Ringtons Northumbrian Blend

Brewed to a mahogany colour, the Ringtons Northumbrian Blend is a strong tea with a deep malty flavour. This is an ideal breakfast brew and will be perfect with a full English, although I enjoy it anytime of the day.

It is also ideal with pancakes! It is now tradition that I make a large pot of this hearty tea to enjoy while I am busy making pancakes for the family.

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TeaShed Breakfast Christmas Gift Box

As a Christmas gift to me; I purchased the TeaShed Breakfast Christmas gift box at the Kirkley Hall Christmas Fair.

For a fiver, I got a Teashed styled box containing bags of whole leaf black tea with Original Crunchy Cornish Fairings.

As usual; I brewed the tea for 3-4 minutes, without milk or sugar.

The tea was quite enjoyable – it was of medium strength and refreshing. The biscuits are the perfect accompaniment for the tea and I must say that they were delectable – very crunchy with a hint of mixed spice and ginger. I think they were the nicest ginger biscuits I have had in a long time!

Find out more at the TeaShed website.

The Whistler Tea Rooms

I went for lunch today at the The Whistler Tea Rooms in Newcastle located on Vine Lane just off Northumberland Street.

The team room is styled like many an English tea room and is situated on the top floor of the building. The view from the window at the front of the building is of the Haymaket Hub building which forms part of the Metro station, the striking angel atop the South African War Memorial and the bustling Northumberland Streets below.

I took my seat and found cosy surroundings with vintage pictures and item adorning the walls. Pleasant staff provide table service with a smile and were very efficient at taking my order and bringing my food and tea.

The menu is well appointed with sarnies, light bites such as scones and cakes, and jacket spuds. The range of tea includes Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Lapsang souchong, green tea and Earl and Lady Greys.  I ordered a warm cheese scone, a slice of Victoria sponge cake a pot of Ceylon tea. All was very nice and I especially enjoyed the cake.

My trip to the Whistler Tea Rooms helped brighten up an otherwise dull and damp November day.

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/