19 July 2018

Fentimans Sparkling Raspberry (from Bamburgh Castle) by @NLi10

It's usually a bit of a chore to get the new Fentimans flavours in Birmingham, but I was up north for the weekend and got to visit Hexham - the home of Fentimans so it should be a breeeze, right?


Fentimans doesn't have a shop anymore, the lovely bar hadn't unboxed them from their stock room yet (rotation of dates and all that) and the off-license only had the one in the window left from their free trial box. The guy serving had tried it though, and thought it was too much raspberry which is a good omen for me as I love that flavour. 

Fortunately we did a lot of visits to local attractions and their shops always have the latest things on offer.  I managed to stumble across a few bottles in Bamburgh Castle gift shop (not the cafe oddly?!)

The castle itself is a really beautiful place.  With live archaeology, and some period style minting happening on site there is a lot to do besides just the epic views and buildings.  As a museum buff they could do with a little more selective curation, but what they have got allows you to discover the treasures yourself.  Like the drinks.

And it's sweet, it's very fruity and the sparkle is just the right side of refreshing.  It's a lot more drinkable than the lovely Cherry Cola they do which is very much a one and done drink.  I think I could happily just drink this for an evening.

As usual it's a real drink with lots of real flavour infusions and not just a diluted syrup.  It's a proper social drink that I expect to sit with the usual lemonades in the pubs.

In the end I think the effort to track it down was worth it, but I've heard rumours that Sainsbury's are already selling the 750ml bottles which will be a perfect excuse to visit them.

Another win from my favourite drinks company.

18 July 2018

Crazy Hot Popchips Ridges (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

I have had regular Popchips before and I like the look of these Ridges they produce. This Crazy Hot flavour has a three chilli extra hot rating on the front of the packet. These Popchips Ridges are the usual low in calories, as they are popped not deep fried, so they are half the fat of usual crisps. Popchips take potatoes add heat and pressure until they pop. There are no artificial flavourings in the ingredients and they are gluten free.

On opening the big sharing packet there was a strong paprika smell mixed with chilli and a mild potato aroma at the back of the smell. On looks as you can see from the photograph these well-rounded Popchips have a medium depth of ridge where the flavour can gather, and the seasoning of paprika is a deep orange. On taste there is an initial tomato and paprika flavour and the chilli builds in the mouth, so these Popchips are rather hot. The more Popchips I ate the tastier the tomato and paprika tang and the hotter the chilli. They are not uncomfortably hot though, but they are still hot and tangy. These Popchips Ridges not hot enough to put off scaredy-cats that might be worried by the three chilli rating and the "Crazy Hot" on the front of the packet next to the picture of the fiery chillies, because these are very tasty, but they are not too hot to handle!

On the packet;
In the 85g packet there are 98 calories per 23g serving, having 3.6g of fat, 1.1g of sugar and 0.57g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.

17 July 2018

New Maltesers Buttons (WH Smiths) By @Cinabar

I was browsing WH Smiths at the train station, as I pass by it on my commute, and I noticed an empty shelf and a sign saying New Maltesers Buttons. I asked about them and the lady on the till said they sold like hot cakes when she put them out earlier, but that they were expecting a delivery in a bit. The next day I went in and spotted them on the shelf and bought a handful of bags! I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about, plus they were on offer. ;-)

The bags are fairly small, and the calories per pack are just 166, so they aren’t too bad for a treat. I poured out the contests to have a look, half expected flattened Maltesers, but found discs of milk chocolate speckled with Maltesers pieces.
The flavour worked vey well, although proportionally there was more chocolate than Maltesers pieces, the maltiness still shone through. The buttons were easy to much on and fun to eat. The chocolate was thick when it melted, and felt rather soothing. The Maltesers bits in the buttons still added crunch, and I liked the flavour of the buttons. These were a nice snack, and a good pick me up after a long day at work. Something I would buy again, if I didn’t already have another five bags sitting in the fridge!

16 July 2018

Strawberry Teavana Black Tea (Starbucks) By @Cinabar

Given the continuing heat here in the UK, hot drinks from Starbucks as a treat have dropped a little further down my priority list. I am well aware that there are some people who feel that hot drinks are more refreshing on a hot day than a cold, but I am not in that club. I am also aware that my lack of caffeine from coffee recently seems to have induced the odd headache, which is a bit worrying really. Seriously I only usually have the odd coffee at work, okay possible around five, plus the one I have with breakfast in a morning, plus the one after dinner in an evening…. Oh, its bad isn’t. That aside I have been drinking very little coffee the last few weeks, but I still have every intention of getting back to it when it becomes cooler. In the meantime I thought I’d see what new cold drinks Starbucks have that are new, ideally with a healthy serving of ice.
I spotted on the menu this new Strawberry Teavana Black Tea ice drink and decided to give it a try. The first thing to note was that I was asked if I wanted it sweet, I asked for clarification on what they meant and they said they had a sugar syrup they could add, but that it was still nice without. I decided to try it without as I was after a more authentic black tea experience. I watched them make the drink and as per the Teavana spec it was indeed shaken to mix.
The drink itself is deep strawberry red in colour, and looked very cooling, I was loving the generous portion of ice. I gave it a sip and was impressed with the flavour. It had a good strawberry taste that was sharp and zingy, but as promised not very sweet at all, it seemed to be similar to a more natural strawberry juice, which was rather refreshing. The lack of sweetness meant it tasted like a real fruit tea as the leafy flavour was also present. I thought this drink was just what I needed, refreshing with a good strawberry taste and not too sweet.

15 July 2018

Village Hotel Room Tea - Bosh Tea Machine & Twinings Carts (by @NLi10)

We decided to have a half-way stop off north of Leeds on the way back from Northumbria, and chose a Village Hotel as we've liked them before.  We also upgraded to the 'premium pass' version as we wanted to use the gym (pool) and there was a lot of things to watch on the big TV with all the sports.

Eventually we got the things to work (we had to switch the room on at the door, reboot the Sky box manually, and then figure out how to change the temp on the Dyson fan).

What we are focusing on here is the tea machine.  It's one of those new coffee pod machines, but it also has tea pods.

It's by BOSCH and I've not seen this before - I'm guessing it has a fan base and the pods are in the shops.

The instructions are surprisingly hard to follow - with it not telling you where to fill the water, and the button to activate it actually being the panel on the front itself...

It looked promising as it's Twinings, less so for the non branded coffee for those guys.  I meant to try this, but didn't want to spend the whole car journey back desperate for the loo.

How it appears to work is that it puts steam (or at least really hot water) through the pod and it becomes a very small teapot.

And then it comes out the little nozzle.  That bit with the lights on is the 'brew' button.

And it does actually look like low, grade tea which is pretty cool.  I'd feared it was just tea powder to make it work so that was good.

The brewing process does make it taste like builder's tea though - if you like your flavours subtle or delicate then this is not for you.  This is coffee drinkers tea - the kind where they mash the teabag on the side of the mug just to get all of the bitterness into your tea.

So - overall we had just the one cup each and then relied on the breakfast tea downstairs in the next morning to get our fix the next day.

14 July 2018

The Wild Beer Company - Pogo (Gloucester Farm Shop @glouc_services) By @SpectreUK

After watching Angelique Kerber win at Wimbledon I fancy something a bit fruity. It's certainly hot enough outside for a refreshing pale ale with added tropical fruits. This Pogo pale ale from the Wild Beer Company had passion fruit, guava and orange added in the brewing. At 4.1% volume this pale ale was inspired by a fruit drink the brewer used to have when they were a child growing up in Hawaii. That tropical mixture has been added to this pale ale in order to produce a thirst-quenching hoppy beer. Just what I need on this hot afternoon.

On opening there was a tropical fruitiness and herbal hoppiness to the aroma of this golden straw coloured ale. I could smell the strong passion fruit and hints of guava before the hops tickled my nose. On taste this pale ale really steps out from the crowd. There is passion fruit to start with which mixes quickly with the orange and guava, producing a refreshing tropical fruit explosion on my palate. This tropical flavour then mixes with herbal hops and citrusy undertones and a touch more orange to the finish. This was a perfect hot summer afternoon drink to breathe new life into tired bones after a trip to the gym and a big lunch. I only wish I had another can or two to keep the heat at bay…