After 12 days of repeat teas I get to the final tea...
#25 Christmas Day Bonanza
Tea Style: Rooibos.
Flavours: cinnamon, rooibos, hibiscus, ginger, coconut, lychee.
In which I post a reference, mostly for myself, on how to update my chosen media server...
I'm not going to cover how to install Plex on FreeNAS as it is very easy using the plugins system explained in the docs.
Upgrading, however, is a different issue. While the plugin does get updates that will preserve your data they are often quite behind the release schedule of the Plex team. Also I have had issues with some of my Plex plugins (like Trakt.tv) after using this upgrade method. In the past I have tried a hodgepodge of different methods to acheive it but now the most reliable method is using the PMS Updater script.
In which I get some download tracking for my podcasts...
If you listen to podcasts you won't be surprised to hear adverts for Squarespace's hosting platform. It's also what this website and my associated podcasts run on. The inbuilt analytics are pretty decent but when it comes to RSS feeds for podcasts they suffer from all the limitations that tracking RSS has.
Podtrac is a service that aims to fix this. Unfortunately it used to be a massive faff to get it working with Squarespace. Fortunately following the latest update to the platform it is now really easy.
In which I post a scrambled eggs experiment at Mike's behest...
For many years I have been making a variation on Gordon Ramsay's scrambled eggs.
In which I review the year that was...
It's been a pretty exciting year for me. I've started two podcasts, changed jobs and started reviewing food and drink for Luxury London. Less travel in my new job means that I've been able to spend more of my spare time on my side projects. All in all that's lead to:
And I'm hoping there will be many more in 2018.
In which I update an old recipe...
I usually make a Christmas Cake around this time of year to take to work. As I now have vegan colleagues I decided to look into making it safe for them to eat. Luckily this is quite easy to achieve with a stodgy cake like this one.
In which I discuss the borishness of data anlaysis, try an interesting new tea and lay out my next Tailor project...
In a break from continuous Thesis writing I have recently been running another imaging experiment. This was, as you could expect, a fairly hectic few weeks with early mornings and late nights. It was, however, much better than the weeks following where I am now stuck with the unenviable task of analysing image after image in ImageJ. Regardless of your research area this is the boring part of a PhD - repeatedly doing the same thing over and over again. Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel though and this will be my final experiment - Great Success!
Now all I have to do is finish writing an 80,000 word thesis...
In which I talk about my approaching final year and try a warming tea...
So in a few days I should be officially into my fourth and final year of my PhD. That means I'm hopefully one year away from wearing these crazy robes...
In which I describe a tea failure of epic proportions...
Let me set the scene for you. It was a warm but not unpleasant summer afternoon. The kind which threatens rain.* The kind we British deem perfect barbecue whether. And indeed I did barbecue for it was the last evening of Cubs this term.
An enjoyable game of kwik cricket, two burgers and a few glasses of fiery ginger beer later I was satiated. The cubs all left with their respective guardians and I set off home.
On the drive back I got to thinking, as I often do, that I desired some good company and a pot of tea. Potentially even a biscuit to round off the evening.
And the sun is high, all the birds are singing, this is one to try...
So a shiny tea I haven't reviewed yet and some news :)
In which I give my thoughts on what tea to drink when throughout the day...
So as a British person (66% of Britons drink tea daily) I feel the need to consume a good quantity of tea everyday. The average Briton drinks 3½ cups a day - you'll find me at the top of the bell curve dong my best to keep the average up. I normally have around 6 cups a day.
In which I blog about the last two weeks, gain another year and try some green tea...
It's been a busy few weeks so I'm afraid the blog has suffered slightly. I had a hectic week filled with work and rehearsing and just about managed to make a rather ridiculous cake. This was followed by a pretty stellar concert by CAOS which filled out the church and enjoyable festivities thereafter. I plan to update more regularly in the future.
Other than that I have turned another year older and received many gifts of tea, cake and board games. The tea will be reviewed shortly. As for the board games I now have Ticket to Ride: Europe, Alhambra & Hare and Tortoise. I probably won't review these as they've been around long enough to be well reviewed online but I've enjoyed playing them already :D
In which I review another tea from the outlet...
The only other white tea I've tried before this was an Earl Grey variant which overpowered the tea a little. So this is my first time properly trying white tea.
It's a delicate tea and so only needs a quick brew of 2-3 minutes. This tea tastes as if it falls between green tea and black tea. It's very enjoyable :)
It's nice to have something to break up my green tea-black tea-green tea rotation I have at work :)
I might start putting interesting links at the bottom of the reviews :) Here's the first one courtesy of Alex:
In which I restock my work tea...
I was down to my last few tea bags at work and so decided to head the the Lowry Outlet Mall where there is a Whittard's outlet shop with a few friends.
There were some good discounts available:
And now I have a large stock of new tea for work and for reviewing!
I will endeavour to review other tea brands in between all these Whittard ones too!
"Stop what you are doing and savour!"
Regular readers will now I am a big fan of Earl Grey. With the aforementioned offers I just had to risk it and get hold of some green Earl Grey. This tea is essentially just green tea with bergamot added.
It's a lovely brew and means I can enjoy Earl Grey at work without the need for milk or lemon*. It's lighter than the black tea equivalent and very refreshing. I would heartily recommend it!
*Yes I drink Earl Grey with milk - I like it that way!
Lowry Outlet Mall: http://www.lowryoutlet.co.uk
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.
We tried the following teas:
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 :)
"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.
Lighter than my standard teas but still a light brown, tea colour.
There is a hint of bergamot but the predominant aroma is that of black tea.
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!
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!
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
This week it is time for the king of the Christmas sandwiches IMHO - the M&S sandwich! Will it retain it's crown?
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?
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 :)
"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.
Tea coloured though it came out a slightly darker hue than the normal blend does.
Realistically it just smells like tea.
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.
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.
Like Tetley, but lighter!
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.
In which I try a fruity and flowery green tea.
"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.
A brownish-green like most green teas but it looks a little more orange to me :)
Smells like green tea with a strong hint of orange. I'm not sure if I could smell the
as I don't know what they smell like.
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 :)
I drank this tea from my new camera lens mug :D
Delicate, floral, tasty!
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
P.S. Camera lens mug:
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.
In which I try a variety of black tea I was not previously aware of.
"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.
Slightly darker than your standard tea but a good tea colour nonetheless.
Smells like a normal tea, nothing fancy here. Though I think you can pick up a slightly nutty aroma too.
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.
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 :)
A nice change to my line-up of standard teas. Simple but tasty :)
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!
Here's another birthday present I've taken ages to review.
"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 :)
A mahogany like brown. A bit reminiscent of the box colour.
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.
A nice lightly spiced brew. It's quite wintry and warming but not as strong as a Christmas brew would be. Lovely :)
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.
A calming spicy tea for the evening. Excellent to wind down before bed :)
I ran out of green tea so this review and the next review my attempt to find a new workday green tea :).
"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.
Very pale brown.
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.
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.
I've been drinking this tea while enjoying a home-made lasagna for lunch. Back to work soon though!
A very refreshing tea which, as it's green, doesn't require milk. A fruity, soothing change to my workday tea schedule :D
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 :).
"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.
You can definitely smell the cinnamon and cloves. Surprisingly it smells less Christmassy than I thought it would. It smells very nice though :)
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 :)
A lovely tea but there is better chai out there. Probably would be improved by milk (condensed or otherwise).
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.
I've decided to post about new teas as and when now and might try a different style.
A chance sighting in Sainsbury's has allowed me to track down a tea I had previously sought but found impossible to find in the North.
"Brew one teabag per person & pour on boiling water. Leave for three to four minutes, or until you think it's ready. Then drink it as it is, this one is made for drinking without milk.
Easy to brew and best of all needs no milk! (See previous work tea comments)
Light brown - one could fancifully say it has a golden hue too :).
As with Earl Grey you can smell the bergamot and there is also a hint of lemon.
Do you like Earl Grey with lemon? Then this is similar. Obviously you can't control the strength of the lemon as you can when you add your own. However as a work tea it allows me to enjoy Earl Grey without the need for the fridge (I do like Earl Grey with milk and without - there is nothing wrong with this).
"Whistle While You Work"
This tea is definitely the cornerstone of my work teas now where I sometimes whistle. This allows me to make the above tenuous song title usable. Although I have recently learnt how to whistle more than one note which I previously found impossible so maybe I can finally whistle properly while working :)
An excellent workplace tea which once again fills my requirement of no milk due to lack of fridge. Though I must concede if you have a ready suppply of lemons your normal Earl Grey will do just fine.
See you all next time!
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 :(
Comes in a metal teapot for one. Brew it as you like but I let it steep for a few minutes.
As tea coloured as you could expect tea to be. This is their standard tea offering after-all.
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).
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]
An enjoyable, very normal cup of tea. The perfect representation of British tea to have at the National Trust.
See you all next week!