Time for a very timely tea invention

The right time for a nice, strong cup of tea

Strong English Breakfast from Twinings

Strong English Breakfast from Twinings and a very special mug

The lovely people at Twinings got in touch with me again recently about some rather exciting news and it could not have been better timing! In recent weeks I’ve been enjoying my wonderful selection of teas and trying lots of different blends in some of my favourite mugs – both old and new – but I’m ashamed to say that some of my teas have been forgotten about as I’ve got distracted by the “To Do” list and other festive activities in the run up to Christmas. I’ll leave them to brew for the recommended three to five minutes (usually around five minutes for a nice, strong black tea, which is my everyday favourite). It seems I’m not alone…

Forget tea not?

According to the latest statistics collected by Twinings, 74% of British people – that’s almost three quarters of the population – make a nice cup of tea as their first drink of the day; and one third claim it’s the very first thing they do when they wake up. Despite this famous British love affair with tea, one in five surveyed (that’s 22%) admitted to regularly putting down their tea and forgetting about it!

Never fear, there is a solution – and one I really need in my life, as I’ve forgotten about two cups of tea today already! Twinings have created a prototype cup, which they are calling the ‘forget-tea-not’ – that not only lets you know that your tea is at optimum drinking temperature but reminds you about your tea so it doesn’t spoil by playing a rendition of the “Bing! Bang! Bong!” song when the tea reaches 68 degrees centigrade.

The designs for the Twinings Forget Tea Not Tea Cup

The designs for the Twinings Forget Tea Not Tea Cup

A lot of thought has gone into this from the tea lovers at Twinings – a collaboration between the famous tea house’s master blenders and some rather clever designers. The cup is hand painted in colours that match the branding of the Twinings English Strong Breakfast blend and it is all designed to optimise the tea drinking experience by ensuring the tea is at what they believe is the optimum tea drinking temperature after milk, 68 degrees centigrade, in a shape that maximises the ability to taste the different notes in the tea.

Having met a Twinings master blender myself and learned a lot about what has gone into making their English Breakfast blend over the decades, I can tell you that they genuinely love their morning cuppa and place special significance on the role of a god cup of tea at breakfast time, which is only right and proper, in my opinion!

The right start to the day

As part of their recent research, Twinings have also been looking in to the best ways to start the day – which, of course, while tea is a very important element in the process, often involves more than just the essential morning cuppa! I’m partial to a nice, strong cup of tea in the mornings and find it hard to function without one, but there’s more to it than that. They enlisted the help of psychologist, Dr Lynda Shaw, to get her top tips and life hacks for the best ways to start the day the right way. I identify with a number of these – the power of positivity and a positive start to the day to pave the way for a great day ahead is not to be underestimated, and I do find that a good cup of quality tea in one of my favourite mugs provides a much-needed smile to set me up for the day!

Starting the morning the right way with a good cuppa

Starting the morning the right way with a good cuppa – and a view!

Dr Lynda Shaw’s Morning Rituals That Set You Up For a Successful Day and Are Something to Look Forward to

1. Prepare your mind and write down three things you are grateful for, which will stimulate the rewards systems in the brain. In so doing, you will achieve a more positive outlook for the rest of the day.

2. Set your attitude by adding how you want to behave today – do you want to be calm, energetic, kind, or perhaps all three? A positive feedback loop in the brain will keep you on track.

3. One of the first things you probably do in the morning is make a cup of tea for yourself, so make sure it’s a quality one. Use your favourite tea in your favourite mug or cup and sit down and savour it.

4. How about getting physical? Stretch, run, walk, go to the gym. Exercise in the morning is a ritual that sets you up for the day, but choose something you enjoy to get a real glow.

5. Drink a glass of water to hydrate, then go through your automatic bathing routine which allows your mind to wander and muse wherever it wishes to go, giving space for creative thought.

6. If you take public transport to work, reading an article online on the way gives you topical things to talk about and helps you feel informed and in control.

7. Try waking 10 minutes early so that you can lie there with your eyes closed, allowing your brain to enjoy the alpha state. This is a creative place and you are likely to come up with new ideas or answers to difficult questions. Record them or write them down immediately.

8. Make your bed. It feels good later to come home to an orderly house, helping you to feel calm.

9. Eat your favourite food for breakfast – something that is colourful, such as fresh fruit and yoghurt, or make a smoothie with both fruit and vegetables. Your body will love you for it.

10. Text a friend or family member and tell them how great they are. Doing something meaningful at the start of your day will give you both a boost.

When can I try this magic mug?! I’m excited…!

This is very exciting news in my world – I’m really hoping that this prototype goes into production and am very much looking forward to the opportunity of it becoming available so I can have one for myself!

Until next time, I hope you enjoy your morning cuppa and it sets you up for a fabulous and very productive day – all the more important at this very busy and festive time of year!

Raising a good cuppa to you all – Compliments of the Season!

Rachael XX

Caffeine – friend or foe?

In the latest in my series about tea for health, I thought it would be good to get to the bottom of the ever-changing approach to caffeine. Is it good for you? Some articles claim that caffeine can support your health, others say it is detrimental – I’d like to investigate and draw my own conclusions.

The truth about caffeine?

Caffeine applied topically can help get rid of cellulite and firm the skin. It’s a key ingredient in many expensive and high street body creams for this very reason. Caffeine is also added to some “Max” or “Ultra” painkillers, such as Paracetamol or Co-Codamol, to speed up the pain relief process.

A little caffeine boost can help when you’ve overindulged a little the night before, or if you’re just downright exhausted.

Tetley's Superteas

Superteas, including Alert, from Tetley

My personal feeling about caffeine is that everyone responds to it differently. Certainly, you shouldn’t be relying on it for an instant energy all day, every day, and this is often an easy trap to fall into. However, the occasional boost, as long as you have not been advised to avoid it, does no harm, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve certainly found my Alert tea from Tetley useful to perk me up in the mornings, which is an everyday tea blend with the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee added.

With Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS for short!) I have to be careful not to have too much – I have had the odd incident when a very large cup of coffee has caused palpitations – although I do find the odd caffeine boost helpful when taking my pain medication and as a much needed pick me up on days when I’m feeling particularly tired and drained.

A good cuppa tea

A nice cup of tea

As a seasoned tea drinker for most of my life, I have never had any problems drinking caffeinated tea, and usually have several cups a day. The levels of caffeine in black tea are higher than in green tea, but still not the same as you will find in a cup of coffee.

In fact, I have it on good authority from a bonafide tea expert that the caffeine in tea is actually different to that in a cup of coffee – Georgia Ginsberg, Director of family run and fabulous tea company, Dragonfly Tea (more on this great tea brand coming soon), discussed the caffeine content in tea when we met recently and said that there is definitely less caffeine in tea and there is actually a difference in the way it is absorbed when compared with coffee. Tea is also full of antioxidants, which are good for your overall health, protection from external factors such as pollution, and assist with anti-ageing and immunity.

Decaff tea from Whittard of Chelsea

One of Whittard of Chelsea’s decaffeinated options

Vouchercloud recently published a very illuminating article on caffeine, which provides some useful and surprising results for the caffeine content of a range of popular drinks, including a variety of different types of tea. It makes for interesting reading – thank you to Vouchercloud and Whittard of Chelsea for providing a wealth of information on the subject. Vouchercloud also has a number of money-off offers at the moment – worth checking out for getting your fix of Whittard’s tea and stocking up on your favourites!

 

 


How much caffeine is in my drink?

Type of Tea Serving Size Caffeine Quantity        Caffeine Level
Black Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 14-90 mg Moderate
Black Tea (Decaffeinated) 240 ml (cuppa) 0-12 mg Low
Darjeeling Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 19-55 mg Moderate
Oolong Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 50-75 mg Moderate
English Breakfast Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 40-70 mg Moderate
Earl Grey Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 55 – 90 mg Moderate
Lady Grey Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 14-40 mg Moderate
Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 12-30 mg Low
Jasmine Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 17-30 mg Low
Lemon Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 12-30 mg Low
Matcha Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 70 mg Moderate
White Tea 240 ml (usual size cuppa) 30-50 mg Low
Rooibos Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Peppermint Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Red Berry Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Ginger Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Camomile Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Other Drinks
Coffee 240 ml 150-200mg High
Coca-Cola 330ml (can) 32mg Low
Diet Coke 330ml (can) 42mg Low
Coke Zero 330ml (can) 32mg Low
Coca-Cola Life 330ml (can) 26mg Low
Redbull 250ml (can) 80 mg Moderate
Relentless 500ml (can) 160 mg High

Source: Vouchercloud

Cutting down on caffeine

If you’re looking to cut down on caffeine, but not cut it out completely, there are a number of tasty teas to try. Green tea is lower in caffeine than black tea, thanks to the oxidation process used on the green leaves to turn them into black tea that releases more caffeine from the leaves. White tea is even less processed, so is another good choice. Oolong is the best of both worlds, like a refreshing combination of green and black teas.

Good quality green tea is light and should never be bitter. Be careful how you brew it – don’t use boiling water or leave it to steep too long, or it will taste stewed and bitter. There are a wide variety of flavoured green teas you can try. Floral, relaxing Jasmine Green Tea, combinations of mint and green tea, or fruit flavoured green teas are all good options.

I’ve talked about some of my favourite brands on Tea with Rachael before and mentioned some in here already, but if you are looking for inspiration and a dizzying choice of blends, with or without caffeine, have a look at some of these tried and tested tea brands I enjoy regularly: Dragonfly Tea, Whittard of Chelsea, O-Teas, Teavivre, JollyBrew, Ahmad Tea, Chateau Rouge, Twinings, Clipper, Brew and Bites, The Kent & Sussex Tea and Coffee Co, to name just a few.

Caffeine-free treats

Rooibos and Honeybush

If you’re looking to cut right down or cut out the caffeine completely, there’s still plenty of choice. Naturally healthy Rooibos and Honeybush teas have been used medicinally for years in Africa and are a go-to if you want a comforting, caffeine-free brew, or if you’re feeling a bit under the weather. Peppermint and mint tea blends are caffeine free and great for digestion, helping you beat the bloat after a large meal or overindulging. Also great if you’re if you’re feeling a bit sickly. Ginger tea is also good for digestion and is a safe way to help fight nausea if you’re unwell or suffering from pregnancy sickness.

Lemon and rosemary tea

Lemon and rosemary tea from O-Teas

Herbal teas

Cosy, comforting herbal teas, such as lemon and ginger or lemon and rosemary are great if you have a sore throat, or as a warming cuppa in colder weather. I’m a fan of teas with lavender in, too – a natural antiseptic, whether in a herbal blend or mixed with black tea.

There are also the cold, herbal tea drinks I’ve blogged about before and are naturally caffeine-free – Honest and Tg Teas are refreshing and portable, so you can drink them anytime! More on these lovely tea treats in future posts…

Time for a detox tea?

Another great option if you’re looking for a caffeine free brew is a detox tea range. If you’re looking to drink detox teas for health benefits it’s a good idea to avoid any that have any laxatives or any nasties in them.

A great brand I’ve tried recently is Teagime, which tailors tea blends to your specific needs, to create, yes, you’ve guessed it, your very own Teagime. You fill in a health questionnaire and they blend the teas to support what you’re looking to achieve. In my case, it was avoiding the late afternoon slump, curbing sugar cravings and aiding a good night’s sleep.

Teatime teatox teas

A fabulous box of Teagime Teatox teas and illustrated tea guides

I was delighted to receive a tailored selection of teas from Teagime – one for morning, one for the afternoon, and one for night time. After filling in a questionnaire on their website abut my particular concerns and health requirements, they created blends specific to my requirements.

Everything about the brand is comforting and frankly, looks beautiful – from the information leaflet that comes with your box of teas, to the pink steepers that are provided for the loose leaf teas, to the logo and the look and feel of the website.

Tasty teas from Teagime

Not what you’d expect from a detox tea – the tasty teas from Teagime are a comforting treat!

The teas themselves are tasty, with an unusual choice of fruit and herb-filled flavours and a variety of custom-built blends tailored to you. Impressive, innovative, and highly recommended!

So many wonderful teas to choose from – with or without caffeine! How do you prefer your cuppa?

Until next time, hope you enjoy a nice cup of tea – or two – with or without caffeine, whatever you prefer xx

It’s 2015: Time for tea!

Newby Tea at The Bingham, Richmond

A lovely pot of Newby tea and pretty china at The Bingham, Richmond

Happy New Year!

After a blogging hiatus towards the end of last year, following injury, illness and a number of other reasons, I’m looking forward to making this year “The Year of the Blog”!

2014 wasn’t exactly the year I was expecting, but I have high hopes for the New Year and am feeling positive!

 

A New Year’s Eve to Remember

I saw in the New Year with my lovely husband eating a fabulous six-course tasting menu at Richmond’s beautiful  Bingham hotel. We had a lovely room overlooking the river, inspiring a search for a new home by the river, where we hope to move in March. I can’t wait to wake up to the peaceful, comforting sight of the river and being surrounded by greenery once more!

Miller Harris toiletries at The Bingham

Luxury Miller Harris toiletries at The Bingham

A stylish room at The Bingham

Our stylish room at the Bingham

Do Not Disturb sign at The Bingham, Richmond

Celebrating in style at The Bingham, Richmond

Time for Tea…

I had several lovely cuppas courtesy of Newby Teas, and thoroughly enjoyed my moments of luxury!

In the spirit of “New Year, New You”, I was recently introduced to SlenderTox Tea by the BloggersLove Hub. I’m delighted that this is a health product based on one of my favourite things – tea! I am keen to try the 14 day teatox and see if it helps improve my overall health and wellbeing, ups my energy levels (which are in need of a jumpstart right now!) and that the evening teatox helps me enjoy a good night’s sleep.

I will update you on the results as I go along – very excited to be trying out another tea experiment!

I had a lovely New Year surprise this week, winning some delicious-smelling teas from JollyBrew. The packaging is stunning, making a welcome addition to my tea cabinet and matching the blue themes of my kitchen. I can’t wait to try all three loose-leaf teas – I will share the verdict, but I predict they are going to be amazing!

The Gift of Tea

The elegantly packaged JollyBrew Teas

The elegantly packaged JollyBrew Teas

Festive gifts of tea and coffee

The gift of tea…and coffee!

I received some wonderful tea related gifts from family and friends over the festive season: a real favourite tea of mine, Harney & Sons’ Tower of London Blend Tea, a wonderful blend of black tea with Bergamot and dried fruits; Christmas Thanks from Twinings, which tastes like Christmas cake and is pure comfort in a mug; several lovely mugs; lots and lots of Teapigs; and Christmas Blend teas from Whittard of London and Kent & Sussex.

Slendertox Tea

Time for a TeaTox

This was all after a pre-Christmas visit to one of my favourite shops in Covent Garden, The Tea House, to stock up on my favourite Ahmad blends, Vanilla Tranquility and Cinammon Haze. I’ve been drinking these in abundance, both at work and at home.

Gingerbread Lattes, anyone?

I also received various gingerbread-themed gifts, as my obsession with gingerbread lattes shows no signs of waning! I have to admit I drink them all year round, rather than just as a seasonal treat. I am really looking forward to trying out the Gingerbread Body Lotion from the fabulous Sniffy Whiffy – keeping that festive feeling going through the dark January days! I’m collecting my parcel tomorrow, so will keep you posted…

Until next time, wishing you a very Happy New Year – here’s hoping 2015 is a fantastic one!

Enjoy your January tea break,

Rachael XX

 

Tea at Tiffany’s – a bite of the Big Apple in Surrey

Twinings Tea, Audrey and Cat!

Tea at Tiffany’s – actually the very lovely Warren House!

New York is my all-time favourite city and my ‘happy place’, but I love my home in leafy Surrey, too.

A classic representation of New York, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is also one of my all-time favourite films. When I was last in New York, back in June last year, I bought a number of books inspired by both this iconic Audrey Hepburn film and the mythical status of Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue – “Fifth Avenue, 3AM” and “Summer at Tiffany’s”. It’s making me long to go back to the amazing NYC again! More on my amazing trip to the Big Apple soon…

My Holly Golightly looks

My Holly Golightly-inspired outfit – and Cat!

 

My lovely friends at The Secret Tea Society, also huge fans of both Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Audrey Hepburn, recreated the magic of the film and paid homage to the wonderful Audrey in a Breakfast at Tiffany’s-themed afternoon tea, right here in lovely Surrey!

Lovely, peaceful garden

The stunning secret grotto garden!

I was so excited to put on my little black dress (a cute little number from Anna Sui, bought especially for the occasion and based on the outfit that Holly Golightly wears when she visits Sing Sing); my black patent kitten heel Jimmy Choos (appropriately purchased in Saks Fifth Avenue during my visit last June) and some fabulous jewellery (a very sparkly choker-style necklace bought for me by one of my lovely Sisters-in-Law a few years ago) for this most elegant of teas! I even put my hair up in a bouffant bun!

Taking with me Cat (not my real cat, but a very lifelike soft toy!) and raincoat in reference to the iconic final scene of the movie, I headed over to the stunning Warren House, the venue for our special event. Greeted warmly by the lovely lady at reception and our tea sommelier for the afternoon, I headed into the stylish sitting room reserved just for the ladies of the Secret Tea Society. The sun beamed through the windows and the French doors were open onto a secret grotto – an adorable cobbled garden and fountain, which led to the statuesque grounds, where other happy guests were enjoying sumptuous afternoon teas.

Choosing our Twinings loose leaf tea

Choosing our Twinings loose leaf tea at Warren House – spoiled for choice!

After a glass of Champagne and catching up with the fabulous Secret Tea ladies, we sat down to play a few games – a prize for the best representation of Audrey Hepburn/Holly Golightly (my lovely table-mate, Clare, won with her striking Holly Golightly party look!) and a quiz to see who knew the most fun facts about the film (my table won, naturally!) Our prize was a copy of the film and, of course, some delicious tea, from Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.

Lovely afternoon tea at Warren House

Delicious teatime treats at Warren House

Next, we chose our Twinings loose-leaf tea – I decided to try both the Darjeeling and Assam – two of my favourites and full of flavour!

 

Then we were delighted to see the fantastic spread appear before our eyes – delicate, flavourful sandwiches, dainty, melt-in-the-mouth scones, the most amazing mini cinnamon loaves, tempting cakes and sweet treats. After stuffing ourselves happily with as much as we could manage, there was stll plenty left to take doggy bags home!

The Tiffany's-inspired decorations I took home

Some of the lovely Tiffany’s-inspired decorations

We also each took home some of the beautiful decorations that our “Hostess With the Mostest”, Founder of the Secret Tea Society, Claire Worrell, had lovingly made: Tiffany-blue-green pom-poms, ladylike table flowers adorned with Tiffany-style ribbon and pearl decorations, matching feathers and shiny butterflies! I have mine proudly on display next to my Tiffany-coloured heart chalkboard in the kitchen.

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! I had such a good time, and it was tremendous fun not only seeing all my lovely Secret Tea friends again, but seeing everyone in their fabulous outfits. I also cannot recommend Warren House and the incredible team there highly enough.

Both an afternoon and an Afternoon Tea to remember! X

Rachael’s Adventures in Tealand – Part Two – Breakfast with Twinings at the Savoy

I love the Autumn!  The new season always brings with it new adventures, as well as new
smells, tastes and experiences that come with this most lovely of seasons.  This month has opened the door to even more fun adventures in Tealand!



Time for a Twinings English Breakfast at The Savoy

I always seem to be better at eating a proper breakfast in the Autumn, so I was delighted to be invited to an exclusive breakfast hosted by Twinings and 2011 Masterchef winner and culinary alchemist, Tim Anderson at London’s luxurious Savoy.

This was not just any breakfast, but the 80th Anniversary of
Twinings English Breakfast tea, the first ‘designer tea’, created in the 1930s!  I was very excited to be greeted by Stephen Twining, Brand Ambassador for Twinings when I first arrived, who shared with me his tips on brewing the perfect cup of English Breakfast – make sure you brew it for at least three minutes!  Many people complain that they don’t like English Breakfast tea because it’s not strong enough, but the trick is in the timing.  True to his word, it was a refreshing, tasty cup of tea – much needed after my travel across busy London!

The theme of the event was, of course, breakfasts throughout the last eight decades, paired with English Breakfast tea, of course!  With my love of all things vintage, this was a combination of a fascinating trip down memory lane and an interesting anthropological study of how eating behaviour has changed over the years – and continues to evolve.

I’m not sure what I loved more – the fabulous retro Twinings packaging, the vintage teapots, tea cups and tea sets, or the food itself!

Tim Anderson then talked us through his vision
for the breakfast of the future – which is certainly innovative and different from the normal fry-up/cereal/pastry on the go that we’re so used to today!  Tim’s idea was that people will turn to more sustainable food sources in the future, eating things that may have seemed unappealing in Western countries before, such as insects in your muesli – crickets, ants eggs and mealworms, anyone?!
I very much liked the idea of more gamey meats featuring on the breakfast table, like Tim’s smoked duck bacon – smoked with Twinings tea, naturally – and rabbit and venison sausages (although, rather childishly, I still can’t bring myself to eat rabbit or venison, which conjour up images of Thumper and Bambi!)Innovation is an important theme for Twinings, too – I didn’t realise that they were pioneers of the teabag in the 1950s and de-caff tea in the 1980 – and the evolving packaging through the ages has reflected the styles and fashions of the era.  I particularly liked the 1970s packaging, which I think would be very fashionable again today!
I was also delighted to meet Mike, Twinings’ master blender, chatting with him about my favourite Twinings blends and how different tea leaves add those all-important layers of flavour to different tea blends.  Mike created a special, strong blend to accompany the breakfast of the future and cut through the strong flavours of the food.  This was a strong, comforting and fragrant cup of tea, that really stood up to the robust flavours of the futuristic breakfast.I was equally impressed with the special, limited edition 80th anniversary blend of Twinings English Breakfast, a blend of Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas, in its fabulous Art-Deco-inspired packaging. Twinings’ master blenders have continued to tweak the blend of English Breakfast throughout the years to match up to the popular breakfasts of the time and to ensure consistency.Since getting my paws on this special anniversary blend, I have been enjoying this strong, malty cuppa every morning for my first breakfast cup of tea – brewing for at least three minutes, naturally!Until next time, hope you enjoy your breakfast cuppa!Rachael x