Posts Tagged With: Twining

Twinning’s Honey and Vanilla Tea

While on holiday in Australia I like, as always, to sample the wide variety of beverages available to me. This includes tea, and often while out shopping I will grab a small ten pack of individual bags from the Twining’s range.

Twinings Honey and Vanilla

Such a stunning wee box

This innovative pack size is wonderful for me as it allows for the ability to sample several different types and styles within the range without breaking the bank, or requiring additional storage of the leftovers… Why this has not been rolled out to New Zealand yet, I do not know.

The Honey and Vanilla tea is right on the mark, the balance has been while struck so as not to overpower the tea, but to complement it with honey notes on the tongue and lingering vanilla notes on the back of the palate. But yet it is still not overpoweringly too sweet, but unlike other attempts at a boutique tea, It is not trying to mask, but complement the tea leaf used, and as such you still get the robust English breakfast Assam blend just there in the mix without too much thought

The blue willow pattern is a classic, and an absolute favorite of my mothers, If i could find the Twining’s Honey and Vanilla English Breakfast loose leaf to sample, I’d dust off the whole set. .

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

Iced Tea for Beginners

Ever the adventurer I decided to give a relatively new Iced tea on the market. Although pleasant to drink it tastes a lot like flat L&P, so if you’re in the market for that kinda thing and don’t mind paying extra grab a bottle.

Maybe I should have lit that candle to add to the effect…

And now for a word of student wisdom:

  1. Buy a box of Twinings Lady Grey tag less bags
  2. Place one or two in the bottom of a plastic bottle
  3. Add cold water

This method is good for about an hour or so (the dregs can be a bit strong too, be warned!), and should save you a good $3.40 overall. In my opinion, it tastes a whole lot better too but, the other added bonus it you won’t be consuming the list-as-long-as-my-arm of chemical stabilisers, sweeteners, and other assorted nasty greeblies that make the shelf life last well past the second coming.

Categories: Basics of Tea | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Christmas…

Every year without fail corporations begin to assault shoppers around the globe unrelentingly with Christmas carols by Evil-Elevator-Music-Inc, and release their wares developed in conjunction with the wondrous people at Tinsel-All-of-the-things. This generally produces a level of nausea only overcome by some kind of mind altering substance brought from a man wearing a Santa hat and lacking any front teeth…

Tea companies are no exception to the rule, and not more than a few weeks back I came across the Twining’s Christmas tea release. I walked past bitterly muttering under my breath words unsavoury for the joy and cheer of this time of year.

I decided for the sake of my blog, to try this demonic concoction which could only be expected to be some foul blend of an unenlightened cheap gimmick, and a brilliant way to dispose of a bad tea harvest by drowning it out in spices… then I saw the price tag, began a tirade of foul language that would make a Grinch blush, and promptly left the store.

On my third attempt I discovered not a box of the stuff to be seen. This was perplexing; generally this sort of stuff never moves until after Christmas day. It is seen at ¼ the price an large mountains… generally with a distraught looking sales man peddling the wares to whomever seems desperate enough. It dawned on me I may have made a mistake in judging this tea prematurely.

So after much hunting of supermarkets and on the verge of giving up I came across two solitary tins sitting in the tea section pushed well to the back, and partially obscured from sight. I grabbed one, swallowed my pride and brought it home hoping it was a spectacular failure and worthy of scathing ridicule. I was wrong.

This tea blew my mind away with every mouthful overwhelming my taste buds with flavours reminiscent of homemade Christmas mince pies. I can hear carols in my ears brought back from the smell of that particular blend of clove and cinnamon that make you think of Christmas crackers and brandy snaps. Following the directions on the box produces this effect, milk and one sugar. But if you want that sticky Christmas pudding flavour, try it with a bit of honey… it even leaves you feeling warm and satisfied, much like after a good solid Christmas feast.

For a long time I believed Twinings had lost their touch, fell afoul to the demons of corporate Christmas. I was wrong. Twinings makes great teas, brilliant competitive teas.

Categories: Tastings | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Lapsang souchong: Breath of the Dragon

Twining’s have done a loose leaf series called ‘Origins’ and this one, being labelled as 5 out of 5 in their strength scale… seemed like the obvious place to start. It is a pine smoked black tea from Fujian province in china.

When I first saw this tea, I was expecting something extraordinary, the box with its red hues seemed to ooze a fiery expectation. On opening the strong smokey aroma reminded me of the fish smoker and brought back fond memories of the peatiest of peaty scotches.

Lapsang Souchong Tea and my new pot and teawarmer stand

Lapsang Souchong Tea and my new pot and teawarmer stand

The dark amber colour under the new tea pot I received recently made it glow angrily and the aromas released in vapour, threatened to set off the smoke alarms, the teapot clearly sweating under the heat…

The dark fires of mordor reflected in the potstand... signs of the flavour to come

The dark fires of Mordor reflected in the potstand… signs of the flavour to come

Sipping it back brought back fond memories in my childhood of playing with e embers in the fire and staining the ceiling with soot… or sitting downwind of the campfire… it is warming and invigorating. as you can see.

Protip: Rinse the tea first with hot water to ‘release the dragon’, this removes some of the bitterness and also reduces the caffeine content so your not running around like your pants are on fire.

This is a tea well worth the experience, you may not like it, but Id recommend you try it anyway if the option were to present itself… It really is an experience that has proven itself to bring back all sorts of fond memories…

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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.

Image

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

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