It's no wonder the Pinestone Tea team is proud of their product. Not only are the varieties delicious, but they are also made from sustainably grown tea plants and prepared using traditional methods handed down through generations. The company generously sent me a quality green tea presentation box containing three types of teas so that I could try them for myself. It's quite a while since I took the time to make 'proper' tea in a pot, generally opting for teabags instead. Now, presented with these loose-leaf teas, meant it was time to bring the teapot out from where it had been languishing in a cupboard. Preparing tea provides the ideal reason to slow down and relax, something of an awakening for me and something I enjoyed and appreciated.
Pinestone uphold the following values:
• Everyone in the tea supply chain deserves to be treated with respect, paid fairly and afforded good working conditions
• Tea should be ethically sourced and fully traceable
• All Pinestone packaging is recyclable apart from the reusable and resealable inner bags
• Green tea has mental and physical benefits
Wellbeing and Health
Research shows how good green tea is for our mental and physical health. Even the act of brewing these meticulously prepared leaves can bring a sense of mindfulness and calm. Time and care are essential in the brewing process so this is an opportunity to allow yourself peaceful contemplation.
Green tea's health benefits are far reaching. It is high in protective polyphenols which act as antioxidants, amino acids help brain function and some believe that un-sweetened green tea can help with fat burning because of its thermogenic properties.
Did you know that Chinese tea drinking culture is an important aspect of any mealtime? Different teas are best drunk with specific foods, just like fine wines.
Rich and satisfying Chun Mee tea is good for digesting heavy dishes. This hand produced Pinestone tea has a sweet though slightly acidic flavour and is especially good with a main course.
Lung Ching or Dragon Well is a yellowy green coloured delicate all-rounder. It is an extra special tea which must be produced in the traditional, hand-panned style in order to be granted the world-renowned Lung Ching mark. it has a fabulously refreshing taste and is ideal to drink on its own.
Refreshing Jasmine tea is a well known favourite with tea drinkers. It's ideal when eating Dim Sum, light starters and desserts because of its fragrance. It is sweet and smooth and utterly 'yes, I'll have another cup please.' Jasmine is very calming.
And, did you know that tea is also a cooking ingredient in China? Back in the Tang Dynasty people would drink ground tea flavoured with salt and herbs. This type of tea is still common in some parts of China today while sometimes roasted rice and beans are added to make the tea more like a soup. The most famous dish cooked with tea is shrimp stir-fried with Lung Ching tea, a speciality of Hangzhou where the tea comes from. Kevin Sui, Pinestone tea founder, regularly cooks with teas and one of his creations is green tea mayonnaise for fish and chips. Sounds good to me!
The Pinestone Tea Luxury Green Tea Set RRP £26.99 includes 100g Lung Ching, 100g Jasmine, and 100g Chun Mee loose-leaf tea. A complimentary re-seal clip to keep your tea absolutely fresh. The teas are also available separately in 100g boxes prices from £5.99. Free next-day delivery for orders over £20. Available from www.pinestonetea.co.uk
No doubt you've heard of Belvoir, the British family drinks company, but maybe you don't know that they organise a lovely event every year called the Elderflower Harvest. Around the end of May, they ask people from their local community and three bordering counties to pick flowers for the following year’s Elderflower Cordial production. And YES! pickers get paid for their efforts. This year the harvest is getting a helping hand from BBC presenter Gemma Hunt, who is raising awareness of the event by going behind the scenes at Belvoir Farm.
Picking takes place at Belvoir’s 60 acres of organic plantations and surrounding hedgerows. Within 24 hours of harvesting the flower heads, they are poured into vats and stirred by hand so continuing the 40 year-old tradition of producing Elderflower Cordial. It's still made to the same family recipe. Belvoir Farm was the first company to produce elderflower cordial commercially, a business started by John Manners and his wife Mary, who created the original recipe. The farm was established in 1981 initially to grow ‘pick your own’ fruit because the Manners didn't like to see anything go to waste. It was when they were looking for a way to use unpicked and over-ripe fruit that the idea came to make pure fruit cordials. Great idea! The cordial has to be diluted so one bottle makes up to ten pints which I think is fabulous value.
I love Elderflower Cordial's refreshing taste, it's lovely to drink on its own, or - and you can add it to recipes for cakes or desserts and - this is one I also like lots, you can add a splash to your white wine or cocktails! All Belvoir drinks are made from local spring water and natural ingredients.
Belvoir kindly sent me a couple of bottles of Elderflower Cordial to see what I thought.
And here are three things you might not know about elderflowers
More about the Belvoir 2021 Elderflower Harvest, how paid to pick works and how to get involved at www.belvoirfarm.co.uk. For more on Gemma Hunt and her work with Belvoir, see www.theoutdoorguide.co.uk.
It isn't an option to travel to India at the moment, but it is still possible to enjoy a taste of the exotic with Tea India’s new regional single-estate tea range. These four blends of regional teas are sourced from some of India's most established tea growers.
Lisa Worthington, Head of Marketing Tea India comments, “Never has a sense of wanderlust been so prevalent in our everyday lives and Tea India’s Regional Single-Estate Tea Range taps into the need for travel.
We have been working with some of India’s most established growers for years and the launch of this new range is the next natural step for our brand.”
The Specialty Tea Range single estate teas include:
Nilgiri - Dark and aromatic
Grown high in the Nilgiri Hills in the southernmost part of India, the mix of soil and climate provide perfect conditions for growing this delicious, full flavoured tea
Darjeeling - Delicate and citrusy
The champagne of teas! Darjeeling is grown on the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. Sourced from the Badamtam tea garden, only small amounts of this medium bodied, highly aromatic tea is grown each year which makes it extra special
Assam - Malty and strong
Single estate Assam tea is sourced from the Margherita tea gardens in the low lying plains of the Brahmaputra River delta. Grown at low levels ensures a full-bodied, malty taste and a lovely deep coloured liquor. What more could you ask?
Kashmiri Kahwa - Aromatic green tea with cinnamon and rose petals
Traditional drink from the Kashmir region. Kahwa means ‘sweetened tea’ , an exotic blend of Indian green tea, infused with herbs and spices. Of the samples I was sent to try, this one is my favourite - it is has such a glorious flavour.
Action Village India
Tea India is proud of its close relationships with Indian tea growers and the authenticity it brings to all its ranges. As part of its commitment to supporting its growers, Tea India teas are ethically sourced. What's more, Tea India supports Action Village India which supports 900 girls in rural Indian communities to continue their secondary education. The girls, between 12 and 17 years old, would have to drop out of school without the funds provided through support given. Due to discriminatory gender norms, the status of women and girls in certain regions of India remains low. Severe poverty also limits their access to education. Action Village India allows these girls a greater chance of escaping poverty, building their confidence, feeling empowered and living healthier and more productive lives. The project is based in Jharkhand and Bihar, regions where education levels are quite low, particularly for girls. Their education is a step in improving their and their families lives and the growth and sustainability of their communities.
All teabags are biodegradable, made from plant-based material PLA, derived from wood pulp and vegetable starch. It is sustainably sourced and industrially compostable, meaning teabags can be put in food waste or garden waste bins. The foil pouch used to keep the tea bags fresh inside the carton is also biodegradable.
See Tea India for more.
Tea India products are stocked in Ocado and independent food stores.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist and author of 12 books. Published credits include the Telegraph, Daily Mail, CNN, Daily Express, Country & Town House, The Scotsman, The Sun, Woman's Own, Lonely Planet, etc