TREGOTHNAN GREAT BRITISH TEA

It is always a little sad for me to reach the end of a delightful variety of tea that I know I am unlikely to get hold of again. Today it was the turn of my box of Tregothnan Tea, a gift from England. Well, of course it would be – it is called GREAT BRITISH TEA after all!

The tea grown in England is an interesting by-line for that is an unusual image – tea-growing being associated with China, Sri Lanka, India and even Africa. According to the information leaflet inside the box, the tea is grown near Truro in Cornwall and the Boscawen family have been supplying England’s first and only tea since 2005.

It is a pleasantly full-bodied tea, more malty than English Breakfast Tea, which makes a refreshingly satisfying drink. If it were readily available in this country, I would certainly purchase another box. It is interesting to note too that the sale of this tea benefits the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

YOU CAN’T EAT MONEY

I have just enjoyed a pot of delicious Sasini tea whilst catching a wintry sun in the garden. This is a time when I can be contemplative and enjoy watching the birds in peace – and what a variety there were too!

First, the tea: this packet of very fine loose tea leaves was a gift from a friend after a visit to Kenya some years ago.  Sasini is one of the major tea producers in that country, so I was pleased to try it out at the time and continue to dip into it now and again. Do not make the mistake of following the traditional recipe of one teaspoon per person and one for the pot if you are not fond of strong tea: this tea is strong, smooth and creamy to the taste. It is a perfect tea to drink slowly while watching birds, reading or enjoying good company. I like it with a splash of milk.

Then, the birds. I was outdoors for only half an hour and in that time noted twenty species of birds. First up was a Blackheaded Oriole drinking from the nectar pub. This was also visited several times by a pair of Forktailed Drongos and a number of weavers – both Cape Weavers and Village Weavers.

Laughing Doves abound as usual and this morning were joined by a pair of Redeyed Doves, a Cape Turtle Dove and the Rock Pigeons that live in our roof.

A Cape Robin cautiously inspected the apples on the feeding tray before it was ousted by a cheeky Blackeyed Bulbul and an overbearing Olive Thrush. The apples were also a drawcard for a Boubou, some Common Starlings, a Fiscal Shrike, and a Blackcollared Barbet.

A flock of Bronze Manikins feasted on the fine seed in the ‘bird house’ feeder and, as I was about to come indoors, a Knysna Lourie made its rasping call from the fig tree.

What has all of this got to do with money? A lot. You see, while I was sipping my tea and enjoying the birds, I got to thinking about how fortunate we are: even though we are in the grip of drought, the crassula is blooming,

Plumbago flowers are putting on a brave show, the air smells fresh, the garden is filled with the sound of birds, and the clear sky forms a beautiful backdrop for the emerging flowers of the Erythrina caffra. Not bad for a drought.

And then … I happened across this quotation by the filmmaker, Alanis Obomsawin:

When the last tree is cut, the last fish caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.

Yes, I thought, we can’t eat money despite so many people pursuing it at all costs. We can, however, become stewards of nature – even in our own gardens.

THE CHAMPION OF VANILLA TEAS

There is vanilla tea and vanilla tea. I have mentioned before how much I enjoy the delicious, aromatic flavour of vanilla tea and that I purchase a box of it whenever I can get hold of it. It was a friend of my daughter who first introduced me to vanilla tea by bringing a few tea bags for us to try one day – many, many moons ago. Twinings Vanilla Tea is truly delicious – and is the only variety I have found in the shops here – so let me not ‘put it down’ as it were.

The accolade for the champion of vanilla tea must, however, go to Bois Cheri Vanilla Tea Gold Label. The fact that my box contained loose tea leaves may account for it – loose tea always has the edge over bagged tea.

This Mauritian tea was a gift that I have eked out for as long as possible. Today is the last time I was able to savour the fine tea leaves of this exquisitely flavoured tea – I drank a pot of it to the last dregs! The taste is warm and ‘round’, with the aromatic flavour of vanilla lasting long after the tea has been drunk. ‘Pudding’ tea … middle-of-the-morning tea (with no cake or biscuits to interfere with the flavour) … afternoon tea … even last-tea-of-the-day tea.

STRAWBERRY AND BLACKCURRANT TEA

A newcomer to the Five Roses stable of tea is the delicious Strawberry and Blackcurrant flavour. It is like drinking warm juice!

strawberryandblackcurranttea

This tea makes a wonderfully refreshing drink during the current heat wave and is equally tasty with or without milk. As there is a full berry flavour to it, I would not recommend adding sugar.

DORSET TEA

Among the teas from England I was given last year is a golden, robust and truly refreshing tea that I tend to use sparingly for I am highly unlikely to ever lay my hands on another box. This is Dorset Tea Golden Blend.

Dorset Tea front

The origins of this tea hail from Bournemouth, where Ken Spicer began blending teas from India and Africa in 1934. He certainly made a good job of it – it rivals some of the best breakfast teas I have ever tasted. This is an excellent tea for sharing and so I recommend brewing a pot of it as a delicious choice for afternoon tea.

Place one bag per person in a teapot and allow the tea to infuse with freshly boiled water for 3-5 minutes. It is a strong, full-bodied tea which I enjoy with a dash of milk. I find it has a naturally ‘sweet’ undertone so would not recommend adding sugar.

Dorset tea back

ROSE LEMONADE

December brings with it the promise of a summer holiday and festive season that includes Christmas and New Year. In the southern hemisphere we can look forward to bright sunshine, swimming, celebratory meals outdoors and time to mix with family and friends. Lemonade springs to mind as a refreshing thirst quencher. Rose lemonade?

It is not what you think. This exquisite caffeine free infusion of lemon, lemon grass and rose petals has no fizz. Come to think of it, why not add a dash of fizz of your choice to a mug or jug of it? As herbal teas go, Taylors Rose Lemonade infusion is one I rate very highly for its beautiful dark pink colour, pleasant aroma, and its smooth, deliciously full-bodied fruity flavour. According to the box, this is achieved with the addition of hibiscus, rosehip, apple pieces, and sweet blackberry leaves. How much more summery can one get?

rose lemonade

Taylors Rose Lemonade infusion is the perfect antidote to a rich festive meal or as a refreshing drink in the shade whilst escaping from the harshest rays of the sun. Whenever you choose to drink it, you will be experiencing pure indulgence!

This is a gift from abroad – so not readily available in South Africa – which can be purchased online.

ANOTHER EARL GREY TEA

Cape Town is my tea mecca. It is there that my perusing the shelves of any supermarket usually results in a treasure trove of teas not available in our little town. By now regular readers will be aware that Earl Grey tea is among my favourites, for it is well suited for either breakfast or afternoon enjoyment. I have come to the end of a wonderful find of Earl Grey tea made by Khoisan Tea, a South African company founded in 1997.

Earl grey tea

This tea has a mellow taste with notes of bergamot which is well balanced with the black tea and provides a fruity edge to it. More importantly, it is reasonably priced. I scoured our local supermarket for a replacement box this morning and can only hope that I manage to lay my hands on a supply when next I am in the Mother City.