"If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
William Ewart Gladstone
There’s no denying that the UK has been sweltering in above average temperatures for the past couple of weeks, and whilst the sting seems to have been taken out of the sunshine a little, it’s still pretty warm outside.
Now, I’m of the same school of thought as William Ewart Gladstone – tea is the key, whatever the weather, and I absolutely can’t go without a hot brew even on the warmest of days. But for some, the psychology behind drinking something steaming when it’s hot enough to scald a lizard is just ridiculous. Is a hot cup of tea really going to cool you down on a hot day? Well, science says yes! Studies from the University of Ottawa show a correlation between drink hot drinks, increased perspiration and overall decrease in body temperature, but this is a blog concerned with deliciousness so I won’t delve into that here – but if you’re that interested, follow this link!
Thankfully, tea is just as delicious brewed cold, or served iced, as is hot, meaning you can still enjoy your favourite caffeinated beverage in an attempt to cool you down.
There are two main ways to enjoy cold tea – iced, or coldbrew, and I’m going to share some of our favourite recipes to help you stay cool this Summer.
Our first, is made as an iced tea, and features our new chai belnd, Salted Caramel.
I’m refusing to believe that we’re not expecting an Indian Summer over the next few days, and my thoughts are still firmly on light summery foods. If you follow our PostTea Instagram page you may have seen this breakfast bowl I posted a few weeks ago, but I didn’t fully describe how this bowl was made, and so I’d like to introduce you to my totally yummy, homemade, chai spiced [gluten free]* granola. Hurrah!
Making your own granola is so satisfying. Not only can it be significantly better for you than shop bought blends but you only need to put in the grains, seeds, nuts and fruits that you like, rather than having to avoid those super hard dried raisins from the bottom of the box.
*you don’t need to make your granola gluten free
I LOVE this granola on top of natural yoghurt and fresh cut fruit – above I have ripe nectarines, English strawberries and red grapes. Also great as a bowl of granola in itself, but it doesn’t last so long that way!
Remember, this is just my base recipe – you can add your own bits in, or substitute some of the nuts for something else. I sometimes add some pumpkin seeds, or some dried cherries, and perhaps reduce the amount of coconut. It really is the perfect recipe to experiment with, topped off with the flavours of chai!
Will you try making your own granola? Do let me know if you do!
INTRODUCING…. 2016 Advent Calendar of Tea:
Hurrah! It's finally AUGUST, and finally time to talk about Advent - our favourite time of year!
We've been pretty quiet about our 2016 Advent Calendar so far this year, and have been super restrained in posting sneak peek pictures - you'll see there are none in this post - we'll add them tonight when the full reveal is shown at 7pm on the PostTea socialsphere.
The main difference to last year’s calendar comes in the colour of the individual packets. We’ve adopted a ‘winter wonderland’ theme this year and so the packets are made from a matt white kraft packet, rather than last year’s brown kraft paper. Like last year the packets are re-sealable, meaning your tea will stay super fresh if you don’t get through it all in December.
Colour-wise, this year’s calendar elaborates the main ‘berry and jewel’ colour theme of last year’s calendar, and so the bold coloured circular front accents remain. Similarly to last year, there are six theme colours behind the white advent day numbers. In addition to the bold white numbers, gold foil snowflakes adorn the jewel coloured accents, adding a little sparkle which will look lovely threaded on some fairy lights.
Our last major change to the appearance of the front of the packets is the omission of the tea names on each label. We’re including a handy tea info sheet again this year, and so all your tea names, ingredients and brewing instructions will be included on there.
The hang hole remains on each packet for those wishing to display their calendar, and this year we’ve switched back to the mini wooden pegs for hanging each packet, with some super metallic gold baker’s twine to mimic the foiling on the packet accents. The pegs and metallic twine come as standard in your calendar, so all you’ll need to do is cut the twine to your chosen lengths and hang away!
A fine metal ball tea strainer is included as standard, for fuss free loose leaf brewing. We’ll also be adding some themed teawares to our website and creating a special advent calendar package for a fancy teapot and advent calendar combined.
We’ll be packaging your advent calendar in one of our lovely white magnetic snapshut boxes, and they’ll be posted to you for delivery in early November.
As much as we love to make the advent calendars look good, they also need to taste terrific, and for those of you who purchase year on year, you’ll be pleased to know that a whopping 18 of this year’s 24 teas are new to the 2016 calendar! There’s a good mix of old favourites, new bestsellers, and seasonal brews, so get ready to whet your whistle, pop on the kettle and try a whole new array of fabulous teas and infusions. We’ll be keeping the full tea list private until the release date in November, so you’ll have to speculate for now on what’s included and what’s new to this year’s calendar!
A couple of this year’s teas do contain milk products, and a couple contain nuts. We are able to substitute these teas for you if we’re notified about the changes needed when you order your calendar. Our teas are packed in a clean environment and so should be free from contamination from other allergens but this cannot be guaranteed.
Orders for our 2016 Advent Calendar of Tea will open this evening (10th August 2016) at 7pm. You’ll receive a pre-order confirmation postcard at your shipping address after ordering, and the advent calendar will ship in November. You will receive a shipping notification email when your advent calendar dispatches.
Here in the UK, summer is just about to shine, at least, that's what we hope. Here at Tea HQ we start brewing iced teas as soon as spring starts, and we're going to share some of our best loved recipes and techniques with you!
Iced tea is not a hugely popular drink in the UK, but with the rise of cold brew coffee, and bubble tea, iced tea is going to be the drink of the summer - trust us!
Iced tea is incredibly easy to make, and you can have all sorts of fun experimenting with flavours and additions to make the best iced tea at home. From fruity blends, to spiced chilli zingers, mocktails, and even iced tea cocktails, we've got a lot to teach you, so let's jump right in with our top five tips.
1) It's all in the method:
There are various ways to make iced tea. Our favourite method is to brew the tea as normal, at the right temperature, but with a triple strength consistency, and then chill rapidly over ice.
2) Invest in a good jug!
Whilst it's not essential that you have special equipment to make iced tea, we use a couple of great products at Tea HQ to ensure a quality brew every time. If you're looking to splash out on something fancy, then there are a few points to consider. Make sure the jug you choose has a loose leaf tea strainer with it. You'll still need to remove the tea leaves once they're brewed, and this just makes life easier! Also, make sure it will fit in your fridge. There's no point making iced tea if you can't keep it chilled! My all time favourite iced tea jug is the Takeya Flash Chill Tea Maker - it's so fuss free, is a great size and it brews and chills the tea in one receptacle. I've also recently bought a Finum Iced Tea Control Jug, which I'm enjoying too!
3) Strength is key.
In point one I mentioned making iced tea triple strength for its initial brewing. Weak iced tea is not nice so I always start strong and add dilution to get to the perfect strength. It's much easier to dilute flavour than it is to add it back in. So, if making 1 cup of iced tea, use 2-3 tsp of loose leaves. There's a little bit of trial and error involved, and exact quantities will vary depending on your iced tea brewing equipment, but the basic rule is to start strong!
4) Don't overbrew your tea.
Again, like hot tea, you can over brew your tea when making iced tea, which is why it's important to make sure you don't put the leaves directly into the jug, but always brew them in a strainer/teapot/filter first. Just because you'll be diluting the tea doesn't mean you won't taste the tannins.
5) Always experiment!
A lot of teas have a lot of flavour already in them, but adding new flavour to iced teas is a great way to always make something that tastes a little bit different. Try making some fruit syrups (peach is a good one), add elderflower cordial, or mix in herbal infusions. Add spices, freeze fruit chunks - just get stuck in and have fun! Whilst you're at it, iced tea makes a brilliant base for summer smoothies - Rhubarb Fool iced tea in a summer berry smoothie, or iced sencha tea in a green machine juice. If you're feeling really adventurous, you can make an iced tea concentrate (the stronger brewed liquor, pre-dilution) and add it to your favourite cocktails; a drop or two of a concentrate made with our Duchess Earl Grey would be delicious in a summery Pimms or chilled Gin and Tonic, or a chilled Peppermint Infusion concentrate in a punchy lime Mojito. There really are no boundaries here, so go wild, have fun, and share your recipes with me here, on Facebook, or on Instagram. I'll be posting some of my favourite recipes over the next few weeks, so pop back for more icy inspiration!
New To Loose Leaf Tea? Well, hello there!
Loose leaf tea needn’t be complicated or scary; in fact it’s no more difficult than brewing a standard cuppa! Here are our five Top Tea Tips for getting into loose leaf tea!
Don't forget, we're always here to help if you want a few hints and tips. We want your Advent Calendar of Tea experience to be the best it can be. Pop us an email here if you have any questions or join our lively community on Facebook. Throughout December we'll be conducting an Advent Drinkalong on our social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so make sure you join in!
Kim @ PostTea
INTRODUCING…. 2015 Advent Calendar of Tea:
Okay, I know it’s only July, but here at Tea HQ we’ve been thinking about Christmas 2015 since, well, Boxing Day 2014! It’s a strange phenomenon, thinking a year in advance of a season, and it’s especially weird planning Christmas products for press events in the height of Summer, but that’s what our past few weeks have been about.
Hopefully you’ll have started to see images of our 2015 Calendar floating around the PostTea socialsphere. We’ve been keeping pretty quiet about the design of this year’s calendar, but now there’s photos out there, I’ve decided it’s time to share a little bit about the changes to this year’s calendar and my thought process behind them.
One of the major changes to this year’s calendar is in its appearance. It’s cleaner, it’s simpler, and it’s bolder, but in this way it creates a bigger impact. We’ve chosen the colours of the number labels based on rich, indulgent jewel tones, and made the numbers on the calendar bigger and clearer to read.
You’ll see we’ve also done away with the decorative topper to the calendars, and there are three main reasons why we’ve done this:
Appearance – we received a lot of awesome press attention last year, and the overriding comment of the calendar was ‘vintage tea party’. This is not what I’d intended, and personally, I hadn’t thought it looked that way. My brand image for PostTea was never ‘cute’ and ‘quaint’, but classy and stylish, so a change was needed.
Practicality for you – Whilst the little tea sachets looked sweet, we’d had reports that they weren’t easy to open with the topper stapled on, and sachet sealed shut.
Practicality for us – each one of those toppers was hand cut, folded and attached, and each sachet hand folded and sealed. There’s 24 in each calendar, and we’re selling increasing numbers year on year. The labour required for this was extortionate, and so we’ve streamlined our process!
Without the topper we needed to make the packet a bit more interesting, and again this another reason I chose big, bold, bright stickers as they provide a lovely level of colour to the packet.
You’ll notice that the label now has the tea name written on it. We did this for our first calendar in 2013, but didn’t last year. Feedback was a 50/50 split as to whether to have it written on or off, but again this has come down to a practicality issue. When we’re filling tens of thousands of packets, I need to know that the right tea is going in each one, and that you’re getting the right tea at the other end. Plus, it adds a level of intrigue to the teas as you peruse them through the month, and just a little more interest to the labels.
Another little change to the appearance comes with switching the mini pegs to washi tape. The mini pegs were cute (that word again, ahh!), but pretty impractical and some cases unreliable. Again, weighing 30 mini pegs into little bags was a faff, and off-brand. The washi tape is easier to use, and on trend with its metallic gold pattern.
The other big change to the appearance is the presentation box. We’ve changed the shape, and smartened up the outside with some printed belly bands, and our signature bold circle labels. Allergen information is now included on the outside of the box (as required by law), and they generally look a lot more professional and polished!
FUNCTIONALITY AND DURABILITY:
As well as changing the appearance of some of the elements of the box, we've also tried to improve them for functionality and ease of use.
The most major change to the advent calendar is the packets the teas come in. They’re foiled lined, kraft paper packets which are re-sealable. Yes, re-sealable! Now you’ll be able to keep your tea nice and fresh for longer, and it means we can start packaging tea in advance, and offer more calendars for sale.
Alongside this change, the tea packets now come hole punched for ease of display/hanging which means you’ll have less hassle when choosing how to show off your awesome calendar.
We’ve also changed the brand of tea strainer used in the calendar. We had issues with the consistency of the strainer last year, and hopefully we've resolved this!
There’s no denying that this the most important part of the calendar. It’s what you all buy the calendar for. We've changed nearly half of the teas this year, whilst managing to retain the bestsellers and seasonal favourites. I don’t think there are any glaring omissions, but it’s obviously impossible to keep everyone happy! We will also have a limited number of decaf calendars available through our website, but once they’re gone, that’ll be it I'm afraid!
Two of the teas in the main calendar do have elements that contain milk products. These can be substituted if we know well in advance.
We also had some people ask about whether we’d be able to offer a true ‘tea’ advent calendar, i.e, one that contains no herbal or fruit infusions. This still something we’re working on, but it’s definitely still a possibility, although it will be more expensive than the signature calendar, and again there will only be a limited number available.
Hopefully that just shares a few little details with you, without giving too many things away! You can now sign up for our first alerts for the advent calendar release date. Head over to the Advent Calendar of Tea product page, and leave us your email so we can get in touch when pre-orders open!
13th June is World Gin Day, and here at PostTea we're celebrating in the only way we know how - with tea!
Gin, like tea, is a British institution. But gin, again like tea, is not British by origin. You might not know it, but the first official recording for the production of gin comes from the early 17th century, made in Holland. Called 'genever', the first botanical juniper based spirits appeared overseas.
But here in Britain, we know a good thing when we drink it, so we've adopted it as one of our 'national' drinks. A gin and tonic is as well known a combination as tea and cake, and so it seems only right that we should join the two in this amazing Earl Grey Gin.
Like all recipes with tea, this one takes some tweaking to get your preferred strength and flavour. We like a strong Assam-y taste to our earl grey, and similarly to our tea trials, but you might prefer something more citrus-y, or floral.The first thing to mention is that any good home distilled spirit takes time to infuse, and for the flavours to mature. If we've been really organised we'd have posted this blog a couple of days ago so you could let your concoctions brew and bubble, ready for drinking today. In fact, we weren't even organised enough to get a batch made for ourselves in time for World Gin Day so we're showing you our tried and trusted technique without samples to keep us going (which is probably just as well....!)
TIP 1) Use your favourite brand of Earl Grey tea. This is the earl grey flavour that you love and want to replicate in your gin. Don't be tempted to buy something you've not tried as you might not liek the flavour as much. And, as with all tea, cheap probably means poor flavour, yet expensive doesn't mean the best tea ever. We use our Duchess Earl Grey, because we love it, and you should use what you love too!
TIP 2) Use good gin, but nothing too expensive for your first foray. Again, you could use your favourite gin, as all gins have different flavours and accents. Whatever you do, don't use your most expensive and treasured bottle, just in case it doesn't work out. You'll be kicking yourself, and be annoyed at us, and we don't want that!
TIP 3) As always, less is more with tea. Too much tea, or too long a steeping will result in either too much tea flavour, or too much overbrewed tannin bitterness. You're best so start with just a little, not a lot, and then undertake a second steeping if you think it's needed.
So here it is, our favourite recipe:
Pour the gin and place the tea into a glass container. Steep the tea in the gin at room temperature for around 36 hours.
When steeped, pour the mixture into a clean bottle and label!
Enjoy with soda water and squeeze of lemon, or in pineapple juice for something more exotic!