December 4, 2020

Tea Advent Day 4

Now this is more like it: late morning cup of tea, and almost midday before I even glanced at my laptop. Furthermore, the tea – spoiler alert – is excellent. Like an Assam without the bitterness, it says on the box, and I’d agree. A lovely tawny colour in the pot, and pleasingly dark when added to the milk, with a spicy cocoa aroma and a proper full tea-like taste. I’m not being funny, like, but I just don’t have the palate to discern the red grape or the caramel finish; it just tastes like a fine cup of tea, which is what I want it to taste like.

Today’s mug features white sheep on a green background. It was given to me by my very first boyfriend, for my 17th birthday. It is therefore one of my oldest possessions. I usually like it for hot chocolate or herbal tea, but it’s getting a grown-up outing today.

p.s. cocktails at 5?

December 3, 2020

Tea Advent Day 3

I have been getting curiouser and curiouser about this tea, all day, and of course the day has got away with me again. I didn’t even get the chance to write this post while drinking the tea, because I still had a load of student feedback to write, but I’ve done that now and tomorrow’s my day off, so I hold out hope for an earlier teabreak.

This Alice In Wonderland -inspired tea is one of those with stuff mixed into it, mucked about with tea, as it were. I spilled it on the side so that you could see the bits:

This is usually not a good sign. I have tea in the cupboard with whole cloves in it, which absolutely proves that tea should not be muched about with in this way. I like tea to be straightforward, and less flowery, with the exception of the aforementioned Raspberry Ruffle, which has great bits of dessicated coconut in it, amongst other things, and is just fab.

I waited a little longer before pouring the tea today, so achieved a better colour. The tea’s smell was excruciatingly sweet, and this translated into taste: the box describes it as a “jammy character,” but I think they are trying to be funny. They also suggest that it’s subtle, which it isn’t. My least favourite of the teas so far, but served in a mug with a unique design, by my Aunty Kathy.

December 2, 2020

Tea Advent Day Two

It is the 2nd December, grey and drizzly outside, and I’ve been hacking away at the coalface of student feedback all day. A spare hour emerged, in which I have done some yoga, and finally got to the point in the day where I can make my second cup of Advent Tea. Today’s tea is Jin Guanyin Golden Goddess, which sounds glorious. I will share the text with you, because it is delightful how often the word “new” is used:

Jin Guanyin Golden Goddess

The tealeaves are long and twisty like lapsang souchong, and the tea once again is pale in appearance, even after filtering twice. I may need to leave it to steep a little bit longer, but I’m impatient and have already poured a cup, again with the milk option ticked. As you can see, today I am drinking out of my newest mug, a birthday present from the good Dr Pockless, a little bit of retro Springsteen magic to brighten up this dark December. The tea is hot and delicious, with a smooth unsweetened chocolate aroma and flavour. This is oolong tea, which sounds to me like something out of War of the Worlds, but tastes like something out of a nice period drama. Oolong means Black Dragon, and I can enjoy that just for its own sake.

December 1, 2020

The Great Tea Advent-ure

Browsing through the archives, I am unsurprised to notice how often I moan about advent calendars, those expensive pieces of packaging justified by a miniscule volume of cheap chocolate, which I usually enjoy ripping the back off and consuming in one go, often in November. I have tried, oh boy have I tried, to communicate to Pete’s mum that these things give me no joy, they give me NEGATIVE JOY. And still they come. One each, every year.

But not this year*

This year, and actually every year, I have a birthday well-placed for the giving of fancy advent calendars. And this year, to my utter delight, Pete’s mum sent me a TEA ADVENT CALENDAR. A TEA ADVENT CALENDAR, PEOPLE! How utterly marvellous is that? I shall tell you how marvellous, and I shall aim to tell you on a daily basis until Christmas, at which point the tea will run out and I’ll be sad.

Tea Advent Calendar

As you can see, all the packaging is cardboard, and nice little potentially reusable boxes, too. When you open the outside container, you find 24 small boxes of different loose leaf teas. They aren’t numbered, so clearly there are no rules about what order you drink them in, and as you can see they are grouped here by type. So I have shuffled them, to give me an order, and then I have gone about my day which has been busy, and finally now at half past three in the afternoon, I can take some time to enjoy my First Cup of Advent Tea.

At the top of the first column, we have a box of Earl Grey China Moon flavoured black tea. There are only two Earl Greys in the box, which is probably plenty. Even though I have quite the tea drinking family, I was completely and utterly unaware that Earl Grey existed, until my first term at uni, when everyone in Halls was drinking it. I went on to discover that my Great Aunt had an entire kitchen cupboard full of tins of tea, which I aspired to (and now, as a grown up, I have). I really enjoy a cup of Earl Grey, but not as much as I enjoy tea that doesn’t taste of weird flowers, so I don’t drink it all that often, and at home often cut it with the amazing Raspberry Ruffle tea from Suki Tea in Belfast, and half again of plain black tea. Earl Grey never fails to remind me of my time in University Halls, and that’s not a 100% happy smattering of nostalgia, but with the huge benefit of decades of growth, I can at least now appreciate how far I’ve come, and enjoy tea with a hint of bergamot once more.

So I made myself a cup of tea, using my pretty glass teapot so that I could see the colour of it, and my very favourite mug with a hydrangea on it. It’s not the hydrangea so much as the shape of the mug that I particularly enjoy, but I have nothing against the hydrangea and it certainly suits a flowery Earl Grey.

As you can see, it’s on the pale side. I don’t think tea should be the colour of wee, so I poured it through the filter a second time and it got a little darker, but still light. The text on the box tells us that the tea is made in the shop in Lincoln to a secret recipe, but that it uses real bergamot oil rather than an artificial flavouring like most commercial Earl Grey. It can be drunk with or without milk, and I have gone for with milk, because although I do really like the taste of tea without milk, it makes me nauseous. While it looks pale, it does have plenty of flavour, and in fact I wouldn’t want it to be much stronger than this, because the floral notes of the bergamot are intense and linger in the mouth. This is a refreshing cuppa, and was worth waiting for. Tomorrow’s tea will be tasted at around the same sort of time, probably.

*Actually she did send the usual packaging-based advent calendar this year, because she forgot that she had also sent the Tea Advent Calendar. Never mind.

  • Comments: 2
  • Oh! There is a bergamot flower, but Wikipedia tells us that this isn't what the tea comes ... - Karen
  • I didn't know until very recently (within Lockdown) that Bergamot is actually a citrus fru... - Lyle
November 27, 2020

Pre-advent Cocktails

In a world where political and public health decisions are dictated by the Great Festival of Consumption, Uborka carries on, friendly and free. Mince pies are absolutely not allowed this week, because the Great Festival of Consumption doesn’t start until after my birthday, even in Times of Pandemic. It was ever so. Cocktail hour will be at 5, as always.

November 20, 2020

Cocktails Marching On

It may be late in the day for me to mention this, but you are invited as always to this afternoon’s cocktail hour, the link for which is below. Today’s theme is ZOOM.

November 17, 2020

Alcohol-Free Beers (Part Fifteen)

(View previous instalments here)

Back in August I said “It’s probably going to be a while before the next batch of reviews” and apparently I was bang-on about that. However I have managed to obtain a few new beers for reviewing, so here we go!

Veltin’s Pilsner

Back in August it was still permitted to do such things as meet your mum in a pub in the Yorkshire Dales for lunch and a pint, which seems quaint in hindsight but there you go. This was the only alcohol-free beer that the pub had on offer, and it was a fantastic offering too. It’s a clear, amber pilsner with an absolutely beautiful head, a luscious aroma, and only a tiny hint of unfermented wortiness which was not enough to mar a delightful flavour. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. I’m not expecting to see this beer ever again, but if I do, I’ll snap it up in a heartbeat.

Solo Pilsner (West Berkshire Brewery)

I felt a little tricked by this beer. Many many years ago I had a bad experience with a beer from West Berkshire Brewery, and resolved to never buy their beers again. Not in a vehement boycotty sort of way, but just in a “I’d rather not take the risk” kind of way. I bought this beer from a local independent garden centre and it wasn’t until I got it home that I noticed the subtle brewery branding.

The beer itself has a decent head, but has a bit of the signature smell of cheap house party piss lager, and tastes a bit like it too. That said, it has a respectable body and the flavours are appeallingly bold and creamy, so even though I’d normally squarely put it in the category of “not my preferred type of beer”, it actually is on the cusp of being, dare I say it, enjoyable, so it comfortably evades the “zero pint” score category.

Hambleton Point Five

The head on this one dissipated within seconds, it’s a miracle that I managed to capture it in the photograph at all. It bubbles away like coca-cola instead. The smell of this one is fairly inert (and yes, I know what you’re thinking, and no, I don’t think I have COVID). It’s got some sharp and metallic flavours, but only mildly, and for the most part it’s a reasonably unobjectionable and unremarkable pale ale.

Saint Etienne

Karen picked up this beer from Aldi for me. It poured quite bubbly and did go flat fairly quickly. However it has a lovely refreshing smell, and the flavour is very impressive, a little bit malty and grainy and a little floral but with no detectable flavours of unfermented wort or off-flavours. I’d happily have this one again, and it also represents exceptional value for money.

So there we have it, four reasonably positive reviews, not a single one of them a stinker. Part ten, back in February, was the last time that we had such a great batch.