33 Tasting Notes
This is a “does the job” earl grey. Although I haven’t tried many earl greys so am not well versed in the range of eg possibilities, I can say it holds to the expected caffeinated standard. This morning I have tempered my eg with a bit of raspberry flavored ceylon. It most certainly takes the robust kick out of the tea equation, and yet makes up for it in the delightful blend of bergamont and raspberry flavor. No competing here, just a gentle meeting of the minds with a little cream and sugar chiming in. It’s very easy to wash over the flavors with too much half and half, so add your cream gingerly to the conversation with every intention not to talk over anyone else.
As an amateur tea blender, I like to think about what qualities are important to me with the teas I’m blending. Ceylon is on the lighter side, so if I want my blend to have strength I won’t use equal parts, and instead offset at 2 to 1 parts. The result is a nice earl grey with a smidge of raspberry flavor. The raspberry flavoring is strong, so it doesn’t get buried by the earl grey. My caution is in blending too many flavors where the tea doesn’t know what it wants to be. Well, now my beautiful bone china mug has been emptied of it’s coppery liquid content, signaling a return to work.
Edit add: now that 5 minutes has passed and the flavors linger – I miss the zingy lift that I get with the more robust breakfast blend. For those of the same fold who like to go deep, to go fully caffeinated, and with trusty sword and shield first thing in the morning – I would recommend against this blend. Stick to your friends, stick to your neighbors, and by all means stick to your tried and true tea family of trusted soldiers when the sun’s rays emerge from the east.
Experimented this week while at work with a couple scoops of the divinely Yorkshire Harrogate in a non-bleached tea bag and into the translucent glass teapot it went. The caffeine was there, yet the taste seemed hampered. Then the thought hit me – why am I using these bags? I know better! Just use my tea strainer and allow the leaves to unfurl loosely in the pot – let them stretch their leafy legs to full-reaching capacity and swanky charachter. Upon this morning’s tasting of doing just that – the flavor washed over my palette like a divine cleansing of the soul. Every tastebud utilized, every square inch of tongue real estate gathered together to partake in the joyful anointing of this trifecta breakfast blend plus cream and sugar immersion into blissful nirvana. Estate teas are like fine wines, and yet blended teas – are immensely depended upon for their consistent flavor. I savored my cuppa until the very last droplet of creamy coppery liquid had been consumed. My love affair with tea continues. ;)
Standard peppermint stuff. HOWEVER. :) I like to make a piping hot brew of this, and after pouring it in my teacup, I add a splash of rice milk and a bit of palm sugar. DIVINE!!!! The rice milk creams up the brew, while the palm sugar gives the liquid depth and a subtle layer of sweet earthy smokiness. Sometimes it’s not the tea so much as how you doctor it up. When I’m turning to an herbal break from the caffeine, this is now my first stop. :)
My order of the Yorkshire Harrogate finally arrived! This morning is my first cup since that wonderful afternoon at the High Tea Cottage a couple of Friday’s ago. I would rate this as a nicely robust morning tea, although the highest caffeine bump I’ve received so far is by the Earl Grey himself from Taylors of Harrogate. Frankly I don’t feel like having my way with the Earl in the morning. ;)
Expect a nice bold English Breakfast flavor (finally what I had been searching for to replace my other gifted tea). Round out the blend with milk and sugar for a smooth start to your day. This tea holds up well to bold food flavors.
This tea is broken orange pekoe – a blend of Assam, Kenyan, and China black teas. I’m still trying to taste the Kenyan tea, I haven’t had a chance to try it on it’s own to see how it adds to the blend, but know instinctively it’s part of what makes up the tasty breakfast blend that I prefer. I can taste the china and assam quite evenly, so assume the kenyan has an equal or slightly lesser role to the blend. Overall the tea flavor rolls nicely across the tongue without any bitterness – provided your steep time is not overly long. I prefer 2 heaping teaspoons per 1 1/2 – 2 cups of boiling water. Steeping time on this was about 3-4 min, as I was eyeing the copper color and pulled out the tea the minute I noticed the color deepen to a dark coppery abyss. I’m upping my rating to a 100 as far as this English Breakfast blend is concerned for me personally. I’ve tried so many to great disappointment. Only to realize the unique blend I was searching for was china, kenyan, and assam. You would be surprised how many breakfast blends are all over the map with the blends of black tea they use. Just buying something that says “Breakfast Blend” is not a guarantee of anything anymore, and most packages will not specifically list what blend of black teas they use. So if you care about your breakfast blend that much, it pays to figure out exactly what about the blend appeals to your pallet and take note. Here’s to you wonderful tea drinkers, my relatable comrades. May our lives all be made richer in the exploring and sharing of all divine things tea. :)
Yes…finally. I have found a suitable replacement breakfast tea. A good friend and I visited our favorite tea house today and I had several cups of the Yorkshire Harrogate tea. It is strong, strong, strong. Beautiful with milk and sugar. Just the right breakfast blend I was looking for. The color is a nice deep copper, yet taste is not as astringent as earl grey. I like a breakfast tea to have enough bite that by the time I finish I don’t feel I’ll need another one to wake me up.
This is my 2nd round caffeine lift of the morning before lunch time sets in. I unfortunately got distracted and left the bag in for 10 minutes! A total black tea faux pas, unless that’s what you’re going for. I’m recommending a 5 minute steeping time because that’s my gold standard for robust black teas. It surprisingly didn’t turn the tea bitter, or perhaps what bitter there was smoothed out with the milk and sugar I added. Twinings Irish Breakfast is indeed nice and malty (more like pulling a nice malt blanket over your shoulders for comfort and care). A deceptive note in that I was expecting a bigger robust flavor to go with the divine caffeine kick. But you know what? The buttery smooth maltiness will suffice as I am officially in full blissful caffeine swoon! Oh Assam, our relationship continues to grow and deepen. My malty faith in you has grown. :)
I hit a wall with my other english breakfast tea (Mr. St. James repackaged as the London Transport Museum), jumping through dangerous internet hoops of fire to find the origin of this recent morning bagged favorite. In a slight panic mode to find a worthy kick-start replacement, I purchased PG Tips. I figured if this is one of the top breakfast teas in England, then the blend might be very similar as I have all but given up hope of finding this tea. It’s the pyramid PG tips bag. At first when I poured the boiled water over the bag the water was very light. I thought, “Uh oh” I might have to double up. Then a minute later the water transformed into a beautiful deep dark coppery color signaling the robust flavor I had been searching for. The mix is indeed similar, with a little bit more weight on the assam (at least to me, does anyone know of the traditional blend has equal parts Ceylon, Kenyan, and Assam leaves for the formula?). I decided to stop at 3 minutes of steeping fearing the bitter would set in, and might double dare myself to try 4 minutes next time. Caffeine kick on one bag at 3min. is impressive – even with milk and sugar. The flavor shines right through. Although bagged tea is a rough 2nd choice to loose leaf, I am beginning to see that with a “Great” quality bagged tea, I can still get a pretty decent flavor, I just need to make sure I don’t drown the tea bag in too much water.
Ahh yes! The plot thickens! So in my quest to purchase another container of St. James Tea, I discovered that St. James is just a wholesale distributer that gets their breakfast tea from a tea blender by the name of Keith Spicer Ltd. www.keith-spicer.co.uk I noticed it at the bottom of the St. James Teas web page. After visiting Kieth Spicer Ltd.‘s website I saw that Ashby’s of London is another tea retailer. I’m going to try Ashby’s Breakfast Blend tea to see if it tastes the same as the St. James. When I love a tea, I’m willing to get all Sherlock Holmes with it to keep my cupboards nicely stocked. “Watson, I do believe we are on to something…”
As most of us might already know, most of the tea cultivated on planet earth are sold by wholesale distributors to retailers of every shape and sort. As a consumer, I feel like sometimes I have to go on a 007 recon mission to find the origin of a tea I like. What happens if the retailer of my favorite tea goes belly up, and I think I’ll never be able to buy my favorite tea again? Unbeknownst to me, that retailer repackaged my same favorite tea and resold it under a creative name making it seem like it was distinctly their own? If I can find out the wholesale distributor, I feel like I’ve lengthened the buying life of a dearly loved tea blend as a consumer. I still have to buy from a retailer, but if they go out of business, I can just search for another retailer instead of falsely mourning the death of my favorite tea. So here it is. English Breakfast tea, an unknown blend of teas in tea bags distributed by St. James Teas and repackaged in a pretty tin by the London Transport Museum and titled, “London Underground” English Breakfast tea. Is this tea out of this world? Nope, but let me tell you, for as much as I push for loose leaf tea, this pre-bagged one is currently doing the job while I am caring for my mom in the hospital during Thanksgiving week. I still boil the water, and take an oversized mug and gauge about 2 cups worth of water over two tea bags. It makes a nice strong breakfast tea with a very dark coppery color, with no bitter taste. For me whole milk and sugar are required. The taste is what I would expect of a “right in the pocket” authentic english breakfast tea. No surprises, no fancy updates. A blended taste that has been standardized and has withstood the test of time in tea years.