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.

A TRIO OF TEA

We have mentioned packaging before – how the same brand of tea is sometimes packaged differently in different countries.  Enter Twinings Vanilla Tea – that smooth and creamy tea that is a joy to drink when one has the time to linger a little.  Steep it for three to four minutes for a deliciously fragrant drink – with or without milk added. It is sweet enough on its own, so I would not recommend that traditional ‘sugar-scoopers’ add any sweetener until they have enjoyed the full fragrance of the tea and sipped it at least. It bursts with flavour and aroma.

I became familiar with Twinings Vanilla Tea in this guise.

vanillatea1

More recently I was given a box of tea bags – same delicious flavour – in this guise that comes from the UK, oozing a boldness and suggesting a robust experience.

vanillatea

Now enter the Grey family. The first is Twinings Lady Grey Tea, which I am familiar with in this rather self-effacing box.

ladygreytea1

From my same darling source comes a box from the UK in a much bolder outfit with splashes of orange that calls for attention.

Ladygreytea

A rose by any other name, they say. Whatever the sartorial cover, Lady Grey makes a pleasant, lighter, change from the stronger Earl Grey with the addition of orange and lemon peels that give it a zesty edge. I am most surprised to find that the Lady Grey blend was only created around 1994! It too is on the sweet side, so I would not recommend adding sugar, and while I enjoy it very much, I brew it only every now and then. It makes a pleasant after-dinner drink.

I have left what is to become a firm favourite until last: Five Roses Admiral Grey Tea. Like the Lady Grey, it is a magnificent blend of black tea leaves with bergamot and citrus – the sweet, fruity flavours are more subtle, however, giving the brew a more robust flavour which I find is a perfect pick-me-up tea.

Admiral Grey tea

My trio of teas today were gifts from family members who often indulge my enjoyment of trying out different teas by adding to my collection. Thank you all!

KENTISH LAVENDER GREY

I wish I could adequately convey to you the wonderful aroma that greets one on opening a packet of Kentish Lavender Grey.

Kentish Lavender Grey

Loose leaf tea is always more flavoursome than tea bags and this particular blend of Sri Lankan black tea, lavender flowers (Lavandula angustifolia) and natural oil of bergamot takes Earl Grey tea to new heights.

Kentish Lavender Grey

Kentish Lavender Grey is full-bodied, has a wonderful nose, and is smooth-tasting with a good balance between the lavender and bergamot. It is equally enjoyable with or without milk and is a perfect drink to enjoy at one’s leisure. I found a patch of sun in the garden in which to sip my tea slowly while watching birds. While lavender-flavoured biscuits would be a fine accompaniment – I made do with buttery shortbread to nibble.