Rachael’s Adventures in Tea Land

Tea Adventures with Rachael: Part 3 – Adventures in Tea Land

Happy National Tea Day!

I’ve lived and breathed tea in the run up to and during #NationalTeaDay and I’ve loved every minute of it, although it’s been a busy few days! Each adventure needs its own mention, starting with a local tea adventure…

Adventures in Tealand with Whittard of Chelsea, Kingston

Alice in Wonderland

Whittard’s Alice in Wonderland collaboration

I was invited to the Whittard of Chelsea store at The Bentall Centre in Kingston, where, like Alice, I was drawn into a wonderful land and enjoyed more than a few cups of tea! Whittard have updated their Alice in Wonderland themed teas and tea ware for 2017 and it could not be more appropriate. I treated myself to a Cheshire Cat mug – as a Cheshire kitty myself! I love the Alice tea ware and hope to build up my collection over time.

Cheshire Cat Mug

The Cheshire Cat mug from Whittard

A tea for all seasons…

For a brand with an excellent pedigree and long heritage, Whittard has adapted and moved with the times and weathered all manner of economic and political crises to remain an oasis of tea loving heaven in the busy modern world. The colours, sights and smells when you walk in are all cheerful and comforting – like stepping into a treasure trove for a tea lover like me!

I thought I knew quite a lot about this well known tea brand, having been a regular shopper here and in other branches for many years; and having collaborated on some blogs in the past; but I learned a lot more during my visit from the lovely Beata, their resident tea expert, who was very well versed, not only in all things tea; but very knowledgeable about their own impressively wide tea range (over 100 teas, including the special edition blends, don’t you know?) and also knows a lot about their other tasty treats, such as coffee, hot chocolate, tea-inspired biscuits and even tea-infused jams and preserves.

Colourful teas and tea ware - including the Moringa Bamboo

Colourful teas and teaware at Whittard of Chelsea

Beata opened my eyes to some herbal blends and limited edition teas, too, such as the Moringa and Bamboo herbal tea – something I would never usually go for, but which was absolutely delicious and is undoubtedly incredibly good for you. I will definitely be popping in to buy this limited edition tea for as long as it’s available!

Whittard Tea Gift Selection

One of Whittard’s Tea Gift Selections

My magic number is…

I also learned that the numbers on the packaging of every Whittard tea have hidden meaning, whether denoting the date that blend was introduced, the number of different ingredients, or even social lucky numbers for the Whittard team.

A nice, personal touch; and also demonstrates their genuine love of their tea and how it is produced.

We also discussed my usual favourites and the different blends that would suit my tastes – strong, black teas; comforting chai; zesty Earl Grey blends; and anything with vanilla or cinnamon!

I came away with a much greater knowledge of the different teas available, my Cheshire Cat mug, some lovely goodies and even some vanilla flavoured coffee to share with my husband, who (shock, horror!) doesn’t drink tea! I also have some great tea party ideas for my forthcoming tea party fundraisers for Marie Curie and others (more on that in a later post…) thanks to the friendly team.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon and perfect to celebrate #nationalteaday – thank you to the lovely team at Kingston’s Whittard for the warm welcome and a very informative visit.

More adventures to come…

In the next part in my tea adventures series, I’ll be sharing some of the tasty treats I’ve been trying in honour of National Tea Day celebrations, some of the wonderful tea people I met at The National Tea Day Festival at Kensington Roof Gardens, then more very British tea adventures through the ages with the lovely people at Twinings.

Until then, Happy Tea Day once again – hope you’ve had a few good cuppas today!

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

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

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