Friday, 31 March 2017

Whittard: Blend No 216: Elderflower Earl Grey

I will admit that I have had this gorgeous little caddy from Whittard for nearly eight months. I've enjoyed several cups of this but haven't got around to blogging the contents, so, this evening I really fancied a cup of this blend and thought now was the perfect time to write a blog about it!

This gorgeous blend is Whittards lovely Blend No 216. Elderflower Earl Grey.

When I purchased this tea last July, I was wondering around London's Covent Garden. It was an especially happy day as I was going to see a performance of the hit show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As I said in a recent review of another Whittard tea, when in that area of London it's neigh on impossible for me not to go in and purchase something.

I think I fell in love, at the beginning anyway, with this cute mini caddie because it's simply tiny. You can buy this in bigger versions but not only being strapped for cash but also strapped for space, I thought my exasperated Mum (who is frustrated at the amount of tea entering this house) may not appreciate a huge caddy so sold her on the mini ones! It's cute, it's compact, it's gorgeous!

 As you can see this is a richly coloured, dark leaf Ceylon tea (it's all about the Ceylon right now!) that is dotted with colourful elderflower blossoms. It's a stunning tea with a gorgeous aroma.

I took a empty teabag and filled this up with three teaspoons of this marvelous blend. I left it to infuse for several minutes and unlike most Earl Grey's which go to a dark colour after infusion, this lovely tea brewed to a light copper colour.

Earl Grey is a blend that I absolutely adore. Understandably, it's with caution that I try the many variations. For instance, vanilla Earl Grey didn't go down well. Nor did Creme Caramel. But I like Lady Grey, Duchess Grey, Cornflower Grey ...

So, I jump in with a new member of the Grey family with great enthusiasm but with some caution.  However, with this Elderflower Grey I need not worry. This is a perfect edition to the Grey family. Tasty, floral and gorgeous. It's feels as established and traditional as the original blend of Earl Grey. It feels old, in the nicest possible way.

Last night I reviewed the gorgeous Earl Grey from Basilur tea. Again, Ceylon is used in that brand and it went down as a hit. I love the fact that Whittard are using the delicate, yet utterly scrummy Ceylon tea in it's blend. It's just so gorgeous, so adaptable, so able to work hand in hand with whatever flavour is added to it. Darjeeling maybe the champagne of tea's, but in my opinion Ceylon should hold that title!

It's also well known that as much as I love Earl Grey, I also love any tea that has anything remotely floral added to it. This could possibly be a tea made in (Laura's) heaven.

The Elderflower adds a wonderful flavour. It's not like rose or lavender, it's a lot lighter, more delicate then those. But, it lifts the tea to a new height. It's fun, it's like sunshine in a cup, it's perfect for the spring days ahead.  And the Elderflower is the perfect pairing with the Ceylon tea, too!

There is a lovely lightness to this tea. So, actually, it does make a pleasant change to traditional Earl Grey, which, depending on what brand you are drinking, can sit a little heavy if the bergamot used is too strong. I love how easy this tea is to drink, it's smoothness is just wonderful.

This is the ultimate afternoon tea blend. Best served with cake in china cups and saucers! However, it's also nice to drink if you fancy something a bit lighter in the evening. I'm really enjoying it and I don't tend to drink too much tea this late in the evening.

What is also nice about this tea is when it cools it doesn't go horrid and bitter, it retains it's lovely flavour.

When I first tried this blend last summer I wasn't totally sure about it. That was likely my fault as I think I may, being distracted, had stewed the tea. But it certainly has grown on me in the intervening months.

And much to my mum's dismay this WILL be a tea that I buy in larger quantities. This could possibly be the tea of this year's summer. Quite possibly!

Easy Teasy: Orange Blossom Oolong

Today has been a oolong type of day. My first cup of the day was a fierce Iron Mercy oolong which was strong and gave me the oomph I needed to get up and get going.

As I was going through my box of samples which I received from my teatourist subscription box, I found this tea. Why not continue the oolong, why not enjoy it with my much loved orange flavouring.

This lovely tea is from Easy Teasy and is their Orange Blossom Oolong.

I have to say I'm relatively new to oolong. When I say new, I'm not a oolong virgin exactly but I've only really come to it in recent years and my exposure to it somewhat limited. 

But, one of oolong's main characteristics is that it is a tea that has serious strength. It's like a hyped up green tea. It has the lightness of a green tea, (sometimes with black tea it sits a little heavy on my tummy) but the strength of a robust Assam. It's a pleasant and satisfying mixture of the two. The only downside I guess to oolong is I find it's better to drink it as hot as you can bear it. Once it cools, there are some blends of oolong that go bitter. However, this didn't stay in the cup long enough so I can't comment on this tea!

The addition of orange into this tea is just wonderful. As you all know by now I LOVE orange in tea and so it was, perhaps, not too surprising when I picked this tea to try. The orange is lovely and refreshing, perfect for this time of year, when the weather is getting a little warmer. It's so lovely and fresh tasting, as if the orange's were picked yesterday.

The tea does include orange peel in it's ingredients, so to look at this tea is gorgeous. The dark green leaves and the sparkling dash of orange peel is just really pretty to look at. But, perhaps, how it looks is the least important thing. The taste is sublime, the orange is mouthwatering and juicy and it's exceptionally flavoursome.

Orange Blossom Oolong is a satisfying and rich tea. It's strong, but the sweetness of the orange evens that out, making this a perfectly balanced tea. I just love how it's delicate on the one hand, with it's orange flavour, yet has a good, solid strength to it through the oolong.

I know on good authority that it makes for a excellent pick me up, ideal for that first cup of the day. As it says on the website, a good alternative to English Breakfast if you fancy a change!

I was hugely impressed with this blend and am excited to delve into Easy Teasy a little bit more to see what tea's they have to offer! I'm sure it's going to be awesome!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Basilur Tea: Earl Grey

If you cut me, I bleed Earl Grey. My love for Earl Grey is as stark and simple as that. So the day I first tired Earl Grey when I was stood in the kitchen too scared to try it, seems a long distant memory. Earl Grey is now as much as part of me as my blue eyes or my brown hair, or that half smile I give that hides a mulitude of feelings.

You, the reader, may think, 'oh my god not another Earl Grey review'. I honestly wouldn't blame you if you did, there are so many. But this little gem of a tea, from Basilur Tea, which arrived in a box of samples a couple of weeks ago, has been starring, seductively, at me through the glass of my tea jar. Each day, it's called to me 'try me, Laura. You know you want to'.

So far, I have resisted. But, I will admit the last week has been slightly fraught. Things are more settled now, but as Father Merrin says in The Exorcist, on being asked if he wants brandy in his coffee 'I really shouldn't, but thank god my will is weak'.

Indeed, the will gave way totally and just a few minutes ago, I found myself gently tearing open the sample sachet. And that gorgeous aroma of bergamot, the mouthwatering, soul soothing smell, the comforting  friend. The hug in a mug. The Earl Grey, suddenly appeared.

'Ooh, that's lovely' was my initial response. And that was before water was added!

As you will have read from previous reviews, Basilur Tea use a gorgeous Ceylon Black Tea as their base tea, and that is no different with this Earl Grey blend which comes from the companies Speciality Classics range.

The Ceylon tea, as always, is perfectly smooth and delicate. It's utterly, utterly gorgeous. I do have a sample of their pure, unflavoured Ceylon tea, which I will review at a later date, and which I expect to be delightful. But with this Ceylon tea, there is a element of it that is almost addictive, cripplingly moreish, and once you have taken your first sip, you are desperate for more, which in this case, is hard as I mainly have sample sizes, which are single servings.

I have never known a tea to be so delicate, so dainty, so feminine almost, and yet, provides you with such a satisfying cup of tea. That, I believe, is where my love for Ceylon lies. It tends to cover all bases, which is good. With Basilur's tea's there are no impurities. It is as close to perfection as I've found so far in Ceylon tea.

I also believe that Earl Grey, despite being one of the worlds most popular blends, is so hard to get right. Believe me, after three years of writing this blog I have crossed the whole spectrum of Earl Grey's. I've enjoyed dainty ones, I've enjoyed strong, robust ones. I've endured bitter and artificial ones, I've been made nauseous by cheap blends. I've been left feeling as though I've just drunk a cup of perfume, I've had heavenly tea's - I'll be honest, I've experienced them all! And many a time I've been left surprised by so many tea companies. Expensive blends have been undrinkable, cheaper, shop brought ones, have provided a fabulous cup of tea.

Drinking Earl Grey is rather like playing roulette. You really are not sure what colour the ball will land on, and price, reputation of the tea company and even the packaging, are no indication of the quality you'll get. Some companies get Earl Grey spot on, some get it so very wrong.

So when I infused this tea bag I had my thoughts about what I may get when I made the tea, but there is no certainty. However, I was not disappointed.

For this Earl Grey is one of the best Ive tasted in a long, long while. Now, there are huge differences with this tea. On the website description of this tea, it says that it has Earl Grey essence, and I honestly couldn't sum that up any better.

The Earl Grey element to the tea is light, subtle and delicate. It's rather reminiscent of Twinings Delicate Earl Grey which came out several year's ago.

The flavouring is so light and airy, it's gorgeous. I love the delicate element of this tea. The delicate Ceylon tea and the delicate essence of Earl Grey are just so beautiful. I love the fact this Earl Grey is subtle, it does make a change from the stronger, out there elements that other blends have.

There is also a natural feel to the tea. As I have said before, some Earl Grey's are so strong they taste like perfume which is hugely unpleasant. Here, with this tea, you can sink back in your chair (or in my case bed, which is where I'm writing this review from), savour the lovely flavour and just enjoy a tea that has such fine qualities.

After a hectic day such as today was, this is ideal to unwind with. But it's also a tea that deserves to be savoured, sip by sip. It's far too elegant to be glugged back in five minutes. That would do this tea a huge injustice.

As with the rest of Basilur's tea's, this is refinement at it's very best. This is Earl Grey at it's very best. And to be quite frank, if someone were to say this is the only Earl Grey you'll ever be able to drink again, I'd be more than happy.

This is about as close to the perfect Earl Grey that I've ever gotten. And I didn't want the cup to end. I wished it was bottomless. Sadly it was not.

I have reviewed a lot of Basilur's tea's in very rapid succession. And there is good reason for this. It's just damn good tea. There is no other way of putting it.  And it's Earl Grey, the top blend for me, is where I hold it's standard, and it's hit an exceptionally high standard.

After trying this blend, I'm rather worried that any other that follows it will be somewhat lacking.

I will admit I hadn't heard of Basilur tea till I was contacted by Robert. How I have missed this company I do not know. But I'm truly glad I know of them now.

As someone who bleeds Earl Grey. Who has it pumping through her veins, I can sit here, happy and satisfied this evening. For I may of just tried the ultimate blend. And that surely, can only bring contentment, can't it?

OTeas: Black Tea And Dandelion

I absolutely love tea's that have floral elements to them. Whether that element be rose, lavender or orange blossom, I find that a good black tea and floral additions work really well together, so this evening I was incredibly exciting to try something in a tea that I've not had before - dandelion! I love Dandelion and Burdock on a hot summers day, ice cold of course. But never had I experienced this before.

I have come across OTeas before. I tried some of their wonderful Christmas tea's and was impressed with them.  I had high expectations for their dandelion tea!

I will admit I also have a fondness for the brand because they are partly based on the Isle of Man, a place where I have visited and a place which I think is the most beautiful place on earth (though I will admit my travels have been somewhat limited!).

This tea was sent to me through my monthly teatourist box. I have to say with each month that passes I'm more and more impressed with teatourist. The amount of tea and the sheer selection is just fabulous and it's perfect for those who love to experiment with new tea's but don't want to buy huge amounts of something they could potentially not like very much. It's just so much fun and for a tea lover, it's impressive, too.

So, what of this exotic tea?

The base tea of this blend is a darkly coloured Sri Lankan black tea.  This is a aesthetically pleasing tea because the darkness of the tea contrasts beautifully with the stark yellow colour of the dandelion. It so very pretty to look at.

I filled up a empty teabag with three teaspoons (a generous amount which I always use when sampling tea) of the tea and let it infuse. On the packet it says you can infuse for between three and five minutes. Unsure of the flavour and strength I opted to go midway for four minutes. It was a joy to watch this tea brew as it it changed colour from a light pink colour right through to a bright copper. So far, so good!

I loved the smoothness of the Sri Lankan tea. It has a slightly nutty element to it, but also a delicateness which I love in black tea. I do like a strong, robust tea, but I find with floral flavours, a lighter tea works better because you can not only taste the tea but also the strength of tea doesn't outweigh the possible delicateness of the floral additions.

I was surprised to find that the dandelion provides a herbal like flavour rather than a floral, so any early idea's I may of had about this tea were misconceptions. It provides a really solid flavour, strong, and satisfying, but I am finding it hard to compare it to anything else that I've tasted. It may of been me but there was something almost liquorice like about this tea. Also slightly peppery as well.

This was a really different type of tea that was satisfying and enjoyable. According to the little taste testing card that comes with each tea teatourist turns out this could have possible health benefits to, apparantly in the digestive area. Also, the tea is claimed to help with weightloss, too. I can't comment on the health benefits, but I do believe this is a truly lovely tea.

I love how the flavour of the dandelion stayed with me long after the cup of tea was finished.

I will say, and this is no means any detriment to the tea, but I do prefer floral tea's such as rose or lavender. But there is something very charming too in this earthy tea. It's a tea that you can get your teeth into, it's sturdy, solid, yet at no time is it overpowering or so strong it's unpleasant.

The quality of the base black tea is very good too. It has no bitterness even after a substantial amount of brewing. It's just nice and mellow and very enjoyable.

On the tasting card it also states that you can add either milk or honey to this tea. Well adding milk to tea is a huge no go for me, but I could see the honey working well. It would add just a slight dash of sweetness. However, I found it pretty lovely on it's own. I don't feel the need, on the whole, to add stuff to tea anymore, however, even I'm tempted by the suggestion of honey ...

I liked this tea very much. It was familiar with the base tea, yet different enough to keep me interested and I've enjoyed a couple of cups of this already and with each tasting my liking for it increases.

If you haven't heard of OTeas and are interested to find out more, than do check out their website. They have some really interesting and exciting tea's on there, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with other tea's in the future. 

And, whilst you're online, do check out teatourist for more information on their great service. Honestly, I've tasted so many tea's since I've received some of their boxes. Not all of them I've liked, that would be impossible I suppose, but at least I am getting to try new tea's and experiment with new tea companies I may not of encountered before. For the fully signed up tea lover, receiving the teatourist box through the letter box is truly a very happy moment!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Basilur Tea: Kandy

I will admit there are many, many posts on this blog about a hugely varied amount of tea. But it's easier to find the words to write about highly flavoured tea, then it is to write about tea's that are not overly scented or are just plain and simple.

However, the delight of drinking a very high quality, pure tea, is out of this world. There is nothing like it, nothing as good for a hurt soul, or nothing as lovely to share through the good times. That, is why I love tea. For me it's not simply a drink, it's a comforter. It has many guises and does many different things for me!

Over the last couple of day's I've reviewed a lovely Cherry Sencha and a spicy chilli tea. So, in this review, I've opted for a tea that is far more subtle but is stunningly beautiful. That is refined but still impressive.

That tea is from Basilur Tea and is their Kandy blend.

Essentially, this tea is a pure Ceylon tea which has a ever so mild bergamot flavour. Simple? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely.

I loved this tea as it brewed. It went through several different colour changes till, after a four minute infusion time, it brewed to a lovely mahogany colour. Just beautiful.

As I cupped my hands round my lovely warm cup and took my first sip, I realised that there is nothing better, or nicer on earth then to taste a premium, high quality tea.  When a tea is such high quality, as this is, it's absolutely devoid of any bitterness or acidic qualities.

This blend is smooth, rich and full flavoured. As I stated in my blog about the recent Christmas tea I reviewed, I just love Ceylon tea, it has it's own unique qualities and to taste it in a pure form as it is here is lovely! I would highly recommend this tea if you're planning to start taking your tea black or without sugar, as it is strong enough to provide a decent cup of tea, but isn't too over powering as a blend such as Assam could be. I wish I had access to this tea when I decided to start taking my tea black.

But there is just a ever so slight flavour added to this tea that gives this tea it's own uniqueness. It has a very delicate bergamot flavour, making this tea a extremely mild Earl Grey. This gives the tea a little more depth. But it's so slight I would not class it as a Earl Grey tea. It just has hints of Earl Grey. As a Earl Grey lover this is enough to have put me totally in a spin - to say I was excited was a understatement!

I just thoroughly love this tea. I find it the perfect mix of pure, high quality tea, with a light twist of a gorgeous flavouring.

This is the ideal, perfect tea for afternoon tea and would go so well with a lovely, dainty cream cake. My old battered mug does this tea a huge disservice. It really ought to be sipped from a dainty cup and saucer, poured from your favourite teapot!

I really struggled to write this review as I can't seem to find the right words to describe this tea in the nicest way I can, except to say it's pretty perfect!

Don't forget to have a look around Basilur's website. There are so many beautiful tea's on there!

Wise Owl Tea: Peruvian Azteca Fire

I will start my review of Wise Owl Tea's fabulous herbal blend, Peruvian Azteca Fire on a rather poignant note. Writing this review for a Wise Owl tea is making this blog come full circle. I started this blog in 2014. It came about for several reasons, a obsession with tea, a passion for writing (what I cannot say via my mouth will always come out in the written form!) and, at the time, it was a way of easing a terrible form of loneliness, as the person I was living with at the time has started to walk a different path to me, leaving me alone for hours on end, and which contributed later that year to me leaving.

Wise Owl tea was there, at the beginning, willing to send me samples to feature on this blog, creating more interesting and diverse content. From day one, I had fallen head over heels for their Bali Bamboo tea, and it remains a firm favourite, and that is from someone who doesn't really "do" herbal tea. I have a lot to thank Wise Owl (and other tea suppliers too!) for helping me out in the very beginning. A kindness I've never forgotten.

Just the other week I decided to treat myself to a caddy of Bali Bamboo and whilst leafing through the little leaflet that came with the tea noticed this superb Peruvian Azteca Fire blend that I had not tried. After a rather difficult few weeks at work, thought, well, I'll treat myself. Today it arrived and today I am reviewing it!

Sometimes in life, even us hard set traditionalists need something different in their life. As much as I love a solid Earl Grey, a girl sometimes needs a bit of spice in her tea drinking life, and with this  you get more then you bargained for!

 The blend comes in a beautiful silky pyramid. I will admit I am a huge fan of silky pyramids. I just love how they look and how they feel. And you can actually see what you're getting, and the bag is filled with a more than generous amount of ingredients!

As this is a herbal tea, the longer you can infuse this drink, the better. I infused it in the end for about six minutes as I was caught up on the phone, but that by no means detracted from the taste. The longer you can infuse this blend, I honestly think the more you will get from this tea.

Included in this tea are several ingredients: Ginger root, chilli, ginseng, lime flower and Cacao nibs.

From the very, very first sip this blend shocks your taste buds into life. As each flavour develops,  your tongue just experiences new sensations. It's a tea that is moreish, and honestly you just want cup after cup because it is so different. It takes you out of your tea drinking comfort zone, and it's alright to like something so very different to what you may normally take. Variety is the spice of life, and there is more variety and certainly spice in one cup of this blend then I have experience in anything else vaguely similar. (And I have experience plenty of tea's that have chilli and other spices in!)

Perhaps obviously, the first thing I encountered in this tea was the chilli. It certainly has some heat to it and makes a startling impression and even now I can feel it on my tongue! It's not so hot it burns you but  you certainly know that you're drinking a tea with it in, that's for sure!

What I love the most though is the ginger. It's just as spicy as the chilli but it adds a touch of subtle sweetness to the tea. I'm a bit of a fan of ginger in small amounts and I think it adds a depth of flavour to a tea that is full on. I have recently been drinking a iced tea that features ginseng so possibly due to that, but I could detect it in this tea which made a really pleasant addition as I LOVE the flavour of ginseng!

Another reason why I love this tea is you do get the distinct feeling that you are drinking something so very healthy that you will benefit from this tea, not only through it's gorgeous flavour, but that if you continue to drink it regularly you'll feel amazing. It certainly perked me up on a morning where I was feeling sluggish and finding it hard to get going!

As much as I champion Wise Owl's Bali Bamboo for it's subtle, herbal taste, I will champion this tea as something so vastly different that it stands alone as a good example of how creative thinking from tea manufacturers can create something utterly unique.

For as much as Bali Bamboo is an awesome tea to drink in the evening, so you can unwind after a stressful day, Peruvian Azteca Fire  is the perfect drink to get you going in the morning or to help you in that mid afteroon slump.

Honestly, it was a absolute pleasure to drink this tea. It may not be a every day tea, but it will be a tea that you can rely on to provide something extra special, different and just that little bit unusual.

Tea makes me happy, emotionally. This blend made my tongue happy with all of it's buzzing flavours. So, yes, I'm guess I'm just a happy Laura today!

Cheshire Tea: Cherry Sencha Green Tea

This morning I woke up craving green tea. As much as I love black tea, it simply wouldn't do. I wanted a lovely, light green tea. After going through the tea cupboard(s) I couldn't find anything that tickled my fancy, but delving into my sample jar, I found this gorgeous tea.

It's a fabulous green Cherry Sencha green tea by a tea company that is new to me, Cheshire Tea.

This wonderful blend was sent to me through the excellent tea subscription service by teatourist. 
If you'd like to know more about teatourist please have a read of the post I wrote about the service at the end of last year. 

I absolutely love green tea. I am as much obsessed with green tea as I am with black tea, albeit for vastly different reason's. I very much appreciate that green tea isn't for everyone, but for me, there is nothing more delightful then it's earthy qualities. I love how you can get a good, strong, robust green tea and you can get blends that are as light as air. It is, I think, a thing of beauty.

As much as I love a nice, strong, gunpowder green for example, there is something equally mouthwatering about a nice green tea that is lightly scented with flavours. Of course, not all flavours work with green tea, I'm not a huge fan of peach in green tea, for example, however, cherry is one flavour that works hand in hand with green tea.

Cheshire Tea have created a wonderful blend of tea with their Cherry Sencha.

The blend is a delight to experience from the moment you open the pack. I love the very large, dark green leaves that look as though they were picked only yesterday. Within the blend you have dots of pink from the rose petal's and red from the cherry. Attractive, pretty and very lovely to smell, too!

I infused the tea for around three minutes and the picture above does it no justice, but it brews to a gorgeous, light honey colour. Very inviting indeed.

Oh, and before I forget, this is a tea that (due to my error when first infusing) doesn't take well to boiling hot water, so either switch the kettle off before it reaches boiling point, or boil the kettle and wait for a few minutes for the water to cool. If you burn the leaves, this tea can go bitter so that's a handy tip there!

When I finally prepared the sencha tea properly (I was only half awake at my first attempt) I sat down to enjoy it with some breakfast and it truly is a delightful blend. The green tea is smooth, gentle and just perfect not only for this time of year when the weather is getting warmer, but it's ideal for that first cup of tea when you fancy something a wee bit different from your usual black tea.

The cherry flavouring is just gorgeous. It's subtle which is good as it makes for a evenly balanced experience. Sometimes with green tea, the green tea is too strong and washes the flavour out, likewise sometimes too much flavouring is added that you can't taste the tea - this blend is mixed just perfectly so  you experience the lovely, natural flavour of the tea, with the juciy, ripe flavour of freshly picked cherries.

I have always believed that with green tea you should always buy the very best quality you can afford. Not that there is anything "bad" or "wrong" with popping along to the supermarket and picking a box off the shelves. However, as a true tea lover I will admit that the difference in quality is staggering. To enjoy green tea in it's purest form you are better off, I feel, to go to those online sellers who specialise, or who at least have expertise in the field of green tea. And it's blends like this cherry  sencha that prove my point. You won't get anything like this in your supermarket.You truly won't.

I was really won over by this blend. Like I said earlier, I believe this is my first taste of Cheshire Tea and was impressed. They bring to you a delight, light and easy to drink green tea. Perfect for beginners, satisfying for those green tea nuts, such as I.

Such a impression has it made that I'm off for a second cup now. And I know that I will enjoy it!

Friday, 24 March 2017

London: "We Will Drink Tea And Jolly Well Carry On"

This week has been horrendous for London. On Wednesday we suffered another awful terrorist attack, leaving one policeman, a mother, a tourist and others dead or injured.

People who live abroad may not realise that those who work on the underground have a fantastic sense of humour, even in the most adverse times. Some staff on stations play music, others write words of wisdom on white boards every morning. An attempt to cheer those poor people who have to struggle around this huge city every morning to get to work and every evening to get home.

There have been several times in my life when these fantastic station attendants have helped me. When I was a young teenager, hopelessly lost I was safely directed home. As a asthmatic city worker who was struggling with smog and bad air quality, it was they who rang for an ambulance when I couldn't breathe. I have a fondness for those cheeky chaps, who give you a wink as they help you through the barriers, and who smile regardless of whatever is thrown at them.

So, it warmed my heart and made me smile when I saw this positive message on a whiteboard at one London underground station. We will drink tea and jolly well carry on. The "thank you" at the end was especially funny.

I was in London myself last Wednesday. I was with a friend from work, we had been to Kensington Palace to see the brand spanking new Diana exhibition. We had a fantastic time. Then the atrocious attack happened. But, somehow, we got home safe and sound, the tube drivers kindly explaining to us every time they had to stop between stations, a nice, calm approach that prevented any form of panic. My friend, though, was worried. She is relatively new to London really, not sure about the tubes or where places are. But, I suppose, having worked as a sixteen year old in London in the mid 1990's, and having to travel to the city through extensive IRA terrorism, I was not used to it as such, but, perhaps, able to stay a little calmer.

I guess us British folk turn to tea when times get rough, when sea's get choppy. We are renowned for it.  And though this whiteboard message made so many people smile at a horrid time, it's actually very true. We will drink tea and jolly well carry on.

My thoughts go out to all those who lost family members in this attack. It goes out to those who died and who are laid in hospital injured.

But I also thank those who work on the underground, who are themselves targets for terrorism. How they reacted and treated passengers was amazing. As amazing as their sense of humour is.

Basilur Tea: Ceylon Tea With Added Fruits

Just recently I was lucky enough to review a wonderful tea from Basilur. It was their gorgeous White Magic milky oolong. As I explained in the review it was a tea that made a staggering first impression and from the minute I took my first sip of White Magic, I fell head over heels in love.

Within a few minutes of trying the sample of the milky oolong I had gone online and ordered a substantial box of the tea, 100 tea bags in fact.

I also acquired a really gorgeous little musical caddie which has come from their Christmas line.  It's really, really pretty and plays a lovely little Christmas tune. Though we are long past the Christmas season now, the caddie will be carefully stored and brought out this Christmas!

Within the caddie, there lay a packet of tea, and a packet of tea filters. What a brilliant idea! Sell loose tea and include a free pack of filters that will help you infuse it. I was very impressed with that little touch. The caddie is just so beautiful, but what about the tea included?

The magical tea which is included in the caddie is a wonderful Ceylon tea.  I adore Ceylon tea. I know Darjeeling is considered the champagne of tea, but actually, as much as I like Darjeeling, I prefer Ceylon.

I love Ceylon's smooth elements. Whereas Darjeeling is delicate, Ceylon is rich and full of flavour. And Basilur's Ceylon is of a very high quality. And that quality makes this tea desirable, moreish and easy to drink.

However, this blend is not just a simple Ceylon. It has wonderful things added to it. These things include pineapple, ginger, apple and orange. And these flavours, when added together, make for something as heavenly as their White Magic tea, albeit it for different reasons.

The first thing that I really liked about this tea is that it is a black tea. I have been dipping between green tea and herbal tea recently so it's really nice to get back to a robust, truly satisfying and gorgeous black tea. I also like the fact that this blend has added flavours that should be quite strong and out there, yet, are delicate enough to not outshine the Ceylon but bring something unique to the blend.

Pineapple is not a typical fruit that is added to black tea, yet, within this blend it's sweet qualities are the first thing I noticed when taking my first sips of this tea. It is a fresh flavour and makes your mouth tingle slightly. It also adds just a tiny sharp twang to the blend. Not unpleasant but exciting.

The next flavour that comes through for me is the crisp, freshness of the apple. The orange follows slightly behind, bringing that citrus flavour I so love in tea. And towards the end of the sip, you get a burst of ginger which makes your tongue fizz ever so slightly.

This is a blend of many depths and layers. Rather like peeling an onion, with each layer comes a new flavour. Some layers are sweet, others crisp and some, as I've said with the ginger, are fizzy, a flavour that dances across your tongue, making your taste buds burst into life.

Many years ago I had a dream that I was floating down a river, sat in a massive cup and saucer. In the dream I was so happy as the river meandered, I enjoyed the feeling of weightlessness as I floated. Well, this tea is rather like that dream in as much as this tea has twists and turns. One flavour is sweet, another slightly sharp, all coming together to create something very special.

As you can tell by the caddie of course, that this is a Christmas item. And this is where the tea is really unique. Rarely have I seen Ceylon in a Christmas tea. And I certainly haven't seen fruits like pineapple, orange and apples feature in a seasonal tea. It's normally all spice this and spice that. And quite frankly, I find a lot of spiced tea's hard to drink as I no longer take milk or sugar in my tea. So, Christmas tea's tend to be a once a week treat.

However, with this tea, it's so different to what is typically sold at Christmas time. I can drink as many cups of this tea as I wish to, without feeling guilty, and even a bit poorly, as I don't have to add anything in it. (I really struggle with milk in tea now!).

This wonderful caddie and utterly beautiful and classy tea is still available on the Basilur website. 
Who can deny themselves the pleasure of being able to listen to Christmas music whilst you infuse your tea? I have to say I'm a great fan of Christmas music and do listen to it through the year to it's absolutely perfect. The caddie is reduced from £13.99 to £9.99 so it's an absolute bargain.

I find Basilur's tea and the people who work there, utterly charming. This is a brand that values high quality tea and also knows how to package tea's so beautifully that you get a complete tea drinking experience. I really do wish I had discovered the brand so much earlier. However, I hope to be able to review many more from their line in the near future.

For the time being, though, I shall happily sit and make a second cup of this extraordinary tea and count my blessing's that I'm lucky enough to be able to!

Bluebird Tea: Bears Like Marmalade

As regular readers know, I LOVE anything remotely orange in tea.

I even love orange flavoured food. Sweet marmalade on hot toast ... jaffa cakes ... chocolate orange ...

I even like "real" fruit, like clementines, satsuma's and oranges. Occasionally. At Christmas.

So, when my brother and his girlfriend paid another visit to Brighton and stopped off at Bluebird Tea to get me a treat, I was delighted when they picked me up this gorgeous blend, which has the cutest name: Bears Like Marmalade.

Bluebird Tea is a popular brand in my house. I haven't tried all their blends, but I've certainly loved the one's I've tried, and this tea is no different.

Bears Like Marmalade is a gorgeous, aromatic and tasty cup of tea, and, for me, who is not overly fond of fruit tea's, it's extremely impressive.

 Firstly, the tea is just so gorgeous to look at. It's so colourful and bright, a wonderful tea for this time of year. The chunks of orange peel, apple and other gorgeous things such as, rosehip, orange blossom and lemon peel are of a really nice size and the quantity that you get for the weight of tea is amazing. This is certainly a tea that will go a long way!

For me though, aside from the taste, the most delightful aspect of this tea is the gorgeous aroma you are greeted with when you open the pack. It's unbelievable. Delicious, mouthwatering and there is absolutely no way you could not make a cup of this tea once you've opened it! It really does smell just like your favourite jar of orange marmalade. When I opened the pack a million happy memories of thickly cut toast spread thick with Dad's Robinson's marmalade came flooding back. That is the thing I love about Bluebird. If they say the tea taste's like something, then it really does!

As this is a fruit infusion, I made up my own teabag and filled it full of tea. I was quite laid back about the infusion time and I think I left it to brew for around five minutes, so the flavour and scent were really strong! I was quite surprised that this brewed to a gorgeous rose hue, not the orange I was expecting.

This is a smooth, sweet tea. A delight for all the senses, but I suppose it's the taste that is the most important thing, of course!

Though this is a sweet tea it's not overly sweet. I have tasted fruit tea's that actually have hurt my teeth because they were sweet, this tea has the right balance between sweetness and a tart, slightly bitter twist. It certainly keeps your taste buds tingling.

Naturally, the most prominent flavour is the orange. It's really quite strong and full of flavour and I really, really like it. It's a very refreshing flavour and you feel absolutely lovely when you are drinking it. This is going to be perfect for the hot summer months!

Underneath the sweetness from the orange comes the slightly sharp taste from the lemon. The two flavours work extremely well together, each balancing the other. I love the citrus twang of this tea, it's very satisfying for me.

There is also a fresh crispness from the apple which adds another dimension to this tea. I do not know how Bluebird manage to succeed in making absolutely perfect fruit infusions - but they do, time and time again!

I did pick up a ever so slight twang of orange blossom too, but I will admit that the orange, lemon and apple are the flavours that are most easily detectable in this blend. But that is to be expected in a tea that is created to be just like marmalade.

If you like fruit tea's or if you have a liking for citrus fruits in general then I would say this is very close to a pretty perfect fruit tea! It's ideal to be served with hot cross buns, which are flying off the shelves this time of year. In fact, I'm saving some of this tea for Easter Sunday. I'm working Easter Sunday and am saving the tea for a after work treat - something to keep me going through what I already know will be a horrendous shift.

This is a very well put together blend. It's tasty, refreshing and incredibly moreish.

Well done to Bluebird Tea. Yet again, you've made this fruit tea sceptic, fall head over heels in love.

You have made a tea that is Easter in a cup, and will be delightful in summer as well. So far, this is my favourite Bluebird Tea. Why not treat yourself and see if you feel the same!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Love At First Sip: Why I'm Proud To Be A Tea Lover

Today, something quite unique happened to me.

That something was I sat down to sample and review Basilur's White Magic tea. Within ten minutes of taking that first sip (or slurp as I was encouraged to do today!) I had gone online and ordered 100 teabags of the aforementioned tea. Now, this is a very lean pay month for me with several birthdays and Mothering Sunday to cater for, however, sometimes, you just have to say 'sod it' and treat yourself.

Some tea's I've fallen in love instantly with. Others have been a bit of a slow burning romance, where a little more love is developed with each new cup tasted. But, with this White  Magic tea something happened. I knew I had found 'my' tea. Just like Earl Grey, Lady Grey and Gunpowder Green, White Magic tea has now established itself onto my list of tea's that will always stay with me. I'm sure, in the future, more will be added, but at the moment it's a bit of a elite list!

But it's the experience I had today which makes me feel so grateful that I'm a tea blogger, and more importantly, a tea lover. I don't drink alcohol, which sets me apart from my people of my own age. Tea is my vice.

To most people, tea is just tea, right? It's just that brown liquid that you rush down before work, or which you may have on  your tea break. To me, though, it's something different, far more important and it's always valued. Each sip appreciated.

I have a physical and emotional attachment to tea. Nothing brings me more joy then walking into a shop and browsing the tea aisle. Or, visiting one of those souvenir shop's in London with the bestie, and finding out they do the cutest tea caddies, then looking at the maker of the tea and realising it's a damn good brand, a win win.

Tea has seen me through some of the most horrendous moments. The breakup of a long relationship and the subsequent loneliness that followed. More tears have been shed into a cup of tea then into my pillow. Nursing a friend over the phone when she lost her much wanted baby, sitting in a hospital waiting room, scared stiff about what was going on with Mum. Those moments have always been soothed by a cup of tea - where there is tea, there is hope.

And of course, the good times, too. Laughing on the sofa with my bestie, gentle teasing by my boss (who I do actually like!) memories of my Dad drinking one cup after the other - chain drinking I suppose!

There are so many emotions tied up with the art of tea drinking. My tea drinking started seven years ago this year, and the journeys I've been on, with tea in hand are quite staggering.

And then there is the blogging. The people I have met, from other bloggers to those who own their own companies, or who work for famous tea brands, or who simply love to read about and try new tea's. There are so many people who I now consider friends, and whom I would not be without.  For as much as their is physical comfort in drinking tea, there is love and support from other tea lovers too.

So it does irk me a bit when people look at me and say "but it's just tea ... just tea". For me it's not. It's a lifeline, a passion, one of those things I simply cannot do without. Just like some people cannot do without coffee, or chocolate or cigarettes.

Yet, there seems to be a stigma around tea drinking, that it's somehow boring or nerdy. Granted I suppose it's not as sophisticated as drinking a frothy latte or whatever the coffee thing is, but there honestly is just something so special about tea. I mean, who doesn't love a Gunpowder Green or a satisfying mug of Earl Grey?

I am not ashamed to stand up and say "my name is Laura, and I love tea". In fact I wear my love of tea like a badge of honour.

And I know I will never loose that feeling of excitement when I see a new blend of tea, or a lovely new caddie in a shop, or when I stumble across a new tea shop. And for that, I consider myself extremely fortunate.

Basilur Tea: White Magic

It's fair to say that this blog relies on the kindness of people, both those I know and strangers. Family and friends (and even my boss!) know of my love for tea, and at some point or another, everyone close to me hands me a new tea, simply because I love it! My boss, who recently holidayed in New York, came back with a packet of fruit tea. It's nice that people think of me like that.

But it's also the kindness of strangers that makes the blog what it is. Tea companies generously send me samples to review. So it's always heartwarming - and encouraging - when a message pop's into one inbox or another asking me if I'd like to sample some products.

Earlier this week, I received a message from a lovely gentleman called Robert from Basilur Tea asking me if I'd like some samples to feature here on Laura's Tea Room. Naturally, I said yes! Tuesday afternoon I spent some considerable amount of time browsing the website and I can honestly say I don't think I've come across a range of tea so beautifully packaged.  Some of the packing is so sweetly dreamlike, others could come straight out of Alice In Wonderland. And some of their tea tins are so beautiful, I could honestly buy it all. (Fall in love now, find a place to store it all later!) In the days of moderately packaged tea, with sleek branding, it's nice to see such beautiful products.

Whilst sorting through the samples I received this morning, I was struck by a green tea called White Magic. I know you shouldn't judge a tea solely by it's packaging, however, the single envelope was so pretty that I couldn't resist trying the White Magic tea first.

White Magic is actually a Milky Oolong green tea - a type of tea I can say I've not actually experienced before, making this all the more interesting, and for me on a personal level, extremely exciting.

The tea comes in teabag form and it's filled generously with a good amount of tea.

I followed the instructions on the sachet and boiled the water to 80 and infused the tea for three minutes (oven timer on to make sure it was brewed perfectly). Whilst this was brewing I could smell this lovely, sweet aroma. I had just polished off a bowl of home made rice pudding and thought it was coming from that. How wrong was I ...

I don't think any sort of preparation would of prepared me for the uniqueness of this tea. I don't think I've drunk a tea like it, and I don't actually think I've fallen in love so quickly with a tea like I have with White Magic.

This is a tea of two halves. Strong, and yet delicate. Slightly tart, yet mouthwateringly creamy.

The base tea of this blend is a strong, green tea.  The green tea has that ever so slightly astringent, strong flavour that I adore in green tea. It's quite sturdy and very, very satisfying. I always keep green tea very close to my heart, it's my tea of choice and I find it a nice change from black tea, so I found this tea delightful from the very start.

Alongside the tart flavour of the green tea comes this wonderful, creamy, milky flavouring that is added to the tea and is, in simple words, utterly beautiful. It's sweetness is extremely moreish, and once you've taken your first sip, you just want more of it. When I finally finished my cup of tea, I was slightly disappointed. It had all gone! Oh no ...

This tea takes your tongue on a really lovely journey. Your taste buds dart from the sharp, tart green to the lovely, soft and creamy milky flavour. It's like two tea's in one cup. And each flavour compliments the other. I find vanilla flavoured tea's quite sickly, but the creaminess in this tea is well balanced with the sharpness of the green tea, making it the perfect partnership.

I was so impressed with this unique, truly one of a kind tea. Never have I tasted a tea like it and I don't think I will again for quite some time.

I am, honestly, stuck for words to describe this tea. Beautiful, stunning, gorgeous .. perhaps are the first few that spring to my mind.

One of my favourite bands are a band from the 1960's, called The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. One of their most famous hits is a song called 'I'm The Urban Spaceman'. One of the lines in the song goes like this .. "my natural enthusiasm spills out all over the place .." Maybe that's the best way to describe how I feel about this tea.  Or, like an over excited puppy could be another, less elegant way!

Either way, you HAVE to try this tea. If you like tea's that are different, or even if you are a traditionalist who wants to try something new, I can't recommend this tea enough. Once tasted this tea will stay with you. And I can guarantee that one cup simply won't be enough.

And if you do have a few spare minutes, don't forget to browse the Basilur website. You're eyes will certainly be in for several beautiful treats!

English Tea Shop: Organic Earl Grey

(Photo sourced from

Christmas was a long time ago now, in fact we are scarily headed towards Easter! But, last Christmas I was incredibly lucky to have been given several tea related gifts. One of those gifts was a wonderful selection box from my brothers lovely partner, Michelle. The box set was from The English Tea Shop and featured a great selection of black and green and fruit tea's. 

Naturally, being a Earl Grey obsessive it was one of the first tea's I tried and I was very impressed.

The main thing that I love about Earl Grey is no blend tastes the same. So when you try a new Earl Grey it's like your trying it for the first time.  Earl Grey is one of those blends I genuinely become excited by! No surprise then that I drunk most of my supply on Boxing Day but thankfully I have kept back one or two sachets which I found this morning.

The English Tea Shop's wonderful Organic Earl Grey is quite different from a lot of Earl Grey's that I have tried. 

I absolutely love the lightness to this tea. By lightness I mean the added bergamot which provides Earl Grey with it's famous taste, is subtle. It's there, and certainly easy to detect, but it's not overpowering. It doesn't that that perfume type element that some cheaper Earl Grey's can have. So, you get that lovely flavour, but without the cloying, overpowering scent which is extremely off putting. 

For me though, the real beauty to this tea is that English Tea Shop have used a high quality Ceylon tea as the base tea and it's really lovely. Due to the superb, subtle flavour of the bergamot you can enjoy the taste of the Ceylon tea and it's just lovely. It has a gentle sweetness to it, it's smooth and easy to drink and is a very refreshing cup of Earl Grey.

This was the first tea I've tried from English Tea Shop and I'm really impressed and cannot wait to try their pure green tea and tropical green tea. If the standard of these tea's match up to the standard of the Earl Grey then I'm certainly in for a treat!

As a genuine Earl Grey lover, that has Earl Grey running through my veins, I give this blend a huge thumbs up. I'm really impressed. And I'm sure you will be too!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Born Wild Tea: Reggae Refresh

Last year I wrote a post about the FANTASTIC tea subscription service brought to you by teatourist. It really is a superb and exciting way to discover tea and through this I have tasted some delicious tea's. And it's now going to be a huge honour to review those tea's over the coming weeks.

As I'm sat here writing this review I have a documentary about Princess Diana on the television. In this show, it refers to her final love letters to her last partner, Dodi Fayed in which she referred to their final holiday together as a bit of a 'oh my god' moment. Now, I'm sure the late Princess was not referring to the extensive selection of tea available on the Jonikal when she wrote that fantastic comment.

I, however, will use my 'oh my god' moment in reference to tea. As there is no better phrase to use for Born Wild Tea's stunning Reggae Refresh. This tea is a tasty fruit tea that will guarantee to make your mouth water.

Oh the whole, I'm not a huge fan of fruit tea. I love the artisan type fruit tea's from websites such as Bluebird Tea, but the general, supermarket brought fruit tea's don't appeal to me much as I never get on with the strange texture that some of them can have. However, when the fruit tea contains pieces of real fruit that oozes flavour, then I certainly enjoy a fruit tea.

Reggae Refresh contains apple, papaya, mango, lemongrass, banana chips and goji berries.

From the moment the hot water splashes on this tea, you are hit instantly with a gorgeous, heartwarming aroma of fruit, and it fills the whole kitchen with it's wonderful scent. It really does take your breath away. It's mouthwatering and once you experience that aroma you cannot wait to see what it tastes like.

There is a natural sweetness to this tea and one of the first flavours I experienced was one of my favourite fruits: mango's. It's just very sweet and very moreish. After the mango, there is a slightly tart taste of very ripe and fresh apples.

Amongst these two very prominent flavours there is a rich, honey like taste which I think is likely to add to the sweet texture that in threaded through this tea. I love how you get a sharp tang from the fruit, yet in the background a wave of sweetness flows making it a tea for all tastes.

But this tea gives you one final kick ...the lemon grass really adds a lovely, spicy after bite. I just loved every sip of this tea because every single sip provided you with different flavours, different experiences and a winning combination of sweet and savoury.

This tea is tasty hot but would make for a ideal iced tea in the hot summer months as well!

I am so very impressed with this tea and this really is a high recommendation from someone who has no particular loyalty to fruit tea - it really does have to be something special to impress me!

If you want a nice, refreshing tea, that is bursting with flavour and oozing with tastiness then I would say Reggae Refresh is the tea for you. This tea is summer in a cup and just about as perfect a fruit tea as you can get!

Whittard: Blend No 240: Chelsea Garden

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to find myself attending a matinee performance of The Phantom Of The Opera. Before Mum and I watched the breathtaking show, we spent the morning in the glorious and sunny Covent Garden in London. Whenever I'm in Covent Garden I find it physically (and probably emotionally too!) impossible not to visit the Whittard shop. In fact I visited both shops, the store on The Strand and the larger store within Covent Garden itself.

On this particular visit Whittards were sampling a glorious loose leaf white tea. That blend is the fabulous Blend No 240: Chelsea Garden. 

I am a huge lover of white tea. I love the delicate traits white tea has. I also love the fact that white tea is dainty enough for china cups and saucers and afternoon tea, yet, has plenty of flavour, too. By drinking this tea, you gain only a wonderful experience.

That day I was in the shop there were various samples available of black, white and green tea, but I will admit, hands up, I'm a bit of a sucker for anything floral, in particular rose, when it comes to tea, so this appealed to all my senses and I couldn't resist sampling this gorgeous tea.

Visually, this is a stunning tea. It's nature at it's very best, appearing in your box of tea. I love the lush tea leaves that come in various shades of green. It's vibrant and alive and healthy. Within those leaves you have pink tiny rose buds and rose petals which adds a dash of stunning colour. The appearance of the tea, with it's gorgeous rose scent is just about as close to perfect as you can possibly get.

As I make my own teabags at home, I usually fill each bag with three generous teaspoons of tea. This is carefully measured in order to get just the right amount of rose flavouring. Each teabag can be infused a couple of times, but I find by the third infusion the tea is significantly weakened so I'd say two infusions is just about right for a tasty cup of tea.

Considering this is a white tea, and white tea has to be handled gently, I boil the kettle and let it cool for a couple of minutes for pouring over the teabag. I infuse this tea for around three minutes. Personally, this is the perfect recipe for making the ideal cup of tea.

Well ... what can I say about this tea? I LOVE IT!

Rose scented tea's are often hit and miss, if I'm totally frank. A really good tea is a delight, but many cheaper rose tea's can taste somewhat artificial, soap like even, so my advice would always be pay as much as you possibly can if you want a truly  natural tasting rose tea. Chelsea Garden costs £6.50 for 50g's but it's money well spent, in my opinion of course!

This tea is very smooth and very easy to drink. It's blended exceptionally well.

I absolutely love the taste of the actual white tea. The vegetation like element really appeals to me. This could be off putting for some but it isn't. It's smooth and is a really good base tea.  It's refreshing and yummy but has that strength to it too to make it truly satisfying.

Naturally, the rose flavour is the more prominent flavour, but it's so delicate and gentle and the aroma when you open the tea packet is ever so slightly Turkish delight like. It's mouthwatering and just so gorgeous. Due to the addition of tiny rose buds and petals, the rose tastes as if it had been picked, freshly from the garden just before infusion. This is no oily, artificial addition. This is good, honest rose and it tastes as it should.

I will admit that I have crushes on several tea companies, but Whittard has become the latest love of my tea life. They are classy, they make totally fabulous tea, and they leave other names standing in the shadows. Their online service is also very good, but it's the shops where my heart lies. The amount of choice available is staggering. The quality is very high and uncompromised. I am hugely impressed with Whittard.

If you want a tea perfect for afternoon tea sat in the sunshine (when it eventually arrives!) then this is surely one of the best tea's to try. If you like your tea delicate with a nice floral flavour then do not hesitate in trying blend Number 240. 

This is ideal served up with jam tarts, Victoria sponge cake or a strawberry shortbread.

Chelsea Garden is a truly sophisticated, classy and elegant tea. This is to be supped delicately and enjoyed at your leisure. Each sip should be savoured and adored.

I will end this review by saying you HAVE to treat yourself to this gorgeous tea. Because, lets be honest, you're worth it!