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http://www.nationalteaday.co.uk/ April 21st, 2017

National Tea Day is celebrated in April in the UK. While tea is the most popular beverage in the UK, this is its official day. This day is entirely different from National Hot Tea Day in the US, which is celebrated each January. This day celebrates all aspects of tea, including Afternoon Tea, one of the most popular times to enjoy tea.

Whether you have a full on English Afternoon Tea with some friends or just a cup while curling up on the couch, take the time to treat yourself to a fine brew. It’s always completely up to you if you want to go to with a familiar favorite like PG Tips or Typhoo or go with something new and different like Taylor’s of Harrogate. Have some English Breakfast, Green Tea, or how about something unfamiliar? Try a few of these teas that are becoming popular all over the world:

Darjeeling: Known as the “Champagne of Teas”, this reigns one of the best in its class. Darjeeling is grown in India, in the Darjeeling district, which is where it gets its name. Brands to try: English Tea Store, Twinings, Harney and Sons, and Taylors of Harrogate.

Oolong: A popular Chinese tea, this distinctive tea is just a bit fermented and oxidized for a perfect balance of green and black tea. Brands to try: English Tea Store Orange Blossom Oolong, Twinings China Oolong.

Assam: Assam tea was named after the region in which it was grown in India. It is a black tea with a strong malty flavor and deep bronze color. It is perfect for breakfast or any other time of day with a little sugar and milk. Brands to try: English Tea Store and Taylors of Harrogate.

What kind of tea would you celebrate National Tea Day with and who would you share your cup with? If you are a tea lover, then National Tea Day is every day!

 

-CD

 

Subscriptions! They’ve been around for many years but just recently, subscriptions have been taking on new forms and increasing in popularity. From movies to even dinner kits, you can get just about anything through a subscription. So when you hear about subscribing to tea, is it truly a surprise?

The answer is yes! Introducing English Tea Store’s Tea of the Month Subscription! Each month presents an opportunity to try new teas at an unbeatable price. How does it work? You can either try the:

Loose or Tea Bag Month-to-Month Subscription: For $13.95 a month, you can choose between loose leaf tea or tea bags! Loose leaf comes in 4oz and tea bags are in packs of 25. If loose leaf is chosen, two of the 4oz packs are sent or if you prefer tea bags, you will get two packs of 25 teabags. You can also choose to get one loose leaf and one tea bag! Also included are 5 tea bag samples or a 1oz loose tea sample. This subscription is billed monthly and you can cancel at any time.

Tea of the Month, Loose Leaf Yearly Subscription: As previously described above, you will get two 4oz packs of loose leaf tea, plus a 1oz loose tea sample. However, with this subscription, you must prepay a lump sum once a year. For purchasing the yearly subscription, you get to save an extra 20%, bringing your monthly total down from $13.95 to $11.17.

Tea of the Month, Tea Bag Yearly Subscription: This subscription has the same terms as the Loose Leaf Yearly Subscription, only you get to choose the two packs of 25 tea bags per month for a prepaid annual price (same as the Loose Leaf Yearly Subscription), billed once a year when you begin your subscription. A sample pack of 5 tea bags is also included!

The boxes ship out the first week of each month for our subscribers. Tea samples are selected by our own tea enthusiasts, ensuring you will get to try the best teas! You can subscribe to these services for yourself, or you can give one as a gift! Every month will feature new teas to try and you may find a new favorite. Give us a try!

-CD

 

 


*MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS

By purchasing a Monthly Subscription, you agree and acknowledge that your subscription has an initial and recurring payment charge at the then-current subscription rate and you accept responsibility for all recurring charges prior to cancellation, including any charges processed by Englishteastore.com after the expiration date of your payment card.

*ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS

By purchasing an Annual Subscription, you agree and acknowledge that your subscription has an initial pre-payment feature for 12 months of service without a recurring Annual Subscription renewal. Including any charges processed by Englishteastore.com after the expiration date of your payment card.

Orders placed on or after the 1st of the month will ship the 1st business day of the following month.

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Julia Briggs (c)

Is it OK to say I do not like chocolate cake?  I do make chocolate cakes and I do eat some chocolates, like Maltesers but I have never been a fan of rich chocolate cakes so I make this orange flavour cake and put chocolate chips in and it is good.

You can of course use cocoa powder in place of some of the flour if you want a chocolate colour, you can also use milk, plain or white chocolate chips, I only had white chocolate in stock.  I filled half with orange marmalade and half with lemon curd and butter icing to satisfy the whole family!

You will need: Two 8″ cake tins well greased or one well greased 10″ cake tin. Oven 180 C  350 F  Gas Mark 4

  • 8 oz Butter
  • 8 oz Caster Sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • A few drops of orange essence
  • 8 oz Self Raising flour
  • Grated rind of an orange
  • juice of half an orange
  • 4 oz chocolate chips
IMG_5995

Julia Briggs (c)

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy then add the beaten eggs with a spoonful of flour and the vanilla and orange essence.  Fold in the flour, grated rind, juice and chocolate chips.  Pour into two 8″ cake tins or one 10″ tin.  Cook for 35 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.  Leave in the tin to cool slightly, using a cake tester or needle prick all over the top of the cake and then mix the other half of the orange juice with a little hot water and pour onto the cake. When slightly cool take from the tin and place on a wire rack until completely cold.

Slice the cake, or not if you have made two!  Spread orange marmalade or lemon cheese on the bottom half then cream or butter icing onto the underside of the top half of the cake.  Sandwich them together and enjoy a piece with a cup of tea.

 

–  JAB

The best type of white tea is Silver Needle. It is a name derived from the basic appearance of the dry tea. The shape is like a needle. And the needles are silvery in color from the fine strands (called “hairs”) covering their exterior. But not all teas labeled “Silver Needle” are created equal. So, it’s time to go exploring.

Hubby and I get tea samples with such frequency that recently we have had to start turning them away and saying we were a bit overstocked. But enough come in that we ended up with several versions of Silver Needle. So we decided to select three of them for a bit of exploration. Two were from China (Yunnan province and Fuding county in Fujian province) and one from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon).

Map of Silver Needle origins

Map of Silver Needle origins

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Which is which?

When looking at the dry “needles,” it can be very difficult to tell which tea is which. But rather than make you guess, I’ll tell you.

  1. Yunnan Silver Needle – mountain grown and from the part of China that produces pu-erh teas.
  2. Ceylon Silver Tips (for some reason, they don’t call it “Silver Needle”) – mountain grown in Sri Lanka and a fairly new offering as this style of tea becomes more popular.
  3. Fuding Silver Needle – the original from the Fujian province.

For some tea connoisseurs, Silver Needle is only from a certain location, harvested at a certain time of year, and the leaves have certain qualities. Some say Silver Needle is only the one from Fujian province (#3 shown here). It is supposed to be made from a certain tea plant cultivar (the Da Bai, or Large White, cultivar); this is said to be the genuine white tea and that others are really green teas that just look like this genuine white tea which has special properties for your health…blah blah blah… maybe so, maybe not. Sounds a bit like marketing hype to keep people from accepting other versions of Silver Needle.

Of the three teas shown here, #3 is, therefore, the only real Silver Needle. Or so they say.

All three steeped in water heated to 180°F for 3 minutes (and we did 3 infusions from the same batch of leaves). Of the three, the Yunnan (#1) proved most satisfying, while #2 and #3 were fairly equal. All had very light aromas, pale liquid, and light flavors. And that is the key to this and other white teas: don’t expect them to blast your tastebuds. They are very light and meant to be sipped and enjoyed, considered to be dessert teas by some.

Go exploring and try this very special style of tea!

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.

Some of us tend to think of Silver Needle as the sole purveyance of the Fujian Province in China (see an earlier article comparing versions). But is that just tea snobbery or tea ignorance or maybe even a bad tea experience? In my case it could be all three. Sigh! Fortunately, I am always eager to keep an open mind, learn new things, and give something a second try. In the case of a Silver Needle tea from India, it seemed essential. There was still stuck in my mind the question: Can you get a premium Silver Needle tea from India? Time to find out.

First, a look at what is usually meant by Silver Needle. The term “silver needle” seems to get used to mean something very specific, but is it really? Silver Needle is usually described this way:

This variety of white tea is produced in the Fuding and Zhenghe areas of Fujian province. Many tea drinkers consider this the top grade white tea.

To me, this indicates that similar white teas produced outside of the Fujian Province cannot truly be called “Silver Needle.” Also, it is one of the ten classic teas of China, so how could it possibly come from any other country? A photo posted online recently by a tea grower in northern India seemed to say that this was definitely possible. If the tea is really like it’s photo (and, knowing the grower, I see no reason it shouldn’t be), then there is definitely at least one grower producing a true Silver Needle in India. That, of course, means there are certainly others, and an online search bears that out. One vendor boasts a version from the Nilgiri state of India that, if it lives up to the web site photos, rivals those from Fujian. Another shows a version from the Manjushree Plantations Ltd. A host of other examples are readily found.

Here is the one from northern India, before steeping:

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

And after steeping:

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Why fuss? Because there is a habit of late to slap a popular name on a tea so a higher price can be charged. Fake pu-erhs abound, becoming more rampant as knowledge of and demand for this type of tea increases. The name “Long Jing” or “Dragon Well” is now used for teas grown and processed nowhere near the famous well for which they are named.

To combat this, I see more and more the “regionalizing” of various tea terms. “Pu-erh” can only be used for teas where the leaves and the production are done in Yunnan Province in China. “Darjeeling” is reserved for only those teas grown and processed in the state of Darjeeling in northern India. And so on.

It seemed as if the term “Silver Needle” had been similarly hijacked as a way to charge more for an inferior version of this highly-prized tea. It also seemed as if some attempt was being made to make the term regionalized, that is, applied to a tea that had to be grown, harvested, and processed in Fujian Province in China. So far, that seems not to be the case. Nor, in my humble opinion, should it be. While I support the idea of protecting something special and not letting its reputation get downgraded by inferior versions, I am a supporter of open competition and keeping things simple wherever possible. Trying to get U.S. tea drinkers to see beyond the teabag is hard enough without making tea more complicated than it needs to be.

Further muddling things are similar terms like these:

  • “silver tip white tea” — A fine example is Adams Peak White Tea from the Nuwara Eliya region of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). A hand-rolled tea grown at 7800-8200 feet above sea level that makes a delicate, light copper color tea with a taste of pine and honey. One of the few white teas from outside of China.
  • “peony white needle” — An example is this version from the Chongqing Province of China. A delicate, lingering fragrance and a fresh, mellow, sweet taste. The leaves (two leaves and a bud combos only) come from a special varietal tea bush called Narcissus or chaicha bushes and must show a very light green almost gray white color and be covered with velvet peach fuzz down.. They are dried and withered in the sun.
  • “white tips” — A tasty version is Darjeeling White Tips a very rare tea from the Darjeeling region where each leaf is hand selected, delivering a truly exceptional blend that has a wonderfully light scent. The flavor is muscatel with hints of white wine to deliver a truly wonderful finish.

See what I mean? And all three are from outside of Fujian, China.

No need to split hairs…uh, I mean, tea bud down here. As long as the quality is there, it makes no difference where the Silver Needle (or whatever name it’s being called) was grown and processed. And from what I’ve seen, the ones from India certainly meet that high standard.

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.

Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen) is one of the finest white teas available. As such, teas are popping up everywhere on the market bearing the name “Silver Needle.” The question is: how many versions of this tea are out there? Of course, we then have to ask: are these versions really “Silver Needle”? I’m not sure if this article will give definitive answers or instead raise more questions.

Some Definitions of Silver Needle Found Online:

These all have a common thread. Silver Needle is from a certain location. It is harvested at a certain time of year. The leaves have certain qualities.

  • “Silver Needle tea is a rare white tea from China’s Fujian province. Due to its delicate structure, it can only be harvested once over two days in early spring.” — from What is Silver Needle Tea? by Jessica Jewell, eHow Contributor
  • “…a white tea produced in Fujian Province in China. Amongst white teas, this is the most expensive variety and the most prized, as only top buds (leaf shoots) are used to produce the tea. Genuine Silver Needles are made from cultivars of the Da Bai (Large White) tea tree family. It is important to point out that there are other productions that look similar with downy leaf shoots but most are green teas, and as green teas, they taste differently and have a different biochemical potency than the genuine white tea Silver Needle. It is commonly included among the China famous teas.” — from Wikipedia
  • “…a delicate, high-grade Chinese beverage. A sweet white tea, Silver Needle tea is made of very tender tea leaves, and is considered one of the most revered Chinese teas. Lightly nutty and subtle, it is a popular gourmet dessert tea. … Young, fleshy, bright buds are selected to make the tea. During selection, harvesters choose the most uniform shapes, without leaves or stems, to ensure the resulting delicate, pale brew the tea is known for.” — from Wisegeek.com

Some Versions Out There:

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, here are several versions of Silver Needle, all produced in the Fujian province of China:

Silver Needle Versions

Tea_Blog-LTLDokeSilverNeedleBihar2F2012A2A

This is the only version of Silver Needle here not produced in the Fujian Province of China. It is instead from the Bihar state in India. The question here: is this really Silver Needle? It is certainly a fine white tea regardless.

This looks like another of those issues in the tea world that will need to be addressed by growers. Just as some teas have to be produced from leaves grown in a certain area and also processed there in order to bear a certain name, the same may be true one day of “Silver Needle.” Until then, let the buyer do his homework but also be open to whatever that tea turns out to be. You may just be in for a pleasant surprise!

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.

Gymnastics is one of the most popular sports of the Summer Olympics. It is also one of the oldest, having been featured in the first modern Olympics in 1896, held in Athens. However in these games, and for many years after, only men competed; the first games in which women’s artistic gymnastics was featured was the 1928 Olympics, held in Amsterdam. Since then the women’s competition has become one of the most-watched events in the Summer Olympics. This year, the much-anticipated women’s individual all-round final will be held on the 2nd of August, beginning at 11:30am EST (4:30pm BST).

Peony White Needle (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Peony White Needle (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

If you are a gymnastics devotee, this means you will want to put your kettle on the stove at approximately 11:20 so that by the time the coverage starts, you are able to sit down with well-brewed tea in hand. But which tea?

My tea pairing suggestion for this event is Peony White Needle tea. The individual all-round consists of four sections: the vault, the uneven bars, the balance beam, and the floor exercises. This structure allows for timely tea breaks, and so I have selected White Peony because it is a tea that re-steeps well. This tea is from the Chongqing Province in China, and is delicate enough that it comes with specific rules about when and how it can be picked. The Chinese origin of this tea is perhaps also notable in its pairing with gymnastics, since in the 2008 Beijing Olympics China won the most gold medals in gymnastics (11 out of 18), including for the women’s team all-round (the gold for the women’s individual all-round, however, went to an American gymnast).

2012 Olympics women's artistic gymnastics (Photo source: screen capture from site)

2012 Olympics women’s artistic gymnastics (Photo source: screen capture from site)

National affiliations aside, the re-stepping ability of White Peony is fitting for this event. The exact number of steeps you can get from a white tea depends partially on the specific tea, but more so on the individual preferences of the tea drinker. People who prefer a milder white tea will steep the leaves for a shorter amount of time and might find that they can get more steeps in total. For those who prefer longer steeps, you might only find that two or three infusions give you a brew you are satisfied with. You might also find that you need to increase the brewing time with each steep in order to get your desired strength.

So, with White Peony (or any other high quality white tea) there is no need to measure out more tea for a new cup, or pot, and risk missing the next routine; just heat some more water (not too hot, though—it is white tea!) and let your tea leaves release more of their goodness as the competitors continue to execute their impressive moves.

© 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.

A little over a year ago I took a closer look at the issue of pairing tea and cheese. The topic was hot then and seems to be getting hotter every year. So, it’s time to take a look at more “cheesy” tea time pairings, for tea and cheese go together as naturally as cheese and wine.

Featured in a “name that cheese” contest back in November 2010!

Featured in a “name that cheese” contest back in November 2010!

One of the amazing things about cheese is that there are hundreds of different ones out there. Just as there are hundreds (and some say thousands) of different teas (we’re talking about true tea from Camellia Sinensis and without flavorings added). You probably know about some of the more readily available cheeses. These include: cheddar, Colby, cottage, brie, parmesan, Swiss, American, mozzarella, Monterey jack, ricotta, and Velveeta. You also probably know about the more common teas, such as: black tea blends (English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, PG Tips, Barry’s, Typhoo, etc.), generic green teas, and flavored classics like Earl Grey, Jasmine, and teas with cinnamon and spices added (often just called “chai”). There are many others that are not as well-known but that go well with teas.

Here I’m going to take the same tack that I did on tea and chocolatepairings recently, that is, I’m going to consolidate a wealth of suggestions found online. Saves you some time and a sore mouse clicking finger.

There were so many that I split the list into three parts. Let’s start with white, green, and oolong teas, and cheeses to pair with them.

White Peony / Pai Mu Tan

White Peony / Pai Mu Tan

White Teas

  • White Peony (also known as Pai Mu Tan or Baimudan) with Buffalo Mozzarella — A mildly salty cheese and a tea with a delicate nectarine flavor combine to give you a subtle and smooth pairing.
  • White Peony with goat cheese blended with honey — The honey in the goat cheese brought out some really nice honeysuckle nectar-like notes in the White Peony.
  • White Peony with Chevre, Marieke Gouda, Hooks 3-Year Cheddar, Hooks Blue Cheese, Sarvecchio, Carr Valley Mobay — The tea complements the very distinct flavors of these cheeses.

Green Teas

Japanese Sencha

Japanese Sencha

  • Kukicha or Sencha with Asiago Pressata — A very mild cheese to go with green teas with a low amount of tannins.
  • Sencha with Manchego — A delicate green tea that mellows out the sharpness of this hard cheese.
  • Mao Feng Young Tips Green Tea and King Island Triple Cream Brie — This tea has a distinctly creamy aroma followed by a light grassy flavor. The cheese is soft white and creamy, making the pairing quite dramatic.
  • Lung Ching / Longjing / Dragonwell with aged raw milk Gruyère (two-year), Walnut Cheese, Emmenthal The nutty, sweet tea makes it a good match for Gruyère (fatty, salty), walnut cheese (nutty), and Emmenthal (nutty, salty).
  • Gyokuro with Lost Lake — This spinachy, kelpy, astringent, and vegetal tea cuts through the fat of this goat cheese (from Fifth Town Artisan Dairy, Ontario, Canada). [my review of Gyokuro]
  • Jasmine Green with Chevre, Marieke Gouda, Hooks 3-Year Cheddar, Hooks Blue Cheese, Sarvecchio, Carr Valley Mobay — Just like White Peony, this tea complements the very distinct flavors of these cheeses.

Oolong Teas

Tie Kuan Yin Iron Goddess Oolong

Tie Kuan Yin Iron Goddess Oolong

  • Tie Guan Yin with Dutch Goat Cheese or Monte Enebro (Spanish goat cheese) — The tea, a lightly oxidized oolong, has a floral/fruity aroma that sets off the tanginess of both cheeses and brings out the lemony quality of the Monte Enebro while softening its more musty aroma.
  • Milk Oolong with Manchego (Aged) — The tea’s smooth, slightly floral notes contrast with the cheese’s deep, rich pepper quality.
  • Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) with Australian Blackjack Vintage Cheddar — The tea, a highly oxidized Wuyi Rock oolong with a flavor that is earthy, rich, malty, and mildly charcoal, goes well with the full flavored vintage cheddar, producing a ‘coconut’ flavor that the tea does not have by itself.

Part II covers Darjeeling and black teas paired with various cheeses!

© 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.

Basically there are two types of white tea leaves available to the consumer: the kind with long, thin silvery (sometimes downy) leaves, and the kind with leaves of varied sizes and colours, sort of like what you might find on a forest floor. The catalogue photo for this tea depicts the former, while these Darjeeling white tips are definitely in the “forest floor” category. So I was somewhat confused.

As a matter of fact, I thought perhaps they had sent me a pai mu tan (or bai mudan if you prefer) tea, which generally has this “forest floor” appearance. I asked my esteemed editor to verify that the tea sent to me for review was indeed the Darjeeling, which she did.

White Darjeeling tea leaves after steeping

White Darjeeling tea leaves after steeping

Now, it’s not that I didn’t believe her or The English Tea Store, it’s just that in my experience there are some teas that look a certain way and others that look another way. Turns out my experience was a tad limited, and in searching for references for both Darjeeling white and pai mu tan teas I found evidence that either one can look like the other, depending on the processing technique. Another tea lesson learned. (As this is a tea review, not a discourse on tea processing, I’ll let the details go for another time.)

When I prepare white tea, I use very low temperature water: I bring it to a boil, then let it cool in the kettle with the lid off for about five minutes. If it still seems too hot, I pour it from about a foot above the leaves to cool it even more. The temperature I want it to reach is about 140 to 150 degrees F. Then I steep the tea for at least five or six minutes, and often for as long as twelve to fifteen minutes. This low temperature/long steep coaxes out the subtle fragrance and taste of white teas. (If you’ve been drinking white teas at the often-recommended two-to-three-minute steep and can’t figure out why everyone loves the stuff, give this technique a try.)

White Darjeeling tea steeping in a glass gaiwan

White Darjeeling tea steeping in a glass gaiwan

I sampled the white tips in a six-cup and a two-cup teapot, and then in a gaiwan, trying to discern any hint of the typical Darjeeling muscatel taste or aroma. Sorry to say, I didn’t find it. What did come through was a nutlike quality in both the nose and the cup, seguing into the gentle floral sweetness that renders white teas so enjoyable. And that heretofore I had considered typical of a pai mu tan tea.

Bottom line is that while this tea did not look the way I expected, and didn’t exhibit the taste or aroma I expected, it did produce an enjoyable, respectable cup, and at a very reasonable price. Although the photos show it steeping in a gaiwan, I recommend using a teapot and staying on the short end of the steep, as this tea starts to get bitter after five or six minutes.

© 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 seem to have a real “personal” quality, suited to a more personal tea time. They are generally teas best steeped in smaller quantities and enjoyed a sip at a time. A number of options are out there awaiting your selection for when you need that bit of time to yourself and your tea (herbals, too!).

Here are a few recommendations, based on reviews hubby and I have done:

1 Snow Dragon White Tea — One look at the dry tea and you know you have something special. Each leaf has been rolled into a spiral, unlike Gunpowder tea leaves that are rolled into tight balls. To allow these leaves to unfold gently in the water as intended, steep them loose in the pot, no infuser basket to come between you and the tea. The smell of the dry tea in the pouch is fresh and planty — like on the tea plantation when the leaves were first plucked. The tea liquid has a flavor that is smoky, mild, and with no trace of bitterness, very pleasant and drinkable, plus calming and refreshing. You can sip on this in a personal tea moment and even have some mild-tasting food like plain crackers or fruit with it.

Snow Dragon is very personal but is also great to share with your special someone!

Snow Dragon is very personal but is also great to share with your special someone!

2 Pomegranate Rosehip Black Tea — The tea is a nice quality Ceylon black tea, one of my faves, with real pieces of pomegranate and rosehips (a great source of Vitamin C). The aroma is a wonderful blend of that jammy smelling tea and a fruity tang from the pomegranate and rosehips. The leaves steep up in water brought to a rolling boil for 2-5 minutes and result in a beautiful reddish-brown color liquid with a pomegranate/jammy/tangy aroma and a flavor with a cocoa-like quality and plenty of pomegranate fruitiness but no bitterness. This is what a flavored tea should be like: great tea flavor balanced with the flavors of the items added to it. The tea even takes a little milk, which adds a rich texture, and a bit of sweetener heightens the hit of the pomegranate and rosehips on the tongue. A great treat for your personal tea time.

Flavorful and soothing Pomegranate Rosehip Black Tea can be sipped in a leisurely manner.

Flavorful and soothing Pomegranate Rosehip Black Tea can be sipped in a leisurely manner.

3 Mercedes Apple Spice Herbal — There is no tea (Camellia Sinensis) in this mix. So, if you want to avoid caffeine and have a tasty beverage during your personal moment, this is great to try. The first whiff from the pouch is very apple-y, and the pieces of fruit and spice steep up a liquid that is rosy in color. At first sip, you’ll get apple taste but also a strong blast of cinnamon and cloves which might give the liquid quite an edge — easily taken away with the sweetener of your choice. The rose petals and other flowers will add an interesting flavor, with the apple acting as a fairly strong base flavor.

A fruity herbal with a cinnamon kick will add the right spicy note to your personal moment.

A fruity herbal with a cinnamon kick will add the right spicy note to your personal moment.

4 Earl Grey Cream Metropolitan Blend TeaAnother variation on the Earl Grey theme, using Ceylon black tea with oil of bergamot and natural flavorings. The dry mix shows some blue flower petals in it (either sunflower or cornflower) and the aroma hinted of vanilla. Being a black tea, it steeps up in boiling water for 3 minutes, producing a ruby colored liquid with a vanilla-ish aroma. The flavor is smooth with no bitterness or edge, but the Earl Grey flavor characteristic is very subdued. A little milk and sweetener make the flavor quite satisfying and almost eggnog-ish in an Earl Grey sort of way, with the flower petals adding in their own distinctive aroma and taste. Overall, intriguing and appealing to those who aren’t totally wedded to the one and only original recipe for Earl Grey.

A worthy version of Earl Grey with a creamy quality.

A worthy version of Earl Grey with a creamy quality.

5 British Earl Grey Flavored White Tea — The dry tea emits a fairly strong Earl Grey fragrance (that comes from the oil of bergamot). The vendor recommends using water that is steaming and to steep for 1-4 minutes. The honey-gold liquid of the first infusion had a light Earl Grey aroma and a flavor that was smooth and lighter than we expected, based on the aroma of the dry leaves. We were quite happy about this. The second infusion was lighter all round but not so much so that it was a waste. In fact, it was quite satisfying, just like the first round. there is something about this combination that was a really winner.

Another version of Earl Grey made with white tea.

Another version of Earl Grey made with white tea.

Pick your own personal tea or herbal, something that can be enjoyed by the cupful and deliver up the flavor sip after sip. Enjoy!

© 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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