Thursday, October 30, 2014

About That Tea ...

Golden Tips Tea Company: "Giddapahar Muscatel"
What I'm drinking this morning ~
Because it was picked in summer, it will yield a darker, richer tea.
I'm favorably impressed with Golden Tips. What nice people! They left a kind comment on my last post about the package they sent me full of lovely tea samples. Now I'll give you the low-down on how these teas actually taste. The company has been around since 1933. They have a beautiful website too.

Speaking of their website, if you're a tea-drinker, and you go look at the cups of tea on their site, you'll notice their tea is a beautiful light reddish-brown color. You can see through it! It's not black. And our tea should look like theirs, my friends. We brew our tea too long! Do you do this? 1) Make a pot of nice tea. 2) Pour one cup. 3) Get distracted. 4) Zap that cup again in the microwave. 5) Drink it. 6) Two hours later remember the pot of tea. 7) Pour another cup, now very black and bitter, and zap it too. 8) Add loads of sugar and milk to hide all that bitterness.

Aren't we bad tea-drinkers? If you want to know why tea gets bitter, here's a good page to read about it. But basically tea in bags is more bitter. It's really "tea dust" and has more surface area from which to release tannin into the water. And we leave our tea, whether loose or in a bag, in the water too long. This releases more tannin also.

First, the leaves. Compare these two teas:
This size difference is important for tea.
See how the tea on the left is much larger leaves? That's Golden Tips tea that I'm drinking this morning. See the much smaller, dusty-looking leaves on the right? That's Lipton loose tea, the only loose tea I could find to purchase in the entire New Bern area. How sad is that?! The difference between drinking larger leaves and drinking tea dust ("fannings") is significant -- the flavor, the bitterness!
Golden Tips leaves 
Lipton leaves
My cup of Darjeeling Muscatel this morning is smooth, gentle, a little nutty, faintly spicy. I'm drinking it without sugar or cream, so I can discern the true flavor of the tea. I made a pot that's similar in size to the "cup" I'm using. My friend Robin gave me this cup, and it allows me to get all the tea I want to drink out of the pot before it steeps too long. It maintains its color and flavor.
beautiful color
slightly darker, two minutes later
the cup and the pot :)
If you want to enjoy tea, use loose leaf tea. Avoid tea bags, which use the poorest quality teas, both in actual quality and in cutting quality. Don't oversteep. If your tea cools, drink it cool rather than zapping it. A good tea that's been brewed properly will taste delicious without sugar, without cream, without zapping. It will please you with its flavor alone. I say this to myself as much as anyone else out there; I've been drinking tea badly for too many years.

Golden Tips will ship for free if you order $49 or more. (Tea makes a good gift for the holidays.) Free shipping from India! And believe-you-me, the packaging alone is pretty thrilling :)  If $49 is too hefty for you, they have a $15 offer -- for that price you'll receive a generous sampling of their teas, without paying shipping. I think their sampler packages are pretty and would make nice little gifts or stocking stuffers this holiday season. What do you think? And no ... Golden Tips isn't paying me for this post. In a way, I want to repay their kindness to me, even though I was suspicious of their initial offer. But more importantly, I think they make really beautiful teas! This tea is superior to what you'll find in your grocery store -- better than Twinings. And it's superior to what I bought at the Indian grocery in Greenville too. Those teas were all CTC ("cut, tear, curl"), again a smaller cut, giving a bolder, more bitter taste. I love the larger leaves with their luscious, mellow flavor.

Besides, wouldn't you love to receive a package like this in the mail?
One teaspoon of leaves is enough for one cup of tea. Use a strainer when you pour it out.
 Enjoy your tea with a delicious breakfast.
More tea assessments in later posts.

6 comments:

  1. LOVE this! So good, so good to know! I like your chunky tea cozy, too!

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  2. I went to their site and am considering getting the sample package. I'm more of a coffee drinker (coffee snob, actually), but these look well worth it. I enjoyed your previous tea post as well as this one! Nice folks there.

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  3. You simply can't buy large leaf loose tea anywhere around here. There are a couple of specialty tea shops near me, but they stock wall to wall flowery tea, not much in the ordinary black tea. And what they do stock is expensive and to my mind not worth paying extra for. You were so lucky with that windfall! My pet beef is the multitude of cafés around. They may serve good coffee, but their tea is pitiful. In a coffee cup, water out of the coffee machine which mostly tastes of coffee, and a tea bag on the side. And they have the cheek to charge an arm and a leg for that

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  4. Oooh, I DO love a good tea leaf! I bought some lovely ones in France! Mmm, your breakfast looks good too!x

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  5. M.K., this was a great post. I love a good cuppa, but oftentimes find it too bitter, and end up adding cream and sugar. The loose tea at the shop in town is better, but they have rows and rows of flavored teas I don't care for. I'm just not sure what to order; I love darjeeling and assam; am looking forward to your reviews.
    And how fun is that package!

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  6. Your post got me thinking about tea and I remembered we have a shop dedicated to tea and things pertaining to tea. I wrote about it in my post today and I mentioned you. Hope that was okay!

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