What are the qualities of a “gulper” tea? Just as there are “sipper” teas that cannot be gulped or you will miss savoring every complexity of their usually delicate flavor, there are teas so hearty with one predominant flavor characteristic that they beg to be gulped. I call these my “gulper” teas (pretty obvious).
There are also times when a “gulper” tea is a must. One such time that comes to mind is first thing in the morning. For me, this is when even the comparatively low amount of caffeine in a darkly brewed cuppa black tea helps clear the “brain fog” (snippets of dreams that seem to linger like the last bits of fog hanging around in low-lying areas after the rest have had the good sense to move on).
A smooth, strong, non-bitter yet hearty taste is needed here. Even when you’re gulping, the tea stimulates your taste buds and will set off alarms on your tongue if bitterness hits them. For those of you who like your black tea with milk, you can go with a more astringent tea and the milk will surround those bitter molecules, keeping them from attacking and causing the dreaded “bitter tea face.” The rest of you who aren’t into milk in your tea, keep the sweetener handy. You may be missing some of the bitterness by gulping, but the aftertaste (like an earthquake aftershock) will hit you.
Generally, I consider such teas to be suited to cooler weather, since they are most often served hot. However, people have been known to use these teas to make chilled (iced) teas and gulp them. (Hubby and I just tried English Breakfast Blend No. 1 this way, with interesting results.) This tea is definitely on my list of “gulper” teas, with its dark color, bracing flavor, and ability to take milk well (in the hot version).
So, what are some other teas you can gulp with abandon? Try a few of these:
- Assams, especially the lower grade CTC (cut, tear, crush) kind, with a fresh malty flavor that comes through the milk and goes down smooth yet is quite memorable.
- Breakfast teas, usually based on Assam, often blended with other black teas such as Ceylon, Kenyan, Nilgiri, and Keemun, and having a hearty caffeine content.
- Chais (spiced teas) with plenty of milk and sweetener.
- Gunpowder, a very basic green tea that can give you a good jolt of caffeine (about 20-30mg in an 8-ounce cup, depending on whose site you read) but not as shocking as black tea (about 45mg in an 8-ounce cup according to one source).
Any of the Longjing green teas, in fact, go with the lower grade since you’re going to gulp this between bites of toast and making sure the kids aren’t late for the school bus.
Of course, you don’t have to gulp these teas. Take a mouthful, savor it, and then swallow. Part of gulping is taking a large amount in at once, not just a small sip.
Whether you sip or gulp, paying attention to the taste of your tea is a big part of the drinking. Enjoy!
Don’t forget to check out A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!