Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Perfect Cuppa

Hello Ladies and Gents.... 

Now, whilst I am waiting for my more fabric for my next project I thought I would write a blog on a subject that I am somewhat an expert in..... tea bags! I love tea and over the years I have tried hundreds of different brands in pursuit of the perfect cup-a-tea. If you want to know more and want some pointers on the perfect tea bag, please read on.

The range of teas over the last ten years has expanded beyond belief and on offer range from the weird and wacky flavours to the more traditional English Breakfast Tea. Tea for me (as in black tea, e.g. ceylon, assam, kenya, etc) is important to me as I probably drink more tea than any other form of liquid. On my quest to find the perfect tea bag I have dropped a few clangers but I feel now, after a long time searching, I have found the best tea bags. I supposed I should let you know how I take my tea. I love my tea weak to medium, quite milky and with one sugar. Caramel in colour is the best tea for me. Some people love their tea strong enough to put hairs on your chest; so thick and syrupy that you can stand your spoon in it! Some like it black with no sugar! Not me, I am very particular and in my opinion tea should be made with milk and one sugar.

Of course because I have milk in my tea this form any important part of the perfect cup. Obviously I have semi-skimmed and rarely full fat. My favourite milk is the Organic Duchy milk from Waitrose.. it's absolutely divine and sometimes I drink it straight. If I'm feeling a little saucy I sometimes go for Sainsbury's full fat Taste the Difference Jersey milk.

Obviously the other key ingredient is water. As I live in London I tend not to use tap water if I can help it, in fact when I'm at home I never use tap water (even though I boil it). I use bottled water, normally Evian or Volvic. My favourite water is Isklar but I haven't seen it on the shelves for a while.

One more thing must be added here before I talk brands is the mug or cup you drink from also makes a good cuppa. I prefer a mug to a cup that is not too large with a thick rim. Bone china thin is not good for me. I like a good size rim so when you take the first few sips you don't burn your lip. I have a couple of favourite mugs - and here they are: 

Everyone has their own brewing process. I put the bag in the cup, pour the water, add the milk (to gauge perfect colour) and stir for a little while before crushing the bag against the side of the mug. Then bag out and sugar in! Normally my brewing takes about 35 seconds then optimum colour is achieved. 

OK so now onto the tea bags! Hurrah I hear you cry!! I have tried many brands from the more generic Tetley and PG tips through to Duchy Organics Breakfast and loose Ceylon leaves from Orange Pekoe (a truly delightful tea shop in West London).

Now I do not want to come across as a tea snob but I am not a big fan of Tetley or PG tips or other standard teas. To me they taste powdery and strong in flavour and if you don't mind I'm going to rule these brands out straight away.

Ceylon loose tea leaves from Orange Pekoe
Remember this is my interpretation of the perfect tea bag. This tea is definitely worth a mention though because they're so nice. They offer lovely fresh flavour, good colour and all in all a very decent cuppa. The downside for me is that they are loose. I enjoy the experience of making it and drinking it but I do not enjoy cleaning the pot and faffing around. Although this is indeed a very tasty tea and one that I stock in my cupboard I can't mark it as it doesn't come in bag form.

My top four bags:

Duchy Organic Breakfast Tea
They make a good colour and taste good too although you are not guaranteed the same taste every time. Also the price tag is not that bad either at £1.79 for 40.
Colour: nice standard tea colour, a bit on the light side but remember I like my tea weak: 7/10
Taste: decent taste but not always consistent so one cup can vary from another: 6/10
Total score: 6.5/10

Tea Pigs Breakfast Tea
I totally love the packaging and the shape of these little bags. I also like they have a dunking string which makes them perfect for the mug. The tea itself is also good, making a light colour and having a smooth taste. The only snag I would say is the price is that they are £4 for 15 bags but that's a bit irrelevant as I'm not scoring on price.
Colour: lovely rich colour with these bags: 7/10
Taste: smooth tasty with no dry aftertaste 7/10
Total score: 7/10

Now there are two from Twinings I'm going to tell you about - Breakfast and Afternoon. Now logic states you should have Breakfast in the morning and Afternoon, well, in the afternoon. That doesn't quite work out for me as I find the Breakfast bags too strong. I think it is so strong it gives the appearance of a weak cup of coffee. It's Afternoon version is a different story! It makes an excellent cup of tea with a near perfect colour and taste. 100 bags is £4.29.
Colour: 8/10
Taste: 8:10
Total score: 8/10

Betty's Tea Room Tea
My in-laws introduced me to this tea bag. The packaging is decorative which lures you to the box instantly. Life Twinings (above) you have the option of loose or bags. I have tried both but this review is based on the bag version. This tea consistently makes a wonderful light colour and always has the same amazing taste despite however long you let the bag brew. Betty's tea bags cost £3.95 for 80 which puts them in the higher price bracket especially as you have to get these mail order (unless you live near a Betty's tearoom).
Colour: 10/10
Taste: 10/10
Total score: 10/10

So there you have a breakdown of my top four tea bags! I urge any tea lover to have at least one of the above in their cupboard and I especially recommend you make an order for some Betty's tea.

Now I bet you're dying for a cuppa - that goes for me too! So I'll leaf you with that for now while I attend to my whistling kettle.

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