Please be seated, friends, and perhaps pop the kettle on, for we must talk TEA.
Let me tell you a story about one of the defining moments of my early courtship with Mr J-M. It was an moment in which I felt that domestic harmony could be in our future, emblematic of so many of those elusive encounters with destiny over which we have no real control, but in which we can choose to see fate or luck or simply the hope of something wonderful. It was, my friends, during those heady days of our fledgling relationship, an entirely unexpected path that had presented from nowhere at an otherwise shaky and dark crossroads, that I was spending time with Mr J-M at his home one evening when he offered me a cup of tea.
It’s true that I’m officially on the cusp of middle-age these days. Though I may be well on my way to greeting my fourth decade, in my younger days I was no stranger to the bedtime brew. My friends and I would roll in from Jilly’s Rockworld or the Star & Garter at a (fairly) respectably late hour, release our caged internal organs from the binds of our corsets, don pyjamas, and put the kettle on. Is there any greater pleasure than tea and toast before a 3am bedtime, friends?
Of course, back then I regularly and easily swigged back two or three caffeinated beverages before falling into a deep carb-induced slumber. I regret to say that such hedonistic disregard for my own central nervous system would not fly today, no matter how many thick white sliced slabs of marmite-smothered delight I ingested first. No no no. Those days are long gone. So when Mr J-M offered me a cup of tea one evening, I casually and without even a suggestion of hope or ambition uttered these words:
I don’t suppose you have a decaf earl grey, do you?
Friends, who on earth has a decaf earl grey in their cupboard? What manner of bachelor has amongst his limited collection of teas a decaffeinated earl grey? Let me tell you friends, Mr J-M served up that mug of decaffeinated earl grey tea with soya milk before I could even absorb my giddy surprise, and in that moment I felt the familiar face of fate giving me a big wink. WINK.
And if I may, I will fast forward through the months and more months and then a few more months to bring us to the autumn of 2018, where I still enjoy an earl grey and Mr J-M is becoming increasingly enamoured with a bedtime roobois. Against this backdrop allow me to introduce the wonderful and generous people at Adagio teas who contacted me out of the blue and asked if I would be interested in sampling some of their delightful loose leaf teas. WOULD I EVER, I said, and indicated that maybe an earl grey and a roobois would be just the ticket.
Well, my dear readers, let me tell you that just over a week ago an absolutely wonderful box of delights arrived from Adagio, along with some thrilling brewing accoutrements. Mr J-M and I were quite overwhelmed with the choice available; around 48 different kinds of tea! I told the lovely Adagio folks that I would take my time and sample as many as I could before telling you all about them. I was struck by how pretty so many of the tea blends were, and I’ve pictured a few here for your enjoyment.
We invited friends over to drink tea. THERE WAS NO CHOICE BUT TO DRINK TEA. Anyone who crosses the threshold of our home in the next few weeks (months?) MUST HAVE ONE CUP OF TEA PER HOUR please and thank you. And let me tell you friends, this is a wonderful thing. Can I let you know which teas I tried and loved?
- The earl grey moonlight was a soft, creamy, vanilla-infused black tea with all the punch of bergamot, as you would expect. Delightful!
- The chai teas were all a wonder of festive spices and turning leaves. Please see recipe below for a richly flavoured winter-time tea loaf!
- The tea that has my heart of all those I tried was the wonderful birthday cupcake in a cup, vanilla honeybush. As someone who is trying their darndest to reduce their sugar intake and generally keep the blood glucose at a reasonable level, this is a perfectly acceptable way to soothe a nagging sweet tooth. Naturally caffeine-free, a perfect bedtime treat.
Mr J-M was brave and tried some of the more exotic specimens. He very much enjoyed a rich chocolate chai, a heady blossoming jasmine, and a cleansing raspberry matcha. Of course he was also very fond of his beloved roobois.
I encourage you to browse the Adagio website and see their beautiful images of the available teas. So pretty! And with the festive season approaching I can think of no better gift for the tea lover in your life than some wonderful loose leaf goodies. We are also particularly fond of the glass mug and infuser – perfect to take to work and enjoy fancypants tea at any time of the day!
In an effort to really make the most of the generous package sent to us by Adagio, I also dabbled in a little baking this weekend. I made a delicious and subtly flavoured earl grey shortbread, adapting the recipe in the tremendous Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. A success!
And, feeling the cooler weather approaching from a distance, and with the memory of the delicious spicy chai teas still in mind, I decided to make this perfect winter accompaniment to just about any cup of tea. This recipe is fat free, uses wholemeal flour (though not compulsory), and is refined sugar free, if you count maple syrup (hey, whatever works for you!). The chai tea was so rich and so flavoursome that this loaf required no other spices or flavourings whatsoever. Enjoy!
Vegan Maple Chai Tea Loaf
- 2 cups wholewheat self-raising flour
- 1 cup dried mixed fruit
- 1 flax egg (made with 1 tbsp flax and 1/4 cup warm water mixed vigorously)
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 3/4 cup strong, good quality chai tea
- Pre-heat the oven to 175°C. Line or grease a loaf tin. If you have the time, soak the fruit in the tea for a few hours, but don’t worry if you don’t (it’s still yummy).
- Sift or whisk the flour in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the flax egg, maple syrup, fruit and tea.
- Gently fold in the flour into the wet ingredients until fully mixed. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick/skewer comes out clean.
- Enjoy with a cup of your favourite tea! (and maybe a wee slather of vegan butter or margarine).
Thank you so much to the wonderful folks at Adagio for sending such a wonderful box of delights. This stuff was provided to me for free but you can be quite sure that I’ve accurately reported our amazing tea adventures (and long may they continue).
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