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Exploring, sipping & delighting in all things tea.
Just put the kettle on. One lump or two?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tea Horse Iced Tea? *Guest Post*

Well howdy there! We're pretty sure September was sped up and in a matter of a few blinking moments we're already way into October. We're received a marvellous iced tea drinking post from some marvellous people at Tea Horse and although you may be thinking we're mad and that we may have missed the boat on this one, we thought we jolly well will go against the grain and show you how to delight in iced tea when the weather may have turned...well...a tad autumnal.

Here at Tea Horse, we're big fans of iced tea when the sun's shining (and even when it's not!), and are delighted that Isle of Tea asked us to do a blog post about them.


Any tea can be made as an iced tea, the two main methods being either to brew it as normal and leave to cool, or to use the “cold brewing” method (more on that below). You can be creative and add fresh herbs, fruit or flavourings like lemon, basil, mint, peaches and ginger or strawberries. It’s so easy to have some fun experimenting with blending different teas to create your own refreshing and healthy drinks.


Generally we find that stronger flavoured teas are better suited to standing up to the first method Earl Grey, Assam black teas and fruit-based herbal teas being a few of our recommendations. Just brew them as normal using hot water, although slightly stronger than you would usually drink it, to bring out all the flavours. Then leave to cool to room temperature for half an hour and put in the fridge for at least two more so that it's lovely and refreshing when you come to drink it. You could also throw in a handful of ice cubes to cool it quicker (although remember that this will dilute the flavour very slightly).

The other method, cold brewing, is much as the name suggests – cold water is poured over the tea leaves and they are left in the fridge for several hours, ideally overnight. It's well suited to delicately flavoured teas such as oolong and green teas, whose delicate compounds can be affected by heat. One study even found that cold-brewing tea imparts more antioxidants from white tea than hot brewing. We recommend you use a gram of tea per 100ml of water. Pop the tea and water into a bottle, jar or jug and leave overnight. Easy!

We love experimenting so much that we’ve actually created a special tea blend for iced tea G&Tea Blend. This is Japanese Sencha green tea blended with the botanicals used in gin, including juniper, lemon peel, coriander seed, angelica root and cardamom. The idea for the blend was from Michelle, who was one of the winners of a competition we ran to create a new tea blend. She loved the idea of a non-alcoholic gin iced tea, and so did we! We've developed a recipe for you to try at home, tasting just like an alcohol-free gin and tonic. Perfect for the designated driver!



G& Iced Tea

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

500ml water 2 tbs Tea Horse G&Tea Blend loose tea 6 tsp sugar (or to taste) 2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice 250ml Tonic water Plenty of ice

Method:

Start by putting two tablespoons of G&Tea Blend into a pestle and mortar or heavy glass or porcelain bowl. Using the pestle or the back of a spoon, crush the berries and seeds gently to bring out their aromas without crushing the leaves, which you should try and keep whole.

Boil 500ml of water and allow it to cool for around four minutes, to bring the water down to 80ºC, which is important to avoid making the tea bitter. A quicker way of doing this is pouring the boiled water into an empty jug or teapot, which will bring the temperature down by around 10-15ºC.

Pour the cooled water over the tea leaves and leave to infuse for five minutes. Be careful not to over-brew or it could turn bitter.

When the infusion time has passed, strain the G&Tea Blend tea into a jug. Add six teaspoons of sugar and two teaspoons of lime juice (more or less or either to taste) and stir to dissolve. Add ice cubes to cool it down, or leave it to stand in the fridge until the tea is cooled completely.

Half fill a glass with the iced tea, add a few ice cubes and a slice of lemon, then top up with tonic water and enjoy.

With a few people we know doing Go Sober for October, these tasty drinks could very easily be a mocktail or enjoyed if you are the designated driver for the evening when the festive season gets into full swing. Or if you fancy, maybe take appropriate drinking containers along to a sauna, or hop in a giant bubbly bath or snuggled up in blankets (and very thick gloves) next to a fire and enjoy your iced tea. Failing that... you could pop over to the Tea Horse Shop and purchase one of their tasty teas you brew with hot water!!

About Us


Tea Horse is obsessed with loose leaf tea and its wonderful flavours and varieties, and we believe that everyone should experience all it has to offer. Our Taster Boxes allow you to sample and discover new teas - each month, we choose a theme to help us to curate an exciting and varied selection for you, then we taste lots of teas to find the best, we package them up beautifully and post them out to you at the end of every month. We also sell packs of loose leaf tea and a selection of beautiful and functional tea pots, cups, mugs and tea accessories. Come and pay us a visit at our website!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Herbal Teas * Guest Post * Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena a.k.a Lemon Beebrush, Louisa.

Can be bought as: fresh plant, dried leaves, teabags.

Can be mixed with: Geranium, Lemongrass, Sage, Raspberry leaf, Mint.

Fun Fact: In Peru there is a renowned drink called ‘Inca Kola’. You guessed it, it's a soft drink of the cola variety though the base is Lemon Verbena. A bright green, glass bottled drink, first marketed in 1935, the drink is still a favourite of Peruvian, soft drink lovers!

O.K. so it’s not theoretically tea because we're on the herbal variety which does not contain black tea leaves or caffeine! However I don’t think that here at Isle of Tea we’re discriminating…

Lemon Verbena, Louisa or Lemon Beebrush, as I now like to call it, is an amazing perennial bright leafy herb hailing originally from South America. Brought over to Europe in the 17th century by the Spanish, it has been growing in the warmer, southern and eastern European countries ever since.

Its appearance could be missed (when not in flower over the spring/ early summer) when nestled amongst other more rambunctious growing herbs such as Geranium. Needless to say it’s lovely long, pointy, effervescent, green leaves, tiny white/purple flowers and irresistible, heady lemony aroma should not be missed.


Once a fresh leaf is bruised between your fingertips, it’s a job not to start eating them! It’s addictive, seductive freshness is what helps make it a perfect ‘anytime’ tea.

I love to make it straight into my glass mug for a cleansing morning beverage. Popping 3 to 4 good sized leaves into my mug, splashing with freshly boiled water and watching the leaves swim for 10 or so minutes, whilst the aromas are released its a great way to say good morning to yourself!


As a morning tea, I find Lemon Beebrush to be a natural wake-up to the body and mind. Its light and rejuvenating properties make it easy and delightful to drink. Before sipping I like to place my noggin over the top of my mug, take a deep breath and inhale (as a mini aromatic facial!) the green, lemony vapours.

Equally enjoyable is a good pot brewed late at night after a good meal with friends. Executed with a generous spoon of honey which adds a rounder, softer and calming sensation, a nice little cup will do wonders for a full belly and your diegestion.


Lemon Beebrush is considered a powerful healing herb also, noted for aiding: Digestion, feverish cold, muscle tension, easing colic, keeping candida at bay, strengthening the nervous system, de-stressing, easing spasms in the colon, anti-oxidant.

Another favourite way to enjoy Lemon Beebrush is as an Ice Tea.

Find a good heat protected glass bottle with lid, of 1 litre size more or less. Place a small branch of leaves or a small handful of dried leaves inside along with, half a lemon and a spoon of brown sugar or more to taste. Cover with boiling water and leave to cool for 15-20 minutes. Screw on the cap of the bottle and holding at both the top and bottom of the bottle give it a good shake up. Place in the fridge and leave to cool further for 1-2 hours. Serve up in a cooled glass with an ice cube on a warm summer afternoon! Bliss!

Thanks to Rosa for this lovely post! You can check out her Rhen Shop on Etsy too.

Next up...
Are you getting excited about the giveaways we've got coming up? Some exciting
T.ART, even more guest posts and Tea & Bakes!!

Chin chin...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dorset Tea Tasting & Tea Amnesty


Yesterday we were invited to join the folks at Dorset Tea HQ in Wimborne for a tea tasting session and talk from master blender Ben Hitchcock.



Firstly though, we were invited to have a lovely cup of the good ol' stuff and it was even more of a treat to be drinking tea that was blended and packed right under our noses in that very building (in the wonderful County of Dorset - where we are also based!)


Let the tea tasting commence!



Many leaves from around the world were brewed up for us before our eyes and we each were given a spoon to dip into the various cups. Ben demonstrated that it is very important to slurrrrrp the brew from the spoon and then proceed to all spit it out into a special spitting bucket. Much fun indeed!


We next examined the colours of the teas once milk was added.

And even compared this special brew to some other well known brands!

But there's only one T in Dorset!




It was a very enjoyable and informative visit to Dorset Tea's HQ and they were a very lovely bunch indeed.

And here's where you can get involved!!


So if you live in or around Dorset do pop along to the Tea Amnesty but remember to take along a box of non-Dorset Tea (not completely empty though!) and you will be given a whole new fresh and beautiful box of Dorset Tea to take home with you!! Do follow them on facebook and twitter as they often have goodies up for grabs and fun competitions to enter too and like they say, there's only one T in Dorset!

Chin chin...

Friday, August 16, 2013

FOXY VINTAGE SUMMER Discount!!

We thought we'd treat you before the summer is out and give you all a summer discount on everything in our SHOP...









To receive your discount on anything in our shop, enter the code FOXYVINTAGESUMMER and receive 15% off your order. The discount expires on August 31st, so you'd better drink up (tea of course) and get in there quick.

Chin chin...

Kashmiri Pink Tea - Your cup of Tea straight from paradise - *Guest Post*

I’ve had tea from around the world. Green, black and even pink! Where I come from, we drink a special kind of tea that is pink. Behold the wonders of the Kashmiri chai! (Tea is chai in Urdu).

My grandmother’s been making this special tea for as long as anyone can remember and I wondered if I could share it with everyone on Isle of Tea.  The special thing about this tea is its beautiful pink colour and the fact that it’s not drank sweet but salty instead. The tea is prepared with traditional spices and has a very distinct aroma to it.


For the purpose of this post I have tried to translate my grandmother’s recipe and the ingredients to as much accuracy as possible. Just so everyone knows the traditional names of the spices, they are written in the brackets as well.

Ingredients
  • Green tea leaves (Sabz chai ki patti)          4-5 Tablespoon

  • Water                                                              Around 4 cups
  • Green Cardamom (Sabz Elaichi)                 5


  • Star anise (Badian Khatai)                            1 Star

  • Fennel (Saunf)                                                ½ teaspoon


  • Salt to taste
  • Cracked Cinnamon ( Daal Cheeni)              1 Teaspoon  
  • Milk to taste
  • Ground pistachios and almonds for garnish
  • Full cream for garnish                    
Procedure
  1. Add the 4 cups of water to a heavy based pan and add green tea leaves, cracked green cardamom, Star anise, Fennel and cinnamon.
  2. Let the mixture simmer till you are left with just around 2 cups of water.
  3. Now add the salt. It is advisable to add just a pinch more than you want because of the step that follows.
  4. Remove the pan from the stove and place it in the wash basin. Now add 2 cups of chilled water to the tea.
  5. Now take a cup and scoop some tea in it and pour it back in from a height. Repeat this procedure at least 7-8 times because this procedure brings the pink colouring to the tea.
  6. Now strain the tea and place it on the stove again. When the tea starts to simmer, add milk to taste.
  7. Pour your Kashmiri tea in cups and garnish it with full cream, ground pistachios and almonds.
  8. Sip away and enjoy your tea from Kashmir.
The pink coloring of the tea actually depends on the quality of the tea leaves you use but don’t forget step 5 because it is the most important step if you want your tea to be that beautiful rose pink. Kashmiri chai is best served in winters and it warms you right up. The cream and pistachio, almond garnish adds a lot of texture and taste to the tea and makes it look more appealing.

For all the people out there who love themselves a great cup of tea, Kashmiri chai is bound to become one of their favorites because of its richness and unique taste. I believe that this recipe is one the best out there because my grandmother’s been making it even before I was born. I hope that all of you try this recipe and fall in love with it exactly like I did when I first had a sip of it in the cold winters of Kashmir.

Bibliography:
  1. www.pukkapaki.com
  2. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3e/Leaves_of_green_tea.jpg
  3. http://www.vannsspices.com/Vanns-Cinnamon-Chips.html
About me:
Student and self thought chef, I believe in making my own dishes from traditional recipes. A fan of dark chocolate and everything spicy. My aim in life; to make the perfect cheese cake and lasagna. Studying to become an environmentalist and working as the creativity manager at www.southasiatrading.com

Next up... 
Oh so many exciting giveaways, more vintage dresses, guest posts, recipes and our trip to a vintage teacup themed wedding coming up!
Chin chin...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hello Nettle Tea ~ Goodbye Hayfever


Did you know that nettles are a natural antihistamine? And just like peppermint leaves you can make a tea from them. There are many teas available from the local supermarket to health food shops and of course to the nettles (Urtica Dioica) growing in your garden.
Taken from here

Antihistamine tablets are widely used by hayfever sufferers, but if you can't find any of the non-drowsy types, you can often feel like you're a walking zombie all day long and it's not such a good look either. So one of the huge benefits of using nettle tea to help with your allergies means you won't have to also endure all the horrible side effects of the drugs either. And it can be completely free if you choose to pick your own nettles!

Taken from here
So if you're fed up of popping the pills and would like to try a natural way of sending those sneezes and irritating itches away, head out into the countryside with scissors and a red riding hood basket at the ready. We've read that making your own infusion (recommended dosage is 300mg 2-3 times a day) is much more effective than the teas widely available and even better if you leave the leaves to infuse in hot water, with a cloth over them to take the next morning. Depending on how potent you make the infusion you could then add hot water to your concentrated nettle concoction the next day and then drink throughout the day, building a natural defence and generally preventing allergies.

Although a little contrary, we have found that if you sup on a good brand of nettle tea a couple of times a day, letting the tea bag steep for a jolly good while, (more than you're even comfortable with) and leave it until it is quite thick and gloopy (yes it isn't incredibly appetising, but needs must!) and get it down in a couple of gulps, it does make quite a difference. In actual fact we did find that we were surprised by how effective it was.

To make things a little more appetising why not try a couple of nettle tea bags in a teapot with fennel or rose? Or perhaps cinnamon or liquorice and let it steep for a good while still, but diluting the taste. In actual fact nettle tea isn't very offensive. It has an incredibly earthy taste as may be predicted and isn't very strong, but some people may not be accustomed to this kind of taste, so perhaps a juxteaposition is the answer!

Next up...
We've got many exciting guest posts and giveaways coming up shortly, including a little something from House of Fraser and Whittards Tea and one of our favourites, Chash Tea!
Chin chin...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dragon Eye Tea *Guest Post*

Photo from Parisassoc
Dragon Eye tea, also called Tea Pearls or Buddha's Tears or Dragon Tears is a very special tea made from whole leaves laboriously hand-rolled into small balls. The kind I have is from the mountains of south-east China and is called Tai Mu Long Zhu. It has a lovely delicate flavour with a floral jasmine note. Only the top two leaves and bud are used to make this kind of tea, which is then stored with extra fragrant Jasmine flowers, which give it its exquisitely delicate flavour and aroma. Because of the extra work involved, it can be quite expensive compared to other loose-leaf green teas, but after trying it you'll probably agree that other green teas are simply no comparison! There are several ways to prepare it, but this is what I was told by the nice Japanese lady who works at the tea store where I usually get my tea. It will nicely serve a couple of cups each for  3 - 5 people so is perfect for inviting guests over for a special occasion.
Photo by Entso

You will need a Japanese-style tea pot, which has a fine built-in sieve that will keep the loose tea leaves from running into your cup. Heat up some water and start with about 25 pearls in the bottom of the tea pot. As usual with green tea, the water shouldn't be at a rolling boil, around 80° C is about right. Instead of messing about with a thermometer, I usually heat the water until bubbles are just starting to form on the bottom of the kettle. I'm told the Japanese call this "fish eyes."

Photo by Travis

After pouring the water the first time, let it steep for about 2 or 3 minutes until the leaves are mostly unfolded. As with 'flowering tea' watching the leaves slowly unwrap themselves can be a soothing and meditative experience, so don't miss it! After the leaves have mostly opened up, pour a little bit into each person's cup. The first brew will probably be the strongest, so you won't need a lot.

Photo by Travis

As long as the water hasn't cooled too much, you can use it to steep the leaves at least 2 or 3 more times. After the pearls have unfolded, you'll need much less time to brew; probably only 30 seconds or so. Because it is a delicate young tea, the water doesn't have to be extremely hot to bring out the flavour, so the water should still be usable even after sitting in the water cooker for 15 or 20 minutes while you enjoy the tea. The prepared tea should be a very light and transparent yellow-green colour; if it starts to become brown it's probably too strong and bitter and you'll miss out on the delicate and subtle flavour. If the tea is too weak, just pour it from the teacup back into the teapot, gently swirl and let it brew for a few more seconds. I like to use white tea cups so you can better judge the strength by the colour of the tea. If you only make one or two cups, you can even leave the leaves in the teapot and use them again the next day. The leaves will dry out a bit and lose a tiny bit of flavour, but this type of tea usually carries a lot of aroma and will still be quite tasty.

Photo by Travis

 You can also prepare individual cups by placing three or four pearls in the bottom of the cup (more of you're using a larger cup or mug). After letting the tea pearls unfurl, stir lightly, sip and enjoy! You won't need a strainer; as long as you sip carefully, the leaves should stay in the bottom of the cup. And as with a teapot, you can refill your cup with hot water several times without replacing the leaves.

Photo by Yuichi Sakuraba

Because of the delicate flavour, this tea is best unsweetened, so it fits well with a small sweet. A perfect snack to go with it is a Japanese treat called Dorayaki, which is two rice meal pancakes with a sweet red Azuki bean paste filling. You can sometimes find these at Asian shops and if you poke around, you should be able to find plenty of recipes online as well.

Enjoy!

A guest post from A Man on the Hidden Path aka @hiddenplace.
Thank you Sir for your wise words.Chin chin...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Juxteapositions

We're jolly good fans of herbal teas. We like pretty much all of them. Although sometimes, you can still get a little bored and fed up of drinking the same old peppermint, chamomile, rooibosch or berry. Don't get us wrong, we do like these teas and find them very refreshing, but to liven things up now and again we like to mix things up a bit.


Mixed herbal teas are readily available all over the place and we enjoy them very much too but sometimes it is nice to create your own flavours by mixing teas that aren't already mixed and boxed up.


Today we tried Yogi rose tea with a standard redbush/rooibosch. It was very refreshing. Nutty, woody, sweet and rounded with a delicate hint of rose. Very warming as the weather began to shift and the blue skies clouded over. We have used a basic supermarket brand of rooibosch (typically grown in the region of the Western Cape province of South Africa, and renowned for it's high levels of antioxidants, caffeine free and low tannin levels) but it was delicious all the same.


And the rose tea, well this is the best brand of rose tea we have found so far. Some other brands don't have as strong a flavour as this one and the other spices added compliment it immensely. The ingredients of the rose tea are hibiscus, chamomile flowers, elderflower, linden flowers, rose petals, cinnamon, lavender flowers, yarrow, ginger, black pepper, fennel, turmeric root, natural flavour, sunflower petals, alfalfa, buckhorn, cardamom, cloves and dried kombucha drink. So altogether an amazing mix which is incredibly calming and delightful on the palate.

We would normally brew combinations of tea in a teapot, but on this occasion we chose a sturdy floral decorated mug (one of our favourites!)

Do you ever combine different tea bags to make up your own flavours? What do you like best?

Another few you can try are...
  •  Yogi Choco tea with a peppermint tea bag (this is pretty amazing!). Chocolate spiced tea with a hint of mint. Mint chocolate. Mmmmmm.

  • Liquorice and peppermint. This is a fine smooth deal.

  • Clipper Wild berry tea with rose is very soothing and sweet.

  • Chamomile & vanilla with a fruit tea. Warming and rounded.

  • Fennel and spearmint. Calming and zingy and a clarity enhancer indeed.
So there you have a few combinations to have a go at. Do let us know if you manage to come up with any other fantastic combinations.

If you ever want to be more involved with us here, get in touch. You could always write a guest post (any tea or crafty or vintage subject matter) for us, a tea and bakes (sweet treat recipes) post, send us some images for our T.ART (tea inspired art) or if you have any photos of tea accessories to showcase, send them on over and they can be part of our Your cup of tea section.

Well...time for a chamomile & vanilla for us.

Chin chin...
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