It’s been a week of ups and downs with my Bird & Blend Tea advent calendar. The high point was Friday’s Snowball tea. Saturday’s Hazelnut Rocher was pretty damn amazing too. Then it all went horribly downhill on Sunday with Mr Frosty tea which is the oddest thing I’ve ever drunk in my life.
Without further ado, let’s dive straight into my week of tea.
Friday 4th December
Bird and Blend tea bag packets are colour-coded so I knew as soon as I opened the window that it was going to be a good day. The black border on the packaging denoted that unlike the last couple of days, Friday’s tea was going to be a proper cup of black tea. Proper tea with weird stuff added to it, obviously because that’s how we roll in Festive Advent Calendar world.
The weird stuff that has been added to the ‘Snowball’ blend is chocolate and coconut. Originally, I thought that Snowball tea was named after the alcoholic beverage but a cursory amount of research has revealed that that is not the case. (The Snowball cocktail contains advocaat and lemonade.) Which led me to the rather the delightful conclusion that B&B’s Snowball tea is in fact inspired the Tunnock’s Snowball, the coconutty cousin of Tunnock’s world-famous (I hope) Teacake.
I was going to remark on how it was nice to have a vegetarian equivalent of the marshmallowy chocolate treat because I assumed that Tunnock’s snowballs weren’t vegetarian but I have just checked the website and they bloody well are you know. So are teacakes! I could have been eating these delicious Scottish treats all along! What on earth have I been doing with my life?
“Well, that’s all well and good, Etta,” I hear you say. “But what of the actual tea?”
Well, let me assure you, my slightly bossy reader that Snowball Tea is fan-blooming-tabulous. The Sri Lankan tea, cocoa, dried coconut and (unexpectedly) red cornflowers marry together perfectly. And then all the parties of this polyamorous ingredient marriage roll around together and create a warm sensual – and slightly naughty – taste experience. It is gorgeous chocolate and coconut treatiness in a mug.
I dunked some digestive biscuits in mine and I heartily recommend you do the same.
This is definitely my favourite tea so far. Sorry, last week’s Lebkuchen tea, you’ve been knocked off the top spot.
(I am photographing each day’s tea with a book for reasons that I have already forgotten Friday’s guest book was Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style.)
Saturday 5th December
Why Bird and Blend, with this Hazelnut Rocher tea, you are really spoiling me. And, yes, while that was clearly a reference to the famous advert for Ferrero Rocher chocolates, I did actually feel quite spoiled.
Two black teas in a row! And they were both absolutely lovely. This one contains Sri Lankan tea, cocoa and caramelised hazelnut. Utterly indulgent – or at least as close to indulgent as you can get with something that isn’t actually bad for you and doesn’t give you an orgasm.
I was a bit worried that Bird and Blend may have peaked a bit early with the last two offerings. They can’t maintain this standard, can they? What if these were the best two teabags in the calendar over and done with long before I’ve even thought about putting the Christmas tree up? What if I get given a bag of Nettle tea or something on Christmas Eve?
The tea packaging promises me happiness, smiles and sighs of relief, but instead I think Bird and Blend just gave me new things to worry about.
Also, while the Hazelnut Rocher tea was absolutely gorgeous, make no mistake that it is no way as good as eating an actual Ferrero Rocher. I love Ferrero Rocher. I particularly love the way that they are marketed as something really posh and elegant, when it reality they are a ball full of nutella which can only be eaten by inelegantly stuffing the whole thing in one’s mouth so that one’s cheeks bulge like a hamster.
(Saturday’s guest book is ‘The Nude Figure: A Visual Reference for the Artist’ by Mark Edward Smith. For no particular reason. I think sometimes my book selection will have some vague connection to the tea I’m drinking. Other times, not so much.)
Sunday 6th December
Sunday’s tea contained silver needle white tea, a delicate tea usually drunk without milk, sugar or other flavourings in order to best enjoy the subtle taste notes.
Or you could, as Bird and Blend have done with this ‘Mr Frosty’ tea, combine it with every single thing in the universe ever.
There were TOO MANY THINGS going on in this cup of tea. There was white tea, apple, flowers, cloves, orange peel and spearmint all in there together. It would be fine to have this many different things in a brew if they all played nicely together but these things don’t. They fight. And not an action-film nicely choreographed sort of fight, a real scrappy, ugly, kicking each other in the bollocks sort of fight.
It’s probably mostly the spearmint’s fault. But frankly I was cross with every single thing on the ingredients list.
Yeah, blue pea flowers, you too. Maybe you should go and stand in the corner and think about what you’ve done.
Because, have I mentioned, this drink is BLUE? I’m not sure the photo really does justice to the whole offputting blueness of the experience.
Look, I get it, it’s named after Argos catalogue stalwart, the Mr Frosty slushy drinks maker. I was an 80s child. I hankered after a Mr Frosty as much as the next disappointed-on-Christmas-morning kid. But I’m a grown-up now. I no longer want a cheaply made ice crusher in the shape of a snowman and some sachets of e-number-flavoured syrups.
And I don’t want my morning beverages to be blue. I’m quite vehemently opposed to it, in fact.
(Sunday’s guest book was Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Eaten Heart: Unlikely Tales of Love“. Chosen because the book cover is a similar colour to this tea.)
Monday 7th December
I don’t know what it is about me and herbal teas. Maybe I don’t have a sophisticated enough palate to appreciate them. When I took this tea bag out of the packet, it smelled gorgeous. Then I added boiling water, steeped it for 4 minutes as instructed and was left with a cup full of tasteless pink-coloured hot water.
It wasn’t unpleasant, it just wasn’t really anything at all.
Mind you, I did eat the apple that is in the photo while I was waiting for the tea to cool enough to drink so maybe that unreasonably raised my expectations of apple-ness.
(Monday’s guest book is the Oxford Dictionary of World Mythology by Arthur Cotterell.)
Tuesday 8th December
Mrs Claus’ Raspberry Prosecco
First off I want to address why there is a Mrs Claus anything in a UK calendar made for a UK audience. Mrs Claus is an American construct, surely? I always thought that the British perception of Father Christmas was a bachelor. I presume that the Americans introduced a wife because they can be a puritanical lot and maybe they were uncomfortable with a single gent living up in the North Pole with all those elves.
This is actually a rather lovely cup of tea with Darjeeling tea and fruit flavours including freeze dried raspberries. There’s no actual prosecco in it because scientists have not yet invented dehydrated alcohol. There would be quite the market for it if they did, though.
(Tuesday’s Guest Book is A Short History of Drunkenness by Mark Forsyth.)
Wednesday 9th December
Another fruity tisane with a very similar ingredients list to the Spiced Clementine and Mulled Cider teas that I have already reviewed. (Including the ubiquitous Hibiscus flowers, what do they bring to the party I wonder?) So whatever I said about those probably applies here too. I mean, it’s fine as delicately scented cups of hot water go. I just can’t get very excited about it.
One interesting thing about this tea is how very, very red it is. If it is available all year round I might buy some next year as the basis for my Halloween Virgin Blood and Eyeball punch. It’s hard to find drinks that convincingly look like blood now I longer drink red wine.
(Wednesday’s guest book is ‘Portrait of an Age: Victorian England’ by G.M. Young.)
Thursday 10th December
I was really excited when I opened my advent calendar and found this. Firstly, it’s a black tea (rather than one of those herbal not-teas) which is always a good start to the day.
But secondly – and most importantly – it’s mince pie flavoured! Mince pies as far as I am concerned are THE taste of Christmas. Mince pies ARE Christmas. This year is going to be a funny sort of stripped-down socially distanced sort of Christmas. But as long as there are mince pies aplently (and there will be) then Christmas is definitely happening.
As for the tea itself? It really really tastes like mince pies. Like someone has taken a dollop of mincemeat and stirred it into your morning cuppa. Which, if you think about it, would be quite a strange thing to do. It may even be too mince-pie-y. I’m not sure.
I think one cup of mince pie tea may not be enough to make an assessment of whether I liked this tea or not. I feel like I would like to try it again when my mind is not quite so blown by the mince-pie-ness. Or maybe it would be continually blown. Something that it isn’t a mince pie and yet tastes exactly like a mince pie – that’s a lot for a girl to handle two weeks before Christmas.
(Thursday’s guest book is Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens. Yup, this tea got an actual Christmassy book. That’s how excited I was by it.)