Birchall Virunga Earl Grey Tea

IMG_3171This week I have mostly been drinking Birchall Virunga Earl Gray anytime loose leaf tea. I’ve been trying to get the balance of quantities right as the tea has a distinct strong flavour and I over cooked it on my first pot as it was just too strong for my liking. After a bit of experimentation I have settled for one heaped tea spoon for two mugs of tea.

Now I have the balance right I can confirm it makes a great cuppa. The box is very elegant and the tea looks and smells wonderful. The brew can be taken with or without milk. Personally I prefer my Earl Grey with a splash of milk.

The tea is sourced from the finest tea gardens in Rwanda and the tea is individually picked and hand plucked. It is grown in lush volcanic soil and in perfect climatic conditions. The tea is blended with the Bergamont oil that gives a distinctive flavour of citrus and spicy floral notes.

I would recommend the use of  a tea caddy for storage as I had to fight my way into the sealed bag and made a bit of a hash and there is no resealable option. The tea retails at £7.50 for 250g of loose leaf. There are other options such as tea bags and prism bags. Visit the Birchall website for more details www.birchalltea.co.uk.

Overall, a great brew and the sophistication of the loose leaf tea makes a really nice change. Due to the strength of the loose leaf tea I think I will be drink out of the same box for a long time to come. Thank you Birchall!

School Night

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I find myself in Stratford on a school night on a short work excursion. There’s only one thing for it, pizza and beer.

After perusing the menu of two beers I settle for the no logo pale ale. A novel label which should keep the production overheads to a minimum.

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I’m drinking from the bottle but if I am to do this beer any justice I suppose I should at least pour some more into a glass. Best neck the Peckham spring water to make way for some of the olde amber nectar. A simple no frills beer with a good colour with a slightly lively hoppy taste. I’m no expert by the way, but it sounds pretty good.

The beer is a craft pale ale 4% and is a Shepherd Neame beer from Kent. Not quite the Italian origins I had expected but it tastes bloody good with pizza!

188AB46E-4277-4A25-AFC4-30ADCE0888BDBrewer’s facts:

Best known for their Kentish beers such as Spitfire produced to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Another of its famous ales, Bishop’s Finger, was named according to folklore after a signpost that pointed the way to Thomas Becket’s tomb.

The Brewer produces in excess of 60 million pints annually, and exporting to more than 35 countries.

Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest Brewer. Located in Faversham Kent it has been brewing since 1698.

Pour Some More…

Nectar / Xmas in a bottle

NECTAR

Type: Pedro Ximenez

Denomination of Origin: DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

Grape Variety: 100% Pedro Ximenez

Ageing:

Average 8 years in American oak casks following the traditional Solera system

Alcohol: 15% vol

PH: 4.6

Total Acidity: 2.9 g/l (tartaric acid) Volatile Acidity: 0.8 g/l (acetic acid) Residual Sugars: 370 g/l

VINEYARD FEATURES

The vineyards in Jerez are unique to the area. The soil in Jerez is majority Albariza, a white soil which contains up to 60% chalk and therefore has a large capacity for maintaining moisture, very important given the long, hot and dry summers as irrigation is prohibited. The area has a unique microclimate influenced by the surrounding Atlantic ocean and rivers Guadalquivir and Guadalete. The prevailing winds are moist and warm, and now and again dry and hot levante winds from north Africa. Temperatures are warm with 70% humidity and annual rainfall is 600 litres/m2. The harvest in Jerez begins mid August and generally lasts for 3 weeks maximum. The Pedro Ximenez grape, although a white grape, is treated slightly differently as it is destined for sweet wines. The grapes are collected from the vine slightly later and they are then sun dried in

a process called ‘soleo’ when the grapes bunches are laid out on esparto mats in the vineyard for up to two weeks. During this time the grape loses about 40% of its volume due to evaporation of water which causes concentration of sugars.

WINEMAKING

The Pedro Ximenez grape undergoes a strong press due to its dry state similar to the process used to make oliver oil. The must then begins to ferment although stops at around 7% alcohol due to sugar stress. At this time the wine is fortified to 15% alcohol and then enters into the Nectar solera. The wine remains in cask for an average of 8 years following the traditional Solera system.

WINEMAKER ́S NOTES

Nectar shows an intense ebony colour with iodine tones and intense legs due to high sugar content. On the nose rich aromas of fruits such as raisins, figs and dates accompanied by honey, syrup and fruit preserve. On the palate velvety and smooth with good acidity which alleviates the sweetness. Long and flavourful finish.

SERVING AND PAIRING

Serve slightly chilled in small wine glass. Nectar is an ideal dessert wine, perfect poured over vanilla ice cream or with black chocolate desserts. Also perfect on its own.

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