Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Twist Teas: Mint Humbug

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to a wonderfully delicious tea. A tea that has made a superb first impression. This tea is the second tea from Twist Teas fun and flavoursome Puds Without Sin Collection. 

It's a tea I REALLY like. The tea in question in the mouthwatering Mint Humbug.

Last month I reviewed the wonderful Banana Shake from Twist. That particular blend has gone down a real treat and I even (kindly, in my opinion) gave my rooibos loving nephew a couple of bags to take home and try. 

I was immediately struck by Banana Shake as, I will admit, I have a slight obsession with banana flavoured tea. Why and where it started I cannot tell you but it lingers there, in the back of my mind. Yet, banana tea is not one anyone would come across on a regular basis so I was delighted when I received some through the post from Twist. I've been drinking it non stop and after a rather unfortunate bout of stomach flu last week all I did was crave this imaginative tea.

So could the banana shake be bettered? Well I thought not. But today I cracked open the Mint Humbug box, not expecting to love it as much as the banana shake. And yet, here I am, sat snuggled in bed, loving every sip of this wonderful tea.

Before I start the review I'd just like to fill you in on the Puds Without Sin Collection, just in case you don't know. Essentially Twist Tea's have created a complete collection of pudding flavoured tea's. The collection has been designed to provide that wonderful hit that you get from a good pudding without all the naughty - and rather inconvenient bits - such as calories, fat and sugar. It honestly is a pure win win situation. The best of both worlds. Indulgence and comfort that you can get only from tea, without any of the guilt you may feel as you tuck into your favourite pudding.

With the exception of the mint choc chip tea, which contains black tea, all the lines in the range are either rooibos or herbal based so it's caffeine free to boot!

It's fair to say that Twist Tea have also managed to achieve the one thing I thought was impossible - they have got me absolutely loving rooibos. I will say that I probably couldn't drink a cup of it unflavoured, however, Twist Tea have created such fabulous flavours that I'm now enjoying several caffeine free cups of tea a day which I really am very pleased about.

So ... onto Mint Humbug!

This blend of tea comes in a generously filled silky pyramid tea bag. I love the colour of the rooibos, I find it visually attractive and certainly appealing. One of the best hints I can give you about this tea is do stick to the recommended infusion time of 4-5 minutes. I often leave mine for up to six minutes so the tea reveals even more of it's gorgeous flavour. This is a tea that is best left infusing for more rather than less time if you want to experience the flavour at it's fullest.

 This blend, just like the banana shake, infused to a dark, copper red colour. It's just another way this tea is really interesting. It's just fabulous to look at and warming and inviting for this time of year.

Firstly, the mint flavour, which comes from a blend of peppermint and spearmint, is warming and refreshing and makes your mouth dance. It's spicy and yet at the same time, light and does not sit heavily on the stomach like pure peppermint can do, for me, anyway. I personally think the blend of peppermint and spearmint is ingenious as sometimes peppermint can be a bit harsh so the spearmint softens that hardness somewhat, making a brilliant level of flavour which evolves with each sip and which stays in your mouth for some time after the tea is finished.

Interweaving through all the lovely minty-ness is a sleek, smooth wave of toffee flavour that blends perfectly with the mint. It's rich, tasty and moreish. It makes you greedy for this tea, so it's good that this tea is without sin. When you take your first sip  you want more and more and that then progresses to wanting another cup and before you know it the kettle is once again boiling. In addition to the gorgeous flavour you also have the natural sweetness from the rooibos itself that adds just another decadent layer to this fun blend.

My honest feeling about this tea is that one cup is never - and will never - be enough. It is almost like a visit to see the bestie which you never want to be over. You do not want this cup of tea to end. And there is a pang of disappointment when it does.

If you had asked me about the Puds Without Sin Collection yesterday, I would of said nothing could match up to banana shake. I was totally wrong on that assumption.

I can't say which of the two I prefer. It may even be level pegging. I love the Banana Shake because it's funky and fun, I love the Mint Humbug because it's classic and effortlessly chic. There most certainly is something very special about these two blends, something that draws me to them whenever I open the tea cupboard and something that immediately distracts me from making other tea choices.

Quite often tea blends such as these are good at the idea level but never seem to hit the spot. These blends, however, really do. They are a joy to drink and are ideal autumnal blends.

I will end this review simply by saying that I love the Puds Without Sin Collection. And if it's still in production this time next year, could we  have a Christmas edition, Twist Teas? Pretty, pretty please. Maybe a Christmas cake or mince pie? Please .....

Friday, 29 September 2017

Hotel Chocolat: Teaolat Cacao Breakfast Tea

This evening I am wrapped up in bed drinking one of the most luxurious tea's I've ever been fortunate to taste. It is not only extremely tasty and one hell of a treat - it's also stylish and elegant. The Jackie O of the tea world.

This gorgeous blend is from Hotel Chocolat and is a blend called Cacao Breakfast Tea.

I will admit that this is a costly tea. On researching this for the blog I noted it was £5 for ten tea bags. This is luxury and the rest of the box, I have decided, will be held back for Christmas.The tea was given to me by my dear friend, Christine, who had purchased it whilst on holiday earlier in the month. Without her I would not of been able to try this tea and I can only thank you, Chris!

When I was discussing chocolate based tea's with a friend years ago they thought it was simply a case of a chunk of Dairy Milk being chopped up and mixed with tea leaves. However, I can say, it's far more sophisticated then that! This tea consists of malty Assam tea and cacao shells which are the shells that form around the cacao bean. Mostly, it's thrown away but Hotel Chocolat use the shells's for it's rich, luxurious taste. And that is exactly what this tea is.

Tonight, as I have done everytime I've tasted this tea, I opted not to add milk to this blend. This was a brave step for me as I cannot take breakfast blends or Assam tea without milk. They are too strong or too malty for me so I have to add a dash of milk to take the edge off. However, with this blend not only would the milk be superfluous, but would totally distract for the rich, deep flavour of this tea.

When I drink this tea I am totally aware of the luxury. And this is a tea to be savoured and enjoyed at leisure, not gulped back whilst you're heading out of the door. I always give this tea fifteen minutes to fully enjoy, and it deserves only your full attention. You cannot share this tea with anything. That would be scandalous.

The tea comes in silky pyramids and is full to bursting with tea. In the picture above you can see the rich Assam tea leaves with the cacao shells chopped up. They are the pieces that resemble chocolate.

I placed this tea in the mug and let it infuse for three minutes. From the moment the packet is opened the chocolate scent is easily detected. It's gorgeous and surprisingly not sickly as some chocolate teas can be. The tea brews to a dark amber colour.

The base tea in this blend is Assam. Assam is a strong blend easily detected by it's full bodied, malty element. I wasn't sure how this would work using a tea so strong. Would it detract from the chocolate element? Well, I'd say no. In fact it's a partnership that works really well together. The strength of the Assam tea really supports the chocolate taste very well indeed.

I loved the robust Assam used in this tea, it's of a very high quality. It's rich and just mild enough not to be overpowering, however, if you over brew this tea I expect the Assam, and it's slightly bitter edge would ruin the tea. Brewed correctly, however, it's a real delight. I've never been able to drink Assam without milk so it's full flavour is always partially hidden, in this blend I could enjoy it fully.

The cacao shells bring a glorious, smooth chocolate flavour to this tea. It's not quite as smooth as milk chocolate but far less bitter than dark. It's somewhere in between I guess, but I love the rich element to this tea. It's really, really good. Very moreish and you feel as though you're having a real treat when you drink this tea. I love how the chocolate flavour lingers in the mouth long after the tea has been finished - a pleasant reminder of the tea that is, quite frankly, joy, happiness and luxury in a cup.

This is quite a unique tea and it's actually quite hard to describe this tea in words. It has tea like elements from the Assam tea, naturally, but it also has hot chocolate elements too. A weird cross between two drinks, yet somehow it really works.

As I'm watching my weight, and as chocolate is firmly out (till Christmas, at which time I shall loosen up a bit and have one or two Roses) this is a really good substitute. It's devilishly wicked and tempting, however, is wonderfully devoid of all the naughty bits that makes real chocolate bars off limits to me! It's certainly a win win for me! Perfect for those times when only chocolate will do. (Which I admit is quite often!).

This is a glorious tea. And ideal for a winter treat. It's expensive for a relatively small amount of tea, however, on this occasion I certainly believe it's best to have a little less of something that is REALLY GOOD rather then have lots of second rate, cheap tea.

I cannot wait for my next cup, which will be in a few months during the festive season.

If you want pure, indulgent, luxury then with this blend from Hotel Chocolat that is certainly what you get. There is no doubt about that.

All I can really say is thank you so much Christine for your very kind gift. It meant a lot and tastes delicious. Without you, I'd never think of trying this. I didn't even know Hotel Chocolat did tea!

So, readers, why not treat yourself?

Sssh, though, as this tea is our little secret!

Twist Teas: Banana Shake

The first of tonight's tea reviews is a review of a very interesting blend.

It's from the utterly fabulous company, Twist Teas and is their equally fabulous Banana Shake tea.

Banana Shake comes from their new range of tea called Puds Without Sin. In essence they are all funky dessert based teas but without any of the downsides to actually eating the pudding, for example these tea's contain no sugar or artificial sweeteners. So they are a guilt free treat. And I, for one, am extremely grateful for that!

Earlier this week I was contacted by the lovely Claire offering me a chance to taste a couple of their tea's. I was happy to receive anything but I must admit, being a lover of banana tea, I was especially excited to see that in the box, alongside the Mint Choc Chip I had received the Banana Shake. 

Banana Shake is a rooibos tea. I will state from the start that rooibos and I have had a rocky relationship. When I say rocky, it was truly on a Charles verses Diana level. I hated it. I can't dress it up or lie. I hated it. However, over the past year there has been a distinct thaw in the frosty relationship. I'll admit that I probably wouldn't get on with pure rooibos but I do enjoy it when it's flavoured and there is no better flavour to match then banana.

I love this tea to absolute pieces. After popping out to the local shopping centre, in the middle of a torrential downpour this morning, I got back dripping wet and not particularly happy. So whilst I was changing out of wet jeans and into comfy pyjama's I brewed a cup of this astonishing tea, knowing that I could not resist reviewing this tea this evening. As rooibos can be infused for a longer period of time I left it to brew whilst I got changed and came back to see a beautiful, copper coloured cup of tea waiting for me.

From the moment the infusion process begins this tea makes a stunning impression. How can a tea that brews to such a glorious colour, as seen above, not be inviting? I challenge you to not be tempted by this tea. I am sure you'd fail. It just looks absolutely glorious, sparkling and vibrant. This was love at first sight.

The aroma of banana is strong and mouthwatering. I'm not a fruit lover overall, I prefer vegetables, but I do love banana's and this tea smells fresh, healthy and has that lovely sweetness that you get when banana's are prefectly ripe.

So far, so very good.

By the time I sat down to drink this tea I was frozen through and needed the warmth from the tea as much as the taste. As I cradled the mug in my hands I took a sip, not totally sure what I'd make of it, as it's rooibos after all.

However, I was not disappointed. Not for a second.

The flavour of banana is strong and rich. It's mouthwatering and moreish and once I started sipping I just couldn't stop. With each mouthful I appreciated and enjoyed this tea more and more. It's glorious flavour leaves you wanting more - and so far today I've had seven cups! It's a good job it's caffeine free!

Underneath that gorgeous, fulfilling flavour of banana comes the rooibos distinct taste, which is itself very sweet. I liked how it's almost herbal element brings a depth of flavour to this tea. The two flavours are very rich yet are not sickly or overpowering. They can soothe even the sweetest of teeth and I find it gives that sweet hit that I miss. This tea needs a fine balance, too much of either flavour would be too much, yet Twist Teas find that balance and blend the tea perfectly.

Over the past couple of years dessert tea's have been quite popular. Some have worked, others (like the Twinings range) have not. This tea, however, gets two thumbs up from me. Not only was I so impressed that I came away liking rooibos a LOT more then I did before I tried this, but I firmly believe that if you are dieting, as I am doing, there really is a decent tea out there that can satisfy you as much as your favourite cake or pudding. And that is very impressive.

Banana Shake comes in a silky pyramid bag and is generously filled with tea. But look at it. Oh so pretty and those beautiful colours are ideal for this time of year when autumn is knocking at the door!

I never thought I'd say this about a rooibos tea but I will - I cannot recommend this tea highly enough. It has everything. Yes, it is a tea that does what it says on the box - you genuinely feel as though you are enjoying a nice dessert. It's visually beautiful, it fruity scent fills the kitchen, it tastes so good and it's caffeine free - ideal for me who has been suffering horrendous nightmares lately.

It's warming, comforting and just wonderful. I know as autumn arrives we'll be blasted with lots of pumpkin spice type tea's but I would say this has to be MY tea of autumn. It's relatively simple but executed supremely well.

If there is one tea you should buy to get you through the change of season's into the colder weather, it has to be this fun blend. I am super impressed and am already craving another cup!

I'll end this review by saying a huge thank you to Claire from Twist Teas for sending this out to me. I can assure you, it really has gone to a good home!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Whittard: Blend No 97: Breakfast Earl Grey

Over the summer quite a lot has been going on here at Laura's Tea Room so I haven't been blogging quite so much. I still felt passionate about tea and passionate about bringing tea reviews to my readers, but, quite honestly, I was tired, stressed and whenever I attempted to blog it was with a half heart.

But recently I've tried a selection of tea's new to me and all of these fantastic new blends have well and truly reignited my love for all things tea and I have missed blogging so much that I am now back, fully refreshed and eager to go!

Throughout my absence I have had several emails from a reader named Tony who simply wanted nothing but to check in and see how I was doing. He, and his wife, are absolute tea addicts but who sometimes feel lost in the huge range of tea that is out there. So, with Tony in mind, and with his dedication to Earl Grey, I thought it fitting the first tea I review is a Earl Grey.

I have never hidden my love for Earl Grey. I've always been upfront and honest that I am totally obsessed with the blend. I love it's rich, full flavour. I've drunk some exquisite Earl Greys and some downright awful ones. And my honest opinion of Whittard's Breakfast Earl Grey is that it sits, smack dab in the middle of that spectrum.

At the end of August, a dear friend from Blackpool, where I used to live, had come to London with her daughter to visit the sites and see a couple of shows, so one of the day's she kept free and we had a wonderful day out, drinking plenty of tea and catching up. I hadn't seen her in three years and it was as if not a day had passed without us seeing each other - I guess that is what a real friendship is all about. No matter the time or distance it stays rock solid.

A lot of the day was spent meandering around Covent Garden - an area that despite being a Londoner I hadn't visited often but have gotten to know well since I moved back. And of course, no visit to Covent Garden would be complete without a trip to Whittard's.

My friend was very patient as it took me ages to pick a tea. Somewhat lost in the choice I fell back on a Earl Grey. It was, I thought, a safe option. So, I went back home and boiled the kettle. Sat back and almost instantly that familiar, much loved Earl Grey scent filled the kitchen.

Breakfast Earl Grey, according to Whittard, is designed to be a stronger version of it's normal Earl Grey. Something to give you a kick start in the morning. I suppose it's slightly akin to having Assam instead of Breakfast tea in the morning. It is supposed to have oomph, to have the same effect as that early morning coffee. It's designed, I suppose, to get you up and going in the morning.

But does it do just that? Is it so radically different?

I have to say yes, it is!

Firstly, lets talk about the technical aspects of the tea. As far as I can tell the tea is only available in a pack of 50 teabags. I didn't notice the tea having a loose leaf option in the shop and it only brings up teabags on the website so I'm assuming that is all the tea is available in. Despite what the picture shows above, the teabags are actually slightly coloured so I am assuming they are unbleached though I cannot say for definate. Inside the box the tea bags come in a foil back to preserve freshness. I would highly recommend that you keep the bags within it's original foil packaging as it's quite strong and the flavour may seep into more delicate tea's if kept together.

I have long become used to using loose leaf tea and making my own teabags so I will admit having a ready made bag is a wee bit more convenient in the mornings when I'm only half awake. Slight laziness on my part I will happily admit!

The tea is an absolute joy to watch as it infuses. It starts off as a light amber colour and then develops into a rich copper colour. From my experience of this tea, I would say that once it reaches the copper stage that is when the tea is infused enough and the teabag is ready to come out. Of course that is my personal choice, you may find you'd like it in longer, but when this tea is described as being stronger than normal Earl Grey Whittard are not lying!

I don't actually think that even I was prepared for the strength of this tea. It pretty much knocked my socks off. Yes, I drink my tea black so of course it would appear strong then to those who add a splash of milk to their tea, but my god it really does pack a punch.

The base tea's used in this blend are a very good mixture. There is a strong and malty Assam tea, a rather more mellow Ceylon tea and a brisk, fresh and bold Kenyan tea. Mixed together they form a tea strong enough to take the Earl Grey flavour.

The base tea's form a rich, earthy, almost coffee like flavour. It has a slightly roasted element about it too. I like the fact that it's really flavoursome and has depth. However, I do find that some of the bags really allowed you to taste and experience the base tea's whereas other bags tasted more of the bergamot element. I'm not sure if this is a blending issue or even if it is just a change in my tastebuds but I would of preferred, overall, to experience the rich flavour of the tea far more than I have done so far - and I'm about half way through the packet.

So what of the bergamot flavour? Well the bergamot orange is what is used to give Earl Grey it's distinctive taste. And this is very strong indeed. In fact I would say at times the flavour is almost overpowering. Though it's lovely and I adore that familiarity I would have to say it's the strongest Earl Grey I've yet to try and sometimes it's just a bit too much. Even to the point where I can't always finish a mug, other times I can drink it down almost in one.

This is such a odd tea for me to blog because it is such a changeable tea. Now it could be again down to my taste buds but sometimes it all feels just too much other times it's just right and perfect. And I swear blind that the blending of tea varies between each teabag.

I would also pay much attention to the making of this tea. I infuse this blend for three minutes exactly. Even a half minute more can turn this tea from a pleasant Earl Grey to a bitter, nasty mess. So in a way, this tea is extremely delicate in as much as it needs to be handled carefully, almost mollycoddled through the infusion process. If you leave this tea to infuse whilst you go off to answer that phone call or go to pick your mail up off the mat - do it at your own peril as it could mean the difference between a lovely cup of tea and a horrid one.

I cannot decide if I like this Earl Grey or not. The quality of the ingredients are very good. The actual base tea is delicous. Yet, the strength of the Earl Grey is slightly off putting. Sometimes it's fragrant, sometimes it leaves a oddly perfume like flavour in your mouth. Sometimes it works for me, other times it doesn't. Not much help to you, the reader, I understand. But it's one of the oddest tea's I've ever experienced because I just can't decide whether it's my thing or not. On paper it should be. In my heart though, it's not hitting the spot.

To sum this blend up, I think you'll love it if you like your tea strong, you like the perfume element of Earl Grey and you take your tea with a splash of milk. It may not work for you if you drink your tea black, dislike the floral element to Earl Grey or don't like strong, overpowering flavours.

I think this is a blend that I shall leave you to make your own mind up about. And I will continue drinking this till I have emptied the box, however, I don't think I'll purchase this again. I'd much rather buy a refill of Bohemian Raspberry, my personal favourite blend that Whittard sell (now that is a blend that makes my mouth water!).

This tea is interesting in as much as it's really made me think about tea. And it's put me at odds with myself. I'd love to hear your views if you decide to try this tea.

And for Tony, if you've not tried this yet, you need to!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A Hello From Laura

I've just spotted that it's been a few months since I last blogged about tea. How time flies when you get older, eh?

This summer has been crazy and busy. And I have been tired to a level that has been unbelievable. Tea drinking has been constant, but I've lacked the energy and gumption to blog about tea. That passion has never, ever left me and I've truly missed blogging but I just couldn't seem to summon up the energy to do it. In addition it's been a really hot summer as well which hasn't helped.

However, things have settled (and cooled) down a little bit and I am very eager and keen to get back to my two major passions - tea and writing about tea. I just love it and it makes me happy

This week I've been on holiday from work and have drunk pot after pot after pot of tea. And it brings me as much joy as it always does. Rummaging through the tardis of a tea cupboard I've discovered tea's that I have forgotten that I had and it's like discovering them all over again.And I have loved every second.

Today I received a email that both surprised me, shocked me and probably is the main spark that has ignited my excitement for tea blogging - CHRISTMAS! Amazingly Twining's are the first tea company to put this year's Christmas blends out on their website. From what I can see they are exactly the same as last years, but I will be checking back to see if anything new and exciting is added.

As autumn rolls in, the nights get darker and the air crisper I cannot wait to see what this autumn brings in the line of new tea's. I'm beyond excited at the prospect. There is so much opportunity out there for companies to create fabulous tea's and for us who love tea to enjoy them.

And into the new year there is the next National Tea Day which I will (hopefully) be attending.

So things are looking exciting in the tea world and I can't wait to get started to bringing these reviews to all of you lovely folk who read this blog.

And I'd also like to take this chance to thank those readers who wrote in asking how I was doing after noticing a lack of posts since June. Your thoughtful emails and concern was very touching indeed.

So, here's to more tea drinking and tea reviews. I am so excited to get started!

Friday, 9 June 2017

The Tea Experience: White Bellini

I have a lot to thank teatourist for. The awesome tea subscription service is coming up trumps month after month. This month I've had the joy to experience the idyllic Sherlock Holmes tea. Last month I thought it's delightful selections could not be bettered. This month they have done that.

For now, I am sitting here sampling a white tea so perfect, so fragrant and tasty it has blown my socks off. It's a white tea so gorgeous that I shall, after blogging, be purchasing some. That tea is the gorgeous White Bellini from The Tea Experience.

I love white tea. It really takes to fruity flavours such as pomegranate and peach very well. In it's pure state it's delicious, albeit it sometimes very delicate that it can leave you feeling underwhelmed. Overall though, I've had  some wonderful white tea's.

When I was searching through the latest teatourist box which popped through the letter box a couple of weeks ago, I was instantly drawn to this tea. The fact it was a white tea, and it was peachy seemed just perfectly refreshing for the spell of hot, muggy weather we've been experiencing in the UK lately. However, it wasn't till this evening that I finally decided to make the tea and give it a try.

Instantly, upon opening the packaging, I was hit with the gorgeous, light and aromatic smell of peaches. As a lover of peaches I was especially smitten. It smells so fresh and tasty! Just yummy!

Visually, this tea is gorgeous. It has entire tea leaves as well as twigs from the tea plant. In addition, as you can see the tea includes pieces of dried raspberry and peach, as well as a fruit that I think is currants. A delightful mixture. But what I really love in this picture is you have the entire tea leaf. This isn't crushed up, it's kept whole. It's absolutely gorgeous!

When preparing white tea the water simply cannot be anywhere near boiling point. White tea is delicate and the leaves can easily scorch making a horrid bitter mess. So, I started to boil the water in the kettle and switched it off way before it reached full boiling point. I let the water cool further as I was filling the teabag. This method worked as, not to sound big headed or anything, but I managed to prepare this tea perfectly!

White Bellini is one of those tea's that is a absolute joy to drink. This is tea that is perfect to relax to. I can honestly say that whilst sipping on this tea you won't want to do anything else but relax. It makes you feel so lovely that all you want to do is savour it's flavours - and not much else.

From the first sip the main taste of the tea is the peach. It's very strong, mouthwatering and delicious. With each sip you get a awesome burst of fresh fruit flavours. It's so sweet and juicy you feel almost that the peaches could of been picked this morning. It's luscious and incredibly moreish. I think I finished this tea in record time. The tea makes you greedy. Once tasted those peach flavours make you want more and more. A casual drinker to a addict in mere seconds - that's how it feels for me!

Underneath the gorgeous peach comes the slightly tart flavour of raspberry. This works really well as that tartness is a perfect balance to the sweetness of the peach, making this tea both sweet but not sickly or too overpowering. So from the first sip you get that hit of sweetness rolling across your tongue, followed by a sharpness that isn't unpleasant, only interesting and which provides this tea with a exciting and unexpected twist.

But what of the actual tea? Well to be fair the white tea is up against two really strong ingredients. But still, that slightly grassy element to white tea is present. The grassy element, though far less than green tea, is just something I really like. However, by it's nature, white tea is as delicate as bone china and the flavour of the tea wont be the first thing you'll detect. But it is there. Present and pretty as it always is.

I absolutely loved the combination of fruity flavours in this tea. It's been blended to utter perfection. White tea is a hard tea to produce and prepare correctly and this is a hit on all sides. So impressed am I by this blend that I will be treating myself to some - this is instant tea love. A love affair that will last for some time I hope!

There have been only a handful of times when I've been knocked sideways by the instant effect tea has on me. Recently it's been Kukicha. 

As much as Kukicha's strength and power blew me away, White Bellini has done the same with it's gorgeous delicate qualities, it's wonderful femininity  and it's gentleness.

I would highly recommend this tea, especially as summer is fast approaching. I can assure you it will be the perfect compliment to those long, hot summer days.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Chash Tea: Sherlock Holmes Tea

There are three major interests I have in life that developed very early on in my childhood. My general interest in Princess Diana. My (obsessive) admiration for the Beatles, in particular George Harrison, and my utter, complete love for Sherlock Holmes.

It started when I was a wee six year old reading the Ladybird edition of The Hound Of The Baskervilles. And it flowed through my teenage years as I read story after story and watched the marvelous Jeremy Brett (in my opinion, the ultimate Holmes) solve all manner of cases, The Eligible Bachelor being my favourite. Or is it The Dying Detective? Or the Mystery Of Thor Bridge? Or The Copper Beeches ....?

(Holmes. Drinking tea.)

So, I suppose you can guess my excitement when Dan from Chash Tea told me that they had just released their new blend: Sherlock Holmes. This glorious blend made it's premiere at this years National Tea Day, which I sadly missed and which I still feel so upset about.

Even more annoying then missing National Tea Day was the fact that during my recent supermarket sweep like, bonus spending shopping spree with Chash, I overlooked this tea amid all the excitement. Having sworn blind I had ordered it and then checking my invoice to find I hadn't I was bitterly disappointed. However, this month's teatourist box has recently arrived and what did I find amid all the other wonderful tea's? This little gem. Finally, I was going to try this blend. I was beyond excited.

The ingredients in this tea are exciting and different. They are: Breakfast tea, lapsang souchong, ginkgo and elderflower blossom. Now I will admit, lapsang souchong and I do not make the best of bedfellows. I was put off it a long time ago by drinking a really potent, bad quality lapsang and have been rather nervous around trying it again. I have though, tried it since a few times and found that the better quality the lapsang is, the nicer the taste. I don't hold grudges either, so went into trying this tea with new eyes and fresh taste buds.

This is such a pretty tea to look at. The actual tea is so dark in colour and the elderflower adds a dash of startling colour. It smells nice and smoky too, but delicately so. This certainly isn't a type of lapsang that is so strong that it throws you halfway across the room, and on this matter I was very pleased. I knew that had it been too strong I would of struggled with the smoky element. Aroma wise, the strength of blend is just right.

I first tried this tea after a pretty hard and stressful day at work and it was just the right tea to relax to. I am so happy that I love this tea so very much. I suppose, because of it's name, it's a blend I really wanted to like. And I honestly do.

The first flavour that comes through is the smokiness - and that is natural as it's such a obvious flavour. But I was really impressed that though it's a very present taste, it is by no means overpowering. How Chash have achieved this is beyond me but it's a spark of utter genius. The lapsang souchong fills the mouth with a interesting smoky flavour, but at the end of the sip there is a sweetness to that smokiness as well. It's rounded and well balanced and I feel the amount of lapsang added to this blend is just about perfect. 

Underneath that smokiness lay the breakfast tea. This is a fine and strong tea to use as the base tea. I think that the base tea needs to have strength to carry the smoky flavour. This tea probably wouldn't of worked so well had a Ceylon or Darjeeling been used. I love the slightly malty element to the breakfast tea. It's rich, smooth and moreish. It bursts with flavour leaving you feeling both satisfied and relaxed.

Underneath this malty, smoky match made in heaven, there is a fruity, plum like sweet taste to the blend which I assume comes from the ginkgo. This adds a sweet femininity to this very masculine blend. 

If you had asked me to describe what I think a Sherlock Holmes based tea would taste like then this is pretty much what I would of said. When I think of Holmes, I think of the thick tobacco smoke within his rooms, and the thick peasouper fogs that filled the air outside. This tea is magical and gives Holmes another dimension. As odd as this sounds when I watch Holmes now I automatically think of this tea. So when I drink this tea whilst watching Jeremy Brett portray that conundrum of a man, it's like I'm experiencing Holmes in 4D! Not only can I see and hear it, I can now taste it. I can taste the air in 221b Baker Street. 

The Sherlock Holmes blend is one of the most different and special tea's that I have ever tried. One of the very few tea's that has made such a impact straight away. There is also such a emotional attachment, for me at least. This perfectly created and blended tea adds it's own magic to those wonderful stories by summing up Holmes and his life in liquid form. 

I did try to take this tea to work in my Bodum and it wasn't the best idea. My mind wondered constantly to Holmes, to Victorian London, to Dr Watson. To violin music, to Moriaty, the Reichenbach Falls. It was just a good job it was a Sunday and we were quiet!

This is just a splendid, strong and flavoursome tea. Both satisfying, comforting and exciting. A perfectly crafted joy of a blend. 

And much joy it has brought to this ladies life.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

For The Love Of Kukicha ...

I am a tea loving blogger. Therefore, tea is my entire life. I live and breathe the stuff. If I'm not living and breathing it, I'm talking about it. If I'm not talking about it, I'm writing about it. And whilst I'm writing about it, I'm drinking it.

I have tried a lot of tea's. More then I care to remember, more than have even been featured here on this blog. Some I've disliked, some I've adored. Some I can't put down. Some I can take or leave.

Very rarely though you experience a tea that is just so special that when you take you're first sip you are stunned into silence. You are knocked back, utterly unprepared for such a reaction.

For me, that tea is Kukicha Toasted from Chash Tea. 

I first encounted this tea in the unconventional surroundings of a busy bus on the way to work. Not the most ideal way to first experience a new tea, but it was certainly what was needed. I have taken to using the Bodum every shift that I work and I religiously fill up six bags. Two for the journey to work, two for the first half of the shift, the final two to get me through the rest of the shift and the long, often tedious bus trip home. On this day I tried Kukicha I had gone through my tea collection. I didn't fancy floral, nor fruity, nor Earl Grey. So I opted for the tea that would soon become MY tea.

Kukicha is a different tea because, as I explained in my recent blog, it's not actually made from the leaves of the tea, rather the stalks. They are toasted but still retain the twig like look. It appeals to me so much.

But the utter joy in this tea is in the taste. The rich, decadent, full flavoured taste.

This tea is about as close to coffee as I can imagine. I am by no means a coffee lover but that coffee like element that this tea has is strangely appealing to me. I love how the flavours flow from honey and nut tones right through to chocolate tones if infused for a wee bit longer then suggested. Kukicha is a multi-layered tea.

What has utterly amazed me though was high quickly I clicked with this tea. It's almost like it's fulfilled idea's and tastes in one tea that I didn't even really know I was looking for.  It has quenched a silent thirst.

It is ruddy, natural, robust. Perhaps the opposite to most tea's that I love, that tend to be floral, delicate and light as air. However, I like those rustic qualities, I love the fact you can get to grips with this tea and really experience it's depth of flavour.

With tea it doesn't really matter what tea you love. It doesn't matter if it's English Breakfast, Earl Grey or a lovely flavoured green tea. As long as you enjoy it and are happy and experience the pure joy of a decent cup of tea.

But if that joy of tea goes one step further and takes you off into your own world whilst you sup on that tea, then you are truly blessed, as I am.

As I write this post I have a cup of Kukicha next to me. It's lovely tones filling the air of my bedroom. It's lovely taste refreshing on this warm night. It is a comforter when nursing hurt feelings. It is a tea to be reckoned with, but it's MY tea.

So, through your tea journey, I can guarantee you will find your Kukicha.It may not be actual Kukicha. It could be a malty Assam tea or a fragrant jasmine.  But what it is doesn't  matter one iota. I just hope that you find YOUR tea. I hope that you experience what I did on that bus a couple of weeks ago. That moment when it's love at first sip. When you realise that you have one type of tea that you must never run out of, that you couldn't possibly live without.

And when you do find YOUR tea. You'll never be happier. That I can promise!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Adagio Teas: Blueberry White

Readers from abroad may not know that currently the UK is in the midst of a mini heatwave. The temperatures are high, the sun is out and now is the perfect time to enjoy a wonderful, fruity tea.

When the temperatures are high I tend to enjoy lighter tea's such as green tea, so this white tea is just perfect for a very warm evening.

Tonight's tea is Blueberry White from Adagio Teas 

I absolutely love white tea. I will admit that I don't drink too much of it, solely because it's quite hard to prepare correctly. But when I do prepare it I absolutely love it.

For beginners to white tea here's a quick run down. White tea has a more delicate flavour then black tea. Actually, it's even more dainty then green tea. But it does have a lovely, slightly sweet flavour. However, it's one of the more fiddly tea's to prepare. The water cannot be anywhere near boiling point - 85 is about the right mark. And when infusing do it for no longer then a couple of minutes, otherwise the tea can go bitter. And you absolutely do need to stick to these rules to make a perfect cup of tea. White tea has a tendancy to go from heavenly to a bitter mess in a matter of mere seconds, so do keep your eye on it whilst infusing.

So, back to Blueberry White tea ...

Adagio very kindly sent me some samples and have included the Blueberry White within the samples. It came in loose form so I made up my own teabags using this lovely tea.

I filled the teabag to the brim with this lovely tea (isn't it so pretty!) and infused for a couple of minutes.

The tea infused to a light green colour and remained semi translucent.

As I settled back and took a sip I was pleasantly surprised with this tea. I've not tasted such a flavoursome white tea in my entire tea drinking life.

Firstly, there is a lovely grassy element to the blend. It's flavoursome, but retains it's delicateness at the same time. White tea does have that earthy, natural flavour just like green tea, but at the same time it's tinged with a light, sweet honey element too making this a much softer tea to drink and a good alternative to black and green tea.

It's a very smooth white tea.

The addition of the blueberry brings to the tea a soft sweetness. I love this fruit. This is the first time I've tried blueberry in white tea. White tea does take to fruit flavours quite well, but only a limited type. White tea pairs well with peach, cranberry and pomegranate. It does not take to harsh flavours like lemon very well. I was a little hesitant about the blueberry as sometimes it can be quite sharp in tea, however, the rich sweetness is really very nice and I'm glad to say its a perfect partnership.

I personally find that during the hotter months black tea can lay a little heavy on my stomach, especially later on in the day, so this white tea makes for a perfect blend to enjoy all day, but, in particular in the evenings. It's extrenely low in caffeine so makes for an ideal tea to take before bed.

I really am very impressed with this tea. I love how the white tea retains it's delicate qualities, whilst at the same time embracing the blueberry flavour. It works extremely well.

An ideal tea for the white tea newbie or the most experienced of white tea drinkers. It's just really lovely and tasty. Apparantly, this makes a great iced tea, though I've not tried it so maybe that will be something to experiment with throughout the summer months.

I really loved this tea. I've just taken my last sip from the cup and the tea has cooled quite a lot. The gorgeous flavour of blueberry is now rich and very present and what a wonderful way to end this cup, for the flavour of blueberry will stay with me for quite some time.

Chash tea: Kukicha Toasted

Sometimes in life you encounter a tea that is just perfect for you. It may not be perfect for everyone, what is one man's meat is another man's poison after all, but it is perfect for YOU. I have encountered this just four times in my tea drinking life. Firstly, Mulled Spice from Twinings. Then Earl Grey. Jasmine Pearls. Now, I can add Chash Tea's very fine Kukicha Toasted to that list.

From the very first moment I took a sip of this wonderful, but very unique tea, to the point where I'm several cups down the line, I can honestly say this has been one of those tea's that has left me utterly lost for words (which my family are truly grateful for I'm sure!).

I first tried this tea in an unorthodox setting - on the 174 bus heading towards work. The day was sunny, my beloved George Harrison on my iPod. Not much was wrong in Laura's world. But when I tried this tea it got a whole lot better.

Due to the very odd working patterns I have, Monday is my version of Friday. By Monday I'm so tired. I work in a supermarket, which is small in size, and everyone has to pull their weight, and quite frankly it's one of the most exhausting job's I've ever had. In all honesty, Monday's are hard.

When I randomly pulled this tea out of my tea cave, to make up six teabags to get me through the shift, I had no idea really what I was about to taste and how it would affect me.

Kukicha Toasted  is a very different tea in as much as it doesn't come from the actual leaves of the tea plant, rather the stalks of the leaf. It is then toasted. I absolutely love how this tea looks. It appeals to me. It does look like what it is, and it's perhaps not the prettiest, but I find it fascinating  to look at. It's nature at it's very best and I really like it!

What I absolutely love first and foremost about this tea is it's natural earthiness. It has woody elements to it, both in appearance and taste and it's a strong cup of tea - something to get your teeth into. It's almost like you could bite this tea and take huge chunks out of it. It's so solid. Solid and reliable. That's how I like people in my life to be, and my tea, also.

For someone who detests coffee - and I honestly do - this tea has elements that are almost coffee like, yet rather than not enjoy this tea, I find it rather delightful. In fact I brewed today's cup for a little longer than I ought to and I'm sure, if I had been blindfolded, I would of said I was drinking coffee rather than tea. It's that strength though that made this tea the most perfect choice for Monday nights at work. It's strong and robust to give you some oomph, and every sip can easily get you through that last difficult hour.

But despite it's strength and solidness, there are also very gentle tones to this tea. When I first tasted the tea it seemed like toffee, but on reflection, and more cups down the line, it's not toffee that I detect rather a honey flavour. How can one tea be so strong and yet so delicate at the same time? I do not know - that is Chash's secret, no doubt!

Whilst merrily driving along to work there was something bugging me about this tea. There were flavour combinations within the tea that I simply couldn't place. The tasted more than familiar but I couldn't decide what these flavours where. It actually didn't hit me to a bit later on, whilst mulling over the tea in the bath. The other element in that tea is a nutty element, not peanut but more like pecan.

So the combination of honey flavours and the nutty taste, it rather did resemble one of those healthy snack bars that are full of nuts and smoothed over with honey. That is why the tea was so familiar.

There is a gorgeous smoothness to this tea, too. And the flavour is very rich. And I love that even when this tea has sat in my travel mug for some time, it does not go bitter as it cools.

Kukicha Toasted is a full on tea. But it's delicious, not over powering. It's strong and satisfying - don't expect this to be dainty, it certainly is not.

But the more of this I drink, the more I fall in love with it. The more I taste of it, the more perfect and ideal it becomes. I love how the flavours fall and tumble around your mouth, developing a awe-inspiring, yet strangely comforting strength. Whilst drinking this tea everything is right in my world. Worries or concerns disappear. It gives me time to focus and concentrate. Whilst I'm serving customers on the till, in a quiet moment I take a sip and I drift off to my tea loving world, even for a few seconds.

There are now three tea's from Chash that I simply cannot not have in my cupboard.  Their delicious Orangery green tea, their Jasmine Pearls and now Kukicha.

As regular readers know I am deadly serious about tea. It runs through me like blood. But this tea is different. I am astounded by it's instant impression it made. I am surprised that at times I physically crave this tea and nothing else will work.

I will end this review on that very view that nothing else works for me at times. I simply cannot find any other words that are good enough for this tea.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Adagio Teas: Snow White

One of the loveliest and most rewarding aspects of being a tea blogger is the faith that tea companies show me when they send me samples of their tea. I appreciate every single sample. As you all know tea is a huge passion of mine and blogging comes a close second.

So, it does warm my heart a little when I am approached by staff of tea companies asking if I'd like samples to feature here on the blog. Last week, during one of the craziest weeks ever, I had a conversation with a lovely lady, Danielle from Adagio Tea's UK asking if I'd like some samples. She very kindly asked what sorts of tea's I like and put together a beautiful package.

Within this package is this extraordinary and very beautiful tea caddy. It comes from their Fairy Tales range and contains their fabulous Snow White tea.  

Each fabulous caddy contains fifteen silky pyramid teabags stuffed full of tasty tea.

Snow White tea is a green rooibos tea. Now, I will admit that I have tried rooibos tea and I wasn't exactly thrilled with it (which is why there are not many reviews of rooibos here on the blog) however, this is green rooibos tea, and having never tried green rooibos tea, was excited at the thought of trying something new.

I will begin this review of this luscious fruity tea by saying that I am mad about fruit in tea. Whether it be orange, strawberry, apple or cherry and thankfully this wonderful tea has quite a few fruits included as ingredients.

When I opened the caddy at first the aroma of apple was lovely. It has a natural feel to it, as fresh as if it had been picked yesterday. I followed the instructions very closely on this tea and infused it for a full five minutes to get the absolute best from this blend.

Upon first sipping it is indeed the apple flavour that comes through first and foremost. It's very unique actually as at first the apple is very sweet, but there is a gentle kick afterwards where it has a slight tartness to it, already creating a depth of flavour within the first few seconds of drinking and which leaves your mouth feeling refreshed and cleansed.

As I consumed more of the tea the rich (and it's gloriously rich) taste of cherry came through. It's just so utterly scrummy and very moreish. I like how cherry works well with the apple to create a well balanced tea that has both sweet and slightly tart elements. I think too much of one element would knock this blend off balance but it is perfectly matched.

Interweaving through the tea, like a magic thread, is the ever so gorgeous flavour of coconut. It's not hugely strong, not overly present, it's certainly not the flavour that comes through first but it's in the background adding yet another twist to this interesting tea. And without it it wouldn't be the tea it is.

But what is REALLY exciting about this blend that it does have that slightly grassy element that green tea has. For me, as a green tea lover, I find this wonderful. All of my favourite things coming together in one teabag!

This tea has the same elements that you'd expect in a fruit tea yet has the substance of a rooibos so it's the best of both worlds. Both satisfying with the body of a good tea but with that lightness that you get with a fruit tea. Fresh and refreshing it's ideal as the days start to warm up.

As this is a rooibos tea this has no caffeine either, so it's a really great blend for those who are wanting to cut out caffeine, or want to have a tasty cup of tea before bed without the worry that the caffeine may keep you awake.

This tea is simply gorgeous in so many ways and I'm really surprised that I enjoyed the rooibos. I don't think I'll ever be a fan of rooibos on it's own, however with the addition of the fruity flavours it really is a gorgeous blend.

There are more tea's in the Fairy Tales range and they really do interest me, so I'll be looking into purchasing some in the future to feature on the blog. They are worth it for the caddy's alone, let alone the delicious tea that they contain.

As the really hot summer months (or days, I am in England after all!) approach this makes for the most perfect tea. And the tea is a snip, at £7 for 15 temples and a wonderful caddy. Gone on, treat yourself .... you deserve it!


Friday, 19 May 2017

Chash Tea: Lavender Earl Grey

It's fair to say it's been a bit of a week here at Laura's Tea Room. It's been a wee bit stressful and not in that good stress kind of way. Rather in the "stress leads to cluster headaches" manner. And this is where blogging comes into play. In these situations it focuses my mind, calms me down and makes me happy.

One of the better parts of the week (and there have been a couple of those, too!) was last Friday not only did I get paid my salary, but also a not insubstantial bonus. And, yes, I will admit that a not insubstantial amount of that bonus went on my main love in life ... tea.

And I brought a large selection of tea from Chash Tea. It was rather like supermarket sweep. The whole transaction took mere seconds. But that simply was down to the fact that I had already picked which tea's I was buying days beforehand. I like to be organised.

One of the many gorgeous blends that I purchased in those heady few minutes was a simply beautiful twist on Earl Grey. It's their gorgeous Lavender Earl Grey.

I have been a huge fan of floral tea's since the very early days of my tea drinking life. Whether that floral taste is rose, lavender, orange blossom or peony, if it's floral, it's all good.

Tonight, after a day with a stubborn, unshiftable headache, I needed something not only tasty but calming, too. Something to snuggle down with whilst I blog and watch my favourite television shows. And with Lavender Earl Grey you need not look any further. This is just about as perfect as floral tea as you could possibly get.

From the moment you open up that packet, the gorgeous aroma of lavender just ignites those senses. It's so aromatic, so familiar and luxurious that I just stand their salivating whilst the tea infuses.

And it's just so beautiful to look at, too.

I love how the dark black leaves stands out against the splashes of colour. Bright pinks and purples are shocking against the tea making a tea that is visually impressive.

Lavender Earl Grey is a tea for all of the senses. It is alluring, comforting and joyful.

I infused this tea for several minutes and settled down, quietly to enjoy this tea. From the first sip to the last this is a fully flavoured blend and is just about as perfect as it can get for us floral tea lovers.

The base tea used is Chash Tea's equally delightful (as yet not reviewed, but I'll get round to it) Earl Grey blend. So already it's fragrant and delicious. I love how the black tea is smooth, strong and satisfying and is robust enough to support the many flavours that this tea holds.

The lavender in this tea is quite strong and very different from some of the other floral blends out there. So, when either adding this loose tea to handmade bags or in infusers you don't need to go overboard on the amount of tea that you use.

Oh, so what of the flavour?

This is just gorgeous. I love how rich the lavender is. I just love how the flavour rolls around your mouth for ages after the tea has been drunk and the mug is empty. It's very equally balanced, too. So when you drink this tea you also do taste the flavour of the actual tea, not just lavender. It would be easy for the lavender to be overpowering, but actually, it isn't. It's tasty and it's moreish, and it really does leave you wanting another cup, but it is so well balanced with the tea.

It also has a truly natural feel to it. I have tried many floral blends (many of them expensive) which were horrid as they just tasted artificial, with oily qualities. With this blend the lavender could almost of been harvested yesterday. I have drunk a lot of rose flavoured tea's lately so it's nice to make a change.

This tea is so relaxing. I feel so much better after each cup that I drink. This is ideal to unwind to after a busy day and it truly does lift your spirits. I'm curled up on drinking my second cup of the evening and never have I felt more snug, settled and comfortable. I tend to use lavender in my bath to achieve the same feeling, and I do actually think it's better to get that comfortable feeling through drinking lavender tea!

If you like your flavoured tea with a bit of oomph then this is certainly the blend for you! Chash have created a really special blend, mixing a satisfying strength with a feminine delicateness. Honestly, this tea deserves to be served from a teapot, straight into your best china! It deserves nothing less.

Lavender Earl Grey is a wonderful blend that is delightful in every way. And I cannot recommend this tea highly enough.

Friday, 12 May 2017

The UK Loose Leaf Tea Company: Exotic Coconut

This evening I am drinking a tea that I really wasn't sure I was going to like. I'm not a great lover of coconut in any form and have picked up this tea and put it down again. Picked it up, then decided to review something else. However, I have been really surprised by my reaction to this blend. I have fallen head over heels with it, in fact.

The tea is from a fairly new tea company to me, The UK Loose Leaf Tea Company and the tasty blend is Exotic Coconut.

Last month I was very kindly contacted by the company after reviewing another of their blends that I had discovered through the teatourist tea subscription service. They kindly asked if I'd like to have some more tea's to review and I said yes. This blend was included in that parcel.

The tea came in quite a large packet so there is plenty of this tea to go round. It's a black tea that is beautifully dotted with colour from the additional ingredients. The splashes of bright orange come from the exotic Lulo fruit - which I admit I have never tried. The yellow comes from the added marigold, the blue from the safflower and of course, the bright white from the coconut. This tea is visually stunning.

The tea can be infused for 3-4 minutes. I over filled the teabag and steeped it for four minutes so that I can enjoy a hearty, tasty cup of tea.

As I said earlier I really am not a fan of coconut. It doesn't make me ill and I'm not coconut phobic, but I just can't get on with the weird texture coconut has. I can't stand it in cakes and desserts. Would I stand it in tea? So I was slightly sceptical about the tea. I honestly didn't think that it would be my thing.

Yet, from the very first sip, I fell head over heels in love. This is a perfectly blended cup of tea, the mixing process is just spot on. It's gentle, but fun and full of depth. It's snazzy and modern and yet traditional at the same time.

I've had a lovely day - there has been a lot going on. I have had a nice bonus from work this month, I've had some exciting news and the prospects of real change in my life. And as I sit here now, I feel really, really tired. If I was a two year old, I'd probably be described as "overtired". So when I flopped into bed with this tea, and when I took this first sip, I just instantly relaxed. Honestly. as soon as I tried the tea, I could feel my whole body just relaxing! It is a wonderful feeling.

The base tea in this blend is black tea and it's so lovely and smooth. It's quite a robust black tea that really holds it's own against the exotic flavour. But it's wonderfully smooth, rich yet not bitter, full flavoured but not overpowering. It's a really great tea.

Now, I will admit that I have no idea what Lulo fruit taste's like having never even heard of it before I received this tea in the post. But within this tea there is a slight tart flavour which I can only assume comes from the lulo fruit. It's a bit like pineapple or even lemon. Hard to put my finger on it. But the tartness does work well with the coconut.

But, oh my god, the gem of this tea is the very thing I thought would put me off the tea - coconut.  Devoid of that weird texture which I loathe, I was left solely with the taste and what a delightful taste it has. It's so wonderfully sweet. That sweetness is compatible totally with the tartness of the fruit and the richness of the actual tea. Those three flavours all work so well together that they achieve the best thing ever - bringing the  best out of one another. Their combined qualities make for a gorgeous cup of tea.

I love how refreshing this tea is. I was just so tired what I sat down to drink this tea and I feel revived, a lot calmer and very relaxed. This is the ideal in a tea - well for me anyway. Of course, taste comes first, but I also judge a tea by how it makes me feel. And this tea was perfect for what I needed tonight. It was as if my bestie were here giving me one of her fab bestie hugs!

What I really love is that gorgeous coconut flavour stays with you for ages after the cup of tea is finished.

This blend is genius and whoever created it has done a absolutely fabulous job. It's a great tea to serve instead of coffee after dinner, but saying that it's just as good first thing in the morning. It's a all day type of tea.

Exotic Coconut would be ideal to serve at a afternoon tea next to beautiful cakes.  And actually, it would be great to use as wedding favours too, as I think this would appeal to both men and women.

I am SO glad that I got to try this tea and I'm so glad that I really liked it, too! I was positive that I wouldn't so I was shocked that I loved it as much as I do.

I am also very glad that the pack is HUGE. I am hoping this tea will last me for a long time!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Ahmad Tea: Mango and Lychee Souffle

It's been well over three years since I established Laura's Tea Room. And yet, whenever I am approached by tea companies, asking if I'd like some samples to feature on the blog, I still get excited. In fact I still feel now like I did the first time I was contacted by a company. I still love this blog as much as I did when I started.

Recently I was contacted by Ahmad Tea asking if I'd like to review some tea's. Not only was I thrilled at the offer but felt rather nostalgic, too. Ahmad Tea were one of the first tea companies willing to send me samples when I established the blog. Though I had only posted one or two reviews, they kindly trusted me and were generous with their samples. I'm still so grateful to all those companies willing to help me out.

At the end of last year I was in London with my bestie and we went into a souvenir store and I saw plenty of Ahmad tea's on sale. As it was near Christmas I didn't have much money but did manage to treat myself to a cute caddy bursting full of Earl Grey tea. (Funnily enough I have to get on the number 15 bus to work every Sunday morning!) Through that I rediscovered my love for Ahmad tea.

Today I received another generous amount of tea. I was so excited. I will review the rest over time. I was totally undecided on what tea to review first so I just closed my eyes mixed them up and picked at random. The tea that I picked was Mango and Lychee Souffle. A tea which is part of their dessert range.

Firstly, I must say how utterly beautiful I found the packaging to be! I love the modern, fresh imagery, the subtle baby colours used in the design, yet they still incorporate the traditional Ahmad logo. It's really pretty and I was especially careful not to rip the packaging when opening.

This blend comes in the form of a silky pyramid type bag. Each box contains 15 pyramids.

Mango and Lychee is a Chinese green tea. What I loved about the appearance of the tea is how green the leaves looked within the tea bag. It's really pretty and healthy looking.

When I opened the packet I loved the sweet, rich, fruity aroma. Just delicious.

As this is a green tea I boiled the water in the kettle and let it cool a little. I timed the infusion process for exactly three minutes. I had made a cup earlier in the day and left it to infuse for longer and it had started to take on a slightly astringent quality, so I'd infuse this carefully. I find three minutes is spot on.

I have had mango in tea before, certainly not lychee! I adore lychee's and eat them fresh or from a can when out of season. I love the sweet, stickiness of the fruit so was beyond excited to see they were included in this blend of tea.

This is a extremely aromatic blend and this tea is real treat even from the moment  you open the packet. It has a lightness to the scent, it's hard to describe in words but it's fresh and it feels new, so different from the many fruit flavours that are commonly used in tea.

Having carefully infused the tea it was nice to see that the tea brewed to a light, sparkling green colour. Very pleasant to the eye.

When I settled down and started to drink this tea I found it to have a very pleasant, sweet flavour. Not overly sweet, but sweet enough. As this is a green tea it still has that earthy element, which I happen to love, so this earthiness and the sweetness work well together. Instead of cancelling each other out, this has been blended so well that those two unique qualities work well together, hand in hand almost.

The green tea is earthy and it does have that grassy element to it. And those elements do weave through the tea. But that provides a good solid base to the sweetness of the fruit. So not only does this make a gorgeous fruity tea but it also satisfies  those of us who love the solidness you get from green tea.

I do happen to think that the mango and lychee are two flavours that work exceptionally well together. Mango is common and is lovely in tea but having included lychee in the tea, Ahmad's blenders have created something really special.

The first of the fruity flavours that come through is the gorgeous, familiar sweetness of mango. I will admit I am partial to both mango and lychee so I could be biased! However, that rich, fresh mango taste is literally mouthwatering. And addictive too. It just fills your mouth which a lovely feeling and it feels as though you could be eating fresh pieces of mango.

Lychee is the more subtle of the two flavours, but certainly does hold it's own and you'd surely miss the lychee if it wasn't included. It has that unique, fragrant flavour that I really enjoy in lychees. Out of the mango and lychee it's the lychee flavour that stays with me for quite some time after the cup has been finished.

There are many things that I really liked about this tea. One of them is that this is such a refreshing, reviving cup of tea. It would make the ideal treat after a busy day.  Due to the fruits used and to it's refreshing qualities, this is such a light tea. And it's perfect for summer. It's best drunk at dusk, in the garden, listening to the sounds of the birds nesting and settling for the night.

I think that this is a genius of a blend. As a weightwatcher, I find it's a perfect replacement for a dessert. I love how the flavours stay with you for ages after you've finished the cup, it leaves that sweetness in your mouth for some while and it's just utterly delightful.

This tea has won a Great Taste award and I can fully understand why.

I was so impressed with this tea. I'm a Ahmad fan anyway, I've yet to try a tea I've not been impressed by. But this is something extra special. It's like summer in a cup. It's tasty, comforting, whilst being fun and refreshing. It's a modern type of tea in a modern packaging with a modern twist on flavours.There is nothing wrong with tradition of course, yet it's nice to push the boundaries and try something different!

I now cannot wait to try one of the other tea's I've been sent -  Pear and Cinnamon Strudel!

I really hope that you decide to try this tea. I think you'll love it and it's ideal for those green tea lovers who like to have their tea flavoured, And if you are just stepping into the green tea world - which can be daunting at times - this is a ideal tea to take to make those first steps.

All I will say is infuse with caution. If you use hot water or infuse for too long this does have a tendency to go slightly bitter. That, though, is a fault that is laid at my door. I should of concentrated!

I will end by saying a huge thank you to Ahmad for sending me out this wonderful tea. And I certainly cannot wait to try more!

Basilur Tea: Orange Pekoe

I have so many tea's in my tea cupboard. I have black tea, green tea, white tea, fruit infusion's, herbal blends and oolongs. All I'm really missing is yellow tea.

Out of all this choice today, I wanted a simple black tea. It's been a quite busy morning, so as I sat down earlier for a spot of lunch I opted to go for this simple but delightful black tea from Basilur Tea.
It's a gorgeous Orange Pekoe tea from their Specialty range.  

When I first started out on my tea journey (baring in mind that I knew no one with a interest in tea) I quite wrongly concluded that Orange Pekoe tea was actually flavoured with orange. Yes, I wince with embarrassment when I look back on that. And how delicately the young man from Twinings told me I was wrong. But, life is all about learning and I've learned a lot in seven years!

So no, Orange Pekoe is not a orange flavoured tea! Rather, it refers to the grading of the tea. And Orange Pekoe is one of the higher grades of tea. This is a beautiful Ceylon tea.

This blend came wrapped in single foil sachets and is of the standard teabag format. The teabag is filled generously with a large amount of tea.

I infused this blend for several minutes as I do tend to like my tea strong. I was enchanted with the tea because it steeped to a dark black colour, almost coffee like. It's really pretty to look at - I love richly coloured tea's.

This Orange Pekoe tea is a strong, sturdy black tea. It's the sort of tea that is good for the soul. It's the type of tea that will settle me when I'm nervous, comfort me when I'm upset or provide a warm hug when I'm not quite myself. This is tea how it should be.

I like that this Ceylon tea is strong. I have finally found a black tea that is strong and full flavoured without having that odd malty taste that Assam can have and which puts me off.

What made me fall in love at first sip is that it has such a smooth element to it. It has a rich, depth of flavour that you only really do get with higher quality tea. It's easy to drink and though infused for quite some time, lacks any sort of bitterness or sharpness.

In addition to the strength of the the blend and it's natural smoothness there is also a nutty element to this tea which does rather remind me of Yunnan blends that I've tried recently.  It's a fully rounded, hearty tea that I think will satisfy even the hardest to please tea drinkers.

As the tea cools in the cup the tea almost softens, for want of a better word. That strength settles down a little and it takes on a richer flavour. It's like you will experience several different tea's in the one cup. I really like it!

Regular readers will know that I always take my tea black (with the exception of chai tea) and unsweetened, however, I think this tea would sit well with the addition of milk and sugar if that's how you like to take your tea. For those who like to add a slice of lemon to their tea, I believe that would work well with this tea also. So it's a very versatile cup of tea.

There is nothing simple about this tea, it's delightful. But if you want a pure, black tea, unflavoured, unfussy and tasty then this is a brilliant blend to to keep in the tea cupboard. I find it satisfying and comforting and exceptionally moreish.

I tend to judge tea companies by their pure, unflavoured tea's. You can mask a bad tea easily by adding flavours and additional ingredients. In it's pure state the tea is exposed. Basilur Tea never let me down. The tea is always of the highest quality, whether that be a Ceylon black tea or a Sencha green tea. I can honestly say I have yet to experience a "bad" tea with Basilur. They set a benchmark in tea.

This Orange Pekoe tea was a delight to drink and I fully enjoyed it. I needed black tea today, I wanted to get back to basics. I've had such a exciting time recently trying all sorts of tea's in exciting shapes and colours. Black tea though is like an invisible friend. Always there in the wings, knowing I'll return to it. Knowing that I'll need it before too long. Today I did and I've enjoyed a luxury of a tea.

In fact, I've loved it so much that I had my second cup within a half hour of the first. And I can't recommend this tea any higher than that.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Mais Ervas: Peppermint Tea

There is one type of tea that is conspicuous by it's absence here on Laura's Tea Room. That tea is peppermint tea.

For many, many years I have loathed peppermint tea. In reality though, the only peppermint tea I've ever really had is one of those cheap supermarket own brands, you know the type, you get 20 bags for 70p (this was round about 2006ish, so I expect prices have gone up a bit!).

The peppermint tea put me off for life. It had a sickly sweet taste to it, it really just reminded me of a Trebor Extra Strong Mint. A Trebor Extra Strong Mint that had been thrown into a cup and had hot water poured over it. I'm not actually convinced actual peppermint was even included in the blend, it was probably just peppermint oil or something equally horrid.

But this really does prove my point that if you buy bad tea and have a bad experience, or even if you buy good tea and prepare it incorrectly, it can put you off for life.

In April's fabulous teatourist box this peppermint tea was included. It's from a company called Mais Ervas.

This evening I thought the time was right to give peppermint tea another whirl. There was, I thought, nothing to loose.

The first impressions of this tea were very positive. Instead of having that sweet, sugary smell I remembered so much and hated from the tea I had tried, this smelt like natural, healthy garden mint. Just very yummy indeed.

The peppermint tea is a large leaved tea with a gorgeous green colour - all very lush and mouthwatering. I was actually looking forward to trying this tea.

I infused the tea for well over five minutes to get a stronger flavour. It steeped to a light green colour.

So, I settled down and took a sip - and I was actually pleasantly surprised. There was none of that sugary, sickly sweet element that I thought this tea - or any peppermint tea for that matter - would have.

Instead this has a vibrant, fresh taste. It's crisp and keen and very refreshing indeed. The minty flavour just makes your tastebuds burst into life and they dance away with every sip. Your tongue tingles with the freshness of the tea and it really make your mouth feel refreshed. And I felt incredibly relaxed whilst drinking this tea.

This is perfect also to aid digestion and I did have a bit of a rumbly tummy and it has honestly really settled it down. I'm quite impressed and I would never of believed that I would actually like a peppermint tea.

I'm not sure if peppermint tea will ever really enter into my daily tea drinking regime. It's a bit like ginger tea, I think I'll indulge when I fancy a cup. And I doubt that I'll fancy one every day. But I'm so glad that I've tried this tea - it's put some tea drinking demon's to rest!

I'll never buy peppermint tea from a supermarket. I know I don't like those branded tea's. But when you get peppermint tea as fresh and healthy as this then I'll certainly purchase some more.

I never thought I'd give mint tea a thumbs up but I have! And I'm off to make a second cup!