Lockdown Loose Leaf Love

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I’ve been so lucky during lockdown to have received some stellar loose leaf tea selections from some tea people who really care – about their customers and the planet. I really value the tea companies that share the love of what they do, do it with love and create experiences with their teas. That personal, caring touch makes such a difference, and having a wide variety of blends and tea treats has really helped while staying at home for months on end. Time for a tea break?

Unboxing the beautifully packaged Jai Tea with bright pink paper and inspiring quotes
Unboxing the beautifully packaged Jai Tea

Jai Tea Jewels

Jai Tea sent me so many wonderful loose leaf teas, that I have paid it forward and sent some of them to friends and family. Being shielded, it’s a lovely way for me to show I care through the magic of tea! I feel it’s only right to share the love they put into these lovely teas and enjoy a virtual tea break or two with my loved ones. Jasmine at Jai Tea is clearly passionate about tea, travel and providing luxury food and drink experiences for her customers – that certainly shows in the beautiful website and social media posts. Her customers obviously appreciate it, too – I see so many lovely reviews of the Jai tea and food gifts. They do some great competitions over on Facebook, so have a go – you might win something very special!

I love Jai Tea’s branding, look and feel – especially the romantic names for the loose leaf tea blends, elegantly written in calligraphy on the packets. Wrapped in fuschia pink (my favourite!) paper, with the brand’s logo gilded on the tissue paper, beautifully boxed and including inspiring quotes in their thank you cards within, it’s quite the treat to unbox these teas and survey the tea adventures before you. And there are adventures to be had all around the world from your teapot – Parisian Nights, anyone? I felt it was proper to brew these teas in some of my vintage and more decorative teapots and serve in my vintage china, setting the mood for relaxation and inspiration as I write at my desk, or get carried away with a good book. Bliss! The innovative ingredients alongside the loose leaf teas were flavourful and all natural, something that made a real difference to the subtlety of the flavoured black tea blends and received a big thumbs up from me. i loved the flower petals – violet, rose, bergamot – mixed with top quality loose leaf tea.

Jai Tea's romantically named On Behalf of My Love, a cinnamon black tea
Jai Tea’s romantically named On Behalf Of My Love, a sweet, comforting black tea with cinnamon.
Discovering new tea with Bruu
Discovering new teas with Bruu

Bruu Tea Brewing Discoveries

I was talking on Facebook and Instagram last week about the tea adventure approach and the caring ethos of Bruu Tea that shone through its packaging, messaging, and loose leaf tea selections. There are tasting and provenance notes for each tea and tea region featured in the monthly tea subscription box, giving you the opportunity to discover new and different teas with every box. There was also a style of tea to suit all tastes, from more traditional strong black teas, to fruity and tropical tea blends that suited the summery weather we had during Spring’s lockdown. Along with the heartfelt message from the company’s head Tea Taster, Scott (what an amazing job!) to bring cheer and encourage us to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, I liked everything about my Discovery Box and really support and salute Bruu as a brand. You may have seen the “Tea-Rex approved” stamp of approval on my Instagram and Twitter feeds recently! Have a look at some of the photos of the box and its contents on there – great stuff!

Unboxing the Bruu Tea Subscription Box to with a personal message from Head Tea Taster Scott during the pandemic
Finding a heartfelt message from head tea taster Scott in my Bruu Tea box.

Stir Me Tea Turns It Tropical

Stir Me is a recently launched Kenyan loose leaf tea brand, with stunning packaging and branding, innovative Kenyan tea blends and a friendly, helpful face, Reena, at the helm. The Stir Me strap line is, “Better tea… better conversations” – how appropriate! A local company, based in Twickenham, they hand delivered a wide variety of teas to me, including some creative, soothing chai blends and summery selections, perfect for the changeable weather we are experiencing this summer! Featuring an elegant Orange Pekoe black tea, turmeric chai, Persian Chai with rose petals and cardamon, there was also a selection of tropical summery tea blends, Mango Mania, and the Pina Colada white tea blend. Again, there was a loose leaf tea to please all tastes and some real favourites of mine in there, such as rose petals and black tea based blends.

The tea boxes feature colourful patterned packaging and fun branding, reflecting the friendly, community-focused and fun ethos of the tea brand. I was so delighted to try these teas and to meet Reena briefly from the window when she dropped the teas off. On that note, check them out on Instagram. Lots of lovely reviews and stories capturing the vibrant branding and tasty teas. Better tea… better conversations…

Sunny selection of Stir me teas with bright, colourful packaging
My sunny selection of Stir Me Kenyan teas

I also received my loose leaf tea selection in a very pretty and practical mini shopper bag, which I have been using to carry all my bits and pieces around when heading out to the garden to enjoy the sunshine and a tasty tea. Helps me to get away from it all without going any further than my garden path, all while shielding in quarantine. you can find them on the West London Hampers website, too.

Stir Me Tea Natural Fabric Mini Shopping Bag saying Hakuna Matata
My lovely little bag from Stir Me – Hakuna Matata!

Hakuna Matata, everyone!

Drink tea, enjoy life, and don’t worry…

Rachael XX

Has the UK fallen out of love with tea?

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I don’t think the UK will ever stop loving tea – here’s why…

I was asked if the UK’s love affair with tea is over today, as I was interviewed (18:47 minutes into the podcast) following Unilever’s decision to sell off PG Tips. In my experience, the British love of tea has only got stronger in recent years – but it is a very different world of tea that has emerged over the past 5-10 years. I think the UK continues to love tea for a number of very valid reasons, just in a different way to days gone by. Why?

I love tea

Favourite mug with a tea poem and gingerbread man tea steeper

 

1. Variety is the spice of life
There is much more variety of different teas available now. Healthy herbal blends have risen in popularity dramatically just over the past three years or so, as people look to tea to support a healthy lifestyle and make the most of all the health benefits available from drinking tea, such as green tea and matcha, and herbal tisanes.

2. Bye bye, builder’s brew!
The basic builder’s brew, that is, strong black tea, often with milk and sugar, while still surely a favourite drink across Britain, has fallen in popularity in favour of exciting new tea flavours, green tea, which is seen as being a healthier option, and healthy herbal teas. Loose leaf tea has become much more in demand than the humble teabag in recent years, as we strive to be kinder to our planet.

3. Sustainability and welfare
Consumers are seeking tea companies that are sustainable – those who are known for not testing on or exploiting animals, paying a fair wage and providing safe working conditions for their workers around the world, and tea companies that provide recyclable, compostable and sustainable teabags and packaging, as well as innovative ways to re-use tea paraphernalia, blend and brew teas.

4. The ceremony and art of tea
As well as the health lifestyle reasons, tea experiences have grown in prominence and popularity. The art of tea ceremonies, combined with meditation and mindfulness, is a new way of engaging with nature and bringing tradition into the new decade.

5. Afternoon tea treats are an affordable luxury
Then there’s the rise of the afternoon tea – themed afternoon teas have sprung up all over the UK, not just in the nation’s capital city, and this has become a tea experience and a special event that can be shared with friends and family. Afternoon tea now is on a whole other level to “popping round for a cuppa” like we used to do in days gone by. We don’t necessarily live near our loved ones in these busy times, so making tea time by way of a special afternoon tea into a sense of occasion, enjoying treats both savoury and sweet with your tea, is a great way of celebrating and catching up with others  – especially those who share a love of tea!

Why I will always love tea

Rachael raising a cup of tea at New York Plaza Hotel Palm Court

I will always love all kinds of tea

Personally, I still love a cup of builder’s black tea, but I like flavoured blends of both black and green tea, too, enjoy the health benefits of a wide variety of herbal teas and tisanes, and I really love a slap up afternoon tea somewhere nice with my friends and family.

I like to know the tea I buy is from someone who cares, that takes steps to ensure sustainability, fair trade and fair working conditions, and I like to support independent tea distributors, blenders and enthusiasts who share my love of tea in all its forms and all its glory!

Hope you enjoy the short snippet (18:47 minutes in…) of me sharing some tea knowledge and my opinion on the future of UK and tea!

Have a great weekend,

Rachael XX

Independent Teas: Part One

All the tea lovers, independent, throw your leaves up at me!

I have been lucky enough to try some fantastic independent tea brands recently, with some of these fab tea companies just launching to the market, which is very exciting!

There really is something for every tea lover now, from those tea companies specialising in sustainability, to treat and dessert flavoured tea blends, to the classic cup of Ceylon, to getting a specialist selection of a variety of different teas delivered to your door. There’s plenty of choice and lots of very knowledgeable tea lovers who are here to share that with you through their teas and techniques.

True Tea People

What I have been delighted to experience along the way is meeting and finding out more about the lovely people behind the tea brands. I really must say the most lovely people seem to be in the tea industry – we are a like-minded and kindred bunch!

Here are some of my recent favourites – more to follow and some detailed pics soon…

We Are Tea

We Are Tea are doing some really interesting work at the moment and their range of teas is exceptional. Read all about my visit to their tea party in London’s West End on LDN Life as they strive for a more sustainable way to enjoy tea- more to follow on that soon…

Niko Tea

Top quality Ceylon Tea from lovely, friendly people, there are a number of exciting flavours and blends to try from Niko Tea. Getting a dedicated tea menu with your packets of tea is an expert touch and really adds to the experience of trying out different flavours and blends of tea, including my personal favourite, Cinnamon and Vanilla. There’s information about the teas themselves and how you should prepare your pots of tea. There are also tasty treat teas featuring fruity flavours such as Blueberry, as well as classic Ceylon, Earl Grey and breakfast teas, when sometimes you want to keep it pure and simple. The packaging is lovely, too, simple, with attractive illustrations on the front.

TeaTurtle

TeaTurtle is a brand new tea subscription service providing top quality loose leaf teas: green teas, black teas and everything in between! You receive a lovely, shiny stainless steel steeper for your tea in the first box, delivered through your letterbox, along with information about the tea blend, where it has come from, and how best to brew the tea. The founders of the company are, once again, lovely, friendly people who are passionate about tea and have a great story to tell. It’s refreshing to find that enthusiasm about tea and it definitely rubs off when you’re trying and enjoying their teas. And they really care, too. The wrapping for the tealeaves is actually a sustainably made, biodegradable film, so you can try their tasty teas without costing the Earth – and certainly not leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

There’s something about getting a tea delivery through your letterbox that is so cheering and comforting, as well as the excitement that goes with trying something new or different.

A great gift and a great way to start a New Year, trying something different and experimenting to find out which are your favourite teas.

Tinka Tea

I’ve written before about teas that taste like a treat and how helpful they are for weaning off sugary snacks and curbing the sugar cravings. I was excited to try Tinka Teas, who have a range of teas designed to fill that teatime treat gap. Caramel, Red Velvet or Cotton Candy, anyone? I trie the caramel flavour, which has all the goodness of green tea with a caramel flavour, made with natural ingredients like banana and cardamon. Yummy! Their branding is cheerful and chic, too – made me smile when I got my delivery through the door.

Infused to Perfection

Another company that offers a wide range of quality tea blends, Infused to Perfection, pointed me in the right direction of some fabulous flavoured black Ceylon teas, including favourite flavours of mine, like vanilla, ginger and cinnamon. Again, new to the market, they are every knowledgeable about tea and enthusiastic about sharing great blends with tea lovers and connecting them with the provenance of the teas and the people that grow, pick and distribute the tea.

Encore…

There’s so much more to say, so I’ll share more tasting notes and some pictures of these fab teas in my favourite teapots and mugs over the coming weeks. I’ve really enjoyed taking the time to try a wide variety of these teas in recent weeks and months and having the right tea accessories always helps. More on that next time…

I’ll also be taking a look at some of the most comforting flavours of Autumn/Winter, including cinnamon, ginger and Chai blends. It’s the time of year for cosy teas and comfort, after all. There are so many teas, herbs and spices that help support health in the Winter months, too, so we’ll take a look at what tea treats help keep you healthy, too.

Until next time, hope you’re keeping cosy with a good cuppa!

Rachael xx

Tea adventures with Rachael

As is the tradition over the Easter holiday, I have been catching up with trying lots of teas. In fact, it was the Easter break five years ago that I began my little tea break known as Tea with Rachael.

It’s National Tea Day this Friday, 21st April, so in the run up to this exciting day, I thought it was only fitting to share with you some of my fantastic tea adventures over the past few months.

Only the best loose leaf teas

I’ve been very lucky to get to try some great quality loose leaf teas over the past few months from a range of genuinely tea loving tea companies. I must tell you how impressed I have been with two brands in particular, Teakruthi and Chai Kai Teas.

Cinnamon Chai from Teakruthi

Deliciously comforting Cinnamon Chai from Teakruthi

Teakruthi, who are on a mission to share ethically-sourced and hand plucked loose leaf Ceylon teas with the world and help people make the perfect cuppa tea, sent me a superb selection of hand blended loose leaf Ceylon teas earlier this year. Having seen my own personal tea being blended live on Facebook and experiencing the most impressive customer service when ordering my tea samples, I was very excited to try out the teas they sent me. I was not disappointed.

Generous sample bags of tea arrived and I was delighted to try some blends that were that little bit different to what I would normally try, as well as some blends that already sounded like old favourites. I also received a lovely steeper to use to brew the teas! The regular communication and updates I received from the dedicated team were very welcome and made for a very pleasant tea shopping experience.

I was most excited about tasting the Teakruthi Cinnamon Chai, which I had seen great reviews for on Twitter and combines some of my favourite flavours of pure Ceylon black tea and cinnamon. Such a warm, comforting and delicious tea! I loved it! I drank my supply very quickly and will have to order some more very soon! I also thoroughly enjoyed lemon Kandy, a refreshing blend of Orange Pekoe black tea and real pieces of lemon peel.

Vanilla Chai from Chai Kai

Delicious Vanilla Chai form Chai Kai Tea Company

I was also recently introduced to the lovely team at Chai Kai Tea Company, fellow tea lovers on a mission to get ethically sourced, finest quality teas to your door. Founded by two tea loving brothers keen to spread the word about South Asian teas, Chai Kai started as a tea house in St Ives, Cornwall, and is now a UK-wide provider of luxury loose leaf teas and top quality infusions.

Passionate about ethical food and drink and doing their part to help, the team at Chai Kai recently became official partners of www.makelunch.org.uk – a charity providing free meals to school children when schools are closed. The charity provides meals for children who otherwise wouldn’t get one while there is no school, through a network of community groups lending a helping hand. So while supporting ethical practices and the tea growing communities in Sri Lanka, they are also supporting a good cause in the UK. Bravo!

I was sent two examples of my very favourite types of tea – their expertly blended Vanilla Chai, Blend No. 2, a mix of top-notch Sri Lankan black tea, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, aniseed, black peppercorns and vanilla pieces. Again, this was pure comfort in a cup, ideal for when I was feeling under the weather and a really soothing blend of tea and spices. The balance was just right – sometimes vanilla flavoured teas can be too sickly or sweet, but this tea provided a subtle and silky vanilla taste that really hit the spot. I also very much enjoyed Chai Kai’s Strong Assam. Regular Tea with Rachael readers will know I love a good, strong, Assam tea, and this malty, earthy blend is right up my street! I also really like the company’s style: the packaging, the new website, tips for feeding times and blends, and the way they market themselves generally. Highly recommended!

Try these top teas out for yourself

Watch this space and check out @TeawithRachael on Twitter and Instagram for exclusive discounts for both these fantastic tea brands, coming soon.

A hot cup of chai tea

A steaming hot mug of chai tea

Coming up later this week – the Tea with Rachael countdown to National Tea Day – Tasty teatime treats and Never run out of tea again – my lowdown on some tasty tea treats and what I feel are the best tea subscription boxes out there. 

Until then, enjoy your last tea break of the Bank Holiday,

Rachael xx

Lovely Teas for the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed lots of lovely teas over the festive season and shared and received some fabulous tea gifts?

I have been thoroughly spoiled this time around, with some fabulous teas, teapots and mugs. I’ll be sharing some pictures of them over the coming weeks, along with reviews of all the fabulous teas.

A New Year Tea Gift

Top 100 Tea Blogs

Awarded Top 100 Tea Blog by Feedspot.com

I received a very lovely New Year’s gift this week – an award as one of Feedspot’s Top 100 Tea Bloggers! Delighted to see that a number of my fabulous tea friends are on the list, too, so do check it out.

I also received some sample teas from the downright lovely people at Lovely Tea Teas – a selection of favourites, such as Earl Grey and an Irish Breakfast black tea.

 

 

Lovely Tea Teas Earl Grey

The Earl Grey from Lovely Tea Teas

Lovely Teas

I was impressed with the refreshing Irish Breakfast tea to start my working day in my first weeks back at work after the festive holidays; and have been soothed by the relaxing, delicate Earl Grey as I nursed the lurgy this week. The branding and packaging is pretty (a lovely fit with the style of Tea with Rachael, in fact!) and reflects the genuine love of tea that the Lovely Tea Teas team has. Genuinely lovely teas from the very appropriately named Lovely Tea Teas company!

I do recommend checking out their rather comprehensive selection of loose leaf teas – there are some exciting and interesting blends there as well as the traditional favourites, so something to suits all tastes.

New Year, New Tea Adventures

I’ve also embarked upon some new tea adventures for January with Tea Tourist, the new tea subscription box that is passionate about tea and work with their pick of the best Tea Partners from across the UK to share their fantastic tea blends and support like minded tea businesses.

Reggae Refresh Tea

The tropically refreshing Reggae Refresh Tea from Born Wild Teas

This month’s selection showcases a wide variety of teas, all very suitably chosen for the month of January: Recover Tea, by Blendology, to aid recovery from the festive season; Rooibos Earl Grey, by Tea Leaf London, for a comforting yet healthy brew; Matcha from Teaologists and Gunpowder green tea by Morgan’s Brew Tea Company for the obligatory New Year health kick; and, to shoo away the January blues, the totally tropical smelling and tasting Reggae Refresh, by Born Wild Teas (a personal favourite after trying this amazing blend with lots of my favourite goodies in it!)

Tea Tourist are a friendly team and their tea box was welcoming and fun. I love the message inside the box that says, “Kettle on. Feet up. Relax. Let this adventure begin.”

How wonderful to begin new tea adventures for the new year from the comfort of my own home!

Until next time, I hope this inspires some tea adventures of your own.

Rachael xx