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.

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.

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.

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

Comforts of the Season – The Gift of Tea

It’s almost time for festive tea!

Christmas decorations

The festive decorations are up!

It’s officially December – the Christmas tree and decorations are up and it’s time for a cosy, comforting brew. Or two, or three – or even four…

I’ve been tucked up at home with the lurgy for a while, so it’s given me some time to enjoy a rest and plenty of tea. And I have been well and truly spoiled for choice! Where do I begin? It’s all a bit of a tea Love Story!

Time for a Bruu

Fabulous teas from Bruu

A fabulous selection of teas in the monthly tea box from Bruu

The lovely people at Bruu sent me a sample of their monthly tea boxes and I was delighted   by the whole experience. From the pretty packaging and the beautifully designed tea information included in the box, to the innovative selection of high quality loose leaf teas. I was excited to find that that particular month’s tea selection suited me down to the ground – some strong, hearty black teas and a soothing loose leaf blend of lemon and ginger. Perfect timing!

Stunning tea box from Bruu

The stunning tea selection from Bruu

The tea subscription model is a clever one – a great way to try different teas with a different theme each time – and the opportunity to enjoy each tea in your own time.

And as a special, festive treat, they have a tea advent calendar – the design is really cute and makes me feel all Christmassy!

The Bruu tea advent calendar

The tea advent calendar from Bruu: Image courtesy of Bruu Tea

A right royal brew with the Kent & Sussex Tea Company

I was very excited to receive a large selection of loose leaf teas from the Kent & Sussex Tea Company. The smart, stylish and downright regal packaging sets the tone for a finely blended selection of teas, which I’d admired on the website and was really keen to try. Unique blends of old favourites, such as their downright delicious Versailles Lavender Earl Grey – a blend of Earl Grey with lavender and cornflowers and a personal favourite; a warm, comforting Madagascan Vanilla Chai; and clever use of green teas, such as a blend of white and green teas with vanilla and jasmine, and a gingerbread flavoured green tea meant there was a type of tea to suit every mood and occasion.

Madagascan Vanilla Chai

Madagascan Vanilla Chai from Kent and Sussex Tea Company

The Versailles Earl Grey and Madagascan Vanilla Chai were comforting and refreshing, while the fantastic blend of green and white tea with jasmine and vanilla really hit the spot when I needed something to satisfy my sweet tooth after a meal.

I have lots more wonderful teas to share with you in the run up to the festive season – I hope you enjoy a good many cosy cuppas in these cold days and nights and definitely recommend that you try out the fabulous tea choices from Bruu and Kent & Sussex Tea Company for you or as festive gifts for friends and family.

Until next time,

Rachael XX

Top teas from Kent and Sussex Tea Company

Top notch loose leaf tea from Kent and Sussex Tea Company

 

Versailles Earl Grey

Versailles Earl Grey from Kent and Sussex Tea Company

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