I mentioned the other day that after the morris dance gig on Sunday that I got six varieties of (likely) imported British teas at a local international food market. Because it seems in character I thought that I'd post a few thoughts about the first tea that I've picked up.
My baseline tea is the Trader Joe's english breakfast tea. It's a really really good tea, I've given it to other tea drinkers in a sort of blind test and everyone's been really pleased with it. Strong, with just the right amount of bitter. I tend to brew really big cups (my old mug was 16 oz, my current house mug is a bit more.) and somehow the Trader Joe's tea was always just strong enough.
The issue, and the reason that over the past few months I've been looking for a different brand is that TJ's changed the packaging. While this means that the tea now costs less by some significant fraction, the tea bags are now individually wrapped in paper. The plastic of their former wrapping, while probably environmentally less friendly made the tea bags more durable as I traveled, and I think the tea tasted more fresh. I still get the TJ's tea, but I'm on the lookout. And it's nice to have a little variation. Which brings us to the current tea.
Ahmad Tea's English Breakfast
So it turns out I'm completely unable to predict what the packaging of a tea will be by shaking the box. This is in (very) little round tea-bags, and not only are they not individually wrapped but there was no internal packaging to seal the tea bags. So much on that account.
The tea is more bitter than I'm used to or would typically prefer. It's the ideal tea, in my mind, to drink with milk. While I do take milk from time to time, I tend to just drink it black more than not: it's easier, you can taste it better, and I heard somewhere that any of the typically restorative qualities of tea (antioxidants etc.) are negated by milk; this explains why the British don't typically see the benefits of tea, while easterners do. Having said that, while the tea was good in other respects I can't say that I found it particularly exceptional or unique. Good, solid, but not unique.
Practically, when I brewed a large cup with one tea bag, it tasted pretty weak. With two bags, it was too strong and while I did drink it, I think in the future I'll take milk with this tea. I'll make a pot in the morning and see if I can get a better balance. The pot brews about 3 cups, so I'm thinking that 4-5 tea bags might be the sweet spot.
We'll see how future experimentation plays out, and I got two additional varieties: their "english afternoon tea" and "english no. 1" tea, so I will be interesting in doing some compmparisons over the next few days.
Onward and Upward!