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

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