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

Float like a dragonfly, enjoy a cup of tea!

A delightful evening of tea tasting and appreciation

I recently attended what was arguably the best bloggers’ event in the whole time I’ve been writing Tea with Rachael! It’s taken a while to put together this post, as I really wanted to do it justice, so I hope you get a sense of it all when reading.

The lovely people at Dragonfly Tea invited a small group of bloggers and tea enthusiasts to a very special and exclusive tea tasting masterclass with the family run tea brand’s very own Georgia Ginsberg, carrying on the grand tea tradition of her father, who founded Dragonfly 15 years ago, and her great grandfather, who introduced the people of the UK to Rooibos. I’m already a big fan of Dragonfly’s Rooibos blends, having a large box of both the Vanilla and Earl Grey Rooibos teas on my desk at work, so was very excited to try more of their teas.

The Tea House Collection

The beautiful tea and floral displays at the Dragonfly Tea event

The Tea House collection
The event was in honour of the launch of the new Tea House Collection, celebrating rare and precious teas such as Oolong, Matcha, white tea and the finest quality green tea, created to commemorate Dragonfly’s 15 year anniversary and with the aim of bringing them to a wider audience and making them more accessible, as well as including great blends of some old favourites and classic teas, such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey.

Earl Grey cocktails

Delicious Earl Grey G & Tea cocktails

Tea cocktails
Held at the Waitrose Cookery School in the regenerated, revamped and downright trendy area surrounding London’s Kings Cross, we were welcomed with some creative tea inspired cocktails. My tipple of choice was the very stylish Earl Grey G & Tea, but there were also other delectable choices of Oolong Island Iced Tea or the alcohol free Green Tea Mojito Cocktail. The cocktails were complemented with a selection of tasty and moreish canapés, again, inspired by tea. The lemongrass and ginger tea meringue choux were a particular hit!

Lemongrass and ginger tea meringue choux

Lemongrass and ginger tea meringue choux

Time for tea…
Georgia talked us through all the Tea House blends and we tasted each one in a very cute little glass cup! I was very surprised to find that I really liked the green tea – never usually one of my favourites – but this was light and refreshing. I was also reminded of how much I enjoy a good cup of Oolong – the delicious Eastern Beauty Oolong is one of the tea choices that I took home from the evening.

Garden Mint and Verbena Tea

Tasting the Garden Mint and Verbena

After hearing about the fascinating history of the Dragonfly brand, the different teas, carefully selected tea blends, their uses and – very importantly – how they should be brewed, we were asked to put our tea tasting skills to the test with a blind tea tasting. I teamed up with the lovely Nicola of Little Vintage Star and we were two of the three ladies to guess them all correctly! After a tie breaker question about Japanese tea, I was delighted to win the competition, and was stunned to receive the most beautiful bouquet of flowers!

Beautiful bouquet of flowers

The wonderful flowers I won for the tea tasting competition

My Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

My Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

How to make a girl feel special…
As well as the stunning flowers, we were each given the cutest branded marshmallows, our two choices of our favourite Tea House Collection teas, an adorable glass teapot/cup, an origami dragonfly and the very exciting Dragonfly birthday candle, Tea Chest Number 1 – an exclusive preview of the Dragonfly scented candle created by renowned perfumers, Alberto Morillas. The candle gives off a comforting scent of tea, cosy winter fires, and general loveliness! I’ve been burning mine since the evenings have got colder, while enjoying a good cuppa, and love it!

Everything about the Dragonfly brand is one of quality – each aspect is carefully and thoughtfully presented, reflecting the company’s heritage and ethos. Each tea is blended with love and the floral branding and packaging are so pretty!

Delicious Dragonfly marshmallows

Yummy Dragonfly branded marshmallows

What a fantastic event and a really fun and fascinating way to spend an evening! Huge thanks to Georgia, all the team at Dragonfly and the lovely people at Babushka Communications for organising and for inviting me.

The Tea House Collection is available online now and Dragonfly Teas can be found in a number of good supermarkets and health food shops. The Tea Chest Candle Number 1 will be available in time for Christmas and would make a fab gift for a lot of people I know! You can register as an Early Bird for when they’re available – there are options to buy the candle or you can get a lovely, boxed gift set that also includes two Tea Collection teas of your choice.

Georgia mentioned while we were learning all about the different teas a phrase that is used among Dragonfly’s tea suppliers and all the different people they work with to bring their teas to life, “Tea Friends”. I often talk about my tea friends, and apparently this phrase means more than just friendship; it’s a promise of collaboration and support among people who work with tea, a badge of honour, if you will. I think there is no better phrase to sum up this fantastic event, the people there, and the lovely new range of teas, which each show how much work has gone into them and all the tea loving people who have been involved in the process.

Dragonfly Teapot for One and Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

My amazing little Dragonfly mini teapot and candle

Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

Dragonfly’s Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

Goodnight, my lovely Tea Friends – hope you are enjoying a good cuppa and a cosy corner somewhere this cold autumn night!

Rachael XX

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

The Great British Brew – Part Two

Happy New Year! Well, better late than never…!

I’ve been taking a bit of an extended tea break over the past few months. As well as getting some much needed rest, I’ve had a few fun tea adventures along the way.

London New Year fireworks

Happy New Year!

With a New Year, comes new hope; and renewed resolve.

I love the timeless quotes that Sykes Cottages picked out in their recent Great British Brew survey – this one is very appropriate at the start of a shiny new year!

Where there is tea, there is hope

Where there is tea, there is hope…

A rather different cup of tea

Massis Tey Latte

The award winning MASSIS tea Tey Latte

Awesome Person

Confidence in a cup from MASSIS tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not long before the festive break, I had the pleasure of attending a very special event for MASSIS Tea. From their fab, creative home, The Madd Hatter’s Cafe, in the heart of London’s West End, which twinkled with pretty festive lights and decorations, we were serenaded by a number of excellent bands and singers, and had the opportunity to try some exotic taste combinations.

MASSIS tea are the creators of the unique Tey – an espresso-like tea shot, made with a signature blend of tea leaves using a conventional espresso machine, that was designed to redefine the nation’s favourite drink and do something truly different with the Great British Brew. Tey works particularly well in lattes and tea cocktails.

Festive decorations

Festive decorations at the MASSIS Tea Concept Store, the Madd Hatter’s Cafe

On this freezing December evening, I was looking forward to trying a Gingerbread Hug – a Tey Latte – excited at the prospect of combining two of my favourite things, tea and gingerbread! I certainly wasn’t disappointed by this warm and toasty hug in a cup!

I also enjoyed a wee tipple in the form of a tea cocktail – a beautifully fragrant and flowery blend including gin and rose petals. A great source of inspiration for parties – and it was great to see that they have something to suit different tastes and seasons. It’s not difficult to see why MASSIS tea won a 2015 Sussex Life Award for Food and Drink Innovation of the Year, with their combination of “creativitea” and a knack for what flavours go together.

Tea cocktail

A MASSIS tea Tey cocktail – almost too pretty to drink! Almost…

I will definitely be popping in to their concept store again for a cup of something different when I’m next near Covent Garden, and look forward to seeing more from the very enthusiastic and knowledgeable MASSIS tea team.

Adventures in hospitalitea

Gluten free afternoon tea at Beatons

A specially made gluten free option for my afternoon tea at Beatons Crowthorne

The Beatons tea menu

Plenty of tea choice at Beatons

My tea adventures have thankfully continued into 2016. Just last week, I was delighted ti be invited to the unofficial launch of the latest of the lovely Beatons Tearooms and Bookshops, the nearest one to my home yet, in Crowthorne. Welcomed by our gracious hosts, Paul Mitchell, franchisee of the Crowthorne Beatons, his friendly team, and Beatons’ expert Creative Consultant, Liz Darcy Jones, I was honoured to join a table of distinguished guests, including journalist and TV presenter, Juliette Foster.

Delicious cakes at Beatons Crowthorne

The delicious selection of cakes at Beatons Crowthorne

I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of lovely pots of tea, including a rich, earthy Assam and the signature Beatons blend; along with a carefully made, gluten free afternoon tea – even though it’s not officially on the menu, they had a number of great gluten free options for me to indulge in, such as delicate finger sandwiches on gluten free bread, a moist and delicious orange and polenta cake and even gluten free crumpets!

It was a cosy and very enjoyable afternoon of fine, loose-leaf teas, great food and intelligent and enlightening conversation with some lovely ladies.

cakes and chandelier at Beatons Crowthorne

The delicious cakes and sparkling chandelier at Beatons Crowthorne

The official opening of Beatons Crowthorne will be on 30th January, in aid of Berkshire’s Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice, where they will be joined by the Mayor of the Borough of Bracknell Forest and best-selling Berkshire author, Virginia Macgregor. I’m sure it will be a fun filled event to celebrate Crowthorne’s new bookshop, where guests will enjoy signature teas, carrot cake, live music from the local Skin and Blister Sisters, and even some poetry!

New Year’s Resolutions – Green Tea

Tea features heavily in my New Year’s Resolutions – I intend to drink more of it and try out new blends, as ever, but also plan to increase my intake of healthy green teas. I was kindly sent some rather special green teas from the lovely, entrepreneurial ladies at Tg Teas, Sophie and Hua, including a delicately flavoured ginger and lemon zest green tea and some healthy, low sugar iced green tea drinks, which proved rather a hit with my colleagues in the office, particularly following festive indulgences!

 

Tg Teas Ginger and lemon zest green tea

Ginger and lemon zest green tea from Tg Teas – healthy and delicious!

 

Tg’s ethos, to get people off the sugar and drinking healthy green tea, really resonates at this time of year, and their approach to tea, from their packaging, to their branding, to the all natural ingredients used in the tea, is really refreshing.

Here’s to a healthy, happy New Year!

Be sure to enjoy lots of tea in 2016 – I certainly will!

Douglas Adams quoted about the restorative power of tea

Douglas Adams on the restorative power of tea

Rachael xx