Rhubarb & Custard

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Disclaimer: Yes yes, it’s the #1 blogger cliche, this is a blog about TEA! Hopefully I am offering a new-to-the-internet slant on it though, as this post is all about life after caffeine and how tea can still be just as exciting and exotic without the buzzy stuff.

Regular readers and fact finders may remember that last year I gave up caffeine. Prior to this I was a tea fiend, as you can see in this blind tea tasting post from the archives. I’ve now been 6 months caffeine-free and it has been an awful lot easier than I first expected. The main reason for this is that you can substitute pretty much all your standard coffee-ordering choices with Decaf. You can replace your daily brews (my daily tea consumption is 24 cups!) with rooibos or decaf, even sticking to your beloved brand (Yorkshire tea, obviously). But after 6 months, I’ve been starting to feel a bit stale. Something I absolutely LOVED when I was a caffeine-aholic was ordering unusual flavoured coffee beans; every weekend started with a cup of chocolate & raspberry or cookie crumble coffee. It’s hard enough finding nice decaf coffee, although Illy coffee do a lovely roast option, let alone anything with a jazzier flavour.

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Then I discovered Bluebird Tea Co! I initially started following them on twitter after my friend Steph posted about them and her revelation at the world of rooibos.  After a quick browse of their website, as well as falling a bit in love with their name, design and tone of voice, I noticed they had a caffeine free section. And it wasn’t just the dregs, this was a seriously BIG section! I had no idea there was so much un-caffeinated tea love to be had, and so Bluebird kindly sent me some samples of… well… all of it! Thanks Krisi and Mike for the very generous bundle. Nick & I spent the afternoon with our faithful friend Tea Sub plunging, stirring and boiling… and here are our thoughts on our favourite picks.

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(Thanks for naming a tea after me!)

Type: Rooibos – meaning you can have it without or with milk, which is definitely my preference.

Thoughts: As you might expect this is a sweet, flowery cuppa. The honey flavour works perfectly and makes for a really decadent brew with every mouthful feeling like a power-nap in a meadow.

Highlights: The tea blend even has little flowers in it, making it delicious AND pretty.

Best For: People who are trying to wean off having sugar in their tea. It might be too sweet for some (Nick for one) but it was my favourite tea of the day.

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Type: Rooibos

Thoughts: This might be one for those who aren’t keen on the quite specific rooibos flavour as I found this tastes more like a regular black tea. The Mint Choc flavour is subtle, with just hints of it rather than an overwhelming flavour. Nick wisely reckons this brew felt like a real indulgence, so could be a saintly alternative to a hot chocolate.

Highlights: The fact the tea shaped itself into a smiley face! I can’t promise this will happen every time…

Best For: An office worker who needs a trip to the seaside. This drink will have you imagining ice cream vans, pebbled beaches and splashy sea in no time.

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Type: Herbal (No milk here)

Thoughts: According to Bluebird, Dozy Girl is all anyone needs to send them off into the land of nod. Nick’s very scientific initial thoughts were “it smells like my nan’s house!”. Despite the eau de draw-liner, this is one seriously tasty tea. It packs more of a punch than a standard chamomile and felt instantly warming and comforting.

Highlights: It definitely does what it says on the tin, as I was yawning my way through the cup. Although this could also partially be down to the fact I had just sat through 119 minutes of mind-boggling Looper.

Best For: Bedtimes & emergencies.

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Type: Rooibos

Thoughts: Growing up next door to the rhubarb triangle means I have a real soft spot for this pink celery twin. The tea smells SO amazing that I could quite happily have spent hours with my snout stuck in the packet and would purchase it for this pleasure alone! Luckily (unlike a lot of herbal bagged tea) the smell matches the flavour. One gulpful and I was back in the newsagents in my childhood town watching Rhubarb & Custards being weighed & bagged ahead of a long car journey! It’s such a distinctive flavour and I’m so impressed and happy that Bluebird have captured it in tea-form.

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Highlights: The fact it gave us the amazing Roobard & Custard theme tune in our head for the whole time we were drinking it. Which somehow then led Nick onto making me do different gun noises (which I was terrible at) and him introducing me to Girls Making Gun Sounds. Great brew drinking entertainment!

Best For: Nostalgics, romantics or as something to sweeten every day.

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Type: Fruit (No milk here either)

Thoughts: This tea treat is basically a piña colada! To the point that it tastes creamy, despite having no dairy anywhere near it. It’s definitely stepped up the game of fruit tea and I’ll never look at a tired ole bag of lemon & ginger in the same way, as this has so many levels of flavours. We were both mmming our way through this mug.

Highlights: It tastes like a cocktail, that you can legitimately drink in the work place. That’s kind of unbeatable.

Best For: Pretending to be Don Draper.

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Inspired by the beautiful nature of the tea, we spent the rest of today lazing in a patch of long grass on the heath and admiring the buttercups. I still have more tea to try so if you have enjoyed this most scientific of posts, there may well be a sequel with mixes such as Cococabana Cooler, Raspberry Beret and Strawberry Lemonade still to try. In the meantime I’d highly recommend you seek out some Bluebird of your own, especially if like me you are attempting a decaf life, as I feel really inspired by my tea drinking future. Soon I’ll have enough variety to make every SINGLE one of my 24 daily cups a different flavour…

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