DON’T BE FOOLED BY THIS TEA

I enjoy black tea in most of its forms and am always eager to try out a new flavour when one appears on the shelves – a rare occurrence here. Vanilla tea is delicious and I am partial to fruit-flavoured teas, providing they have a black tea base. So, the combination of strawberry and vanilla seemed an interesting flavour to try.

The box looks attractive enough. I looked forward to tasting the tea once the groceries were unpacked. The bags are enclosed in a foil packet which exuded a flavoursome aroma of … something. Strawberry? Vanilla? Perhaps it will become evident once brewed.

Mmm … the bags are smaller than the usual tea bag – and the contents so fine that ‘powder’ or ‘dust’ comes to mind.

I steeped the tea for the requisite minutes – not impressed by the insipid looking drink. Checked the ingredients:

Strawberry pieces? Felt a dry teabag between my fingers: not a lump or bump to indicate even a tea leaf, never mind a dehydrated piece of strawberry! Vanilla and vanilla flavouring? Did someone forget to add it to this batch? It is passable as a warm drink; not unpleasant if you are desperately thirsty; but nothing like the flavour described on the box! BST best tea Strawerry & Vanilla Black Tea. There is something fishy about this.

Product of China … I have tasted excellent teas from China. Oh no – remember the Closemeyer Earl Grey tea that stated the contents as ‘Earl Grey tea’? This is the same lot! Oh dear, I have been hoodwinked and am now convinced to give any tea that bears this name on the box a wide berth. This cannot be real tea – it is thin, barely has a taste, and has no aroma of either strawberry or vanilla! Do not be fooled by this tea – avoid it and rather drink coffee if it is your only choice.

TEAPIGS MORNING GLORY TEA : EVERYDAY BREW

I was given what I presume is a sampler / travel pack of the Everyday Brew of Teapigs Morning Glory Tea.

As you can see, the pack contains two tea bags – or tea temples as they are called – which claim to be biodegradable. My suspicion was raised to full alert: that might be so, but nowhere on the box is there an explanation of what these fine silky mesh bags are made from, although their website assures me these are manufactured from plant starch.

With that out of the way and the mandatory assurance that this tea is 100% Rainforest Alliance certified, I could get down to actually tasting this tea with the necessary clear conscience.

What is particularly good about it is that you can see the bags (temples) are filled with whole tea leaves – confirmed when removing the bag after brewing for it swells enormously as the leaves have unfurled. Even more important is the taste: this is full-bodied and slightly malty, echoed by the strong colour of the tea. In a word, this tea is delicious!

BLACK TEA WITH BERGAMOT AND OAK

Something that has become very obvious since the start of our lockdown period three weeks ago is that we are drinking a lot of tea. It has thus been a pleasure to experience another offering from IKEA that has come my way in the form of their soothing Egentid Black tea with Bergamot and Oak.

The box of 25 tea bags has gone down rapidly and makes a pleasant change from the usual brands of Earl Grey tea available in this country. It must be the addition of the aroma of oak that makes the difference.

The tea itself may be organic and bear the UTZ certification, but thumbs down to them for using the silken-like sachet teabags, made from finely meshed nylon, that I assure you remain intact should you inadvertently add them to your compost! I am perfectly happy with old-fashioned teabags.

That said, the tea has a delightful flavour as well as a satisfactory colour, with the right touch of bergamot not to be overpowering. Even though it is not available in South Africa, if you can get your hands on a box I recommend you give it a try.

Note: Today is the 21st since the Lockdown began: two more weeks to go!

 

OOLONG TEA

Even though they come from the same plant, tea can generally be classified in six distinct types: black, oolong, green, yellow, white and pu-erh. It is the processing of the leaves that creates these differences. Black tea, for example, has been withered and fermented; oolong is semi-fermented – only long enough for the leaves to change colour; and green tea is neither withered nor fermented. The season during which the leaves are picked can also influence the flavour of the final tea product.

Despite my adventures through tea, I remain a fan of black tea and black-based teas. I drank rooibos tea for years but seldom do so now, while green tea makes it into my cup very now and then. I have never really acquired an appreciation for it. Oolong Tea, however, is an interesting combination of black and green teas that has a fragrant aroma and a slightly fruity flavour. It is a long time since I have been able to get hold of it, so am delighted that Checkers now produces Cooper & Flyn tea – oolong is the first of that range that I have tried – with leaves sourced from China.

I recommend it for those stalwart rooibos tea drinkers who are keen to venture forth on a tea journey, yet are reluctant to leave the harbour. Oolong is said to have a number of health benefits – I won’t vouch for any of them as I don’t drink enough of it often enough for me to notice any – such as boosting one’s metabolism, aiding weight loss, managing type 2 diabetes, and helping to improve heart, brain, bone, and dental health. It is also claimed to have the ability to treat inflammatory disorders and elevated cholesterol levels. You can read more about these claims at https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/health-benefits-of-oolong-tea.html

The recommendation is to brew this tea for three to five minutes. Be careful: so much depends on individual taste – I find that if brewed for too long, a bitter taste comes through. It is nonetheless a refreshing drink – preferably without milk (although I admit to adding a splash) – for a hot summer’s day.

Try this tea and you may be pleasantly surprised at how far your tea journey can take you!