Tea up your year!

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone had some time to enjoy the festivities, drink plenty of lovely tea and enjoy some treats. Today is known as “Blue Monday”, as festive fun fades away and the realities of January set in. But, rather than being blue, it’s time to think positive! It’s actually a fantastic opportunity to take stock and decide what you want out of the year ahead – I find my thoughts lend themselves to this at this time of year. It’s an ideal time to get in touch with your dreams and work out how you will achieve them. And, as usual when contemplating life, my thoughts turn to tea…

In good company

It appears I’m not the only one – according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, 165 million cups of tea are drunk in Great Britain. So why not combine your cuppa with your plans and resolution for 2019 and take this “opportunitea” to support your lifestyle, health and wellbeing?

Chinese Lucky Cat for Chinese New Year
Wishing you luck and good fortune for the year ahead – land your dreams this Chinese New Year with the help of the humble cup of tea, Air China and tea expert, Lera Zujeva

Time to Land your Dream

Chinese New Year is coming up in February and that’s another ideal time to look back on the year that has passed and look ahead with excitement and enjoyment at the year ahead. Air China has also turned their thoughts to tea, and have teamed up with tea expert, Lera Zujeva. This year, the Chinese Year of the Pig, symbolises fortune – and what better way to set your intentions for a year of good fortune than weaving this into your everyday cuppa? As part of Air China’s Land your Dream campaign, they will explore how the art of tea making can help body, mind and spirit – and how it is about much more than just your usual cup of builder’s brew.

Tea and wellbeing go hand in hand

Regular Tea with Rachael readers will know that I often talk about the benefits of tea for health – both physical and mental – and now is a great time to find out how your cup of tea can make you feel happier and healthier. Tea can play an important part in prioritising self-care and mental wellbeing. As we have touched on before, research has also found that drinking black, green or oolong tea may offer physical health benefits, such as protection from cardiovascular disease and cancer, reducing the risk of kidney stones, strengthening bones, teeth and boosting the immune system.

Combining mindfulness and the ritual of tea

Chinese culture brings tea to the forefront in treating the body and mind and helping improve overall wellbeing. Lera explains: ‘Tea is so much more than just a drink, it calms the mind and brings harmony to our life. In Chinese culture medicine and health is viewed in a holistic way, Mind, Body and Spirit and are key to achieving a complete state of balance. Tea is this miraculous plant that works on all three levels. My teacher Wu De says: ‘Most diseases nowadays are either caused by stress or aggravated by it, so anything that calms the mind and brings peace and harmony into our lives, is conducive to health. I personally have experienced it in my own life and am dedicated to relaying this message to others.’’

Lera has an inspiring story, having achieved what many of us dream about: she left her 9-5 job to follow her dream of travelling the world to practise the art of tea and now specialises in how mindfulness and tea can be combined to create moments of peace in an increasingly hectic pace of life. As part of her collaboration with Air China, Lera’s has shared her top tips to help create balance in your life with tea:

Lera’s top tea tips for a happier and healthier life

  • The brewing ritual. However you choose to make your tea, it is an opportunity to pause, to stop, to exhale and have a few moments to yourself without the need to run and do and think, connecting to your senses. You will really notice the benefits, as this is when you truly engage in the moment, which can also lead to more inspiration and ideas.
  • Make sure your tea break is just that: a break. If you have more time, switch off your phone and decide that however long your tea break is, you will fully concentrate on the ritual and yourself. This means no phones or distractions – by fully connecting to the experience, you can recharge and create a sense of peace and harmony. 
  • Timing is everything. In the morning, it is better to have darker stronger brews, while afternoons are better suited to lighter teas. Take inspiration from British tea traditions and enjoy a strong assam brew in the morning and lighter teas like Darjeeling First Flush in the afternoon. This will help connect your body and mind to how it ebbs and flows throughout the day.
  • Pay attention to the seasons. The benefits of the tea ritual change from season to season. In winter, it is important to enjoy more warming teas like black tea or dark roasted oolongs.  When summer comes, switch to cooling teas such as green, white and oxidised oolong teas.  This will help maximise the holistic benefits. 
  • Brain function. Tea can enhance how your mind works. For example, wild Sheny Puerh can help provoke creative thinking thanks to the unique blend of stimulating teas. GABA Oolong, on the other hand, can have a calming effect, preventing over-excitement of the nervous system, helping bring clarity and rationality to your thinking. 
  • The Yin and The Yang. Although it contains caffeine, tea has a different effect to coffee. It is released into the bloodstream slower, and its effect is longer, resulting in a more even energy experience.  A unique amino acid called L-Theanine increases alpha brain activity, promoting relaxation without drowsiness, resulting in being alert, focused and energised from the caffeine, but also relaxed, content and inspired from L-Theanine.

You can watch Lera’s video with Air China here.

Lots to look forward to

I’ll be talking more about tea and health in the coming months, as well as joining in Air China’s Chinese New Year celebrations, which are coming up on 9th March.

Lots to look forward to… Until then, sit down, breathe, relax and enjoy that cup of tea.

Why not share some of your dreams for the year ahead with me, too?

Rachael xx

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. And they really care, too. The wrapping for the tealeaves is actually a sustainably made, biodegradable film, so you can try their tasty teas without costing the Earth – and certainly not leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

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.

A great gift and a great way to start a New Year, trying something different and experimenting to find out which are your favourite teas.

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. There are so many teas, herbs and spices that help support health in the Winter months, too, so we’ll take a look at what tea treats help keep you healthy, too.

Until next time, hope you’re keeping cosy with a good cuppa!

Rachael xx

Top Ten Tea Blogger Award from Feedspot.com

Top Ten Tea Blogger Award!

Top Ten Tea Blogger

Top Ten Tea Blogger Award from Feedspot.com

Just a quick news flash to let you know I’m delighted and very honoured to be recognised as a Top Ten Tea Blogger by Feedspot.com this year – I was in the Top 100 last year, so am extremely happy to be included in this year’s Top Ten!

Check out the full Top Ten list. Lots of fab tea enthusiasts like me, sharing their love of life and all things tea. Tea adventures and treats galore!

More tea adventures to follow from me soon – thank you, Feedspot.com! And huge thanks to all the wonderful tea people who have supported me and shared their fabulous teas, tea ware and tea events with me this past year – I hope to give you all your own big shout out very soon!

Tea up!

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 very welcome health and taste boost from the Tetley Tea People

Tetley teases and pleases with dessert flavoured teas

The lovely Tetley Tea Folk sent me their latest range of special teas, intriguingly called Indulgence Flavour Blends, designed to replicate the flavours of your favourite sweet treats. It was ideal timing while I was “Dechoxing” for the British Heart Foundation! I was lucky enough to try the full range of expertly flavoured black teas and there really is something for everyone: Gingerbread, Cookies and Cream, Spiced Apple, and Choc Mint Chip!

Delicious Indulgence Teas from Tetley

Tetley’s delicious Indulgence Teas

My favourite will be no surprise – Gingerbread – it tastes exactly like real gingerbread and is the most satisfying “something sweet” to have after a meal or when you’re craving sugar. It’s not too sweet, though, which makes it perfect for me. the Cookies and Cream was alas a great biscuit or chocolate bar substitute, but be warned – it’s very sweet and tastes very creamy!

Indulgence Gingerbread blend

Indulgence Gingerbread Blend

More teas with a twist…Tetley Tea with Vitamin D

If you’re looking for something even healthier, you may remember I covered Tetley’s range of Superteas when they first launched last year. Now the range has expanded to include something for everyone, including a variety of green teas infused with additional health benefits. They even have a green tea blend with added Matcha, conveniently in teabag form for an on the go energy boost.Tetley Tea with Vitamin D

So I was delighted to try their new green tea with Vitamin D, delicately flavoured with citrus. It was very refreshing in the hot weather over the summer, and I enjoyed it with a slice of lemon. I take Vitamin D supplements to try to boost my immune system, so any help along the way is very much welcomed. I’m not usually a big fan of green tea, but do like green teas when they are gently flavoured, with a hint of jasmine or lemon, for example, so was pleasantly surprised when the citrus kick was not too strong made it a very tasty cuppa. My mum, who has been unwell recently, has also enjoyed them.

I would definitely recommend the Super Teas from Tetley. Reasonably priced, available at the supermarket, and with flavours and vitamin infused blends to suit all tastes and needs. I’ll also be recommending them to friends and family who enjoy green tea.

Next time, I’ll be talking more “Ts” and “Teas” with some favourites both old and new – T2, Tea Sanctuary, Tick Tock and Twinings. So many lovely teas, bound to make you feel better!

Hope to enjoy a cuppa with you again soon!

Rachael XX