A spectacular start to Chinese New Year

Take a trip to the #LandofLuck without leaving London.

I’ve teamed up with Air China to share with you a true taste of China – perfect timing to ring in the Chinese New Year.

Celebrate the lucky Year of the Pig and perhaps land yourself a little bit of luck!

I hope you enjoyed my last post, where I had the pleasure of being able to share some top tea tips, thanks to Air China’s #TeaUpYourYear campaign. I hope to share more of her thoughts on tea and time out in a future post – watch this space.

Chinese Tea Ceremony - tea being poured from blue and white tea ware

Chinese Tea Ceremony

An event to remember

In this next, sponsored post, I’m excited to announce that the lovely people at Air China have kindly invited me to experience their exciting, immersive Land of Luck event as an exclusive preview, before it opens to the public on 9th January! I’m so looking forward to seeing what it’s all about!

Book your own bit of China at The Bargehouse

You can book tickets to the event, which is taking place all day on 9th February at The Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf, at London’s South Bank, for only £10 – tickets and more information are available via Air China’s Facebook page and on the link above.

Sessions will start every 30 minutes from 10am – 10pm and you will have an hour-long taste of China and how to shower yourself in luck this most auspicious of years, The Year of the Pig.

Your exclusive sneak peeks

I’ll be sharing some sneak peaks of the show and what you can expect to find at the event in the run up to 9th February, but you can look forward to all this:

Tea Sessions – hosted by The Tea Whisperer, to teach you all about the art of tea making and luck

Chinese ‘Lucky’ Knot Tutorial – learning how to create a Chinese ‘lucky’ knot that you can gift or simply keep for yourself

A Lucky Menu – everyone will enjoy the following six Chinese dishes created by Chef Ching He Huang

Flavoured Prosperity (fish)

Wealthlings (vegan dumplings)

Rolls of Abundance (spring rolls)

Longevity Noodles (noodles)

Lucky Snaps (crispy seaweed)

Rich Ribs (pork ribs)

Good Fortune Fruit – (apples for peace and clementine’s for luck)

Beverages – chose from a Chinese beer, Jasmine Green Tea or soft drink

A wishing tree

I wish, I wish…

Make your own luck…

I hope you can join me in celebrating this Chinese New Year in style!

*Exclusive Tea with Rachael ticket offer! 10 lucky readers can get half price tickets to the Land of Luck event! Enter tea19 as a discount code on the ticket booking page.*

Until next week – wishing you lots of luck, tea, and joy in a healthy and happy new Year,

Rachael xx

Tea up your year!

Featured

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had some time to enjoy the festivities, drink plenty of lovely tea and enjoy some treats. Today is known as “Blue Monday”, as festive fun fades away and the realities of January set in. But, rather than being blue, it’s time to think positive! It’s actually a fantastic opportunity to take stock and decide what you want out of the year ahead – I find my thoughts lend themselves to this at this time of year. It’s an ideal time to get in touch with your dreams and work out how you will achieve them. And, as usual when contemplating life, my thoughts turn to tea…

In good company

It appears I’m not the only one – according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, 165 million cups of tea are drunk in Great Britain. So why not combine your cuppa with your plans and resolution for 2019 and take this “opportunitea” to support your lifestyle, health and wellbeing?

Chinese Lucky Cat for Chinese New Year
Wishing you luck and good fortune for the year ahead – land your dreams this Chinese New Year with the help of the humble cup of tea, Air China and tea expert, Lera Zujeva

Time to Land your Dream

Chinese New Year is coming up in February and that’s another ideal time to look back on the year that has passed and look ahead with excitement and enjoyment at the year ahead. Air China has also turned their thoughts to tea, and have teamed up with tea expert, Lera Zujeva. This year, the Chinese Year of the Pig, symbolises fortune – and what better way to set your intentions for a year of good fortune than weaving this into your everyday cuppa? As part of Air China’s Land your Dream campaign, they will explore how the art of tea making can help body, mind and spirit – and how it is about much more than just your usual cup of builder’s brew.

Tea and wellbeing go hand in hand

Regular Tea with Rachael readers will know that I often talk about the benefits of tea for health – both physical and mental – and now is a great time to find out how your cup of tea can make you feel happier and healthier. Tea can play an important part in prioritising self-care and mental wellbeing. As we have touched on before, research has also found that drinking black, green or oolong tea may offer physical health benefits, such as protection from cardiovascular disease and cancer, reducing the risk of kidney stones, strengthening bones, teeth and boosting the immune system.

Combining mindfulness and the ritual of tea

Chinese culture brings tea to the forefront in treating the body and mind and helping improve overall wellbeing. Lera explains: ‘Tea is so much more than just a drink, it calms the mind and brings harmony to our life. In Chinese culture medicine and health is viewed in a holistic way, Mind, Body and Spirit and are key to achieving a complete state of balance. Tea is this miraculous plant that works on all three levels. My teacher Wu De says: ‘Most diseases nowadays are either caused by stress or aggravated by it, so anything that calms the mind and brings peace and harmony into our lives, is conducive to health. I personally have experienced it in my own life and am dedicated to relaying this message to others.’’

Lera has an inspiring story, having achieved what many of us dream about: she left her 9-5 job to follow her dream of travelling the world to practise the art of tea and now specialises in how mindfulness and tea can be combined to create moments of peace in an increasingly hectic pace of life. As part of her collaboration with Air China, Lera’s has shared her top tips to help create balance in your life with tea:

Lera’s top tea tips for a happier and healthier life

  • The brewing ritual. However you choose to make your tea, it is an opportunity to pause, to stop, to exhale and have a few moments to yourself without the need to run and do and think, connecting to your senses. You will really notice the benefits, as this is when you truly engage in the moment, which can also lead to more inspiration and ideas.
  • Make sure your tea break is just that: a break. If you have more time, switch off your phone and decide that however long your tea break is, you will fully concentrate on the ritual and yourself. This means no phones or distractions – by fully connecting to the experience, you can recharge and create a sense of peace and harmony. 
  • Timing is everything. In the morning, it is better to have darker stronger brews, while afternoons are better suited to lighter teas. Take inspiration from British tea traditions and enjoy a strong assam brew in the morning and lighter teas like Darjeeling First Flush in the afternoon. This will help connect your body and mind to how it ebbs and flows throughout the day.
  • Pay attention to the seasons. The benefits of the tea ritual change from season to season. In winter, it is important to enjoy more warming teas like black tea or dark roasted oolongs.  When summer comes, switch to cooling teas such as green, white and oxidised oolong teas.  This will help maximise the holistic benefits. 
  • Brain function. Tea can enhance how your mind works. For example, wild Sheny Puerh can help provoke creative thinking thanks to the unique blend of stimulating teas. GABA Oolong, on the other hand, can have a calming effect, preventing over-excitement of the nervous system, helping bring clarity and rationality to your thinking. 
  • The Yin and The Yang. Although it contains caffeine, tea has a different effect to coffee. It is released into the bloodstream slower, and its effect is longer, resulting in a more even energy experience.  A unique amino acid called L-Theanine increases alpha brain activity, promoting relaxation without drowsiness, resulting in being alert, focused and energised from the caffeine, but also relaxed, content and inspired from L-Theanine.

You can watch Lera’s video with Air China here.

Lots to look forward to

I’ll be talking more about tea and health in the coming months, as well as joining in Air China’s Chinese New Year celebrations, which are coming up on 9th March.

Lots to look forward to… Until then, sit down, breathe, relax and enjoy that cup of tea.

Why not share some of your dreams for the year ahead with me, too?

Rachael xx

National Tea Day Adventures Part One – A festival of tea at Fest-Tea-Val

Every day is Tea Day for me

One month on and I’m still revelling in the tea celebrations and tea adventures I enjoyed on National Tea Day. It was a triple whammy of tea for me on 21st April. I started the day at my amazing local shopping centre in Kingston, The Bentall Centre, where I visited my old friends and tea favourites T2 and Whittard of Chelsea for quite a few morning cuppas. More on that soon…

I spent the rest of the day at Fes-Tea-Val, which took place on 21st and 22nd April 2018. I so enjoyed National Tea Day last year, with so many fantastic tea stalls and tea tastings in one place and so many tea enthusiasts and experts all under one roof, aptly hosted at the fabulous Kensington Roof Gardens, which sadly no longer exist. I met some wonderful tea people (including catching up with old friends, like Tea People!) and enjoyed some spectacular tea blends and accompanying treats, as well as making friends with a few flamingos…

Fest-Tea-Val at Chiswick House and Gardens

Fest-Tea-Val in the tranquil surrounding of Chiswick House and Gardens

Fest-Tea-Val

This year’s National Tea Day festival, however, went way beyond expectations. The fabulous celebration of all things tea, cleverly called “Fest-Tea-Val”, perfectly complemented the tranquil beauty of Chiswick House and Gardens – a genuine and very unexpected oasis of calm in between Richmond and Central London. It was much bigger than I thought it would be – more like a food festival and just as much fun (if not more fun, as everything centred around tea!).

A time for friends and family

I visted on the first day, on National Tea Day itself, 21st April. A couple of my friends met me at the event and were just as surprised at the size, scope and scenery of Fest-Tea-Val. We made a point of visiting every single stall and trying as many teas and treats as we possibly could!

Par-tea time!

The Fest-Tea-Val was divided up into different zones, with something for everyone: Tea ‘n’ Treat Village was exactly what you’d expect – full of teas and treats. Tea ‘n’ Tipple Boulevard showcased some of the more grown up delights on offer, with tea cocktails and tea-infused booze.

There were over 225 providers of tea and treats at the festival, with everything from loose leaf teas, specialist teas, posh teabags, organic teas, detox teas, tea-infused beer and spirits and some tea-inspired tipples. I came home with all kinds of edible goodies – from cheese, to tea-infused gin, to tea of all kinds. I must say I was very excited by my tea-inspired haul, as were my friends. 

As well as enjoying all the tea, tipples, food and frolics, there was live music, baking demonstrations and numerous how-tos. We all learned a lot about tea, and there was even time for some relaxation in the Vitali-Tea Garden.

A fashionable festival of tea

There was even a tent dedicated to fashion, bringing together some of my favourite things: food, fashion, and of course, tea.

So many wonderful tea people

I’m going to try to do some special posts for the different tea companies that we discovered, but there are certain companies that really made it a fantastic day for us, and I’d like to give a little shout out.

Hope and Glory at Fest-Tea-Val

The fabulous Hope and Glory stand at Fes-Tea-Val

Where there is tea, there is hope…

Independent tea brand, Hope & Glory, were one of the sponsors of the event and had both a fabulous vintage inspired stand and a cafe area, right by the riverside. It was a peaceful spot to sit down for a bit and enjoy some top notch tea and tuck-boxes, resting our weary feet as we surveyed our tea purchases and enjoyed a quality cup of tea and a stunning view out over the River Thames. The Hope & Glory afternoon tea lunch boxes were made up by top chef, Cyrus Todiwala, in a special collaboration to celebrate National Tea Day, presented in the Hope & Glory vintage-style tin tea caddies. We were delighted to meet the team behind the brand, including co-founder, Bharat Chudasama, who is so genuinely passionate about tea and welcomed us warmly with a lovely Earl Grey and the tasty tuck-boxes. We enjoyed a lengthy conversation about tea and our shared love of good quality teas until we realised the Fest-Tea-Val was closing and it was time for go home. But that meant going home to more delicious tea – and maybe some of the tea infused boozy treats, too!


A fab festival atmosphere in stunning surroundings

It was a really fab day out all round, perfect for tea lovers and foodies alike. We were exhausted after all the tea adventures, but it was so worth it!

Thank you to all the lovely team at National Tea Day for inviting me and for putting on such an awesome event. True tea lovers!

I’ve so many other lovely tea adventures to share in the coming weeks – from more National Tea Day fun, to some fabulous teas and treats to try at home. Much needed after such a busy time!

I’m looking forward to many more tea adventures, too, now that the weather is getting so much better.

Until next time, hope you’re enjoying a cracking cuppa!

Rachael xx

The Great British Cuppa: Part One – How do you take your tea?

Winter is here and the festive season isn’t far away – time to cosy up with a cuppa…

Premium Earl Grey

A cosy cup of Earl Grey, anyone?

Winter is officially here! The golden Autumn leaves have almost disappeared, Halloween has been and gone, and the festive season is fast approaching. My thoughts are turning to cosy afternoons tucked up at home or in front of a fire in an atmospheric, historical or country house hotel, with a great pot of tea and a sweet treat!

As you would expect at this time of year, the days are getting shorter, the nights are drawing in, and it’s got a lot colder. So what better time to get really cosy with a good cuppa tea?

What makes the Great British Brew?

Mug of tea

A nice mug of tea – do you prefer a cup or a mug?

This month, there has been some fabulous research into the perfect cup of tea and the enduring British love affair with tea. With the importance of a good cup of tea and the tradition and ceremony of a properly made afternoon tea having a resurgence over the past few years, it seems our nation’s obsession with the perfect cuppa is showing no sign of waning.

Sykes Cottages have just completed a major piece of research all about The Great British Brew. Tea has inspired our artists and literary greats over the years, being the source and subject of many a famous quote. I’ll be sharing some of these as tea inspiration over the coming weeks.

They have also explored how the great British public likes to take their tea, asking 2,000 people in Britain about how and when they have their tea, with some interesting results:

  • Over half of British people take their tea white with no sugar
  • 84% of people in Britain drink at least one cup of tea per day
  • People drink more tea the older they get – 33% of Brits over 55 drink five cups or more each day. This compares to a figure of just 11% for 18-24 year olds
  • It seems our tea making abilities also improve with age, as 68% of those surveyed aged 55 or over claimed they made the best tea, as opposed to 41% of 18-24 year olds.
  • It may come as no surprise that we’re a fussy bunch when it comes to making our tea, with 59% of those surveyed saying they preferred to make their own cup of tea

How to make the perfect cup of tea

How to make the perfect cup of tea

How do you make the perfect cuppa?

With perfect timing, Whittard of Chelsea have just produced their guide to making the perfect cup of tea. It’s important to take into consideration the type of tea you are using, the temperature of the water, and what you are planning to use to brew your tea in. As big fans of tea will know, as a general rule, 3-5 minutes is about the right time to brew black teas, in freshly-boiled water, depending on how strong you like your brew. Lighter, more delicate teas, such as Darjeeling, white or green teas, should be brewed for no more than 3 minutes. It’s also important to remember that the water needs to be a little cooler for green and white teas, so don’t pour your water on these teas as soon as it’s boiled.

Have a look at Whittard of Chelsea’s useful and detailed guide to making the perfect cuppa.

How do you like your tea in the morning? Or afternoon, or evening…?

What’s your favourite kind of tea, and how do you take yours?

A nice, strong pot of tea

I like a nice strong black tea with the tiniest splash of lacto free milk or milk alternative

Do you prefer loose leaf tea or teabags? A rich, earthy Assam, or light, fragrant Darjeeling? Or perhaps a refreshing white or green tea?

Mine’s a nice strong cup of black tea with the tiniest splash of lactose-free milk or milk alternative, please!

Until next time – enjoy your perfect cuppa and a cosy corner in the cold – more comforting tea treats on the way soon!

Rachael XX

Tea at Tiffany’s – a bite of the Big Apple in Surrey

Twinings Tea, Audrey and Cat!

Tea at Tiffany’s – actually the very lovely Warren House!

New York is my all-time favourite city and my ‘happy place’, but I love my home in leafy Surrey, too.

A classic representation of New York, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is also one of my all-time favourite films. When I was last in New York, back in June last year, I bought a number of books inspired by both this iconic Audrey Hepburn film and the mythical status of Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue – “Fifth Avenue, 3AM” and “Summer at Tiffany’s”. It’s making me long to go back to the amazing NYC again! More on my amazing trip to the Big Apple soon…

My Holly Golightly looks

My Holly Golightly-inspired outfit – and Cat!

 

My lovely friends at The Secret Tea Society, also huge fans of both Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Audrey Hepburn, recreated the magic of the film and paid homage to the wonderful Audrey in a Breakfast at Tiffany’s-themed afternoon tea, right here in lovely Surrey!

Lovely, peaceful garden

The stunning secret grotto garden!

I was so excited to put on my little black dress (a cute little number from Anna Sui, bought especially for the occasion and based on the outfit that Holly Golightly wears when she visits Sing Sing); my black patent kitten heel Jimmy Choos (appropriately purchased in Saks Fifth Avenue during my visit last June) and some fabulous jewellery (a very sparkly choker-style necklace bought for me by one of my lovely Sisters-in-Law a few years ago) for this most elegant of teas! I even put my hair up in a bouffant bun!

Taking with me Cat (not my real cat, but a very lifelike soft toy!) and raincoat in reference to the iconic final scene of the movie, I headed over to the stunning Warren House, the venue for our special event. Greeted warmly by the lovely lady at reception and our tea sommelier for the afternoon, I headed into the stylish sitting room reserved just for the ladies of the Secret Tea Society. The sun beamed through the windows and the French doors were open onto a secret grotto – an adorable cobbled garden and fountain, which led to the statuesque grounds, where other happy guests were enjoying sumptuous afternoon teas.

Choosing our Twinings loose leaf tea

Choosing our Twinings loose leaf tea at Warren House – spoiled for choice!

After a glass of Champagne and catching up with the fabulous Secret Tea ladies, we sat down to play a few games – a prize for the best representation of Audrey Hepburn/Holly Golightly (my lovely table-mate, Clare, won with her striking Holly Golightly party look!) and a quiz to see who knew the most fun facts about the film (my table won, naturally!) Our prize was a copy of the film and, of course, some delicious tea, from Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.

Lovely afternoon tea at Warren House

Delicious teatime treats at Warren House

Next, we chose our Twinings loose-leaf tea – I decided to try both the Darjeeling and Assam – two of my favourites and full of flavour!

 

Then we were delighted to see the fantastic spread appear before our eyes – delicate, flavourful sandwiches, dainty, melt-in-the-mouth scones, the most amazing mini cinnamon loaves, tempting cakes and sweet treats. After stuffing ourselves happily with as much as we could manage, there was stll plenty left to take doggy bags home!

The Tiffany's-inspired decorations I took home

Some of the lovely Tiffany’s-inspired decorations

We also each took home some of the beautiful decorations that our “Hostess With the Mostest”, Founder of the Secret Tea Society, Claire Worrell, had lovingly made: Tiffany-blue-green pom-poms, ladylike table flowers adorned with Tiffany-style ribbon and pearl decorations, matching feathers and shiny butterflies! I have mine proudly on display next to my Tiffany-coloured heart chalkboard in the kitchen.

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! I had such a good time, and it was tremendous fun not only seeing all my lovely Secret Tea friends again, but seeing everyone in their fabulous outfits. I also cannot recommend Warren House and the incredible team there highly enough.

Both an afternoon and an Afternoon Tea to remember! X