You can’t go wrong with English Breakfast tea, right?
While normally I really do prefer interesting flavours, and not the ‘same old’ taste in my teacup, I still gave David’s Tea’s English Breakfast a try, and would recommend it for anyone who likes the versitility of loose leaf teas, but doesn’t want anything unusual. (If you don’t care about loose leaf teas, there are plenty of English Breakfast teas on the shelf in bags that are proabably far more affordable…)
The David’s Tea website describes this tea as their “signature blend”, carefully chosen for a “perfect balance” of “body and a satisfying full flavour without being overpowering”. The tea is a blend of black teas from three regions in Sri Lanka, a black tea from Kenya, and Assam teas from India.
So, about blended teas…
Like wine, there are a number of factors that affect the way a tea will taste based on the qualities of the leaf – and like a grape variety – these traits can change with each growing season (and of course the way the leaf is handled…) So, like wine, one leaf may taste different year to year, even when handled the same way. This isn’t a big deal if you’re blending your tea leaves to produce a single unique taste – but it is a bigger deal if your blend comes with an expectation – the expectation that it should taste the same from cup to cup… (month to month, and year to year…)
Believe it or not, there are people who’s taste buds are so refined, that they are able to select which leaves will combine with other leaves to produce the same familiar taste year to year. This means that in one batch, there might be 3/4/3 of 10 different leaves, and the next year they might go with 2/5/3 to get the same flavour. They’re looking for all sorts of characteristics, and like wine, they also consider what the tea will taste best paired with – for an English Breakfast, the tea is blended to compliment a ‘hearty English breakfast’ as you might assume, and to please the ‘English palate’. What a ‘hearty English breakfast’ is anyone’s guess, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they mean sausages, eggs, and bacon (as described in this article) as upposed to a light breakfast of fruit juice and a muffin followed by a cup of tea.
So do all blends taste the same?
Not really. Although there might be an expected taste when it comes to English Breakfast (or any other recognized blend like Irish Breakfast, Russian Caravan, Gen Mai Cha, etc) each blender also follows his or her own tastebuds too – picking out a blend that doesn’t differ from year to year, but is designed for his or her customer. The consumer’s preferences, along with water quality and other factors all dictate how the blend is created, and then repeated year to year with different tea leaves.
So, back to David’s Tea English Breakfast
Again, I don’t really think you can go wrong with English Breakfast. It might not by an exciting blend to me, but it’s reliable and soothing. It brings to mind sitting in my Grandmother’s living room drinking cups full of tea (full of sugar and milk of course!) and eating biscuits while she watched wrestling on TV. (It was sounding pretty idylic up until the wrestling, right?) This blend doesn’t jump off the page in any way for me, but I didn’t expect it to. I expected reliable, familiar, and recognizeable. It had a good flavour, but not overpowering, and with skim milk had a nice creaminess to it.
I tried this tea as a sample, and although I personally wouldn’t buy the tea, I also would recommend it to the right kind of customer… If you want a familiar taste, nothing unusual or different, and want the versitility of a loose leaf tea, consider this one.
Want to read more about tea blending? Check out this article: https://marktwendell.com/PDF/TeaCoffeeTradeJournal_BlendingArticle.pdf from the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal. There are also a whole host of books available on the topic from Google Books.