Tea on Tuesday: A Taste Test

A very unscientific taste test comparison

of the many “English Breakfast” teas available out there.

I love an afternoon cup of tea.  English breakfast is my tea of choice, and I am forever on the hunt for the perfect, consistent cup of tea.  English Breakfast seems to be a universal standard, with almost every brand having their own version. I somehow doubt they all are equally good though. For this test, I will use bagged teas. IMG_1288-1

I’ve been choosing more loose leaf teas nowadays, as I really don’t need to add to problem by requiring all the extra packaging that comes with a tea bag.  Think about it… someone is printing the tags, making the string, making the bag itself, gluing the bag or stapling the bag together, enclosing it in a printed envelope, and shipping those supplies to the teamaker… a lot of unnecessary steps I could avoid by just scooping tea into a stainless steel steeping infuser.  (I know…someone has to make that stainless steel infuser, but at least it is reusable!)

Sorry for the sidetrack there… but in my search for the perfect cup of English Breakfast, I have managed to find the following tea bags in my possession.  I decided to do as scientific taste test as I can by brewing multiple cups all at once and comparing.

My method:  Same size cups.  Bring a full pot of water to boil using my electric tea kettle.  Measure out 1 cup of hot water for each tea bag.  Let steep for 2 minutes.  Remove the tea bags.  Taste.  Make notes.  Add one tablespoon whole milk.  Stir and taste again.  Make notes.IMG_1289

IMG_1292Results:

All colored nicely and held up to milk without looking watery.

Plain hot tea (no milk or sugar) winner: Bigelow, 2nd place Tazo, 3rd place Twinings

With milk: winner: Tazo, 2nd place Twinings, 3rd place, Bigelow

Tazo was good and and a more floral taste

Stash had an off-taste different from the others

Choice was milder and weaker

Bigelow was good, but lost a little in flavor when milk added

Twinings was good overall

PG Tips was o.k. and a bit weak when milk added.

My Notes: Surprising was that PG tips came in lower as that is the brand we buy large quantities of as it is my son’s favorite.  I was disappointed in Stash Tea’s flavor as I generally like their teas, and they’re local.  Choice tea is the type you may find at a hotel or in a doctor’s office, so I wasn’t surprised it was of lower quality.

My son’s notes: He found Stash tea bland, PG tips strong, Tazo good, Choice had a hint of cinnamon taste which may have come being stored near another bag as it is only wrapped in paper.  He thought Bigelow and Twinings tasted the same.

Next time…. mint teas?

 

 

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18 Spots for Afternoon Tea in Britain I Really Must Visit

I have a great love of history, afternoon tea, and Britain.  I have discovered online several tea shops I really must visit when I go.  There are teashops on every corner, but you must do some research and seek out ones that really make you feel you’ve stepped back in time.  I don’t want to go to just any old tea room.  I can get tea in my B&B.  I can get tea at McDonalds.  I want to find a tea room that makes me say to myself “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”  I want ambience.  I want atmosphere.  I want character.  I want quirky.  I want to feel I’m in England.

There are many gorgeous 4 and 5 star hotels who will serve a beautiful afternoon tea, but I don’t want to be charged an arm and a leg and most look like another fancy hotel restaurant just like I’d find in most big US cities.  I love the smaller home grown tearooms or ones attached to a historic spot I might want to visit anyway.

When researching, I found a frustrating number of tearooms that don’t show any photos of the interior of their shop, or only show photos of the food they sell. My motto is, if they are afraid to show photos of their restaurant, then its probably someplace I don’t want to go.  There are many more tea rooms I would love to visit, these just happened to catch my eye.  I might float my way through Britain!

Some of these require reservations or 24 hour notice. A few are closed in the winter months. Check websites before just stopping by.

I want to take a tour of England and plan a route so I can stop at each of these:

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Blackbird Inn, Brighton

Blackbird Inn, Brighton

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Old Bakery Tea Room, Newark on Trent

Old Bakery Tea Room, Newark on Trent  Now that is atmosphere!

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The Swan Hotel, Wells

The Swan Hotel, Wells What a view!

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The Blitz Tearoom & Jazz Lounge, Kettering

The Blitz Tea Room with a focus on WW2

 

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The Apothecary Coffee & Tea Shop, Rye

The Apothecary Coffee Shop, Rye

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 11.39.49 AM.pngTymperleys in Colchester, Essex

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The Bridge Tea Rooms, Bradford on Avon

The Bridge Tea Rooms, Bradford on Avon

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The Slaughters Country Inn, Gloucestershire

The Slaughters Country Inn, Gloucestershire

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Bishopstrow Hotel, Warminster Wiltshire

Bishopstrow House, Wiltshire an 18th Century Manor House

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Woolley Grange Hotel, Bradford on Avon
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Woolley Grange Hotel

Woolley Grange, Wiltshire a Jacobean Manor House

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Almshouse Tea Shop, Axbridge

 

Alms House Tea Shop, Axbridge Somerset

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 12.51.28 PM.pngRydalmount Tea Rooms. Rydal Mount was the home of poet William Wordsworth

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Ashburnham

Ashburnham

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Old Farm House in Burley, New Forest

Old Farmhouse in Burley

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Barnsley House, Cirencester

Barnsley House Hotel

 

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Mt. Ephraim Topiary Gardens kitchen tearoom, Faversham

Mt. Ephraim Topiary Gardens

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Kelmscott Manor tearoom, Oxfordshire

Kelmscott Manor   The retreat of artist and designer William Morris

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Corfe Castle tearoom, Dorset

Corfe Castle