It’s a blogger cliche to describe autumn as one’s favourite season (the russet leaves! the pumpkin spice lattes! the knitwear!) so I’m going to go one better and say that mine is actually these first few days of September. Ours has been unseasonably warm after the wash-out that was the summer, but with just the right hint of crispness in the air – enough for me to leave the house with a cardigan in the mornings, but not brave enough to risk without a waterproof.
What I love about this particular time of year is the planning: that perfect wintery coat (it’s not enough to just lift Lynsay’s style wholesale, is it?); that perfect pair of boots. Heading home as the sky starts to turn that deep, midnight blue with a tinge of pink along the bottom. The anticipation. Unfortunately my immune system is attempting to get in on the act and I can feel the beginnings of my first cold of the season on the roof of my mouth and at the back of my throat, but you can’t have everything.
That said, as I type this I’m sipping away at a mug of the brilliantly-named Kung Flu Fighter!, a new eucalyptus and echinacea-blend herbal tea developed by Bluebird Tea Co. to see you through the winter months. I’ve been a fan of the Brighton-based “tea mixologists” for longer than I care to remember, so when I got a message the other day telling me that a super secret preview of their three new – and one returning – loose-leaf tea blends for autumn 2015 was on its way, I did a little happy dance in my chair. Before casting a guilty look at the mess that is the “tea corner” on my desk.
I wasn’t sure what to make of Kung Flu Fighter! when I read the list of ingredients: I’m not a fan of teas like chamomile or green tea, which remind me, taste-wise, of the “salads” I used to make from grass in the garden when I was really wee. I’m actually quite fond of this one though: the eucalyptus makes it taste medicinal enough to feel therapeutic – or, at least, enough of a placebo – while the peppermint and chilli flakes give it a clean, refreshing aftertaste.
For a tea that’s similarly refreshing, if a little bolder, there’s the new Pudina Chai – with a name taken from the hindi and urdu word for mint, this is a warming Assam black tea made with ginger, peppermint and cardamom. I’ve been drinking this one without milk, and am planning to introduce it to my mornings as an alternative to coffee that is gentler on the stomach once I’m sleeping better and the idea of cutting back on caffeine doesn’t terrify me so, but the label promises you can drink it with or without.
Returning this year is Bluebird’s “most popular tea ever”, the ridiculously photogenic Spiced Pumpkin Pie. Bluebird tea blends are lovingly made with really high quality ingredients and attention to detail, and Spiced Pumpkin Pie is one of the best examples of this: along with Ceylon black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and vanilla the tea includes tiny candy pumpkins and ghouls! I snapped up a pouch of this one last year and didn’t actually finish it – I weaned myself off sugar in my tea a long time ago, so it’s a little too sweet for my tastes – but it smells incredible and is a lovely alternative to your sickly seasonal coffee chain beverages.
Just because my tastes have changed doesn’t mean I have to feel left out though: there was one last pouch in the box, and with it one last chance to find a cup of tea that was, well, my cup of tea. Nuts About You is a caffeine-free rooibos tea made with almond pieces, coconut flakes, mallow flowers and cinnamon. It smells like marzipan but doesn’t taste sweet, is delicious with milk and might actually be magical.
So here’s my recipe for the perfect autumn cuppa: a heaped teaspoonful in a one-cup teapot, left to brew for at least four minutes. Strain into a suitably cheerful mug, and serve with an autumnal treat on the side and a suitably seasonal record. Utter bliss.
Have you tried any Bluebird teas? Which flavours taste like Autumn to you?
DISCLAIMER: I was sent samples of these teas for review purposes, which frankly is fair enough given my love for – and spending habits with – this particular company. All opinions are honest and unbiased. See my full disclosure policy.