Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Tea Horse Review - The Monthly Tea Subscription Box

April 2013 Tea Horse Box

Fellow tea freaks rejoice! You can now have a monthly tea box packed with four premium quality loose teas from all around the world delivered direct to your doorstep thanks to Tea Horse... Huzzah!

Part recycled & fully recyclable box
I'm a self confessed tea addict; I drink tea nearly every hour of every day without fail. Tea is something of a tradition and ritual for me - I come from a family of tea lovers and I love to start and end my day with a brew. I drank it from such an early age I can't even remember that first sip, it's just always been that way. I love to try new teas and there are so many different varieties nowadays that it's nigh on impossible to have tried them all, so what better way than to get a little box with four new flavours to try every month?! 
The Teas
So What Is Tea Horse?

 The inspiration for the name 'Tea Horse' came from an ancient trade route called Tea Horse Road where men would bravely travel through arduous trails and valleys carrying tea from China to Tibet to trade for a horses. Tea Horse aims to be like the tea porters of china in delivering fine quality loose leaf teas to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. It also aims to rid the stereotypes of loose teas being 'stuffy or pretentious' as they can now be easily enjoyed by anyone and aren't necessarily more expensive than other types of tea. 

Subscription Price List 

1 Month - £11.95
3 Months - £35.00
12 Months - £120.00

You receive four 15-20gram packs of loose leaf teas expertly chosen by Tim Clifton, the Master Tea Taster with over 30 years experience in the tea trade and Director of the UK Tea Council. Yes, there is a tea council - tea is a very serious business don't you know!  These packs should give you 10-30 cups each. Some teas are fine for a second dip and go further than others and will be stated on the instructions. You also get 40 biodegradable and unbleached filters for your teas! The teas come carefully packed in a part recycled box and are presented in zesty lime coloured paper. Understated and eco-friendly, all it needs.
Top Left Clockwise: Darjeeling 1st Flush Jungpana Upper, Green Mint, 2nd Flush Assam and Four Seasons Oolong 
I just love the look of loose leaf teas...
So I had myself a little tea tasting party over the weekend and here's a recap of my thoughts on each tea that I got to try. Let the tea tasting commence!
The Teas - Top Left Clockwise: Darjeeling 1st Flush Jungpana Upper, Green Mint, 2nd Flush Assam and Four Seasons Oolong
Darjeeling 1st Flush Junpana Upper - One of my favourites from the box! I love how the slighlty nutty/tangy flavour is harmonised with notes of rose... If you know me, then you know I am mad for anything floral in my food and drink where possible. Turkish delight, anyone?! But this really is a lovely refreshing drink and quite distinctive with that slight spice hidden in it.

Green Mint - The first thing that hit me about this tea upon opening was that beautiful minty bubblegum scent! This is due to gunpowder green tea being mixed with peppermint leaves. I was worried the minty flavour might be too strong but once brewed it was quite delicate. I love a good green tea and this flavour is just yummy! I'll be slurping lots of this stuff to hopefully get me bikini ready alongside lots of Pilates ;)

2nd Flush Assam - My absolute favourite of the four! My all time favourite teas are breakfast-y/assam teas so this was always going to be a firm favourite. I love the full bodied malty flavour and that rich amber colouring. I actually added a splash of milk in the end - and only a splash, I love assam teas to keep that strong taste. Perfection.

Four Seasons Oolong - This was the most unusual tasting one, I found. Very pale and light tasting but that scent of freshly cut grass is very prominent. It leaves a lovely buttery aftertaste which I've never actually come across in any of the teas I've ever tried, which is why I found unusual. This is a very apt choice now that spring has sprung. 

All you need to tea booklet
I love how you get a little booklet that tells you all you need to know about the teas that have been selected for you, so very comprehensive, interesting and not at all boring. The instructions are on the packets also but here they are summarised at the bottom with the symbols for quick referencing. Never underestimate the importance of brewing time! Leave your tea for the full amount of time or you won't do the flavours any justice. On the back of this booklet there is a page for notes so that you can write what you liked and didn't like for example. I think i've been very lucky to have received a box with four teas that I loved - I was almost certain there'd be one I was at least 'iffy' about but nope! All have been very enjoyable and tasty.

My tea-tasting notes
 I managed to catch up with Ali Silk, founder of Tea Horse, and asked her a couple of questions...

What made you start up a monthly tea box?

The idea behind Tea Horse came when I first got really serious about loose tea. I'd tried a few that I was utterly in love with, and a few I really didn't like - and had spent far too much money on. I realised I wanted to learn more about all the varieties, but didn't know where to start. The only tea shop near me was very daunting - quite high brow, very expensive, a specialist shop that I didn't feel was 'for me' - it was like a really fancy wine shop, when you don't know what you're doing sometimes one can feel uncomfortable.

Then I realised that if I purchased online, I would face the same problem - descriptions of teas I'd never heard of, for quite a lot of money. How could I just try these teas without spending lots and ending up with packets of tea in the cupboard I didn't like? (Everyone I know has a tea cupboard stuffed full of teas they've bought but never drink, along with their trusted favourites!). So I teamed up with Tim Clifton, a Master Tea Taster who's been in the trade for 30+ years (he was the Director of the UK Tea Council previously) in order to source the world's best teas each month, then select and package four of them and then send them out to people. This way, people can sample lots of teas for low cost - and find those they love (and those they don't!). When they love a tea, they can then purchase more of it, without the worry or risk. Everyone also loves getting post that isn't bills - and what's better than a gorgeous package of teas each month? To help people learn more about tea generally and the teas they're drinking, we put together a set of notes on each of the four. That way, when someone is next looking for a tea, they understand the differences, they know what they love, and they know where their tea comes from (provenance is so important to us all, and especially foodies and tea drinkers these days).

What tea(s) would you recommend to aid cleansing & detoxing pre bikini season?

I'd recommend all teas! Whether it's green, black, white or any other type, all teas are good for you and packed full of antioxidants that help fight disease and look after different parts of the body. But different teas do help in certain ways:

For great skin – Green and white teas are packed full of antioxidants called catechins. Using loose leaves (rather than tea bags), you’ll get even higher levels – three cups of green tea are said to have 8 times more antioxidants than one apple! These antioxidants combat free radicals in the body, fighting the signs of ageing and protecting against skin damage caused by the sun or the environment. 
For a happy (and flatter) stomach – Mint helps digestion and soothes the stomach, great after a big meal or if you’re feeling a little bloated after winter indulgences! Our herbal Mint Detox tea contains peppermint, aniseed, liquorice and fennel, a potent combination for cleansing the body of toxins, improving digestion and relieving bloating. To get the benefits of both peppermint and green tea, our Green Mint is perfect! A happy stomach also helps with gaining a flatter stomach. The antioxidant EGCG in green tea has been found to help boost the metabolism, which can burn around 70 extra calories a day – so as part of a healthy diet and exercise, may help us increase fat loss. Oolong teas are also shown by research to be beneficial to weight loss, boosting the metabolism, reducing the levels of cholesterol and concentration of fat in the body. 
The alkoloids in green tea also promote energy - which is great if you're on a pre-summer exercise regime!
In terms of balancing the mind, black tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that works on the brain to increase serotonin, dopamine and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), helping to bring levels of the stress hormone back to normal and reducing mental and physical stress, whilst also boosting concentration and even helping symptoms of PMS.

To answer your question more directly - I'd recommend that you reach for the oolong tea and green tea to help get us ready for bikini season!
The Verdict

Ali certainly knows her stuff when it comes to tea and I shall definitely be taking her advice with the oolong and green teas! I can't tell you enough how chuffed I am with my first EVER tea box, I can't believe it never came to me sooner to look into something like this as I've been purchasing beauty boxes for a few years now. It makes such a lovely change and I really love how it's like a little tea party in a box being delivered. Unlike my beauty boxes, nothing has or will be wasted! I love the surprise element to monthly subscription boxes! The box was spot on and would be perfect for any budding tea tasters out there :) 

Do checkout the Tea Horse website... It has a wonderful blog that covers everything to do with tea; seasonal sips, interesting tea facts and information on how to get the most from your teas! Really worth a look, if like me, you're a bit tea-tastic! Of course, it didn't take me long to discover the section of the website which hosts a compilation of recipes for 'Tea Cocktails'! Yes, you heard me correctly... I've experimented with cocktails before but never with tea as an ingredient, so this is something I will definitely be trying in the near future. 'Cider With Rosie' sounds perfect for a balmy summers day and includes Silver Rose white tea, gin, cider and apple juice... Mmm!

Click on this link to start your monthly tea subscription with Tea Horse!
You can also follow Tea Horse on Twitter to keep up to date with what's happening in the wonderful world of tea...

1 comment:

  1. Reading this makes me wish I liked tea but I don't I've tried so many and I'm just not a fan. Yup I am a freak! x