Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Oteas: Christmas Cookie Green Tea

As you are probably more than aware, I'm a huge fan of Christmas and Christmas tea's in particular. There are quite a few good ones on the market at the moment, but I can't resist trying new tea's and the amount I've spent this year is very naughty indeed. But what a joy all the tasting has been.

I recently became aware of a new (to me anyway) tea company called Oteas. And they have a delightful selection of Christmas tea's that cover each taste. They have a black tea, rooibos tea and a green tea. I've brought them all so will be reviewing them all over the next week.

Today though I've opted to review their green Christmas tea. It's a delightful little gem called Christmas Cookie Green Tea. 

This tea comes in a single, silky tea pyramid.

I think I opted to try their green tea first because I've been drinking a lot of Christmas tea (it's a hard life!) recently and most are black tea that need a bit of milk and sugar so I appreciated a lighter drink that could be taken on it's own without adding anything extra.

There are only a few ingredients in this tea. We have cinnamon, cloves, almond and pink pepper. An interesting, sweet mix.

As this was a green tea I was particular as to how I infused this tea so boiled the water to 80 and infused this for two minutes. It infuses to a light green, attractive colour and has a gorgeous sweet aroma.

My first impression of this gorgeous (and it is gorgeous) tea is that it's so smooth and easy to drink. With the addition of cloves and cinnamon I was preparing for a bit of a pow moment when I took my first sip, however, in fact it's a sweet, gently spiced tea and I'm really impressed.

I know I've been going on about the blending of Christmas tea's for month's now, but this is a very good example of how a decent blend can make the difference in a spiced tea. Good blending makes for a delicious, poor blending makes for a awful one. This, I'm happy to say, is certainly in the former category.

From the first sip the most prominent flavour is the sweet almond. It brings that rich, desert element to the tea without it being overpowering, unlike the addition of vanilla which some Christmas tea's have this year. This is sweet and rich without it being sickly so.

The cinnamon and cloves are there too, but the amount is so little that you can taste their presence but it doesn't overpower anything. Obviously you can't add milk to green tea anyway, so it's nice a little bit of limitation has been used so this tea remains pleasant and refreshing.

However, it's the addition of the pink pepper which I really like and which makes this tea different and exciting. It gives a generous kick at the end of each sip. And it makes your mouth dance and fizz and truly comes alive with the vibrant flavour.

Christmas Cookie tea is really a journey in each sip. Initially you get that sweet kick from the almond, then you get the familiar warmth from the cinnamon and then a kick from the pink pepper! It's really awesome and I find this tea quite charming.

The green tea is mellow, smooth with a slightly nutty element which I find totally enjoyable. It rolls nicely across the tongue and adds a bit of depth to the tea.

I found this a light, refreshing alternative to the normal black spiced tea's that are gorgeous but can sit a bit too heavy if too much is taken in a short period. This would be great on Christmas and Boxing Day when you've over indulged a bit and fancy something a wee bit lighter.

Additionally, this is also very refreshing and a great palate cleanser, too!

I am very impressed and cannot wait to try the other two Christmas tea's I've purchased from Otea's.

And do you know what makes this tea even better? Each single silky pyramid tea bag - that is crammed full of tea - was only 49p each! But, when I sat down to review this today checked in on Otea's site and their Christmas tea's are now on sale for 39p. There really isn't anything as nice as a bargain at this time of year!

teatourist: An Exciting Way To Explore Tea

I've not been around much recently. I've had teeth issues. Sore gums and huge anxiety about visiting the dentist doesn't make for a good Laura.

Last week though, I had something utterly fabulous pop through the letter box, and when I was sat, slightly panic stricken in the dentist's chair, this little gem was all I could focus on.

This is a brilliant way to experience high quality, artisan, loose leaf tea. And as a dedicated tea drinker, I find this concept very exciting!

teatourist are a newly established tea subscription service that sources the finest quality loose tea from many different suppliers in the UK, and hand selects six new tea's a month for you to try. Not only can you start an incredible tea journey but it's made all the more convenient for you as it's posted out in boxes that are designed to fit through your letter box, so no more annoying trips to the local sorting office to pick up your parcel!

The first thing I find appealing about the teatourist concept is that each month six different tea's are carefully hand selected for you to try. teatourist work with over 100 tea suppliers to offer a wide selection of tea each month. So, in my box I had a lovely selection of functional tea's, herbal tea's and black tea. (Each tea will be reviewed on a individual basis in the near future so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming reviews).

This idea is very convenient. How many times have you brought a quantity of loose tea or a large box of bagged tea, tried one cup and decided you didn't like it, therefore creating not only waste but also a loss from your wallet! In each pouch of tea you get enough tea for several cups. This is interesting because sometimes you like a tea straight away, sometimes it takes a couple of cups for you to make your mind up, sometimes you don't like it on first tasting and nothing can change your mind. This is an affordable way of experimenting with different flavours, blends and different types of tea.

To make things simple, each tea comes in identical packaging. As you can see below with each tea you get lots of excellent information. Each card contains information about the type of tea contained, allergen information and a use by date. In addition, it contains clear and precise information about the company that sells that particular tea. Now, teatourist doesn't sell tea, so if you try some tea and love it, then you can go straight to the suppliers website to order more. So don't forget to retain the card for each tea so you know where to buy your refills from!

On the other side of the card there is clear instructions on how to prepare and infuse the tea. You are told how much you need, what temperature to boil the water to and how long to infuse. There is also space for you to write your own tasting notes, too! (This is especially handy for a tea blogger!) I think that's a really charming addition to the package.

 For a tea addict, this is just the ideal way of trying new tea's. It's fantastic and I'm genuinely excited that there is a simple way of trying all that the tea world has to offer.

teatourist was created by a lovely guy called Joss. What is very evident through my communication with him is not only is he as in love with tea as I am, but he understands the difficulties that both tea drinkers and tea companies have.

For the consumer, tea drinking isn't the cheapest habit to have. Some tea's are expensive and I myself have paid out for a lot of tea that seemed appealing to me, but in fact, once tried, was not my, cup of tea, so to speak. The amount of money I've wasted over the years would probably of brought me a decent holiday. Or a slightly better quality record player. And there really isn't anything more frustrating then having a huge packet of tea, or a huge box of tea that you don't like, and having to either throw it away or find someone who will give it a good home.

For the producer of tea, the market is literally crowded with tea. Yet, if you go to the local supermarket, you simply see the same brands over and over again. For the independent seller, the artisan tea company or the newly formed tea company it's almost impossible to get your product out there amid the plethora of Twinings, Tetley, Yorkshire Tea and PG Tips. If you think about it, how much great tea are you, as a consumer, missing out on simply because you haven't yet discovered that little tea company that's sitting on a gem of a tea?

So, how does it work? Well, here's the practical bit!

A teatourist subscription costs £14.95 per month. With each box you get six hand picked tea's. Along with this you get tasting cards as described above. Each parcel is packed in letter box friendly sized boxes, so as I said before, if you're not in the tea will still reach you safely. The postage for the box is free and each box is sent out around the 20th of each month.What is very clever is the subscription is done on a month to month basis so you can pause anytime you like and just pick up where you left off when you're ready to.

And,  if you decide you'd like to join the subscription please use the discount code 'LAURA30'.

I would like to note that that this service is only currently available in the UK.

I fully support teatourist on so many levels. As a passionate tea lover I feel that those small tea companies that we may miss need as much exposure as possible. I'm equally passionate about helping new starters launch their brand, (and I've worked with several through this blog) so they can make a real impact into the tea market. teatourist share these principles and that appeals to me.

As a drinker of tea, I feel we need more choice and a better quality of tea. But we also need this to be affordable too, as times are hard right now.

With teatourist both the tea company and the tea drinker win. So why not pop over to their website and explore this exciting concept.

teatourist give tea the respect it deserves. And I wish them nothing but luck (and support) as they make their mark in our tea world.

And I will end this blog by simply saying there is nothing more exciting then having a extensive box of different tea's pop through your letterbox. Take it from me, it really is that good!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Ahmad Tea: Earl Grey Tea

Last Sunday was one of the loveliest day's I've had all year. My best friend, Kirsty, came down to London to see me. We have been friends for over twenty years, but due to her living in Cheshire and I in London we only see each other a few times a year.

In recent years it's become somewhat of a tradition that I take the last week of November off work as holiday and on the Sunday Kirsty comes down to see me. We meet at the train station, have a cup of tea, walk down to Pizza Hut, where we eat, drink and are certainly merry!

On the way back to the station we always stop off at a fantastic gift shop. This little shop stocks loads of tea, especially tea by Ahmad Tea which is a company I've tried many years ago and have always admired. 

As readers know I can't resist buying something when so much gorgeous tea is laid out in front of me. However, after having a clear out of tea recently, knew  I didn't have much room for all the gorgeous tea filled caddies on sale. I was just about to not buy anything when my tea radar spotted this teeny, tiny little gem!

This mini-caddy, which stands barely two inches tall is filled to the brim with lovely Earl Grey tea. It features the famous London Routemaster bus. And the cost of this tiny find? Just £1.99.

Initially, I wasn't sure who made this tea and was naturally a bit dubious as to the quality inside, however the cuteness of the caddy is something I couldn't resist. So, I was very pleased indeed to see this came from Ahmad Tea.

Upon opening the caddy this tea smelt gorgeous. Nice and citrusy - that all too familiar flavour that you get with Earl Grey. And the tea is beautiful to look at. Lovely and dark in flavour, with small leaves. And surprisingly, you get a LOT of tea in such a tiny caddy.

You can see in the picture above, the generous amount of tea you get. I had already made two cups of tea from this when I took the photograph. Each cup had two generous, heaped teaspoons of tea, and as you can see it's barely touched the surface.

The ingredients in this tea are simple. Ceylon black tea and bergamot. It's pretty simple.

Simple the ingredients may be, the flavour though, is full bodied and simply gorgeous. I'd even go as far as to say that this is one of the finest and tastiest Earl Grey tea's I've tried.

The use of Ceylon tea is marvelous. And the Ceylon tea used in this blend is smooth, delicate, yet at the same time, has a very slight smokiness to it which makes it interesting and gives this tea a gentle afterbite. A nice kick that you don't tend to get with Earl Grey. It truly is a very, very good tea.

The bergamot flavour, which gives Earl Grey it's very famous citrus flavour is just perfect. It's natural and fruity, rather than being oily and synthetic as some bergamot based tea's can be. It's certainly flavoursome but not overpowering.It works hand in hand with the tea, so both flavours are very present but nor does one cancel the other out.

If you are looking for a Earl Grey that is nicely flavoured but isn't too strong then Ahmad Tea may of just produced the Earl Grey for you.

There is a nice smoothness to this tea, that element making it easy to drink. There is no bitterness or strange aftertaste with this tea either. It's just gorgeous.This would make a perfect tea for a afternoon tea. I am guilty of taking this tea from my Christmas mug, when in reality this is one tea that should be served in a pot, with fine bone china and tiny little cakes in a afternoon tea. This is ideal for serving to friends.

Aside from this lovely teeny caddy, Earl Grey is, of course, sold in more tradtitional forms, too. You can get it loose, bagged, in boxes, in caddies, decaffeinated even. So do check out their Earl Grey page.

And they even sell it in a beautiful musical caddy. Isn't this just about the prettiest caddy ever. And it play's a tune. Just so very pretty and I am seriously lusting after it! Now, that really would make my Christmas!