Showing posts from January, 2019

Snow Dragon - Fortnum & Mason

F&M may have disappointed with their tea advent calendar (see earlier post!) but with this brew they are onto a winner. This was a present and after trying it, I rationed its use because I didn’t want it to run out too quickly…and I’m too bone idle to visit F&M when I’m in London! The tea is somewhere between a silver needle and a green tea and you do get that asparagus, grassy essence of a green sencha tea, infused with the honey notes of the silver needle when you taste it. The tea comes from the Yunnan province of China; young leaves are picked during the last frost, then they are seared in a wok and dried into long, snake-like (or dragon-like) leaves. As you can see from the photograph, the leaves range in colour from dark, twig like browns, through to pale, almost silver twists. The tea has a fresh scent, but it is more reminiscent of forest leaves than grassy fields, mixed with the warming scent of honey or vanilla. I have no pictures of the tea leav

Ripe Pu-Erh Snow Chrysanthemum Cake - by Yunnan Sourcing

Authentic Pu-erh tea comes from the Yunnan province of China. It can be found as loose-leaf tea or processed into round cakes or bricks. As well as the well-known traditional dark red tea, it can also be found as white or green tea variants. Pu-erh is particularly special because it can be aged like a fine wine for decades. As time marches on, it develops a more complex depth of flavour which is often very rich and earthy. As Pu-erh tea is supposed to be good for the body, eliminating toxins and fat from it, and being a good aid to digestion. It is supposed to reduce cholesterol and clear the arteries of a plaque build-up. It is even supposed to be good for those who may have a hangover, and if you look at it after it has infused, it does look like a good strong cup of coffee! After the over indulgences of Christmas, is it any wonder I’ve gone back to drinking it! The tea packs a punch, it is strong and earthy with a scent and taste of the autumnal forest. The smell of m

Prince Edward Lavender Green Tea – by Pluck

This green tea mixes grassy and floral notes to produce a pale green tea which is refreshing but still helps you to relax and unwind after a long day. It contains a hint of ginger, but it is the scent and taste of lavender which makes this tea unique. Pluck is a speciality tea company based in Toronto, Canada, so without the generosity of my Canadian friend, I would never have sampled this tasty delight. The name comes from the fact that high-quality tea is plucked by hand, rather than cut by machine. Pluck work with local growers, and the Prince Edward Country Lavender farm, near Toronto, grows the Hidcote lavender which is dried and then blended to make the Prince Edward Lavender Green Tea.  My top tips: It’s a delicious tea to serve with warm Lemon Curd Madeleines made with lavender sugar as a Sunday afternoon treat! Alternatively, try baking with it! Infuse butter or warm milk with the tea and

The Black Sheep of Burkedom

Lady: “Are you going to the Operation Smile Christmas Carols this year?” Me: “No.” Lady: “Why not?” Me: “Because I’m not.” (turns to start another conversation with someone else.) Those of you who think you know me…how do you see me? Those of you who read the blog…what do you think I’d be like if we met? What words spring to mind? Confident? Aloof? Witty? Chatty? Happy? Introvert? Extrovert? Rude? I’m an Ambivert. I can be a great listener, or if the mood takes me, I can be a great conversationalist. Now even the shyest introvert or the noisiest extrovert isn’t 100% like that all the time…all of us have a bit of extrovert or introvert in us however hard we may deny’s just that most of us are more inclined one way or the other. So how do I know I’m an Ambivert? Well I’ve taken many tests over the years starting at school to see what career I would be best suited to, to ongoing tests during my working life for “progression purposes.” It’s always the same, 50

Murdered to Death - Theatr Clwyd

I finished my 2018 theatrical year with an amateur dramatic performance at Theatr Clwyd and that’s exactly how I’ve started this year! Murdered to Death is an Agatha Christie style spoof. Set in the sitting room of a 1930’s country manor house, the owner, Mildred, is the murdered hostess who had gathered together an assembled cast of rather dubious characters for her weekend dinner party!  Bunting, the aged butler, would rather be knocking back the best sherry rather than opening doors for visitors; the “bally” English colonel Charles Craddock with the quintessential stiff upper lip; his long-suffering wife; Pierre, the untrustworthy art dealer with the dubious moustache and French accent to match; and the aristocratic lady he “met” on the train. Of course, no Agatha Christie type tale could be told without a meddlesome amateur sleuth turning up. Enter Miss Maple…with her bag of knitting…just keeping an eye on events as they unfurl… ever ready to help the hapless Insp

Silver Needle White Tea - The Mecca

The Mecca is a tea and coffee merchant in the town of Aberystwyth, Wales. Now sadly I have never been there, but my friend visits that part of the world quite regularly and she says that it is a fabulous little shop with friendly, knowledgeable staff. She freely admits that she knows nothing about tea, but they were so informative, they were able to provide her with a great selection to gift to me!  Silver Needle White Tea is made from the buds of the tea plant; no leaves or stems are used, making it the best white tea there is on the market. For this reason, it is also the most expensive of the white teas. The tea buds are harvested by hand before they have opened, they have a sharp tip and are covered with fine silver hairs, hence the name Silver Needle. The finest flavoured Silver Needle teas come from the first generation of buds between the months of March and April. The harvesting only lasts a couple of days and is therefore known as the Imperial Harvest. The tea w

(Mighty Chai) Ginger Chai Tea - The Wee Tea Company

A couple of years ago, when being a Tom Burke fan meant large group gatherings, insane banter and much merriment, a charity tea party was held. It was great fun, themed around Alice in Wonderland and a Mad Hatter's tea party. Lots of people rolled up their sleeves and played their part in making it a fun and successful afternoon. I was lucky enough to win a gorgeous basket of goodies in which there was a packet of Ginger Chai Tea. Now there are plenty of Chai tea blends available, but this one is from a company in Scotland called The Wee Tea Company (it already has an extra star just for the name.) The Wee Tea Company was set up by Jamie Russell and Derek Walker as specialist tea blenders, however, they also grow their own tea in Dalreoch in Scotland. Whilst the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis might be considered to be more at home in China or India, it's actually happy growing on the Scottish hillsides. Think about it - Darjeeling is grown on the Himalayan mountains! Now

Tea Lover's Advent Calendar - Fortnum and Mason

I have a tea notebook, which I fill up with comments, but then I forget to post them on the blog! My aim in 2019 is to do much better! I was bought a Fortnum & Mason tea advent calendar in 2017. I was thrilled and made notes each day about what I found hiding behind each door. I thought there was no point in doing a write-up 12 months later, but that was before I looked at the 2018 advent calendar and it was exactly the same packaging as last years “sold out” version. I didn’t bother with the 2018 calendar – not only did it cost £25 for 24 tea bags, but whilst the 2017 calendar was a beautiful gift, I was a bit disappointed with the contents considering the price. For a start a Tea Lover's Calendar should just contain tea, not a few tea bags and a number of herbal infusions. It should also contain 24 different teas, not various repeats. There are hundreds of teas out there, and

Super Naturally Good Tales!

Winter is the perfect opportunity for catching up on your reading list, especially Christmas when it is dark outside, and inside Christmas lights and flickering candles create the perfect ambience for a ghostly tale. Whilst M R James and Sheridan Le Fanu are my usual Christmas go-to authors, it’s nice when unexpected delights fall into the Christmas reading pile. Here are four thumping good reads to pass the dreary nights of winter with. Now fans of Tom Burke will know that the author Arthur Calder-Marshall is Tom’s maternal grandfather, I’ve been interested to read some of his work for a while, so I was delighted when I came across a couple of second-hand books written by him. If you love a good haunted house tale, then this first story is certainly a book for you, it is suitably eerie and will give you the required goose bumps when reading! The Scarlet Boy – Arthur Calder-Marshall The tale is narrated by George Grantley. He receives a letter from his friend Sir Chri