I love a cup of tea. Whether it’s National Tea Day or not, I love tea.
If I had to choose between tea and coffee for ever more, then tea would win hands down. Perhaps it’s my northern upbringing, but I can’t start the day without a cup of tea.
Unless I’m in Italy. In which case it’s pointless drinking the tea. Likewise in the USA.
But what kind of tea? Well, it depends on when.
I’m a bit of a traditionalist, and it’s usually Yorkshire tea here. That said, I’m also partial to the Bellevue Belter too, which is a good strong black tea. Both will get your day up and running.
I guess I can take two routes here, depending on what time of year the afternoon falls. For these lighter, occasionally warmer, afternoons, then I like an Earl Grey type. If you want something just a little different on the same theme, then I like the Lady Lavender tea from Bluebird Tea.
If the weather turns cooler, or as we head into winter, then I love the smokiness of Russian Caravan tea. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, literally, but I love the aroma and the dark, smoky taste.
I have to admit to not drinking tea after about 6pm, as even decaf seems to cause sleepless nights. There are plenty of good options, if you like fruit or herbal infusions. Certainly Bluebird have over half a dozen different options which might set you on the right track for a good night’s sleep.
So, morning, noon or night, tea can be there all the way, on National Tea Day or beyond. You need a decent mug (back to my northern upbringing, cups and saucers only happen on trips out) and preferably somewhere cosy to get curled up with your tea.
And then, possibly, a decent biscuit, or two to go alongside a marvellous mug of tea. So, what will you choose? What’s in your tea mug?
Many of you will know that I’m very often an early riser, or at least early waker, and it’s always all about that first cup of tea of the day.
Now I’m very much a Yorkshire Tea kind of girl, but if I was choosing a loose leaf equivalent then it would be Bellevue Tea’s Belter. And if you need an infuser for this kind of thing, at this time of year, then this is probably the tea infuser to get for your loved one.
Available from Harts of Stur (no pun intended), best delivered first thing already in use straight to your loved one. Could always buy a new mug too, go full on twee with the Emma Bridgewater Pink Hearts mug.
Proper mug, as it contains a full half pint of tea. Perfect start to any day.
I love my tea, and a day that doesn’t start with a good mug is not so good. And I’m a bit boring, in that my tea of choice in a morning is a cup of Yorkshire tea (you can take the girl out of Yorkshire…!) But as we’re coming up to Christmas, and there are some lovely choices around, then how about something a bit festive?
My kitchen smelt lovely as I brewed up two new teas from Tea Palace. The Winter Apple probably just edged it for me, with the mix of apple, winter spices, orange zest and cardamom. And a big dollop of honey didn’t go amiss either! The Spiced Pear is a little more delicate, and I can actually see this one working better as an iced tea. But I might wait till it gets warmer to try that theory!
I don’t know which of the Christmas Collection from Bluebird Tea to choose if I’m honest. Gingerbread Chai is a rooibos base, so is going to be lovely and warming. But for something different in every aspect then it has to be the Christmas Cake tea. So yes, it has lovely black tea with the addition of vanilla, cloves and orange. But it’s really the pretty snowflake sprinkles that do it. Sucker for pretty things!
If you need to do a last minute high street dash (or if you’re organised and order online now) then Whittard’s still with us, and you could try their Spice Imperial tea. This is a black tea, with flavours of citrus and mulled wine. Perfect if you’re not big on actual mulled wine. Or are needing to recover from an excess perhaps!
So, perhaps it’s time to shake up the teapot contents to be something a little more festive! I mean, Christmas cake needs something to go with it!
I keep forgetting that I need to replace the glass in my Bodum teapot, which I really liked until had a silly accident with the glass bit. But it doesn’t hurt to have a quick look to see if there are any lovely alternatives does it?
I’ve written before about how much I love Bellevue Tea, and it’s no surprise that on the site there’s not only the fabulous tea but a collection of suitably lovely things to prepare it in. If I didn’t fancy glass again, then I really like the Stump teapot. Perfect inbuilt filter for brewing fine loose leaf tea, but equally happy to have a teabag slung in.
Oh, ok, I know the trendies are really serving gin in this teapot, but I’d put it on the table with real tea in it, and let the neighbours talk! I guess it could multitask, changing contents after the sun’s over the yard arm!
This one is so very tempting, as the answer is quite often “yes” and this is most definitely of my era!
I love the aesthetic of Japanese design, and really regret that on trips to date to Japan I’ve got nowhere near a tea ceremony. But if I wanted to add a little ceremony to the day to day at home, then I really love this cast iron, dark blue lacquered teapot. Not sure if it’s meant for a strong brew, but it looks beautiful and functional. From Imperial Teas.
What I’m trying to replace is the glass for my Bodum Chambord, which is still a great teapot if you have a larger leaf tea. Perfect for judging when a tea might be brewed enough. Not so perfect when dropped on marble floors, although the metal bit stayed perfectly in shape!
I can’t admit to making tea in the pot all that often, but when you’ve got the time, and a good tea, then it’s great to make the effort. As long as you can find the strainer!
For one reason or another I’ve spent a lot of time talking to smaller tea companies, and trying out a number of different brews. If you have a tea lover to buy for this Christmas then consider supporting a truly small and independent business, such as one of these:
* Bluebird Tea Company – I met Mike at the Alternative Game Fair at Vale House B&B in the summer, and have been seeing mentions for them keep popping up. I really liked the Toasted Apple, and I’m not a massive fan of fruit teas. They’ve put together some really lovely looking gifts as well, definitely worth a look.
*Bellevue Tea Company – one of my personal favourites, I have sent gifts from Bellevue to my team in the past. They are so colourful with beautiful packaging, but this is not style over substance at all. I really like the Bellevue Belter for a great daytime tea for those who like it strong!
* The Ramsbury Tea Company – the lovely team at Ramsbury sent me some of their fabulous Earl Grey earlier in the year, which I really loved. It was soft and smokey to balance out the zest of the bergamot, and I was hooked. I like the Tea Basket, giving you something to drink and something to drink it out of.
* Lahloo Tea – another great, truly small independent business, I always think of this being quite boutique, something a little different and quite exotic. Kate’s passion, in fact like all the owners, really shines through. I really like the Tea Taster sets, great if you need a few, lower priced gifts that are similar to each other but the same, as there are a number of different choices.
So, this year of all years, please consider supporting small, independent businesses who really need your custom. Know who you’re buying from and what they stand for, knowing that they will deliver to you on the taste front.
I got a tweet from Clare at Bellevue Tea this week, asking me if I would have time for a cuppa on 27th February. The answer is almost always yes with me, but particularly this one, as this cup of tea is a fundraiser for Dementia UK. It’s a cause close to Clare’s heart and my own, and tea is definitely Clare’s speciality.
It’s not a hard way to raise cash, get your mates together for tea and cake, and ask them to make a decent donation. I don’t think I can combine it with my gold challenge that day, walking and drinking tea quite tricky, particularly out of a teacup! It’s an ideal fundraising opportunity if you work in an office, a school, run a cafe, or just have lovely neighbours to invite round.
Full details on how to register are here, choice of cake baking entirely up to you. My team at work would probably vote for brownies or blondies, but to be honest, they’re not that fussy, but are hopefully very generous!
Then Clare at Bellevue sent me a sample, and the kettle was on pretty darn quick. A blend of black teas from India and Africa, this comes as a loose tea, but it doesn’t take much to make a decent brew. No one for me and one for the pot, I just made a pot for two with two heaped teaspoons, and that was strong enough.
And I loved this. I just knew this was going to be my new morning tea. So if you need an extra push on these dark mornings, then order this in from Bellevue and make each first brew of the day an absolute belter.
Just a quick post, as I heard from one of my fave tea companies yesterday about what they were up to for Mother’s Day.
So, news from Bellevue Tea, which I am very fond of, as my team will testify as they all got Bellevue gifts Christmas before last. They’re doing a lovely trio of teas, that I’m sure any tea loving mum would be thrilled to receive. Along with the Earl Grey that they’ve done for a while (which made me fall in love with Earl Grey all over again) there’s also two new teas. The white tea is light, silky sweet and subtle, and the peppermint infusion is a great end of day treat, being caffeine free and calming.
At only £6 this is an attractive gift but also austerity gift giving budget friendly! Postage and packing is £2.50 on top, so you might want to add to extra tea for yourself too.
I wrote last year about how much I like Bellevue Tea, and liked them so much it’s what I gave my team for Christmas. Which means I’ve got to work out what to give them this year, but if I was going back to Bellevue then I’d be going for this colourful option:
The tea packaging is gorgeously bright, and is merely the beautiful wrapping to great quality tea. But check out the festive teaspoons, how beautiful are these? Five teas, and six spoons, meaning you can get the tea bag out and still have a dry spoon for your sugar. Still time for you to place your orders and get tasty brews in time for Christmas.
I don’t watch a lot of Oprah, but I do know what a huge effect she has on product sales (think Richard and Judy’s bookclub and times it by about a thousand). So her festive favourite things is bound to have a big effect on sales in the US, and quite a few of them had a foodie flavour. Given that what’s big in the US one year is likely to end up here, get a march on your friends and family with the foodie gifts that are likely to feature heavily next year! Here goes:
* First off, a Herb Saver by Prepara. Now these are available in the UK, although struggling to find one as both Amazon and Lakeland are out of stock already. Could be that the mighty Oprah tentacles have made it this far already, so need to look hard. But apparently this is the bees knees to stretch the life of your fresh herbs. And given how expensive they are, then I’m all for that. Alternatively, just buy the living plant versions.
*Something that I’m beginning to see more of, and that’s upmarket popcorn. No, Butterkist didn’t make it onto Oprah’s favourite things, but Garrett Popcorn from Chicago did. You could order anything from 1 gallon to 6.5 gallons (I kid you not) and your choice of flavours, from plain to buttery, cheesecorn to macadamia caramel crisp. It’s not cheap, so I hope it’s good. I know Heal’s are doing some interesting gifts with popcorn this year and, even better in my view, it’s the kind you pop yourself.
* Le Creuset cookware. What can I say? On this one, we’re with you, Oprah. My casserole wasn’t cheap to buy but it was over 20 years ago and it’s still going strong. Although I do fancy some of the new colours, especially the Cassis. Goes with nothing, but will still cook brilliantly.
* Apparently she wants Williams Sonoma mini croissants. Sound like the upscale version of the Pilsbury pop out the tin version. I’d stop by Pauls on Christmas Eve.
* Talbott’s Teas Holiday Favourites also made the list, and these look like a very attractive gift, and they seem to know their tea. For equally stylish and tasty British versions, I would try Bellevue Tea (which is what I sent all my team last year) or Tea Palace. I think proper, high quality tea makes a great gift, and people are often amazed at the difference between these and “regular” teas.
*Now this I love and applaud. The Baker’s Edge Lasagne and Brownie pans mean no more arguing over those deliciously crunchy, caramelised edges as each portion should come with at least two crunchy sides. As you might expect, Firebox to the rescue, as they have both versions. Not cheap, but imagine great deliciousness is worth the investment. Skip the Ghiardelli Brownie mix, and make Nigella’s version.
* The toastie goes upmarket, as Oprah also wants a Breville Panini Press. And who said that big stars don’t do carbs? Carbs plus melted cheese got to be good though. Which is possibly why she also included Beechers World’s Best Mac ‘n’ Cheese. But we can wait for that.
* Finally from a food lovers perspective, something for the chef of the house, with Kyocera ceramic knives. I have no experience of these, so don’t know how cooks would rate them, they certainly sound interesting. Any knife that retains its sharpness for a long time has to be a good thing. Just remember that in some cultures giving knives is not a good gift, as it represents the cutting of ties. Not the happiest message for Christmas time.
So, some of these we’re seeing already, some may make it here for next year. And the mini croissants and mac’n’cheese can probably stay where they are, if it’s all the same time you, Oprah!