It has been over two years since I stopped drinking coffee on a regular basis. I miss my coffee but I know it is better for me to not be drinking it. So I have been drinking tea instead. I need suggestions of quality brands of tea. I normally drink English Breakfast in the morning, or Darjeeling (though I think it is a little light.)
Moroccan mine is another of my favorites, and for awhile I was on a Tetley's kick.
Now I can't stand Tetleys and I want something different. The only Tea's I know I don't like are Eral Grey and Jassmine... I would say I don't like Chai, but I am drinking a good earth brand now at the suggestion of a friend.
Anyone have a favorite tea they want to share, or a tea house that also sells tea that I could go and sample at?
Suggestions are appreciated.
Posted by karine on April 06, 2003
hmmm. I love tea.
A few places you can go and shop and sample:
Peet's. They have FANTASTIC teas. you can buy in bulk, so you can get a bit for tasting.
Paxton Gate, on Valencia street, also carries a lovely selection of teas - and have been happy to front me enough for a single cup in varieties i haven't tried.
Some of my favorites include first flush darjeeling, gunpowder green tea, most jasmine teas, and a number of breakfastey teas. My favorite for many, many years was Russian Caravan tea - it has a lovely smoky edge, but doesn't taste like cigars in the way that Lapsang Souchon does. (I find LS nasty.) My favorite everyday black tea right now is a simple vanilla-almond - the Republic of Teas is a nice rendition that isn't sweetened or cloying. In fact, i like many of the RoT teas; it's not just the packaging that's attractive. ;)
I am of two minds about tea.
I like the really fine loose leaf tea that it is a shame to mess with by adding milk and sugar, and then I like tea the way I learned to drink it from British and Indian friends: strong and milky and sweet as a substitute for the coarseness of coffee.
If you like your tea strong and milky, you might like Irish Breakfast. I find the flavour a bit softer and more complex (I think it just has less tannin when you brew it strong) than English Breakfast. I'm making my way through a box of the Taylor's of Harrogate Irish Breakfast now, which is good and doesn't get bitter when strong (lousy black teas get a horrible taste when you make them strong.) The loose leaf version tastes better in a pot, but is fussy. I usually just use the bags.
For a strong milky tea you want a strong black tea or orange pekoe (Tetley is orange pekoe) as a base. Don't make it with a darjeeling or lapsang souchong -- the flavours are too subtle and don't stand up well when you add milk.
Recipe for strong tea with milk and sugar (don't laugh. details matter):
1. Warm your teapot with hot tap water or some of the boiling water that you've made for the tea.
2. Toss water out, add 2 teabags or a couple teaspoons of loose tea in a strainer (the larger the strainer the better, as the tea can move freely). Add boiling water to the teabags -- enough for 3-4 teacups or 2 big mugs.
3. Cover and let steep for 3-4 minutes and then take the teabags out. (If you let them sit, the tea gets all sharp and tannin-tasting)
4. Drink with plenty of milk and sugar :) This makes a tea that is almost as dark as coffee, with a nice rich flavour.
If you're bored with Tetley and English breakfast, you might just not like the current blend you're drinking. Other teas that I like... Republic of Teas has a nice English breakfast, and Tazo and Stash do good Chai versions. The Tazo chai is spicier with more pepper and ginger--the Stash one has more sweet cinnamon.
If you want complete Chai Indulgence (and you're in San Francisco), try the Chai at the Dolores Park Cafe (501 Dolores). They make it there fresh from spices and steamed milk and the smell is wonderful if you sit at the bar.
Last suggestion: If you need extra comforting, Drambuie is a very nice when added to a strong cup of milky sweet tea.
I have to chime in on Peet's Tea, at least their Earl Grey. FOUL! I loved Peet's coffee when I first discovered it while attending UC Berkeley. A godsend, really, wonderful, robust, if lacking in variety among their styles...all of them plainly roasty, strong, immensely flavorful.
The Earl Grey is simply, nauseatingly tannic and bitter. I even tried easing up on the steep time, to no avail. The tannins overwhelm the cup and I can't abide.