Tea

2012 in Review & New Year's Resolutions

In which I look back on a year (ish) of blogging and look ahead to 2013...

That Was The Year That Was!

Firstly WordPress have provided this nice summary of my year in blogging: http://tinkertailorsoldiersponge.com/2012/annual-report

So this is my first proper year of blogging (I posted a few things before but wasn't really regular at all). It's been a lot of fun and I'm definitely here to stay :) I've managed the majority of my 3,000 odd views this year :)

Let the summarising commence!

Tinker

I've messed about with Linux and Windows. I upgraded to Windows 8 and enjoyed it (it hasn't pissed me off yet!). I've also spent a fair amount of time learning $latex LaTeX$.

Tailor

The main event was Project Thor which was a lot of fun and helped keep me in shape.

Soldier

I didn't do much in the way of Airsoft this year :(

Sponge

Due to foolishly agreeing to bake a cake for every CAOS rehearsal in order to become Social Secretary I have baked a lot of cakes this year. Also there was the annual Pudding Party!

PhD

I've had a placement at AstraZeneca which has been very useful and is still on going. I've also started looking into PostDoc options.

Reviews

I reviewed a board game based on a TV show you might just have heard of. I also made an advent calendar full of alternative Christmas songs :)

Tea

I drank lots of tea and so it was a good year :)

I got featured on http://www.reddit.com/r/tea/ which was awesome! This is thanks to the Great British Tea Test 2012 :)

On to 2013!

Having survived the apocalypse let's have a few New Year's Resolutions:

Tinker

I'll keep tinkering. No particular promises here but expect some more $latex LaTeX$ and Linux stuff along with anything interesting I find out :)

Tailor

  • There will be some cryptic updates to Project 0 soon!
  • ManSSAGO is hosting the Manchester 2013 Cartoon Rally in February which I intend to have a costume for (I'm thinking Inspector Gadget).
  • Project Reynolds has a slight delay due to the party being moved back. This Project will be finished by mid-February.
  • I intend to get down to 13 stone for Project Reynolds and then down to 12½ stone by October.
  • There will be more sotumes later in the year :)

Soldier

  • I will definitely airsoft more next year!
  • There will be some site reviews!

Sponge

I'm 'contractually obliged' to make cakes until March sometime once a week so expect more cake making. It'll give me an excuse to use my new Mason Cash mixing bowl and silicon utensils :D

PhD

  • I'll finish my placement at AZ.
  • I will get a paper written (and hopefully published).
  • I will collect all of the data!
  • I will probably decide on PostDocs/future plans.

Reviews

I'm expecting to get the following things* to review next year:

*I should go on KickStarter less!

Tea

Armed with my trusty new leaf tea, teapot and a new review style I will continue to drink lots of tea!

Tom Out!

The Great British Tea Test 2012

The Great British Tea Test 2012

That tea review data in full...

So we set out to try all the major and supermarket brand teas and decide which was the best this year.

The Tea & The Cakes

We tried the following teas:

  • ASDA red label
  • Clipper
  • Lancashire
  • Marks & Spencer everyday
  • Morrisons red label
  • PG Tips
  • Sainsbury's red label
  • Tesco red label
  • Tetley
  • Twinings
  • Typhoo
  • Whittard
  • Yorkshire

Afternoon Infusion

In which I get a free tea with my pumpkin and ginger cake from Graze...

I recently got a few free Graze boxes and they send you a small piece of cake with complimentary tea :)

Brewing

"A blend of assam and kenyan leaves."

There were no instructions so I used my usual 5 minutes brewing time and added a little milk.

Colour

Lighter than my standard teas but still a light brown, tea colour.

Aroma

There is a hint of bergamot but the predominant aroma is that of black tea.

Taste

This is a very pleasant blend. Perhaps it's a gateway tea to those who don't currently like Earl Grey as it tastes like normal tea with a hint of bergamot. It is very refreshing and a great way to start the afternoon. The fact that it comes packaged with cake doesn't harm it either!

BII Showcase

This week I attended the 4th annual Biomedical Imaging Institute Showcase. It was very interesting to see new MR applications and to see a study that I was a subject in being presented. Also I managed to get the annual free mug, which of course I can now use to drink tea!

Conclusion

A refreshing afternoon blend which comes with a cake :) Lovely.

I know I've said this before but I think I may soon change the layout of my tea reviews as they are getting a little repetitive :S

Web-Link

http://www.graze.com/products/browse/1184/guilt-free-high-tea

Tom Out!

Bonus: M&S Turkey Feast

M&S sandwich
M&S sandwich

This week it is time for the king of the Christmas sandwiches IMHO - the M&S sandwich! Will it retain it's crown?

Price: £3.00

Taste: The stuffing is very tasty, you can taste the sage & onion. A small amount of mayonnaise makes the sandwich moist enough without overpowering. It could do with a bit more cranberry sauce but when you get a whole cranberry it is splendid. The turkey has a lot of flavour as opposed to in the others to date where it was indistinguishable from chicken.

Conclusion: Still excellent and the best so far. Will another sandwich topple it in the following weeks?

Blend of Both

In which I try a tea donated by Katy and put Sainsbury's to the test!

This tea was donated to me for the express purpose of reviewing on my blog so here it is :)

Brewing

"It has been expertly created to deliver the delicious full-flavoured taste of original Tetley, but with the natural refreshing benefits of green tea. So you can have it with milk and still enjoy green tea goodness."

There are no brewing instructions so I assumed standard Tetley brewing of a minute or two and then added milk.

Colour

Tea coloured though it came out a slightly darker hue than the normal blend does.

Aroma

Realistically it just smells like tea.

Taste

This is a very refreshing blend. Usually I find Tetley very strong but the addition of green tea lightens the blend while still tasting like the standard blend. I'd say it tastes like Tetley light and there is a bit of a green tea aftertaste.

Data Entry

This week I 'ave mostly been typing on a computer. Manual data entry is annoying, if only my handwriting wasn't so terrible and I could use OCR.

Web-link

http://www.tetley.co.uk/our-teas/products?id=3

Conclusion

Like Tetley, but lighter!

Tom Out!

Bonus: Sainsbury's Turkey Feast

Sainsbury's turkey feast
Sainsbury's turkey feast

This week it is time for Sainsbury's Christmas offering.

Price: £2.70 (although it is in the £3 meal deal too)

Taste: A bit different from last time this is turkey, bacon, stuffing, cranberry sauce and salad. The stuffing is lovely and moist and there's no overpowering mayonnaise flavour. The cranberry sauce adds a pleasant aftertaste but is a little subdued. I think the weird thing about this sandwich is that it doesn't seem particularly Christmassy just a glorified chicken and bacon sandwich really. It's still better tasting than the Tesco one but it is still disappointing.

Orange & Lotus Flower Green Tea

In which I try a fruity and flowery green tea.

Brewing

"We suggest brewing this tea for a maximum of 2 minutes, any longer and you'll lose the delicate taste. Allow one bag per person and use freshly boiled water

"

This is a fairly exact brewing time but for good reason. Over-brewing really does ruin this tea.

Colour

A brownish-green like most green teas but it looks a little more orange to me :)

Aroma

Smells like green tea with a strong hint of orange. I'm not sure if I could smell the

lotus flower

as I don't know what they smell like.

Taste

Obviously this should be drunk without milk. This tea has a light, delicate, complex flavour. You first get a familiar green tea flavour with a hint of orange which builds before tailing off into a floral flavour. I can only assume this is the lotus flower flavour which is delightful :)

Camera Mug

I drank this tea from my new camera lens mug :D

Conclusion

Delicate, floral, tasty!

Web-link

http://twinings.co.uk/green-teas/orange-lotus-flower-green

Great British Tea Test 2012

So at the end of the month my plan is to drink all the 'standard teas' i.e. Tetley, PG Tips, Yorkshire, Sainsbury's brand etc. and compare them. I anticipate this may require the help of my house mates. I will then run a double blind study to assess taste etc. and post the results in the style of a scientific paper sometime in December :D

Tom out!

P.S. Camera lens mug:  

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0058CW9UO/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00

Bonus: Tesco Christmas Sandwich

Since it is now November I feel I can now get away with breaking the Christmas embargo. At the bottom of my tea reviews I will be reviewing a Christmas sandwich from one of the major retailers. This week it's time for Tesco.

Price: approx £2.60 (although it is in the £3 meal deal too)

Taste: The turkey is nothing special but it normally isn't in these sandwiches anyway. The cranberry sauce is good. The sausage was a nice addition but the sausage wasn't particularly flavourful. I found there was too much mayonnaise which, coming from someone who loves mayonnaise, made the sandwich a little lackluster despite it's moistness.

Keemun Tea

Keemun tea

In which I try a variety of black tea I was not previously aware of.

Brewing

"Use freshly drawn cold water. Use water at a “rolling boil” (100°C). Steep for 3 to 5 minutes (or to your taste). This delicate tea is best drunk black or with just a touch of milk … and for freshness every time, keep your tea somewhere cool, dark, dry and airtight!

"

As usual I went for a strong brew and tried it both with and without milk.

Colour

Slightly darker than your standard tea but a good tea colour nonetheless.

Aroma

Smells like a normal tea, nothing fancy here. Though I think you can pick up a slightly nutty aroma too.

Taste

I tried this tea with and without milk. Without milk the tea is stronger than assam or ceylon based teas and has a slightly nutty taste. With milk the same description holds but the flavour is lighter and more delicate.

AstraZeneca

This has joined my new set of work teas for the duration of my work placement at AstraZeneca. Luckily there is a kitchen here with plentiful milk allowing me to expand my tea horizons once more :)

Conclusion

A nice change to my line-up of standard teas. Simple but tasty :)

Web-link

http://shop.twinings.co.uk/shop/keemun-tea-bags.html

Upcoming Changes

I have a whole gamut of  teas to try over the next weeks so this will likely become a weekly feature once more! Also I'm gearing up to a large scale tea review - The Great British Tea Test 2012! Details next week!

Tom out!

After Dinner Tea

Pukka - After Dinner Tea

Here's another birthday present I've taken ages to review.

Brewing

"Infuse for at least 5 minutes in freshly boiled water.

"

As with many herbal teas it needs a long brewing time and can't really stew. Just remove the bag when it suits your taste :)

Colour

A mahogany like brown. A bit reminiscent of the box colour.

Aroma

I was a little bunged up when I reviewed this and the aroma is not very strong. You can smell hints of fennel and cardamom though.

Taste

A nice lightly spiced brew. It's quite wintry and warming but not as strong as a Christmas brew would be. Lovely :)

Doctor Who/Spartacus

I've been drinking this tea while watching the new series of Doctor Who :D Also Spartacus: Blood and Sand which is an excellent series reminiscent of Rome.

Conclusion

A calming spicy tea for the evening. Excellent to wind down before bed :)

Web-link

http://www.pukkaherbs.com/tea-room/all-our-teas/after-dinner.html

Tom out!

Cranberry Green Tea

Cranberry Green Tea

Here's the second of my candidates for a new workday green tea.

Brewing

"We suggest brewing this tea for a maximum of 2 minutes, any longer and you'll lose the delicate taste. Allow one bag per person and add freshly boiled water.

"

Same as last time - a nice quick brew for a delicate tasting tea.

Colour

Very pale brown with a reddish tinge.

Aroma

Unlike last time you can clearly smell the cranberry and the general tea aroma is less pronounced.

Taste

At first the tea tastes like a herbal tea with a weak cranberry flavour - very refreshing. The after taste is stronger than last time and tastes more like your usual green tea.

BC-ISMRM

I've been drinking this tea while going over my slides for a presentation at the British Chapter of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. Getting nervous now as this is my first presentation at a conference.

Conclusion

A refreshing workday green tea with a subtle cranberry flavour - lovely.

Verdict

Which is better? There's only one way to find out - DRINK!

I think the Mango and Lychee tea is the more interesting but the Cranberry tea is more suitable for day-to-day drinking. For now I think that will become my workday green tea :)

Web-link

http://www.twinings.co.uk/green-teas/cranberry-green-tea

Tom out!

P.S.

BC-ISMRM

Mango and Lychee Green Tea

Mango & Lychee Green Tea

I ran out of green tea so this review and the next review my attempt to find a new workday green tea :).

Brewing

"We suggest brewing this tea for a maximum of 2 minutes, any longer and you'll lose the delicate taste. Allow one bag per person and add freshly boiled water.

"

A change to my usual long brewing habits. However I did over brew the first cup and I don't think it ruined the tea at all - it just made it taste more of green tea than mango.

Colour

Very pale brown.

Aroma

I'm not sure if I would pick out the smell as mango or lychee (I don't believe I have ever sniffed a lychee) but there is definitely a pleasing fruity aroma.

Taste

At first the tea tastes like a herbal tea with a strong mango flavour (probably lychee too but it's clearly a complimentary flavour as I don't know what it tastes like and it isn't very obvious). The after taste is a weak tea flavour which is equally enjoyable.

Lasagna Lunch

I've been drinking this tea while enjoying a home-made lasagna for lunch. Back to work soon though!

Conclusion

A very refreshing tea which, as it's green, doesn't require milk. A fruity, soothing change to my workday tea schedule :D

Web-link

http://www.twinings.co.uk/green-teas/mango-lychee-green

Tom out!

Spiced Chai

Whittard's Spiced Chai Tea

This is the return of my tea blogs on a bi-weekly basis. If you have any tea suggestions please post them in the comments. If I know you IRL feel free to share a cup with me and I'll happily review it :D

This is the last of the teas from my visit to the Whittard's outlet store - I'll have to go again after this :).

Brewing

"Brew using 2 or 3 teabags in a 6-cup teapot

. Warm the pot first with a splash of hot water. Add the tea and pour on boiling water. Brew for 4-5 minutes. Alternatively, brew one teabag in a mug and remove when the tea is the strength you require

"

As usual I brewed it for 5 minutes. Apparently you can add condensed milk to have a sweet version of tea but unsurprisingly I don't have any at work.

Colour

Dark brown.

Aroma

You can definitely smell the cinnamon and cloves. Surprisingly it smells less Christmassy than I thought it would. It smells very nice though :)

Taste

A cavalcade of spices! But the cloves and cardamon are the strongest flavours. Despite the strength of these flavours you can still taste the black tea fairly strongly. A very enjoyable experience but I have had better chai. I think milk would likely improve it.

2nd Year Report

I've been drinking this tea while writing my 2nd Year Report. Hopefully as of Wednesday next week I'll be officially onto the 3rd year of my PhD Programme :)

Conclusion

A lovely tea but there is better chai out there. Probably would be improved by milk (condensed or otherwise).

Next Time

As I said tea reviews will be bi-weekly on Wednesdays now :) I'm thinking of coming up with some kind of rating system for the teas so people can compare my thoughts on tea.

Web-link

http://www.whittard.co.uk/tea/flavoured_black_tea/spiced_chai/spiced_chai_50_teabags.htm

Tom out!

Project Thor: On Measurement

Firstly an announcment! Tea reviews will re-commence on Wednesday and run bi-weekly for the foreseeable future! Also if there's a tea you think I should try feel free to proffer it to me when I see you for my delectation and reviewing pleasure :)

So onto the post -

Measurement and tracking is very important when following an exercise program, mostly because it stops you from going insane. This is because it is very hard to see if you are losing weight* if you look in the mirror everyday whereas cold hard numbers don't lie to you**.

So below is my table of starting measurements before Project Thor so I can compare the results at the end.

Though in defiance of my earlier paragraph there is a number which lies to you - the waist measurement on your clothes. I've been defiantly wearing my 34" jeans since I managed to be too small for 38" and 36" jeans last year. Recently they have gotten tighter but still fit (sadly all the cake I've eaten this year was not a lie). Now hopefully you haven't scrolled down far enough to see the measurement table yet - do so now and see how inaccurate this flattering lie is!

Weight (kilos)

Waist (in)

Hips (in)

L Bicep (in)

R Bicep (in)

L Thigh (in)

R Thigh (in)

Total inches

89

40.5

39.5

12

12

21.5

22.5

148

Even if you ignore the half inch which would explain the slight tightness of my trousers that's still wrong by 6 inches! A 17% inaccuracy. Maybe if they gave clothing sizes accurately across the board it would help solve our obesity problem.

Finally, the total inches measurement allows you to see if there is an overall improvement even if, par exemple, your waist doesn't decrease one week. Huzzah for improvements!

*Well weight is affected by muscle mass and fat so it is possible to stay the same weight while looking more trim, but generally.

**The scientist inside me forces me to point out I mean mass which is referred to as weight; obviously going to the moon is great for any weight-loss program :P

Tom out!

P.S. This P.S. is a lie!

The Times They Are A-Changing!

So I haven't posted a Tea blog in aaaages. This is for three reasons: 1) Being busy 2) Not having enough new tea to try due to all the tea I have to drink still. 3) I feel the blogs are quite similar and should have more variety from week-to-week

Due to this I'm planning to change the blog to a general review blog. With a focus on Tea, Geekery, Student things in Manchester (and wider afield if they're good enough). I'll start editing the look and feel of the blog tonight and post my first review :)

Tom - out!

Harrods English Breakfast

Sorry for the delay everyone I have been busy with work and generally not drinking enough new tea :S

Brewing

As with most of the loose leaf teas I have reviewed a 3-5 minute brewing time as a matter of personal taste is required.

Colour

Tea coloured. This is quintessential tea!

Aroma

It smells like tea. I feel I may have to start reviewing more exotic teas to stop making this section a little boring :S

Taste

I think I prefer this to the Twinings English Breakfast. It seems to have a fuller flavour and is very good for kick starting your day :)

Londinium

Funnily enough I bought this tea in Harrods and have since enjoyed it on many occasions. Despite what you may have heard about Harrods this won't set you back any more than other leaf teas on the market. If you are a tea (or coffee) lover I can really recommend the Tea & Coffee section of Harrods. The staff there are very knowledgeable and helpful. There is also a ridiculous range of more expensive blends to try if you like :)

Conclusion

A very good cup of tea. Also not as expensive as you would expect!

Web-link

Harrods English Breakfast Tea

See you all next week!

National Trust Blend

This weekend I had the chance to visit Lyme Park just south of Manchester (famous for being where they filmed Mr. Darcy's lake scene [below])

As far as I know you can only try this tea at National Trust sites. You might be able to purchase it in one of their shops but you cannot order it from their website :(

Brewing

Comes in a metal teapot for one. Brew it as you like but I let it steep for a few minutes.

Colour

As tea coloured as you could expect tea to be. This is their standard tea offering after-all.

Aroma

While Freshers' Flu has taken hold and I couldn't really smell my tea I would expect it smells like your standard tea (assuming your standard tea isn't Earl Grey).

Taste

This is a pleasant blend which complemented by Bakewell Tart superbly. While being a general tea blend it was distinct from the Yorkshire Tea we had been drinking on camp (a comparison of day-to-day teas is to come :) ). It is a standard tea though - without a direct comparison to another it just tastes like a nice cup of tea.

Pictured: A lovely cuppa and a delightful tart

Adventure is out there!

This tea was enjoyed post-adventure playgrounding (I think I just invented a word) and was well deserved by all :) I think there may have been discussion of Oil for some reason (blame to Matt and Dale).

[Prizes for recognising the quote in this section title]

Conclusion

An enjoyable, very normal cup of tea. The perfect representation of British tea to have at the National Trust.

Web-link

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-lymepark/

See you all next week!

Early Thoughts of Christmas

After my visit to the Whittard's outlet store I have a plethora of tea to review :) Here's the second one - Spice Imperial.

If anyone has suggestions for companies other than Twinings and Whittard's for me to try please add them to the comments. I don't want to only review these two companies. Also I will keep you posted on

Brewing

"Brew one teabag in a mug and remove when the tea is the strength you require.

Warming in the winter and also makes wonderful iced tea. Best brewed light and drunk without milk, but can also be brewed stronger and drunk with milk"

Simple enough to brew. I have tried it with and without milk but haven't yet had the chance to make iced tea from it :S

Colour

Dark brown as any standard black tea.

Aroma

Smells like Christmas! A very similar smell to Chai but with hints of orange and no ginger.

Taste

Once again this is nice brewed either way and I tend to make it without milk when I have it at work. You can definitely taste the cinnamon first and foremost with hints of orange and vanilla. If you aren't a fan of ginger you could use this as replacement Chai though I think I still prefer Chai myself.

Compiling Fail

While I did try this tea at the Tea Party previously mentioned I am currently using it to calm me down as a particularly pesky configure script is not playing ball at the moment as it can't find GCC :(

Conclusion

Tastes like Christmas! But in a subtly different way to Chai. Delightful!

Web-link

http://www.whittard.co.uk/tea/flavoured_black_tea/spiced_imperial/spice_imperial_50_teabags.htm

See you all next week!

P.S. Tea Party Cakes

Here pictures of the Tea Party cakes as promised :)

Tea-themed cupcakes :D

The variety of cakes on offer

The Volcano Cake!

The Late Tea

I apologise for the lack of posts this last week-and-a-half but I have had a major deadline to work towards.

After my visit to the Whittard's outlet store I have a plethora of tea to review :) Here's the first one - Vanilla flavoured tea.

Brewing

"Brew one teabag in a mug and remove when the tea is the strength you require.

Best brewed light and drunk without milk, but can also be brewed stronger and drunk with milk"

Simple enough to brew. It is definitely worth trying both methods to see which you prefer, I know that I did.

Colour

Dark brown as any standard black tea.

Aroma

The vanilla smell is fairly strong and overpowers the smell of tea.

Taste

This really depends on how you make the tea. At work I brew it lightly without milk and while it smells of vanilla this mostly brings out the tea flavour. On the other hand brewing it strongly with milk brings out more of the vanilla flavouring which is complemented by the milk (use more milk than normal). Either way this is a very nice tea.

Tea Party

I first tried this at a tea party I held which featured some amazing cakes (pictures will follow) and a competitive game of Trivial Pursuit.

Conclusion

Either tea-like with a hint of vanilla or milky-vanilla with a tea aftertaste. Lovely.

Web-link

http://www.whittard.co.uk/tea/flavoured_black_tea/vanilla/vanilla_50_teabags.htm

See you all next week!