Posts Tagged With: Dilmah

Twining’s Assam Bold

I just finished a box of the twining’s Assam Bold this morning… It will be sorely missed.

Twining’s have come out punching with this blend; it gives the Dilmah Strong blend a real run for its money. Described as the strongest in their range it almost lives up to its name; I believe the Irish is still just a touch stronger, and the loose leaf twining’s series contains some real cannons! It also happens to contain some of my favourite notes to be found in cup of tea… rich malty tones, and a splendid depth of character. My preference for this one is with milk; it complements the flavours very well and in a way helps to cut the tannin-y astringency to allow for an ease of exploration by the palate.

As you can most likely tell I like this new variety, so much so it could almost become a breakfast stable if the Russian Caravan was not occupying it at present. I may, however, get another box anyways for when I’m in a rush… or if I need a couple of bags to sustain me when staying over at a bean grinders hovel.

Categories: Tastings | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Dilmah Revitalised (and not just the box).

Dilmah has, for many years now offered a range of specialty teas that in my youth I found great for exploring the different ways tea could be prepared. My first real branching out from the Standard was purely by little other than choice as in the motel, hotel, or conference venue where I was seeking a bag had only the Dilmah single serves of English Breakfast, or the Earl Grey tea. Now I did know other types of tea existed, at some point My lovely mother, or one of her friends had purchased the Twining’s selection box, which included five of each of their specialty range. I recall being fond of the Twining’s prince of wales… yet at the time, and even to this day it is only really accessible by buying the full sampler box. But I digress, The English Breakfast by Dilmah made its mark and I stuck with this peculiarity of specialty tea in either the Dilmah or the Twining’s range for some time.

Just recently I noticed that Dilmah had released new packaging while working down in Rotorua for the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra, I had forgotten a packed lunch and made my way to the local supermarket. As is custom I checked out the tea range and discovered the Earl Grey had been re-released in a new box and wrote a review of it a few days later. A few weeks later I had managed to round up what I believe to be the full range.

I sure do hope the Irish tea Will be re-released too…

It took a bit of time to find them all, some places had not put out the new stock yet, others only had one or two from the range, but I found them all and spent up till today figuring them all out.

Earl Grey [Mild]

I covered this little gem a few weeks back, so rather than repeat myself you can find it here.

The Earl Grey Strong is well traveled; I have grey tea drinkers on stand by for tasting checks…


Earl Grey Strong

At first I thought that the Earl grey that had previously been completely undrinkable had been replaced, then I discovered the Strong Blend and just figured that it had been moved along. Not quite, the strong is bolder in its flavours, but the bergamot has been changed too. Gone is the heavy pungent punch of bitter citrus that previously gave a slight chemically aftertaste, and the slight butteryness from the mild is notable in the blend. Maybe I’ve just habituated to it… I suspect not and that a better source of the bitter fruit had been discovered and is now in use. There is also a slightly different blend of leaves than that of the Milder Earl Grey, It is reminisant of the Dilmah Strong blend found in a purple box (really need to get round to that one) and fitting for the bigger brother in the range. Definitely designed for the grown up earl grey drinker who can handle the stuff and if you are new to earl grey, stick to the mild at first.

Ceylon Supreme

This is a more robust form of the standard Dilmah tea, with more complexity, and more flavour. The previous version of this tea never seemed to brew well. I recall thinking at the time that it was that I just didn’t appreciate the subtleness of the delicate flavours. With this re-release I think I might have been right in that the previous blend was less than on par.

Both bags were added simultaneously. You can already see the colour difference…

It is also worth noting that this blend is far less forgiving than your standard blend of Dilmah, or the original release; many a time I have left the bag in just a little bit too long in the cup and returned to a tea that was bordering on undrinkable. It’s not a bad tea by any stretch of the imagination; it may even give the Dilmah Strong blend a run for its money… But if you distract anywhere as easily as I do HOVER OVER THE CUP UNTIL IT IS DONE, that way you won’t waste this brilliant example of what a Ceylon tea can be.

English Breakfast

A Gentleman I have known for the longest of time has been a regular drinker of tea for quite some time. I personally blame him for the establishment of my minimum standard and benchmark when it comes to a good cup of tea. He is a strong advocate of the monarchy over the meddlesome parliament in the colonies, Is the embodiment of Jiles from the Buffy television series, and owns a Union Jack Teapot.

The resemblance is somewhat uncanny, right down to the occult book filled library.

However the original English Breakfast tea disagreed with him, and although I could drink it, I too noticed the slight Ill sensation that came with the blend. This new version, however, lacks this sensation of Sea sickness after consumption.

It’s still not a favourite of mine, but it is a marked improvement over the original one (on the left). The newer blend (on the right) is not nearly as strong as the original, and this is evident in the Clarity of the tea, as well as in the taste. There was also a slight chlorine(?) notes in the original blend, these are no longer evident. The Ill sensation is almost completely gone (It took a bit of focus to notice it, and could in this case be psychosomatic), and overall I am left feeling that the newer version of this tea is a marked improvement over its predecessor.

English afternoon

Normally I had to raid tea caddies from hotels and motels to find this blend; It was never an easy one to find in the tagless 50 pack either(I believe now that it was not released). Yet it has gone mainstream in the re-release alongside the rest of the range and can be found in the brave few shops that stock the full Dilmah range.

My Victorian friend and I decided to give this one a run for its money and he noticed the Ill feeling creeping back on him… It was also reminisant in strength to that of the Old Ceylon Supreme in the range too, with a straw like flavour quality and a watery finish. Normally we drink tea with milk, and sometimes add sugar should we feel in the mood, but I am a bit more adventurous and gave this tea a second run with a slice of lemon.

The lemon works with this tea… Actually it compliments it quite well with the watery finish being covered nicely by the zesty lemon. I had big concerns for this one, it had combined two of the weaker traits of the old series into a single tea. But in the traditional afternoon tea sense, taken with lemon rather than with whitener and sugar we have a tea that is quite delightful. The lesson for today being not all teas can be taken with just milk, and/or sugar, and with a bit of experimentation even a lemon can come out on top.

Categories: Breakfast tea, Grey tea, Tastings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tea worth stealing: Porter tea series (well most of it)

This series of tea is a locally blended and distributed to locations where single serve tea is needed. The manufacturer Healthpak has a strong Green strategy and vision which can be quickly identified by their Soap recycling programme.

It appears that they have also placed a decent amount of effort into the tea range that they provide to the motels, hotels, restaurants, and airline companies.

It comes in a rainbow of different flavours of which I have managed to acquire via devious means… well, accept for the English Breakfast and the Pure Ceylon.

As is only fitting I will work through each in some semblance of order starting with:

The Classic Blend

Carefully blended to reflect new Zealanders taste preferences is what the advertising claims and they have delivered. It has the well loved cheap tea flavour which includes the pine tree notes, but in a refined balanced manner, so well balanced, that the quality is on par, if not exceeds the Choysa round tea.

Overall this is completely inoffensive, and if anything to be respected for what it is, a hotel condiment. Bravo Healthpak!

The Earl Grey

I found this blend to be very inoffensive. I’ve not normally been a fan of grey teas; they are however, growing on me now that Dilmah has adjusted their blends in their Selections range. This one, in comparison to those I have tried would come across as weak to the Picard’s of this world.

For the non-regular grey tea drinker, however, the flavours are balanced well enough to not hide the flavour of the leaves (which I suspect is a Ceylon). To be able to identify this gives credence to the quality statement made by Healthpak and also makes me suspect that the blender of this tea range is not a grey tea drinker, and as such has not lost the ability to appreciate a good cup of ‘normal’ tea.

Peppermint Tea

This is considerably mild for as far as peppermint teas go, Its nice… just don’t expect it to clear your sinuses like the Twinings, Dilmah, or a homemade concoction from fresh herbs out of the garden does. This one I would have to say was the most underwhelming of the range, and I’d still rate it quite well too.

Lemon Tea

They weren’t kidding about this being a lemon tea… I left this one to soak for a tad too long (bout ½ an hour with the bag in) so I was expecting it to be a tanniny lemony monstrosity. I was pleasantly surprised to find it had not… Right to the last drop it was a lovely uniform lemon flavour that was not all that artificial tasting… then it hit me, this was not Lemon scented tea at all! it was a hot lemon drink! As there was not telltale signs of any tea leaf whatsoever in the beverage, I was left perplexed, right up till I rummaged through the bin to recover the little paper packet .

AH HA! It is an infusion of lemongrass and lemon, and a bloody good one at that.

Green Tea

Very pleasant to drink, it is a sencha style of green tea so has the toasted rice notes which add so wonderfully compliments the tea itself. It is almost on par with the free green tea one would expect from a sushi shop, and if I were to receive the porter tea at one of these establishments, although it would not jump out at me it would not feel out of place.

So in conclusion this range of Motel, Hotel, Restaurant, Aeroplane tea is surprisingly good, so if you happen to be eating, staying or flying anywhere in the near future empty the tea catty of every last bag and save it up for an emergency, or if money is getting stupidly tight like mine is, empty the tea stand at your local fast food joint (seriously tho, don’t do this… it’s not cool, and tea is really, really cheap. Like 200 bags for a couple of bucks… 1c each)

Categories: Generic Teas, Tastings | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Dilmah strikes back!

Some people hate it, other people love it. Peppermint has been used of what some suggest as well over 10,000 years for medicinal purposes, even to this day, but I’m not so interested in that. I’m more interested in the infused leaves floating in the water making tea.

I’m currently working on a much larger blog post covering a single range of motel teas well worth nicking. One of which is a peppermint tea, so for the sake of comparison and it being newly placed on supermarket shelves, I decided to give the Dilmah Exceptionals New flavour: Peppermint Leaves with Ceylon Cinnamon a run for its money. I was concerned due to the absolute trainwreck of flavours in the Pomegranate, Acai and Vanilla that proceeded it. The Peppermint and Cinnamon too is in a stunningly beautiful box reflective of the dark green peppermint leaves. It also smelt divine on opening, the silken pyramidal bags released a angelic sign of delightful scented wonder as they hit the water…


This is a smashingly well blended tea. I’ve had the box not more than 24 hours and I’ve basically been drinking nothing but… I’ve taken it to friends places… I’ve invited people over to try it and they have come away wanting to buy their own… I may even take up loitering in the tea Isle dropping the odd box into the trolleys of unsuspecting shoppers. Dilmah have produced a winner. After the bold, yet not overwhelming peppermint flavour begins to leave the palate the sweet woody cinnamon notes come to the fore lingering on until you take the next sip from your cup. I cannot fault it.

As such I recommend that even for those who are not big on peppermint tea to try this at least once, and for those who do buy two boxes as I really can’t see this staying in stock once the masses discover it.

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Ceylon: Dilmahs hammer of tea shattered.

The hedonistic marketing principles are all the rage in this day and age. You can get everything customised, individualised or at the very least get whatever you wish in a variety of colours. Tea has gone the same way. Dilmah, has embraced the market trends and has released teas in an ever expanding range from your classic varieties to the super premium T2 Brand. However, there comes a point where somebody has to step in and stop the marketing wiz kids before they go too far. In the case of the Dilmah exceptional, Acai Berry and Pomegranate real leaf tea… it may be too late.

The flavours on the palate are confused; the Acai mixes with Pomegranate to produce what can only be described as tutti frutti bubblegum flavour. The Ceylon leaf is not complimented by the addition of the flavours, and if anything it spoils the experience completely. The tannins take the expected berry experience with all its flair and turn it sour in the mouth leaving an unpleasant unripe grape skin notes (I shudder to think how bad this would have been without the addition of Vanilla to soften it). As such, under no circumstances use overheated water, or leave it to stand for too long with the bag in. The tea is also sweet on its own, I do not recommend the use of sugar at all as it will most likely lead to an undrinkable if not downright evil concoction.

In saying that I can see how it could have slipped by unnoticed; Acai berries have been all the rage having recently been touted as the next great ‘super food’; You find them in breakfast cereals, nut mixes, meal bars… from a marketing point of view the time is right. The stuff reads well off the box too, “tart, lightly sweet and occasionally chocolatey notes” It sounds like a winner. The smell is divine; deep rich and pungent berry notes hint at the tartness and the sweet berry flavours. Add to that the use of the luxury triangular tea bags, use of actual leaf tea, the stellar colouring… you can understand my shock when I tasted this.

The Acai and Pomegranate does however have good potential, and if it were up to me, I would not have used Ceylon tea as the base, but rather Hibiscus, or Apple.

Categories: Flavored black tea, Tastings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Out of the darkness, and into the light…

I must say, my previous experiences with the Dilmah earl grey were somewhat… unpleasant. I had put this down to poor selection of bergamot that assaulted my taste buds like a citrus based dishwashing liquid. This new release, Dilmah Single Region Selection Earl Grey is far less abrasive. Not as buttery as the twining’s earl grey, but a bit more edgy and dangerous. This is a surprisingly drinkable tea, and I am finding myself enjoying it black without milk or sugar.

I am sure you are all wondering how I can make these bold claims of advancement. Well I found a single serve Dilmah in foil tucked away in the emergency tea rations (yes, I have those) and the difference is very noticeable.

Dilmah Single Region Selection Earl Grey 50’s, sporting a new box with a big ol’ ethical tea business logo. Shiny.

If you’re wondering where I have been for the past couple of months I have been destroying my mind and eyes with graduate studies. The semester is nearing its end and I do intend to return to my beverage based reviews, commentary, and advice. But before that, I have two major exams left to conquer. Wish me Luck!

Categories: Grey tea, Tastings | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A week without lactate of bovine: Searching for a soy mate.

A very fine lass I regularly drink tea with has the unfortunate condition, she is somewhat intolerant of the delights that megacorp Fonterra produce. During our latest tea drinking session the idea was floated to find a compatible tea that works well with a good soy milk, being a fearless individual over the age of 18 years I took up this challange.

From what I can recall from the conversation, soy milk selection comes with many pitfalls; there is a scale from delightful warm nutty flavours to what was simply described as ‘Green’. What is Green flavour you ask? It’s that dusty mildew smell of black-green mold, the taste you would expect from licking the dashboard of a vintage car left sitting in the shade for a couple of decades… the common odor of any flat during the deep misty winters in the swamp called Hamilton. So rather than play Russian roulette in the supermarket I called on the milk free experts and was put onto Pams Soy milk, which as I was informed, is the most student friendly on price and by far leader of the pack when it comes to not greenlyness.

Once I had obtained my carton of milk substitute, I cracked the top and made my first cuppa… the first of many that I either suffered through or delighted in. Below are my top and bottom selections.

The best:

The best of the bunch

NZ breakfast: Good balance of flavours, unique tea flavours stand out above the soy with the distinctive character it has well identifiable without masking the soy, worthy of mention too was the NZ earl grey which too stayed true to its intended flavour.

Twinings Lady Grey tea: Stellar, the flavour is indistinguishable from a milked tea. I suspect that there is an interaction with something in the tea, much like the English breakfast cancelling out the soy, but in this case the citrus peel in the lady grey masks the bitterness.

Dilmah Exceptional Lively lime and orange: at first it was a bit dish watery (lemony with a thick gloopy flavour afterwards) but as it settled this took on a lovely ginger note and became a very pleasant experience best described as drinking a Gingernut biscuit.

The Worst.

Choysa (Square): Fish. Mixing soy milk with Choysa tea produces fishy flavour. It’s as though somebody soaked a cod head overnight in the kettle and filled the teabag with tuna flakes. Still, it is drinkable, however combined with the thicker texture imparted by the soy milk, I’d sooner drink the brine from a fishmongers chopping board.

Twinings English Breakfast: Loses the nutty soy finish, however… then releases a strong taste of chloride in the finish which appears as the tea cools for about 10 minutes before slowly dissipating. Otherwise it was sub-average if not a bit watery towards the end.

Dilmah Irish Breakfast: I had high hopes for this particular blend as it was a stronger brew and thus I was hopeful the tea would come out above the soy unfortunately, it was reminiscent of the Choysa… but better than in the sense the floral and fruity notes were distinguishable, followed by a hint of fishiness.

Honourable mention for resurrectional properties.

Dilmah Exceptional Earl grey tea: When first tried this particular tea I found the bergamot so overpowering and destructive that it was launched to the back of the cupboard in the hopes it would never see the light of day again. I resurrected this to see if the soy would transmute this vile beverage into a drinkable form…The most destructive part of this tea is the dry sour flavour left in the mouth on the finish. The nuttiness of the soy, however, counteracts this and makes the tea palatable, I daresay… enjoyable.

A final note…

when it comes to soy milk in tea I found it best to brew strong, and then leave it to develop for a few moments as this helps to let the flavour evolve into its final form. The flavour outcome is also difficult to predict by quality of leaf or intended flavour, as demonstrated by the fish Choysa, but it can have unexpected pleasures, so experiment first.

Categories: Basics of Tea, Tastings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Irish teas.

Firstly I would like to clear up some lingering myths surrounding the production of the Irish breakfast tea:

  • It is NOT fermented in Irish whiskey.
  • It is NOT chewed in the poor Irish slums after a night on the drinks to freashen the mouth and impart unique flavour to the leaves.
  • It is NOT Mixed with any form of potato products to add more body.
  • Nor is it soaked in Guinness to add to the malty notes.

The main difference traditionally (according to a very reliable internet source *cough* wikipidia *cough*), is the use of the Assam region tea leaves (Lowland region of India) in the blend, which supposedly produces a stronger tea than that of Ceylon in Sri Lanka.  The Irish you see, love a good strong brew (possibly to help shake the hangover and clear the drunken breath), and hence they have a specific blend prepared to reflect this. The tea does indeed have strong malty flavour to it; malty flavours seem to be the vogue in Ireland,  a higher caffeine level, and a richer expression in flavours from the selected leaves.


Twinings have produced a stellar example of the Irish tea using the lowland Indian leaf which has a initially surprisingly similar character to that of both the Bell, and the Choysa Square; I am beginning to suspect that the southern Indian Assam leaf is used to produce the stronger blend that New Zealanders seem to like. The finish, however, is far, far better than the aforementioned varieties and therefore does not evoke images of licking the sole of a papermillworkers boot, but a subtlety that can be enjoyed for what it is.

Dilmah, in their preparation have used their hallmark Sri Lankan leaf with its fruity notes, essentially marketing their own unique take on the Irish blend. I found that it was more sweet and floral like the Ceylon, with a deeper malty finish… however, don’t overbrew it if you plan to drink it black… It takes on acrid undertone with the finish of burnt ants.

In general this tea is best enjoyed with milk, and for me personally I favour a Little bit of honey too. It makes for a great pick me up after a night on the drinks both hiding the hairy tongue after a night of the blended scotch, to clearing the head after the numerous bottles of cheap red wine.

Oh and finally… this variety of tea stains the heck out of white porcelain; my arms ache from all the scrubbing!

Categories: Breakfast tea, Tastings | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Suffering for the sake of the many… Finding an Earl Grey standard.

For as long as I can remember, the Earl grey has been a tea that I have personally looked down on as a cheap way to hide inferior leaves. As such on seeing the steaming cup of grey fluid, and then smelling the sour orange of the bergamot tree would normally either ask for anything but the same tea, or a glass of cold water. But in the sake of making an honest attempt to understand and comment on how to approach the budget tea market, I have soiled my lips with the poisoned chalice so that If forced to buy a grey tea, you can chose one that will not kill, but only maim.

Earl grey Is flavoured by the fruit of the Citrus bergamia; A lemon like fruit similar in sourness to the grapefruit, grown almost exclusively by the Ionian sea in Reggio di Calabria, Italy. Originally, it was added as a form of treatment for malaria, but like all things some tasteless souls found it likeable and chose to drink it as something other than medicine. Speaking of medicine, Earl grey is known to have the same interaction effects as grapefruit does on a range of medications in large volumes and after about 4 litres in a single day can be toxic…

Down at the local Pak’n Save, I proceeded to buy up the whole Twining’s range of teas (they were on special, and included three grey teas). Added to the Dilmah essentials earl grey that I already had at home for some strange friends I have who drink it almost exclusively, and the handful of single serves of Dilmah Earl grey acquired from various hotels around the nation, I began in earnest to find an earl grey that I can describe as tolerable.

I settled on the Twining’s Earl Grey as the benchmark. It has a soft buttery finish, and the bergamot is not as overpowering as the Dilmah varieties. I did enjoy the flavours of the NZ Earl grey tea also done by Twining’s, but I will discuss that one in a later post.

What was a bit of a shock, however, is that the grey tea’s have grown on me somewhat. Despite the fact I cannot really handle them without milk just yet (the correct method for the drinking of earl grey as instructed by two very English gentlemen) I have found an appreciation for them. In the future I will most likely not turn my nose up so quickly, but they are still not my preferred cuppa.

Categories: Basics of Tea, Grey tea, Tastings | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Dilmah Single Origin Ceylon (Bags)

When it comes to sampling tea, the Dilmah teabag is my yardstick for comparison, I therefore felt it best to gain a deep insight into this tea first. However, I was a bit too overenthusiastic and I had produced well over 3000 words on the topic, three documents, two blogs (possibly a third) and a spreadsheet! I have now painfully reduced this down to a little under 500 words…

I started drinking Dilmah after a long contemplative period standing in the supermarket looking deeply into what seemed to be a barrage of generic tea options. What caught my eye about Dilmah were the vacuum sealed leaves, and the statement of ethical practice. At the time I was going through a strong anti big-name-brand anything, and Dilmah came across to me as the little man standing up above the rest.

It is a pure black tea and thus contains no traces of bergamot; a citrus fruit used to flavour many blended teas. One to two minutes is all that is needed to make a typical mug strength brew, for larger cups, I would recommend the use of two bags, or the use of the extra strength variety (which I will look into at a later date). It takes a long time for the bitterness to seep out of the bag making this a very safe tea for the forgetful. The colour is deep amber with a hint of rust red, with the addition of milk this becomes a yellow-orange hue depending on the length of brew. Dilmah drinks well with milk, sugar, and honey, but can also be nice with a slice of lemon, or a twist of lime. The finish is polite and moves on after lingering just long enough to let you know it has done a good job, but before you realise there is a very slight hint of bitterness.

The bags can be reused at most up to three times if drunk as a black tea. A longer brew time is necessary with the second brew producing a sweeter flavour with less of the bold maltiness expressed the finish the first time round; I liked this second brew best with a little sugar as it made the tea taste of honeysuckle. If you are on a tight budget the third brew if left long enough brought in a very subtle floral notes, but the tea had started to cool considerably before it got to this stage.

There has been many a time where I have left a mug on the bench in the kitchen for upwards of 30 minutes with it still being drinkable, with i might add a notable involuntary twitch at the end; there is small amount of fine dust does get left in the bottom of the cup, If drunk too slowly this can cause the last mouthful to be quite bitter. I recommend not drinking this last bit if you have left the tea a bit too long; rather, leave this unsavoury deposit for the sink.

I intend to revisit this tea in future when I feel I have grown a better appreciation of it in comparison to the rest of the tea out there.


Dilmah 100% Ceylon tea from a teabag.

Categories: Generic Teas | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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