Here’s the thing you have to understand about Tetley: you are not buying this tea to get a gourmet experience. But, like PG Tips, Barry’s, or Red Rose, builder’s teas hold a special place in my heart. They are my comfort tea in the mornings, and a lovely staple basic in my tea’s closet. At the moment, Tetley’s Premium Blend is my go-to cuppa, and I drink it with half & half and sugar — I can’t imagine drinking it without, and imagine it’d otherwise be much too acidic for my tastes. What’s your morning cup?
50 Tasting Notes
Okay, so, I’m going to let you all in on a dirty little secret of mine: occasionally, I am a terrible, godawful tea nerd and don’t actually steep tea. Sometimes, as a matter of fact, I buy it in a damn carton. And this is the only exception I can allow myself.
Tazo’s chai concentrates, whichever one your heart desires, are generally very solid products. Much richer and spicier than the majority of chai concentrates, and, I find, much thicker. They really do taste like tea. Super duper easy for even the laziest of tea snobs, I prefer to have about 3/4 chai to 1/4 milk (usually 2%), over ice. It is equally fantastic to your taste buds heated up, and I find that when I do boil it, it tends to become much spicier (which I like, because my nose can use all the spice it can get). Do not add milk while heating it, however. (D’oh!)
One last secret: if you are feeling crazy, as I often am, it is also mind-bogglingly delicious to mix this with chocolate milk. It’s definitely not a dirty chai, but it will make you feel dirty all over. With pleasure.
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Y’know, I hadn’t quite been feeling the holiday season this year. I’m separated from my family because of finals period, Dan is far away in California, and Ohio weather is pretty morose. (There is a reason why Ohio has produced more astronauts than any other state – my personal belief being that this state makes people want to flee the earth.)
However, Andrews & Dunham makes me feel home for the holidays, if only for the half hour it takes me to drink a giant mug-ful of this blend! The word repetitively used in reviewing this tea has been “bright,” and I couldn’t agree more. Brews to a beautiful dark rusty color, and I am so pleased to find a black tea I like without milk or sugar. It’s very light as far as black teas go, slightly bitter if left in even a touch too long, with some sweetness particularly noticeable when adding milk etc. The second brew did not hold up very well in my experience, so I’m probably a quarter of my way into the tin! (What can I say? It’s not my fault holiday jingles are in my head! Damn radio.)
Where Sampson tastes like bread, this blend tastes more fruity, or snappy. Kind of like a gay Santa doing tap dance in a sparkly spandex suit. With bells on his toes. Maybe.
Despite being quite sweet and smooth, I was actually a bit disappointed by this tea, and find its English sibling to be preferable. It tastes like a mildly better quality version of a fairly standard black tea, very simple and understated. Which is not to say simple is undesirable, but in order to make me buy a basic blend like this again, it should be notable in some way — let’s just say I prefer Purcell’s “Fantasy for 3 viols in D minor, Z. 732” to Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”?
It’s funny, because when I started drinking this, I didn’t necessarily think of it as an English Breakfast blend (?!) — possibly because of all of the different types of tea mixed in. Both steeps from my sampler were without sugar or milk, and quite delicious. It stands out as predominantly sweeter than most blends to me, fresh, with a few smoky undertones. Never got bitter, quite refreshing, and held up for the two steeps very well. That being said, I don’t know if this is heavy enough for me to drink in the morning; it may just be a little too flippant English dandy for my tastes!
This really isn’t tea, as far as I’m concerned. It’s bitter, astringent water, and really doesn’t hold flavor at all. Had I known that black tea could taste so much of nothing, I never would’ve steeped this. Unfortunately, my taste buds have become a little to discerning for their own good, and now I desperately await my mum’s package of tea. (Does that make me a bad person? Derp.)
This tea is an excellent example of what Escoffier discovered, regarding how scent impacts our sense of taste. He served all of his food piping hot because he knew his diners would smell the food. Since smell comprises most of our actual ability to taste, voilà! Hot, this tea smells delicious, and subsequently tastes accordingly — vanilla without the artificial flavoring, though I found no tropical notes. Take away the heat, however, and you are left with a thin vanilla taste that requires sweetening. Kind of like when you see a guy who you thought was attractive — until he takes off his shirt and you aren’t squinting at him anymore because he is less than 20 feet away.
(Not that this happened recently to me or anything. Nope. Although, there was a Scottish bagpiper tonight in the park, and it was the best part of my day.)
How fresh! Added a teensy bit of agave nectar for sweetness, and this makes me feel oddly… French? This tea is sophisticated and classy, almost amber in color, with a creamy soft complexion, but can easily wear four inch heels the entire day. And possibly slash your tire with the heel. (Elegantly. Without you noticing.)
This is the blonde wearing dashing red lipstick that your mother warned you about, who pouts her lips and goes, “Oops.” None of the flavors are overpowering, and even on the second steep, I find this tea holds up decently.
But methinks that the complexity of this tea may ultimately be its downfall and its strength — black tea and green tea and mint and vanilla and a little bit of this and that. After all, everyone likes a classy affair. A woman is like a tea bag — you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.
Drank this last night, following the White Licorice sampler — for ginger is where I reign supreme! Alas, I found this much too weak for me, and barely tasted the spicy snap of ginger. It is perfectly serene, as they say in the description, but I wanted the ginger to see a little more action. Onwards!
(Might have been a combination of too much water and not a high enough steep temperature, but I find that rawther doubtful.)
I AM BACK — WITH A VENGEANCE, STEEPSTERITES!
(Read: my life is finally basically under control. Ish.)
Full disclosure: I abhor licorice. When I opened the tin sampler, and smelt (through my already-unable-to-smell sick nose) a punch of herbs and licorice, I felt a little nauseous and considered opening another pack. But to my pleasant surprise, this tea is delightful — almost flower nectar sweet, and very light! The coloring is very pale, and the tea is soothingly smooth, like butter. Definitely more grassy than I anticipated, but I’m thankful the licorice taste isn’t overpowering, for one.
If this is the worst tea Golden Moon has in its sampler, I’m in for a treat! Definitely could see ordering this again for myself or for my mum, who loves peppermint tea. To be honest, I’d rather just hold it in my mouth than swallow it. This leaves my mouth a little dry, but there’s no bitterness. (Now now, no dirty jokes, kids.)
…I swear I will update my Steepster like you would not believe once I have a life again.
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A lot has been changing quickly, my lovelies!
(1) I have more tea than I know what to do with (Golden Moon sampler, Harney & Sons tins, two series from Damn Fine Tea), and t-bags are the love of my life.
(2) Got that internship at a big NYC museum that I thought I’d failed miserably at? Herp a derp?!
(3) Still am too upfront for most men in this modern age or will become an old maid; both are distinct possibilities.
But, to the tea. I have had this tea sitting around since mid-winter, and still haven’t said a word. The first few weeks, I was a bit enamored; and found it quite comforting in soggy, dreadfully, miserably snowy and chilly Ohio. But as the days become warmer, I think my heart has changed a bit. Captures the pumpkin, but not quite the spice or baked creaminess. More watery than I remember, and not particularly strong even when I use more than the proper serving. Gets a bit bitter without sugar, and I recommend trying it with half and half. Or put a pie in the oven.
Recovering from an interview at a big, big museum in New York City and a lack of texts from the boy who was supposed to get in touch with me yesterday. Modern dating does not agree with me. I’d rather be upfront and stop wasting time. Whatever happened to a letter in the mail? Boo hiss. Nothing is going according to plan, and I am sitting at home without any of my good tea. At least I’ve sent out another résumé and cover letter and am meeting someone at the Met on Friday and I am hopeful, always?
Trying to perk myself up with a cup of this. It’s very, very floral for a non-flowering tea. Almost like jasmine, but darker and smokier. I don’t know what magnolias taste like? There’s a bit of bitter aftertaste that leaves my mouth dry. But after all’s said and done, I suppose it’s a decent, basic staple. I’m trying to think of more to say about it, but I guess you’ve finally done me in, Steepster: I have tea-snobbed all over this one…
Update: I HAVE FOUND THE SECRET RECIPE, MASTER! MASTER, IT IS ALIVE!
[/end Frankenstein’s Igor voice] …Ahem. Yes, I am odd.
Try this so-called tea, double bagged, in combination with Tazo’s Decaffeinated Chai, a little half & half, and some Splenda. The inscription of “herbal supplement” on the box should really mean “do not drink this without real tea,” because if you pair it with a strong black, then I don’t think it’s not half bad, kiddles!
By the power of Sampson, give me strength, Thomas!
…Erm, I mean, my order from A&D DAMN FINE TEA came in this week. Everyone and their mother has been ranting about these fine folks, and I’ve been hesitant to say a word all week because I’ve just been too busy sipping the tea. As I’ve been testing the others, I’m building up to best for last: Thomas Sampson versus Jackee Muntz!
First: Yummy whiff. Basic at first, and then I realized how many light, fluffy, and airy – almost salty (?) – scents I was picking up from the leaves alone, which does carry over into taste, I think. Accidentally may’ve over-brewed poor Thommy as I was cleaning out another mug, trapped in conversation with a friend, and my Teavana iPhone timer was started a wee bit late.
That being said, despite bitterness, Thomas has got a strong, rich, smooth body that I would quite happily relinquish my own to! In my mind, he’s a burly bloke who enjoys a cuppa every couple of hours. Something like a Monty Python lumberjack, but a tad more serious, because he knows how to bake proper biscuits to go with the tea. He comes home smelling like freshly baked bread, and knows how to satisfy a woman. Gentle softy on the inside; and what woman doesn’t fall for that every now and then?
More tasting thoughts to come, but first: who wants to start trading?
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I think this is officially my first chocolate chocolate tea? My lovely friend’s mum gave her some of this, because they were sold out of Paris. Nice substitute, but I think I will still give Paris the upper hand here.
Yummy yummy yummy smell. Super strong. Chloë opened the tin, and I swear my brain dissolved. As they say in Chocolat, “Each time I tell myself it’s the last time, but then I get a whiff of…” etc. Perhaps even more so than when I am lusting after someone to a silly degree. BUT. It also had a slight coffee / toasted wood undertone to the smell, which was well balanced, and definitely reflected in the taste.
The leaves are almost black, twisted, and expanded exponentially inside my strainer. Again, it reminded me of coffee in color – a very luscious, dark mocha. My anticipation was growing. I was biting my lip and staring at my glass teapot sideways, begging it to brew faster. The macaroons were prepared to dunk. (http://www.macaroons.com)
As we brewed it (and perhaps it could have sat for a bit longer), I was unimpressed. No bitterness to be found. The chocolate flavor was weak, mostly in the aftertaste, and only mildly strengthened with a splash of milk and sugar. In truth, all I had been searching for was a full-bodied, creamy, chocolate taste. If, however, you seek a tea that harmonizes chocolate with black tea flavors, then I think you will be quite pleased.
This comes very, very close to the Kauai orchid oolong I posted ages ago. But in a completely opposite way. I opened the bag and was pleasantly assaulted by a whiff of sweet, malty goodness. Undertones of something baked and nutty. I can’t pin down the scent exactly, but it makes me think of some delicious baked sweet that I probably wasn’t allowed to eat as a child.
Since it was so (wonderfully) overwhelming, I steeped shorter than I probably could have. Next time I’ll try it for a little longer, because while it is completely pleasant as is, I could have used a stronger taste. Pale celadon color, and some of the sencha fell through the very fine filter. The scent is just a weaker version of the bag, but instead tending towards a wheat, rice smell, overriding the sweet malt. No bitterness and nothing too herbal or grassy tasting in this lovely flavored green tea, and while it may not be as heavy or creamy as I may desire, it is definitely a new favorite!
Normally, I really, truly hate fruity teas because they always wind up tasting artificial. This, however, was an absolute delight and I have no idea where it comes from. My friend works in one of our campus cafés, and I snuck behind the counter to steal a pyramid bag of the only good-smelling tea they had. Snuggled away secretively in a green plastic bag: no labels, no tags, nothing. You would never know!
Sweet, slightly herbal to counterbalance, but totally rich in flavor without being tawdry. (…Just how I like my women?) Best of all, no bitter aftertaste, and it actually smelled and tasted like strawberries, rather than making me choose which sense is more crucial. Damnation, I need to know where this tea comes from so I can try it with just a teensy bit of sugar next time!
After having spent much of the afternoon with my great aunt and mum discussing how I have developed a selective tongue for tea, we raided my aunt’s tea cabinet. It was incredibly tempting to pick up her Mariage Frères package, but I kept digging for something I hadn’t seen before. Lo and behold, I found a tin of loose formosa oolong from Twining’s!
Hell knows if they make this anymore, because I sure can’t find it? It may be precisely because it was so old (it smelled alright, but the leaves did look a little more dead than usual, and we pried the lid with a screwdriver) that it didn’t sit too well. Even when using a very fine tea infuser, bits of tea were filtering through to the bottom, so I reckon the leaves had been broken badly up over time. Either way, added a little more than usual, and brewed it with just-boiled water. Definitely didn’t let it sit too long, either, because it got very dark very quickly, which I found unusual. I always drink oolongs straight, too.
The scent was straightforward, and kicking up associations with black tea over green tea in that it wasn’t vegetal. As you all probably know (I dare not lecture on tea, since I’m newbie enough), most oolongs move from bitter taste to sweet aftertaste. While I was picking up smoky and woodsy notes on this one, the sweetness definitely didn’t kick in, unfortunately. And as I already noted, it was darker than I’d expected.
Had I more time, I probably would’ve tried a couple more steeps to see if it would soften up a bit, but maybe this is a matter of the leaves more than me. My aunt told this story of how, in college, she’d sent her mother a card with a picture of a pencil on the front that said “You may call this a pencil,” and on the inside, “But I call it a hint,” because her mother rarely ever wrote her. After much serious contemplation, my darling great grandmother sent back a card of someone climbing up a rock wall, with the front saying, “You’re trying, trying, trying…” and the inside said “…Very trying.”
I suppose this is my attempt at trying tea something!
Okay, so, the first time I tried this, I’m not going to lie, it was AWFUL. It was watery, weak, and barely smelt of anything it promised on the box. It was pathetic, and the one thing that was supposed to make the Grammys bearable [tea solves all my woes, ’kay?] just made it worse, haha.
But. I have been looking for a nice, spicy chocolate blend for ages because I am trying to cut down on my chocaholic tendencies. Since I have no concept where to begin online, figured trying something boxed might be a good start…
There is hope! Today, I steeped it in a smaller mug, double-bagged, for ~10 min., added a dash of milk, and some real sugar. Can’t say it is suddenly a gift from the tutelary Mayan Tea Gods and Goddesses or anything, but it is definite improvement from last night and means I may even be able to finish the box. I taste more of the spice and smell more of the cocoa, which is not exactly the desired balance, but quite tolerable. All of the flavor tends to sit at the bottom of my mug, but I believe in the power of my white chocolate strawberry scone to combat the powers of evil. A new hope? If double-bagged mixed with some chai, it should be even better. I have tried to salvage this tea!
To be entirely honest, I probably should be giving this a lower rating than I am. It is Sunday morning, and in my desperation to wake up, I shuffled my freezing feet to my parents’ cupboard full of bagged tea and rummaged through all of the boxes until I found something new. Never again, I tell you. (Though I will probably do it later today.)
Anywhos, tea. Tastes mostly like a boring, unrefined black tea. There’s some fruity flavoring, but I wouldn’t single it out particularly as mango, and it’s very artificial tasting. Even the smell didn’t entice me, either when I sniffed the bag with suspicion, nor in my mug as it brewed, which is unusual for teas that aim for fruityliciousness. The coloring was warm and quite dark, but again, nothing unusual.
When trying to think what it reminds me of, I can only conjure the image of something soggy, which has been left out too long. Yetch. To be remedied with Sufjan Stevens and more tea. Let’s hope this isn’t going to predict the rest of my day…