Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tea Report

I feel I should tell you about two things: how my last batch of Twinings internet tea went, and how my new batch is going.

Tea Report: First Shipment

In ascending order of awesomeness, here's how my first six boxes shook out:

6) China Oolong--I don't really care for it. I drink it sometimes because I bought it and I might as well, but I find it mostly bland and a little bitter. I'm sad its taste does not match the greatness of its name.

5) Ceylon Orange Pekoe--it turns out that I was mistaken and that this isn't orange-flavored tea, it's orange-colored tea. It, too, is a little bland, but I just add a little more honey than I do to other teas and it's a'ight.

4) African Rooibos--I started out not caring for this one (and unfortunately, I can't say how Twinings' rooibos compares to other rooiboses, as it's the only rooibos I've had), but it's grown on me. At first, it tasted like cinnamon with an aftertaste of medicine, but by about my third try the medicineyness went away and now it mostly tastes sweet. Still a little odd, but pretty good. (Oh, and I've been reading books about this African lady detective, and she drinks this tea, so I enjoy drinking it whilst I read the books. It's fun!)

3) English Afternoon--very good. I don't know what about it makes it afternoony, but I still like to drink it in the afternoon anyway, just for kicks.

2) Prince of Wales--so good! It tastes like the Platonic ideal of black tea. It's exactly how tea should taste. It's just so tea-like!

1) Lemon Twist--now, the Prince of Wales is probably "better" than Lemon Twist; I imagine that tea afficianados/snobs would sneer at pre-fruited tea (although I have nothing to base that on besides imagination). But I love it! Once you put the honey in there, it tastes like Froot Loops! But not like, if you dumped Froot Loops in some tea--more like the essence of Froot Loops as interpreted through the medium of tea. I'm drinking some right now!

Intermission: A Japanese Twinings Commercial!

When I saw my sister (who's been living in Japan) recently, she indicated that she has some hostility toward the Twinings company because of their terrible commercials. Then yesterday, she sent me a link to demonstrate.

I don't know what the problem is. That was adorable!

Tea Report: Second Shipment

For the second go-round, I reordered the favorites (Lemon Twist, Prince of Wales, and English Afternoon; since I started out slow and Neal doesn't touch it, I haven't run out of rooibos yet), got my other favorite that I could buy at the grocery store but which is cheaper online (Darjeeling--mmm, Darjeeling) and took a gamble on two new teas.

I ordered a box of Orange Bliss based on the success of the Lemon Twist and my affinity for orange-flavored stuff. So far, I'm a little disappointed; it tastes like orange Kool-Aid, which is fine for Kool-Aid but not a flavor I crave in tea. Of course, when I say "so far," I mean the one cup of it I've had. I've discovered that it often takes three tries for me to nail down a solid opinion on a tea flavor, so this verdict may yet change.

This next one will not.

In my previous tea entry, I mentioned I had to get one additional box to come up with the minimum order total, and I had to decide between the Ceylon Orange Pekoe and the Lapsang Souchong. Since Orange Pekoe carried the day last time, I wanted to give the Lapsang Souchong a chance this time. Well, it turns out that when the company describes it as a "an adventurous tea with a unique smoke flavor," they ain't kidding around.

I opened the Lapsang Souchong box and was immediately hit by the smell. (Keep in mind, when I say I opened the box, I mean I opened a box full of sealed envelopes of tea bags.) Neal was sitting halfway across the room and he could smell it. Smoke flavor? Yes indeed. You get anywhere close to this stuff, and it's like walking into a barbeque restaurant, if the hints of sweet and tomato flavors were somehow erased. It's so gross. I dumped the bags out of the box so I could put them in a Ziploc bag. Then later, I realized I needed to put the Ziploc bag inside another Ziploc bag, because the smell was still leaking out.

I had to try some.

Neal was not particularly supportive ("I don't even want to know what it's going to smell like when hot water hits it!"), but I was determined. I boiled the water (not opening the envelope to free the tea bag until the last second, and when I did yes, there was an even greater wave of Smell) and then poured it into the mug with the tea (and yes, there was more Smell when hot water entered the equation). I steeped it for awhile, not because I wanted to intensify the flavor, but because I had to steel myself to taste it.

I tasted it.

The biggest question was, did it taste worse than it smelled, or about the same? I went back and forth. Neal did try it, although I don't remember him weighing in on that specific question, just confirming that it was real bad. First I drank a little straight, then I added milk (it dampened the taste a little, but the pre-smell as I bent to drink was as ripe as ever) then honey (a lot of honey--it just tasted the same, except also with honey). I dumped most of it out.

So here's the new question: what do I do with it?

The most obvious answer is, of course, throw it out. I'm a big believer in throwing things away if you're never going to use them. But there are alternatives. Um . . . I could keep it around to try to get people to drink it on a dare! And . . . no, that's the only one I can think of. But if any of you would like to try it, send me your address . . . although I'm not sure if the USPS would approve of me sending that substance through the mail.


Hannah said...

Since you're still getting started with fruit teas, I thought I'd mention that they're the most sensitive to over-brewing. Getting a fruit infused tea to just the right level of brewed (strong, but not so strong that all you taste is the fruit with bitter tea aftertaste) is a trick. I usually end up slightly underbrewing... but if you can get it right, then a good fruit tea is AMAZING. Have you tried Chai yet? Chai is an entirely different tea experience. Very worth trying.

MacKenzie said...

That video was adorable!

Isn't it weird how some teas grow on you? I've finally gotten used to the pregnancy tea now and almost really like it but it's so expensive, I just ordered bulk spices to combine for my own version. I'm so nervous it will taste like grass, wish me luck!