Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tea for Geeks? Tea for Me!

So, we got offered some tea to taste by a company called 'Tea geeks'.

Tea Geeks!!!

How could we say no?

They kindly send through two packages. Let's start with the packaging: it's a small brown padded envelope with foil inner and one of those high-end plastic bag closings. Do you know the kind I mean? Not quite a zip lock, but the next best thing.  Anyway... I like it. It keeps the tea nice and fresh and is easy to store. Possible getting-lost-in-back-of-cupboard potential, but more efficient than a big box for my tiny cupboards. My packs are 100g which might be tea-taster-sized rather than a commercially purchasable quantity. Still, I think this would do a good few cups.

So I'd give the packaging 8/10 overall. I'm deducting two point because I know that foil-plastic-metal laminates are a bugger to recycle (I'm afraid it's not just tea I am geeky about).

On to the beverages in question!

1. St Margaret's Hope

A black tea. I brewed it lightly. The flavor is nice and deep. It has a bitter edge: I think in one mood I'd find this pleasantly astringent. In another I might call it unpleasantly medicinal. What can I say - I'm just fickle. I think this tea would work well to cut through something like a sticky and overeager Christmas cake. Drinking it with something light like a meringue or violet scented cupcakes might be a mistake as it would overpower subtle flavors.

I'd give it an 8/10 or a 4/10 depending on my mood. Fickle. I am so fickle.

2. Ginger and Lemongrass

This is one of those herbal mixtures which looks brilliant when you open the packet. Because it's loose leaf the chunks are nice and large and you can actually TELL that you have real dried lemongrass, ginger and (I suspect though I am not 100% sure) chamomile in your cup. The smell is lovely - it's like one of those lemon-scented soaps or candles you always want to eat. Or I do. But I don't. Anyway... it brews to a pale lemony-green infusion. The balance of flavors is good: the ginger is warming without being overpowering and the lemon is light and refreshing. This is another one I could see myself drinking this winter: it seems the perfect thing to come home to when it's cold. It tastes like it should be full of Vitamin C and the fragrant fumes feel like they would soothe sore sinuses. I was too lazy to brew this properly.

I'd give this a 10/10. I sometimes find that ginger teas can be over-eager- this one is just right.

Thanks for the tea, I appear to be all set for Winter. :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ringtons Tea Tests

Ringtons Tea contacted to test a few of their teas. I invited a couple of friends around for tea and cake to put these teas to the test. Here are our thoughts:-

Decaffeinated Black Tea

Janine: "I made this tea in a teapot and left it to brew for 3 mins as instructed on the packet. We all drank the tea with milk. It tastes very light and is easy drinking with no bitter after taste. A very smooth brew. As I am pregnant this would be a perfect tea for everyday. For a stronger taste you would need to leave it to brew for a few more mins. I'll try this next time."

Beth: "Refreshing, perfect for any time of day but especially before bed. I would be happy to buy this tea."

Helen: "A very nice tea, not too strongly flavoured so easy to drink. Nicer than some other decafe teas I've tried."

Earl Grey

Janine: "I brewed the tea for 3 mins in a teapot as instructed. We all drank the tea with milk. I'm not usually a fan of Earl Grey and would never choose to drink this tea as I usually find it to be over powering. However this one was again easy to drink, not over perfumed/strong in taste. It had a light taste with no after taste. Again worth trying with a longer time to brew. Not one I'd buy buy but one I'd happy to drink again."

Beth: "Mild, calming and not overly perfumed. Ideal for afternoon tea. Tried with milk but it may be a stronger taste if drank black with lemon."

Helen: "Not my favourite type of tea generally but this one is not too over powering. An almost smokey flavour."

English Breakfast Tea

Janine: "I brewed the tea in a teapot for 5 mins to allow for a stronger taste. We all drank the tea with milk. It is again a very refreshing taste with no bitter after taste. I would be happy to buy this tea and drink as an everyday tea."

Beth: "Similar taste to the decaffeinated tea. Fresh tasting, ideal for breakfast or tea and cake occasions. Very drinkable.

Helen: " Pleasant tasting, nothing too remarkable but easy to drink any time."

Peppermint Tea

Janine: "I brewed the tea for 2-3mins in a mug. As you don't add milk to peppermint tea we drank this just as it comes. It has a lovely mint aroma to begin with and tastes as good as it smells. Refreshing and mild in taste. Great as a digestive after a large meal or just as a refreshing drink if you fancied something different and naturally decaffeinated. "

Beth: "I found to be crisp, refreshing and energising. Again, good at any time of day but especially early morning or mid afternoon when in need of a pick-me-up! I'd happily buy this tea!"

Barry: "Nice, pleasant peppermint tea!"

Green Tea with Citrus

Janine: "I brewed this tea for 4 mins in a mug! As you don't add milk to green tea we drank this just as it comes. Without drinking it I first thought the tea would taste too over powering due to the strong citrus smell. I was however pleasantly surprised to find it had a mild taste, just right in fact. I haven't drank green tea for a while due to the bitter taste you often find a lot of them have yet this tea again is very mild and smooth, easy drinking and one I'd be happy to buy and drink often. A true surprise to find another green tea I like (the other one is Rooibos Tick Tock Green Tea). "

Barry: "On first impression there is a very strong smell of lemon. On tasting you can mainly taste the lemon flavor but not in an unpleasant way. It reminds me of drinkable lemsip."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mmm Flapjacks 

Baking Mad recently contacted teaandcake to tell us about the Baking Mad website which has lots of yummy looking recipies. I decided to taste test their flapjack recipe for an afternoon tea I was having with friends.

Flapjack Ingredients 

226 grams Butter or margarine
170 grams Golden Caster Sugar (Billington's)
340 grams Porridge Oats
0.25 tsp Salt
3 tbsp Golden Syrup (Silver Spoon) large

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F or gas 4. Line a tin with baking paper, the tin should approx measure 28cm x 18cm x 3cm or 11in x 7in x 1.2in method tip

In a large pan gently heat the butter or margarine and golden syrup. Heat until the butter is all melted, do not boil. (Using a wooden spoon is advised)

Remove pan from the heat and add in the oats, sugar and salt. Mix very well until all the oats are covered.

Put the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth evenly into the corners.

Bake in the oven for approximatly 15minutes, then turn the tin around and bake for a further 5 minutes. Bake until golden brown. method tip

Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool for a short while. With a palette knife lightly mark out into 18 pieces before it sets. Cut up when cold.



Despite having to pop to the shops for more porridge oats when I needed to add them, and forgetting to take them out the oven on time (ooops!)... they still tasted really good and went down well with friends. They even improved with age as they got a little softer (may have been due to being slightly over baked in the first place!).

I'd like to bake them again - but next time I'd try adding a little more butter and golden syrup just to see the difference!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Guilt is a nasty thing. And I have been suffering.

Late last year, the nice folks at Whittard sent us some teas to test. But I was busy, then I got a stomach bug, then I had a Christmas shopping panic, flu, a holiday...

 The tea has been waiting in my Kitchen. Chastising me. Every time I stepped in there.

 NO MORE! New year, new start. I've got the kettle on and I've brewed up three mugs at once to show you how serious I am.  Here we go.

1. Whittard Assam
I'm a big fan of Assam. Did Whittard know this? Anyway - the nice, round teabag brews up well and goes a good malty brown colour. It's got a really smooth taste with quite a strong (but not unpleasant) tannin-y aftertaste - a bit of sharpness. I think this would be a good staple cup to get you through the working day. Yes - I like it. I've just drained the cup.

2. Whittard Orange Blossom Tea A loose leaf tea! This stuff was a pleasure to open & smell (even if I split the package & spilled tea everywhere). The black tea is in quite large ebony coloured flakes and there are big bits of dried, zesty peel. I liked this - it's very reassuring in a world of chemically-derived flavor additives to see that an orange has really been involved. I brewed this tea in a hurry and didn't warm my pot - so the resulting tea is a bit pale. The orange scent comes through. And the flavors pair well together. I added my usual spoon of sugar - this may have been a bit of an error. It enhances the orange and makes it taste a bit like you're drinking tea whilst eating orange jelly. Next time I think I'd cut my usual sugar & be happier with the cup. The tea doesn't seem to be bitter so I think that would be safe enough. I imagine this would be a good tea to drink black, if your proclivities run in that direction. it's quite a refreshing cup - I can imagine it going well with a weekend breakfast of pancakes.

3. Whittard Green Tea
A confession - I don't like green tea. So I packaged this one off to Janine. However, since she has a baby to look after and has moved house and I haven't reminded her, the results are not back in yet. We'll update this post when we have her feedback.

4. Betty's Spiced Christmas Blend
Obviously this one didn't come from Whittard - but since I'm in a rare reviewing mood, I thought I'd add it on. It was a Christmas present from the lovely Janine (T&C's resident Queen of Tea). It smells like your average Chai - I'm getting cloves from the scent. And maybe Cardamom and Ginger? The spices are so well balanced it's hard to pick out exactly what's involved. The tea is mellow and not bitter at all - so the main feeling you get when drinking this is comforting and mellow. I think there's something fruity in here, too. Orange? Or bergamont? I could check the packaging but I think that might spoil the fun. I'm not sure how different this is from a normal Chai (there could be a tea test in that!) but it's an enjoyable and relaxing cup. I'm struggling to finish it - but that has more to do with the fact that I've just downed three cups in a row than being any comment on the tea.

So! That's it. Tea is nice in all its many forms.

One item is now ticked off my guilt list. Next up: laundry pile. Watch out world, I'm on a roll...

Big thanks to Whittard for the tea samples and to Janine for being my tea-themed Christmas fairy.