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

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

Give a girl the right pair of shoes…

Shoes by Shaherazad

The shiny, sparkly Shoes by Shaherazad

Well, the past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind, with birthday celebrations for family and friends, lots of hard work and a rather annoying arthritis flare-up! Rest and relaxation were much needed…

In the time when I have been out and about, I’ve been very excited to wear my new, sparkly and oh-so-shiny shoes from 18 Hour Heels from Shoes by Shaherazad. These beauties are customisable with their sparkly “shoellery” and perfectly at home either in the office or out on the town!

Shoe jewellery

Sparkling jewellery for shoes – “Shoellery”

The heels look fabulous – attracting many a compliment and “oohs and ahhhs” from my colleagues – and these sparklers go with pretty much everything in my wardrobe, so I decided to experiment to see if they really were comfy enough to wear all day and all night, if needed!

Out and About
I’ve worn them in the office during the day and out to work events in the evening, still getting home with comfy and blister free footsies! Top marks so far…

Birthday treats
I wore them for my Grandma’s 86th birthday celebrations up North in February, getting my “dancing shoes” on with my mum and grandma to watch Anton and Erin perform at the Liverpool Philharmonic! I wore them all day and night for my special birthday day out, which involved shopping, afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel, more shopping, cocktails and a delicious dinner at The Ivy.

Silver skirt and black and gold heels

Shining silver and gold celebrations

I also wore my fabulous heels to birthday parties for both my sister in law and a good friend; again, very comfy to wear on the journey into the West End, throughout the evening and on the journey home. Admittedly, suffering from PoTS, I don’t stand up too much, but still do a lot of walking around and still have a 15 minute walk to my train each morning and evening on my way to and from the office and from any train back from Waterloo after being in Central London. Add that to a day in the office and anything after work, or before and after a night out, and you’re on your feet for more than you think!

Shoes by the fire at the Bingham, Richmond

Sparkling shoes and a warm fire

And my conclusions?
These shoes made me feel confident and fabulous, ready to take on anything that is thrown at me (uneven pavements, busy commute, crazy work days, you name it…!) Knowing that these shoes contribute to excellent women’s causes makes them all the more special to me. Being genuinely comfortable and beautifully crafted in the UK, whilst still undeniably stylish, makes them my top choice. But there’s much more to them than that. These are shoes with a conscience, designed to make a difference to the lives of women around the world. With 500 women helped so far and counting, the company aims to empower women globally and support women’s charities with every sale, through their partnership with Global Giving UK. Global Giving UK’s CEO, Eleanor Harrison, recently wore her shoes like mine (the appropriately named style, “Dream then Do”) to receive her OBE – what could be more fabulous or more inspiring than that?!

Please do take the time to check out Shoes by Shaherazad and the great work this company and its hardworking founder, Shaherazad Umbreen, are doing. What a fantastic enterprise!

Shoes and tea

Shoes and tea – a winning combination!

Time for tea?
In between stepping out and a much needed rest, I’ve been very lucky to try a huge number of fantastic teas – more on each and every one soon, but in the meantime, check out your exclusive Tea with Rachael discount of 30% off your first tea subscription box from the lovely people at Tea Tourist – just enter TEAWITHRACHAEL30 at checkout.

More great offers to follow soon, too – enjoy!

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

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

Super Teas from the Tetley Tea Folk

A nice cup of tea is good for your health…

Regular readers of Tea with Rachael will know that over the past year, I have had a lot of medical investigations and finally some very illuminating diagnoses, which have proved to be a big weight off my mind. Having been diagnosed with a form of inflammatory arthritis recently, in addition to the dysautomnia, I have been exploring ways I can complement my treatment and support my overall health and wellbeing with healthy eating and living.

Tea is a very important part of my life, of course, well known for its many health benefits, so I have been keen to explore the health giving properties of tea and how I can make them work for me in my everyday life. It’s a fascinating process for me and one that I am sure will prove hugely beneficial for me and my health.

The timing could not be better – after a wonderfully relaxing holiday in a peaceful resort in Gran Canaria, I have been introduced to a number of fantastic companies, who are offering teas with a wide range of health benefits. I’m so excited to try them all and see what I can do to improve my overall health and wellbeing.

Tea with Rachael regulars will know that I am a big fan of a strong cup of black tea, so I was very excited to hear from the Tetley Tea Folk about their new range of Super Teas, launching at the end of this month. The lovely people at Tetley have already paved the way for everyday teas with added health benefits, offering black and green tea blends and a good quality Rooibos, so I’m delighted that they have created a range of health boosting black teas.

Tetley Super Teas

Super Teas from the Tetley Tea FolkImmune, Alert and Boost

These new Tetley Super Teas are designed to give you that little bit extra – supported by European Food Standards Agency-approved health claims, the teas provide an easy boost to your health and everyday energy as you drink your everyday cuppa. Comprising Immune, a black everyday tea with added Vitamin C to help boost your immunity (17.6% of RDA, 2kcal per 225ml serving); Boost, a black tea with added Vitamin B6 to aid energy and concentration and help give your performance that little extra edge (40% of RDA, 2kcal per 224ml serving), and Alert, a cuppa that contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, for that extra caffeine based energy boost (2 kcal per 225ml), there should be something to suit everyone’s lifestyle and preferred tea drinking style. They’ve certainly made it easy to help support everyday health by simply enjoying, in my case, my usual several cups of black tea each day. They have also launched a range of Super Green Teas, for those of you who prefer the health boosting benefits of green tea.

With poor immunity as a result of my medical conditions and having already been told about problems with B Vitamin deficiencies, the fact that these added benefits are rolled into my usual cup of black tea fit right in to my daily life, and I feel like I’m doing something good for my health that is in no way out of the ordinary. By just having my usual few cups of tea a day, I can do something small and simple that will hopefully improve the way I feel, aid my immunity and give me a little bit more energy.

A health boosting cuppa on the balcony

A health boosting cuppa on the balcony – bliss!

I don’t know whether it was just the glow I felt for doing something so positive and yet so simple, or whether the teas were actually making me feel better and giving me that much-needed energy boost, but I have certainly felt less tired in the week I have been drinking the Boost tea, and have manage to stop a cold turning into a nasty bout of sinusitis while drinking the Immune boosting tea. And all while enjoying my usual cuppa – I’ll drink to that!

I do hope you enjoy Super Teas, too – you’ll spot them in the shops over the next week or so at the bargain recommended retail price of £1.59! Find out more at www.tetley.co.uk

Next time, I’ll be trying out other health giving tea blends and trying out some laxative free teatoxes.

Cheers!

Rachael xx