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.