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Tangiers Lemon White Tea

Tangiers Lemon White Tea

Name: Tangiers Lemon Flavored White Tea

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: White Tea, flavored

Form: Loose leaf

Review: I’ve long said that white peony tea and lemon are a natural pairing: While I love the fruitiness of unflavored white peony, a little kick of lemon is sometimes a welcome addition, adding a bit of tang that does a great job of perking up the taste buds.

The English Tea Store caters to my longings by offering this blend of white peony and lemon flavoring. The tea itself brews up to a pretty, pale gold liquor with a medium-light body. While some lemon-flavored teas can sometimes have a stale quality to them, Tangiers Lemon isn’t one of them. Instead, the lemon flavor is quite snappy, making it a pleasure to drink.

Tangiers Lemon is a decidedly affordable option for those who like flavored whites or who are simply serious lemon-heads. Recommended.

Preparation Tips: The flavor in this tea is strong, so watch both your leaf amount and steep times. I’d recommend about 5 grams of leaf to eight ounces of water that has been cooled to 180F/82.2C. Let it steep for about a minute. Warning: White peony tea is quite light and fluffy and sometimes the leaf will float on top of the water as it infuses, staying bone dry. To avoid this waste of tea leaf, and to get rich flavor that you want, carefully pour your water into the pot or infusion basket, making sure that it saturates all of the leaves and buds.

Serving Tips:  This lemony, crisp tea is quite neutral, making it easy to pair with many types of foods. I wouldn’t serve it with a super-heavy or rich menu, but I think it would be awesome with sandwiches, chicken, or fish. Tangiers Lemon is also quite delicious on its own. Do try it iced: There are few things more refreshing than this tea on ice.

© 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.

Scottish Breakfast Tea

Scottish Breakfast Tea

Name: Scottish Breakfast Tea

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: Black tea, blend

Form: Loose leaf

Review: This is an interesting blend of Indian teas, including Assam, as well as Keemun from China. According to a video produced by the English Tea Store, one of the goals in the blending of this tea was to suggest the flavors single malt whisky aged in oak barrels.

(I suspect that the bit of Keemun, which often has a smoky characteristic, really enhances the oak-y notes in this blend.)

Scottish Breakfast Tea is fairly austere: I don’t pick up any natural sweetness when sipping this smooth, full-bodied tea. What I do pick up is a slight smokiness, as well as some woody notes. It isn’t terribly astringent, either, though if you let it steep long enough it can develop a slight bitterness.  If you like a fairly neutral tea, this could be a good option for you, particularly if you want something that does not contain sweet/spicy notes that could provide an unpleasant contrast with food.

Preparation Tips: Use a heaping teaspoon of Scottish Breakfast Tea for every eight ounces of boiling water. The tea is fairly forgiving on steep times but I’d suggest a 4-5 minute steep for best results (maybe a little longer if you plan to add milk to your cup). Because the tea doesn’t over-steep easily,

Serving Tips: I think would go best with traditional breakfasts that include various types of meats, such as sausages, bacon or ham. The English Tea Store also recommends serving this with a bowl of oatmeal (porridge), which I suspect would also work quite nicely. If you sweeten your tea, try some honey in this one, instead of sugar: The honey is a better match with the oaky, woody notes.  You could drink this tea on its own, but I feel that it is primarily a “food tea.”

© 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.

Organic Wild Blueberry Black Tea

Organic Wild Blueberry Black Tea

Name: Organic Wild Blueberry Black Tea

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: Black tea, flavored

Form: Loose leaf

Review: Now this is the sort of flavored tea that I like: It doesn’t club me over the head with flavor, and I can still taste the tea. At the same time, it is unmistakably a “blueberry” tea: I like the flavor of blueberries, and this tea has that flavor, which is a very tasty thing indeed.

In fact, this tea reminds me a lot of a blueberry wine that I tried many years ago. The wine wasn’t sweet (and neither is this tea) but it possessed the rich flavor of blueberries nonetheless. I particularly like this tea as something to sip first thing in the morning

One bit of warning: Many people are disappointed with fruit-flavored teas because they expect the tea to taste similar to the fresh fruit or fruit juice. Keep in mind that fruits and their juices contain sugar. If you want your Organic Wild Blueberry Black Tea to taste like sweet blueberries, be sure to add a bit of sweetener to your cup.

Preparation Tips: This is a pretty straightforward tea as far as preparation goes: Add a teaspoon of leaf to eight ounces of freshly boiled water and let steep for three minutes. I do not advise the addition of milk to this tea, but a bit of sweetener would probably work well (see my warning about fruit teas above).

Serving Tips: While this tea could make a great “snack” during the day, you may also want to try pairing it with a breakfast of pancakes, waffles or sweet rolls, as the black tea and fruity blueberry flavors could compliment these foods nicely. Another option would be to brew it up as an iced tea and serve it with meals that include beef or game meats, such as venison.

© 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.

Jasmine with Flowers Green Tea

Jasmine with Flowers Green Tea

Name: Jasmine With Flowers Green Tea

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: Green tea, scented

Form: Loose leaf

Review: This is a ridiculously inexpensive tea ($3.89 for four ounces as of November, 2011) and, for the price, brews up a respectable cup of jasmine green tea that should suit jasmine lovers well. The dry leaf itself is made up of dark, twisted leaves scattered with dried jasmine blossoms. The jasmine scent dominates, although it isn’t overpowering, even after steeping to a medium-bodied liquor.

In the cup, the tea is dominated by the sweet, floral jasmine, and I don’t taste that much green tea. The tea has some mild astringency which is not unpleasant: Brew this tea right and you’ll have a nice cup that makes for nice sipping as your afternoon winds down.

As its price suggests, this is not a “gourmet” tea, but rather a good workaday alternative to more expensive jasmine teas, such as the English Tea Store’s Jasmine Dragon Tears.  Still, it remains an economical alternative to expensive teas, without tasting cheap or artificial.

Preparation Suggestions: For the best results, use a light hand when preparing this tea. A teaspoon of leaf to eight ounces of 190F/87.7C water should do nicely. Check the tea after letting it steep for a minute: If it isn’t strong enough, let it continue steeping for another minute. A too-long steep, or too much leaf, can produce a tea with bitter notes that don’t work well with the jasmine flavor.

Serving Suggestions:  Many Chinese restaurants serve jasmine green tea with meals, and it can be quite refreshing when served with Chinese food.  The English Tea Store also recommends serving it with cucumber sandwiches, and I can see this tea going well with a traditional afternoon tea service of sandwiches, scones and sweets. Jasmine green teas are also great on ice, so don’t be afraid to experiment with this tea.

© 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.

Genmaicha Japanese Green Tea

Genmaicha Japanese Green Tea

Name: Genmaicha Japanese Green Tea

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: Green tea

Form: Loose leaf

Review: Genmaicha has long been my “go-to” tea for initiating green-tea newbies.  It combines sencha with roasted rice, producing a unique flavor: The rice mellows out the sencha, while the tea itself produces a pretty, light green liquor and a slightly spinach-y flavor.  I’ve heard some people call genmaicha “popcorn tea” because some of its roasted rice has “popped” to look like tiny popcorn kernels. This makes the tea fun to look at, and the flavor of roasted rice mellows out the grassy notes that often characterize Japanese greens, making this tea palatable to folks who would otherwise shy away from green tea.

The English Tea Store’s version of genmaicha is clean tasting, not too vegetal, but also a good balance between rice and tea: Some genmaichas are not so well-proportioned, and contain too much rice, producing a soupy cup of tea. This tea is a bit more refined, and I very much enjoy drinking it first thing in the morning before I have my breakfast. It also works well as a mid-day snack, as it also has a decidedly savory, “brothy” quality: If you are at the office and think that you are getting hungry around 3pm, have a cup of this before you head for the vending machine. You might save yourself some money and a couple hundred calories!

Preparation Suggestions: I prefer to brew this tea for about two minutes in water heated to 180F (82.2 C). Japanese greens can get very astringent if brewed in too-hot water or for too long, so experiment with the temperature and infusion length to get this tea to the strength that you prefer.

Serving Suggestions: Genmaicha is great on its own, but it also goes well with food. I like it paired with sushi/sashimi and other Japanese foods. Works well with Korean dishes too!

© 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.

I’ve been to numerous tea houses over the years, each with its own character, tea selection and ambiance. Some of these tea houses are still in business, others aren’t, which leads me to wonder why some tea businesses thrive and others don’t. I honestly can’t say that there is only one formula to running a successful tea house. The successful tea houses that I’ve visited range from ultra-modern to decidedly Victorian to downright austere. Yet, they all have a few things in common:

Victorian Style Tea Room

Victorian Style Tea Room (sadly now going out of business)

  • A Knowledgeable, Personable Owner Who Is Passionate About Tea: Without this, a tea house is doomed. The tea house owner must be someone who loves tea, knows about tea and is eager to share this passion and knowledge with others. Incidentally, you can’t fake this passion; customers know the real deal when they see it.
  • A Large Selection of Teas: The more, the better. Tea preferences are varied, and the more variety a tea house has on offer, the more sales they will make. Tea novices may need a wide selection of teas just so they can find a tea that they like, while serious tea people are always looking for something new.
  • The Ability to Sample or Sniff Teas Before Making a Purchase: Successful teahouses encourage customers to sniff tea leaves or try a sample cup before spending money. Patrons need to see and interact with the leaf before they buy it.
  • The Combination of Retail Sales and Tea by the Cup: Good tea house owners want to attract customers for both cups of tea as well as purchases of dry tea leaf and teaware. This offers two different income streams and encourages customers to try different teas and tea brewing methods.
  • A Lack of Snobbery:  Successful tea business owners know that you don’t attract or keep customers by ridiculing them. Instead of rolling their eyes at someone who orders a flavored tea with a healthy dose of milk and sugar, these tea house owners give the customer what she requests and does so with a smile. On the next visit, the owner makes a suggestion or offers a sample of something different, encouraging the customer to expand her horizons and develop her palate. Nobody gets insulted, and everybody wins.
© 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.

Like many tea lovers, I begin each day with a pot of tea, usually with my breakfast (or brunch) but sometimes on its own. While I am a great enthusiast of typical British breakfast blends as well as hearty Assam and African black teas in the morning, all of which do an excellent job of perking me up and washing down eggs and bacon, there are times that I yearn for something different. On those days, I brew up one of these teas:

  • Pai Mu Tan (also called Pai Mu Dan and White Peony):Yes, Virginia, white peony can work very nicely first thing in the morning. Now I don’t actually drink Pai Mu Dan with breakfast food (the tea is too light and subtle to stand up to edibles), but there are mornings when I want to wake up slowly, and this tea is just the thing. Even though it is light, it also has a lovely, fruity, juicy quality that helps me ease into the day. Give it a try one morning!

    Golden Moon Tea Rasa Sinharaja

    Golden Moon Tea Rasa Sinharaja

  • Ceylon: Ceylon teas are sometimes used in breakfast blends, but I must say that I really enjoy unblended Ceylons at breakfast time as well, particularly in the Summer when their citrus-y notes are so welcome. Another option is Golden Moon’s Sinharaja, a decidedly darker, richer Ceylon than most; it is excellent on its own or with food.
  • Autumn Flush Darjeeling: I’m not hugely fond of Darjeeling in the morning, as I normally need a bit more energy to fully appreciate its flavors. But Golden Moon’s Darjeeling is utterly scrumptious and well-suited to a morning meal.
  • Keemun: I’ve heard it said that the original English breakfast tea was made up of Keemun before it became more cost efficient to use Indian teas. Regardless, Keemun in the morning is a very fine thing, particularly when served with my beloved peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. Nothing else matches quite as well.
© 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.

(Before I begin this post, let me first warn you that it contains a lot of generalizations, most of which are based on my own observations. You’ll probably be able to think of at least one or more exceptions to every one of my examples, and that just fine with me!)

Adams Peak White Tea

Adams Peak White Tea

One of the most interesting aspects of being a tea lover is getting to observe how other people drink and enjoy their tea and after several years of sipping with others, I’ve noticed some definite differences between how men and women approach tea-drinking. Here are a few:

  • Women seem to really like white tea, particularly silver needle. Men, not so much: Most of the men I’ve served silver needle to respond by shrugging and complaining that the brew doesn’t have much taste. Women, on the other hand, usually think it is lovely.
  • Women are more likely to ask about the health benefits of tea, while men just seem to want to drink the stuff. I’m often asked by women whether I can recommend a tea that is “good for” treating a specific ailment, but men seldom make such inquiries, unless they have a headcold. Then it seems like everyone instinctively knows to sip some hot tea.
  • Men are often much more fond of pu’erh teas and esoteric oolongs than women. Men are also more likely to be willing to invest in pu’erhs and other “collectible” teas.
  • Men are less enthusiastic about flavored teas, even “classics” such as jasmine green or Earl Grey.
  • One area in which I haven’t observed much difference between the genders is in the use of milk or sugar in tea, particularly among my friends in the United Kingdom.

So what do you think? Are my observations on gender-distinctions in tea drinking on point? Do you have observations of your own?

© 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.
Royal Albert Country Rose Tea Set

Royal Albert Country Rose Tea Set - perfect for a tea snob, uh "princess"?

I’ve been accused more than once of being a tea snob (or a “princess” about my tea). Frankly, I find the accusation troubling. While drinking good tea and preparing it correctly is important to me, I don’t think that this alone makes me, or anyone else whose shares my sensibilities, a tea snob. While  I have been known to  wince while watching someone wringing out their teabag into a cup of tea, and generally order coffee instead of mediocre bagged tea at restaurants, I also enjoy teas in all price ranges as well as flavored teas and even herbal tisanes. I don’t take milk or sugar in my tea, but that is more a matter of preference than snobbery, and I loathe the over-pricing of some teas by tea companies that are more concerned with image than providing quality tea at fair prices to their customers.

A wise person once said the difference between a snob and a connoisseur is that the snob drinks, or doesn’t drink, a tea because he is concerned about how others will judge his choice. The connoisseur on the other hand drinks tea because she truly enjoys it.  Here are a few other examples of how a snob can be distinguished from someone who simply loves good tea:

  • A tea snob is inclined to make snap judgements about a tea based on its origin, leaf size and processing method. Tea lovers know, however, that what really matters is how the tea tastes in the cup. While I admit to a preference for orthodox, loose leaf teas, I’ve had some really delicious CTC and bagged teas as well. I’ve also had a lot of  supposedly “premium” teas that have left me cold. Those leaves might be pretty, but if they don’t brew up nice, I fail to see the point in drinking their liquor.
  • Tea snobs often freak at the notion of a flavored or blended tea. Now, I personally prefer my teas unflavored and really love the subtle nuances of a well-grown and processed single estate tea, but I also appreciate the tea-blender’s craft. Some flavored teas are just plain delicious, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging this.
  • Preferring more “challenging” teas, such as pu’erh doesn’t necessarily make a person a superior judge of tea quality. It may just be a matter of personal preference. Insisting only drinking one type of tea, because one deems black tea to be too “ordinary” is just plain silly.
© 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.

During a vacation several years ago, I found myself fussing with an in-room electric kettle that insisted on turning off long before the water came to a boil. My traveling companion was cross, noting that he liked to drink his tea as close to “boiling hot” as possible. In the months that followed, I began my own exploration of tea, discovering that water temperature was one of the more controversial topics in the tea community. Many tea drinkers warned me against the perils of preparing green and white teas with boiling water, as this could scorch the leaves, resulting in a bitter and disagreeable tea liquor. Another concern was that drinking too-hot liquids could actually increase one’s risk of esophageal cancer, which certainly put a damper on my enthusiasm for extremely hot tea.

Electric Kettle

Electric Kettles can get water to just the right temperature

Health concerns and preparation methods aside, though, I’ve noticed that a tea’s serving temperature can affect its flavor. While there are times when a big mug of scalding hot tea is just the thing, either because I need to wake up or clear my palate, I confess that I don’t usually taste the tea’s more subtle flavors. If I let it cool for a bit, though, I can better appreciate its nuances, particularly sweet and fruity notes.

Of the various teas that I drink, I’d say that Darjeeling blacks, more than others are particularly temperature-sensitive. This is why I try to drink Darjeelings out of small, thin, wide-mouthed porcelain teacups, as these allow the tea to cool rapidly, allowing me to savor the cup’s sweet muscatel. I’ve also found that White Peony really needs to cool down before it offers up its fruity, juicy notes.

So how hot do you like your tea to be? Do you find that some teas taste better when served at high temperatures while others need to cool down a bit? This inquiring mind of mine wants to know.

© 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, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. 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, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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