Float like a dragonfly, enjoy a cup of tea!

A delightful evening of tea tasting and appreciation

I recently attended what was arguably the best bloggers’ event in the whole time I’ve been writing Tea with Rachael! It’s taken a while to put together this post, as I really wanted to do it justice, so I hope you get a sense of it all when reading.

The lovely people at Dragonfly Tea invited a small group of bloggers and tea enthusiasts to a very special and exclusive tea tasting masterclass with the family run tea brand’s very own Georgia Ginsberg, carrying on the grand tea tradition of her father, who founded Dragonfly 15 years ago, and her great grandfather, who introduced the people of the UK to Rooibos. I’m already a big fan of Dragonfly’s Rooibos blends, having a large box of both the Vanilla and Earl Grey Rooibos teas on my desk at work, so was very excited to try more of their teas.

The Tea House Collection

The beautiful tea and floral displays at the Dragonfly Tea event

The Tea House collection
The event was in honour of the launch of the new Tea House Collection, celebrating rare and precious teas such as Oolong, Matcha, white tea and the finest quality green tea, created to commemorate Dragonfly’s 15 year anniversary and with the aim of bringing them to a wider audience and making them more accessible, as well as including great blends of some old favourites and classic teas, such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey.

Earl Grey cocktails

Delicious Earl Grey G & Tea cocktails

Tea cocktails
Held at the Waitrose Cookery School in the regenerated, revamped and downright trendy area surrounding London’s Kings Cross, we were welcomed with some creative tea inspired cocktails. My tipple of choice was the very stylish Earl Grey G & Tea, but there were also other delectable choices of Oolong Island Iced Tea or the alcohol free Green Tea Mojito Cocktail. The cocktails were complemented with a selection of tasty and moreish canapés, again, inspired by tea. The lemongrass and ginger tea meringue choux were a particular hit!

Lemongrass and ginger tea meringue choux

Lemongrass and ginger tea meringue choux

Time for tea…
Georgia talked us through all the Tea House blends and we tasted each one in a very cute little glass cup! I was very surprised to find that I really liked the green tea – never usually one of my favourites – but this was light and refreshing. I was also reminded of how much I enjoy a good cup of Oolong – the delicious Eastern Beauty Oolong is one of the tea choices that I took home from the evening.

Garden Mint and Verbena Tea

Tasting the Garden Mint and Verbena

After hearing about the fascinating history of the Dragonfly brand, the different teas, carefully selected tea blends, their uses and – very importantly – how they should be brewed, we were asked to put our tea tasting skills to the test with a blind tea tasting. I teamed up with the lovely Nicola of Little Vintage Star and we were two of the three ladies to guess them all correctly! After a tie breaker question about Japanese tea, I was delighted to win the competition, and was stunned to receive the most beautiful bouquet of flowers!

Beautiful bouquet of flowers

The wonderful flowers I won for the tea tasting competition

My Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

My Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

How to make a girl feel special…
As well as the stunning flowers, we were each given the cutest branded marshmallows, our two choices of our favourite Tea House Collection teas, an adorable glass teapot/cup, an origami dragonfly and the very exciting Dragonfly birthday candle, Tea Chest Number 1 – an exclusive preview of the Dragonfly scented candle created by renowned perfumers, Alberto Morillas. The candle gives off a comforting scent of tea, cosy winter fires, and general loveliness! I’ve been burning mine since the evenings have got colder, while enjoying a good cuppa, and love it!

Everything about the Dragonfly brand is one of quality – each aspect is carefully and thoughtfully presented, reflecting the company’s heritage and ethos. Each tea is blended with love and the floral branding and packaging are so pretty!

Delicious Dragonfly marshmallows

Yummy Dragonfly branded marshmallows

What a fantastic event and a really fun and fascinating way to spend an evening! Huge thanks to Georgia, all the team at Dragonfly and the lovely people at Babushka Communications for organising and for inviting me.

The Tea House Collection is available online now and Dragonfly Teas can be found in a number of good supermarkets and health food shops. The Tea Chest Candle Number 1 will be available in time for Christmas and would make a fab gift for a lot of people I know! You can register as an Early Bird for when they’re available – there are options to buy the candle or you can get a lovely, boxed gift set that also includes two Tea Collection teas of your choice.

Georgia mentioned while we were learning all about the different teas a phrase that is used among Dragonfly’s tea suppliers and all the different people they work with to bring their teas to life, “Tea Friends”. I often talk about my tea friends, and apparently this phrase means more than just friendship; it’s a promise of collaboration and support among people who work with tea, a badge of honour, if you will. I think there is no better phrase to sum up this fantastic event, the people there, and the lovely new range of teas, which each show how much work has gone into them and all the tea loving people who have been involved in the process.

Dragonfly Teapot for One and Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

My amazing little Dragonfly mini teapot and candle

Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

Dragonfly’s Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

Goodnight, my lovely Tea Friends – hope you are enjoying a good cuppa and a cosy corner somewhere this cold autumn night!

Rachael XX

Time for a bit of Honestea – how honest are Londoners?

I’m a Northern lass at heart, and have often wondered how the folk down South compare in terms of honesty and integrity. It’s often the source of many a joke, but it was interesting to see the differences just between North and South London in a recent social experiment from the people at chilled organic herbal and fruit tea drink brand, Honest.

UK Honest Tea

Lemon with Honey and Pomegranate and Blueberry Honest Teas – yum!

An honest experiment…

Based on a similar experiment conducted across the USA, called the Honesty Index, the Honest team in the UK set up an honesty box where they left some goodies out across a number of London hotspots at an unmanned stand with a “Take one, leave £1” sign for three weeks. The results were pretty extraordinary!

Some payed the full £1, others some left small change, foreign currency, or didn’t pay at all. Some lovely peeps donated £1 without taking a bottle! 85% paid at least something for their bottle of Honest, and a reassuring number of only one in seven didn’t pay anything.

So, how did the different areas of London compare?

1. East London – 94% honest
2. West London – 93% honest
3. Central London and North London – 84% honest
4. South London – 80% honest (am a bit shocked by this compared to the other regions – buck your ideas up, South London!)

Are women more honest than men?

Women in London seem to be the most honest by a small margin, with 86% donating compared to 84% of men. In the experiment, women were most likely to donate small change, or at least something in order to at least appear honest, while men would either pay the full £1 or leave nothing at all.

Don’t judge a book by its cover…

The Honest experiment found that brunettes, at 88%, were slightly more honest than blonde, who were 83% honest. Both were more honest than those with black hair, of whom only 78% were honest. Brunette women were also found to be the group most likely to stop for a bit, look at the ingredients on the bottle, and then donate. (Not sure what to make of this – most of my close friends are brunettes, one’s blonde, one has jet black hair, and I’m part blonde, part brunette. Hmm…)

– 91% of bespectacled Londoners were honest
– 78% with visible tattoos or piercings were honest
– Men with beards were 69% honest
– Bald people were very honest at 93%, compared to those with hair (84%)
– Men with long hair seemed to be the most honest group overall

Only in London…

Some of the weird and wonderful highlights of the experiment included:

– One woman paying for two bottles – one for her, and one for her hairdresser
– A very nice chap bought five bottles for his colleagues with a £5 note
– A dog lover paid for a bottle, showing it to the dog for approval
– One person paid with a Euro coin, another paid with two Nuevos Soles (from Peru)
– Mums used the opportunity to explain to young children the concept of honesty – and then encourage their little ones to pay for a bottle
– A driver stopped his bus full of passengers to nip out and pay for a bottle for him and a colleague who was driving behind him!
– One woman stopped her car at a red traffic light, paid £1, grabbed a bottle and whizzed off!
– A homeless man selling flowers paid the full £1 for a bottle just as a man in a suit grabbed a bottle without paying (this one makes me very ashamed of some unscrupulous Londoners!)
– Couples were most honest, with 92% paying the £1, compared to 84% of people who were on their own

Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest

Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest

Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest, and long-time fan of the UK and London, was delighted by the experiment and its results: “Bringing Honest to the UK is one of those pinch-me moments – being able to conduct the Honest Index here after the success we’ve had in the US is really something. We thought we’d try the Honest Index in London, and it’s great [to hear] such positive and heart-warming results.”

Check out the video for more.

How honest are you, my tea-drinking friends? Would you have left £1 for a lovely bottle of Honest?

I know I would! (♥Rubs halo…!♥)

Food for thought…

Rachael xx

Caffeine – friend or foe?

In the latest in my series about tea for health, I thought it would be good to get to the bottom of the ever-changing approach to caffeine. Is it good for you? Some articles claim that caffeine can support your health, others say it is detrimental – I’d like to investigate and draw my own conclusions.

The truth about caffeine?

Caffeine applied topically can help get rid of cellulite and firm the skin. It’s a key ingredient in many expensive and high street body creams for this very reason. Caffeine is also added to some “Max” or “Ultra” painkillers, such as Paracetamol or Co-Codamol, to speed up the pain relief process.

A little caffeine boost can help when you’ve overindulged a little the night before, or if you’re just downright exhausted.

Tetley's Superteas

Superteas, including Alert, from Tetley

My personal feeling about caffeine is that everyone responds to it differently. Certainly, you shouldn’t be relying on it for an instant energy all day, every day, and this is often an easy trap to fall into. However, the occasional boost, as long as you have not been advised to avoid it, does no harm, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve certainly found my Alert tea from Tetley useful to perk me up in the mornings, which is an everyday tea blend with the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee added.

With Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS for short!) I have to be careful not to have too much – I have had the odd incident when a very large cup of coffee has caused palpitations – although I do find the odd caffeine boost helpful when taking my pain medication and as a much needed pick me up on days when I’m feeling particularly tired and drained.

A good cuppa tea

A nice cup of tea

As a seasoned tea drinker for most of my life, I have never had any problems drinking caffeinated tea, and usually have several cups a day. The levels of caffeine in black tea are higher than in green tea, but still not the same as you will find in a cup of coffee.

In fact, I have it on good authority from a bonafide tea expert that the caffeine in tea is actually different to that in a cup of coffee – Georgia Ginsberg, Director of family run and fabulous tea company, Dragonfly Tea (more on this great tea brand coming soon), discussed the caffeine content in tea when we met recently and said that there is definitely less caffeine in tea and there is actually a difference in the way it is absorbed when compared with coffee. Tea is also full of antioxidants, which are good for your overall health, protection from external factors such as pollution, and assist with anti-ageing and immunity.

Decaff tea from Whittard of Chelsea

One of Whittard of Chelsea’s decaffeinated options

Vouchercloud recently published a very illuminating article on caffeine, which provides some useful and surprising results for the caffeine content of a range of popular drinks, including a variety of different types of tea. It makes for interesting reading – thank you to Vouchercloud and Whittard of Chelsea for providing a wealth of information on the subject. Vouchercloud also has a number of money-off offers at the moment – worth checking out for getting your fix of Whittard’s tea and stocking up on your favourites!

 

 


How much caffeine is in my drink?

Type of Tea Serving Size Caffeine Quantity        Caffeine Level
Black Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 14-90 mg Moderate
Black Tea (Decaffeinated) 240 ml (cuppa) 0-12 mg Low
Darjeeling Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 19-55 mg Moderate
Oolong Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 50-75 mg Moderate
English Breakfast Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 40-70 mg Moderate
Earl Grey Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 55 – 90 mg Moderate
Lady Grey Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 14-40 mg Moderate
Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 12-30 mg Low
Jasmine Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 17-30 mg Low
Lemon Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 12-30 mg Low
Matcha Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 70 mg Moderate
White Tea 240 ml (usual size cuppa) 30-50 mg Low
Rooibos Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Peppermint Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Red Berry Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Ginger Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Camomile Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Other Drinks
Coffee 240 ml 150-200mg High
Coca-Cola 330ml (can) 32mg Low
Diet Coke 330ml (can) 42mg Low
Coke Zero 330ml (can) 32mg Low
Coca-Cola Life 330ml (can) 26mg Low
Redbull 250ml (can) 80 mg Moderate
Relentless 500ml (can) 160 mg High

Source: Vouchercloud

Cutting down on caffeine

If you’re looking to cut down on caffeine, but not cut it out completely, there are a number of tasty teas to try. Green tea is lower in caffeine than black tea, thanks to the oxidation process used on the green leaves to turn them into black tea that releases more caffeine from the leaves. White tea is even less processed, so is another good choice. Oolong is the best of both worlds, like a refreshing combination of green and black teas.

Good quality green tea is light and should never be bitter. Be careful how you brew it – don’t use boiling water or leave it to steep too long, or it will taste stewed and bitter. There are a wide variety of flavoured green teas you can try. Floral, relaxing Jasmine Green Tea, combinations of mint and green tea, or fruit flavoured green teas are all good options.

I’ve talked about some of my favourite brands on Tea with Rachael before and mentioned some in here already, but if you are looking for inspiration and a dizzying choice of blends, with or without caffeine, have a look at some of these tried and tested tea brands I enjoy regularly: Dragonfly Tea, Whittard of Chelsea, O-Teas, Teavivre, JollyBrew, Ahmad Tea, Chateau Rouge, Twinings, Clipper, Brew and Bites, The Kent & Sussex Tea and Coffee Co, to name just a few.

Caffeine-free treats

Rooibos and Honeybush

If you’re looking to cut right down or cut out the caffeine completely, there’s still plenty of choice. Naturally healthy Rooibos and Honeybush teas have been used medicinally for years in Africa and are a go-to if you want a comforting, caffeine-free brew, or if you’re feeling a bit under the weather. Peppermint and mint tea blends are caffeine free and great for digestion, helping you beat the bloat after a large meal or overindulging. Also great if you’re if you’re feeling a bit sickly. Ginger tea is also good for digestion and is a safe way to help fight nausea if you’re unwell or suffering from pregnancy sickness.

Lemon and rosemary tea

Lemon and rosemary tea from O-Teas

Herbal teas

Cosy, comforting herbal teas, such as lemon and ginger or lemon and rosemary are great if you have a sore throat, or as a warming cuppa in colder weather. I’m a fan of teas with lavender in, too – a natural antiseptic, whether in a herbal blend or mixed with black tea.

There are also the cold, herbal tea drinks I’ve blogged about before and are naturally caffeine-free – Honest and Tg Teas are refreshing and portable, so you can drink them anytime! More on these lovely tea treats in future posts…

Time for a detox tea?

Another great option if you’re looking for a caffeine free brew is a detox tea range. If you’re looking to drink detox teas for health benefits it’s a good idea to avoid any that have any laxatives or any nasties in them.

A great brand I’ve tried recently is Teagime, which tailors tea blends to your specific needs, to create, yes, you’ve guessed it, your very own Teagime. You fill in a health questionnaire and they blend the teas to support what you’re looking to achieve. In my case, it was avoiding the late afternoon slump, curbing sugar cravings and aiding a good night’s sleep.

Teatime teatox teas

A fabulous box of Teagime Teatox teas and illustrated tea guides

I was delighted to receive a tailored selection of teas from Teagime – one for morning, one for the afternoon, and one for night time. After filling in a questionnaire on their website abut my particular concerns and health requirements, they created blends specific to my requirements.

Everything about the brand is comforting and frankly, looks beautiful – from the information leaflet that comes with your box of teas, to the pink steepers that are provided for the loose leaf teas, to the logo and the look and feel of the website.

Tasty teas from Teagime

Not what you’d expect from a detox tea – the tasty teas from Teagime are a comforting treat!

The teas themselves are tasty, with an unusual choice of fruit and herb-filled flavours and a variety of custom-built blends tailored to you. Impressive, innovative, and highly recommended!

So many wonderful teas to choose from – with or without caffeine! How do you prefer your cuppa?

Until next time, hope you enjoy a nice cup of tea – or two – with or without caffeine, whatever you prefer xx

Celebrating a cosy Crocktober!

Fire up the log burner and the slow cooker – October’s here…

It’s the start of a new season – the evenings are getting shorter, there’s a crisp nip to the air, and the leaves are turning a beautiful golden shade. It’s Autumn – a lovely time of year, with a lot of fun events and activities to look forward to! What with my wedding anniversary, special friend’s and family’s birthdays, and, of course, Halloween, I do enjoy this time of year.

Cosy cottage

With the decidedly cooler weather, thoughts turn to cosy, comforting meals cooked at home. I have blogged before about the joys of slow cooker cooking and have cobbled together many a hearty casserole, particularly during the Autumn months. But did you know you can make cakes in a slow cooker, too?

Cosy log burner

Time to fire up the log burner

Crock-Pot hosts #Crocktober every Autumn, and 2016’s theme is a Weekender – the ideal time to try out some cupcake recipes as tasty weekend afternoon tea for guests. And what do you need when you have a selection of delightfully delicate cupcakes? A nice pot of tea – or two!

Crock-Pot has been experimenting with their Weekender cupcake recipes and asked me to make some recommendations of teas to accompany the cakes. Who doesn’t love tea and a sweet, sugary cupcake? I have to stretch the experimentation a little further in order to have gluten and dairy free versions, but here are my recommendations of tasty teas to try with your Crocktober Cupcakes.

Darjeeling and tasty mini cupcakes

A nice cup of Darjeeling with some tasty mini cupcakes

Why not try a light, refreshing, citrus infused Earl Grey to balance the sugary icing and contrast with the sweetness of the cupcakes, or perhaps a healthy green tea? Another option is a delicately flavoured Darjeeling, which doesn’t detract from the full flavours of the cupcakes but instead has the right mix of tanginess and depth to go with a gooey, tasty treat.

Cupcakes and a refreshing cup of Earl Grey

Cupcakes and a refreshing cup of Earl Grey

I’ll be sharing some Crock-Pot slow cooker casserole recipes over the coming weeks, but while we still have the bright, yet somewhat cooler weather, make the most of those sunny weekend afternoons with some Crock-Pot Cupcakes and a really good cup of tea!

Until then,

Enjoy!

Rachael xx