Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Battle of the Breakfast Blends - Part Two

So... have you all been dying of suspense?? Here they are at last... the tasting notes!

First off, I tried taking photos of each of the different cups of tea... and basically they all looked like this:

The Scottish Breakfast was a little lighter in colour, a little clearer; but they were all pretty similar. The taste though was quite distinct for each!

The basics: I brewed about 3g of leaf in about 200ml water for each tea, for 4 minutes (as recommended on The Tea Centre website). I tasted each black initially and then with the addition of milk, no sugar.

English Breakfast: this is described on The Tea Centre website as 'blend of leaves from India and Ceylon with a strong flavour'. Well, the first part may well be true, but the rest of it is not. English Breakfast tastes and smells like the most basic, traditional tea that you grew up with (if you come from a Western background). It has a good rich burnt umber colour but the flavour is just not that strong, or that interesting for that matter. A touch of astringency which is smoothed out by the milk, but not a great deal of character.

Irish Breakfast: Drinking this black first off, my tastebuds went 'WHOA' and then 'wheee!' and did a little dance. This. Is. Astringent. And strong and a bit bitter. And then, after a short while, nicely sweet and malty. I can't drink a whole cup of this without milk; maybe I could if I brewed it for only 2 minutes, but that's not really the point is it? This is definitely what I think of as a 'breakfast tea' - a really powerful wake-you-up kick... but a genuinely pleasant flavour as well.

Scottish Breakfast: This is possibly the most interesting and unusual of the three blends. I actually thought that it was a Yunnan blend but apparently it's Assam and Kenyan. It's got a deep musky-malty aroma and flavour. I actually prefer this one without milk, and based on my other experiments with it, brewed for a slightly shorter period of time (3 minutes) which lets the fruitier notes of the Kenyan tea through better I think.

To sum up:
English Breakfast - boring, I wouldn't bother.
Irish Breakfast - wham! wakes you up!
Scottish Breakfast - intriguing and enjoyable.

This was fun. I think I'm going to play more teas off against each other in the future.

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