26 Tasting Notes
This is a pretty good tea. The cardamon and the cocoa complement each other well. This tea is a bit like chai, but less complex. It’s not a “light” cup, but rather a tea for cold weather and a slice of cake or rich pastry. It seemed a bit rich for an everyday cup, but for a special occasion or as an indulgence it would be quite nice. The only other gripe might be that the black tea base for this was just a teensy bit bitter, but that may be corrected with a shorter steep time. I only had a single cup because that was all the tea I had to work with, but I plan on buying more and possibly updating this review. If you like cocoa or chai, this might be a good tea for you.
A friend of mine brought me a box of Chombe Tea when he took a trip to Malawi to visit some missionary groups. I was skeptical of it right off the bat. It was in bags, not loose leaf. The bags didn’t look particularly well made. On the box it said “export grade”, which made me think tourist trap. It looked like a typical CTC black tea dust that might have been found in any grocery store in the world. Then I made a cup. Wow! Not bad! In fact, for a bag tea, it actually had a nice bright color, a delightful earthy/nutty taste, and it took milk and sugar really well. One of the best bag teas I’ve drank. I’ve since learned that Malawi has been growing tea for over 100 years from plants imported from China, so they’ve had a lot of time to develop their product.
This is a nice tea, but it took a couple of cups to reach that opinion. Why? I’m not sure, but it may have been the water. The first time was at home using non filtered water from the tap. This has never given me a problem before, but the tea wasn’t as flavorful as the smell from the container would lead you to believe. The next cup was made with filtered water. Wow! What a difference. Much, much more flavorful and tasted just like coconut cream pie. Hats off to 52teas. If you like tea and coconut cream pie, this match up is hard to beat. If you normally take milk in your black teas, don’t use it here. I tried a cup that way thinking it might accent the creamy flavor, but it really masked it instead. Looking forward to another cup or two of this one.
Ok, let me preface this by saying this is my rating for a bag tea. It’s not fair to compare bag teas with loose leaf. The bag will loose 99.9% of the time. Having said that, the Twining teas have been very consistent and make a good cup. This English Breakfast is essentially my yardstick for all other English Breakfast bag teas. It produces a nice color, has a nice touch of malty-ness, and, for me, has just the right amount of caffeine. It takes milk and sugar well, but does fine without, too. You can find it in most chain grocery stores. Again, it will never compete with premium loose leaf, but it’s head and shoulders above the majority of the bag options.
This is my FAVORITE Rooibos blend. Normally, I find most rooibos brews to have a slightly rough edge to them. With the addition of the floral flavors it’s transformed into sunshine in a cup. It’s cheery, refreshing, and satisfying; almost like a fruit blend. It also doesn’t seem as finicky to prepare. At least to me, a lot of blends have a narrow window of time for that “perfect” cup. Too long and things get bitter. Too short and something hasn’t had enough time to develop to full taste. This has a wide margin for error. If you have to answer the phone and forget about it for a few extra minutes you probably haven’t done any harm. If you like floral, fruity blends this one is worth trying.
I buy this tea every year, for, you guessed it, Christmas. Over the past four years, the consistency has been a bit uneven. Two years ago, it was the best it’s ever been. Nice hints of orange and vanilla while the cloves and cardamon provided a nice touch to the back end. This year, it just hasn’t had the same punch and the black tea, the base of this blend, doesn’t seem as good as before, either. When it’s good, it’s a good cup. When it’s not at it’s best it’s drinkable, but not memorable.