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Ecstasy is a glass full of tea and a piece of sugar in the mouth. – Alexander Pushkin

Czar Nicolas Russian Caravan Tea (ETS image)

Czar Nicolas Russian Caravan Tea (ETS image)

If you’re like me, then when you think of great tea-drinking nations, you probably think of the United Kingdom. Who are actually topped in tea-drinking by countries like Turkey, where they consume nearly three times as much as the Brits on a per capita basis. Then, there’s Morocco, Ireland, and Mauritania, all of which fill the spots on the list just ahead of the UK.

One of the countries that you might not think of when you think of great tea drinkers is Russia. But they have a long history of tea drinking and are credited with popularizing and possibly even inventing the samovar, one of the world’s earliest tea gadgets.

Given the proximity of the two countries, it’s probably no surprise that China eventually started trading one of their precious and unique commodities – tea – with Russia. Russians are first thought to have tasted tea – at least according to the historical record – in the early seventeenth century when envoys from the Tsar, who were dispatched to Mongolia in 1616, encountered a strange beverage made with leaves. About two decades later Mongolia made a gift of about 600 pounds of tea (though that amount varies, depending on the source) to the Tsar. His envoy grumbled a bit, remarking that furs would have been a better choice than these curious leaves.

But tea began to catch on, and by 1674 a Swedish envoy noted that it was being sold in Moscow for 30 kopeks a pound and was claimed to be a remedy for the ills brought on by drinking too much of the harder stuff. By the early to mid-eighteenth century tea had begun to regularly make the long journey from China to Russia, often by camel caravan. Much like in Britain, as the popularity increased and larger supplies were imported, prices fell even further and things began to snowball. By 1810, according to one source, one Russian trading guild was responsible for importing nearly three million pounds of tea into the country.

And so it went. Nowadays the Russians are not ranked all the way at the top of the world’s tea drinking nations. But the beverage is still something of an institution there and enough tea is consumed to put Russia’s citizens fifteenth on the list of tea drinking peoples.

See also 5 Signs That You’re “Going Russian” at Tea Time

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Some teas are best when steeped in a gaiwan. Others in a Yixing style teapot. And still others were specifically produced to be served British Style, that is, steeping up a strong and somewhat bitter liquid that reacts well to milk and sugar (these should enhance, not drown out, the tea’s flavor). Sure, you can steep up a weak version of these teas (infusing for two minutes or less), but you won’t get their full glory. Here are five of the better known ones:

Assam tea CTC style (ETS image)

Assam tea CTC style (ETS image)

1 CTC Assam

Let’s face it, this tea steeps up fast and strong. It is made from leaves of the Camellia sinensis var. assamica member of the tea plant family. The leaves are larger and heartier than many other tea plants. They are withered, rolled, fully oxidized to turn them black, then dried and ground into the typical CTC (crush, tear, curl) shape (sort of like smaller versions of Grape Nuts cereal). There are a number of options for this tea, including this one sold loose and bagged.

2 English Breakfast Blends

Usually in a very fine ground leaf form (often called “dust” or “fannings”) and a blend of the finest Assam, Kenyan, and other choice teas. A strong tea to start the day with a full malty flavor and a rich dark color that is best served hot with milk and a little sugar (or artificial sweetener). Several customers have remarked that they rely on this tea as their morning wake-up cuppa. Hubby and I enjoy it all day long, preferring our tea served British style. See a full selection here.

English Breakfast Blends (ETS image)

English Breakfast Blends (ETS image)

3 Irish Breakfast Blends

Usually in the CTC form (as described in #1 above) where the leaves are a stout robust blend of February Kenya BP1 and 2nd flush Assam in some brands, a blend of Ceylon and Assam in other brands, and leaves from Assam and Darjeeling together in other brands. They all have superb color (usually a rich ruby red), a delightful aroma, and a flavor that is described as rich, malty, and full of subtleties such as notes of prunes, cherries, hazelnuts, and honey. You will get some bitterness or astringency when steeped strong (usually 5 minutes using water brought to a full boil), but that’s where the British style of serving helps – the milk and sugar subdue those negative qualities and enhance those wonderful flavors. Some customer comments say this is not just a great wake-up tea but also a perker-upper in the afternoon. I heartily agree! See a full selection here.

Irish Breakfast Blends (ETS image)

Irish Breakfast Blends (ETS image)

4 Scottish Breakfast Blends

Ever been to Scotland? Brr! Even in Summer you need a hot cuppa to get you going in the morning. They also have mainly soft water (not a lot of extra minerals, etc., in it) which tends to steep up a rather flat tasting tea. So this blend tends to be rather more bracing, malty, and full-bodied due to a blending of leaves from various gardens in the Assam region of India. Milk and sugar are strongly recommended. They bring out that maltiness and make this a tea ideal with typical Scottish breakfast foods like Scott’s Porridge Oats. One customer says she drinks this tea all day long since it usually has no bitterness. So true! We always keep some on hand and rotate this with the others as our morning cuppa. See a full selection here.

Scottish Breakfast Blends (ETS image)

Scottish Breakfast Blends (ETS image)

 

Yorkshire Harrogate Tea (ETS image)

Yorkshire Harrogate Tea (ETS image)

5 Yorkshire Harrogate Tea

Strong black teas blended to produce a full-bodied tea with a rich flavor. Harrogate is famous for its water that people would drink as a medicinal cure, and it steeps this tea up perfectly. But don’t worry – you don’t have to travel there or have some of their water flown in. Your water at home should be fine. Be sure it’s brought to a full boil and steep for 5 minutes to infuse all the goodness in those leaves into the water. Don’t forget that milk and sugar – the key part of that British style cuppa. And since Harrogate is also where the annual Crime Writing Festival is held, you can sit back with a good crime novel while you imbibe. See the tea here.

Whether you’re slurping a cuppa with breakfast, gulping one mid-morning, brightening up your lunchtime with a fresh potful, or any other time of day, this tea will keep you going – in British style!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Forget politics, religion, taxes, and other topics that are typically the subject of debates around the water cooler (such as why that line backer made that move in the second half of the first quarter of that football game). The debate over whether Orthodox style tea is better than CTC style tea is popping up more and more. Some tea drinkers just scratch their heads and wonder what these tea types are and the real differences between them.

Orthodox on the left and CTC on the right. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Orthodox on the left and CTC on the right. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Orthodox teas are usually harvested and processed by hand to get intact, whole leaves – small, young tea leaves plucked from the tips of the tea bush – but some may be harvested and processed by machine. The basic processing involves four steps. Withering where leaves are spread out on long metal troughs in a shaded area for about 14-20 hours, letting moisture evaporate so they become limp and pliable and can be rolled without damage. Rolling where the leaves go through a press that rolls over them while rotating them around to release chemicals stored in their cells, thus beginning the oxidation process (the highest grades are done by hand while large-scale production of lower grades use a machine). Oxidation (started during rolling) where the leaves are laid out 2-4 hours in a humidity/temperature-controlled room, allowing the air to react with chemicals released during rolling and turn the leaves to reddish-brown, then black (too long will cause the tea will be strong and lose its subtlety, while too short will not let the complex flavors fully develop). Firing of the leaves is done on a conveyor belt that moves through a charcoal fire heater, halting oxidation and drying them, at around 220-250° F for 20-40 minutes after which the leaves are sorted by leaf grade by a machine that shakes them over varying gauges of mesh that sifts by size. The largest pieces may be hand-sorted to assure consistent size and therefore steeping time. Young, whole leaf teas are generally higher priced than the broken leaf grade.

Orthodox teas are graded from Golden Tip (highest grade comprised of mainly the best quality tips from the stems of the tea bush Camellia Sinensis), then FTGFOP1 (Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade – finest top-grade production with an abundance of tips), TGFOP1 (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade), TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe), and so on down to the lowest grade of OP (Orange Pekoe). Even that lowest grade can be heads and tails above CTC tea.

CTC is basically machine processed and fully oxidized (black) tea; it tends to be less expensive and lesser quality than Orthodox tea and often are blends of tea leaves harvested from more than one plantation during the first “flush” (harvest). This makes their flavor fairly consistent from one batch to another, making it important to start with good quality tea leaves, since that level of quality will determine the quality of the finished tea. Generally, a CTC tea steeps stronger with more chance of being bitter, while Orthodox teas are higher quality, less likely to be bitter, and contain more subtle and multi-layered flavors. These teas tend to look like tiny nuggets, similar to Grape Nuts (which contains no grapes and no nuts, just double-toasted bread crumbs). By the way, most black tea bags are CTC blends ground to fannings or dust.

Knowing which tea you are buying will help you know what results you will get in the cup! If you are planning to make some masala chai (spiced tea), definitely start with a CTC tea. However, if you drink your black tea straight or with just some sweetener or lemon, then start with an Orthodox tea. Assam tea is a common type of tea seen labeled “CTC”. It steeps up an deep ruby-colored liquid with a rich malty flavor tending toward the bitter side. It takes milk well and can usually use a bit of sugar or other sweetener, too, serving as a great tea to use in masala chai (spiced tea).

Now you know, so you can decide which type you like and get just the taste you want. As for which is better, I tend to think that the Orthodox is overall better, with a richer and more varied flavor profile. Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Variety is the spice of life. It’s a somewhat overused phrase, but when it comes to tea drinking it’s true. I’m a black tea drinker first and foremost, and there’s nothing I like more than a good Assam. But I also like to mix things up with other varieties of black tea from time to time and just for fun I’ll throw in some green tea now and then and maybe even some oolong once in a while.

Black teas (ETS image)

Black teas (ETS image)

But it rarely occurs to me to mix any of the aforementioned in the same cup. Which is to say that for most tea drinkers the major types of tea like black, green, oolong and whatnot tend to be consumed apart from each other. I touched on this topic briefly some time ago when I wrote about a tea I’d run across that blended black and green tea. But I thought I’d revisit the subject and do a little experimenting of my own.

The topic came to mind again when I ran across (but haven’t sampled yet) a black and green tea mix from one of the big-name tea companies. It’s described as a “full flavored black tea with the refreshing goodness of green tea.” Which seems like it’s defeating the point on both counts but what do I know?

One of the main issues I see with this sort of thing is the nagging question of how to prepare such a blend. One article I read claimed that boiling water should be poured over the tea bag and steeped for about three to five minutes. Which might be good advice for black tea, though I tend to err on the side of shorter steeping times there. However, the common wisdom with green tea is that the surest way to ruin it is to subject it to boiling water and long steeping times.

The simplest way around this dilemma, of course, is to prepare both teas ahead of time and mix them. Which might be a bit labor-intensive for hot tea but for those of us who always have iced tea on hand it’s a little more convenient.

The downside to all of this, as I’ve found by undertaking some amateur tea mixing experiments is that the sum of the parts leaves something to be desired. I mixed a quite good black tea in equal parts with an acceptable green tea. I’m sorry to say that the result could be summed up in one word – bland. But perhaps more experimentation is called for. I’m not completely ready to give up on blended black and green tea just yet but for the moment I think I’ll stick with one or the other.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Yunnan Province of China is home to some of the finest teas from China. A few years ago the Chinese government even went so far as to give approval to a proposal that limits the labeling of any Chinese tea as “pu-erh” to only those grown and processed in this province. This was in part to protect their reputation in the tea market (success breeds imitators) where their popularity is growing. But aside from these teas, other very fine ones are produced. They are categorized as “Black” (called “Dian Hong” or “red tea” in other countries) and “Golden.”

Golden Heaven Yunnan China Black Tea (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Golden Heaven Yunnan China Black Tea (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A couple to get you started:

  • Golden Heaven Yunnan China Black Tea — Considered by many to be one of the highest quality teas available from Yunnan Province. A black tea blend composed of tippy, neat, wiry, and well-made leaves that have a wonderful fragrance and produce a bright reddish cup with a malty flavor and aroma. The leaves are harvested and processed during the last 2 weeks of March and the first 2 weeks of April and so have a brighter golden tip. A tea that is perfect on its own, but a bit of milk or sugar help capture that malty character. Steep for 3-7 minutes in water that has been brought to a rolling boil. (My review)
  • Flowering Tea – 3 Flower Burst – Green Tea — This tea mimics the lush Yunnan countryside as it unfolds from brewing. Lily, Osmanthus, and jasmine blooms are tied together with steamed full leaves of Yunnan green tea. They steep up a full green taste with overtones of peach, and undertones of lily and jasmine. Steep in something where you can watch the show!

Some more to be on the lookout for:

  • Royal Yunnan — A tea resulting from literally thousands of years of tea growing and processing experience. The leaves are picked in early Spring from the first flush, and these young, fresh buds turn gold when oxidized instead of black. The rich flavor  that steeps up from these leaves has lingering notes of honey and smoke. Steep as long as you like to get a stronger, not bitter, brew.
  • Dian Hong (Yunnan Red, Yunnan Black) — Unlike other Chinese black teas, the finest grade of Dian Hong has a higher amount of fine leaf buds (“golden tips”). They steep up a liquid that is brassy golden orange and having a sweet aroma that is gentle, and the flavor is free of astringency. Lower grades can steep up darker brown and be bitter, especially if oversteeped. Both are a tea version that goes back only to the earth 20th century. The grades: First Grade, Broken Yunnan (BOP grade), Yunnan Gold (OP to TGFOP grade), and Yunnan Pure Gold (TGFOP to SFTGFOP grade).
  • Golden Bi Luo (Twisted Yunnan Gold, Hong Bi Luo, Yunnan Bi Luo) — A rare golden black tea that is made with a local Yunnan varietal similar to a high grade Yunnan Gold. The leaves are processed in the style of the famous green tea called Bi Luo Chun (from Jiangsu province in China). The flavor is creamy with sweet, malty notes of vanilla.
  • Yunnan Tribute Pu-Erh — A tea aged for many years that has been a favorite in Southern China for a long time. It has a distinctive earthy, bold, and assertive flavor, yet is exceptionally smooth.

About Yunnan Province

This part of China is in the southwest corner and borders Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Tibet, and Vietnam. The elevation ranges from 76 meters above sea level to over 6,700 meters, with tea being grown at 1,200 to 2,000 meters. Weather wise, they are crossed by the Tropic of Cancer, have an annual rainfall range of 1,000 to 2,000 millimeters, and have a temperature range of 12° to 23° Celsius. This is ideal for the tea trees growing there and for which the province is famous. Most of the 200+ species are known as “Yunnan large leaf” and are great for pu-erhs and black teas. Their first flush begins about a half month ahead of other tea-growing provinces such as Zhejiang.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chinese Black Tea (ETS image)

Chinese Black Tea (ETS image)

Language is an ever-changing thing, as anyone who’s ever struggled to read Chaucer or Shakespeare can probably attest to. The British Library was so convinced that the English language is constantly in flux that they created a web site to try to document some of those changes.

Of course, the language of tea has changed along with the rest of the language, and some of the terms that might have been quite common in past centuries don’t turn up much anymore. I took a look at a few of these obsolete tea terms in an article here a while back. More recently, I took a closer look at such old-fashioned tea terms as Bohea, Hyson and Singlo, words that are used to categorize types of tea but which aren’t heard much anymore.

Then there’s Congou. As I began this article, I was under the impression that it was a term that we don’t hear much about anymore. But then I discovered that there are still a few scattered tea sellers who offer teas under this name. For whatever it might be worth, Merriam-Webster Online defines “congou” as “a black tea from China,” which is a decidedly less than specific rendering of the term. Other useful information from the same listing claims that the term was first used in 1725 and that it rhymes with bongo.

Congou tea hails from the Fujian region of China and is indeed a black tea, a category the Chinese sometimes refer to as red tea. According to a few merchants who still offer this variety, it is sometimes referred to as the claret of Chinese tea, which is a reference to a red wine that’s made in the Bordeaux region of France.

As nearly as I can tell, Congou, in the broader sense of the word, is still a relatively arcane term, at least by today’s standards. Although, as noted, you can still buy some if you really want to. However, there is a variety of Congou that’s arguably a little better known. That one is called Panyang Congou and it’s probably better known to those relatively few people who have tried it as Golden Monkey. More about that one here.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When I drink tea, I like to taste the tea and nothing else. Everybody has their own preferences and I’m not saying my way is better than anyone else’s. But I like my tea untainted by any such substances as milk, sugar, lemon, sauerkraut (just seeing if you’re paying attention) and the like – the usual suspects. That goes for flavors too. I drank some flavored varieties back when I was first getting into tea but as time went on my interest in those began to fall by the wayside.

Tea Review - English Tea Store Peach Black Tea (photo by William I. Lengeman, III, all rights reserved)

Tea Review – English Tea Store Peach Black Tea (photo by William I. Lengeman, III, all rights reserved)

Except for peach, oddly enough. As I recall it, way back in the early days I used to drink a peach-flavored black tea that was a made by a fairly well-known tea company and so the notion that peach-flavored black tea was a good thing has somehow stuck with me.

So I thought that I would give the English Tea Store’s peach-flavored black tea a spin. The first thing that struck me, upon opening the package, was the small size of the leaves and pretty much a total absence of a peach aroma. Neither of which is necessarily a bad thing, mind you. I adjusted for the smaller leaves by dialing back on the water temperature just a bit and not steeping the leaves quite as long as I would for a black tea with fuller leaves.

The end result was quite nice, thank you very much. The Tea Store’s site doesn’t offer much in the way of specifics about the tea or the flavoring agents but I’d give them points on both counts. One thing that I did find was that the peach component was a bit much for my likes. However, I tend to prefer that such things are very subtle (a little dab’ll do you) and so I suspect that many tea drinkers won’t share my feeling on this point. Besides, it was easy enough to resolve this by simply mixing in equal measures of a plain black tea with the flavored and thus getting that low-key peach goodness that I sought.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Giving the English Tea Store's Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri a try. (photo by William I. Lengeman, III - all rights reserved)

Giving the English Tea Store’s Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri a try. (photo by William I. Lengeman, III – all rights reserved)

I have mixed feelings about India’s teas. If I had to pick a variety of tea that’s disappointed me the most over the years, I’d go with Darjeeling. I’ve only been drinking tea for about eight years now and in the early days I found myself quite impressed with the unique flavor profile of this distinctive variety of black tea that’s grown in northern India. Lately though, I can barely bring myself to prepare the samples of Darjeeling that come my way. I even went so far as to document my falling out with Darjeeling tea last year.

On the other hand I’m a huge fan of the tea that’s produced in the Assam region of India, one of the world’s greatest single tea-growing regions and my absolute favorite. At my own site over the course of the years I’ve even devoted two separate months to exploring all things Assam.

Then there’s Nilgiri. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s probably not surprising. With all due respect to the good tea growers of India’s third region, it’s safe to say they’re overshadowed by the premium teas of Darjeeling and the sheer quantity of tea turned out in Assam.

My own experience with Nilgiri tea has been somewhat limited and, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say I disliked any of them, my recollection is that I found them to be kind of so-so. Like the teas grown in those other parts of India, nearly everything that comes out of Nilgiri is a black tea. Which is fine by me, as a dedicated cheerleader for all manner of this type of tea.

The curious thing about this Nilgiri variety from the Nonsuch Estate is that it could (and did) pass for a Darjeeling tea. I’d somehow formed the mistaken impression that it actually was a Darjeeling and my first version of this review treated it as such. The first time I sampled it I liked it well enough and I was actually willing to re-revise my opinion of what I thought was Darjeeling tea, but I wasn’t exactly blown away.

The second time I tried it I found that I liked it quite a bit more than the last time. Like so many actual Darjeeling teas, it has a light (for a black tea) flavor profile but with a very smooth texture and mouthfeel and none of the bitterness, thin flavor, or astringency that I still tend to associate with that type of tea.

So you can call it Darjeeling if you’d like or you can refer to it by its correct name but I’d give it a thumbs up either way.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Earl Grey (ETS image)

Earl Grey (ETS image)

As I’ve said many times before, there are a few types of tea I’ve tried really hard to like. But in several of these cases I finally realized that all of my efforts were in vain. There’s Earl Grey, of course, which still tastes like liquid perfume to me, and there are a few others. Including Lapsang Souchong, a flavored black tea that’s traditionally made by curing the tea leaves over the smoke of a pine wood fire. While I’ve made a little bit of peace with smoky teas over the years, a straight up cup of Lapsang Souchong is an acquired taste I have yet to acquire.

Even so, I was interested when I recently ran across a reference to a tea I’ve never heard of before. It’s called Hu-Kwa, though you might encounter some alternate spellings. Further investigation revealed that this is actually a variety of Lapsang Souchong that apparently hails from Taiwan and is said to be one of the better examples of the breed.

As it turns out, Hu-Kwa tea takes its name from a Chinese merchant whose fame for us Westerners might not rival that of such tea sellers as Thomas Twining or Thomas Lipton but he was rather well-known in his day (1769-1843). He was also quite wealthy, having amassed such a sizable fortune that some have suggested that he was the wealthiest man in the world at the time.

Perhaps one of the reasons why we in the West still know of Howqua and have lent his name to a type of tea is the fact that he had something of a reputation for fairness and honesty among those Westerners he traded with. In Howqua’s day relations between tea traders and Chinese producers could be uneasy, to say the least, to the point that crews from Western merchant’s ships were strongly discouraged from leaving the port areas of Chinese trading cities. Chinese tea production was a closely guarded secret, one that was subject to occasional bouts of espionage on the part of Westerners.

Which is a fine and interesting snippet from the long and varied history of tea, but how about some ice cream? Pardon my abrupt change of direction but while I was researching this article I ran across a food site that recreated an 1844 recipe for Howqua’s-Tea Ice Cream, which uses Lapsang Souchong, of course, and which end product is said to have the distinct taste of bacon. Read all about it here.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Type of tea: Black
Loose or bagged: Loose
Recommended steep time: 3-8 minutes, depending on preferred strength

One of the teas featured in a list of teas I would like to explore more, Scottish Breakfast tea from the English Tea Store is a bold, strong black tea without flavouring or scenting. It can be brewed as hot or iced tea, although as the weather here in the UK just took a chilly turn I decided to limit my exploration of this tea to hot brews.

The amount of tea and steeping time, as for many black teas, is left up to the tea drinker’s discretion, and the more tea used and/or the longer it is the left to steep, the stronger the brew.

Scottish Breakfast Tea (ETS image)

Scottish Breakfast Tea (ETS image)

To start with, I went with my standard ratio of 1 teaspoon of tea for every 8oz of fluid. For my 16oz teapot, this meant 2 teaspoons of Scottish Breakfast. I poured in the water which had just reached a rolling boil, and left it to steep. Wanting to experience a range of strengths, I initially removed the infuser after 3 minutes. Already, it was a pretty strong brew. I am definitely of fan of strong black teas, and this tea has a slight suggestion of a woody taste, perhaps tending towards smokiness.

I took a few sips without adding milk to get an idea of the tea in its pure form, but since I always take my black tea with milk, I added some. As with many strong black teas, smoky or otherwise, the milk cuts some of the harshness that these bold teas can have.

Scottish Breakfast with milk (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)

Scottish Breakfast with milk (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)

The next brew I made up (with fresh leaves), I left for 5 minutes, and although there was no bitterness, it was a little too strong for my taste, even after adding milk.

The third brew (also fresh leaves) I left for 4 minutes. Whilst a little stronger than my initial 3-minute brew, I enjoyed it equally. Perhaps this brew is a good choice for those mornings when I need a little extra boost to get me going, and the 3-minute brew for a gentler, but still intensely black, morning cuppa.

For those who like to re-use their tea leaves, this tea does resteep. As to be expected, the second infusion is a little weaker, a little lighter, but still makes for a good cup. It is more like one of the less bold breakfast teas- such as English Breakfast- and so if you want to experience the unique characteristics of Scottish Breakfast tea, the first infusions are the ones to go with.

See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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