Is there any sound more pleasing than the cheerful pop of a Prosecco cork?Whether you’re marking a special occasion or simply raising a well-deserved glass to the weekend, the sparkling Italian wine is one of our favourite tipples to toast the good times.It’s easy to see why; it’s kinder on the wallet than Champagne and pleasant to sip solo or with food. Prosecco is also light on calories, at roughly 80cal per flute although of course, this differs from bottle to bottle.While a bottle of bubbles can only be called Champagne if it’s made in the prestigious French region of the same name, so to only Italian-grown grapes can be called Prosecco.Ditto Spain’s Cava must be made on the Iberian peninsula. All are made in very similar ways, but what differs is the taste of the grape and of course the location of the vineyards in which they grew.Typically made in a north-eastern corner of Italy, Prosecco comes in various degrees of fizziness – spumante (sparkling), frizzante (semi-sparkling) and tranquilo (still).You’ll often find the letters DOC or DOCG stamped on the label of a bottle of Prosecco.Top pub quiz fact: these letters are to guarantee the high quality of the sparkling elixir within. Translated from Italian, DOCG is short for Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin, while DOC stands for Denomination of Controlled Origin. Both are there to reassure drinkers that the Prosecco they’re sipping is the real deal.But which one is the best? That’s the crucial information we’re here to determine, once and for all.We rounded up some of the best supermarket and food hall Proseccos, all available to shop online for the ultimate in convenience, to find the king of a drink colloquially known to some in the UK as Prosexy.After the gruelling taste test, helped by 16 of the finest set of tastebuds in the ES office, the numbers have been crunched and the findings are in. Read on to see the results of the Best Prosecco to Buy Online M&S Conte Priuli ORO ProseccoThere’s no denying that this golden bottle makes an impression from the get-go, making it an impressive gift for weddings and birthdays.Best reviewer quote: Our reviewers adored the bouji bottle, saying it has a “classic Prosecco taste” and likened it to a “Granny Smith, extra dry”.Estimated price: £20.Average rating: 9 out of 10. Take a bow, M&S.£15 | M&S | Buy it now Organic ProseccoSourced from a family-run vineyard just outside Venice, the grapes in this bottle were handpicked and grown free from pesticides and herbicides.Best reviewer quote: “Tastes more like Champagne than Prosecco.” Not a bad thing.Estimated price: £10, a couple of quid over the actual price, so this bottle tastes of more expensive than it actually is - win!Average rating: at 8, this bottle fared particularly well with our hand-selected ES taste team.£7.99 | Aldi | Buy it now Allini Prosecco SpumanteThis ‘easy-drinking’ Prosecco was made in Veneto, Italy and according to Lidl, pairs well with bruschetta and east Asian cuisine.Best reviewer quote: “Fruity overtone and a lively finish on the tongue”Estimated price: £11.99, double the actual price.Average rating: doing well at 7.£5.99 | Lidl | Buy it now Fillipo Sansovino Valdobbiadene ProseccoThe complex flavours within this unusually-shaped bottle set it apart from the competition. 11.5 per cent ABV.Best reviewer quote: “Could drink this for days” High praise indeed.Estimated price: £9.15.Average rating: Scoring 7, this was at the better end of our taste test table.£10 | Asda | Buy it now Mionetto MO Collection Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra DryWith a history dating back to 1887, Mionetto is one of the finest winemakers Italy has to offer. This extra-dry 11 per cent ABV bottle is a legacy of its expertise.Best reviewer quote: “Nice refined taste, would serve to the in-laws during an awkward dinner party”. Sounds like a winner in our book.Estimated price: £9.Average rating: out of a possible 10, this scored a very respectable 7.£12 | Sainsbury’s | Buy it now Prosecco Superiore DOCGLight with the flavour of ripe Autumn fruits, this sparkling Prosecco is purported to have a creamy taste.Best reviewer quote: “Perfect for a boozy day at the races.”Estimated price: this averaged at £9.50, tasting slightly more expensive than the RRP.Average rating: 7.£7.99 | Aldi | Buy it now Tesco Finest Prosecco Valdobbiadene DOCGWith grapes plucked from the finest vineyards in the heart of Italy's Prosecco region, this bottle is lovely with canapès and summer puddings.Best reviewer quote: “A decent amount of fizz, honey taste. Brace for a hangover the morning after.”Estimated price: our reviewers thought this tasted like an £8.50 bottle, on average.Average rating: a good rating, but not as high as expected at 6.5.£10 | Tesco | Buy it now ASDA Extra Special Prosecco Asolo Brut DOCGFloral and fruity, this is an impressive-looking bottle to take to a party.Best reviewer quote: A rather middle-of-the-road “nutty but nice.”Estimated price: £6.31.Average rating: Scoring a good 6.5.£8 | Asda | Buy it now Tesco Dino Prosecco DOCFruit and lemony, Tesco suggests this Prosecco is recommended to be drunk alongside a fresh fruit salad.Best reviewer quote: One person said this tasted “like a spring meadow – lovely!” while another said it would be a suitable gift for a colleague… but not for themselves.Estimated price: At £6.55, our reviewers’ average guess was just £1 out.Average rating: Although this bottle divided opinion, the average score was 6.£7.50 | Tesco | Buy it now M&S ProseccoA vibrant refreshing bottle, this Prosecco is made with 100 per cent Glera grapes.Best reviewer quote: Another bottle to split the opinion of our focus group, one said it was “a bit like cardboard, but improves as you go”, while another declared it their favourite of all the ones they tried.Estimated price: £6.18.Average rating: 6.£8 | M&S | Buy it now Prosecco Spumante ConeglianoThe award-winning bottle was made from a 2017 Veneto grape harvest and is 11 per cent ABV.Best reviewer quote: “Nicely balanced with a fizzy aftertaste”Estimated price: £7.80, 19 pence off target.Average rating: just shy of ‘okay’ at 5.5.£7.99 | Lidl | Buy it now Harvey Nichols ProseccoProduced by the Sorelle Bronca estate, this bottle is said to be ideal with light snacks or drunk unsullied all by itself.Best reviewer quote: One of our esteemed reviewers branded this “apple-juice like, PG13”. However, another said it was a classic Prosecco.Estimated price: £7.43.Average rating: 5.£16 | Harvey Nichols | Buy it now Morrisons The Best Valdobbiadene Prosecco 75clMade with a two-grape blend, this bottle of bubbles is suitable for vegans.Best reviewer quote: the best thing someone said about this bottle was that it “looks spenny”. The worst? “I’ve drunk 15 at this point, and they all taste the same now.” We did say it was a gruelling test.Estimated price: £7.Average rating: 5.£8 | Morrisons | Buy it now *On sale from £10 Selfridges Selection Prosecco Made under the shadow of the mighty Dolomites, this own-brand bottle from one of the UK's best food halls is perfect for celebrations.Best reviewer quote: “Dry and sour tasting” from one reviewer "refreshingly crisp" from another, this was something of a Marmite Prosecco.Estimated price: £9.11.Average rating: 4 out of 10.£13.99 | Selfridges | Buy it now BotoniqueThis de-alcoholised Prosecco replacement is packed with nutrients and minerals that alcohol normally depletes.Best reviewer quote: The most fitting comment for this zero-alcohol drink was “the beverage equivalent of a shoulder shrug.” The botanical notes confused some drinkers into thinking this was medicine, with one remarking that it “tastes like something you would serve to your child if they were afflicted with a fever.” An acquired taste, perhaps.Estimated price: our reviewers wouldn’t pay more than £4 a bottle for this booze-free alternative.Average rating: 1, this didn’t stand up well against traditional Prosecco.£7.99 | Ocado | Buy it now VerdictMarking out of a top score of 10, six of the bottles in our taste test scored 7 or higher, making them Best picks. M&S’s Conte Priuli ORO Prosecco not only looks the part but tastes amazing too, making it a worthy gift for someone special or to pop at a party. Contenders from Aldi, Asda and Sainsbury’s were also extremely impressive. * Read more Best daybeds 2019
It’s not often a new sauce comes along to rock our world, but Heinz has managed it with its latest offering.The condiment kings have been combining their famous tomato ketchup – for some, the only condiment worth having – with its Seriously Good Mayonnaise in one bottle for its Stateside customers for the last year.Branded in the US as ‘MayoChup’, but colloquially referred to as 'Fry Sauce' in the US, the sauce spells the end of having to blend ketchup and mayo yourself as it’s already perfectly mixed in one squeezy bottle.Now, much to the delight of British sauce fans, the union of the two sauces will be landing on UK shores – only it will be called ‘Saucy Sauce’ here.The name change is because another company already owns the trademark for ‘MayoChup’ in Europe. While it’s not as descriptive as the original, a quick poll around the ES offices confirmed that Saucy Sauce has a certain je ne sais quoi to it.Want to get your hands on a bottle? Set a calendar alert for August 23 – that’s when the the two-sauce blend will be stocked on Tesco shelves, costing £2.69 for a 400ml bottle.For those who can't or don't want to wait that long, there's always the DIY route - but it will cost you 31p more. You can make your own version of Heniz’s Saucy Sauce with a bottle of Heinz mayo and ketchup, which cost £2 and £1 respectively.How do you feel about Heinz's new sauce? Do you celebrate the hybrid or are you a purist who believes sauces shouldn't be mixed like this?Tell us about it on Facebook
A hard-working, everyday piece of kitchen kit – the humble salt and pepper mill needs to stand the test of time. Essential for seasoning your food to perfection, whether that’s while rustling up a meal, or sitting at the dining table.However, there’s really no need to spend a fortune and you can expect a good quality set to last many years, with some in our round-up even coming with a lifetime guarantee.We hadn’t considered this before, but as well as grinding tough black peppercorns and rough sea salt, many of the sturdy mills with good quality mechanisms are also capable of crushing whole spices too – a handy kitchen hack we’re happy to have discovered. Personally, we prefer a grinder that dispenses the fruits of its labour from the top, that way kitchen mess is kept to a minimum, however, some of these clever contraptions even come with their own pretty plate, so whatever your preference, there’s an option for that.And if grinding by hand sounds like too much effort, we’ve even included a battery-powered option, which will dispense freshly ground seasoning at the touch of a button.At the other end of the gadget spectrum is a simple salt and pepper shaker, if you don’t require freshly ground condiments.Another thing to consider before selecting your mills is where your set will be kept when not in use. Do you want a stylish pair, worthy of keeping out on display? Or would you rather something small and compact that will stay tucked away in a cupboard until you need it.When testing we were looking for user-friendly sizes, easy to fill contraptions that looked chic at the same time.You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers , but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. Menu norm bottle grinder salt and pepper set: £60, Harvey NicholsIn stylish, muted shades of grey and off-white, this Scandinavian salt and pepper mill set is as good-looking as it is functional. Each mill is comprised of two parts which simply pull apart for you to fill the bottom half. As well as grinding coarse sea salt and black peppercorns, these would also work well on whole spices and seeds, with a choice of three settings which determine how fine you’d like the result. The outer shell is made of silicon, which is easy to wipe down and each mill is finished with a light wooden top. As the opening is at the top of each grinder, you won’t leave a trail of salt and pepper in your wake when out of use.Buy now Zara Home berghoff salt and pepper grinder: £19.99, Zara HomeReminding us of something we might see in a rustic Italian trattoria, these sleek black salt and pepper mills will look just as great in the home. Measuring 27.5cm in height, these tall mills are made from wood and have a sturdy ceramic and stainless steel grinder mechanism. To fill, unscrew the knob at the top, remove the lid and fill to the top – which should keep you going for some time.Buy now Tower electric salt and pepper mill set: £22,99, WayfairSave the elbow grease and invest in a battery-operated pair of mills instead. Making light work of grinding salt, pepper and other spices, just hold down the button on top and an LED light will appear, making it even easier to see what you’re doing. They’re stylish too, sporting a very on-trend marble and rose gold design, paired with an acrylic section allowing you to see what each grinder is holding. A good option for those with arthritis in the hands or other mobility issues.Buy now Cole & Mason gourmet precision+ Lyndhurst ash inverta salt and pepper mill set: £99.99, Cole & MasonNew for 2019, the Precision+ grinding mechanism is billed as Cole & Mason’s “best pepper grinder ever”. The new technology has been created to release more pepper per turn and will come from the top of each mill, to keep your kitchen sides free from residue. With a pleasing weight and smooth carbon steel mechanism, these mills are available in either Nordic white with steel or chestnut and rose gold designs which should fit into most kitchen colour schemes. These offered the widest grind choices, with six options for pepper and three for salt and we found filling each mill from the base very easy. Although one of the most expensive brands we tried, these mills are covered with Cole & Mason’s lifetime mechanism guarantee.Buy now Anthropologie bistro salt and pepper shakers: £16, AnthropologieReminding us that not all salt and pepper mills need to be purely functional is the fabulously eclectic homeware brand, Anthropologie. Designed in an elegant, black, white and gold tile effect pattern, the set contains a pair of shakers for your salt and pepper, labelled with a large S and P respectively, as well as a very handy dish to collect any rogue crumbs. There is also a butter dish, various sized canisters (ideal for sugar cubes, tea bags and the like) and coasters in the same design.Buy now John Lewis & Partners hammered copper salt and pepper mills: £45, John Lewis & PartnersThe trend for hammered copper in homeware pieces shows no signs of dying down. Unlike clinical silver or showy gold, this more muted metal has the ability to soften décor, with a warm glow which works back with a number of kitchen colour palettes. This simple and pretty set is very straight forward to use, with just the one grind setting. To fill, just you just twist the silver tip, remove the top half of the mill and simply pour in your salt or pepper before reassembling – leaving the pair to shine on the kitchen counter whilst not in use.Buy now STAUB salt and pepper shaker Set: £9.95, STAUBCheap, cheerful and unapologetically low tech, you won’t find any mechanical grinders in this set. Instead, a simple shake and you’re away. Measuring a diminutive 7cm in height, they take up very little space in compact kitchens and add a cheerful pop of colour in this rich dark blue hue. Obviously, you’ll need to buy pre-ground salt and pepper but despite the simplicity, French brand STAUB is one you can trust, hailing as they do from the food-lovin region of Alsace. Crafted from the brands signature ceramic, we’re confident these are built to last, despite the reasonable price tag.Buy now The verdict: Salt and pepper mills and shakersWe’ve been the happy owners of this set for years and they show no signs of giving up on us yet. Well priced, stylish and simple to use, the Menu norm bottle grinder set is a design classic.
Whether your vice is a classic martini (shaken, not stirred a la James Bond) or a perfectly frothed pisco sour, the humble cocktail shaker is an essential piece of kit for making your favourite cocktail recipes like the pros. It’s particularly important for creating the light foam found in some egg white-based cocktails and is also the quickest way of cooling a drink down, while adding just the right amount of dilution from the added ice. Ingredients are thoroughly combined – whether it’s a boozy affair or a mocktail – and you’ll look pretty cool in the process. When selecting your cocktail shaker, there are two main types to consider. The Boston is comprised of two parts, normally a larger tin and a smaller glass which should be added at a jaunty angle to create a tight seal. This style tends to offer a larger capacity to work with, which is why it’s referred to as the busy bartenders cocktail shaker of choice. However, beginners might find a three-piece cobbler style easier to use. This is made up of three parts – the main jug, an inbuilt strainer and the lid, so there’s no need for additional equipment.Although you can spend significantly more, a functional cocktail shaker needn’t set you back more than £20. We’ve rounded up a selection – from the total basic to the more design-led – that will add a little je ne sais quoi to your bar cart when not in use.When testing our shakers we made sure they were easy to grip, maintained a tight seal when shaken, yet were easy to dismantle as well.You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. KitchenCraft Boston shaker: £12.50, Harvey NicholsKitchen Craft has such a great selection of cocktail shakers, from the ultra-practical to the downright stylish, we’ve always found them to be top quality. We think this one strikes a good balance between the two, made from brushed stainless steel and sturdy glass, it’s been printed with classic cocktail recipes for you to easily follow. Simply fill the ingredients to the line and you’ll have the perfect serve for a dry martini, manhattan and more. Inside the box, you’ll also find a cocktail booklet with further recipe suggestions.Buy now S’well blue granite cocktail shaker kit: £95, Harvey NicholsYou’ll no doubt be familiar with S’well for its trendy stainless steel water bottles which come in an array of gorgeous designs. With the emphasis on eliminating single-use plastics, the brand have gained a huge fan base. S’well has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to keeping cold drinks cool and hot drinks hot and has applied this to their very stylish cocktail shaker. Like its water bottles, this shaker is triple-walled and vacuum-insulated – which put simply means your drink will stay super cold, but your hands won’t get frost-bite. Also included in the kit is a pair of stylish tumblers with the same technology, perfect for a variety of cocktails, as well as a handy jigger.Buy now House Doctor alir brass cocktail shaker: £45, TrouvaOh-so-stylish, you’d be forgiven for thinking this shaker was purely decorative. Fear not though, we put it to the test and actually found it to be very practical – particularly the clever knob on the top, which makes it easy to pull apart the two pieces when you’re finished shaking. The only downfall is that due to the beautiful brass finish it will need to be washed by hand. There’s also a matching wine bucket in the range.Buy now Oliver Bonas iko scalloped cocktail shaker: £24, Oliver BonasArt deco lovers will adore this pretty cocktail shaker from Oliver Bonas, which we think looks way more expensive than it is. The rich teal-blue tinted glass features a pretty scallop detail, which, aside from being a lovely design feature, actually makes it really easy to hold on to while shaking. It’s a three-piece style, which is great for beginners as it does away with the need for a separate strainer.Buy now M&S hammered metal cocktail shaker: £15, M&SCheap, cheerful and perfectly functional, this hammered stainless steel cocktail shaker from M&S still manages to look chic at the same time. It comprises three parts – the main jug which holds up to 650ml, an inbuilt strainer and the lid which closes tightly but is still easy to remove after a good shake. There are also other barware pieces in the same style if you’d like a matching set.Buy now KitchenCraft barcraft studded cocktail shaker with gold finish: £19.99, VeryWe couldn’t resist including another shaker from KitchenCraft because we really were so impressed with the quality. This one’s a little flashier, with a gold exterior and diamond stud detail which means it can’t go in the dishwasher. However the rough surface makes it really easy to grip and we loved the rubber rim which makes taking the cap off a doddle. It also comes with a little booklet featuring cocktail recipes to get you started.Buy now John Lewis & Partners pineapple cocktail shaker: £25, John Lewis & PartnersIf there’s one piece of homeware we reckon you can definitely have a little fun with, it’s got to be the cocktail shaker. With full-on tiki-vibes, this shiny silver pineapple-shaped cocktail shaker from John Lewis & Partners is utterly fabulous. We got straight to work rustling up a pina colada (what else?) and are pleased to report that it was certainly not a case of style over substance. Although thanks to the slightly bulbous shape, it wasn’t the easiest to handle – although certainly still manageable. It can hold up to 600ml (enough for a couple of drinks) and looks the part when not in use.Buy now Leopold set of two weighted shaking tins: £21.50, Cocktail KingdomLeopold’s stainless steel shaking tins are inexpensive, durable and can be chucked into the dishwasher after use. These professional shakers are also pleasingly weighted, which makes handling them even easier. They take a little getting used to as you need to insert the smaller tin at just the right angle, but once you’ve got the knack, they really are the perfect shaker for rustling up multiple serves.Buy now Georg Jensen sky cocktail shaker: £110, AmaraLet’s be clear, no one needs to spend this sort of money to get a decent cocktail shaker, with many in this list available for under £20. But this sculptural piece from Georg Jensen is so much more than your bog-standard shaker. Designed by industrial and interior designer Aurélien Barbry, this beautiful piece could just as easily be left on your bar cart and admired from afar, however that would be a crying shame because it’s actually very practical too. Made from sturdy stainless steel, with a curved design which is pleasing to grip, it comes with an inbuilt strainer and can hold up to 500ml. Like this look? The nordic-inspired range also includes a bottle stopper, ice bucket and jigger among other barware essentials.Buy now The verdict: Cocktail shakersGet ready to shake, rattle and roll like the pros with KitchenCraft’s Boston-style shaker, complete with printed serves to follow as you pour. If you have a little more to spend, we’d also recommend the cocktail kit from S’well – the clever technology means your hands will thank you for it.
You might think tea bags are just simply paper and tea, and that of course they decompose, and that you’re doing your bit by putting them in your home food waste to compost. But, you’re wrong – unless you use plastic free tea bags, that is.In actual fact, an estimated 96 per cent of the tea bags we buy contain polypropylene, which is what the tea bags are sealed with, so when you put in the used bags in your food waste, you’re actually putting toxic chemicals into your beautiful compost that will eventually seep into the ground.Some plastic free tea brands differ between being biodegradable and compostable, which is important to know about, so you can deal with your used tea bag correctly. The former means it will be broken down by a biological process, but it needs the right conditions which are most often at an industrial level that uses a higher heat than you can obtain in your garden. And the latter is able to break down in home garden composting conditions and will work as a fertilizer afterwards.There are lots of brands who champion making tea bags without these tiny plastic pieces, and there’s more that are changing to rid themselves of it too. But if you’re favourite brand doesn’t offer a plastic free bag of your favourite brew, you can also use loose leaf tea. We looked for brands that not only used alternative materials to plastic in the actual tea bag, but ones that also removed plastic from the packaging, reduced excess materials and tags, paid producers a fair wage, and of course, tasted excellent. Here’s our roundup of tea bags that are free of plastic.You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. Abel & Cole indubitably excellent organic earl grey: £4 for 15, Abel & Cole Coming in a brown paper bag style pouch this tea – sourced from Sri Lanka – is made by Alex Probyn, whom Abel & Cole call the tea whisperer. He began making tea as just a side project, and is now responsible for the brand’s signature blends. The pyramid bags – made from soilon, a bi-product of cornstarch that's best going in food waste – are large and give a well rounded, delicate but full-flavoured brew that’s organic, too. The entirety of the packaging is biodegradable, including the inner plastic-looking lining and reusable seal, made with Nature-flex – which is woodpulp – that’s also home compostable, and takes between three to six months to decompose at home.Buy now Brew Tea Co proper tea earl grey: £4.95 for 15, Brew Tea CoThis brand is all about as transparent and sustainable as it comes, and the brand makes it all fun too. Brew Tea – based in Manchester, uses whole leaves (not dust, it insists) and is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership which supports small estate grower. This is a refreshing brew full of flavour mixing bergamot oil with ceylon black tea, orange peel and calendula petals. All the tea bags from the brand are made from cornstarch, the inner lining is made from Nature-flex and inside the box is a really useful card telling you what all the packing is made from and how it should be recycled: from the council food recycling (tea bags and inner lining) which decomposes at 45 days to the outer box which goes into the paper recycling. Buy now Clipper organic everyday tea: £3.49 for 80, ClipperIt might look most like an ordinary teabag, but this is far, far from it. Each teabag is unbleached (hence it’s more earthy colour), organic, fairtrade, plastic free and non GM. It was the world’s first pillow-shaped bag to meet this criteria and was launched in 2018. And if that’s not enough, it was even the world’s first fairtrade tea. The bag is made from abaca plants – a type of banana – and the plastic that sealed the bag is replaced with a material made from non-GM plants and it's become our new go-to every day tea. Just like it says. And it's by far the most affordable on the list.Buy now Hampstead Tea whole leaf home compostable pyramids: £4.49 for 15, Hampstead TeaWe love this brand's ethos of "cup to compost", where all the pyramids are made from GM-free sugar startch, which is home compostable, along with the inner plastic-look pouch that holds the tea bags. Hampstead Tea was the first company to produce a fully home compostable bag – which takes 91 days. The tea is whole leaf and all the ingredients are organic or biodynamic, where no chemicals are used. We love that there's no string or labels on the bags and it comes with a little handy bamboo tong to grab your bag out – perfect when there's no spoons in the office.The earl grey makes an excellent, well-rounded brew. There's also four others flavours in the range. We Are Tea English breakfast tea: £2.49 for 15, OcadoThis whole-leaf tea company started in 2007, and was the first brand to remove the paper tags from teabags. In 2012, We Are Tea joined the Ethical Tea Partnership and moved from nylon bags to ones made from soilon. Each teabag is sealed by ultrasound instead of glue, which makes them biodegradable at an industrial level between three and six months, so make sure you put them in your council food waste bin. It can go in your home compost, but it will take much longer (at least 18 months). When the tea first launched, the plastic inner part of the packaging was not recyclable, but it's now made from Nature-flex, too.Buy now Eteaket royal earl grey tea bags: From £4.95 for 15, EteaketBased in Edinburgh, this ethically sourced tea specialist café, which opened in 2008, sells its own brews in tea bags and loose leaf and is part of the Ethical Tea Partnership. The tea bags are made from soilon, which isn’t bleached and is biodegradable. The tag is made from paper which is not laminated and is attached to the string via ultrasound, while the inner packaging, made from Nature-flex, is recyclable and can be composted at home. The brand is also working on making all its wholesale orders plastic free too. We love this as a weekend morning brew. And definitely go to the cafe when you're in town. Buy now Nemi Tea green tea : £4.50 for 15, NemiteasThe teabags at Nemi have always been plastic free, since launching in October 2017. The pyramid bags are made from soilon, are guaranteed GM free and are totally biodegradable at industrial level. There’s no glue used to attach the string and labels, instead it's joined by ultrasound and all the packaging is made with Natur-flex. What we love most about this that the brand also helps refugees integrate into the UK by employing them to run their tea stalls. Buy now T2 French earl grey teabag gift cube: £8 for 25, T2This Australian brand, born in 1996 in Melbourne, reached the UK in 2014 in London’s Shoreditch (and grew to 14 stores in the capital) and takes its sustainability seriously. The bags are made from cornstarch, but have a more opaque appearance than any of the others we tested. The bags will breakdown in home composting but it can take a long as 18-24 months so it’s best to put it into your local council food composting where it will be quicker. The inner plastic is not recyclable, but the brand is working on switching this to a plant based material by 2020. This is our favourite new tea for it's floral flavour that we love devouring from a pot at the weekends.Buy now Roqberry: £7 for 18, The Food MarketAfter launching in 2017, Roqberry prides itself on championing “blending the rules” by using classic flavours to create modern fusions such as “aromatic sushi and spice” and “black smoke”. These pyramid teabags, made from soilon, encase the single-source tea that comes in black, green, herbal, rooibos and oolong, and all are biodegradable. As it won’t breakdown in under a year, this tea bag should be thrown out with your council food waste as soilon composes at industrial standards (in six to eight weeks). The cube boxes are made from FSC paper that’s easily recyclable, too.Buy now Pukka Herbs: £2.45 for 20, Holland and BarrettLaunched in 2001 in Bristol, Pukka Tea’s bags differ from all others as each bag is wrapped in an individual envelope to ensure freshness – and it’s more environmentally friendly than you might think. It took four years of research to develop this new packaging, and it has removed more than 100 tonnes of plastic from the brand’s supply chain. The envelope contains only a very thin layer of BPA and PVC free plastic, but is still able to be recycled with paper. Since 2014 the brand stopped using a staple to connect the organic string and plastic-free label, and instead uses a little stitch to attach it.Buy now Good & Proper Tea: £5 for 15 teabags, Good & Proper TeaWhat began life as a mobile tea bar, has now found a permanent cafe in east London. The plastic free range was added in 2017 and is made from the non toxic material soilon (which needs to go in a collected food waste bin). These are the largest bags we tested and aside from Clipper’s pillow shaped bags, are the only one that comes in a flat large square shape, instead of the pyramid. Bags are packaged in a plastic alternative, the plant based material called Vegware which is also compostable, but at industrial levels..Buy now Twinings loose leaf pyramid bag: £6.50 for 15, TwiningsThe Twinings pyramid tea bags have always been plastic free since it was launched in October 2014. They are made from maize starch which is treated by an enzyme that allows it to be spun into filaments. The tea bags include loose leaf tea which makes an excellent brew, but each bag has a label attached that’s covered in a thin layer of plastic – so it won’t dissolve if it ends up in your brew, apparently – and will need to be removed before composting. The inner foil wrapper isn’t recyclable, but Twinings is the process of reviewing it’s range to finpukkd alternatives. Buy now Teapigs everyday brew tea bags: £3.99 for 15, Ocado Teapigs was the first brand to receive the world’s first plastic-free trust mark, created by the campaign group A Plastic Planet in May 2018. These biodegradable bags are made from cornstarch, while the paper tags use vegetable inks and are, you'll be glad to read, non-toxic. Don’t be dismayed when you open your box, as even the clear “plastic” inner bag (made from natureflex) is compostable. The bags can go in your home food recycling bin for compost, which may feel strange, but they will compost.Buy now The verdict: Plastic free tea bagsWe love the flavour and eco-packaging of Abel & Cole's indubitably excellent organic earl grey tea, which is our winner. While Clipper's every day tea ticks many boxes, as does Brew Tea with its approach to making recycling and saving the planet fun. We also like We Are Tea for removing the label and string.
In the Standard's Simply Spiced series, each fortnight food writer Mallika Basu will create a recipe centring around a specific spice. In this instalment, Mallika creates a fresh dip perfect for summer BBQs. This fresh, floral butter bean dip is the perfect chilled way to end a hot summer day when you fancy something nutritious and quick as you plop in front of the TV.I can also confirm it is great for picnics and BBQs. Serve it cold with a ripped flatbread of your choice or dress it up with cold meats, crudites and lots of lemon juice. Ingredients * 1 x 400gm tin of organic butter beans * 1 flat clove garlic, peeled * 1 tbsp tahini * 4 sprigs fresh flat parsley * Half tsp fennel seeds or fennel powder * Half tsp cumin seeds or cumin powder * Half tsp salt * 1 tbsp quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil * Chilli flakes and freshly cracked black pepper to serve MethodDrain the beans over a jug to reserve the liquid. Put them in a high speed blender (a smoothie maker will do) with half the reserved bean liquid (aqua faba) and the rest of the ingredients.Blend once, scraping the beans that splatter onto the sides of the blender back into the jug with a spatula. Then blend again until smooth.Serve chilled in a bowl drizzled with more olive oil, the chilli flakes and black pepper.You can find more of Mallika Basu's 'Simply Spiced' recipes here and follow her on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
A great balsamic vinegar is a true store-cupboard staple – best kept on standby, ready to spruce up sauces and swirl over starters. But with so many on offer, at such staggeringly different price points – how do you know the best one to buy? Before even tasting balsamic vinegar you’ll be able to glean a lot of information, just from looking at the ingredients and the label.For example, if you read Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar) di Reggio Emilia and D.O.P. (“Protected Denomination of Origin“) you are guaranteed the ingredient's quality, you’ll know it’s been through a very rigorous process, and you’ll have a place of origin. The only ingredient is grape must (freshly crushed fruit juice), mostly from trebbiano grapes, which is then left in a variety of different wood casks – oak, chestnut, cherry, mulberry, ash, and juniper – all of which will impart their distinctive flavours whilst the liquid slowly matures for at least 12 years. Expert tasters then decide on its ranking with classification following a very strict quality criteria for both production and end product appearance, aroma and taste. It only comes in 100ml bottles, and it is an incredibly precious product. In short, you can expect this to be pretty expensive.Another label to look out for is Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP Invecchiato (IGP – Protected Geographical Indication meaning the product must come from a specific area surrounding Modena). This is made using age-old craft techniques, blending regional grape-musts mixed with a small percentage of wine vinegar. The mixture then slowly ages in oak casks and in the finished product acidity must be below 6 per cent. Italian regulations actually forbid to state the years of ageing on the label, just look for the word “invecchiato” (aged). This is certainly a more affordable option for most shoppers.As for personal choice, it really depends what you’ll be using it for – balsamic vinegar is an ultra-versatile ingredient. Delicious used in salad dressings, it can also be drizzled over soft and hard cheeses, meat, pasta and risottos. Equally delicious but something you might not have considered is pairing it with ice-cream, panna cotta and fresh strawberries.And just when you thought this miracle product couldn’t get any better, apparently a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar at the end of a meal aids digestion! Try a spoon of the thicker styles at night, just before bed.When taste-testing our vinegars, we were looking for a smooth balanced flavour, combining acidity and sweetness with plenty of depth. We tried them all neat as well as in a variety of dishes. When considering which to buy, we’d suggest thinking about how you’re most likely to use this product. Thinner styles are better suited to everyday use, whilst thicker versions are best saved for the finishing touch to very special dishes.You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers , but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. Il Borgo del Balsamico Italian balsamic vinegar Modena IGP yellow label 250ml: £16, The Red BeetleThe Red Beetle travels around Italy, sourcing authentic ingredients from local suppliers and then pop them on itslovely website for us to buy here in the UK. As you might expect, it has a truly delicious array of goodies, including a top selection of balsamic vinegars. The Il Borgo del Balsamico brand has a nifty colour code which makes selecting the perfect one for you very easy. The yellow one we’ve awarded our Best Buy to is the perfect option for everyday use. It’s great for fresh salads, can be used to marinate fish or they suggest adding to tempura and eggs benedict as a slightly more unusual (but no less delicious!) way to use this lovely ingredient. The orange one from the same range is slightly thicker, so better suited to adding at the end of a sauce or on top of ravioli, while the red is the top of the range – velvety, thick and silky in consistency, it’s aged in oak for years, and should be saved for the most special dishes.Buy now Belazu organic balsamic vinegar of Modena IGP 250ml: £16.45, BelazuBelazu have a great reputation when it comes to sourcing the best ingredients from across the Mediterranean and this organic balsamic vinegar from Modena is no exception. Matured in a mix of oak, chestnut and juniper barrels for up to 30 months, the resulting dense liquid has taken on a deep colour and a well-rounded, balanced yet highly complex flavour. Elegantly smooth with an obvious sweetness, we’ll be teaming ours with strawberries and ricotta or mopping it up with crusty bread.Buy now Guiseppe Guisti 5 gold medals Cubica balsamic vinegar 250ml: £42.99, SelfridgesThis may be a little more than we’d normally spend on balsamic vinegar but this is a very special product with a price tag to match. Highly concentrated with notes of black cherries, baked plums, cinnamon and nutmeg, the liquid is aged in small antique barrels which date back to the 1700’s. As such only a very limited quantity is available each year. Add a drop or two at the end of your dish to really savour the complex flavours. The elegant bottle is finished with a red wax seal and the label depicts the 5 gold medals in its name. It’s the champagne equivalent in our round-up – best saved for special occasions.Buy now Odysea balsamic vinegar of Modena 250ml: £9.95, SainsburysAged for a minimum of 10 years, this is a velvety smooth vinegar, made with a blend of grape varieties. It’s a thicker style and works a treat in tomato-based sauces, with a dark brown chestnut colour which would also create a satisfying swirl on top of risotto. Well balanced acidity, a slightly earthy complexity and a light sweetness – its’ all we could ask for from a balsamic at this price.Buy now Riserva bio balsamic vinegar of Modena IPG, Organic 250ml: £13.50, Abel & ColeLike everything in the Abel & Cole range, this balsamic vinegar is organic and has the IGP stamp of approval. Thick and rich, this is crying out for a loaf of crusty bread for you to get dipping. Aside from that it would work well in chicken salads and drizzled over roasted Mediterranean veg. The beautiful bottle comes complete with a white ribbon and bottle stop, so would make a great (affordable!) gift for the foodie in your life.Buy now Massimo Bottura organic balsamic vinegar 250ml: £18.95, Harvey NicholsIf we’re going to trust anyone to create a fantastic balsamic vinegar, Massimo Bottura – the chef behind three Michelin starred restaurant, Osteria Francescana in Modena – is undoubtedly the man for the job. A celebration of one of his hometown’s most loved ingredients, his own-label vinegar is sweet and savoury with a good whack of acidity. It had a medium viscosity, but is extremely smooth so could be added to sauces at the last minute to create a rich depth of flavour, as glazes for meat and fruit or simply eaten with one of the regions other famous ingredients, parmigiano reggiano.Buy now Sainsbury's Taste the Difference balsamic vinegar of Modena 4 Leaf 250ml: £10, Sainsbury’sWith a pleasing viscosity and slightly sweet finish, Sainsbury’s “four leaf” balsamic is at the top of its range. When trying other supermarket own-brand balsamic vinegar’s around the same price, this tasted significantly more premium than the rest. A very good sweet to tart ratio that will work well in sauces and for dipping.Buy now Fortnum & Mason 20 year-old balsamic vinegar 100ml: £40, Fortnum & MasonRich, thick and luxurious, but then what else would you expect from royal warrant holders, Fortnum & Mason. This vinegar has been aged for an impressive 20 years, and in that time has taken on the complex earthy notes from the wood it’s been aged in – in this case oak, mulberry, chestnut, cherry and juniper. Thankfully a little goes a very long way, so just add a drop our two over freshly steamed asparagus and serve as a sumptuous starter, which is guaranteed to impress guests.Buy now The verdict: Balsamic vinegarsThe Red Beetle’s Yellow Label balsamic vinegar comes out top for us, as we think it’s a great quality product at a sensible price, making it perfect for everyday use. However, if you’re looking for something slightly thicker and better for dipping, Belazu’s balsamic is perfect for the job. It’s more pronounced flavours made this a very memorable product that we can’t wait to cook with again.
Getting home from work and realising you need to sprint to the local supermarket to buy a last-minute dinner before Love Island starts is up there with one of life’s most mundane tasks.At least, it was until Sainsbury’s announced that it is now offering customers hot takeaways via Deliveroo.From Monday 22 July, Deliveroo users will be able to order freshly-baked sourdough pizzas, a range of sweet and savoury snacks, dips and soft drinks from selected Sainsbury’s shops in the UK straight to their door.Better yet, the prices of the products will be exactly the same as those customers would find if they bought them in the supermarket or online.The move, which marks the first time a supermarket has joined forces with the delivery app, is part of a two-month trial which is available in Cambridge, Selly Oak, West Hove, Pimlico and Hornsey.According to Deliveroo, customers will be able to choose from around 50 Sainsbury’s products on the app and more will be added during the trial.“With more and more shoppers looking for convenient and affordable meals delivered to their doors, our trial with Deliveroo brings our great value hot food direct to customers’ homes,” says Clodagh Moriarty, Sainsbury’s group chief digital officer.The news comes days after Sainsbury’s launched the UK’s first signing supermarket in an effort to support the hard-of-hearing community.The Bath branch – which was renamed “Signsbury’s” for the three-day project – took the step as part of the supermarket’s 150 Days of Community scheme to mark the company’s 150th anniversary.Staff communicated with customers both verbally and with sign language, signing common words and phrases such as the locations of food items.Children took part in a challenge that earned them a free snack if they learnt to sign basic words.To prepare for the project, more than 100 store staff took British sign language lessons, run by a local signing centre, I Can Sign.The lessons were supported by Sam Brook, a Sainsbury’s employee who is deaf, and Rachel Shenton, the actor who starred as Lily Summers in the film Switched at Birth.Earlier this month, Deliveroo announced the launch of a letterbox delivery service so that customers don't need to answer the door when indulging in a "duvet day".The new letterbox delivery service – named "Royal Meal" – is currently being trialled in Manchester with deliveries from cafe Katsouris.Breakfast sandwiches from the restaurant can now be delivered to customers in recyclable packaging slim enough to fit through a letterbox.