Thursday, 26 March 2015

Whittard of Chelsea

Hi everyone!  I'm really excited about todays blog post as i've tried a superb tea from Whittard of Chelsea. You may know Whittard as a high street shop that's been selling tea, coffee, hot chocolate and china since 1886.  There's now 74 UK stores as well as an online shop, both of which you can find the lovely products i'm blogging about today, which is "Sencha Green Tea with Mango and Bergamot" and a really cute polkadot teacup and saucer!

The mango and bergamot green tea comes in a tin and box that's very luxurious-looking and feels like a box of perfume.  However, when I opened the tin I saw - and smelt, that it was more than just fancy packaging.  I absolutely LOVE the sweet aroma off these flavoured leaves and look how pretty the colours are!

This Whittard polkadot teacup, isn't what i'd usually go for (remember my blingy Fortnum and Mason China teacups?) but i've fallen in love with it as it goes really well at home and looks kind of rustic chic.  It's also really easy to look after, being microwave and dishwasher safe.  I think I may have to buy the matching teapot to finish the tea-time look!  

Onto the the brew: You may be thinking that the bergamot flavouring would make it more of an Earl Grey tea, but surprisingly it doesn't taste like Earl Grey at all (love or hate it) as it's not an overpowering flavour.  I'd say the mango is the main flavour, making it luxuriously sweet and the tea base tastes a little more like a light black tea than a typical (sometimes bitter) green tea.  So if you're a black tea drinker, don't be put off about the green tea as it still tastes like 'tea'.  I felt comforted and relaxed after my tea-time and thought the tea was very refreshing and perfect for Spring! 

The mango and bergamot green loose tea was (not surprisingly) a 'Great Taste Award' winner in 2013 and 2014, and the 50g box is priced at £10.00.   This lovely teacup is priced at £8.00 and both in my opinion are fairly affordable for a treat for yourself or as a gift for someone.

OFFER TIME!!  Whittard is doing an offer to promote their new Alice in Wonderland range..  It's a FREE Alice's Tea Chest when you spend £35.00 online by putting the online code CHEST into your shopping basket.  The offer ends on the 5th april 2015 so be quick!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Tombo Japanese Green Tea

Today i'm wandering down to the Japanese part of Tea Street to write about 'Tombo Tea', a Mother and Son run business that offers quality Japanese green teas. 'Tombo' is Japanese for Dragonfly, a symbol for renewal and positive force and this blog post is a joy to do, because it seems a great deal of care has gone into these green tea products.  

I'm quite a visual person so I love these glorious illustrations on the packaging seen in the images above and below. They are by Natsuko Seki, a London-based Japanese illustrator who's also supplied similar collage-style images for luxury global brand 'Louis Vuitton'.  Seki's style of work usually centres around urban living, and together with Tombo Tea there seems to be a feel of bringing Japanese tea drinking tradition into the modern community.  

With this in mind, i've enjoyed a lovely afternoon of tea tasting and have found the brewing instructions easy and the whole thing has felt like a real treat.

I'll start with the 'Kukicha Cherry Blossom' loose green tea with cherry blossom leaves, grown and packaged at Muruyama Tea Estate in Japan.  Kukicha tea is from the tea stems rather than the leaves and when I open the packet, there's a lovely sweet sencha aroma.  I love cherry blossoms as they're so pretty and iconic to Japan so I love seeing the pink colour in the tea here, even though i'd like to see even more of them!

Once brewed the aroma opens up into something more complex; spring-fresh like cut grass, everyone's favourite scent (unless you have hayfever!) and although it reminds me of pea soup it's nice to see a green tea looking GREEN.  It has a tangy, grassy flavour with a sweet floral taste from the cherry blossom.  Long-lasting aftertaste and overall very refreshing.

Lastly for today i'm trying the 'Bonsai Genmaicha and Matcha' loose leaf tea.  The ingredients are Sencha green tea, rice and Matcha and the tea is also grown and packaged at Maruyama Tea Estate.  There's lots of tea in a 50g packet and it helps to shake it a little or you end up with more rice than tea the first time!

This tea also infuses into a lovely green colour, probably due to the Matcha and it's nice to see Matcha as an ingredient rather than just drinking it on its own.  This makes it an easy way to get some antioxidants in each day without all the whisking and preparation! Interesting combination as well considering Genmaicha was thought of as a cheaper tea and Matcha is a ceremonial high-grade tea.

The taste seems like a wonderful contradiction of competing flavours, almost like taking a trip down a lively market! The rice gives it a nutty aroma very much like toast and the Sencha and Matcha create a zesty bitter-sweet taste, which is even more noticeable on the second infusion.

I really recommend these teas, which you can buy for £6.50 per 50g packet.  They also come as teabags, which i'll post about soon too along with Tombo Teas Matcha powder.

For more, see Tombo Tea's twitter page and Instagram photos, where you'll also see their lovely London cafe...