“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S Lewis

Saturday, 15 June 2013

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

Myself and my daughter used to spend quite a bit of time in cafes. We had two that we visited in Leigh, named 'The Red Cafe' and 'The White Cafe' by my daughter. She's a very observant little girl.

In the past year both cafes have closed down, and as our choices were now limited to places that sold either instant nescafe (that I won't drink) or a mug of PG Tips (which I will but I'm not paying 2 quid for it) our cafe visiting has been greatly limited.

To be honest, I never expected another decent place to get a cuppa to open in the town where I live. So today, walking back into town from the sorting office - it's a glamorous life I lead - I was ridiculously excited to discover we have a proper brand spanking new tearoom. And this is my review of it.

Sweet Little Things actually opened a week ago, and seems to be a bit of a hit in the town. Today it was pretty full, although we managed to get a table for four near the window where we could easily see the big drinks menu on the wall.

The style is a lovely, well thought out blend of modern and vintage. The walls are clean white, the crockery is vintage tea party. There's a piano (although no one was ivory tickling today), the tables are a good size. Very pleasant environment indeed.

The staff were great, and our order was delivered pretty darn quickly to say how busy it was.

The loose leaf tea is provided by the Brew Tea Co. I had a Masala Chai, and I have to say it was lovely. A bit like a cross between Mulled wine and a spiced cake, in tea form. Having never tried a chai before I will definitely be having it again.

I didn't partake in the cake today (yes, I know, I'm a fool) but as far as I can make out from my limited online searching the business has grown out of a cupcake baking business that the owner runs. And you can see they know what they're doing. It seems that there is constant baking going on, my wife saw cookies being taken out freshly baked. I will return, and I will gain weight :)

All in all, a great addition to our town, and for a man who despaired of ever having anywhere to even get a decent cup of PG at a decent price, to get a proper tea room selling proper tea - well, I think you can tell I'm quite happy.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

"I yam what I yam and tha's all what I yam." -- Popeye the Sailor

Kihara Naturally Grown Kabusecha by Yunomi

The blurb from the company - Kabusecha, sometimes called Kabuse Sencha, is a tea that is shaded for approximately two weeks. Shading the tea leaves cuts out the sunlight that reaches the plant and forces the plant to retain more L-theanine (creating the savory umami flavor), and reduces catechins (the antioxidant which produces astringency). This results in a balanced tea that is rich and savory.

Kabusecha was most often used as a blender — combined with sencha to increase the quality of a large volume of sencha, or with gyokuro (tea shaded for approximately 3 weeks) to increase the quantity of gyokuro. Recently, it is sold by itself as more farmers attempt to create unique products for the market.

Tea farmer Shinichi Kihara inherited his farm from his father and follows an agricultural philosophy that prohibits the use of fertilizer and pesticides (synthetic, natural, organic or otherwise). This type of agricultural, called Shumei Natural Agriculture, aims to produce food that is as natural as possible.

The bit by me - In the last month I’ve been lucky enough to win two competitions run by Yunomi.us.

Each time I’ve won one main prize, and then they’ve sent me a 5gm sample of something else as well. This was one of those samples.

I wanted to try the warm water steeping method, but I have no means of testing my water temperature yet and I was less keen to wing it when I only have a 5g sample, so I went for standard (both of which are recommended). That’s 30secs in boiling water. The very first thing that strikes me when I’ve steeped it is that it looks like spinach. The second thing is that it smells like spinach.

I mean, really smells like it. I’m not talking ‘spinachy notes’. I’m talking what the water in the pan after your mum has overcooked the sunday dinner smells like.

Now, I think me and this tea have got off to a bad start. By the time I was getting to the end of my first cup I was thinking ‘Mmm, maybe…’. But at first all I could think was ‘This is weird, I’m drinking spinach water’.

I don’t want to dismiss this straight away, because I know even after this short amount of time my tastes are changing and I could end up absolutely loving this. But for a first time Sencha drinker – undecided.

Ten minutes later

Second steep

So, second steep, a mere 10 seconds. See, I knew my tastebuds would start to change their ideas pretty quick – (I wish they’d do that with olives, I really would like to like olives…).

The smell is still not really my, erm, cup of tea, but the taste is really growing on me. All the positive things you would expect from something that still does remind me an awful lot of spinach. A zinc tang, an earthiness. And it’s really green.

Not my favourite yet, but I did rather enjoy that.