Tea & Happiness’ Top 5 Teas

Tea & Happiness’ Top 5 Teas

Tea

Nearly a year on from starting my blog I have had the pleasure of trying a wide variety of teas from around the globe. Although it is hard to pick a top 5 I have selected some teas that I would consider daily staples as well as something a little different should you wish to challenge your taste buds. So put the kettle on and enjoy………

5) In at 5 is an after dinner favourite Fresh Mint TeaGreat to settle a full tummy and can be enjoyed hot or cold. There are plenty of mint tea bags on the market but there is nothing wrong with simply grabbing some fresh mint from the garden and plunging it into boiling water.

DSC_0028

4) Warming your cockles at number 4 is Chilli RooibosThis is blend I found at Kanuka tea house and although it’s an acquired taste it soon becomes addictive. With dried chillis and rose buds in the mix it has floral notes with a sting in the tale. It can be like tea roulette as each cup can vary in spice levels depending how much chilli you scoop up. Great for the metabolism and Rooibos has suburb health benefits as well as being caffeine free! Give it a try if you’re feeling fiery.

IMG_5225

3) Bringing balance at number 3 is OolongI have recently discovered how wonderful this tea is for both it’s flavour and it’s healing properties. It’s a beautiful tea to look at, tiny rolled pearls which unfurl in hot water to reveal their natural green leaves. This tea fills the gap between green and black teas so carries many of the properties of both. Don’t be put of by it’s earthy fragrance as it is much lighter on the palette than you’d expect. If you can’t quite handle the bitter quality of green tea but want the same antioxidant power then give Oolong a try.

DSC_0057

2) A classy cup of Afternoon Tea is number 2 on my list. Most tea houses will offer an afternoon blend on their menu and the exact blend of leaves will vary from brand to brand. I enjoy a blend from Tealicious which is a subtle blend of Assam & Ceylon. The brew is light and creamy so I find no requirement to add milk but you can to taste. It’s a perfect cup for a summers afternoon with a slice of something sweet. I find this blend satisfying and reliable so it’s worth having in the cupboard for when you feel like adding a little sophistication to your day.

dsc_0495

1) So top of the teas is the beautiful and tasty Genmaichaa Japanese breakfast green tea blend. I recently found this little gem at The Camden Tea Shop in London. This is green tea blended with popped rice which gives a toasted warmth to the brew. It looks so pretty, speckled with popcorn and rice grains, and although you can taste the green tea the rice adds a depth of flavour that eliminates any bitterness from the leaves. It’s currently my favourite way to start the day and I highly recommend it for a breakfast cuppa with a difference.

DSC_0035

I hope you have enjoyed this run down of my current top 5 teas. I’d love hear what your favourite brew is……who knows perhaps it’ll feature in my next review 🙂

Thank you for reading and happy brewing!

5 happiness tips from Dexter T Dog

5 happiness tips from Dexter T Dog

There’s a lot we can learn from our K9 friends especially when it comes to leading a care free and happy life. Here are some tips I try to take on board from my gorgeous dexter dog:

1) Know when to play and when to rest
I consider myself very lucky that Dexter is the K9 version of a lazy teenager, this dog knows how to sleep! He is happy to lay in with us on a Sunday and if I am up before 9am the only movement he will aspire to is getting from his bed to ours.
However when it is time to go for a walk he makes the most of it. Exploring his surroundings, running, playing and enjoying every second of it.
We dwell too much to on the guilt of being inactive and often make exercise more of a chore than it is. Embrace the balance by giving your all to the activities you do so when it is time to recuperate you know your body is getting what it needs.

2) Look forward
K9 interactions can often be hit an miss, as with humans you can’t get on with everyone! The key thing is the ability to walk away with nothing but a forward focus. Dexter wont spend the rest of the walk worrying about what that dog thought if him, feeling guilty for stealing her ball or considering a myriad of reasons the dog may have barked at him. The moment passes and the journey continues.
Rumination is a human trait that we would all be better off without; Why did that person look at me like that? How did I come across? Did they like me? How? Why? What if? We exhaust ourselves reviewing insignificant interactions when we should be leaving things in the past to focus on a positive future.

IMG_3823

3) Broaden your mind
Saturday morning is dog school and from the minute I wake up Dexter is pestering me to leave the house. He loves seeing all his friends, getting fed treats and having to engage his brain. Although the commands are often simple and ones he has done a hundred times before the mental stimulation keeps him active. As humans we tend to focus education on the young when there are too many other distractions going on to get the most from it. Without using the cliche about old dogs and new tricks it is important to learn new skills, broaden your mind and spend your time on this planet developing yourself.

IMG_5115
Dexter and his class mates at a recent trip to the beach 

4) Eat well
Being a dog, Dexters diet is not one I’d recommend to any human; although it will give you strong teeth and a glossy coat! However, his attitude to food is something we can learn a lot from. Yes he’ll sneak a treat here and there, even if a treat to him constitutes some cat poo or a mouldy banana skin! But each day when he is presented with a bowl of his dried dog food he greats it with such enthusiasm it may as well be a full roast dinner or hearty fry up. He knows it is sustenance & fuel for his body which gives him the nutrition and energy he needs to chase that squirrel or catch that ball. Granted he has little control over his diet and perhaps if we all had our own private chef a balanced diet would be easier to achieve. Only you are in control of what you eat so next time you look at a bowl of salad or a plate of greens appreciate it for the fuel it is and enjoy that you are giving your body what it needs rather than what your brain thinks it wants.

IMG_0982
Not a diet I’d recommend!!!

5) Be yourself
My favourite thing about Dexter is that he is truly himself (as are most dogs). Dogs don’t put on an act to get people to like them or hide their feelings for fear of rejection. He will try and lick your face no matter your size, religion or pay packet – you’re just another human that needs a kiss! Dogs have no perception of their size or breed, they meet each other and with a sniff and a bow they’ve made a new friend. Our preconceptions can hold us back as we convince ourselves that we wont fit in or we have nothing in common with other cultures. Instead take a moment to have a conversation, you’ll probably learn something and your life will be richer for it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog which is a fun way of thinking about the bad habits us humans come to form. What could you learn from your pets? I’d love to hear your stories and photos of your 4 legged friends. Take Care x

Chinese Tea Tasting

Chinese Tea Tasting

For any tea enthusiast China is a dream destination where days can be spent getting lost in tea plantations and tasting all the amazing brews on offer…..I can but dream! However my Aunty & Uncle were recently lucky enough to travel around parts of China and kindly brought back two types of tea for me to try.

So here they are in all their glory:

Pu’er Tea 

This is a black tea which originates from the Yunnan province of China. After a complex process of fermentation the matured leaves are pressed into cakes for storage and sale. These can range from 50g to 1000g  in size, shaped into bricks, balls or domes. My gorgeous gift tin is filled with individually wrapped mini cakes, the golden foil more familiarly associated with sweets and chocolate rather than our daily cuppa.

Just half a cake is required per brew and this can be reused 7 or 8 times. You don’t get that sort of value with your standard supermarket bag! The cakes are sturdy little things but with a snap in the middle I pop half in the pot to make my first cup.

The dried leaves have a strong peaty aroma which is released when dowsed in the boiling water. This is a grounding brew, powerful and earthy it’s not messing about. I fill my cup with the stunning russet liquid, like the embers of a camp fire smouldering away.

Thankfully not as ferocious on the palate as you may expect. It’s strength is contained in the fragrance which gently washes over your tongue to leave a smoky after taste. Cleansing and moreish I enjoyed this brew, not least for the health benefits it boasts; assisting weight loss, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol.

 

Ginseng Oolong Tea 

Oolong is distinctive by it’s small, smooth pellet form. The leaves are worked through a process of bruising, withering and shaping to reach the desired texture. Falling between the gap of black and green teas, Oolong is the middle ground where many of the health benefits of green tea are present but the flavour is milder thanks to the longer oxidation period.

These leaves can also be reused, with the 3rd or 4th cup being rumoured to be the best flavour. It’s hard to believe the tiny green pearls are tea leaves but as they begin to steep the hot water entices them to unfurl and release their flavour.

This brew shines golden orange in the cup with a sweet honey suckle fragrance. It’s feels light and summery on the palate making it very easy to drink. The smooth, sweetness of honey is kissed with a subtle after thought of liquorice from the ginseng. No matter the weather outside the sunshines on you as you enjoy this brew.

I was aware that Oolong was readily available here in the UK but I am pleased to find that Pu’er (aka Pu’erh) is also available from most good stockists in either loose leaf or cake form. So next time you stick the kettle on why not try and taste of the orient and enjoy a little ceremony with your tea.

Lu Tong’s Seven Bowls of Tea 七碗诗 卢仝(唐. 790~835)

The first bowl moistens my lips and throat; 一碗喉吻潤,

The second bowl breaks my loneliness; 二碗破孤悶,

The third bowl searches my barren entrails but to find 三碗搜枯腸,

Therein some five thousand scrolls; 惟有文字五千卷,

The fourth bowl raises a slight perspiration 四碗發輕汗,

And all life’s inequities pass out through my pores; 平生不平事盡向毛孔散,

The fifth bowl purifies my flesh and bones; 五碗肌骨清,

The sixth bowl calls me to the immortals. 六碗通仙靈,

The seventh bowl could not be drunk, 七碗吃不得也,

only the breath of the cool wind raises in my sleeves. 唯覺兩腋習習清風生。

Where is Penglai Island, Yuchuanzi wishes to ride on this sweet breeze and go back. 蓬萊山﹐在何處,玉川子乘此清風欲歸去。

{Lu Tong, Chinese Poet}