Purchased at the National Tea Day event in Woking, East London earlier this year, Roqberry’s Coco & Joe is a fascinating blend of 3 of the world’s favourite hot beverages – Tea, Coco and Coffee. Usually, when I hear the mere mention of coffee, I run a mile. I maintain that coffee is the drink of the devil and should be cast aside in all instances in flavour of the elegance of a good cuppa. But apparently not everyone feels the same way as I do, so I reluctantly sampled this blend.
Perhaps I’m edging towards the dark side, but I found this tea to be delicious, enjoyable to drink and as it turned out, provides a great winter warming cuppa.
The tea is flavourful, the cocoa combining well with the black tea to provide a sweet, chocolatey taste. The coffee, is there, but in a supporting role boosting the cocoa flavour notes. It can be drunk with out milk, but I think it is best with, and I believe almond milk helps to bring out the nutty notes of the tea and coffee and compliments the cocoa.
I also found that when I was feeling very cold and low during the cold Autumn months, the tea helped to boost my spirits. If you are thinking about cutting out sugar in your tea, I suggest rather than going cold turkey, to switch to this blend, as you can enjoy the sweet flavours, without all the calories.
Retailing at £6 for a box of 18 pyramid bags, represents good value for money. It is recommend to use 1 bag per cup but you can get easily get away with 1 bag per 2 servings. The bags are also easy to dispose onto the compost heap.
I paired this tea with my Ultimate Banana and Chocolate Bread, recipe to be published soon, but this tea would go well with any tea, coffee. nut, fruit or chocolate based dessert. It is a tea that can be enjoyed on its own, and makes an ideal gift for tea lovers.
I don’t usually give full marks, but I can’t fault this tea at all. Even if it does contain coffee!
Today, I’m moving away from black based teas and tying out a more fruity and floral number. Twist Teas Strawberry and Rose tea is today’s subject tea for review.
Strawberry and Rose contains a list of delicious sounding ingredients – Chinese White tea, apple pieces, rose hip, hibiscus, freeze dried strawberry, elderflower, orange blossom, rose petals and orange peel.
This is a tea to be served without milk, but can be cold brewed as well as make a hot beverage.
Out the pack, the tea has a lovely aroma, and when hot brewed develops into a beautiful pink hue. I would serve this at an afternoon tea as an alternative to black tea.
Cold brewed ‘Strawberry and Rose’ makes a light and refreshing drink, ideal for a summer time soiree. I reckon made with sparkling water, with sliced fresh strawberries and a slice of lemon, it would make a great non-alcoholic drink.
With all the wonderful ingredients, I was surprised that I couldn’t detect any rose or strawberry during the taste test. It was more of a general fruity flavour, pleasant as it was, rather than a strawberry or floral blast.
Yesterday, I tested the first of the Twist Teas tasting menu, ‘Afternoon Perks’. Today, it’s the turn of ‘Breakfast Boost’.
Like ‘Afternoon Perks’, ‘Breakfast Boost’ includes Sri Lankan black tea, as well as Indian Assam Black tea, Yerba Mate (1) and Siberian Ginseng (2). The tea can be enjoyed with or without milk.
(1) Yerba mate is used to make a beverage known as mate. When served cold, the drink is called tereré in Guaraní. It is traditionally consumed in central and southern regions of South America, primarily in Paraguay, as well as in Argentina, Uruguay, southern and central-western Brazil, the Chaco region of Bolivia and southern Chile. It is also popular in the Druze community in Syria and Lebanon, where it is imported from Argentina. Yerba mate was first cultivated and used by the indigenous Guaraní people and in some Tupí communities in southern Brazil, prior to European colonization. Yerba mate can be found in various energy drinks on the market, as well as being sold as a bottled or canned iced tea.
Yerba mate has been claimed to have various effects on human health and these effects have been attributed to the high quantity of polyphenols found in mate tea. Research has found that yerba mate may improve allergy symptoms and reduce the risk of diabetes mellitus and high blood sugar in mice.
Mate also contains compounds that act as an appetite suppressant and possible weight loss tool, increases mental energy and focus, improves mood, and promotes deeper sleep; however, sleep may be negatively affected in people who are sensitive to caffeine.
Before 2011, there were no double-blind, randomized prospective clinical trials of yerba mate consumption with respect to chronic disease. However, many studies have been conducted since then, pointing to at least some probable benefits from some claims, such as reduction of fat cells, inflammation and cholesterol, although more research is needed. Some non-blinded studies have found mate consumption to be effective in lipid lowering. Another study determined that mate reduces progression of artheriosclerosis in rabbits but did not decrease serum cholesterol or aorticTBARS and antioxidantenzymes.
(2) Some people use Siberian ginseng to improve athletic performance and the ability to do work. They also use it to treat sleep problems (insomnia) and the symptoms of infections caused by herpes simplex type 2. It is also used to boost the immune system, prevent colds, and increase appetite.
Perhaps it’s the high caffeine content, that this tea reminds me of a builder’s tea, only posher. In terms of flavour it packs a punch. The black teas provide a strong, yet pleasant taste, and is ideal, I imagine, served with a wide range of breakfast styles, from traditional full English to Swiss muesli to pancakes with fresh fruit and yogurt, or on its own to set you up for the day ahead.
Personally, I would drink this tea with milk, although if you like strong black teas, or require it for baking, the Breakfast Boost should work well.
I really enjoyed ‘Breakfast Boost’, and would be keen to conduct cooking experiments with it. I think it could add a unique flavour profile to, for instance, tea breads or cakes.
Yesterday (Sunday 21st April 2019) was Easter Sunday and National Tea Day. A double celebration for those who, like me, love tea.
Today, I kick off a new blog series, called The Tea Twist Taste Test, where I taste and review a number of teas from new and established brands. Most of the brands I will feature, I discovered, or in some cases rediscovered, at the recent FesTeaVal event run by National Tea Day. The first brand in this series is Twist Teas (love the brand name already!), which has been producing a wide range of teas for 3 years. The first tea I’m taste testing is ‘Afternoon Perks’, from their Whole Leaf Tasting Menu.
Made with Indian Darjeeling and Sri Lankan black teas and Gotu Kola, ‘Afternoon Perks’ can be drunk with for without milk.
Gotu Kola is used for fatigue, anxiety, depression, psychiatric disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, and improving memory and intelligence. Other uses include wound healing, trauma, and circulation problems (venous insufficiency) including varicose veins, and blood clots in the legs.
I found the tea refreshing in both formats, although I slightly prefer the tea black, with maybe a lemon slice. Just as the ‘twisting notes’ on the tasting menu pack claimed, the tea was energy boosting, after a busy morning in the garden.
I like the idea of including Gotu Kola in the blend, as I feel it helped with my fatigue. I wonder, with prolonged use, if it would prove to be a good memory boosting aid. Regardless, the tea tastes lovely, and is ideal as a post- noon pick me up. I will certainly be adding this to my collection.
Apple juice. It’s sharp, tart and tongue-twistingly sweet. Coupled with the often odd, unnatural looking colourisation, which let’s be honest can be mistaken for something else, apple juice is usually best avoided where possible. Or so I thought until I tried the cold pressed Golden Delicious apple juice from Coldpress.
As it’s namesake suggests, the apples are cold pressed rather than heat treated to extract their juice resulting in a clean, fresh, refreshingly enjoyable drink.
The ingredient list is reassuringly short, just apple juice and added vitamin C. An added bonus, the usual saccharin sweet flavour associated with some apple juice drinks, has been usurped by a true apple taste that can only come from apples, in particular, the Golden Delicious variety.
Instantly impressive it is clear to see how the cold-pressed process has enhanced this juice, to produce a product that can be regarded as a healthy alternative to sugary soft drinks.
Straight out of the fridge cold is the best way I believe to enjoy this apple juice, and beyond the obvious thirst quenching qualities, as an ingredient, this drink could prove ideal for cooking and baking recipes, such as smoothies, apple pies, cocktails and apple bread. At around £1.40 for a 250ml bottle, the price isn’t bad either.
Being the best apple juice I’ve tried since I can’t remember when, the only fair score I can give this drink is a full 10 out of 10.
So excited to finally reveal which country I visited. Take a look at the video below to find out. Did you guess correctly?
Also, the series preview will be posted on Tuesday followed by a weekly video series, featuring travel hints and tips, food, culture, history and a little adventure thrown in. Stay tuned to find out more.
Event: – Health Bloggers Community: Photography for Bloggers Workshop
Venue: – SHOT, Bride Lane, London
Date: – 15th September 2017
The event was billed as a,
‘…mix of theory and practical tasks, you will learn to take drool-worthy pictures and still-life shots with personality to truly master the art of taking photos for your blog and Instagram feed.’
So impressed with this statement, I signed up, and looked forward to a 3 hour long food photography class.
“Our partner SHOT.London will be providing you with their real, organic whole food treats to style, prop and experiment with… and of course, eat! We’ll have lots of food, props, and backgrounds for you to play with, so you’ll leave a pro photographer.”
Wow, we get to play with the food too? and then eat it? Plus there are props, backgrounds and I’m going to leave a pro photographer!!!
***Alert!*** – there is no way anyone, no matter how gifted you are, can start a class at 3pm and leave at 6pm a professional. And this class proved it, as I will explain later. The remainder of the ad continued …
“EVER WONDERED HOW YOU GET THAT INSTAGRAM PHOTO? HOW TO CREATE THE PERFECT PHOTO POST OF YOUR TRIP TO BRIGHTON?
OR A PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT FOR YOUR ABOUT PAGE? YOU KNOW, THE ONE WITH THE PERFECT ANGLE, THE BEST LIGHTING AND JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF FILTER?
Wonder no more, as we have all the answers to your photography related questions. A few of the things you’ll learn in this workshop:
the basics of creating outstanding photos
how to find the right props
how to make the most of the lighting, and tools to help you
filters, editing and basic tricks to find your style
This is one workshop NOT to miss. So grab your ticket, dig out your camera and we’ll see you there!
About our Teacher:
Anna is a photographer with a passion for the health and fitness industry, this can include food, products or any sports that increase the heart rate generally making people healthier and happier.”
Disclaimer: the session was due to start at 3pm but due to various public transport issues (it was the day of the Parsons Green station bomb), I was unable to get to the class until 3.30pm.
I arrived at the venue, SHOT. London, which is a small cafe style restaurant near Fleet Street, in East Central London. There were around 25 people at the class, in a space that ideally could comfortably seat no more than about 15 at best. The teacher, Anna, presented behind the counter, with the aid of a small laptop, which was difficult of those at the back of the class to see.
At around 3.50pm the attendees were invited to cross over the road to St. Bride’s Church, to take pictures of the food in the outdoor natural light.
The food was pre-packed in logoed plastic containers. It wasn’t made clear whilst I was there, if we could open the packaging or eat the contents later. The packages were not labelled, so I wasn’t certain if any of the food there was vegan or vegetarian.
There wasn’t enough interaction or guidance between the teacher and some of the attendees. I didn’t feel particularly welcome and observed that Anna approached some of the attendees more readily than others. Whether this was due to shyness on her part, I don’t know, however I didn’t feel as if we were all given the same amount of individual help.
This part of the class took about 45 mins to an hour. Followed by short review of a couple of the students work. Then came a flurry of tips on a broad rage of subjects, from selfies, portrait photography to Instagram and editing programs.
The class was meant to be a 3 hour long session, and had it not been for the intervention of the host, the teacher would have ended the class 30 minutes early.
There were no props provided as stated in the advert (see above text in blue), other than about 6 pre-packed plastic food boxes to share with 25 or so people in a confined space. There were no “backgrounds to play with” either, unless they counted the church.
Value for Money?
For just under £25, the price seemed like a bargain for a 3 hour session on food photography by an “experienced photographer”. In reality, it offered nothing more little from that advertised. Trying to see examples on a tiny laptop from a distance was impractiable, and 1 practical session where only a few were granted guidance from the teacher, frankly, unacceptable. I certainly did not feel like a professional photographer at the end.
As for being a workshop “not to miss”, I wish my train wasn’t delayed, but cancelled, as my afternoon would have been more productive. It’s with a heavy heart when I say, if this is an example of the type of classes run by H.B.C., I would strongly suggest you save your time, energy and money and avoid. This is the first of a new series of events hosted by H.B.C., so here’s hoping that this is a blip, rather than a pattern.
The session over promised in a number of areas and under delivered in so many ways. The venue was nice, but there were too many people in a confined area. Instead of a laptop, A4 sized pictures should have been handed round, so attendees could have a good look, and wouldn’t have to strain to see such a small screen from a distance.
It would have been a great move if handouts were provided, with ideas of how to progress afterwards. The interaction between the teacher and the attendees seemed uneven, which for me, added to the general negativity of the session.
For the rating, I thought long and hard about giving the class a zero out of 5. But in fairness, I did learn a couple of new things, such a a new photo location and not to use the zoom feature on camera phones – just move closer to the subject. But these ‘tips’ simply didn’t warrant the ticket price or matched what turned out to be the over hyped and misleading advert.
I thought I would leave the class inspired. I left the class annoyed, disappointed, and a little hangry,
When I tried the perfume on my skin, I found the instant hit was very floral, with the orange blossom coming through as the most dominant scent.
The dry down scent is beautifully light and delicate, with the jasmine and tuberose overtaking the orange blossom, with a back note of ylang ylang. I would suggest that this fragrance covers a wide age range – teenagers could wear this scent, alongside their mothers and grandmothers. I think this fragrance would work well for brides wanting a light, romantic fragrance for the ceremony, yet it would work equally well for the office. I would say you could wear Gabrielle as an every day fragrance, or for early evening events, but I don’t think it’s ‘strong’ enough to be worn for a very special evening event.
There are no warm or spicy notes in Gabrielle which I can detect, so I would say this was more of a Spring Summer fragrance as opposed to an Autumn Winter scent. It is also very feminine, with a powdery finish.
As for longevity, after than less than an hour of wear the scent had virtually disappeared, which I found disappointing. The price point at £79 for 50ml and £112 for 100ml is extremely high for this product, even if it is Chanel.
Much has been made of the specially designed bottle, which is lovely to hold with it’s smooth glass texture and angular lines. The colour of the perfume, the box it is packaged in, and the stopper are all a pretty soft gold, ideal for gifting. But as much as I like the packaging and the overall ‘look’, for me it is what’s inside that counts. I’m afraid to find out the environmental costs of manufacturing the packaging.
Meant to represent Gabrielle before she became Coco, on that score the theme of new fragrance works. It has a great, flowery, airy scent, but for all the glamorous advertising, the longevity of the Eau de Parfum, simply doesn’t quite live up to expectation or the hype. Many have complained that the scent is un traditional. un-Chanel like. But this is the point – the perfume is Chanel before she became Coco, hence the name Gabrielle. This is the striped back, unassuming, innocent version of Chanel, not yet the power house she was later to become.
Many have found the scent generic, uninspiring and not that aspirational – style over substance. On those points, I tend to agree.
It has admittedly been a while since I’ve been out and about in London Town. Few things will draw me from under my comfy duvet when it’s pouring down with torrential rain. However a chance to attend a Chanel workshop would do the trick.
Starting today and running till 24th September, Chanel is hosting a special pop-up mini exhibition and workshop event on Old Bond Street. I was lucky enough to attend earlier this afternoon on the launch day.
During the workshop participants were introduced to the history of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, the inspiration of Chanel’s latest perfume creation. During the fun session, we were we able to sample the 4 main flowers scents used to create this new perfume, Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang, Tuberose and Jasmine.
While I found the workshop genuinely fascinating, as a fan of Chanel, I wasn’t told anything new that couldn’t be sourced from the official Chanel YouTube Channel. That said, I still found it enjoyable and loved the idea of sampling the main notes of the perfume and then the new Gabrielle fragrance itself. The expert guiding the audience was also very entertaining, informative, skilfully delivering the presentation with passion.
I wanted to learn about the new fragrance, partly so that I could review it, and partly to see if I liked it enough to purchase it for myself. Having gone through the trouble and undoubtably huge expense of hiring an Old Bond Street building, decorating it so beautifully, and creating a fun and interactive experience specially themed around this new perfume, the participants were strangely not given a sample of the said perfume to take home.
Like most, I rarely purchase a perfume straight off the bat. I tend to source samples initially so I can experiment with the fragrance for a few days, and experience the dry down fragrance over time. High end fragrances of this nature are a considered purchase, so I was surprised and disappointed that such a obvious opportunity to promote this new product was not taken advantage of.
When I think of Chanel, especially Gabrielle Chanel, I think of glamour, generosity, decadence, opulence and aspiration. The environment of 27 Old Bond Street certainly has that air, with its beautifully decorated open spaces, but not gifting a small sample of this new product seemed a little mean.
We were gifted a branded ribbon, a badge after the workshop, and later an exhibition poster contained in a large branded canvas tote.
A small vial of the eau de toilette would have done wonders for bloggers and customers to promote this fragrance. While I don’t wish to sound ungrateful, the gifts, which are nice and useful, they did make me feel a little under appreciated and somewhat exploited. As I mentioned, I was keen to learn about the new perfume, described by Vogue magazine as a “once in a decade event”. I would have happily forgone the bag, badge and ribbon, for a 1.5ml sample of the eau de perfume or even the eau de toilette, rather than being used as merely a virtual, unpaid walking advertisement.
If they had pinned the ribbon and badge to the bag, again it would have felt that little bit more special. How many adults attending a Chanel event would relish a pin badge or a piece of branded ribbon, especially when those items are presented beside the large perfume bottles? It would be hard enough to fob that off to a 5 year old. The effect defocused from the new fragrance celebrations and came across as a little ‘stingy’, a word I would never before have associated with Chanel.
I have written a review of the fragrance, which you can read here, as I popped into Fenwicks for a sample card. Having just visited an event about the new perfume, I really shouldn’t have had to go to a department store to obtain a sample.
There is the opportunity to explore the interactive displays on the ground floor to and watch the video montages. However to fully experience Gabrielle, you are respectfully invited to purchase a bottle for around £115 for 100ml.
If you’re in the area, have a spare 30 – 45 mins, and you’re a Chanel fan, I would suggest going to Espace Gabrielle Chanel, located at 27 Old Bond Street, nearest tube station Green Park. Book a workshop to learn about the product and receive a some nice goodies, but don’t expect a take home a sample of the actual product for which the entire space was developed.
It’s September a new weekly craft collectable magazine has been launched. This time it’s called “Knit & Stitch Creative”, a series which promises the buyer to teach them to knit over the course of 66 weeks.
The first issue costs 99p and I recommend if you are a beginner knitter, to buy a copy. In fact buy 2. For the money you get a magazine with a fair number of tutorials, a pair of size 4mm knitting needles, a very useful yarn needle and 2 small balls of wool. Let’s face it, you’re going to be hard pushed to get a better deal.
The next issue, due out in the middle of September, will cost £2.50 and promises a another pair of knitting needles, this time size 5mm and another 2 small balls of yarn.
The 3rd and all subsequent issues will cost £4.99. Here’s the rub, if you buy all the issues the grand total will be nearly over £325. Granted the costs includes a set of knitting needles, wool, binders to store the issues, and yarn with eery issue, but having to wait over a year to complete the series, I wonder if this is worth it.
There are a number of cheap and free knitting classes available in London, wool can be as affordable as you wish, and needles can also be sourced for low prices. The added advantage of going to a class, you can meet new people and make friends, you can ask the tutor questions directly, and you will learn to knit in a matter of hours.
If the idea of attending a class doesn’t appeal, a beginners knitting book costs anything from £20-30. Of course, there are a huge number of free tutorials on YouTube. With a budget of £325, you can buy a lot of yarn, several knitting needles, and learn how to knit at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home.
I have written a review of the first issue, which will be published on this website in the next couple of days, so please watch out for that. It would be great to read your thoughts about these collectable magazines. Do you think they are worth the money? Or do yo think they exploit people who wish to learn a new craft? Please share in the comments box below.