Sunday, July 22, 2007

Twinings' Irish Breakfast Tea

Twinings Classic "Irish Breakfast Tea"
I picked this up yesterday to compare to Twinings' other teas. I understand that it is probably hard to take reviews of bagged tea very seriously, but I want to make sure I cover the foundation, and don't aim my tea aspirations too high just yet. I would love to be a connoisseur, but I don't know nearly enough.

I brewed one bag in boiling hot water for 3.5 minutes. My first impression is that it definitely has a stronger flavor than any of Twinings' other bagged teas. I enjoyed this, since I feel that their baggies are weak compared to say PG Tips.

The flavor is definitely "robust," as the box advertises, without any bitterness or astringency to speak of. Perhaps these would be more apparent at longer brew times.

Robust, however, has two meanings. The first is simply strength, and the flavor definitely qualifies as strong--although I wouldn't mind two bags. The second is an ability to perform well under a wide range of conditions. This was tested by dumping some of the tea particles onto one end of the tight-rope walk of my flea circus set. Although the bits of tea were dry, they performed much as the Irish might after getting good and liquored up--falling left and right off of the high tight-rope platform. Their ability to perform here would certainly have earned them robustness points, but I concluded the test to be too rigorous for such a pedestrian tea, and decided to give it the less stringent test of simply adding milk and honey.

The milk and honey test was performed with a 4 minute brew, and with just a bit of these added ingredients, so as to enhance the flavor of the tea, not overtake it. This brew also achieved good results. Here are the qualities of this tea as I perceived them over the two brewing sessions:

  • Decently strong, full-bodied liquor that satisfies the back of the throat when swallowed nice and hot.
  • "Slight citrus undertones" I am not sure where I have heard this phrase before, but it is a pretty good description of this tea's flavor. The phrase probably appeals to the combination of astringency and bitterness of tea. Citrus fruit juice is astringent/sour, and citrus pith and peel are bitter.
  • This is not wholly unlike Twinings English Breakfast tea. The Irish Breakfast packs a little more depth and is slightly more patient, lingering in my mouth long after I have swallowed.
The down side:
  • While this tea packs a good amount of strength in my mouth, I don't find that it does much to wake me. As I am now editing my draft before publishing this post, I have to correct this initial reaction, as I now have a pretty good caffeine buzz after two cups of this stuff.
  • My second complaint is that the tea does not taste very fresh. This is the same problem that the Twinings Ceylon bagged tea had, and I suspect that it is because Twinings puts inferior tea in their bags and sells the good stuff in their tins. I would be curious to try the Irish Breakfast from a tin.
Overall verdict: 4/10
For a bagged tea, this one is pretty decent. Good at breakfast time because of its strength. However, I find Twinings loose tea to be far superior to any of their bags.


MarshalN said...

I remember afternoons sitting at one of the two or three cafes in my college town, where tea offerings were mostly just bags. I liked getting the Irish Breakfast -- at least it tasted like tea.

Whenever I see this it reminds me of my college years.

Turnbaby said...

*sigh* Please try the tea as it was meant to be enjoyed--loose leaf tea is the way to go.

Twinings Irish Breakfast is my hands down favorite tea. I brew a pot everyday. I think your opinion will change once you've tasted it brewed correctly.

Ginny said...

Currently enjoying a properly made cup of Twinings Irish Breakfast; the bagged variety is close to it in flavor, but "more so."

Besides, who doesn't love tea tins?