1st, 2nd & 3rd of December
I have an advent calendar full of tea bags! I bought it from Bird & Blend teas. I have been providing daily updates on my Christmassy tea experiences all over social media, so if you are following Tea and Spanking on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (and I assume you are), it’s quite possible that you are already sick of hearing about it.
But, there’s always more to be said about tea. I really do love tea. Not quite as much as I love spanking (I really, really love spanking) but tea is very important in my life.
I am going to provide a weekly round up here every week up until Christmas Eve. You only get three days worth of tea today because Advent is three and a half weeks long. By the time we get to the 24th I will have experienced twenty four new types of tea bag. All of them Christmas-flavoured!
Wait, are there even that many different Christmas flavours? How are Bird & Blend going to keep this up?
I’ve had a think about possible festive tea-bags and I have come up with the following: mince pie, Christmas pudding, roast turkey, brussels sprouts and every single chocolate and toffee flavour in the Quality Street tin. Maybe they’ll be OK then. I can’t wait until brussels sprout tea day!
The three teas I tried this week were Salted Caramel Lebkuchen, Spiced Clementine and Apple Strudel.
Salted Caramel Lebkuchen was by far and away my favourite. This is in no small part down to the fact that this was the only one this week that contained actual proper tea.
My feelings about herbal teas are probably going to be made all too clear this month. Proper tea contains the leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. This includes black tea, green tea, Oolong and anything else which includes the leaves of the tea plant in various stages of oxidisation. In fcat I’ll even accept Kukicha twig tea even though that’s made from the stems rather than the leaves of the tea plant.
What doesn’t count as ‘tea’ in my book, is any hot beverage made from a different plant. There’s a perfectly serviceable word in the English language for drinks made out of other things – ’tisane’. I would like to see it used more often in order to save any confusion about what consititutes ‘a nice cup of tea’.
I watched terrible horror movie The Prodigy the other day. There’s a scene where someone is asked if they would like a cup of tea. They are then offered the choice of peppermint or honey and lemon. What the hell is that about? Surely the natural reaction to that would be “No, I’d like a cup of tea please. Like you offered. Not some random-arse bits of other foliage steeped in water”. The main character doesn’t say that though. To be fair, she was only at the other woman’s house in order to kill her so she was probably a bit distracted. Also, she was American which I suspect is where this tea confusion comes from in the first place.
Now that we have established exactly where I stand with regards to what I consider a cup of tea (although I can’t promise that I won’t return to this subject again), let’s move on to the teas themselves.
Salted Caramel Lebkuchen
Advent got off to a cracking start with Salted Caramel Lebkuchen. It smells just like a German Christmas Market, all wafty notes of spices, sweetness and the aroma of overpriced gift ideas.
Bird & Blend have tipped the whole spice rack into this tea blend – it contains ginger, cinnamon, cinnamon and cloves. It also contains apple pieces, orange peel and proper Sri Lankan black tea. None of your herbal nonsense.
I loved it. I had mine with milk but you might not want to bother, given that you only need the tiniest droplet of milk in order not to swamp it. This is a tea with its Christmassiness ramped up to eleven.
(I decided to photograph my cuppa each day with a random object from my house. Tuesday’s tea is sharing photo space with the excellent book Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down.)
I have already explained how I feel about not-real-tea herbal teabags. I went into Wednesday’s tea experience determined to be open-minded. As you can see, that didn’t really work.
This spiced clementine teabag both looks and smells very pretty. Has a Potpourri vibe to it. I’d have been better off using it as Potpourri to be honest. Because once I’d added water to it, I was utterly underwhelmed. It is, as one would expect, a hot orange drink. A bit like when you weren’t feeling well as a kid and your mum made you hot orange squash. Actually, you know what it reminds me of? Berocca Orange Vitamin tablets if you dissolved them in boiling water. This tea has cloves, ginger and hibiscus in it apparently (I really could only taste the clementine) so it’s probably just as healthy. So not tasty but full of antioxidants, good for your liver and guaranteed to make your fur glossy.
(Originally I was going to photograph the tea next to a random object each day but I realised that most of the objects in my house are books. So Guest Book of the Day it is. Wednesday’s book is Eros Unbound by Anaïs Nin.)
Thursday’s teabag offering is, like the day before, Not Real Tea. However, it is a Rooibos-based teabag which means that – unlike other herbal teas – you can put milk with it.
This combination of Rooibos, apple, vanilla and spice is all rather pleasing. Rooibos is usually such a dominating sort of flavour that it’s difficult for any other flavours to get a look in. The fruit and spices here put up a good show though and you end up with the closest equivalent to a pudding in a mug, without actually squashing some strudel into a mug for some reason.
Interesting strudel fact, strudel-fact-fans, the earliest written strudel recipes are from a 1696 book which contained a recipe for turnip strudel. Turnip strudel, eh? I wonder if Bird & Blend have that as one of their flavours later this month.
(Guest book is the Alice B Toklas Cookbook. Toklas was the life partner of novelist, Gertrude Stein and they were both absolutely fascinating women. There isn’t actually an apple strudel recipe in this book but there is one for hashish fudge.)
Note: The reviews of Bird & Blend‘s Advent Calendar are a reflection of my own tea-drinking obsession and are in no way endorsed or sponsored by the company itself. I hope they don’t mind being associated with all my kinky content.