Sober November: The Caffeine Diaries | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Sober November: The Caffeine Diaries

Those of you who follow our social media channels may have noticed that for the month of November we've given up all alcohol. Not easy when you work in a brewery and run a drinks focused blog, but we wanted something that was a real challenge to show that we were taking things seriously as we aim to raise money for CALM, a charity that's very close to both of our hearts. Anyone interested can take a look at our page (and donate should they wish!) here.

Firstly - the humble tea leaf. Tea is a drink that Laura in particular enjoys anyway, but we've both drank a lot more of it over the past few weeks, with the sheer range of types and flavours available meaning there's generally something to suit any mood!

Birdhouse Tea Co

Our most local tea producer, Birdhouse Tea Co, is run by the absolutely fantastic Rebecca (a qualified Tea Champion) and her mum Julie, and is a real Sheffield gem. A recent successful crowdfund campaign has contributed towards their soon to open new premises which will include a retail area, cafe, takeaway tea bar and even a classroom where regular tasting events can be held.

As well as a monumental plethora of single origin teas, Birdhouse create a huge array of their own blends focusing on "health and happiness", with collections based on themes such as Sheffield, the Peak District, and sweetshop classics! I've tried probably about 30 of the blends (and have also created my very own at a workshop last year) and they've without exception been real showcases of flavours and with carefully selected additional ingredients to allow the tea itself to shine. If I had to pick a favourite, I'd go for Princess Peach - a delicate sencha green tea with peachy flavours and rose and sunflower petals.


I really can't recommend Birdhouse enough, and for those of you not lucky enough to have them on your doorstep in Sheffield, their blends are all available via their online shop.

Tea Tourist

Tea Tourist is a monthly subscription service which delivers six samples of (usually loose leaf) tea, all from different producers, direct to your door in a handy letterbox friendly box. We're received five of the boxes so far, and each one has showcased a totally different variety of teas. The boxes are beautifully presented and well put together, with comprehensive information provided on each tea producer and suggestions for the best ways to brew and enjoy your tea. Each sample is designed to provide four cups, although often I've got plenty more than this from them. Favourites have included the relaxing Camomile, Rose and Fennel blend from Edgcumbes, and the smoky and punchy Sherlock Holmes tea, featuring lapsang souchong tea and elderflower blossom, from Chash


Improvements and developments have been made to the boxes in the time we've been receiving them (including the welcome introduction of tasty snacks and treats to accompany your brew), in response to feedback from customers and it's been great to see how this new company (which this month celebrates it's first birthday) is growing and changing. You can also get 30% off your first box using the code MASHTUN30.

Once our usual service has been resumed, keep your eyes peeled as we're in the process of compiling a series of tea based cocktails which we'll be sharing with you soon.


We've also enjoyed this month discovering the world of craft coffee. Coffee seems to be experiencing a similar sort of upsurge in interest as beer has done over the last few years, bringing with it the accompanying increase in artisan producers. Here are a couple we've particularly enjoyed discovering.

Frazer's Coffee Roasters

Based in Sheffield, run by Frazer himself! A massively knowledgeable gent who I had the pleasure of spending a few hours chatting coffee with at a recent Meet the Producer session at our lovely local shop Mr Pickles. Here, the emphasis is on not just producing amazing coffee grown with provenance (Frazer knows exactly where all of his beans come from, supporting small farms and community projects),  but also on educating the drinker in the best way to look after and make your coffee to get the best possible drink out of it.

Frazer's Steel City blend is inspired by Sheffield's industrial heritage, and is rich and hearty with a very dark roast providing a sumptuous bonfire toffee quality. A great pick-me-up for the morning. We've also enjoyed the newly released Christmas blend, using beans from Guatemala and Rwanda. No festive spice here, just the absolute finest of beans lightly roasted to give a beautifully rounded and smooth nutty character with hints of vanilla and a gentle sweetness. Reckon this would be a perfect afternoon treat with a good hunk of homemade gingerbread!

Dark Woods Coffee

We first became aware of these guys, hailing from Huddersfield, through their collaboration with Magic Rock - Common Grounds, a coffee porter made using a bespoke blend of Dark Woods beans (Dark Woods themselves have also since released the beans aged in whiskey barrels, which is a really interesting concept).

Our favourite blend we've tried is the Great Taste award-winning Under Milk Wood, deliciously balanced with a gorgeous sweetness almost akin to caramel. Really drinkable and a gentle start to any day.

As with Frazer's, Dark Woods are keen for their coffee to be treated well once it's made it into your home and so offer plenty of information on how to brew. It's a fairly new idea to us that coffee isn't just coffee, and that it isn't necessarily a good thing to chuck a glug of milk and a sugar in, but that different blends will have totally different flavour profiles and the notes and nuances within them should be allowed to sing. It's been really interesting discovering some of the complexities of the coffee and we're definitely converts to quality.

Cheers,

Laura and Jim


Disclosure: we receive Tea Tourist boxes FOC each month as part of their Tea Ambassador programme. However we have reviewed the product honestly and all views expressed are entirely our own.