Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Stuff and nonsense

on May 9, 2014

I realise it’s been a while since my last post (a different season, in fact, with a different blog background!) so I thought I’d do a bit of a round-up of things I’ve been enjoying lately.

 

First of all, I’d like to introduce you to my new kettle.  As you probably know, I’m a big fan of tea and this is, in my opinion, the ultimate tea-drinker’s kettle.  It’s a lovely kettle in itself – very sleek and shiny and silver, and has useful features like a lovely spout that pours really smoothly, a slow-opening lid so you don’t get splashed with hot water if you need to refill it soon after use, and a transparent water measure so you can see from every angle how full it is, even when looking inside.  However, its most useful feature is its variable temperature options.  Like all cordless kettles, it sits on a base which is plugged into the wall, but in this case the base is host to a range of buttons which control the final temperature of the water, in order to bring it to the perfect temperature for various different teas.  The fact is that the younger the tea when picked (green tea is the youngest, black is the oldest), the more readily it gives up its tannins, and if the drink becomes to tannin-heavy it tastes bitter, so a cooler temperature is required to get the best flavour.  The instruction booklet includes a page listing dozens of different drinks and their ideal brewing temperatures, which I’ve photocopied and stuck inside the cupboard above the kettle for easy reference.

Now I’m expecting a couple of  negative responses at this point: the first being “Surely it doesn’t make that much difference to the flavour?”  Well, after a few weeks of research (I bought the kettle over Easter weekend) I have come to the conclusion that for me, it does.  Even the teapigs’ Mao Feng green tea, which I’ve raved about before as being nicer-tasting than other green teas, tastes better when brewed at the correct temperature – before I was just boiling the kettle, leaving it to go a bit off the boil and then adding the water so it was usually still too hot.

The second objection I’m anticipating, from those who have now googled this appliance, is “That’s a lot of money for a kettle!”  And it is, there’s no denying that (I received an unexpected windfall and we decided to buy it out of that).  But would a lover of coffee meet with the same reaction when treating him/herself to a gorgeous, state-of-the-art coffee machine with all the available bells and whistles, or would the response be more of a “Lucky you!”  That’s the way I’m looking at it – a machine to make myself the best cup of tea I can get, whatever kind of tea I want.  I don’t drink coffee as it makes me ill (and, actually, even before when I did used to drink it I always found it a slight disappointment because the taste never lived up to the beautiful aroma!), so teas are my “thing”.  And since my kettle features a “coffee” button too (95C) I feel it’s far more hospitable than a prejudiced and exclusive coffee machine!

 

As a result of this purchase I’ve been introduced to two new kinds of tea.  The first is Oolong, which I can recommend if you’ve never tried it!  There’s an “Oolong” button (90C) on the kettle and apparently this is the only kind of tea which brews at that temperature, so to make full use of my kettle’s features I decided I needed to try some.  I was placing a repeat order of Mao Feng so I added a sample pack of teapigs’ Tung Ting Oolong to my order and my only regret is that I didn’t order a bigger pack!  It is truly delicious.

A few days later a friend, who had noticed my Oolong recommendation on Facebook, handed me a packet of teabags and told me that if I liked green tea and Oolong, I needed to try these.  The tea in question is Kukicha, or Japanese roasted twig tea.   Sounds… unusual, doesn’t it?  I have to admit I was dubious, especially when I read that it really is made of twigs (specifically, the stems of the tea plant rather than the leaves), but I do really like it.  I totally disagree with my friend’s recommendation based on similarity to green and Oolong, because I don’t think they’re at all the same (despite the fact that Kukicha is classed as a green tea).  For me it’s actually closest to coffee, in a strange way, because of the definite aroma and flavour of roasting that it has.

I’m pleased, anyway, to have added these two teas to my range, not least because I’m trying to restrict my calorie intake for a little while following a period of over-indulgence (in passing, the Hilton Gateshead gets an impressive Cream Tea award score of 17) and very little exercise over Easter, and I find that drinking a large mug of milkless tea is a good way of preventing snacking.

 

Apart from drinking tea I’ve been pursuing other interests, including continuing to enjoy our subscription to Amazon Prime Instant Video (formerly Lovefilm Instant).  I’ve finally been able to catch up with the second series of Once Upon A Time, which was every bit as good as the first (if not better for the inclusion of some new characters) and which I’m not ashamed to say I completely raced through.  Now that’s over (till series 3 appears in the dim and distant future) I’ve returned to my habitual film night on Wednesdays whilst Southern Daddy is out at his church housegroup.  I usually go for a rom-com but there have been some included in the list which have turned out to be more than just a generic girl-meets-boy story, such as The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill And Came Down A Mountain which I saw last week.  I felt it had a perfect combination of touching team spirit, historical interest, romance and general daftness!  We’ve also enjoyed some films as a family, including Mrs Doubtfire (which I suddenly realised my children had never seen) and Frozen which they bought on DVD with some Easter-gift money.  I’ve heard it said that it’s the best since The Lion King for a combination of story and music and I can see why.  The songs in particular are very good and (we thought) reminiscent of  the work of Ashman and Menken in earlier Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast.  And on the subject of Frozen, here’s something I enjoyed – hope you do too:

 

The Bookworm and I are still enjoying a bit of one-to-one time together on our journeys to and from piano lessons on a Saturday morning and have been taking advantage of my Audible subscription to provide entertainment en route.  We’re about to start listening to a dramatisation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere tomorrow, but recently we’ve enjoyed Welcome To Our Village, Please Invade Carefully starring Julian Rhind-Tutt as a very polite alien commander who’s observing human life in an English village before he rolls out his invasion world-wide, and before that four series of Elvenquest, a Lord of the Rings parody with Stephen Mangan and Alistair McGowan.  And Southern Daddy and I were able to see Mr McGowan in the flesh a couple of weeks ago, appearing in Pygmalion at the Theatre Royal.  Once again we received theatre tokens for Christmas and the only difficulty has been narrowing down the choice of plays to see this year.  We thoroughly enjoyed our first selection – particularly McGowan’s energetic Henry Higgins – but are still choosing between The Mousetrap and Jeeves and Wooster later in the year.  In the meantime, though, we are planning to see The Handle Bards again.  Unfortunately they are doing their UK tour in reverse this year, which means that by the time we’re further south, where we caught them during last year’s glorious summer, they’ll be in Scotland, but they’re appearing near us in early July so we intend to treat the girls to a late night and see The Comedy of Errors.  I strongly recommend you see them if you can, so check the dates on the link above and see if they’re appearing near you!

 

That’s all, I think, for now – I’ve been working away at my Magimix experiments with mixed success, so look out for another post on those soon.

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