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

National Tea Day Adventures Part One – A festival of tea at Fest-Tea-Val

Every day is Tea Day for me

One month on and I’m still revelling in the tea celebrations and tea adventures I enjoyed on National Tea Day. It was a triple whammy of tea for me on 21st April. I started the day at my amazing local shopping centre in Kingston, The Bentall Centre, where I visited my old friends and tea favourites T2 and Whittard of Chelsea for quite a few morning cuppas. More on that soon…

I spent the rest of the day at Fes-Tea-Val, which took place on 21st and 22nd April 2018. I so enjoyed National Tea Day last year, with so many fantastic tea stalls and tea tastings in one place and so many tea enthusiasts and experts all under one roof, aptly hosted at the fabulous Kensington Roof Gardens, which sadly no longer exist. I met some wonderful tea people (including catching up with old friends, like Tea People!) and enjoyed some spectacular tea blends and accompanying treats, as well as making friends with a few flamingos…

Fest-Tea-Val at Chiswick House and Gardens

Fest-Tea-Val in the tranquil surrounding of Chiswick House and Gardens

Fest-Tea-Val

This year’s National Tea Day festival, however, went way beyond expectations. The fabulous celebration of all things tea, cleverly called “Fest-Tea-Val”, perfectly complemented the tranquil beauty of Chiswick House and Gardens – a genuine and very unexpected oasis of calm in between Richmond and Central London. It was much bigger than I thought it would be – more like a food festival and just as much fun (if not more fun, as everything centred around tea!).

A time for friends and family

I visted on the first day, on National Tea Day itself, 21st April. A couple of my friends met me at the event and were just as surprised at the size, scope and scenery of Fest-Tea-Val. We made a point of visiting every single stall and trying as many teas and treats as we possibly could!

Par-tea time!

The Fest-Tea-Val was divided up into different zones, with something for everyone: Tea ‘n’ Treat Village was exactly what you’d expect – full of teas and treats. Tea ‘n’ Tipple Boulevard showcased some of the more grown up delights on offer, with tea cocktails and tea-infused booze.

There were over 225 providers of tea and treats at the festival, with everything from loose leaf teas, specialist teas, posh teabags, organic teas, detox teas, tea-infused beer and spirits and some tea-inspired tipples. I came home with all kinds of edible goodies – from cheese, to tea-infused gin, to tea of all kinds. I must say I was very excited by my tea-inspired haul, as were my friends. 

As well as enjoying all the tea, tipples, food and frolics, there was live music, baking demonstrations and numerous how-tos. We all learned a lot about tea, and there was even time for some relaxation in the Vitali-Tea Garden.

A fashionable festival of tea

There was even a tent dedicated to fashion, bringing together some of my favourite things: food, fashion, and of course, tea.

So many wonderful tea people

I’m going to try to do some special posts for the different tea companies that we discovered, but there are certain companies that really made it a fantastic day for us, and I’d like to give a little shout out.

Hope and Glory at Fest-Tea-Val

The fabulous Hope and Glory stand at Fes-Tea-Val

Where there is tea, there is hope…

Independent tea brand, Hope & Glory, were one of the sponsors of the event and had both a fabulous vintage inspired stand and a cafe area, right by the riverside. It was a peaceful spot to sit down for a bit and enjoy some top notch tea and tuck-boxes, resting our weary feet as we surveyed our tea purchases and enjoyed a quality cup of tea and a stunning view out over the River Thames. The Hope & Glory afternoon tea lunch boxes were made up by top chef, Cyrus Todiwala, in a special collaboration to celebrate National Tea Day, presented in the Hope & Glory vintage-style tin tea caddies. We were delighted to meet the team behind the brand, including co-founder, Bharat Chudasama, who is so genuinely passionate about tea and welcomed us warmly with a lovely Earl Grey and the tasty tuck-boxes. We enjoyed a lengthy conversation about tea and our shared love of good quality teas until we realised the Fest-Tea-Val was closing and it was time for go home. But that meant going home to more delicious tea – and maybe some of the tea infused boozy treats, too!


A fab festival atmosphere in stunning surroundings

It was a really fab day out all round, perfect for tea lovers and foodies alike. We were exhausted after all the tea adventures, but it was so worth it!

Thank you to all the lovely team at National Tea Day for inviting me and for putting on such an awesome event. True tea lovers!

I’ve so many other lovely tea adventures to share in the coming weeks – from more National Tea Day fun, to some fabulous teas and treats to try at home. Much needed after such a busy time!

I’m looking forward to many more tea adventures, too, now that the weather is getting so much better.

Until next time, hope you’re enjoying a cracking cuppa!

Rachael xx

A new tea adventure every month – and never run out of tea!

This second part of Tea Adventures with Rachael in the run up to #nationalteaday focuses on some of the fantastic tea subscription boxes I’ve had the pleasure of trying over the past few months. Whether you want to try loose leaf and herbal blends from some of the best tea people across the UK, to trying unusual and different handpicked blends, to the convenience of a massive selection of high quality tea bags each month, there’s something to suit everyone and every tea taste. Tea-rrific!

Varietea is the Spice of Life

Wedgwood Tea

Wedgwood Tea – just one of the quality teas from my Varitea box

I was recently introduced to the lovely people at Varietea, a tea subscription box with a difference. Varietea bring together a wide range of different types of tea from top notch tea providers, with some well-known names like Clipper, Whittard of Chelsea, Basilur, Kandula and Birt & Tang, featuring in their impressive selection of 30 teas each month.

By combining the convenience of teabags with such a broad variety of teas, they successfully bring an element of tea adventure to the everyday. I was very excited to find a Wedgwood tea in the box – not something you see every day! Perfect to brighten up your working day by trying lots of different teas!


True Tea Lovers

Join the True Tea Club

Join the True Tea Club


I was also recently introduced to the lovely Matt at the True Tea Club, a loose leaf tea subscription company based in York, delivering loose leaf tea boxes in the UK and internationally. They specialise in white, green, oolong, chai, rooibos and herbal teas. each box includes handy drawstring teabags to use with your loose leaf teas, as well as brewing and tasting notes and your own personal membership card to tailor your tea preferences.

A very thoughtful and inspiring company – once again, created by tea lovers, for tea lovers. I particularly enjoyed the exceptional Earl Grey and vanilla rooibos blends I tried in my taster box – highly recommended.

Become a Tea Tourist

Tea Tourist Tea Subscription

Build a healthy curiosity with Tea Tourist

I’ve shared some of the Tea Tourist blends before, and they continue to surprise and delight with new suggestions for loose leaf tea adventures. The highlight of last month’s selection box was a Chocolate Orange Blend from Nelson & Norfolk Tea Co., which was a standout treat for me – and one I had to wait until April to savour, as I was doing my Dechox for the British Heart Foundation throughout March and didn’t want to cheat! It was worth the wait!

Tea with Rachael readers can get 30% off the price of their first subscription box with Tea Tourist when they start any subscription – simply use code ‘TEAWITHRACHAEL30’ at checkout. There is no expiry date and subscriptions can be paused or cancelled anytime to suit you.

In part three of my tea adventures, I will be sharing with you some of the tasty tea treats I’ve enjoyed in the countdown to National Tea Day. Enjoy this special day and I hope you enjoy lots and lots of good tea – not just on National Tea Day, but every day! I know I will!

Until tomorrow,

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

Fun with festive teas

Time for a cosy, festive cuppa – part two!

Festive tea

Festive teas from Tea Sparrow

Tasty, festive teas from Tea Sparrow

The lovely people at Tea Sparrow sent me a host of fabulous, festive teas from their holiday tea box selection. What a treat for tea lovers! Tea Sparrow organise monthly tea boxes with a selection of teas from different suppliers around the world, some of whom have featured on Tea with Rachael before, like the tea experts at Just Tea and The Tea Guy. I’ve been enjoying some fab new festive flavours recently, and the selection from Tea Sparrow certainly didn’t disappoint, with tasty and classily Christmassy treats such as Winter Almond Rooibos from Tea Desire and Organic Christmas Delight from Sonnentor, the fresh, sweet tasting Safari Oolong from Just Tea, and the downright decadent Cream of Earl Grey from The Tea Guy.

Festive teas from Tea Sparrow

A festive selection of teas from Tea Sparrow

An elegant Oolong

I’ve rediscovered Oolong recently and find it so refreshing and easy to drink. The Safari Oolong from Just Tea blends the refreshing taste of Chinese Oolong  with the sweetness of Kenyan tea, something that Just Tea are known for. It was an almost fruity tasting combination and a great way to start the day.

Winter teas from Tea Sparrow

Tea Sparrow’s winter teas

Refreshing Rooibos

I’ve also been drinking a lot of Rooibos, particularly with some added natural flavours, in an attempt to fend off the winter lurgy and keep hydrated throughout the day. The combination of flavours in the Winter Almond Rooibos from Tea Desire is uniquely festive – almost like a comforting slice of cake. Delicious!

Comforting cinnamon

You’ll also know I’m rather partial to a bit of cinnamon, especially in the winter, so I was excited to try the Organic Christmas Delight from Sonnentor, which blends organic cinnamon pieces, raspberry leaves, orange and apple pieces, liquorice, cloves, marigold and cornflowers. It’s like Christmas in a cup and comforting for mind, body and soul. Liquorice, cinnamon and marigold are known to have tummy soothing properties, too, so this is still a treat even if you’ve over-indulged during the festive season! A clever idea for tea lovers at Christmastime.

Would you like a dash of cream with your Earl Grey?

Regular Tea with Rachael readers will know I love a good cup of Early Grey. While I’m not really allowed much dairy due to an intolerance, I do tend to have the tiniest dash of milk in my Earl Grey, treated myself to a calming cup of The Tea Guy’s Cream of Earl Grey after my weekend lunch and it was the perfect cuppa to satiate my sweet tooth. When you open the packaging, it smells like a box of chocolates – a sweet, creamy, vanilla scent – and the taste is just the same, with a refreshing hit of citrus bergamot to stop it from being too sweet. The note on the packaging essentially says you won’t be happy with any other Earl Grey after tasting this, and while my tastebuds are always open to trying different Earl Grey blends, I did love this and the combination of vanilla and Earl Grey flavours really bring together my favourites in a tea. Highly recommended!

I was really impressed with the friendly communication from the lovely Tea Sparrow team and really enjoyed the full selection of teas I received. A really nice idea for a festive tea gift and there’s bound to be something to suit all tastes in their carefully thought out selections.

Find out more about Tea Sparrow and their story at www.teasparrow.com – along with some great tea cocktail and comforting flu fighting tea recipes!

The gift of tea from Basilur

A festive tea book from Basilur Tea

A festive Tea Book from Basilur Tea

Basilur Tea sent me some of their beautifully packaged festive teas. I don’t know if you’ve seen their packaging before, but if you haven’t, get on the website and take a look! Beautiful artwork, sparkly tins and boxes and…tea books. Yes, that’s right, tea books! Ah, another combination of two of my favourite things! What a fabulous festive gift idea – and you can collect volumes of tea books to display on your shelves! Heaven!

Tea book volumes from Basilur Tea

Collect volumes of tea books from Basilur

A good quality brew

Sencha green tea from Basilur

Sencha green tea from Basilur

The tea is excellent quality, too – I enjoyed pure Ceylon and Sencha green teas and am keen to try some more of their teas, which come highly recommended on Twitter.

As you can see, I’ve been really spoiled for choice these past few weeks and am looking forward to enjoying many more festive cuppa in the run up to Christmas.

Big thanks to all the lovely tea people who have helped me try all these delicious teas ready for the Christmas festivities – thank you to Tea Sparrow, Basilur, Bruu and The Kent and Sussex Tea Company.

A cosy cup of tea

Cosy cuppa

I hope my festive tea tastings have given you some ideas and provided some festive inspiration. Only a few weeks until the festive season now – I hope you also get to enjoy many a good festive cuppa!

Until next time – Compliments of the Season to all, Cheers!

Rachael XX