Tazo Breakfast Tea at Go Eat

While on my daily lunch time wander around Newcastle, I happened upon Go Eat at Northumbria Univerity, and I decided to see what they had to offer for a brew.

Inside; the cafe was well stocked with a substantial range of sandwiches, hot food, snacks and drinks.

I selected a cheese scone, cranberry and yogurt tiffin and a black tea. This came in at under £4, which is not too bad, although it was ‘no frills’ take out style establishment. Anyhow, I was handed a paper cup of boiling water and directed to a display with a selection of teas by Tazo. I selected my usual breakfast tea and took a seat.

I tore open the satchet and smelled the delicate floral fragrance of Darjeeling tea. I added the bag to the water and let it brew for a few minutes while I took in the surroundings. The cafe was frequented by Univerity teachers and students and is quite modern and clean. The ambience  was quiet with the murmur of conversation in the background.

When the brewing was done, I tasted the tea – the Darjeeling was the dominant flavour which was quite unexpected, and the usual malty notes of a breakfast tea not so strong. The scone and tiffin were rather tasty and filling.

To sumerise: Go Eat is worth a visit and is good value for money, and Tazo’s breakfast tea is a very good brew.


Donate Blood and Have a Cuppa

Today, I donated blood for the 20th time. However; in the past, I have not been as frequently as I could.

After the recent birth of my daughter, my wife required around four units of blood to help her get better. This made me realise how important giving blood is, so I now make sure that I go as much as I am allowed – which is up to four times a year for males, three if you are female.

I find giving blood satisfying as I know it is going to help someone who needs the blood more than I.

The process is quite quick and relatively painless and you get a cuppa and a biscuit after you donate!

Find out more by visiting blood.co.uk and book your appointment.

Why I Don’t Use a Ball Infuser

When making a cuppa with loose leaf tea; don’t use a ball infuser. Why? they just don’t deliver a quality brew.

Recently I purchased a bag of ‘We Are Tea’ English Breakfast for around £4 a bag. Initially I brewed this in a ball infuser with just over a spoonful of tea, for about 4 minutes with freshly drawn water as best practice dictates. When I drunk the tea, I was disappointed – I found it was weaker than expected and it lacked the full bodied flavour of breakfast tea.

Later I brewed the tea again using my Bodum tea pot with tea press – now this time I got a better cuppa.

As a comparison I repeated the experiment by brewing some Flowery Orange Pekoe by Pumphreys using my Yoyo infuser and compared with my other ball infuser at work. The result was similar – the tea brewed  using the ball tasted flat and was quite rubbish. Brewed properly with the YoYo infuser, the Flowery Orange Pekoe tasted rather good.

My conclusion

After my experiments and consulting The Little Book of Tea Tips by Andrew Langley; I came to conclude that loose leaf tea needs lots of room to brew and expand to extract the flavours from the leaf. You also need to pour your water directly on the leaf to make sure the oxygen can draw out the aroma and taste. Therefore my conclusion is that you should use a tea pot or an in-mug tea infuser such as the Bodum yoyo.

Tea Sutra Review, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Originally Published March 8 2012

I have never been to a tea room and been presented with a ‘tea’ list. Like the ubiquitous wine list at a good restaurant, the list featured many different teas from around the globe which ranged from black teas, to green and fruit tea to the redbush or roobios variety. After a few minutes pouring over the list (no pun intended) I settled for Ceylon Orange Pekoe – which is nothing to do with the fruit, but rather uses the whole tender flesh of the leaf. I also ordered a Carrot and Coriander soup. The tea swiftly arrived in an elegant ceramic elephant shaped pot along with a wicker strainer and handle-less tea cup.

While waiting for the tea to brew and the soup to arrive, I took a moment to look around. Considering a noisy busy bus route was outside, the room was surprisingly quiet with a little ambient music playing in the background. It was similar to a Japanese tea room adorned with bamboo and wicker furniture and a traditional Japanese seating area. The red/brown tea was light and pleasant with a hint of a malty flavour which was a nice change from the usual strong teas I drink. I enjoyed the soup with its accompanying wholemeal roll.

Along with the extensive range of tea, Tea Sutra also offers complementary therapies from acupuncture to massage. But no coffee – the owner is a purist!

Tea Sutra is the perfect place for tea connoisseurs to chill out and enjoy a brew.

You can visit Tea Sutra’s website at http://teasutra.co.uk/

Quillam Brothers Himalayan Blend

I am at work having hit the mid-afternoon lull and I need something to help give me focus. So, I reach for the packet of Himalayan Blend by Quilliam Brothers which is described as a ‘fantastic mix of second flush teas from the great gardens of Darjeeling, Nepal and Sikkim’.

I add roughly a teaspoon and a half of the tea in to my YoYo infuser and pour in freshly boiled water. I allow the tea to brew for a few minutes and watch the large leaf tea float about and change the colour of the water from a light green to golden brown.

I remove the infuser and enjoy the tea ‘as is’ with a cranberry and yogurt tiffan.

The blend has a sweet fragrance with a light, smooth taste. I think the QB Himalayan Blend is a wonderfully refreshing tea which left me feeling ready to tackle the final couple of hours at the office.

The Enjoyment of Tea at Work

At work I spend the day working in front of a computer as software developer.  It is recommended that in such a role you should take a short break at least once an hour, spending a few minutes away from the desk stretching your legs and resting eyes. Now, I found a good way to do this is to take the time to make a proper brew.

I use a tea infuser and keep some quality loose leaf tea in my drawer for some proper tea enjoyment. Now my tea break is taken by selecting a tea to brew, cleaning out the infuser, adding the tea and watching it brew.

Create your own tea break ritual and prepare your cuppa carefully and mindfully. Select your tea, take notice of the fragrance of the leaves and the colour changes as the tea brews. This will give you a moment to reflect, think and relax.

The moment will allow you return to your desk feeling refreshed – your body and mind will thank you for it.

Bodum Yo Yo Tea Infuser

For my birthday my wife presented me with a Bodum Yo Yo Tea Infuser to allow me to enjoy a loose leaf brew at the office.

The benefits of using an infuser such as this is that it gives the tea leaves more movement and allows the leaves space to expand which releases the flavours. Also, when filling the cup, you are adding the hot water directly on top of the leaves, making sure that the oxygen in the water can bring the taste and aroma.  Therefore the Bodum Yo Yo Tea Infuser will give a better brew when compared to a tea ball infuser which are often quite small, constraining the tea.

The infuser features a glass mug, plastic mesh infuser and a lid. The box suggests that you place the lid on top of the infuser when brewing and then put the infuser on the lid when done – however, if using at your desk like me you will find that using the lid will leave nice watermarks and tea stains on your desk, so don’t use the lid as a tray for the infuser or find something else to put it on.

All in all – I like the Bodum Yo Yo Tea Infuser – you get a good brew and I use it daily.