Friday 8 June 2018

Chateau Rouge Artisanal Tea & Hot Chocolate Review & Giveaway

   There's nothing quite like a cup of tea. Black, green, rooibos, fruit, herbal - whatever. It's lighter than coffee, it's so easy to drink, and there's a brew for every mood. I always drink a ginger green before my workouts, I keep lemon and ginger on hand for if I fall ill, and camomile and apple for those sleepless nights. Then there are the multitude of others to fill in every other whim and occasion throughout the day. So it's not surprising that my cupboards are bursting with the stuff. Though not so much with black. I'm quite fussy - if it's not spiced, I'm not interested.
   But when it comes to green tea, herbal and rooibos, I have my favourite brews and brands. That said, I am always on the lookout for new tea to add to my collection - or replace previous favourites - especially artisanal, so when I found Chateau Rouge, lured in by their fancy branding and small-scale, artisanal blending, I had to have a taste.

   Above all, I am a green tea drinker. I drink about 4 cups a day. I'd read some time ago that green tea could help improve metabolism so I began drinking it by the bucket. I then read some time later that you have to drink a lot of green tea to get that effect, and even then it's negligible. But by that time, I was hooked. I had never been a tea drinker prior to reading that fateful article somewhere back in 2014, and green wasn't my cuppa (pun intended), but I grew to truly, deeply love it. And it's one of the easiest and cleanest teas to drink. Nevermind EGCGs and catechins, it's a tea you never need to add milk or sugar to, it contains more antioxidents than other teas, it's rarely bitter, and it provides the most perfect base for flavours. For the most part, fruit tea smells amazing but they all taste the same, but when that fruit - or flowers - is thrown in alongside green tea leaves, oh my goodness, you truly can taste it, and every blend becomes notably different.

   Chateau Rouge's Butterfly Lovers green tea is no exception. A quick whiff of the teabag (or loose leaf, if you prefer) reveals hints of citrus and fresh meadows. Another sniff of the brewing tea highlights the wild flowers. And, at last, a sip, and the Seville oranges slip back through. It's light, as it promises, and colourful. Synaesthetically speaking, it was a beautifully yellow, late-summer taste. It was an immediate hit. Even Seeg was interested and he's very set in his ways.

   Rooibos and herbal are my next preferred teas, though I tend to drink them for a mood boost. Green is a great staple, but honey, lemon, ginger, liquorice, it's all functional and beneficial, and they're not old wives' tales. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, and since I started drinking it before workouts, I've noticed less DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness - ie. the pain that comes the evening or day after a tough workout). Liquorice is a natural laxative (sorry), and is a very gentle way to encourage things to get moving. Camomile is calming. Valerian is relaxing to the point of aiding sleep. These are things that have been known and relied upon for centuries, and even present-day research supports it.
   Honeybush and rooibos can improve airflow to the lungs by naturally dilating the bronchi and bronchioles (tubes in your lungs), which is perfect for asthma and hayfever sufferers, and is also an antispasmodic agent which can help prevent stomach cramps. While I've not tasted more than two blends prior, Chateau Rouge's Wildharvest Honeybush, my third, is easily the best of the three. It's gentler, and yet somehow more pronounced, with a wonderful hint of peach. It's less smokey than one, less sweet than the other; it's easy to drink, but not so easy as to be glugged without taking notice. Their Wiedouw Rooibos is also sweet and gentle.

   That said, from time to time I admit that I like to indulge in something sweeter. I don't like to drink my calories, so when I do, I want it to be worth it. And it's usually only on special occasions, too. The most recent of which was my wedding 3 weeks ago. I don't drink alcohol, I don't drink coffee, I don't drink soda. If I'm treating myself to a denser beverage, it's going to be hot chocolate. And I don't care what the weather is doing. I'm of a firm mind that winter is ideal ice cream weather. You don't have to eat it in a hurry.
   So when I noticed that Chateau Rouge also made artisanal hot chocolate, well, I had to try that, too. Special occasion, and all. But I'd never seen dark hot chocolate before and, as we all know, it's the 'healthiest' kind of chocolate, so I needed to try that, too.
   And...salted caramel milk chocolate. I'm only human...

Iced hot chocolate. It is June...

   Like the old Chocolate Houses in the 17th Century - which I learned about in a suitably nerdy way, via the Assassin's Creed prequel novel, Forsaken - Chateau Rouge's 70% hot chocolate is dark and bitter, 'unadulturated', served just as it used to be. It is pure Columbian dark chocolate with a dash of Valrhona cocoa powder from Tain-l'Hermitage in France, with nothing at all to take away from the taste of chocolate, which tastes here just as it did when it first reached the UK and was something truly spectacular. An evening out for a mug of chocolate on a special occasion. And the romantic part of me has to admit that I love how its popularity hasn't faded even after 350 years. So many things have come and gone, but chocolate will always be here to stay.
   That said if dark isn't your thing, turn instead to their new sea salt and caramel blend. Oh. My. Goodness. I am a Hotel Chocolat fan, it's true, and I've always turned to them when I've sought out a salted caramel hot chocolate. But no longer. Truly. I stuck my finger into the shavings of Chateau Rouge's blend and had a cheeky taste, like I always do before brewing 200 liquid calories - just to be sure I really want it. Well, I admit that when I was tasting this one, I wasn't actually looking to make a hot chocolate. I was just looking for tasting notes. But, after a little squealing outburst that brought my dear newlywed husband running, wondering what had happened, I brewed one right away. 40% Columbian milk chocolate with Valrhona cocoa powder, sea salt and caramelised sugar, it is every ounce of what it promises to be. Creamy. Rich. Sophisticated. Sea salt. Caramel. Hot chocolate. It is, literally, everything it says on the tin. It also immediately reminded me of the best sea salted caramel chocolates I've ever had from a little artisanal shop in Lacock.
   It also makes a great iced hot chocolate!

   To summarise, never again will I turn to Hotel Chocolat for my hot chocolate blends, and Chateau Rouge's Butterfly Lovers green tea will be knocking something off of my favourites - only time will tell which.

   And Chateau Rouge have been amazingly kind and are offering three chocolates from their range for one lucky reader! 1657 70% Dark, Sea Salt Caramel, and 1930 30% White - and all you have to do is fill in the widget below for multiple chances. UK-only, I'm afraid - perishables, and all that! Not to mention that I wouldn't want to have chocolate in the postal system any longer than necessary at this time of year...
   Oh, and check back later in the summer for a tea giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was sent this product to review by the brand itself. The quantity and precise products sent were their choice, not my own. All opinions and images are my own, and all appropriate research has been done by myself from a range of sources rather than relying entirely on the product's website, especially where health products are concerned. I do not accept a product to review if I do not believe it is safe or worth my own time, regardless of any kind of reimbursement. I trial the products for an appropriate amount of time before writing reviews to check for wear-and-tear on physical items and side effects from edible (be it supplements or food). If I have negative points to voice, I will voice them, and I never, ever accept product reviews or reimbursement on the promise of a positive review. My reviews are and will only ever be honest.


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