Happy Virtual National Tea Day!

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Well, this year’s National Tea Day will be a little different. In previous years, I’ve celebrated this special day with tea loving friends at the National Tea Day events and visited my favourite local tea suppliers in Kingston, like the lovely people at T2 and Whittard of Chelsea, stopping off for a a moment of zen over a cup of green tea and to stock up on sweetly scented skincare and home fragrances at Rituals. It was often combined with an afternoon tea, leisurely local lunch or dinner with friends and family. And that’s what tea is all about, for me, bringing people together, a moment of calm, time to take for yourself and to enjoy the places, people and activities you love. It’s why I started Tea with Rachael.

Brave New World

Fast forward to 2020, and it’s a whole new world. So it’s a very different National Tea Day for many. But in some ways, this virtual Tea Day is reflective of my day to day life. I started the year enjoying some sunshine and reading on holiday, hoping it would be a good way to kick start my health for the year ahead. Unfortunately, I had not been back home long when I was struck with a debilitating virus, with extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and many of the hallmarks of a pneumonia type illness that were just not showing up in the tests I had in early February. It felt much like it did when I suffered from pneumonia and a blood clot on my lungs in early 2019, and I was pretty much stuck in bed, not able to even read all the lovely books I had received as gifts, or enjoy my usual activities.

Meanwhile, my poor Mum has been unwell with what we think was Covid-19 and my beloved cat of 17 years, the famous Max of my social media, died on the morning of my birthday. After losing much of last year to recovering from pulmonary embolism, it was a blow, to say the least.

Two months on and it’s time for tea

The one thing I could still enjoy while feeling so awful was lots of soothing tea, and I have been very fortunate to have been sent some stunning tea selections to keep me going and I have thoroughly enjoyed trying and tasting every single one – not something I always have the time to devote to that I would like! I am extremely grateful to everyone who has sent me tea to try throughout the years and I feel I am finally catching up on all my well-earned tea time!

Two months on, despite trying to rest and recover, I had to go to hospital briefly with breathing difficulties and they found that I had consolidation on my lungs from a secondary pneumonia infection. The paramedics and everyone at my local hospital were fantastic and made sure I was safe and well looked after during my short overnight stint. Antibiotics and lots of sleep finally seemed to do the trick, and I am now happily feeling much better, although still getting tired far more easily than before, which I suppose is to be expected.

Rachael enjoying afternoon tea in London before lockdown
Enjoying a gluten free afternoon tea in London long before the lockdown. Image credit: Yi Ling Huang

Life as I know it

So, life is much the same as usual for me with chronic arthritis, related conditions and their many foibles – good days and bad days; many days when I would like to be able to see friends and family or do something fun but I have to stay home and take it that bit easier. And I always have to be very careful of all the germs out and about because of my lacking immune system, so staying in the safety of my own home has been a relief on that front.

Time to bring people together – virtually

There will be many, like me, who find isolation not too far a stretch from the usual day-to-day. Not being able to see friends and family and have those occasions to look forward to, however, is a big wrench. Not being able to leave the house, even if you are feeling well enough, is also difficult, to say the least. But tea brings people together, and we are seeing that in a variety of positive ways in life in lockdown. Yorkshire Tea are bringing their own unique brand of news to social media; PG Tips are showcasing virtual tea breaks with friends and family.

The bigger tea brands are bringing what we have known for a long time to the public eye. It’s important to me to continue to support both independent and established tea companies that I have engaged with and enjoyed over the years throughout these unprecedented times. Being able to keep their businesses going online and spread some cheer through the wonderful world of tea is just what we need in times of uncertainty and sadness; but also solidarity, support, sunshine and smiles.

Loose leaf lovelies

People like Teasup, who are local to where I live and run by a husband and wife team of tea lovers, offer a selection of sustainable, high quality teas that taste great and you can order tea and all manner of tea goodies online. Cheeky Chai are quite local to where my Mum lives and are usually found beavering away at local maker’s markets and fine food fairs. You can buy their fabulous selection of teas online, too.

Ace Tea are a fun and independent London tea company known for their quirky branding and rather posh loose leaf teabags. Debonair Tea also provide a wide range of top loose leaf teas that you can buy online, and are run by lovely, friendly folk.

Niko Ceylon teas have a stunning selection of loose leaf teas from renowned tea estates and again are run by a passionate, tea loving team. You can get them online through suppliers such as Amazon, which is great if you are also ordering other essentials online.

A huge shout out to all the lovely independent tea companies that are working hard to keep going in the current climate and of course are keeping me going with lots of lovely tea. It really is a labour of love and it is very much appreciated.

Subscriptions to surprise and delight

Thinking of buying a gift for your friends or family? Check out the unique and beautifully packaged blends from Jai Tea. A luxurious treat to come through anyone’s letterbox. Bruu Gourmet Tea Club is usually right at the front of the queue celebrating National Tea Day and they offer a running monthly tea subscription box: beautiful packaged and complete with tea tasting notes. Everything you need for your own virtual tea tasting or to set the scene for a virtual tea party! More on these sensational subscription boxes soon…

Stocking up on teabags

If you want a huge selection of high quality teabags to keep you going while tucked up at home, try Dilmah UK and Ahmad Tea. Both have a long history of providing top notch teas and they do all kinds of exciting fruit, herbal and health-focused blends as well as classic English Breakfasts and Earl Greys. More on health helping teas in a future post, where I will discuss teas that can support your health and some that are designed specifically to give you an extra vitamin boost.

Clipper teas are known for their earth friendly attitude – perfect to mark Earth Day – and they have a cornucopia of teabags to choose from. They are usually a big part of National Tea Day celebrations in person, so have a browse online.

Stepping in to a Whittard of Chelsea shop and browsing the loose leaf teas, teabags and tea ware used to be a highlight of my National Tea Days. Why not step through the looking glass online, instead? Likewise, the wonderful world of T2 is available to explore online – you can learn a lot from the tea afficionados there.

Boofle mug saying lots of tea makes you very clever
Lots of tea makes you very, very clever – it’s true!



Tea time today

Today, I will be joining in some of the live online events that National Tea Day is putting on, having video chats with some of my closest, tea loving friends, and working my way through the wonderful world of tea that is Chez Rachael.

I started the day as usual with hearty breakfast brews. My recent favourites are malty, rich, loose leaf lovelies: Cheeky Breakfast from Cheeky Chai, Breakfast blend from Teasup and English Breakfast from Debonair Tea. Tried and tested teabag tea top ups throughout the day to get that same sense of earthy, malty richness include both the luxury silk pyramid and organic breakfast blends from Dilmah – which I genuinely couldn’t get enough of and hoovered up as soon as I got them – and Ace Tea’s Quintessentially English Breakfast – a classic.

When only a Builder’s Brew will do…

When only a good old builder’s will do, I have a very posh version in the form of Debonair’s Builder’s Brew loose leaf tea. People often laugh at the colour of my tea, as it more closely resembles a cup of coffee, but I like it STRONG! Teabag-wise, my favourite strong builder’s tea is Lifesaver Tea, in aid of the RNLI, which I always used to buy at local fairs and fundraisers but am delighted to find I can order it online for home delivery at a mere £2.50. Good tea for a good cause, just how I like it. I also enjoy a quick cuppa of Ahmad’s English Breakfast and Clipper’s Everyday blend anytime of day, anywhere, and my teabag tins are full of them. Honourable mention must also be made here to Hope & Glory teas, who have the most divine packaging, a good, strong breakfast blend and an infectious enthusiasm for all things tea, having met them at the last National Tea Day celebrations in person.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea and early evening treats include some gluten-feee biscuits, crumpets and, of course, Earl Grey teas – again, Dilmah comes up trumps for a subtle let flavoursome Earl Grey teabag here. Ahmad and Williamson also do good Earl Grey teabags, and you can collect the vintage style Ahmad tea tins and the Williamson tin elephants, like my very good friends and fellow tea loves do. For a much punchier pick me up of bergamot, Debonair’s Extreme Earl Grey loose leaf tea is wonderful, as are Ace Tea’s The Earl Grey silky bags. Regular readers will know I love a spot of lavender Earl Grey, and I was sent a delightful blend for my birthday by Leaf tea.

Sleepy tea

At night, I enjoy another lavender Earl Grey, a jasmine green tea or two, and have been recently drinking gallons of lemon and ginger and lemongrass and ginger teas with honey to soothe my still sore throat.

Enjoy a tea break or two today – and tomorrow…

I hope you all enjoy a good cup of tea, or two, or more, on this auspicious day for tea lovers. In my next tea explorer post, I’ll be reviewing some very fancy tea delivery boxes that will see you through lockdown and the stunning teas tucked inside them from Jai Tea and Bruu, along with some more detailed tasting notes on some of the great teas I’ve talked about today.

I’m having some technical issues with the website currently, so will post plenty of images and links in my next update.

Stay safe and have a great tea time today and every day!

Rachael XX


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

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

It’s 2015: Time for tea!

Newby Tea at The Bingham, Richmond

A lovely pot of Newby tea and pretty china at The Bingham, Richmond

Happy New Year!

After a blogging hiatus towards the end of last year, following injury, illness and a number of other reasons, I’m looking forward to making this year “The Year of the Blog”!

2014 wasn’t exactly the year I was expecting, but I have high hopes for the New Year and am feeling positive!

 

A New Year’s Eve to Remember

I saw in the New Year with my lovely husband eating a fabulous six-course tasting menu at Richmond’s beautiful  Bingham hotel. We had a lovely room overlooking the river, inspiring a search for a new home by the river, where we hope to move in March. I can’t wait to wake up to the peaceful, comforting sight of the river and being surrounded by greenery once more!

Miller Harris toiletries at The Bingham

Luxury Miller Harris toiletries at The Bingham

A stylish room at The Bingham

Our stylish room at the Bingham

Do Not Disturb sign at The Bingham, Richmond

Celebrating in style at The Bingham, Richmond

Time for Tea…

I had several lovely cuppas courtesy of Newby Teas, and thoroughly enjoyed my moments of luxury!

In the spirit of “New Year, New You”, I was recently introduced to SlenderTox Tea by the BloggersLove Hub. I’m delighted that this is a health product based on one of my favourite things – tea! I am keen to try the 14 day teatox and see if it helps improve my overall health and wellbeing, ups my energy levels (which are in need of a jumpstart right now!) and that the evening teatox helps me enjoy a good night’s sleep.

I will update you on the results as I go along – very excited to be trying out another tea experiment!

I had a lovely New Year surprise this week, winning some delicious-smelling teas from JollyBrew. The packaging is stunning, making a welcome addition to my tea cabinet and matching the blue themes of my kitchen. I can’t wait to try all three loose-leaf teas – I will share the verdict, but I predict they are going to be amazing!

The Gift of Tea

The elegantly packaged JollyBrew Teas

The elegantly packaged JollyBrew Teas

Festive gifts of tea and coffee

The gift of tea…and coffee!

I received some wonderful tea related gifts from family and friends over the festive season: a real favourite tea of mine, Harney & Sons’ Tower of London Blend Tea, a wonderful blend of black tea with Bergamot and dried fruits; Christmas Thanks from Twinings, which tastes like Christmas cake and is pure comfort in a mug; several lovely mugs; lots and lots of Teapigs; and Christmas Blend teas from Whittard of London and Kent & Sussex.

Slendertox Tea

Time for a TeaTox

This was all after a pre-Christmas visit to one of my favourite shops in Covent Garden, The Tea House, to stock up on my favourite Ahmad blends, Vanilla Tranquility and Cinammon Haze. I’ve been drinking these in abundance, both at work and at home.

Gingerbread Lattes, anyone?

I also received various gingerbread-themed gifts, as my obsession with gingerbread lattes shows no signs of waning! I have to admit I drink them all year round, rather than just as a seasonal treat. I am really looking forward to trying out the Gingerbread Body Lotion from the fabulous Sniffy Whiffy – keeping that festive feeling going through the dark January days! I’m collecting my parcel tomorrow, so will keep you posted…

Until next time, wishing you a very Happy New Year – here’s hoping 2015 is a fantastic one!

Enjoy your January tea break,

Rachael XX

 

An Afternoon Celebration of Tea

Soho's Secret Tea RoomI was very excited to visit Soho’s Secret Tea Room in London this weekend, which I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know about until a friend (and fellow blogger) invited me there for a traditional afternoon tea.  We spent a very pleasant afternoon there, enjoying a very traditional afternoon tea with all the trimmings.

The tearoom is set up in a traditional, retro style, with old 1940s adverts inside the menu and quirky vintage mix-and-match china and tableware.

Fabulous Toile de Jouy Teapot

We were a served a lovely, big pot of tea to share, in what has to be my favourite teapot yet!  Depicting a traditional “Toile de Jouy” scene, I really wish I could add this to my teapot collection at home! Toile de Jouy has a special significance for me, as it featured heavily in my vintage-inspired wedding!

We were also given a timer to ensure we brewed our tea for the correct amount of time – something I always appreciate, as I like a nice, strong cup of tea!

We enjoyed a cake stand full of treats – sandwiches, scones and enormous slabs of cake!  What better way to spend the afternoon, than whiling away the hours drinking lots of tea, chatting, enjoying good company and eating tasty treats?

We continued our afternoon celebration of tea with a visit to The Tea House, located nearby in London’s Covent Garden.  This fantastic, olde-worlde shop stocks a fantastic variety of teas, teapots and other tea paraphernalia – I was in Heaven!

Tea-Time Treats e Tea House, Covent Garden

I stocked up on two of my favourite teas – Vanilla Black Tea and Cinnamon Haze black cinnamon tea from Ahmad Tea – as well as some new spoons and steepers for when I use my loose leaf teas and some additions to my Willow Pattern china collection.  I do love an excuse to buy anything tea-related!

Extending the tea theme, I also tried out for the first time one of my new tea-inspired fragrances – Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea Cherry Blossom –a lovely, light, summery scent, to go with a sunny day of tea in London!  I also recently bought Jo Malone’s Earl Grey and Cucumber Cologne to wear throughout the summer, and a fun London home fragrance kit with diffuser reeds – apparently the scent of London is of tea leaves and bergamot, which I think it very appropriate in my home!

Tea perfume Tea scent

What a fun, tea-filled Saturday afternoon in sunny London – it certainly brought a smile to my face!

Until next time, hope your weekend is also suitably tea-filled!

Rachael x