box and pulled out the first one. That was the Armada blend! (My techniques when it comes to tea is sophisticated!)

The Armada Blend is a tea lover's delight, and for me, it's extra special as I'm making a very enthusiastic return to Assam tea. For a long time I found Assam tea very strong (I normally take my tea unsweetened and black - as you all know!) but as I get older my tastes change and after recently drinking a cup of Assam I really appreciated it strength and flavour.

Armada Blend is a medium strength tea. It's not as full on as Breakfast tea but is slightly stronger, and more robust then the typical afternoon tea. It's a good balance of the two.

The tea can be purchased loose but I was sent some samples in bagged form. I excitedly popped the kettle on this evening, eager to try.

I LOVED THIS TEA! And to write that in capitals means I really loved it!

As I said just earlier, my relationship with Assam tea has been up and down. I loved it in the old days when I had milk and sugar in my tea, then found it unpalatable when I took my tea black. But, after years of taking tea without milk, it seems my tastes have changed and I am now falling back in love with Assam.

What I love about this tea is that it does lack the strange malty type elements that you can get with some blends of Assam tea. It's very smooth, it has strength but not overpoweringly so, but does linger for a while in your mouth which is something I really love.

I found this a wonderful tea to relax with in front of the television. It has a lovely depth of flavour, strong enough to give you a feeling of oomph without being difficult to drink. I found after the first couple of sips that it was a tea that was both refreshing and comforting.

Regular readers will know how much I love Earl Grey - the best of the blends - but sometimes it's nice to get back to basics with tea, unflavoured and pure, and this is simply one of the nicest Assam tea's I think I've had.

It's just so evenly balanced and wonderfully blended that it's incredibly moreish. I found it warming. It's of a very high quality and lacks the bitterness some Assam's can  have. It's just a brilliant cup of tea. I cannot wait to try the other blends.

Last year I was advised by my doctor to look after my bones after being diagnosed with a condition that could affect them in the future, and I have been advised to add a bit of diary back into my diet. So, I have started to have a couple of cups a tea a day where I add milk. And if I add milk, I add a bit of sugar, too! A nice treat.

The second cup of tea I brewed I decided to try this with a dash of milk and a tiny bit of sugar. And it really was a wonderful treat. It is strong enough not to be diluted by the addition of milk and sugar and was very indulgent and just a bit naughty .. but, we all deserve a treat once or twice don't we?

Personally, I prefer to take this tea black, but, a couple of cups a day with milk added makes this tea change into a slightly different tea. So it's good to take anyway you like it. There is a suggestion to add lemon to this tea so I may just try that too this weekend. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life!

I simply cannot wait to try the other blends I've been sent. Reviews coming soon!

It's companies like Plymouth Tea that make me really excited. This is a really wonderful tea, and I sense, from the contact I've had so far, it's a wonderful company too.

Yesterday I saw a report on the news that tea drinking is taking a downturn. Well, I'm sure that wouldn't be the case if people could try Plymouth Tea.  

I must send out my thanks to the team for sending out these samples. I am very privileged to have been able to try this tea. And here's to the other two blends! 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Shibui Tea: Tropical Green ... And DIY Teabags!

A little white ago, John from Shibui Tea very kindly sent me some wonderful samples from their range of tea. I will apologise to John and everyone at Shibui Tea for the time it's taken to appear but it's been a rather hectic month. However, I'm back on the blogging track and today fancied green tea.

Within the packets of samples, came these brilliant DIY teabags, which are officially called Tea Filters. I decided it would be fun to give them a go, and opted for Green Tropical as I fancied something fruity today.

Firstly, I filled the tea filters with a good quantity of tea. I will admit I probably slightly overloaded the bag, but, can you ever really have too much tea? I don't think so!

After I filled the filter, I simply pulled the string and it sealed it rather like a little money pouch!

Then, I simply popped the filter into the hot water and let it infuse for a couple of minutes.

I really enjoyed using these filters, it made loose tea even easier to use, so if you don't want the hassle of using a infuser or haven't the time to have a pot of tea, then this is a nice, quick and easy way to have good quality loose tea with the convenience of it being in a bag. In fact they are so easy to use, why not make up a few pouches so if you are out and about, and perhaps heading to a cafe, all you need to ask for is a pot of hot water and you can have brilliant tea on the move! (Well, that's what I'd do anyway ....).

I really, really do love these filters. They are a fantastic invention!

The first tea I decided to make was Tropical Green. 

Tropical Green is a wonderful, richly flavoured green tea. I am going through an incredible tropical phase right now, which started when I had a recent sore throat and bad chest and decided I needed some Vitamin C so have been solely drinking Tetley's Boost range, which includes a tropical flavour.

Shibui's Tropical Green is available loose, with the option of purchasing in a caddy, and also in their pyramid range too, so you have an incredible choice as to how you purchase your tea. Personally, so smitten am I, I'd get it loose and get a box of their filters!

This is a perfect day to unwind with. I'm still feeling run down, not quite myself and trying to shake off a troublesome cough, so to be able to enjoy a nice cup of tea that soothes you, makes you feel relaxed and is tasty is a treat.

The flavour is very smooth and the strongest flavour for me is pineapple, which I just happen to love. It's nicely sweet and lacks any sort of sharpness or bitterness.

Following the pineapple there is a very sweet flavour that comes through which comes from the peach flavour. It's mouthwatering and just luscious. And incredibly moreish. And for afters, there is a quick, sharp, snappy after bite of ginger which just makes this tea perfect.

Tropical Green is a ideal blend of sweet and snappy. The green tea is a wonderful, strong base that compliments the added flavour. Overall, this tea has a richness to it, without sitting heavily on the stomach, and is ideal for making as a cold tea in the warm summer months.

I'm really impressed so far with Shibui Tea. Thankfully, I have several samples which I can't wait to sample.

As for Tropical Green, I think this is a ideal tea for those who are stepping into the green tea world. It can be quite daunting, quite hard to brew and can taste slightly strange for the new tasters. But, this is sweet and tasty enough to be a great tea introduction to the wonderful world of green tea!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Twinings: Apple, Cinnamon & Raisin Tea

I have to admit that when I think of tea, fruit tea isn't in the forefront of my mind. I do like fruit tea, but it tends to have to be of a very good quality (Bluebirds Strawberry Lemonade is my favourite, and one not to be missed!) and normally I just tend to avoid it as it usually lacks any type of oomph.

But, on a recent tea shopping trip in London I stumbled on a tea that I've wanted to try for ages and simply not been able to get my hands on. This tea was Twinings Apple, Cinnamon & Raisin Tea.

This is a tea that in the UK isn't readily available. It's actually part of Twinings International range and in the UK is only available in their shop on the Strand or online, though abroad it could be a bit more easily available.

This evening I decided to make a cup in a new mug. This mug was purchased during my recent visit to London's Her Majesty's Theatre to see Phantom Of The Opera. It's a magic mug, when hot water is added the Phantom's mask appears, when the tea cools or when the cup is empty his mask disappears!

Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin Tea is a wonderfully aromatic tea. It fills the air with a simple sweetness, and instantly reminds me of apple pie. For a weight watcher this is brilliant. It's like having a traditional, nanna baked dessert without any of the naughty points! The aroma swirls around the kitchen, it's simply delightfully scented.

Each individual flavour makes this tea special. It reminds me of building bricks, the flavours have a foundation, a middle layer and a top layer. And each flavour develops with each sip.

Firstly, you get the very strong flavour of the apple. It's extremely refreshing and though this could possibly be considered a autumnal tea, as my friend Julie just pointed out, it's equally brilliant for summer time. The apple is mouthwatering, very fragrant and I will happily admit that one thing Twinings do very well is apple based tea. It tastes very natural indeed.

The raisin is the second flavour that comes through for me. It's very rich and warming and it's as if there are acutal plump, tasty raisins in your cup. It's a very well balanced flavour that compliments the apple perfectly. The sweetness of the raisin balances out the slightly sharp apple flavour, making for a nicely satisfying tea.

And after the sweet flavours of the apple and raisin you get a slightly sharp aftertaste of cinnamon that packs a punch.

All the flavours happily compliment each other.

But the star of the show has to be the apple flavour and even after the cup of tea has long been demonished (and you're thinking of making a second!) the apple flavour remains, fruity and inviting.

This tea could be considered seasonal. It's perfect for those autumn nights, and I could just imagine handing cups of this around on Bonfire Night or Halloween. But, strangely, it's great for this time of year, too. It's light and refreshing and incredibly moreish. It's just delicious.

I will never be the worlds biggest fruit tea fan. I like my tea to be a bit more full bodied. But this tea is one of the exceptions. I can't say how lovely it is, how well the flavours are blended, and how comforting this tea is. I was really, really impressed and when I'm next on the Strand I will certainly be buying a box, or two, or maybe even six or seven!

Hello Everyone!

Hello Readers!

I have just noticed that it's been an awfully long time since I updated this page. And for that, I'm sorry.

Most of this summer has been taken up with medical issues which has meant I've been running to and from hospital. That, coupled with the extreme heat we've seen in London this summer, has meant energy levels were running low and it's meant there hasn't been much chance to blog.

But, thankfully, all tests are done with and life is returning to normal.

Of course, it hasn't all been hard work. A personal dream of mine came true - I finally got to see Phantom Of The Opera. My brother kindly brought me a ticket for my recent birthday.

And I have lots of tea to try!

So do come and check in, there will be reviews coming up soon!

Thanks for your patience!

Laura x.