Jadu Tea

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Product Review – Luxury tea from Jadu

As my twenties slowly start to peel away, so do some of my old eating habits. My fridge is witness to the things I’ve chosen to abandon; at the moment it’s groaning under the weight of cans of soft drink bought en masse, testament to my unbound fizzy drink habit that has thankfully fizzled out. Instead of ready meals and store bought sauces there are fresh herbs and vegetables, instead of dairy milk there is good quality dark chocolate. Sausages out and salmon in. So this is what it feel like to be an adult! I’ve also gotten better acquainted with the enigma that is herbal tea, available in a diversity of styles and food-pairing possibilities that are guaranteed to keep me busy for years to come.

There are teas and then there are teas. Luxury tea is increasingly available to try and it would seem that we are fast growing an appreciation for it. Our rich tea drinking history has evolved to a contemporary British tea culture, which gravitates towards the finer varieties of tea like those at Jadu.

Jadu is a London-based luxury tea brand with a worldwide following. Named after the ancient Sanskrit word for ‘magic’, their tea is certainly proving to be alluring. This morning I’m sipping on a cup of the charmingly named ‘Mademoiselle Grey’,  a twist on the Jadu Earl Grey tea blend which has a Sri Lankan Uva black tea base. Presented in fine silk pyramids which are contained in a royal blue suede gift box that is embossed in gold writing, this certainly feels like an indulgence. The silk bags are individually sealed such that opening one for the first time releases a wonderful aroma, flecked with something that I can’t quite name. As per the instructions I leave it to brew for 3 minutes, it’s floral fragrance strengthening as the minutes tick by. As first sips go this one is glorious – literally beautiful. The first citrusy taste from the lemongrass and lime peel then blossoms into sumptuous bergamot and red cornflowers.

Next up are silk pyramids of ‘Chinese Green’ tea from the Yunnan province of China, one of the oldest tea growing regions of the world. The Chinese are said to have discovered the magic of tea some 5000 years ago, when a few wild tea leaves drifted down into a cup of hot water. Fast forward to today amd  my cup of steaming green from Jadu is one of the more delicate varieties of green tea that I’ve had, with a subtle sweetness and the secret promise of antioxidant goodness. Fight the free radicals!

The Chamomile tisane is an old time favourite of mine for a bit of calming power, and the Jadu blend successfully combines it with Linden Blossom, Elderflower, Echinacea, Milk thistle leaves and Lavender. The Jadu Crème Brulee blend is perfect to combine with a pudding, and is based on the South African Rooibos combined with Calendula petals, cinnamon, caramel pieces and hazelnut.

Perfect for an indulgent gift for a loved one or treat for yourself, the selection of tea from Jadu is brilliant. The gift boxes contain twelve tea envelopes, and both the ‘China Green’ and ‘Mademoiselle Grey’ cost £16 each. Re-fill packs of the loose leaf Chamomile and Roiboos Crème Brulee are priced at £9.50 each.

Website
I was sent the products to review

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Le Restaurant de Paul

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PAUL’s opens up as a restaurant in Covent Garden

6.5/10

Bread. Fresh bread. Beautiful baps of hot, freshly baked bread; the whisper and tear of a crust and the cushioned heaven of what lies within. Bakeries are my sanctuary, and I don’t think I’ve ever tried a PAUL’s that I didn’t immediately love, stealing away with a fresh loaf of olive bread and a circle of soft cheese. Originally from Lille, the PAUL’s has shops open all over the world that seem determined to give us bread-crazed serfs a guarantee of the good stuff. In an unexpected first for the company, the flagship bakery in Covent Garden has been converted to a both a bakery and a restaurant – Le Restaurant de Pauls, to be exact.

The bakery section is handily placed at the entrance, for those who want to grab and go. Behind this is an intimate dining room of grey banquettes and parquet floors where you can try the simple menu of traditional French dishes. It contains things like the classic Soupe à L’oignon and Confit de Canard aux Olives. There are no-cook options too, like the charcuterie platter or the saint-like crudites with hummus.

Portions are generous and the flavours are mainly provincial. Think rich cheese or tangy tomato sauces, slow cooked one-pot dishes studded with black olives and fresh herbs. Although the steak tonight is overdone, its side of béarnaise helps to lubricate the palate whilst the roast chicken, happily moist still, is delicately traced with the faint earthiness of thyme.

Desserts are of course from the bakery; a glossy Tartes aux Fruits brimming with syrupy red berries, miniature macarons or the gentle layers of a millefeuille, for example. For a no-fuss meal of well portioned food and lovely service, Le Restaurant de Pauls provides quite well, and is placed to attract tourist-heavy foot traffic. A three course meal without wine may cost around £25pp.

Tube: Covent Garden
Address: 29 Bedford Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9ED
Tel: 020 74202070‎
Website
I was invited to review

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The Biscuiterie

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Product Review – macarons and biscuits home delivered!

Macarons are one of my favourite things, and no matter how much time goes by I always seem to crave them. I’m happy to go out and pick some up now and then, but it’s an extra little luxury to have them delivered. The Biscuiterie is an online shop which specialises in delivering macarons and decorated biscuits,  and both are lovely.

The naturally gluten free macarons are made using the French meringue method and are filled with either ganache, buttercream or curd. Lemon macarons are great at giving some balance to all the sugar, and the raspberry and chocolate peppermint macarons are also fab. Although some of the macarons do not quite make the journey from bakery to front door without breaking a little, they all still taste great. They have a good texture too, with well risen feet, smooth shells and just the right amount of bite.

The Biscuiterie also has a range of prettily decorated biscuits: the ‘Brush Embroidery Flower Biscuits’ are piped with English roses and carnations, and have a crumbly texture that goes exceedingly well with a chamomile tea. 

The selection of 16 macarons (with a maximum of three flavours per box) is £17.95, the floral decorated biscuits cost £15.95 for six, and the cost of delivery to London addresses starts at £4.80.

Website
I was sent the products to review

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Aqua Kyoto

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Upmarket Japanese restaurant for a fraction of the price 

7.5/10

As a food blogger I probably shouldn’t pick favourites, but Japanese food gets me every time – provided of course that it’s well executed. From previous experience, too awful to name, I’ve come to regard the more upmarket and showy restaurants with suspicion. More than once I’ve been to one ridiculously expensive Japanese restaurant or other, that turns out to be all style and very little substance. With this in mind I don’t at first have high hopes for Aqua Kyoto.

The Aqua Group have holdings in London, Beijing and Hong Kong, and Aqua Kyoto is one of their Japanese restaurants. Located just off Argyll Street, the red and black ground floor entrance is manned by a bouncer who directs you to a lift. If at first this seems a little members clubby – wait, because it’s just the start. Out of the lifts and past the fifth floor reception is Aqua Spirit, a bar full of the flashy, brash types who raise suspicions about the food. Walking through Aqua Spirit, muggy with short skirts, guffawing suits and inflated egos, leads finally on to Aqua Kyoto and then to the outdoor terrace.

With the scene thus set and my expectations hopelessly lowered, the food does the impossible – it impresses.

More astonishing is that I’m trying out the set menu which is part of the Aqua Kyoto Star Deal from Bookatable, which entitles you to three courses and a cocktail for £29. The set menu offers a choice of three starters followed by a choice of three main courses, then just one dessert and one cocktail option.

My choice to start is a modestly sized bowl of salmon, tuna and sea bass sashimi, which is pleasing in the way that raw fish of good quality always is when handled well. The sushi and sashimi at Aqua Kyoto is prepared in a central, sunken sushi bar for all to see. A second starter features cherry tomatoes jewelled with cubes of the softest tofu, sultry as it dissolves in the mouth.

Moving on to the larger dishes, mains commence with a lovely plate of spring lamb chops, charred and glossy on the outside and rosy as a sunrise on the inside. These are served on an umami-rich tomato miso reduction, with blackened courgette and a tangy pickled Japanese rose.

It’s easy to forgive the lack of choice when it comes to desserts on the set menu, as the single offering turns out to be quite lovely. The white chocolate parfait is complimented with mango, coconut-flavoured sugar shards, violet and rice pudding. Less impressive in the single cocktail offered, with is a little too weak and a lot too sweet for my taste. A flute of Veuve Clicquot (for an extra £14.50 per pop), is everything that the cocktail can only dream of being.

The Bookatable £29 Star Deal set menu at Aqua Kyoto gives you a good way to try an upmarket restaurant for a fraction of the price. On the a la carte, it would be easy to spend hundreds. If you fancy like trying it out then take a look at the set menu here, where the deal is running until 6th June 2015, subject to availability.

Tube: Oxford Circus
Address: 5th Floor, 240 Regent Street, London W1B 3BR
Tel: 020 7478 0540‎
With thanks to Bookatable for inviting me to review their set menu deal
Aqua Kyoto Website
Bookatable Website‎ – Star Deals

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Aqua Kyoto on Urbanspoon