Review of Marks & Spencer Classic Christmas Tea

Now I don’t know about you but I am getting a little excited that Christmas is nearly here. I’ve not tried any new Christmas teas this year so when I saw a packet in Marks & Spencer so I grabbed a box to try.
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Onto the packaging well this grabbed my attention whilst dashing through the food hall. I loved the bright red box with a Christmas tree to the front. Onto the ingredients Kenyan and Rwandan teas are listed. No allergens are highlighted and there is a no may contain warning.
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On opening the box I was greeted by a sealed foil package containing the teabags. I like this as it keeps the tea nice and fresh. On opening the packet I got an aroma of an everyday black tea, nothing special. It certainly didn’t remind me of Christmas. The aroma did not change on my close up sniff test. I placed the teabag in my teacup and added freshly boiled water. The teabag soon infused with the hot water and it changed a medium / dark brown colour. I let the tea infuse for 3 minutes as I have my tea medium weak and milk free. The aroma from the teacup was pretty non descript it smelt like an everyday black tea. On sipping the tea it tasted like its aroma and I was unable to distinguish between the two elements to this tea. It just tasted like an everyday black tea.
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So would I recommend this Christmas tea? As an everyday cheap black tea yes. As a festive tea definitely not. It was just regular tea in a festive themed box. A bit of clever marketing that I sadly fell for. Sorry Marks & Spencer but this tea just wasn’t for me. It lacked any ingredients that you associate with a festive tea. I was a tad disappointed by this to say the least.

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Review of co-op loved by us sweet popcorn

Now I have to confess to being a popcorn addict. It is often a safe dairy free treat for me to enjoy. I have had a bit of a sweet tooth lately. Whilst queueing at my local co-op I saw their loved by us sweet popcorn. So I grabbed a packet on the of chance that I could have it. This may sound bonkers but I knew that my other half would eat it if it was not safe for me.
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I loved the pink packaging of this popcorn with the popcorn looking like they were popping out of top of a box. On the front of the packaging it is clearly labelled as being suitable for vegans. On the ingredients list to the popcorn popped maize, sugar and sunflower oil are listed. There are no allergens highlighted in the ingredients list and there is no may contain warning.
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On opening the bag I was greeted by a slightly artificially sweet aroma. I did my usual close sniff up test and this didn’t change. On closer inspection inside the bag the popcorn looked like random pieces of the popcorn had a coating of sugar. On biting into the popcorn I immediately got a subtle taste of sugar the strength of this was spot on. It gave the popcorn a pleasant taste which wasn’t too sweet as not all the popcorn had a sweet coating. I personally think that if all of the popcorn had been coated it would have been to sickly. The texture of the popcorn was just right. I experienced a combination of textures, on the sugary pieces it was slightly hard and crunchy followed by the softness of the popcorn. This was intermingled with the slightly crunchy then soft texture that I expect to get from popcorn. This popcorn was a great to treat to eat whilst enjoying a film at home.
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So would I recommend this flavour of popcorn? Gosh yes I would. It may not be the healthiest popcorn I have had, but who cares it was nice to have a sweet treat to enjoy. I liked everything about this popcorn from its girlie pink packaging, through to its flavour and textures. So if you follow a dairy free or vegan diet why not give this popcorn a try as a sweet treat. So thank you for producing a nice popcorn I can enjoy as a treat.

Review of Morrisons Free From Christmas Cake Slices

I popped into Morrisons and decided to explore their free from range to see what Christmas treats I could try. Sadly. It was rather limited so I opted for their Christmas cake Slices. I liked the packaging with the slices of Christmas cake stacked on top of each other. It was very inviting and made me want to get home and try one with a nice cup of tea.
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Onto to the ingredients they are clearly labelled as a free from product. To the front of the packet clear wording stating gluten free, wheat free and milk free. They are also suitable for a vegetarian diet. Onto the ingredients list egg, almonds and sulphur dioxide are listed as allergens. There is also a may contain for other nuts and peanuts.
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On opening the packet I was immediately hit with an aroma that I associate with a traditional fruit cake. This remained the same on my famous close up sniff test. However, this became combined with sweetness from the icing on top of the Christmas slice. My instinct told me that this Christmas slice was going to be rich yet sweet at the same time. On biting into the Christmas slice I got an initial slight crunch from the icing followed by a moistness from the cake below. These textures worked perfectly together. Onto the flavour. Well the icing was very sweet but you needed this to compliment the richness from the cake below. I could clearly taste the various fruits in this cake. As for the mixed spice element this just seemed to be lacking. Which for me was a real shame as I love mixed spices as this is what makes a Christmas cake a special treat. On a positive note the portion size was just right.
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So would I recommend these Christmas cake slices if you follow a dairy free and or gluten free diet? I’m afraid not it just didn’t taste like a Christmas cake to me. The lack of the flavour from the mixed spices simply let it down. Sorry Morrisons but these Christmas cake slices just weren’t for me.

Review of Asda Strawberry & Forest Fruits Tea

As a lady who enjoys her cups of tea on a daily basis I am always on the lookout for new teas to try. I am really enjoying my quest to find new caffeine free teas to try. I have not tried as many fruit teas as I had hoped. So when someone work bought some Asda strawberry and forest fruit tea to share I just had to give it a try.
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I loved the design of the packaging with this tea. It was what I would describe as a cream box with pictures of strawberries, raspberries and cranberries outside the red box with the tea’s description inside. The tea is described as sweet and fruity. To be honest this description didn’t win me over as I am more of a savoury person and I don’t like a sweet tea.
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Onto the ingredients this surprised me a little if I am honest. I know that it is a less expensive tea but didn’t expect there to be so many ingredients in addition to the strawberry. That said there were no allergens highlighted or any may contain warnings listed. On opening the box the teabags were in a sealed foil packaging. This is always a positive trying to keep the tea fresh and seal the both flavour and aroma in. On opening the foil packaging I was immediately hit with a subtle apple aroma followed by what I think was hibiscus. This surprised me as I was expecting an aroma that I associate with summer fruits. I was unable to really smell the strawberry and blackberry element to this tea. On my close up sniff test this aroma didn’t intensify and remained the same.
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I placed the teabag in my cup and added my freshly boiled hot water. The hot water soon changed to a deep purple colour. I left the tea to infuse with the hot water as instructed for between 3-5 minutes. I left mine to infuse for 5 minutes as I personally like this type of tea strong. What was interesting with this tea was its aroma. Initially I could predominantly smell the blackberry with a subtle undertone of strawberry. This was different to the apple and hibiscus that I initially smelt. On sipping the tea initially I could taste the blackcurrant element with a hint of strawberry. As the tea continued to infuse this later changed to becoming predominantly strawberry with a hint of blackcurrant and apple. No hibiscus though. I loved the way both aroma and flavour of this tea changed as I sipped from my teacup. It’s often not one that I experience.

So would I recommend this tea? Definitely it was nice to have a tea that’s aroma and flavour changed as I drank it. This made for a comforting everyday winter tea. I know this sounds a bit strange for a strawberry tea but the blackberry element made it a bit like a hug in a mug. I shall be buying this tea when I next visit an Asda. So thank you Asda for producing an enjoyable an everyday fruit tea that I can enjoy.

Review of Marks & Spencer Free From Christmas Pudding

Now I am trying to be more organised with my Christmas reviews this year. As I was in Marks & Spencer I thought I would grab something from their free from range. I opted for one of their Christmas puddings to try.
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I personally liked the green packaging not at all Christmas themed but in their usual style of their free from foods. It is clearly labelled as being gluten free and dairy free. Onto the ingredients list egg and almonds are highlighted as allergens. It is also suitable for a vegetarians. There is no may contain warning. It is labelled as not being suitable for nut allergy sufferers.
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On opening the packaging I was greeted by the delightful aroma of a rich Christmas pudding. It was stronger than I had anticipated. The aroma of the fruit intermingled with a hint of the combinations of the three alcohols was spot on. I had high hopes for this little pudding. I microwaved my pudding and let it rest exactly as per the instructions on the packet. I placed the plastic tub upside down and gently removed the tub. The pudding had disintegrated slightly to one side and did not keep its round consistency. I was also given one of these puddings by a friend. So I had a second one at a later date and the exact same thing happened. A little disappointing to put it politely.
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Onto the aroma of the pudding this seemed to remain the same as before it was heated. This was not a bad thing as it was a lovely rich indulgent aroma combining the rich fruit and alcohol. This also didn’t change on my famous close up sniff test. On placing the pudding onto my spoon it just seemed to disintegrate and loose its structure. The fruit seemed to separate from the pudding. It just didn’t seem to hold its consistency. Onto the positives the fruit was nice and juicy. As for its flavour this was very pleasant. The flavours of the fruit, the lightly spiced sponge and the alcohol worked well together.
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So would I recommend this free from Christmas pudding if you follow a dairy free and or gluten free diet? I’m afraid not. Yes it had a lovely aroma and a nice flavour but it’s crumbling texture just let it down. Sorry Marks & Spencer but I’m afraid I have tried nicer free from Christmas puddings.
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Dairy free dinner at the Bellagio

I consider myself very lucky in the fact that I have been able to visit Las Vegas on several occasions. This year we decided that it would be the perfect end to our mini adventure across America. We have stayed in a couple of different hotels in Las Vegas and choose this year to stay at the Bellagio. Each time we have visited Las Vegas we always make sure that we treat ourselves to a nice meal at a special restaurant. We have enjoyed some wonderful meals and my milk allergy has never been a problem. This year we decided to dinner at the Todd English’s Olives in the Bellagio. It was always busy whenever we walked past and decided it would be the perfect way to complete our holiday. We were exceedingly lucky as we were able to have a table outside. This is special because you are right by the famous fountain displays.
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We sat down and I explained to the waiter that I had a milk allergy. I had learned to not to say dairy / lactose free as this also seemed to mean egg free. I didn’t get any advice on what dishes were suitable a tad disappointing. I had already seen the menu in advance so opted for what I thought would be possible to adapt.
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For starters I had the watermelon salad. Mine came minus the cheese. It was a simple green lettuce salad with speciality tomatoes, watermelon and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar dressing. Simple is often best for me. The sweeteners from the melon worked really well with the balsamic vinegar. As for the tomatoes these lacked any flavour and were slightly mushy. Oh and the green salad was as expected, but fresh. Overall, a disappointing starter for me. Our party hadn’t even finished our starters when our main courses arrived. In fact one of us was still savouring his starter when our mains were placed on the table.
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Onto the main I opted for the Colorado lamb. The chef was indeed able to adapt this to make it dairy free. On its arrival I had hoped that the waiter would explain what I had got but this not the case. Disappointing to say the least. What I got was sautéed new potatoes halved and sautéed onions topped with 4 lamb cutlets in a jus. The sautéed potatoes didn’t seem to be freshly cooked and were only luke warm. The same could be said about the onions which were also a bit to oily or greasy for my liking. What about the lamb cutlets. The jus covering them was ok it tasted a bit like a rich gravy, but I was unable to really distinguish its flavours. My lamb cutlets well these were more well done rather than the medium to well done that I had hoped for. They were crunchy on the outside and slightly more tender towards the centre. They were ok but nothing special and I have eaten much nicer lamb cutlets. So overall a disappointing main meal. The best part for me was the nice cup of earl grey tea at the end.
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So would I recommend this restaurant if you have a food allergy or intolerance? Sorry it’s a no from me. The waiters seemed to lack knowledge with regards to food allergies. On top of that it felt like we were being rushed. I’ve never been anywhere where they start serving the mains before the staters have been finished. It just spoilt the dining experience a little. I know that tables with a special view like we had must be at a premium, but surely you should be able to enjoy each course. Ironically, we weren’t rushed after this.

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Review of Tetley redbush tea

If I am honest my mission to reduce my caffeine intake has not been as good as it should be lately. I am personally a little disappointed with this so I am trying really hard to get back on track. My mum, who I have inherited my love of tea from enjoys her rooibos tea and drinks goodness knows how many cups a day. So I thought it was about time I made effort and tried some new rooibos as an alternative to my mint, lemon and ginger or camomile infusion teas. I happened to stumble across Tetley redbush tea whilst I was shopping in Waitrose the other day. As it was on offer I decided to give it a try.
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I loved the vibrant red packaging with a picture of Gaffer to the middle holding out two mugs of the redbush tea. It is clearly labelled as a caffeine free tea to the front of the packaging. Onto the ingredients only redbush is listed and there is no may contain warning.
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When I opened the box a woody aroma was noted, or what I would expect from a rooibos tea. This did not change on the close up sniff test. The tea bags were a darker in colour than I expected with a slight red tinge to them. I added the teabag to my teacup and added the hot water and let it infuse as instructed. It didn’t seem to take long for the tea to infuse with the hot water. It soon turned a slightly dark cherry like colour. I was little disappointed by the aroma of this tea it was pretty weak. I was only really able to smell a faint woodiness on my close up sniff test. On sipping the tea it tasted like a light version of a rooibos, there were faint undertones of both woodiness and grassiness, but nothing that made my taste buds go wow. If anything I thought the tea tasted slightly fruity similar to blackberries strange as this may seem. On a positive note I did find it to be a nice refreshing tea perhaps because of its weaker flavour.
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So would I recommend this redbush tea? Probably not. I have personally tried much nicer rooibos teas but as an alternative to a cheap everyday black tea yes I would. I think this tea will be one of my emergency back up teas at work. I would also suggest leaving the teabag in your cup or mug to try to make the most of its flavour. This is not normally something that I would suggest as I personally enjoy my teas medium weak in strength. Sorry Tetley but this tea just wasn’t for me.