Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Shibui Tea: White Peony

With one or two exceptions, I pretty much love all tea. I have my favourites, but I am incredibly lucky in as much as I see each tea individually and every tea, be it green, black or white has it's own qualities.

I like black tea because it's punchy, strong and can take pretty much any flavour, whether it be floral or fruity. Green tea is soothing and nice to relax to, and I love white tea because it's both delicate and, at the same time, somewhat earthy and tastes very natural.

But, white tea is hard to handle due to it's delicate nature. And I somewhat strayed from using it frequently until I got the tea maker which is excellent as it boils water to the perfect temperature and infuses for the perfect amount of time.

However, it's worth the effort, especially when you come across a fabulous white tea like Shibui's  wonderful White Peony.

White tea is produced from the buds and young leaves of the tea plant, and get's it's name from the silvery hairs that are found on the unopened bud, giving the plant a white hue. It only needs infusing for a couple of minutes at most as it tends to go bitter very quickly.

This afternoon, on my day off from work, I decided to try Shibui's White Peony. I have been drinking lots of green tea so thought it would make for a wonderful change.

As the tea infused I really enjoyed the lovely, earthy aroma that you get from this tea. It's tea in it's purest form and I was interested to see what it tasted like.

White Peony is a smooth and mellow tea and is a very fine example of  a white tea.

It is incredibly light and refreshing, whilst retaining a great deal of flavour, so you can enjoy a unflavoured tea but still come away with plenty of taste and flavour. What I really love is you take a sip of this tea and there is a almost vanilla like sweetness to it, and this only enhances the attractiveness of this tea.

White Peony comes in a silky pyramid which is made from a smooth but strong material meaning no tea leaks out of the bag, or it's attached tag rips off. It's lovely to the touch and is filled with a generous quantity of tea.

If you pop over to the white peony page on the company website you will see that the tea is available in a really attractive caddy and is available in pyramids of 15 or 60.  Honestly - I'd go for the 60 as this is a really enjoyable tea and I'm positive you'd love it.

This is ideal for those who are starting out taking their tea without milk as it's so gentle and fragrant and will help you get used to tea without milk in a easy and enjoyable way. It's incredibly refreshing too, especially on those warm days!

As I said earlier, this is a fine example of white tea and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to drink this tea!

If you've not tried white tea, why not get it a go. You won't be disappointed. If you fancy a little bit of luxury then look no further. I was extremely pleased to have gotten the chance to experience this wonderful tea.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Marks And Spencers: Empress Grey

It's no secret here on this blog that one of my favourite blends is Lady Grey, the feminine and fruity sister to Earl Grey.

Twinings developed Lady Grey fairly recently, in the 1990's I think, so it's certainly not as old as Earl Grey but is so established in their line that many think it's as old as the popular blend. However, recently money has been tight and, if I'm quite honest, the price of Lady Grey, which is now hitting around the £4 mark for 50 teabags, has been out of my range.

So, I've had to start hunting for tea's that may be similar but slightly  more affordable.

Occasionally I chat to a chap called Colin on Twitter about tea. And he gave me the heads up on Marks and Spencers Empress Grey blend. So, I thought I'd give it a try!

I popped down to my local branch of Marks and Spencers and was delighted to see the tea on offer. The tea is priced at £1.50 for 50 teabags. At the time of purchase it was on three boxes for two - a real bargain.

Firstly, I would say that Empress Grey does lack the richness that Lady Grey has. It's certainly more fruity and a lot stronger then the Twinings blend, but, aside from that, I really, really enjoyed the tea and is a good alternative to the popular Twinings blend.

Marks and Spencers Empress Grey is a thirst quenching, stress relieving drink. Last week I was working and came out of work really, really thirsty. My body craved this blend for some reason and when I got home drunk almost a whole pot in a sitting. It really relieved my thirst which is a good sign.

I love the lightness of this tea and it's citrus flavour, mainly lemon, comes through nice and strong. It really leaves your mouth feeling refreshed and clean, it serves as a very good palate cleanser! Even after you finish the cup of tea, you can taste it for some time and it's a flavoursome, full bodied taste.

The Chinese tea is light and tasty and the tea infuses to a wonderful honey colour.

It's flavours of bergamot, orange and lemon are blended well. I was reminded of a nice fruity punch type drink as none of the flavours outdid one another, they worked well, hand in hand and combined made for a really tasty cup of tea. In some blends you can get a lot of lemon flavour and can barely taste the orange. This works so well together and I was hugely impressed.

Upon tasting this tea you soon realise that it's totally addictive and on more than one occasion have been making two to three pots of this a day. It's brilliant on those sorts of days when you fancy something nice and fruity and refreshing.

As this is a black tea you don't have to be too particular how long you infuse it for, but I would advise no more than around four minutes. If you brew this for much longer it does tend to take on more of the lemon flavour and can start to resemble a lemsip, so for a evenly balanced, nicely tasty brew, I would suggest brewing for around four minutes.

Last year I was really impressed by Marks and Spencer's Christmas tea, Mulled Fruit Tea but to my shame I've not really investigated any more of their tea's, it's just not a shop I'd think of to head to the tea aisle but I will certainly now have a look to see what they have in. I'd quite like (naturally for me) to taste their Earl Grey and a couple of their fruity tea's.  And I'm interested to see what they produce this Christmas!

I have heard good things about Empress Grey on the internet after doing some research and I can say it makes for a great cup of tea. I'm not sure if it will ever replace Lady Grey in my affections but it's still lovely, and most importantly for the moment, affordable.

So if you do pop into M&S to do your Christmas shopping do give this tea a try. I'm pretty sure you will like it and, actually, it doesn't stain your teacups, so overall it's a brilliant tea!

Piacha Tea: Earl Grey Vanilla

There has been a distinct lack of posts lately, for which I apologise! However, I've just started a new job and, apart from the terrible nerves I suffered from, the shifts have been long, with me on my feet all day, and I've just been slightly tired at the end of the day. However, I'm hoping that things will shortly settle down and normal blogging can resume.

When my feet are aching and I still have some time left on my shift my mind wonders to two things, tea and music. My mouth can literally be watering at the prospect of a tasty mug of a favourite blend and the bus trip home can't go by quickly enough!

Today is my day off so I have decided to try a new tea that was kindly sent to me but the lovely Francesca from Piacha Tea. 

The tea of choice is Earl Grey Vanilla, a tea that has been sat on a shelf staring down at me, tempting me for quite some time. But when I try a new tea, I like to really try it, not guzzle it down. One of life's pleasures is to sit and sip, taking in every part of the tea's flavour so have reserved this fine blend for my day off.

And what a fine blend it is. Just to look at the tea is wonderful, it has a lovely dark colour to it, and it is lovely to the touch.

The aroma of this tea is magical. When I cut the packet open the first thing I noticed was the lovely and oh so familiar scent of fruity bergamot. A very welcome aroma for a woman who has Earl Grey pumping through her veins! But in addition there is the ever so slight, sweet smell of vanilla which adds a gentleness to the very powerful aroma of bergamot. The vanilla is so delicate but you can instantly detect it amongst the other scents.

Earl Grey Vanilla is the sort of tea that you only need a little of to make a decent cup. I use the Sage tea maker daily and I have experimented with this tea, and know that a little goes a very long way indeed. If you use too much and the tea is strong it can be overpowering, as any Earl Grey can be, so a little restraint is used when loading up the infuser basket!

This tea brews to a gorgeous copper colour. It really is an attractive tea in every sense and as a fanatic of Earl Grey I could not wait to try this tea.

Now, I have tried tea's that contain vanilla with varying degrees of success. Some of them have been wonderful, others have been sickly and too overpowering, but this is the first time that I've tried vanilla tea in the context of Earl Grey so it was an exciting prospect to try this tea.

This tea is delightful. And it truly is the best of both worlds. First of all there is absolutely no doubt at all that this tea is a Earl Grey. You have the familiar fruity flavour that you always get with a good Earl Grey. It's rich and refreshing and on a chilly day like today warms you up from the inside.

The addition of vanilla though, is clever. You can certainly taste the vanilla but it is not rich, sickly or overly sweet. It is a perfect addition to the tea and it compliments the traditional elements of Earl Grey. Somehow, and I do not know how Piacha do it, but they manage to add enough vanilla to allow you to taste it, but it doesn't overpower the other flavours, nor is it too sweet, either.

Earl Grey Vanilla is so well blended it is ideal for those who like their tea to be different, but I also believe that those lovers of Earl Grey will find this a charming and satisfying blend too. It's a different spin on Earl Grey but at the same time retains the familiar qualities that we all love.

It's also a very indulgent blend that makes you feel like you having a luxurious treat and that can't be bad after a long day at work can it? It's smooth, mellow and just wonderful. This is the second tea I've tried from Piacha and I'm as impressed with this tea as I was with their gorgeous Apple Green Tea.

This tea would be ideal to serve at afternoon tea with some lovely creamy cakes, or as a after dinner drink. At the same time though, it's great to enjoy any time of day. But I would advise you to enjoy this blend when you have the time to truly experience all of it's lovely flavours. To drink this quickly as you run off to work, school or whilst you are busy would do this tea a huge injustice. This tea deserves to be enjoyed at leisure!

I was so impressed, and it's hard to impress me when it comes to Earl Grey.

Well done to Piacha tea, you've created a fantastic blend and one that I certainly will not forget in a hurry!

Friday, 11 September 2015

Piacha: Apple Green Tea ... (with a soothing hint of cinnamon!)

For those of us in the UK it is pretty evident that autumn is here. We have chilly mornings and evenings, dew on the grass and frost on the car windows. After a balmy summer of high temperatures, cool breezes and heavy downpours, we are now entering into my favourite season of them all.

I love autumn because I can't quite deal with the high temperatures. I love the fresh crispness of the air, the low autumnal sun and the fact that we now see a huge collection of autumn (and in a few months, Christmas!) tea's in the shops and online. Sadly though, the most common autumn tea, Pumpkin Spice, isn't a real hit for me. There is something about it that I just don't like.  But, now, thanks to Piacha I have just tried a wonderful, warming tea that I think is perfect for the season. 

In my humble opinion, their Apple Green Tea is THE thing to drink this autumn. 

But, first a little bit about Piacha. 

I was contacted by a lovely lady called Francesca who kindly sent me some samples and a little bit of history on the company. Piacha is based in Islington, London. You can buy their tea and drink it in their cafe, order it to take away or, if you want to drink it at home, you can buy it in loose form and prepare it at home. Or, if you're reading this from a little further away you can buy the tea online, too!

Not only do Piacha use tea in drinks. They also add it to their food too! You can buy Lapsang infused ham sandwiches and muesli with added Rooibos! It certainly seems that this is a company that truly does love it's tea.

And it's proving a hit with customers too - in just eight months they are featured highly on Tripadvisor. They are number 6 out of 619 best coffee and tea places in London - a huge and impressive achievement.

I will be visiting Piacha in the near future (as soon as I find a job!) and will, naturally, put a review up as soon as I can! I'm excited and cannot wait to visit the shop and meet the team.

Anyway, back to the tea. I have kindly been sent a great selection of tea, but, as a apple tea lover I picked their Apple Green Tea to review first. 

I love apple flavoured tea. Whether it be added to black tea, as a fruit infusion or, as with the case of today's tea, added to green tea. But, it's a very hard tea to get right. A lot of the cheaper blends of tea add a flavouring to the tea and it can sometimes be very oily and uneasy to drink. This tea, however, is fantastically natural, thirst quenching, tasty and incredibly moreish.

This morning I was at a job interview and nerves took over. Unable to eat or drink anything, by the time I got home I was desperate for a drink and because of it's marvelous qualities this was the tea I decided to choose. I filled the tea maker tea basket with an ample amount of tea. As you can see it's a gorgeous looking tea. The tea is lovely and green, the pieces of apple bring a lovely contrasting colour and you can even see bits of cinnamon in there, too!

Naturally, with this being a green tea, I was careful to set the right temperature and infusion time and sat back and enjoyed the lovely apple scent as the tea infused. It just smells very fresh and it truly is a mouthwatering tea.

And now we get to why this tea is just so perfect for this time of year. It is incredibly warming and inviting and works well in the morning with a bowl of cereal, or, in the afternoon with a huge wedge of your favourite cake. It's a versatile tea and I'd be proud to serve this up to my friends for afternoon tea.

There is also something very comforting about it too. With it's juicy, sweet apple pieces and pieces of slightly spicy cinnamon it's very reminiscent of your nan's home made apple pie! The apple flavour is very sweet indeed (which is perfect for me as I'm on WeightWatchers as you all know and it really does the trick when you need that hit of something sweet - a very healthy treat!) and it's balanced out by the wonderful, spicy cinnamon.

This is the tea of choice for the first cup of the morning as it just warms your up from inside, leaving you feeling brilliant, comforted and warm. Just the other day it was pouring down with rain here, very dark and gloomy and I was curled on the sofa with a cup of this amazing tea just watching the world go by.

The base tea - which is a Chinese green tea - is absolutely lovely. It's green colour is bright and vivid and you get just a hint of slightly herbal flavour from the tea. It feels lovely to the touch and is a good, solid, strong base that takes the apple and cinnamon really well.

This isn't just a tea, it's an experience. They say that we all need ten minutes of the day where we can just sit and relax and this is the perfect partnership for your relaxing moments.

I was really impressed with this tea. It's amazing how soothing this tea is. And never more, after a nerve wracking interview, have I needed a cup of tea more! Within a few minutes of drinking this tea my tension headache had gone and I started to feel like myself again.

I have some great other tea's from Piacha that I cannot wait to try and review! Earl Grey Vanilla is one, Rhubarb Rooibos another. I simply cannot wait to see what other delights are currently sat in my cupboard!

If you are in Islington you can find Piacha at 280 Upper Street. Do check them out - I know I can't wait to! In the meantime, I'll be posting more reviews over the next few days.

But as far as the Apple Green Tea goes, I'm off to enjoy my third cup of the day!