Yeah, I can be fairly serious about tea. Not cha-no-yu serious, or High Tea at the Empress serious, but serious enough to taste the difference between Twining’s Irish Breakfast (loose tea, comes in a green tin smelling gloriously smokey) and Twining’s Irish Breakfast (tea bags, tastes like it was strained through old gym socks).
Problem was, I can’t always remember where I’ve found the Twining’s in the Tin. Recently, I ran out, and had to resort to some tea bags. Something’s gone wrong with Twining’s bagged tea, as far as I’m concerned; it used to be that there was not a very big difference in flavor. But they recently changed their packaging, and it just doesn’t have the same… oomph. The tin box tea is fine: strong enough to grow hair in places where you’ll have to use a tweezer to avoid social embarassment. The bag tea is, not to put too fine a point on it, pants.
Yes, I read a few British blogs, why do you ask?
Anyway, I couldn’t find the Irish Breakfast blend in a tin box on a recent run around the nearest groceries, but I did score a big cardboard carton of PG Tips Loose Tea, which is a VERY GOOD all-around black tea. It’s got the gunpowder-fine grainy tea, it smells great, and tastes like something Arthur Dent longed for. It was in the British foods section of my local Meijer. It really floats my boat, tea-wise. Wish it didn’t come in the cardboard box, but as I use it maybe it’ll fit in my old Twining’s tin. Heh.
One other thing – I’m fairly old-school about teamaking. If I make a mug, with loose tea, I use a little metal tea strainer thing that gives the leaves (really, they’re more like grains) room to expand. The water has to be cold and freshly drawn, and then when it boils in the kettle I try to make sure that the mug with the strainer of tea is right by the stove so that the boiling water goes right over the leaves and into the mug.
If I decide to make a pot of tea – it has to be properly warmed, the tea goes right in the pot (1 teaspoon per cup, one for the pot) and then the boiling water gets poured over the top and stirred. Then the strainer comes into play when pouring out. I don’t usually add more hot water and tea to the pot, but know that there is an art to stretching out the tea in the pot.
Yes, it’s strong. Stronger than an arm-wrestler’s bicep. If it wasn’t a sloppy mugful of liquid it would beat you about the head and neck until you were fully conscious. I like it with a fair bit of milk, which takes the edge of and also makes clutching the mug and warming my face over it that much more soothing and part of the enjoyment of tea.
PG tips is available as loose tea, tea bags, and in vending formats. A “Special Blend” tea, which is the same as the tea blended for the brand’s 75th anniversary, is available in tea bag form only.
The tea used in PG tips is imported in bulk as single estate teas from around the world and blended in precise proportions set by the tea tasters to make blend 777, which can contain between 12 and 35 single estate teas at any one time (depending on season, etc.) at the Trafford Park factory in Manchester.