Lockdown Loose Leaf Love

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I’ve been so lucky during lockdown to have received some stellar loose leaf tea selections from some tea people who really care – about their customers and the planet. I really value the tea companies that share the love of what they do, do it with love and create experiences with their teas. That personal, caring touch makes such a difference, and having a wide variety of blends and tea treats has really helped while staying at home for months on end. Time for a tea break?

Unboxing the beautifully packaged Jai Tea with bright pink paper and inspiring quotes
Unboxing the beautifully packaged Jai Tea

Jai Tea Jewels

Jai Tea sent me so many wonderful loose leaf teas, that I have paid it forward and sent some of them to friends and family. Being shielded, it’s a lovely way for me to show I care through the magic of tea! I feel it’s only right to share the love they put into these lovely teas and enjoy a virtual tea break or two with my loved ones. I know some of my friends have been bitten by the tea bug now too and have been enjoying some of the lovely tea treats.

Jasmine, founder of Jai Tea, is clearly passionate about tea, travel and providing luxury food and drink experiences for her customers – that certainly shows in the beautiful website, luxury products that are clearly crafted with care, and their engaging social media posts. Her customers obviously appreciate it, too – I see so many lovely reviews of the Jai tea and food gifts. They do some great competitions over on Facebook, so have a go – you might win something very special!

I love Jai Tea’s branding, look and feel – especially the romantic names for the loose leaf tea blends, elegantly written in calligraphy on the packets. Wrapped in fuschia pink (my favourite!) paper, with the brand’s logo gilded on the tissue paper, beautifully boxed and including inspiring quotes in their thank you cards within, it’s quite the treat to unbox these teas and survey the tea adventures before you. And there are adventures to be had all around the world from your teapot – Parisian Nights, anyone? Or revisit a bygone era with blends such as Queen Victoria’s Promenade. Very nice with some old fashioned violet and rose creams, by the way…

I felt it was proper to brew these teas in some of my vintage and more decorative teapots and serve in my vintage china, setting the mood for relaxation and inspiration as I write at my desk, or get carried away with a good book. Bliss! The innovative ingredients alongside the loose leaf teas were flavourful and all natural, something that made a real difference to the subtlety of the flavoured black tea blends and received a big thumbs up from me. I loved the flower petals – violet, rose, bergamot, cheery blossom – mixed with top quality loose leaf tea and other soothing ingredients.

Jai Tea's romantically named On Behalf of My Love, a cinnamon black tea
Jai Tea’s romantically named On Behalf Of My Love, a sweet, comforting black tea with cinnamon.
Discovering new tea with Bruu
Discovering new teas with Bruu

Bruu Tea Brewing Discoveries

I was talking on Facebook and Instagram last week about the tea adventure approach and the caring ethos of Bruu Tea that shone through its packaging, messaging, and loose leaf tea selections. There are tasting and provenance notes for each tea and tea region featured in the monthly tea subscription box, giving you the opportunity to discover new and different teas with every box. There was also a style of tea to suit all tastes, from more traditional strong black teas, to fruity and tropical tea blends that suited the summery weather we had during Spring’s lockdown. Along with the heartfelt message from the company’s head Tea Taster, Scott (what an amazing job!) to bring cheer and encourage us to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, I liked everything about my Discovery Box and really support and salute Bruu as a brand. You may have seen the “Tea-Rex approved” stamp of approval on my Instagram and Twitter feeds recently! Have a look at some of the photos of the box and its contents on there – great stuff!

Unboxing the Bruu Tea Subscription Box to with a personal message from Head Tea Taster Scott during the pandemic
Finding a heartfelt message from head tea taster Scott in my Bruu Tea box.

Stir Me Tea Turns It Tropical

Stir Me is a recently launched Kenyan loose leaf tea brand, with stunning packaging and branding, innovative Kenyan tea blends and a friendly, helpful face, Reena, at the helm. The Stir Me strap line is, “Better tea… better conversations” – how appropriate! A local company, based in Twickenham, they hand delivered a wide variety of teas to me, including some creative, soothing chai blends and summery selections, perfect for the changeable weather we are experiencing this summer! Featuring an elegant Orange Pekoe black tea, turmeric chai, Persian Chai with rose petals and cardamon, there was also a selection of tropical summery tea blends, Mango Mania, and the Pina Colada white tea blend. Again, there was a loose leaf tea to please all tastes and some real favourites of mine in there, such as rose petals and black tea based blends.

The tea boxes feature colourful patterned packaging and fun branding, reflecting the friendly, community-focused and fun ethos of the tea brand. I was so delighted to try these teas and to meet Reena briefly from the window when she dropped the teas off. On that note, check them out on Instagram. Lots of lovely reviews and stories capturing the vibrant branding and tasty teas. Better tea… better conversations…

Sunny selection of Stir me teas with bright, colourful packaging
My sunny selection of Stir Me Kenyan teas

I also received my loose leaf tea selection in a very pretty and practical mini shopper bag, which I have been using to carry all my bits and pieces around when heading out to the garden to enjoy the sunshine and a tasty tea. Helps me to get away from it all without going any further than my garden path, all while shielding in quarantine. you can find them on the West London Hampers website, too.

Stir Me Tea Natural Fabric Mini Shopping Bag saying Hakuna Matata
My lovely little bag from Stir Me – Hakuna Matata!

Hakuna Matata, everyone!

Drink tea, enjoy life, and don’t worry…

Rachael XX

Has the UK fallen out of love with tea?

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I don’t think the UK will ever stop loving tea – here’s why…

I was asked if the UK’s love affair with tea is over today, as I was interviewed (18:47 minutes into the podcast) following Unilever’s decision to sell off PG Tips. In my experience, the British love of tea has only got stronger in recent years – but it is a very different world of tea that has emerged over the past 5-10 years. I think the UK continues to love tea for a number of very valid reasons, just in a different way to days gone by. Why?

I love tea

Favourite mug with a tea poem and gingerbread man tea steeper

 

1. Variety is the spice of life
There is much more variety of different teas available now. Healthy herbal blends have risen in popularity dramatically just over the past three years or so, as people look to tea to support a healthy lifestyle and make the most of all the health benefits available from drinking tea, such as green tea and matcha, and herbal tisanes.

2. Bye bye, builder’s brew!
The basic builder’s brew, that is, strong black tea, often with milk and sugar, while still surely a favourite drink across Britain, has fallen in popularity in favour of exciting new tea flavours, green tea, which is seen as being a healthier option, and healthy herbal teas. Loose leaf tea has become much more in demand than the humble teabag in recent years, as we strive to be kinder to our planet.

3. Sustainability and welfare
Consumers are seeking tea companies that are sustainable – those who are known for not testing on or exploiting animals, paying a fair wage and providing safe working conditions for their workers around the world, and tea companies that provide recyclable, compostable and sustainable teabags and packaging, as well as innovative ways to re-use tea paraphernalia, blend and brew teas.

4. The ceremony and art of tea
As well as the health lifestyle reasons, tea experiences have grown in prominence and popularity. The art of tea ceremonies, combined with meditation and mindfulness, is a new way of engaging with nature and bringing tradition into the new decade.

5. Afternoon tea treats are an affordable luxury
Then there’s the rise of the afternoon tea – themed afternoon teas have sprung up all over the UK, not just in the nation’s capital city, and this has become a tea experience and a special event that can be shared with friends and family. Afternoon tea now is on a whole other level to “popping round for a cuppa” like we used to do in days gone by. We don’t necessarily live near our loved ones in these busy times, so making tea time by way of a special afternoon tea into a sense of occasion, enjoying treats both savoury and sweet with your tea, is a great way of celebrating and catching up with others  – especially those who share a love of tea!

Why I will always love tea

Rachael raising a cup of tea at New York Plaza Hotel Palm Court

I will always love all kinds of tea

Personally, I still love a cup of builder’s black tea, but I like flavoured blends of both black and green tea, too, enjoy the health benefits of a wide variety of herbal teas and tisanes, and I really love a slap up afternoon tea somewhere nice with my friends and family.

I like to know the tea I buy is from someone who cares, that takes steps to ensure sustainability, fair trade and fair working conditions, and I like to support independent tea distributors, blenders and enthusiasts who share my love of tea in all its forms and all its glory!

Hope you enjoy the short snippet (18:47 minutes in…) of me sharing some tea knowledge and my opinion on the future of UK and tea!

Have a great weekend,

Rachael XX

Tea up your year!

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 in 2017, 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