TWG Tea Company

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Recent Tasting Notes

83

Pulled this one out of the GCTTB 4. The smell made me super curious.

This bag in the TTB was labelled as The Urban Tea Merchant but any time I google that it brings me back to TWG so I hope this is the right place.

The tea smells like vanilla and smokey spice.

The brewed tea is quite creamy. Is is a great blend of green and black teas. I find sometimes that works great and sometimes it goes really bad. There is flavours of vanilla, orange rind, and some other spices I can’t quite place. It very much reminds me of a Christmas blend but not so Christmassy. Sometimes I think cinnamon, then no, and sometimes I think tamarind, then no. It’s weird , but delicious at the same time.

Quite like this one. Not sure if I would call it a breakfast blend. To me is more of an afternoon tea but I guess that is debatable.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Jillian

Urban Tea Merchant is the name of a fancy teahouse in Vancouver and TWG is the brand they currently stock and serve (they’ve changed suppliers from time to time – a few years ago their tea was from The O Dor).

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60

Skip this first part if you just want to read about the tea:

I first smelled this tea in Harrod’s, finding a small, quiet island in the TWG section of the tea department. No small feat, considering it was right before Christmas last year. I sniffed my way through a number of tins and got stuck on the so-called ‘weekend teas’. I snapped a few pictures of the tins and meant to read up on it when I came home, but forgot all about it.

A month later I was in Singapore (I’m sorry for sounding like a demented tea socialite, bear with me), and imagine my surprise when the TWG logo showed up again… and again, and again. I knew nothing about the brand; I’d just assumed it was a trendier spin-off of Twinings, or something.

A quick search yielded the following: TWG is a Singaporean company, carefully branded to be Singapore’s “first and only upscale tea salon”. This was definitely a niche in the Singaporean brandscape that needed filling; tea culture is somewhat lacking, with either imported Japanese concepts where everything is beyond kawaii, or madly overpriced hotel-style afternoon teas.

So far so good, but there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the brand. For instance: the TWG is generally accompanied by the year 1837 on signs and logos, but the brand was founded no earlier than 2008.

This all makes me reluctant, to be honest. Singapore is so entirely about money, all the time; everything anyone ever talks about is money and shortcuts to money and how to get more money and money. I find that depressing, and it’s clear TWG is a pitch perfect Singaporean brand in that respect. They colonize the most exclusive locations, style their shops and salons to the very last detail (tarnished brass and dark wood everywhere), hardbrand the products and charge ridiculous sums of money for everything.

I’m the first to admit I love a good branding effort. I do; I sometimes enjoy giving in and just going with it because it’s done so well, but TWG are just too devious about it, and it’s painfully clear the product is just the sideshow. TWG is all brand and I can’t get excited about that.

Actual tea review:

I added the above to be honest about my TWG prejudice. This is the first tea I’ve purchased from the company, but I’ve tried their products at a couple of their salon locations. I’ve also had their tea-infused ice cream, which is very nice, albeit, again, ridiculously overpriced.

This looks beautiful in the bag, long, whole green leaves studded with red petals. After steeping, the petals turn fuchsia and it’s one of the prettiest steeped teas I’ve seen, colour wise. In terms of scent, well, I didn’t go the adventurous route here – this smells like something I’ve had before, most likely one of those German-imported greens they sell in every tea shop in Sweden. It’s vaguely fruity/floral and that’s it. What more do you need? Fruity/floral is where it’s at!

There are no steeping instructions on the bag, and none were given by the staff (again, one of those things that’ll tell you this is more about the experience and the ritual of shopping, than what you actually purchase) so I did a semi-Lupicia, letting this steep for 1.5 minutes, at 90C. No bitterness, but also not very much flavour – I’m going to try a different steeping strategy next time, not least for you temperature purists out there.

So, to summarize: meh. TWG will not (CAN not) be my new boyfriend (even though I would have loved to get a chance to meme ‘Bye Lupicia!’).

Unlike an actual weekend in Shanghai, this tea bores me.

[Picked up at the TWG Tea Salon & Boutique in Raffles Place, Singapore, January 2015.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Marzipan

Great write up! Really interesting.

Christina

I agree, more talk about branding when it comes to tea!

Anna

Thanks, guys! One of my fave topics, so hugely appreciated feedback.

OMGsrsly

Kinda how I feel about TWG, Anna! We have a store here and it’s very fancy and pretentious and there’s a tea I want but there’s no way I’d spend $40+ for 50g of it. That’s just silly, especially because I feel their base teas aren’t all that fabulous. (I think I’ve had 4 now. :) ) It is a neat experience to go into the store, but whoa.

Dustin

LOL@ demented tea socialite! You did way more research than I on TWG! I took them at face value for being a much older company! I do like some of their teas, but not all of them live up to what I was hoping for. I used to work for a guy who was from Singapore and your description of the attitude towards money make his behavior make a lot more sense.

Marzipan

More interesting stuff from Wikipedia: In 2011, a lawsuit against TWG Tea was filed by tea retailer Tsit Wing International and its parent company Tsit Wing, for incorporating the abbreviation TWG in its name, which was trademarked by Tsit Wing. The latter company, which is based in Hong Kong, was founded in 1932.13

A judge handling the lawsuit noted in July 2013 that the use of the “existence of the date 1837 in TWG Tea’s sign has led people to believe that the company was established at that time”, while in actuality it was founded much later, in 2008. In justification, the firm’s spokespeople claimed that it was instead a tribute to the “year when the Chamber of Commerce was founded in Singapore”.13 The case was ruled in Tsit Wing’s favour, with damages payable yet to be decided. Shortly after the ruling, TWG Tea filed for appeal.14

On 3 December 2014, TWG Tea lost a court appeal and as a result it may have to change its name in Hong Kong. TWG Tea has room to pursue its final appeal. According to the company’s lawyer, in case the company loses the appeal again, it may use another registered logo containing the acronym “TW” instead of the currently used “TWG”, to which Tsit Wing had no objection.15

mrmopar

Welcome back!

Fjellrev

Hej hej! Nice to see you around. It still blows my mind how you’re able to travel so much!

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drank Tea Party by TWG Tea Company
652 tasting notes

This is another share from the mysterious silver/clear package with the purple writing. And another hit. Sweet and party flavored for sure. Another I can see would be good for … a tea party. So aptly named. :) And pretty with the flowers without needing to add sprinkles or other junk to muck up the water. A decent dessert tea. The tin looks pretty in the picture, too.

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60

TWG Bourbon Vanilla is caffeine-free rooibos tea from with quite perfumy and lasting vanilla flavors. Since teas made from real vanilla beans are rare, I’ve been curious to know the full ingredients of this tea, but so far it’s not available. “TWG vanilla” on the brand’s website doesn’t mean much. I am particularly interested in finding out the ingredients in pricey TWG teas because the brand is designed to attract luxury-brand junkies who often overlook the true content of the product. Despite it’s “old” image and branding, TWG is a very young brand since 2008 out of Singapore, specifically targeting the well-heeled in Asia. So far customers are enamored by the expensive-looking concept and fancy tearooms, and no one bothers to examine the tea itself.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 7 min, 30 sec

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73
drank Follow Me Tea by TWG Tea Company
2182 tasting notes

I got some of this tea from MissB and was a little hesitant based on the reviews, but I did see that it might be best cold brewed (my plan with it anyway, since it is a green). I also took a couple big hunks of ginseng root out of the infuser, since I’m not huge on ginseng.

This was definitely really pinappley. Unfortunately, it was kind of fakey and candy-like, and not in a good way. It was drinkable, but not my fave. Glad I cold-steeped it though, it seems like the best method.

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70
drank Paris-Singapore by TWG Tea Company
1159 tasting notes

Thank you for this sample, MissB! Your mentioning of Victoria, BC now has me reminiscing of spring there too, now. How I’d kill for a walk down Beach Drive right now!

I couldn’t tell what this was supposed to be in the bag, other than a green tea, of course. I couldn’t smell the cherry, and initially steeped, I just got dry green notes. The first couple sips were a little on the dry side, but as this begins to cool, I’m slowly starting to taste the cherry. It’s a little on the cough syrupy side, though. A specific kind of gum or candy also used to taste like it, but can’t figure it out. Cherry seems to be a difficult flavour profile to tackle in regards to tea.

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35

Well, Firstly, lets start off with the type, the quantity, the location its made from, and so on. I would rate it a 5/10.

Flavors: Absinthe, Vanilla, Whiskey

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Thanks, MissB and OMGsrsly, for sending this my way!

This tea is a funny one. The dry leaf smells pleasantly fruity, but after I steeped it I had to double check that I hadn’t yet opened my can of tuna fish. It wasn’t the nicest wet leaf smell, although it was a moot point after I dug into lunch. Canned tuna wins yet another battle in the olfactory wars!

Once I got over the smell, the flavour is pretty straightforward: preserved and sweetened pineapple pieces. I can appreciate that.

Flavors: Pineapple

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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82

Wow I love this one cooled down! what a great sample, thank you so much MissB!
Hot I just get a floral green tea. As it cools, there is a distinct menthol like sensation, which I find rather pleasant. There is also a definite drying out of the mouth that others have mentioned. Almost like I just ate a lemon, only it isn’t really sour.
Cooled, I can now taste more cherry, which is funny because I can never taste the cherry in a cherry blossom tea. This is unique, and coveted by me! Wheeeeeeeee!!!

On the meds front- accidentally took two today. Oops! but hey atleast now I know what could happen if doc increases my dose (I can’t OD, I’d need to take 5x that amount to be unsafe). Sadly though all it did was give me the jitters and a few brief moments of concentration about four hours after I took the second dose. No different than one of my “up” days. Hopefully doc will switch me to a different one when I see him next week. The waiting is killing me. Sighs.
Sorry for boring y’all. I just really needed to write.

Flavors: Cherry

Fjellrev

Don’t you ever apologize! I really hope they’ll be able to get you on track with something better.

Indigobloom

Aww thanks that is sweet of you! < 3

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95

My very first TWG began with this. The aroma from the shops’s dry sample translated exactly into the taste after i bought it and brewed it eagerly at home – pleasantly sweet golden liquor with floral notes.

There are visible whole camomiles and petals of other unlisted flowers alongside with whole greens (without any bitterness or vegetal taste). It has no trouble with over-steeping. Easily one of my all-time favorites. Leaves a sweet yet fresh aftertaste which makes your day.

Flavors: Floral, Sweet, warm grass

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drank Follow Me Tea by TWG Tea Company
1924 tasting notes

Thanks for the tea, MissB!

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t smell good when steeped up. IDK what it is about it, but I keep getting wafts from the cup and wrinkling my nose wondering what smells so bad, since I’m bagging up all these French teas and they smell so good!

I think I know what the problem is though. It’s just lost all the pineapple flavour. It’s just a basic sencha base, which isn’t really my favourite kind of tea.

Well, thanks for the sample MissB, but if I want the full experience, I think I’ll need to go into the TWG store here and get a cup to go. :)

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Tea Party by TWG Tea Company
638 tasting notes

This cup is reminding me of TWG’s New York Breakfast tea. They both have that same malty base, but this one lacks the notes of chocolate. I’m having it with some cream and it’s a really nice breakfasty like cup. I’m enjoying it, but I think NYB trumps this one.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Sipdown (135)!

I just realized that all the tea I’ve had today has been Green Tea; definitely not doing that on purpose. This one comes from MissB – she definitely sent a lot of green tea from her travels; and while it’s pushed me outside of my comfort zone, it’s been fun trying all the different blends!

I buggered this one up though; I started steeping it, and then promptly forgot so it got a really long nearly twenty minute steep. As a result, I imagine the taste is not really a shining example of how it’d normally taste. It’s quite bitter, the grassyness of the green tea cuts in very harshly, and there’s a bit of a drying mouthfeel at the end of the sip. However, I can also taste some well rounded, sweet cherry notes and some floral notes as well, so I see how this would be really good if prepared properly.

For whatever reason, cherry when paired with green tea always reminds me at least a little of bubble gum though. There must have been a kind I chewed a lot as a kid that has some cherry flavour to it but I’m not sure which; something drilled that association into me though! I think Hubba-Bubba and Bazooka Joe were my picks all the way up until like grade nine? After that, I don’t recall having a ‘Go To’ kind of bubble gum – I just bought, and still buy, whatever’s accessible and cheapest. Maybe I’ll have to revisit those brands and see if they taste like cherry to me?

But actually; all things considered this could’ve come out A LOT WORSE. Even with bitterness, it’s still pretty drinkable. That is to say, I’m totally finishing it. But, gonna hold back on rating it. I’m obviously not tasting it like I should be.

Today’s word of the day is…

Tizzy! A tizzy is “a very excited and mixed up state of mind”.

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72
drank Paris-Singapore by TWG Tea Company
2972 tasting notes

Sipdown! And thanks to MissB(?) for a sample of this tea! I’m not sure exactly what it’s flavoured with, but my first impression was that it was kind of like a gingerbread green? A bit spicy, basically. It was certainly an interesting tea to try, though probably not one I need to try again.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Follow Me Tea by TWG Tea Company
2370 tasting notes

Thank you MissB for sharing! This is an alright cup. I am a fan of pineapple and that is certainly present here. There is also another flavor, which I am guessing is the ginseng that is sort of just there and neither adds or detracts from the cup. At the end of the day though, this is on a green base and I’m just not a lover of of green teas. Still, it’s always fun to try something new.

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95
drank Tea Party by TWG Tea Company
45 tasting notes

A friend gave this to me as a birthday gift!
I want pink and gold sparkles to burst out of the canister every time I open it. The dry leaf smell is sooooo pretty! It’s sweetly candied in a way that is more delightful than sickening, with mildly toasted/buttery notes to round it out. And the bright yellow flowers in look like ribbons nestled among the tea leaves! One of my favorite teas, definitely. It conjures up images of cake and delicate cutlery, hahaha.

Flavors: Butter, Candy, Sweet, Toasted

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94

I found this tea on display as i wandered through Harrod’s in London on my most recent trip. I was blown away by the actual scent that permeated from the canister as soon as the seal was broken. They use giant canisters of loose leaves to measure your purchase. It was amazing! The citrus scent of bergamot is definitely amazing for the Earl Grey lovers! Its not super strong to the point of being overwhelming, and plays nicely with the black tea that is such a great star in this blend. I have used the leaves through 3 runs in my Breville, and they are still as strong and pronounced as the first cup! I am really amazed by the amount of flavor, and this may need to become one of my regulars, great tea!!

Flavors: Bergamot, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML
carol who

Hi Josh! I’ve missed seeing you on Steepster! The EG sounds great and I’m happy the Breville has worked out for you. :D

Josh Buteau

Thanks so much carol! Sorry, things have been quite busy. My wife and I just came back from London and it was tea at every meal it seemed, and it was delicious! I haven’t figured out how to do it but i need to put a couple of reviews on tea rooms. On a separate note, I went to the Doctor Who museum!! It was awesome, so much stuff from all the old seasons and stuff from the new as well, just a great time:)

carol who

Awesome! :D

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drank Paris-Singapore by TWG Tea Company
2370 tasting notes

Another that just doesn’t work for me. I’m getting cough medicine and grass. Definitely NOT something you would want in a tea. Thank you MissB for the chance to try it but this is one I will be avoiding in the future.

MissB

Yea, I can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s so expensive. Bleh.

OMGsrsly

I’m chortling about your comment, MissB! That was my opinion about the store here. Lovely, but why so expensive?

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drank Follow Me Tea by TWG Tea Company
6459 tasting notes

another from missB this one has pineapple in it…and as result, was a much tastier option for me versus paris singapore but still just wasn’t cutting it for me. LIkely the result of the “green” of the tea. I’m fairly particular about my green teas…most are not up my alley. Still though, for people who like green teas, this is a nice one.

Final Count yesterday: 69

Suziqzer

I too am picky about greens!

Cavocorax

69 is pretty amazing! I’m at 115. I’m hoping to hit 100 before I meet up with you…

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drank Paris-Singapore by TWG Tea Company
6459 tasting notes

Trying to catch up on ym tea drinking so that i can get my new teas in to my cupboard. I had this one a few days ago – it’s another from missB. Sadly, cherry for me either works or it doesn’t and this falls in to the “doesn’t” category. I’m ok though…more tea for everyone else to have! haha

dragondrool

I’m not keen on cherry in tea. I’ve tried a couple. Strawberry is where it’s at for me, berry-wise.

Sil

there are a few cherry teas that i LOVE…. but most of them are herbals heh

Cameron B.

I really like Dammann’s cherry teas, but they taste more like dried cherry to me. :)

MissB

This was so disappointing for me when I had it too.

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drank Paris-Singapore by TWG Tea Company
1349 tasting notes

Grabbed a 100g bag of this from Harrods in London just because of the smell. It made me think of Victoria, BC in the spring when the city is pink with cherry blossoms. This tea smells like that: fresh, sweet cherry, and a touch floral. Drinking it isn’t as amazing sadly… There’s a sight bitter and dry aspect to the tea that tells me the base green isn’t great. I knew I shouldn’t go for a green, but the smell… Oh God the smell!

As I don’t have a variable kettle while traveling, I used boiling water cooled 17 minutes, and steeped for two minutes. Had to add a touch of sweetener to make the cherry flavor pop even a little bit.

Also, no ingredients listed, but was told in store (and they triple checked) that it’s only a cherry flavor used.

Flavors: Bitter, Cherry, Cherry Blossom, Drying, Hay

Preparation
1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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90

This is an absolutely AMAZING chai, if you like cinnamon and other really strong spices. It’s never bitter, it’s always a strong brew. TWG makes really high quality teas and I would highly recommend this Chai.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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90
drank Alexandria by TWG Tea Company
34 tasting notes

A refreshing minty tea that is heavy on the spearmint with just a hint of creamy vanilla. I found a canister on sale at Dean & Deluca for 50% off, which is a bargain for the quality of the product. I probably wouldn’t have purchased it at full retail price ($30 USD) but at $15 for three ounces of lovely tea, I’m very satisfied.

Flavors: Spearmint, Vanilla

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

So in accordance with a suggestion that was made to me a few months back when I asked about TWG Teas, I decided that instead of asking for opinions on the company, I’d stick my neck out and try their tea myself.

I went for a breakfast tea within the price range of below 7 USD / 50g. There were four: London Breakfast, Mediterranean Breakfast, Royal Breakfast, and… forgot the last one. Anyway, the Mediterranean had whole leaves, beautiful things. However, and this might be my tea noob nose, but I couldn’t tell the difference between it and the other three. This one stood out, in a very good way. The smell was… very sweet. In retrospect, it might remind me of Heart of the Old Tree, but a lot mellower.

When I asked about that, the clerk said it was a blend – Chocolate, apparently – and that it was popular with the ladies because of that. While I really liked the look of the whole leaf Mediterranean breakfast, the intoxicating scent of this broken leaf blend won the day.

I bought a pack – the tea parlour felt like I stepped back in time. They used a balancing scale with cylindrical metal weights to measure it. When I commented offhandedly about the use of such “ancient” equipment, my dad told me that these weights are actually more accurate than digital scales or something. I dunno. He’s a doctor. Maybe he knows. I asked about filters because it was broken up and I was worried they’d get past the spoon I use to filter my whole leaf teas. Offered to sell me a reusable cotton one for ~5 bucks, but I decided against it. Figured I’d use a kitchen strainer.

In any case, I steeped it up. Used the Chinese eyeballing method (because dedicated tea thermometers are probably expensive) and set it to “fish eye-sized”. Set my tea timer to 2:30, but between walking from the kitchen counter to the PC and typing in the URL on my browser, I’m betting it took another 30 seconds.

Quarter teaspoon of tea.

Poured myself two cups (one with milk, one pure).

Pure: It has that marvellous scent, still strong. Sort of… roasted, now that I think about it. Roasted chocolate, then? Zero astringency. Rolling it around my tongue, very smooth. Again, zero astringency. I might even call it… dare I say, flat? Did I do something wrong? Still, it’s rather interesting. The lack of astringency is very interesting, if strange…

Ah, no, there it is. Just a mild, barely noticeable drying, only with the cup almost empty.

Second cup is darker, came from the lower half of the pot. Put in some milk, maybe a tsp. Comes off as very caramel-ish now… almost like drinking evaporated milk. It’s funny to say this, but apparently the tea was overpowered by the milk?

I’m guessing it’s probably because I have a habit of stingily using less than half a teaspoon of tea for a whole 350ml teapot.

Still, I think I’ll have it without milk, unless I start using full doses.

Overall a little flat, but I think that’s because I use much less tea than recommended, and steep for less time. Give it a try anyway.

Flavors: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Roasted, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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