Tea review, Tea time

A tea for sunny days

I have been over reliant on Builder’s tea recently. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with Builder’s tea – teabag in a mug, brewed to perfection, a splash of milk and drink. It hits the spot and has got me through many crises. I definitely live by the motto – keep calm and drink tea. Tea is a daily necessity but Builder’s tea is about the end product rather than the calming ritual other teas require.

This phase has come to a halt with the emergence of a late Christmas present. Hidden in a safe place in the depth’s of a teenager’s bedroom a forgotten gift, a  Basilur tea caddy  was found.

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A book of Basilur Magic Fruits

Still a teabag but that is where the similarity with Builder’s tea stops. Encased in an attractive book shaped caddy – perfect for bookworms like me – are a selection of fruit flavoured black tea. As I mentioned in a previous review of Basilur tea, I am new to flavoured black tea but I am impressed by the edge they give the drink.

In this collection, my favourite by far is the lemon and lime. Not only is the flavour refreshing, the citrus aroma  wakes you up.  It is perfect for sunny days, sitting in the garden whilst reading and  or first thing in the day when you can take time to savour the taste and reflect on the day to come. As an individually wrapped teabag, it is ideal for slipping in your bag for drinks out. I took mine for a hospital stay and it was bliss not drinking NHS tea. I am very pleased it is available as loose tea because as convenient teabags are, the ritual of using  teapot adds to the drink. This tea is made for taking your time and relaxing.

The other teabags in the collection are Strawberry & Kiwi, Exotic and Raspberry & Rosehip.

 

 

 

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Tea review

Christmas is in the air

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The Christmas tree is up, twinkling away and Father Christmas is in the corner adding to the festive feel of the house. Advent is ticking by at an alarming speed – I am sure the world spins faster in December to catch you out – so it is time for card writing and wrapping pressies.

I love the ritual of wrapping. From the holding the item, feeling excited if you have found the perfect gift and tweaks of doubt if you are taking a risk to the  pile of freshly, covered pressies. I would love to say my gifts are perfectly wrapped with straight edges and crisp corners but I have the knack of creating the ‘5 year old tried their best’ look however hard I try. In my defence, the paper and tags match. It would be great to complete the traditional scene of Christmas of  them piled under the tree but experience has taught me not to attempt it unless you want expensive vet bills or customised gifts ranging from bite marks to completely shredded version. Jack Russells are too curious and present loving to leave anything around.  Favourite Christmas movies or music in the background adds to the sense of festivity. This year the  ambience is enhanced with Whittards mulled wine tea.

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I love the idea of mulled wine tea. Mulled wine is amazing but there are times it can’t be drunk including 11 0’clock in the morning. The aroma as you open the jar is Christmas and  how you expect it to be. I have found this is a tea you need to experiment with to acheive your perfect cup of tea. I have to be cautious with amount in pot and stewing time. Too much or too long, the aroma and taste can be overpowering. Trial and error has led to me to use one scoop of tea for my pot or small teaspoon of tea in a bag. This should  produce a perfect festive drink, warm replacement for real stuff.

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Christmas books are out on the shelves including my go to festive book Xmas factor by Annie Sanders.  It is well read and has become my traditional start to festive reading. It grasps the panic of  festive preparations and highlights what is important at this time of year. Trials and tribulations of family relationships are bundled up with  romance to fit the criteria of a feel good book. It is like watching ‘Love Actually’ reruns, reading this book  has to be done despite the element of surprise going years ago and I can predict the next paragraph word for word.

Other Christmas books on my reading list this year includes:

Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley

The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan

Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews

Something from Tiffany’s by Melissa Hill

A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill

The History of Christmas Food and Feasts by Claire Hopley

A Literary Christmas  An Anthology by The British Library

And of course you have to read every year Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol. My favourite edition is illustrated by Robert Innocerto.

I hope you enjoy lots of festive reading.

 

Book review

The perfect combination – tea and books

It is so many years since I have read a rag-to-riches saga, I can not remember the last one’s title or detailed storyline. I tend to walk past their  illustrated covers of a defiant female protagonist, in favour of the often more eye-catching, bold sci-fi books or dark, brooding psychological thrillers but a deal from Amazon arrived in my email tempting me to explore the genre again. The blurb promised a tale surrounding my favourite drink – tea. How could I resist?

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I am so happy I indulged. My plan to tackle my evergrowing to-do list was put on hold because all I wanted to do this weekend was curl up with a cup of tea and read this book. If I had to partake in real life, moments were snatched here and there to read  another page.

A chunky book of 772 pages made it well worth downloading the e-book  to save sore wrists. Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly follows the story of Fiona Finnegan a feisty, plucky  tea girl from East End from a close working class family in 1888. The first chapter immediately transports you to a time of swirling fog and the infamous Jack the Ripper murders.

fog street free

In love with her childhood sweetheart, Fiona has ambitions of having her own shop and leaving the tea production factory life behind. With a strong work ethic and full of hope she appears to have her dreams within her grasp but life, as always, has different ideas. The transatlantic epic story introduces you to a collection of characters you grow to love and care about as well as those you hate. The descriptions of life and places make it an easy book to lose yourself in. With many twists and turns about love, family, friendship, revenge and following your dreams, it is a story which you long to know what happens next but do not want to end. Fortunately, it is the first part of a trilogy.

The East End family life makes you reach for some builder’s tea (in my case, a mug of Yorkshire tea) but as the story progresses your taste buds tingle inspiring you to explore different blends as Donnelly describes the aroma of open tea chests full of fresh tea from your Assam, Darjeeling to flavoured blends. I am so glad I have tin full of a variety of teas I could dip into when inspiration hit.

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A great book to snuggle up to read on a dark winter’s afternoon.

 

Book review

The Witches are flying …

pumpkin lantern

It is Halloween and tonight the witches will grab their brooms and zoom across the dark, chilled sky. So what better than to put on your snuggly socks, grab a warming drink of tea in your favourite mug, and read a spooky book. Though, try not to jump when there is a knock on the door…

        Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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Witches play an important part of Halloween and there is a wide range of books based on them. One of my favourites is Deborah Harkness’ Discovery of Witches. I loved the protagonist, Diana Bishop. As an academic studying alchemy she gets sucked into a world of vampires, witches and demons when Matthew enters her life along with a mystical, bewitched book. The existence of these creatures comes to no surprise to this strong character because she comes from a long line of witches, though she turned her back on magic years before and refuses to have it in her life. Deborah Harkness description of Oxford’s All Souls College and the Bodleian Library attracts the inner bibliophile as you want to experience the atmosphere yourself. The developing, forbidden relationship between Diana and vampire, Matthew makes you unable to just read one chapter at a time. The collection of characters you meet remain with you long after you close the book for the final time. Some you love, admire and respect while others make your blood boil as they enter a scene. The trilogy grabs you into a journey of discovery of self, love, prejudice and a world through time. It will leave you wanting more.

Tea time

Time for tea!

It seems to be forever since I sat down with my favourite cup and teapot to experiment with a new type of tea. I am still a novice on the tea tasting apart from proper builder’s tea in a mug. I am struggling to find one that is just right. They either smell heaven but the taste never matches or  they make your nose screw up as you take your first sip.   Spring is definitely showing signs of blooming and the dogs are enjoying the sunshine on the step so I can indulge in me time.

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I am trying Nothing but Tea’s Rhubarb Spritzer Fruit tea and so far so good. The smell is subtle once brewed but retains the heavenly smell you experience when you open the packet.  It transports you to an old-fashioned sweet shop lined with glass jars of goodies,  choosing rhubarb and custard boiled sweets. The taste is delicate but it is definitely a tea I would drink again and buy more of. Next time I will add more than the recommended heaped teaspoon for a stronger taste.

rhubarb spritzer nbt

It would improve more if I got myself a filter :/ hard water does not do delicate fruit teas justice. One day …