I decided to try four teas that I didn’t buy myself. I rarely buy relatively “plain” teas myself, as I get served plain black tea in restaurants and in other people’s houses, and I receive lots of samples of black teas. This usually means, though, that I have only two or three cups’ worth of any particular tea, and often end up grabbing tea bags at random for my first cup of the morning, thus using up many of the loose tea bags people send me without even noticing what they are. Today, however, I made a conscious effort, and collected several bags each of several kinds of related teas that people have sent me, mostly things that are commonly available, and did a side-by-side test of them. I brewed them all identically, and tried one cup plain, one with a small amount of sugar, and one with milk.
This tea, Twining’s Irish Breakfast, was definitely the strongest of the four I tried today, which also included two English Breakfast teas and an “English Teatime.” If you are looking for a very bold cup of tea to get you going in the morning, and you want the convenience of a tea bag, this is a good choice! Twinings’ teas are commonly available, so you’d be able to get more anytime, if you decide that this is the tea that will be your morning habit.
Brewed plain, this tea has a dark color (darkest of any in this batch of 4) and a full-bodied taste with both hints of copper and a slightly malty note. I liked it very much, and I would say that despite it being in a tea bag, a traditional paper one, it brewed up as strong as loose tea in an infuser. When I tried a cup with sugar, the boldness of the tea was slightly intensified, but the coppery note was lost. I liked it better without the sugar. On the other hand, because of the strong flavor, this tea stood up the best to having milk added. I normally don’t drink milk with my tea – and there’s some evidence that adding milk to tea reduces the antioxidant benefits of tea – but if you do like milk in your tea but don’t want the tea flavor entirely quashed, then this is one that will hold up.
Unlike some tea afficianados, I don’t look down on tea bags - I have had enough mediocre loose leaf teas, and seen enough infusers that somehow inhibit taste or add odd notes, that I can really appreciate the consistency and ease of preparation of tea bags, and I know that for many people, without this convenience factor, they wouldn’t prepare tea at all. So I do my best to get the word out when I find a particularly satisfying tea in bags. If you want a strong tea with no gimmicks, added flavors, or worries, then this is a very good example, and one that could become quite a habit for the morning tea cup.
Twinings describes this tea as:
A strong, full-bodied black tea from the regions of Ceylon and Assam expertly blended with a hearty flavour and delightful aroma.
The Irish really love their tea and are amongst the most frequent drinkers of tea around the world. In celebration of this tea drinking tradition, Twinings blended a special Irish Breakfast Blend. This tea is best taken with milk and sweetened to taste to bring out the best flavour.
The other teas I tried included Twinings English Breakfast, and I’ll add a link here as soon as I review that one!