Enjoying an extended tea break…

Time for a tea break…

Need More Tea

Need More Tea?

Well, I’ve been enjoying an extended tea break, resting the old arthritic wrists from all the typing and enjoying some leisure and relaxation time to celebrate my birthday. I also had a wonderful birthday afternoon tea at the award winning Ham Yard Hotel – more on that in another blog post…

It’s given me time to try some really wonderful teas, and I’m going to share each of them with you over the coming weeks. A huge thank you to all the lovely people at Teakruthi, Varietea, Tea Tourist, The True Tea Club, Ahmad Tea, Whittard of Chelsea, Tetley and My Cup of Tea for my fantastic teas – trying your teas over the past few weeks has made me really happy, and I’m really looking forward to sharing my thoughts and recommendations.

I’ve also had some lovely birthday presents, including some fantastic mugs and tea gadgets, of which I am sure you will approve!

Finally, I’d like to thank and give a big shout out to the wonderful Shaherazad, creator of 18 Hour Heels, for the comfortable, shiny, sparkly and downright gorgeous shoes I’ve been wearing again and again on my adventures – much more to come on those, soon, too.

18 Hour Heels

Shiny, sparkly shoes by Shaherazad – my fabulous 18 Hour Heels

Until next then, hope you’re enjoying a lovely, relaxing cuppa and having a tea break of your own.

Rachael xx

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

Refreshingly Honest – An honour to hear about Honest Tea and honesty from a truly ethical entrepreneur

#Refreshinglyhonest
I was truly honoured to be one of a small group of tea bloggers and tea enthusiasts to be invited to the launch of Honest Tea in the UK, the refreshingly healthy, bottled, herbal and fruit tea drink brand from Seth Goldman, ethical entrepreneur and the company’s “TeaEO”.

The UK Honest Tea Launch

Ethical entrepreneur Seth Goldman shares his story at the launch of Honest Tea in the UK (Image Courtesy of Coca-Cola GB)

The setting was modern, intimate and, to quote the brand’s strapline, refreshingly honest. In the unlikely urban oasis environment of trendy Shoreditch venue, Look Mum, no hands! and flanked by a miniature orange grove created especially for the occasion, a row of tables were set out with newly sprouted lemon balm shrubs in vintage packing crates and fantastically tasty, healthy food providing the perfect backdrop for the tasty, refreshing teas.

The miniature orange grove

The miniature orange grove set up for the UK launch of Honest Tea

A delightfully sunny summer’s day was the ideal setting. After a thirsty journey to get to the launch, I was very glad of my first bottle of the Pomegranate and Blueberry variety – a sweet, fruity blend that was just right and matched the food that was served perfectly. I also enjoyed a Honey and Lemon Honest Tea, which was soothing to a hay fever induced scratchy throat.

Honest Tea has a genuinely remarkable story, springing up from humble beginnings around a Maryland kitchen table in 1998 and growing to be the best selling tea in the USA by 2007. The Honest Tea journey and growth shows how a combination of a strong mission, vision and ethics are the key ingredients to a recipe for a successful business that works to make the world a better place. It was fascinating to hear Seth tell us his story with great warmth, honesty, humour and humility.

Some of the UK Honest Tea blends

Lemon with Honey and Pomegranate and Blueberry Honest Tea blends

Seth was also more than happy to share his thoughts, advice and tools of the trade for those launching or looking to run ethical and healthy food and drink businesses, which is certainly refreshing and was sincerely welcomed by the group. You can read the whole story in Seth’s book, Mission in a Bottle –  well worth a read as a tea lover, businessperson, or if you too are an aspiring ethical entrepreneur.

The brand was acquired by Coca-Cola in 2011, but despite this phenomenal growth and success, the company has remained true to its original mission and vision – -a refreshing approach. You can find out more about Seth’s vision, his work as “TeaEO” and the Honest Tea ethos at drinkhonest.co.uk and on the Coca-Cola UK blog.

Seth Goldman shares his story

Hearing about the outlook for the food and drink industry and the remarkable Honest Tea story from its founder, Seth Goldman

Seth believes that the food and drink industry is going through a profound change currently, with a new focus on health and sustainability, without compromising on quality and taste. He describes their original vision as a hope to “shift people’s diets toward organic, authentic beverage recipes that taste ‘just a tad sweet’.” This drive for low sugar and caffeine free products is opening up innovation in tea, in particular, something I will return to on the blog in my series on tea for health. As well as being Certified Organic and approved by the Soil Association, the packaging is fully recyclable and made partially from plant materials from sugar cane. There’s a delicious, “circle of life” feeling to a drink designed to replace sugary drinks coming in packaging made from sugar cane!

The Honest Tea varieties at the launch

Lemon balm – one of  the ethically sourced herbal ingredients in the Honest Tea varieties

This new perspective in the industry poses great opportunities for authentic brands with simple ingredients and a planet and human-friendly ethos. He is also an advisor to and on the board of a number of other like-minded food startups, including a plant-based burger that could be set to challenge the carnivorous options at the BBQ!

Seth is genuinely excited and spoke humbly about Honest launching in the UK, saying, “This is one of those pinch-me moments. We can’t wait to share our drinks with folks in the UK and are confident the Honest name and brand values will translate without the need of an interpreter.”

An amazing afternoon with like minded people and words of wisdom from an inspiring businessman and human being. It will be great to see what’s next for the Honest Tea brand and Seth’s other admirable business ventures.

Honest Tea is stocked in a number of bars and restaurants in the UK (like Look Mum, No Hands!) and can be found in Whole Foods (the first store to buy the fledgling brand in the US in the early days), Co-Op and branches of M&S Simply Food at BP Connect service stations.

Seth Goldman's book, Mission in a Bottle

Seth Goldman’s book, Mission in a Bottle

Foodies Festival Fun

The Fabulous Foodies Festival

View of Foodies Festival at Syon Park

The fabulous Foodies Festival at Syon Park

At the end of last month, we returned to Foodies Festival in our local area for the fifth year in a row, this time joined by some good friends, who were visiting from Birmingham to enjoy the VIP experience with us.

The second year at this picturesque venue, Syon Park, the well established Foodies Festival did not disappoint. It was even bigger and better than last year, including a beautifully designed VIP tent, with a grand piano bar, comfortable seating area and unlimited supply of tea, coffee, soft drinks and biscuits.

The grand piano VIP bar at Foodies Festival Syon Park

The grand piano VIP bar

After the threat of rain on a muggy morning, the weather actually stayed bright, hot and sunny for us, so we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon strolling around the many stalls, sampling delightful food and drink, listening to the live music, and even enjoying a mobile massage! What a treat – and what a great way to spend a sunny day!

Tea friends old and new…
Old tea friends, Teapigs, had a whole double decker bus devoted to tea lovers this time around, and the creative social enterprise tea company, Tea People, were there again this year, as well as our recent tasty treat provider friends from the Surrey Food Festival, Wholesome Bakes, who offer gluten, dairy and nut free cakes and bakes.

The Teapigs Bus at Foodies Festival Syon Park

The Teapigs Bus at Foodies Festival Syon Park

The Great British Sausage
Other festival favourites from previous years, such as the always impressive Great British Sausage Company, provided tasty snacks. You have to have a top notch hot dog at a food festival, don’t you think?

Burlesque baking!
We also enjoyed a truly scrumptious cake decorating demonstration from the vintage-tastic Burlesque Baker, Charlotte White, who we had the pleasure of meeting when we first arrived in the VIP tent and who decorated a delicious chocolate cake with pretty baby blue and silver icing and decorations. My friend, a talented and keen baker, enjoyed the tips on how to make different flower designs for cake decoration.

Anyone for a G&T?
I was also very excited to meet the team behind Silent Pool Gin at the festival, as they are local gin distillers, based nearby in Surrey, and their branding is just exquisite. I bought a set of their delicately decorated green-blue glasses, which I will share in a future post.

So, we enjoyed a day of food, fun, drinks, learning about how to prepare, make and decorate food, learning about different drinks, some much needed relaxation and massage, and, as usual, lots of tasty tea. What could be better?

Foodies Festival is still running throughout the UK – upcoming dates and venues can be found at FoodiesFestival.com. Other Foodies Festival locations in the London area are Blackheath, 8-10th July, and Alexandra Palace, 27th-29th August, and not far away in Oxford, 2-4th September.

There’s also a Foodies Festival coming up soon “Up North” in my old neck of the woods, at Tatton Park, 15th-17th July, as well as Harrogate, Edinburgh and Oxford still to come in August and September.

I hope you get the chance to enjoy the Foodies Festival experience this year!

Rachael x