Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Bluebird Tea Company: Jelly + Ice Cream

Recently my brother and his lovely girlfriend went to Brighton for the day. In a previous trip they had treated me to some Strawberry Lemonade tea from Bluebird Tea Co. 

To my surprise, when getting back from work saw this little parcel waiting for me. I was really impressed, not only had they remembered there was a tea shop in Brighton, but they had took the time to go in and pick a tea  I'd like, though I think this was probably down to Michelle who is very sweet like that!

Anyway, I'm always grateful for tea samples, donations and surprise gifts. They genuinely make my day. I don't want much in life, I'm happy with tea and records! The excitement at getting a new tea to try can really make my day.

I love Bluebird Tea. They are modern, funky and bring an element of fun to the tea drinking world, but much to my shame I haven't actually explored them like I know I should do.  But I have tried three of their tea's, Lemon Sherbet, Strawberry Lemonade and now, Jelly + Ice Cream and I've liked them all.

I will say from the outset that Jelly + Ice Cream is a rooibos tea. Regular readers know I am not a fan of this tea, it's far too sweet and has a weird sachrine taste, but, much to the skill of the mixologists at Bluebird, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this fun, summer treat of a tea.

Whoever thought up this tea is a genius. Pure and utter genius. It's bursting to the brim with exotic flavours which somehow come together to really resemble the popular childhood party dessert of bright red jelly and a huge dollop of vanilla ice cream. I can only applaud the person who dream this up!

This tea contains rooibos as I've stated. But along side that the list of ingredients is extensive and full of summer. They are: Rooibos, desiccated coconut, freeze-dried strawberries, hibiscus, apple pieces, elderberries, rosehip, vanilla pieces, red cornflowers, pineapple pieces (pineapple, sugar), flavour

The tea is just so pretty to look at as well! As you can see it's a bright, vivid scarlet red colour with the addition of flecks of white coconut pieces. This is a scrummy tea all round!

I filled up a single disposable tea bag with a more than generous amount of the tea and popped it into a glass. As it's a rooibos/fruit tea the infusion time doesn't matter. Quite the opposite to black and green tea, this tea doesn't spoil if over infused, so the longer the better. I lasted four minutes before the smell got to me and had to take my first sip.

I was quite surprised that this didn't brew to a bright red colour but it's pretty enough!

The flavour is to die for. You may ask though, does it actually taste of jelly and ice cream. I can only say a positive and certain YES!

How they achieve this I do not know but the first flavour to come through is the strong, sweet but at the same time slightly tart flavour of the strawberries, followed by a familiar, smooth taste of coconut. The coconut is the stronger of the two flavours but they work together hand in hand to produce a brilliant, strawberry jelly flavour.

Next to come along is the sweet taste of pineapple which I really liked. I didn't detect the apple flavouring or the elderberries, but maybe it's because pineapple, strawberry and coconut are the stronger of the three flavours. Or, at least, the more familiar to me.

But, what really impressed the most about this tea is that, in addition to the really wonderfully balanced fruity flavours that create the jelly aspect of the tea, there is, at the end of the sip, a smooth, and it is smooth, vanilla flavour. The ice cream to the jelly.

I have tried many weird and wonderful tea's, created to be different and to stand out from the normal fruity infusions. But I can honestly say that I've yet to find something so fun, that actually does taste like it's name would suggest, and which instantly cheers you up.

Bluebird Tea have created a fab, fun tea for summer and I can only say a huge well done for not only inventing a fun tea that will bring back many memories of childhood fun but also one that is tasty, refreshing, is bursting with flavour and full of fun.

And never would I of thought I would of enjoyed a rooibos tea quite so much!

Congratulations Bluebird for creating the tea of summer 2016!

Northern Tea Merchants: Ceylon Green Jasmine

I have discussed tea with many tea drinkers. When asked what their luxury tea is, or indeed simply what their favourite type of tea is, the answer is Darjeeling. And indeed, the champagne of tea's is wonderful. But if I were to be asked, my ideal, luxury, treat of a tea has to be Jasmine tea.

And quite often, it is a treat, as it's one of the most expensive tea's going, not something that could be used as a daily, twelve cup a day, (which isn't unusual for me) type of tea. Like caviar and saffron, it's something to be enjoyed, savoured. It is luxury.

Jasmine tea is the type of tea where it pays to buy the most expensive you can. Yes, jasmine flavoured tea is available in supermarkets, often quite cheaply, but it's synthetic, reminds me of plastic and is horribly bitter.

Mostly, when purchasing jasmine tea, I rely on jasmine pearls. Where the tea is curled tightly into small pellet sized balls, just like gunpowder green tea. I have had some wonderful cups of this delightful tea.

So, today, I am reviewing a wonderful tea from Northern Tea Merchants (my oldest friend in the tea world) that James kindly sent to me. This glorious tea is their Ceylon Green Jasmine Tea. 

If you don't know much about jasmine tea here is a little run down. Jasmine tea is a green tea (though I have seen black tea flavoured with jasmine which isn't quite the same thing!)  which during processing is stored close (normally next to or under) jasmine so that the tea absorbs the scent of the flowers. Often, some flowers are added to the tea to make it more visually appealing.

This morning I decided to make a pot of this wonderful tea, as it's light lovely fragrance is perfect for a summer's morning. And, often, during the summer months I like the lightness of green tea rather than black tea which can be a bit heavy during hot weather.

As you can see in the photograph below, the tea is attractive and pretty to look at. It consists of tightly rolled balls which are a lush green colour. The pretty yellow jasmine adds a dash of summery colour.

The one thing I will say about this - and any green and indeed jasmine tea - is be careful in the preparation. Precision, precision, precision is what is needed to make a tasty and satisfying brew. Green tea, as most readers know, is a tea that is not always so easy to make. If you infuse it for too long or in boiling water, it goes bitter. And the same with jasmine, too. So, today, I wanted to be absolutely sure I got the best from this cup of tea so set my tea maker on a three minute green tea setting, safe in the knowledge that nothing  could go wrong.

When fully infused the tea infuses to a sparkling, and I must say, a very healthy looking light green colour. Tasty, mouthwatering, and hopefully refreshing on this steaming hot summers day.

Personally, I thought that three minutes was pushing the tea to it's maximum, though I am aware that Northern Tea recommend that the tea be infused to three to five minutes. But like anything in life it's down to personal taste and I feel three is about the limit that it can be infused for my own tastes.

The taste of jasmine tea varies between brands. Some of them are sickly sweet, some horribly astringent, the cheaper varieties use added flavouring rather that jasmine itself which can have a strange plastic like taste. 

Ceylon Green Jasmine tea has a natural, flower like flavour which has body and depth. This is not a jasmine tea which has 'just a hint' of fragrance in, this is a full on taste to it, which stays with you for some time after you have finished your cup of tea. It's so fragrant actually, that the kitchen retained the jasmine flavour also, long after the tea had been taken.

There is a ever so slight astringent taste to this tea, so it's not on the sweeter side of the jasmine scale. There is slight bitter twang which keeps you on your toes and I have to admit, much like the recently reviewed Royal Palace Tea, I really like. It can be felt just after you've taken your sip of tea and it compliments the pretty floral tone. It keeps the tea interesting.

I was not disappointed in this tea. In fact, I'd say it's one of the nicer jasmine tea's I've tried because the floral and astringent tones keep the taste interesting. It's a well balanced mixture of both and it's not only tasty but refreshing, too.

The green tea itself is tasty and is up there easily with some of the best I've tasted.

This tea is an attractive tea in all of it's aspects. Its' gorgeous to look at and the feel of the tea, when rolled inbetween your fingers is awesome. The aroma of jasmine is light, a gorgeous addition and the flavour is rich, multi-layered and more than pleasant. It's a extremely rewarding tea.

Ceylon Green Jasmine would perfectly compliment a light, fruity type of cake such as lemon drizzle or even a Key Lime Pie. It's utterly scrummy and is ideal for afternoon tea.

And the best thing is that Northern Tea provides you with a little bit of luxury jasmine tea at a price that is affordable, too, which, for the consumer, is the perfect match.

So, if you need a lovely tea to while away the summer hours than you have a perfect tea to do so.