Tea Extravaganza – December 2012

I’m sitting here with my morning cup of tea (at least I was when I first started writing this post), having already drank my morning cup of coffee on the way to work.  Funny how it always used to be the other way round! But, I grew tired of my old favourite, Heath & Heather’s ‘Morning Time’, and began drinking more coffee.

My new morning tea is Tazo’s ‘Wild Sweet Orange’, described as ‘a juicy blend of lemongrass, citrus herbs, liquorice root and orange essences.’  It is a tea to suit all climates and is particularly rejuvenating and brightening.  The climate comment may seem rather random but it is true: I first discovered this coffee in Panama City at a Starbucks on the causeway.  It was a bright hot day, quiet, and my husband and I were thirsty and this discovery quenched my thirst.  We sat on a bench on the causeway looking over the sea, watching ships in the distance, in what is perhaps one of my favourite places I have found on my travels.  And since then, that tea has always been my favourite – in teabag form at least.  Yet, I rarely see it in Starbucks.

As far as teabags go, I am very fussy.  I find that often they all taste the same.  I was keen on Heath & Heather for a while but now when I have them there is something that seems almost artificial in their taste.  Teapigs are always a novelty for me – loose leaf tea already in a convenient bag, something Tazo also does now to.  However, I find that the flavour does not develop too well with either brand and is never as strong as I would like.  A recent favourite is Yogi – I recently tried a selection box of their teas called the 6-day plan, something I will try again in the new year and review.  But, my clear favourite is Tazo tea.  Twining’s makes an amazing cup of English Breakfast and Earl Grey (and for those, they would always be my preference) but for anything else I would chose Tazo.  I keep reminding my sister to bring me some back whenever she is in the USA so I can have some at home, but she keeps forgetting.

However, all is not lost! I currently work in a café that serves Starbucks.  And in only my first week we were talking about what teas we like and one of my colleagues mentioned she particularly likes orange teas, so – of course – I mentioned that my favourite is Wild Sweet Orange.  So, another colleague then recommended to our boss that we get some in our next order.  And we did! So, now I can enjoy it everyday – and what a tea it is in the winter; so warming on a cold day!  Strangely, I was recently in a café on Poole seafront that serves Starbucks and they took had it in stock! Yet, I never see it in high street stores (we always get requests for peppermint tea at our café but cannot seem to order it, yet it is common elsewhere).  Even last time I was in the USA, stocking up, Whole Foods only seemed to have it within the selection box and not a box of it on its own.  I don’t know if this is a common occurrence but I hope not because this is a great tea and it has certainly been a hit with the girls at work!

Moving on… this post is about tea, yes, but I was not going to spend almost 600 words talking about Wild Spiced Orange! My intention was actually to review my current tea selection at home! Since subscribing to Kopi and getting a new coffee each month, I have been keen to find a ‘tea club’ and do the same thing with tea.  But, I have promised myself that I will not do this until I have finished the selection of loose leaf teas in my cupboard.

Well, I promised myself that I would not buy any more tea leaves until I had finished those in my cupboard, and then I bought a bag of camomile flowers…

So, first up: camomile.

If I had to choose one thing to drink for the rest of my life it would be camomile tea.  No doubt about it: this tea is what I drink when I’m stressed, suffering tummy pains, in need of a good night’s sleep (which, frankly, is all the time).  I would especially like my own plant so I can grow my own camomile!

This particular bag of dried flowers I bought from my favourite coffee shop – St Martin’s in Leicester – and they are just beautiful.  There is no other word to describe them.  They are like honey.  They are what honey would taste like if bees solely pollenated camomile flowers.  Sometimes with camomile tea I find it needs to be blended with something else (rose petals seem quite common) or honey added, but this is perfectly drinkable on its own and it would be an insult to add anything!

Next up: Pai Mu Tan

This is a white tea and I have an inclination to these over green tea.  To me, the flavour is much more subtle and less bitter (I dislike green tea if I leave it to brew a bit too long or if I drink the dregs at the bottom).  Pai Mu Tan is my current preference of white teas (although I have only tried a few).  Compared to silver needle tea it is much bolder – silver needle is often raved about as a fine delicate tea but I like something with a bit more oomph! But, maybe I haven’t tried the perfect silver needle yet!

This bag was bought from The Tea Junction in Norwich – a store I frequented for their fascinating teas and coffees while I was growing up.

My next tea, Lapsang Souchong, was also from The Tea Junction, but I have been disappointed with this tea.  A naturally smoky tea, it is not something I could drink, all the time and I have to be in the right mood for it.  But, these particular leaves were nothing on the Lapsang Souchong I tried at the Tea Monkey in Milton Keynes (another great café with a huge selection of teas and a few great staff who are particularly helpful, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but it is hit and miss if they are not working!).

Last up: Rooibos Provence.

From the aforementioned Tea Monkey, this was the tea (although not actually a tea) that made me go: ‘I want to take this home!’ So, I did.  Unfortunately, I then drank it a bit too often and my enjoyment of it wore off.  Nevertheless, I have just enjoyed a cup of this tea for the first time in a while and I can still taste it in my mouth.

I love rooibos tea in general, but I always have to have a piece of lemon in it as I dislike the woody texture on my tongue.  However, rooibos provence with its medley of peppercorns, rose petals, lavender and citrus takes this away and creates a beautiful blend.  The loose leaves are also probably the prettiest blend I’ve seen too! It is like teeny tiny pot pourri!

So, that brings me to the end.  I find my analyses are not particularly interesting or in depth compared to those of my coffee, and I would love to learn more about different teas all over the world.  I just need to finish all the above teas so I can get on with some serious tea tasting! (Speaking of which, I have a new coffee to try…

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5 thoughts on “Tea Extravaganza – December 2012

  1. If you ever find yourself near Swansea, there’s a brilliant deli and cafe in Mumbles that stocks over 50 varieties of tea. I’ve never seen anything like it. My favourite new discovery in tea is Twining’s Blueberry and Apple — yum.

    • Ooh, good to know! I’ll have to remember that if I’m ever near Swansea. I always love finding new cafes with loads of teas and coffees. I’d love a cafe like that!

  2. Don’t know if you’ve been to the Cherryleaf Coffee House on St Giles Street in Norwich,a bit out of the way; which I find preferable! One to look out for if you’re ever in the area 🙂

    • Ooh, good to know! Shame you didn’t tell me a week ago 😉 hehe. I will add it to my list of places to try! Found a fantastic cafe in Bath a few days ago. Beautiful espresso and amazing rustic homemade cakes.

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