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Organic Sleep Easy Infusion

Valarian Infusion from ClipperOK, so this one isn’t a tea, it’s an infusion, but it’s fantastic for those days when you’ve had far too much tea (or coffee!) until far too late in the day and you really need to sleep.  It contains valerian root, a natural sedative, which is very good for helping you sleep, although it does interact with some medications so that can be worth checking.  I’ve tried a few valerian infusions but, unlike the others ones I’ve tried, this one really does taste and smell very nice and is very relaxing to drink.  One or two cups of this and I find I sleep incredibly well, although it can make you feel drowsy in the morning (although a cup of tea soon fixes that!).

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There are two misconceptions about tea that are pet hates of mine:
(1) White tea is just tea that has milk in it.
(2) Green tea is a super healthy version of tea that is good for you, unlike “normal” tea.

I could talk through these two separately but actually I think I may as well talk through them both together as they both boil down to more or less the same thing: there are different types of tea but they all come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis.  Every time I think I’ve found every type, I come across a new one, but these types include:

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Oolong
  • Pu Erh
  • Black

So, what are all these types?  Well, I’ll go through them in order.

  • White tea is where the young leaves and/or buds are picked, steamed and dried.  This tea has the highest level of nutrients.  It has a much milder and much less bitter flavour than other types of tea.  White tea is rarely drunk with milk in it.
  • Yellow tea is one of the rarest types of tea produced from buds and leaves.  They are rolled/shaped and dried.
  • Green tea is made from leaves that are panfried or steamed, then rolled/shaped and dried.
  • Oolong tea (sometimes known as blue tea) is not fully fermented, it is bruised by shaking, briefly oxidised and then panfried/dried.
  • Pu Erh tea goes through a natural fermentation process before being dried.
  • Black tea is rolled, fully oxidised and then fried/dried.  This has the lowest level of nutrients, although some of the research papers I’ve looked at suggest that the difference in the level of nutrients between types isn’t that big (although it’s really not my area of research but if you want a list of references for interesting papers, do ask).

So, incase you’ve got to the end of that and wondered how that answers the question at all.  White tea is not black tea with milk in it, it’s tea made from the same plant but made in a different way and using young leaves and/or buds instead of older leaves.  Also, although Green tea does have a higher level of nutrients and other Good Things than Black tea, White tea has even more (and in my opinion tends to tastes better!) and there isn’t anything particularly magical about Green tea, all types of tea come from the same plant.

Nothing But Tea

Nothing but teaNothing But Tea is an online tea store that has information about tea and a large selection of loose leaf teas and tisanes (more commonly, but less accurately, referred to has herbal teas).

Nothing But Tea have a very wide range of very impressive loose leaf teas and tisanes.  The tisane selection is well worth looking through even if you don’t normally drink such things.  The selection of loose leaf teas, particularly the exotic teas, that have have is impressive!  I’ve yet to try their teas and find out what they’re like but I’ve just ordered a large selection of sample sizes of their teas so I’ll soon find out!  I’ll review the teas when I get them and tag them with “Nothing But Tea” so that you can check the reviews once I’ve written them if you’re interested in finding out what the teas they sell are like.

If you don’t like buying things online, this one might be for you as, although they are an online tea store, they do say that:

“If you prefer you can copy out your order details and send us a cheque in British Pounds drawn on a UK bank, or a UK Postal Order made payable to Nothing But Tea Ltd.”

They also do something else I’ve not seen before.  They don’t charge p&p and there’s no minimum spend, giving you no reason not to try out a few of their teas.  So go have a look at their tea selection, they seem to sell all their teas in sample sizes so there are lots of them for only £1 and their teas look amazing.  I’ll update this when I get the teas to say how efficient they were at sending the tea.

Whilst looking for tea related things I came across some rather interesting tea infusers.Floating duck tea infuser

First of all, I came across this floating duck tea infuser.  The yellow duck floats and underneath the duck is a tea infuser for putting your loose tea in, meaning that you have a little yellow duck floating around in your cup whilst your tea is brewing :).  It then has a little blue stand for putting your tea infuser on so that you don’t get drips everywhere.  It looks amazing and appears to be well thought out from a more practical point of view.Shark tea infuser

Then I came across another really cool tea infuser.  It’s a shark tea infuser.  It has a shark fin that floats above the water and if you are infusing a red tea it looks like there’s a trail of blood behind it.

I prefer teapots to tea infusers but these are definitely the best tea infusers I’ve seen!  They’re also somewhat cheaper than most tea infusers I’ve come across.  I do like the way they float, not just because of the awesomeness of having a rubber duck or shark fin floating in my tea but also because removing the tea infuser can be difficult, the ones with chains attached for retrieving them, I find the chain often falls into the tea.  However, with these, you’ve got something that’s floating so you can easily pick it up out your tea.  I particularly like the fact the duck has a drip catcher.

Keemun

Twinings Keemun, click to visit websiteKeemun is a tea I’ve really yet to make up my mind about.  I first tried Twinings Amber Keemun tea when it came in a pack of three with Spring White Tea and Golden Oolong Tea, it was definitely my favourite of the three, although they are all very nice.  I wouldn’t call this tea a particularly interesting or exciting one but it is nice, just nice, but sometimes a plain and simple “nice” tea is just right.  It’s certainly a tea I recommend to people who are new to drinking tea without milk.  It comes in teabags and is sometimes available in supermarkets (the bigger ones at least).

So, why have I yet to make up my mind about this tea?  Well, I decided, given I liked this one, to buy some from the person who sells tea at the local market (I’d run out 😦 ), I’ve bought some very nice loose teas from him before (including a very nice Lapsang Souchong) but the Keemun I bought from the market I really didn’t like.  A bag of it is still sitting rather unloved on my office desk (amongst more teas than I can keep track of).

Twinings Finest KeemunSo, not to be deterred, having liked the Twinings standard Amber Keemun tea, I decided to try their Finest Keemun loose tea but I can’t say I liked this one either.  However, they do describe it as being like Darjeeling, one of the few teas I really don’t like so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.  Maybe if you like Darjeeling tea then this one will be for you but personally I think I’m going to stick with the standard Twinings Amber Keemun tea.

Jing TeaLike my last blog post, I thought it might be helpful for some people if I review online companies that sell tea, as it can be hard to tell what they are like and what their tea is like from their website.  Overall I thought Jing were very good.  I ordered the tea on a Friday and received it the next day!  They offer free delivery if you spend over £25 which they say quite clearly on their home page.  What they don’t say so clearly is that this means spending over £25 excluding VAT and all the prices on their website include VAT.  Meaning that if you don’t realise this you spend just over £25 and then realise you have to pay either a few pounds p&p or buy some more tea to bring it over that threshold.  If you’re using this website I suggest you think of it more as if you spend over £30.

If you care about the environment you may be pleased to hear that instead of bubble wrap to pack out the rest of the box, they used shredded cardboard, meaning that almost all of it can be recycled.  Despite this, the fragile glass I bought from them was packaged very carefully so that it wasn’t damaged at all.

I was very pleased with the quality of the glass and the teas that I bought from them.

Adagio teas

Click to visit the Adagio Teas websiteThis may seem like a bit of a strange blog post, blogging about a company that sells tea online but I decided to write it because I was very nervous about buying tea online.  I really wanted some reassurance from someone that the company was real and I’d get the tea (I’ve yet to get used to this whole buying things online thing…).  So I thought I’d write this incase there’s anyone else that wants to buy tea online but isn’t sure about doing so from a completely unknown company.

Adagio have a pretty website (I like pretty…) and they had the teapot I wanted so I decided to go for it.  They delivered very very quickly (I ordered on a Friday and it was delivered on the following day!) and everything was very well wrapped.  They even sent me a little book that talks all about tea which was very interesting despite being painfully American (tea appears to be rather more unusual in America than it is in Britain…).  The sample size packs of tea I bought were in very good little packets that resealed easily and the pot of tea was in an airtight jar with a clear lid that blocked UV to help keep the tea fresh.

I would highly recommend this website as somewhere to buy tea online.  Delivery is free on orders over £30 (which isn’t hard to do once you start looking at all their wonderful teas…).

Ceylon White Silver Tips from TwiningsI went on a trip to the Twinings shop in Strand, London and decided to investigate their loose tea bar.  As a fan of Ceylon tea and white tea I was very keen to try this tea and it certainly didn’t disappoint, it has to be one of the nicest teas I’ve ever drunk.  It’s a very delicate tasting tea that has a subtle but very nice flavour to it.  It appears to be quite low caffeine as well.  It’s not a strong tea or one that’s going to wake you up in the morning but it is one you can really sit and enjoy.

Twinings Jasmine Earl GreyThis Jasmine Earl Grey tea from Twinings is a Limited Edition tea that I first bought over 6 months ago so I’m not expecting it to be around for much longer, which is a shame because it’s a lovely tea.  Although this is one of the selection of Earl Grey teas that Twinings sell, it tastes far more like a jasmine tea than an Earl Grey tea.

Of all the black teas I’ve drunk (I tend to be more of a fan of the white teas), this one is one of my favourite.  Black tea can sometimes taste slightly bitter but the jasmine in this seems to really help in that regard (I never put milk or sugar in my tea).

This tea probably won’t be around for much longer but it is well worth a try (even if you don’t like Earl Grey) if you get the chance.

Unique mugs

Mood mugs, 1 of the 20 unique mugsIf you drink tea (or even coffee) anything like as often as I do then your mug is probably not far off being a permanent extension of your arm, so I often feel you might as well have a nice one.  As such I got quite (OK, very) excited when I came across this website which has 20 unique mugs.  I admit I don’t actually have any of these (although I hope to change that at some point) but I thought they were amazing so thought I’d blog about them anyway.

Plug mugThe “mood mugs” are one of my favourites.  As well as being a very cool design, they’re also double walled mugs.  This has two major advantages.  Firstly, your tea stays hot far longer.  Secondly, if you have issues with holding a hot mug (like I do) you’ll like the fact that double walled mugs don’t get hot on the outside.  These come in 3 “moods”: Happy as Larry, Monstrously Moody and Seriously Sleepy.

For anyone that doesn’t like other people at work stealing their mug (especially if it vanishes for long periods and then reappears looking like it’s not been washed up for a while) there’s the plug mug.  It has a little plug near the bottom that you can keep hold of, making the mug useless to anyone else.  Be careful not to catch the plug on anything though or it might get rather messy!Pointy bottomed mug for prevention of mug theft

Another option if you work (or live) somewhere where your mug goes for walkies and ends up rather dirty, there’s also a mug that has a pointy bottom.  This also renders it useless to anyone that doesn’t have the stand for it.  The disadvantage of this however is that your stand might go for walkies too.  It is a very cool mug design though.

Tie Tea Cup

Another of my favourites is the 45 degree mug a mug that, together with it’s specially designed saucer, happily sits at 45 degrees to the saucer.  It’s a very clever design and the bits that allow it to sit at 45 degrees are very cleverly hidden so that you can confuse people even more with your mug that is managing to sit at a very weird angle.

Last but not least, there’s a mug for anyone that drinks tea from teabags that have little bits of string attached, the Tie Tea Mug.  This mug allows you to tie the tea bag to the mug so that you don’t loose the teabag, complete with string, into the your cup of tea, saving you the trouble of trying to fish it out.