Consistency for many is a very good thing while for others it is a bit of a bore. The same is true of consistent tea. For some it is ho-hum and for others it is the “must have” cuppa three, four, or even five times a day. So, what is a consistent tea and what makes it so appealing to many? Time for a closer look.
What Is Consistent Tea
In short, consistent tea is one that maintains a consistent flavor cup after cup. This can be tricky to achieve. Tea crops vary due to a number of factors. There are things like the growing climate for that harvest (called a “flush”), when the harvest is done (there are from 3 to 5 per year for most black teas), where the teas are grown (China, Taiwan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Mauritius, Australia, etc.), the tea plant cultivar (there are hundreds with some being better for producing black teas and others for green, oolong, pu-erh, and white teas), and even how they are harvested and processed (by machine or by hand – usually it’s a combination of the two). These differences mean that the batch of tea leaves from one garden harvested in the Springtime will be different from the leaves harvested in late Summer or in Autumn from the same garden or even one nearby. This can pose a huge challenge for tea companies who want to satisfy customers that have become accustomed to their tea tasting the same cup after cup after cup, something that came about over time, presumably thanks to companies like Twinings. And a process called blending.
Some Notes on Tea Blending
This step in the processing of tea leaves is the key to achieving that consistent tea flavor. It, combined with carefully selecting the batches of harvested tea leaves, will determine the flavor profile of the finished product. The process will make use of the strengths of each batch of tea leaves used (they can be from different countries or just different growers in a particular area of one country, such as Kenya). Attributes like clarity, color, flavor, and aroma are balanced to get just the right result and to bring out the best of each batch. The top vendors selling these blended teas go through quite a process. They will cup a sample (steep some and taste it) sent to them by the grower. They place an order based on the cupping results. When the shipment arrives at their blending facility they will cup some of that. (They may even try some right off the delivery truck.) And of course they will cup some after the blending to be sure all has gone as planned.
Some Consistent Tea Brands
PG Tips, Twinings, Typhoo, Bewley’s, Barry’s, Taylors of Harrogate, Harney & Sons, Red Label, Lyon’s, and a host of others are all blended for this consistent flavor. In fact, they have more than one blend, each created for certain characteristics.
- Yorkshire Gold Label Tea is a blend of teas from India, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and Africa that have been balanced to produce a malty tea with a rich brown color and overall stronger flavor that is great for breakfast with milk and sugar added to smooth things out. In contrast, the Yorkshire Red Label Tea blends premium teas from the same countries but for a strong aroma, rich color, and satisfying flavor.
- Barry’s has a Gold Blend, an Irish Breakfast blend, and a Classic Blend. The gold has a uniquely refreshing taste and a bright golden color, using the finest quality teas from the high mountain slopes of Kenya and the Assam Valley of India skillfully selected. The Irish breakfast is robust and designed for any time of day, a little smoother and milder than the gold version, using teas from the high-mountain slopes of Kenya and the Assam Valley of India (gives the tea a pungency, strength and flavor). The classic uses only the finest teas, blended by experts, to create a taste that is distinctive and refreshing and enjoyable every day and for any occasion.
- PG Tips has their original signature tea blend and several new ones, including The Fresh One and The Strong One. The original has been around for over 75 years, blending the finest Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan teas to produce a rich and refreshing flavor. The Fresh One is a blend of 100% Kenyan tea (from various growers) for a fresh and smooth taste and an aroma like “freshly baked bread.” It steeps up a deep red color and is as fresh as tea gets. The Strong One is a blend of Kenyan and other African teas for a bold taste, a strong, bright red coloring, malty aroma, and thick tea character.
The appeal here is that people can pick a brand and then don’t have to think any further. They will know what to expect when they steep some up. This is great when their tea needs are fairly straightforward, wanting something to lift them up in the morning, soothe and invigorate at lunch, perk them up at Afternoon Tea, and yes even calm them in the evening. For many there is nothing to equal that cuppa Typhoo or Lyon’s, etc., for giving them the predictable flavor and effect they want. And the professional blenders have the very important task of assuring those brands live up to that expectation.
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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