And relax, with an artisan cuppa

Much has been made this year of “Twixmas” the time between Christmas and New Year, the time of year we all recognise because we’re unsure what day of the week it is, and we’re still nibbling our way through the festive food, that was designated as “for Christmas” in the lead up to the celebrations. We still do that ritual of asking what you want for tea, but know that the answer is more than likely going to be turkey, or ham. That is until the new year when we’ll add beef to the repertoire!

But life is starting to get back to normal. Our Christmas guests have gone, the turkey is off its carcass and in only a small number of containers in the fridge. But the real barometer of returning to normality is the decline of the cheeseboard and that the pigs in blankets, even the second batch, have vanished more quickly than you’d know.

The calm after the whirlwind of family visits and the general hubbub of December is something to enjoy though, and this year it’s been enhanced by a proper cuppa, and artisan ones at that from Adagio teas, who sent a selection of their seasonal teas for me to try. In this post I’ll share a bit more about each of the samples, which are extensive.

Adagio teas are a family company who source their teas direct which means they arrive fresh and the farmers benefit from a better deal. On their site there’s information about the types of tea, the five basic steps of tea processing - plucking, withering, rolling, oxidising and firing, and the five basic styles of tea - white, green, oolong, black and pu erh.

A CHRISTMAS SELECTION OF TEAS INCLUDES: CHRISTMAS, ROOIBOS NUTCRACKER AND YULETIDE TODDY

A CHRISTMAS SELECTION OF TEAS INCLUDES: CHRISTMAS, ROOIBOS NUTCRACKER AND YULETIDE TODDY

I’m a big tea drinker, but I hadn’t realised that there was so many options and choices when it comes to flavours. The Yuletide Toddy is a mixture of cranberry and orange, whereas the Rooibos Nutcracker has a different slant of Christmas with nuts, caramel and cocoa, and is a good reminder of our trip to the ballet in Birmingham last month.

CHESTNUT, GINGERBREAD, CANDY APPLE, CRANBERRY, PUMPKIN AND CANDY CANE TEAS IN MINIATURE TINS, FULL OF HOLIDAY CHEER

CHESTNUT, GINGERBREAD, CANDY APPLE, CRANBERRY, PUMPKIN AND CANDY CANE TEAS IN MINIATURE TINS, FULL OF HOLIDAY CHEER

These small tins are a great way to get started into a different kinds of tea, chestnuts are one of my go to Christmas flavours - chestnut stuffing anyone? No, you don’t like it either, no problem, that’s more for me is the usual gist of the conversations - so to have a tea that brings that roasted chestnut smell in a cup, well that sounds almost perfect.

CHRISTMAS TEAS INCLUDES: CANDY CANE, CANDY APPLE, GINGERBREAD AND CHESTNUT TEAS

CHRISTMAS TEAS INCLUDES: CANDY CANE, CANDY APPLE, GINGERBREAD AND CHESTNUT TEAS

SWEET TOOTH TEAS INCLUDES: CARAMEL, CREAM, TIGER EYE AND CHOCOLATE CHIP TEAS

SWEET TOOTH TEAS INCLUDES: CARAMEL, CREAM, TIGER EYE AND CHOCOLATE CHIP TEAS

The Sweet Tooth Teas box intrigued me. Sweet tea isn’t normally my thing and I’m not one for sugar in tea. The Tiger Eye blend caught my eye though with its smooth flavours, the website says this has a high caffeine level and the reviews warn of over-steeping this one.

CHAI TEAS INCLUDES: MASALA CHAI, CHOCOLATE CHAI, SPICED APPLE CHAI AND THAI CHAI TEAS

CHAI TEAS INCLUDES: MASALA CHAI, CHOCOLATE CHAI, SPICED APPLE CHAI AND THAI CHAI TEAS

Masala Chai is one of my favourite teas, and I’m regularly found in the queue in the cafe at work asking for one of these. So much so, that if I opt for something else the servers there look most confused, so I was pleased to see a chai selection in this parcel, and while I haven’t tried these yet, I’m looking forward to branching out from my usual “plain” chai.

I also find traditional Earl Grey teas challenging, but the names of these blends may just make me overcome this. I think I’ll be easing myself into these gently, perhaps starting with the green and Rooibos blends, which are described as a classic blend with a twist. I think making sure I’ve some shortbread to hand will help with easing myself in. There’s something about a cup of tea and a biscuit, or two isn’t there?

EARL GREY TEAS INCLUDES: EARL GREY BRAVO, EARL GREY MOONLIGHT, EARL GREY GREEN AND ROOIBOS EARL GREY TEAS

EARL GREY TEAS INCLUDES: EARL GREY BRAVO, EARL GREY MOONLIGHT, EARL GREY GREEN AND ROOIBOS EARL GREY TEAS

The final two sample boxes have teas with names I can’t pronounce but flavours I know I will enjoy. Oolong tea is one of the five basic types of teas, and one of the most time-consuming teas to create using all of the five steps, but the result is a more complex flavour which are often smooth and rich.

OOLONG TEAS OF CHINA INCLUDES: TI KUAN YIN, WUYI ENSEMBLE, FORMOSA BAI HAO AND DANCONG ARIA TEAS  PREMIUM TEAS OF CHINA INCLUDES: YUNNAN GOLD, GOLDEN SPRING, KEEMUN RHAPSODY AND PU ERH POE TEAS

OOLONG TEAS OF CHINA INCLUDES: TI KUAN YIN, WUYI ENSEMBLE, FORMOSA BAI HAO AND DANCONG ARIA TEAS

PREMIUM TEAS OF CHINA INCLUDES: YUNNAN GOLD, GOLDEN SPRING, KEEMUN RHAPSODY AND PU ERH POE TEAS

I’ve only shared some information about tea in this post because it’s impossible to do it justice in a single post, but if you’re interested in learning more about the different types of tea, health benefits, the teabags vs loose tea question, or even food pairings then do take a look at the Adagio teas website, like me, I’m sure you’ll be surprised at how much effort goes into a cuppa.

Tea is so much a part of the British psyche. We all know that a cup of tea will fix almost anything, help solve a problem or just provide some thinking time, and it’s something that is part of who we are, but so often we reach for the household name tea bags rather than anything more. So this Twixmas, my tea exploration journey has resumed, and I’ve a feeling it’s going to continue through to the 91st of January or whatever, at least and hopefully much further into the year as I’ve rediscovered that there’s really something rather nice about using loose leaf tea, which feels like a treat, when really it shouldn’t.

Are you joining me?

* This is a collaborative post, but all opinions are my own.

The one with the redecorated loo

Last weekend we celebrated my MIL’s birthday with afternoon tea at Alexander House Hotel in West Sussex, and it wasn’t our first time there. Our previous visit, also for afternoon tea (they’re good) was a couple of years ago, and then I shared how my outfit seemed to match the painting in the loo.

When thinking about what to wear I remembered them matching my yellow dress before, and thought I’d wear something different this time. I’m a fan of colour, often wearing, at least one bright colour but nothing really jumped out at me as I recalled my wardrobe. So, as often is the case, I chose the shoes I wanted to wear and went from there, thinking nothing more of it.

After eating more than I had in a while, and yet still not managing to polish off all the cakes - I know, I was shocked too - and drinking a pot or two of “sparkling white” white tea, a trip to the loos brought a good excuse for a break and a wander. Remembering the loos from before, and knowing I’d already shared them here, I almost didn’t take my bag with me…

It was obvious though, that something had changed.

A change in wallpaper and accessories
textured wallpaper in the loos at Alexander's House hotel in West Sussex

I noticed the wallpaper straight away, it’s similar to the bamboo wallpaper we have on one wall in our living room, but with more sparkle. Had I known I could have got some sparkle in my wallpaper then maybe I’d’ve had some, as it would bring an element of light to the wall. I was less sure though if the basins had been changed, so later I checked my earlier post and they had. In place of white traditional sinks where these countertop basins, which as you can see bring another metallic texture to the space.

A change in sink too at Alexander's House Hotel

The wallpaper was different too, more metallics and with a geometric pattern - the light in the photo below seems to have played havoc with the colour, but I couldn’t resist showing you this wall, isn’t it great?

geometric and metallic wallpaper

In the lobby area, you can see a truer colour of the wallpaper, and it was great to see the picture still hanging in the same place. The padded bench seat though was the star and this is my favourite view of the loos - I know, how weird is that, I mean how many people have a favourite loo view?!

The painting is still there and joined by an emerald padded seat
Isn't the emerald padded seat stunning

But you know what I mean, it almost seems wasted in the loo (but it was too large for my handbag!)

Redecorated and an outfit that tones with the new decor

So that’s another first for the Loo Series, this is the first loo that’s been redecorated and therefore featured twice. I think I much prefer the updated version, but what about you?

The Christmas edition of the Loo Series

And it's only the Christmas edition because the photos were taken around Christmas and our afternoon tea had a Christmas theme, and not because there was a Christmas tree in the loo. Unlike yesterday's post where there was a Christmas tree in the bedroom - I still can't help but think that's a little bit decadent.

This is probably one of the softer bathrooms I've posted and it belongs to St Ermins hotel in Westminster. It's feminine too isn't it?

A look into the loos at St Ermin's hotel in London

The pale pink walls, the fish scale lampshade and the mother of pearl inlaid mirrors.  The repetition works well too, doesn't it?

mosiac mirrors at St Ermin's hotel in London

It was harder than usual for me to get photos of this loo as both times I popped along there was an attendant paying close attention to the tidiness, it was that kind of classy establishment. It was also the first loo I've covered that had an auto flush, not that we need pictures of that, but it's something to note.

A row of mother of pearl mirrors at St Ermin's hotel in London

The mirrors were beautiful, so I'm not sure why I'm looking quite so thoughtful or grumpy!

I'M NOT AS GRUMPY AS I LOOK, HONEST

I'M NOT AS GRUMPY AS I LOOK, HONEST

Looking back though, I'm quite impressed at how the pattern on my dress echoed that of the mirror surround. Completely fluke as I'd never been here before, and well, it would be very weird to dress to match the decor wouldn't it?

Heading back up to the table, as the light fell outside, I was also captivated by the light reflecting through the glass. It's almost dancing, I think.

patterned light reflecting on the wall at St Ermin's hotel in London

So what do you think, pretty and feminine - is that your kind of loo?