Darjeeling Tea Taste Test

darjeeling tea pickers

Following the success of my Earl Grey Taste Test last month I and a fellow instagram tea drinker decided to conduct a Darjeeling Taste Test.

I have a great informative Tea book, titled The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard, the following is an extract regarding Darjeeling tea.

The Darjeeling region of India may cover only 181sq km (70 sq miles), but it produced one of the most famous teas in the world.  Cool temperatures and high altitudes produce leaves with aromatic flavours that are highly acclaimed.

Located in the state of West Bengal in north India.  Darjeeling sits at the edge of the Himalayas.  A well-established tea-growing region, some of its 87 tea estates date back to the mid-1800s.  Darjeeling produces only 1.13 per cent of India’s total output of tea, but it is of such high quality that it is protected by Geographical Indication.

Var. sinensis is grown here along with some var. assamica hybrids.  The high elevation, q1,000-2,100m (3,280-6,890ft) influences the flavour of the finished tea.  The leaves grow very slowly because they are constantly shrouded in cool mist. During the growing season, the plants respond well to warm days and cool evenings. These conditions help to create intense flavour in the leaves.

Tea is harvested three times a year with a dormant period between each picking seach.  Each ‘flush’, or surge of bud growth on the tea plant, has a distinct flavour character.  First flush if the most piquant, second flush has a complex profile, while autumnal flush has deeper maltier flavours.

This test had 11 very good quality looseleaf tea contenders from 6 different UK tea merchants consisting of:

I wanted to do a blind taste test so I numbered cups with a corresponding tea infuser/teapot against the numbered list of teas.  I used just less than a teaspoon of tea for each cup and used 200ml of boiling water and steeped for 2 minutes.

This resulted in eleven cups of varying colours of amber liquid.

darjeeling ready cups

Sipping each one I took notes on colour, taste and aroma and must admit it was quite a task.  All the teas were very drinkable but there were three that stood out for me.

darjeeling star

The runners up were Darjeeling from Canton Tea Co; a 1st Flush Makaibari Darjeeling from The Tea Experience UK and my favourite today was an Autumnal Flush Darjeeling from Northern Tea Merchants.  The Autumnal Flush from Northern Tea had a lovely aroma with a full flavoured Darjeeling taste, the colour of the brew was a golden amber and it was just lovely and mellow to drink.  I would happily drink all of the eleven teas I tried and would like to thank the tea merchants for bringing this tea to the UK for us all to enjoy.

A Warriner to Protect Her by Virginia Heath book review

a warriner to protect her

A Warriner to Protect Her written by Virginia Heath, publisher Mills & Boon Historical, is available soon in ebook and paperback format.

To pre-order/buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

An heiress in distress and an earl in disgrace…
When heiress Violet Dunston escapes from an abduction, she finds an unlikely protector in Jack Warriner — a member of one of England’s most infamous families. Ensconced with mysterious Jack behind his manor’s walls, soon escape is the last thing on Letty’s mind!
Jack may be an earl, but his father’s exploits have left him with nothing to offer except a tarnished name. He’s turned his back on the ton
, but with Letty tempting him day and night, he finds himself contemplating the unthinkable–a society marriage!

regency couple silhouette

A Warriner to Protect Her is the first book in a new series by Virginia Heath.  The series is called The Wild Warriners and is set around four brothers Jack, Jamie, Joe and Jacob.  The Warriner boys live on a remote farm in Nottinghamshire and life on a farm was tough in 1813.  They are trying to rebuild the reputation of the family that has been sullied with gambling, drinking, cheating and tragedy.

The story begins with a terrifying ordeal for young heiress Violet Dunston.  She finds herself drugged and bound in a carriage heading for Gretna Green and her fate from thereon is fraught with danger.  Violet sadly lost her parents a few years ago, she has been left a huge inheritance which is due to be released on her 21st birthday, just over a month away.  She has become quite the catch in society with this inheritance looming.  Violet manages to escape from the carriage and runs scared for her life.  She stumbles across a lone horseman, Jack Warriner.  Jack can see the fear in Violet’s eyes and can also see that she is badly hurt.  Without any further hesitation he picks her up and caries her back to his farmhouse.

Jack’s brothers are shocked by this unexpected visitor but soon rally round caring for the forlorn young woman.  Jack can sense fear still in the young woman and realises whoever she is afraid of could be closeby searching for her.  He vows to protect her.  Can Jack protect Violet from her kidnappers and keep her safe till she can collect her rightful inheritance?

I loved this story.  It was deliciously moreish!  The Warriner brothers had grown up under a cloud and were doing all they could to break free from this tarnish in their family history.  The boys had grown up into strong handsome men and reminded me a little of The Musketeers, the bond they shared was unbreakable.  A young beautiful woman suddenly in their household brought new challenges to Jack.  He was struggling with his desire but his responsibility for the young woman was at the forefront of his mind.

A gorgeous Regency romance with swoon worthy male characters, all four brother would set your heart a flutter.  A daring, dramatic historical romance that is deliciously moreish 5/5*

To find out more about Virginia Heath please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.virginiaheathromance.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

Duplicity by Lisa J Hobman book review



Duplicity written and self-published by Lisa J Hobman is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Fin Hunter has spent his life striving for his father’s elusive love and approval by following a life path set out for him and not of his own choosing. However, when he is yet again blamed for something out of his control, he snaps. Deciding to stand on his own two feet, he chooses to follow his true passion – music. But will he find real happiness?

Star Mendoza is living her dream in Edinburgh, a place she discovered in British novels while growing up in a small USA town. Now working in a city coffee shop, the tattooed, pink-haired young woman fantasises about the handsome businessman she serves daily. He’s totally out of her league but a girl can dream. Suddenly he stops calling in only to show up again in the most unlikely of places. Could her fantasy now become a reality? Or is the attraction of opposites doomed to fail?

edinburgh castle

I adored this story from Lisa J Hobman, her ninth contemporary romance novel.  Lisa’s words have a way of drawing you into the location of the storyline and the characters, I felt that I was there living the hopes and dreams and riding the waves of the emotions with the characters.  I also feel that Lisa is a great advocate for Scotland and its raw, natural beauty.  This particular story takes us to Edinburgh where we follow two particular people very different from each other who find a magnetic pull between them that keeps drawing them together.

Fin Hunter is a shy man who from a young age has tried to gain his parent’s love and attention and to please them.  Fin’s parents have had a great deal of guidance shall we say in his life, they persuaded him to take up law and work for the family firm and lined up a very suitable young lady for a wife for him.  The story starts when Fin is due to marry this suitable young lady.  Fin was petrified his life was running out of control, he was confused to how he truly felt about Elise, his bride to be.  When events don’t go to plan Fin starts to realise that maybe this is the jolt he needed to step back from his parents stronghold and stand on his own two feet and learn to experience life’s greatest adventure of finding true love.  With his professional and personal life in turmoil Fin finds solace with his friends at the local club, which so happens to be karaoke night.  Fin has always loved music, especially rock, through the bravado of alcohol Fin takes to the stage and literally rocks the place.  This shy, unassuming man turns into a rock god with a voice oozing sex appeal.  The audience love him and he catches the eye of a certain pink haired young woman.

Star Mendoza moved from America to live her dream of working and living in the city she read about in her favourite novels, Edinburgh.  Star is a very likeable young woman who loves to be individual with her style, which at present she is rocking a striking pink and blonde hair do.  Star loves working in the coffee shop especially when a shy, suited young man pops in for his daily caffeine fix.  Star is disappointed when she learns something about this young man and when he disappears for a while she is left forlorn.  However, seeing him at the club in a totally different light mesmerises her.  Like polar opposites the pair are attracted to each other.  However, Fin has a lot of personal heartache to deal with and is so confused with which way to turn and who to trust anymore.

Can this unlikely pair help each other overcome obstacles and help them learn to trust and find the true meaning of love?

This story was gloriously addictive.  I fell for Fin, the pressure he was under, his whole life was just so tragic, a childhood and now adulthood of lost opportunities.  When his double persona was unleashed it was exciting and quite captivating to watch him unfurl.  The chemistry between Fin and Star was felt in abundance and my heart broke for each hurdle they had to face.  A stunning, emotive story 5/5*

To find out more about Lisa J Hobman please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.lisajhobman.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/LisaJHobmanAuth

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/LisaJHobmanAuthor

When My Ship Comes In by Sue Wilsher book review


when my ship comes in

When My Ship Comes In written by Sue Wilsher, publisher Sphere, is available NOW in ebook, hardcover, paperback and audio download format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

If you love Call The Midwife, you won’t be able to resist this heartwrenching emotional saga set in 1950s Essex.

Keep the family together, that’s what her old mum always said. Put up and shut up. And that’s what everyone else did around there.

Essex, 1959. Flo earns her money as a scrubber, cleaning the cruise ships and dreaming of a day when she might sail away from her life in the Dwellings, the squalid tenements of Tilbury docks. Then the Blundell family are evicted from their home.

Fred, Flo’s husband, finds work at Monday’s, a utopian factory town. Suddenly, it seems like everything is on the up for Flo Blundell and her children. Even Jeanie, Flo’s sulking teenage daughter, seems to be thawing a little in her shiny new surroundings.

But when Flo’s abusive husband Fred starts drinking again, he jeopardises the family’s chance to escape poverty for good.

Flo is faced with a terrible decision. Must she fight to keep her family together? Or could she strive for the life of her dreams – the kind of life she could have when her ship comes in?

1950s woman with gloves and handbag

I read this debut novel by Sue Wilsher back in in January but I wanted my review to be posted near the release date of the paperback which was a mere few days ago.

This was such a raw, honest story of life as it really was back in 1959.  The story is set at Tilbury Docks, Essex but it could be set anywhere in the country as families, men and women, had certain roles to play back in that era. Women had a hard life back in the 50’s, some worked to help with the housekeeping funds but they were also expected to cook, clean and look after the children around their work schedule.  The men went to work and very often visited a public house before coming home to dinner of the table.  It was just the way of the world back then but Flo was a very strong minded lady and had to find a way of swimming with the world on the cusp of change in women’s equality at work.

After Flo’s husband Fred lost his job at the docks he reluctantly found work at a leather goods factory in a nearby town.  This was a self-made town that the owner of the factory had built.  Mr Monday Senior, of Monday’s Leather Goods, had a vision of a factory making quality goods with his employees living in purpose built houses encased in their own village which included bars, sports facilities and events were held bringing the workforce together as a team.

Flo loved it at Monday’s she had managed to get a job herself and soon picked up the skills required and was encouraged to train to further her career.  This was totally unheard of for a woman to be given training for promotion and in a way Flo felt like a ‘guinea pig’ but she relished the studying.

This was a new style of working ethic for Fred but at first he settled in well however, eventually his old habits slithered back in causing a whole heap of trouble.  Flo was left in despair and turmoil over her marriage and the safety of her family.  Should she give up her dreams of her career and a better life for her family?

Sue Wilsher had cleverly told this story in two different voices.  The voice of Flo, the wife and mother and the voice of Jeanie, the 15 year old daughter refusing to be moulded in the ‘woman of the 50’s figure.’  I loved the struggle felt in this storyline, it was quite emotional to read at times due to the honesty of the author’s words.  A remarkable debut novel that awakens a time and an era when struggles were a daily occurrence for many.  I was hoping for an epilogue as I love to know how the characters developed but this is just my preference.  I look forward to more from Sue Wilsher. 4.5/5*

To find out more about Sue Wilsher please visit the following pages:

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/SueWilsher

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/SueWilsherWriter/

The Vets at Hope Green: Part Four by Sheila Norton book review


the vets at hope green part four

The Vets at Hope Green: Part Four A New Start written by Sheila Norton, publisher Ebury Digital is available in ebook format from Thursday 13th April 2017.

To pre-order/buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

PART FOUR of a serialised novel – a heartwarming and inspiring story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.

The last few months have been hard for Sam. Her dream to work as a vet is slowly becoming reality, and she is beginning to encounter the struggles and heartbreaks that someone in a job like this must face.

But what’s more heartwarming and inspiring than a litter of new piglets? On a call to a farm with Joe, Sam can’t help but feel a sense of renewal in her own life as she witnesses one of the most glorious and natural processes of all.

Sam’s thoughts inevitably turn to her own child – will she be able to cope when the baby is born? And with her love life so shaky, will a fatherless child turn out all right?


This is the fourth and final part in The Vets at Hope Green series of ebooks and it has been such a delightful book series, I have thoroughly enjoyed being charmed by this wonderful, warm, cosy romance.  You can find my reviews for all parts here Part One, Part Two and Part Three

We continue with Sam’s journey settling into life in the idyllic coastal village of Hope Green in Dorset.  Sam’s life since moving to the village has been quite an emotional one and with her pregnancy progressing her life is soon going to be turned upside.  Emotions are running high at the vets both personally and professionally.  Joe the vet and Sam’s boss, has been called to an emergency at a local pig farm, one of the pregnant sow’s is struggling with her birth.  The only assistant available to help is Sam so they both rush to the farm to help.  However, whilst at the farm another emotive event is unfolding.  Can Joe save the day again?

This was such a wonderful finale to a gorgeous book series that has totally wrapped itself around my heart.  Perfect reads for lazy days and with the sun now making its appearance this story would be ideal to read whilst enjoying the countryside on a picnic.  Delightful and charming 5/5*

To find out more about Sheila Norton and her books please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.sheilanorton.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/NortonSheilaann

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/SheilaNortonAuthor/

Home by Kate Hughes book review


home kate hughes

Home written and self-published by Kate Hughes is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

“You need to come and get my daughter. She’s not safe anymore.”

For Sophie, life with her daughter has never been easy. Rosie’s extreme autism has made her unpredictable and often difficult. Like most mothers though, her first instinct has always been to protect her child and keep her close. However, when Rosie’s escalating violence culminates in a terrifying incident at home, Sophie is faced with a choice that no parent ever wants to make. A choice that will inevitably plunge her into a set of unimaginable new circumstances which will test her to the limit.

A true test of a mother’s love.

Could you send your child away?


This was such an insightful, poignant story about one family’s struggle coping with a severely autistic child.  As a mother I can appreciate children and their different temperaments but I have to hold my hand up and admit I’ve never truly understood the many ‘faces’ of a child with autism.  Even though this book is a work of fiction it was very eye opening with regards to autism and I feel it’s a book that everyone should read to try and go some way in understanding this very complex condition.

Single mum Sophie had been coping pretty well with her youngest daughter’s condition.  However, as Rosie was now 12 she was no longer the little girl that Sophie could protect when she was having a bad day.  Rosie was now quite a big girl and her ever increasing bad days were resulting in violent outbursts as Rosie struggled to contain her frustration with the world around her.  Sadly, Rosie lashed out with the people around her which were her loved ones resulting in many painful physical and emotional scars.  Life was getting tougher and tougher for Sophie when she knew her eldest daughter, her own mother and herself were at risk of injury around young Rosie.  Sophie had to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life, to find a more suitable place for Rosie to live that was safe and more catered for her growing needs.

We follow Sophie’s journey of making the right choice for her daughter Rosie.  The struggles with her own conscience and the emotional turmoil for the whole family.  There was a point in the story that I felt myself breathe a sigh of relief as I myself felt like some clarity had been made for all members of the family.  It was quite a humbling part in the storyline.  At the end of the novel I felt like the author had done justice to the storyline; it was insightful, poignant, hopeful and quite heart warming.  5/5*

I’d like to thank the author for writing such an insightful story and opening my eyes to a subject I wasn’t fully understanding.  Autism is a very complex condition that we need to be more aware of and Kate Hughes has given me a few steps in the right direction to help make me more comprehensive and accepting.

To find out more about Kate Hughes and her books please visit her at the followings pages:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/kjhughes70

The Revenge of Tirpitz by M L Sloan book review


the revenge of tirpitz

The Revenge of Tirpitz written by M L Sloan, publisher Pokey Hat, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

The thrilling WW2 story of a boy’s role in the sinking of the warship Tirpitz.


Norway 1944

When Erik strikes up an unlikely friendship with German Radar operator, Hans, the pair soon become involved in a race against time to help destroy the Nazi warship, Tirpitz.
Will their secret mission succeed?

Shetland 2014

Finn’s great-grandfather receives a letter threatening the “revenge of Tirpitz”. They escape on a fishing boat, making the perilous journey to Norway, where they realise that facing up to the past puts their future in danger…

We know what you did.
We know where you are.
Tirpitz will have her revenge.

bald eagle silhouette

The author M. L. Sloan recently asked for help for reviewers for her YA novel, as I work part-time in a secondary school I wanted to give one of the students the chance to review this book.  Our school librarian is very pro-active with encouraging the students to read and has made the library a wonderful, bright area to choose and read books.  The student she chose to read this novel is a young girl in Year 9 and I am so pleased and delighted to share her review on my blog today.  Please welcome Young Kraftireader on my blog today with her review of The Revenge of Tirpitz:

Usually I don’t enjoy these types of books, and I would much rather pick up a book about some teen romance/ adventurers. However I was pleasantly surprised by this book it took no effort to read. After a certain point it was more like the book was reading me than I it. It’s extremely well written dropping just enough little clues, on what happed in the past, thrown out to keep you on your toes.  I found it intriguing to see how the different characters reacted with each other in this testing time and how it took them all working together in past and present to end it all. Twists and turns seemed to appear with every new chapter, presenting you with another riddled piece of information to mull-over.  It also was incredibly balanced between action and dialogue making it a good read for most people. There was never a dull moment and I loved reading it.

I’d like to thank the author for this opportunity and also Young Kraftireader, a wonderful insightful review, keep reading and enjoying books.

To find out more about M. L. Sloan please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.michellesloan.co.uk/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/michlsloan

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/michlsloan/