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Posts Tagged ‘British’

Best tea ever

My current favorite tea came back from London with me after my most recent trip. I had already purchased two teas that I thought were interesting — a mango-flavored green tea and a vanilla-flavored white tea — so it was almost as an afterthought that I grabbed a box of plain old rooibos tea bags (Tick Tock brand) during a rushed trip to Waitrose. I didn’t expect it to be anything special, just wanted one more variety so we’d have plenty to choose from at home (as you can tell, I like caffeine-free tea because I usually drink it right before bed).

I had drank rooibos tea before, but it’s always had some kind of citrus or other fruit added (I’ve had blueberry rooibos tea, for example). This tea is just plain rooibos with nothing else added, but it absolutely blew me away. It is so incredibly flavorful. I can taste fruit, and cinnamon, and hints of other spices. I don’t need to sweeten it because it has natural sweetness as well. I drink tea but I don’t usually crave it, but this tea is an exception.

Thinking about how delicious it is makes me want another mug right now (and I already had one earlier!). Well done, Tick Tock! (I actually just visited the company’s home page for the first time and discovered that they make ONLY rooibos tea, grown in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa, and that they are “Britain’s favourite rooibos tea”. That does not surprise me one bit… these guys clearly know what they’re doing!). Britain’s favourite rooibos tea is now my favorite tea, period. 🙂

 

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Bacon crisps from Waitrose

On the last full day of my work trip to London last month I made a quick dash to Waitrose to buy some final food souvenirs. (Side note: I almost wrote “recent work trip”, then I realized it was nearly a month ago! Where has March gone??). Anyway, I knew I wanted to get J some kind of interesting crisps, of which there are abundant varieties available in England. I was in a rush and didn’t have much time to analyze the selection, so I impulsively grabbed these:

Because who doesn’t like bacon, right? Also, in my experience the Waitrose store brand products are really very good (like the wrap and cookie I bought for the flight home). These are corn-based crisps that, interestingly enough, are safe for vegetarians and vegans. I guess no actual animal products go into the production of bacon flavoring. Anyway, I hoped J would like them (and that he’d be willing to share a few with me). He did.

Definitely have to give Waitrose credit for the image on the bag looking exactly like the actual product. I was also impressed by the flavor — these crispy corn-based rectangles really did provide a remarkable imitation of the flavor of bacon, salty and smokey with a savory quality very much like that of an actual meat product. J also said he anticipated that they might be a little dry or tasteless, but found them to be “surprisingly good”. I’d say that evaluation sums it up pretty well — well done, Waitrose :-).

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Remember that big bag of treats my friend Siret gave us at the end November? We’re still working our way through it, but here’s some of the stuff we’ve tried.

Various British chocolate candies. I let J have the Malteser since I don’t think malt candies are popular in Finland and I wanted him to try one (I think the malty flavor was familiar to him on some level). In general I find British milk chocolate to be exceptionally sweet, though I’ve never had the chance to compare it side-by-side with American and European (like Belgian or Swiss) milk chocolates.

Mince pies with malt whisky. I covered it in whipped cream after this picture was taken, which was a fun addition. These were OK;  in general the flavor profile of British Christmas sweets– the dark syrupy taste of dried fruits spiced with whisky and ginger– is pretty unfamiliar to us. It’s interesting but for some reason I don’t find it very satisfying as a dessert, if that makes any sense. My favorite bites were when I got a bit of fig, with its crunchy little seeds. I also have to say that the crust was quite good– surprisingly crisp and buttery for a packaged product.

Christmas pudding. I’m sorry to say that I liked this even less than the pies, maybe because it lacked the contrast and butteriness from the crust. It was intensely syrupy and sticky. Once again I’m not saying that this was in any way a bad product; there’s just a cultural difference– since we didn’t grow up enjoying desserts like this the flavors take some getting used to. And of course I’m happy to try anything once!

The good news is I’m going to have the chance to get more British food soon– my work is sending me to London for a few days at the end of February! 🙂 I haven’t traveled for work since I went to Brussels in 2008, plus I love London, so I’m quite excited!

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I am being positively spoiled with visitors this month. First my dad came, and then a mere week and a half ago I got an email from my friend Siret (of London and cupcakes fame) saying she’d be coming to Tallinn for a few days with her mother and mother’s fiance! What a lovely surprise, especially when I didn’t think I’d see her again before next summer.

Last night Siret and I had a girls’ night, catching up and enjoying dinner and a bottle of Riesling at African Kitchen (which has plenty of yummy choices for vegetarians like Siret). After dinner I accompanied her back to the rental apartment since she had “a whole pile” of stuff to give me. Man, she wasn’t kidding! I had asked her to maybe bring us a few bags of flavored coffee from the States, and this is what she actually brought:

Christmas pretzel M&M’s and Oreos

British Christmas treats from London

Lärabars! (she faithfully reads the blog so she knew I’d failed to obtain any during the summer)

Strawberry preserves with champagne (cannot wait to try this!)

Trader Joe’s tea and pumpkin butter

Bridal magazines and some British candies

…and of course, the requested flavored coffees (hazelnut, maple vanilla, and pumpkin spice!). Now we have to decide which one to open this weekend…

She is so sweet! I’m already happy that I get to see my oldest friend and her mother (whose flat J and I stayed in when we visited London last year), so getting fun food gifts from the USA and England is like the decadent icing on an already wonderful cake. Thank you Siret!!

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