(Big) Brand Name Teas


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(Big) Brand Name Teas

Postby yukondoit » Dec 3rd, '07, 08:35

I've been thinking about this a lot lately....what significance big brand name teas (Stash, TROT, Tazo, Twinings, etc) have to tea fans. Do most big tea fans drink more of a mix of individually purchased loose teas from smaller dealers, or is there a variety of big brand name teas you enjoy?

There are certain Tazo teas I enjoy (Awake, loose Earl Grey), but I have never been a huge fan of The Republic of Tea, and really am not a fan of Stash. I despise Celestial Seasonings...I don't even think anything with their label should be considered tea. Twinings is okay, and their Ceylon tea, in a bright orange box, is absolutely my weakness because it is so fantastic with milk.

Anyone else?
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Postby Mary R » Dec 3rd, '07, 09:59

That about sums up my opinions too. :)

I discovered that Cook's Illustrated did a tasting of supermarket teas recently--basically 'plain' black teas. They said that if they had to choose a blend, they chose English Breakfast. They tried their lot both with and without milk. Interestingly, the 'losers' sans milk became winners with milk--apparently you need a rather harsh astringency in the tea to make it interesting enough with milk in it.

Twinings English Breakfast was the winner without milk, Tazo's Awake was the winner with milk. Interestingly enough, Celestial Seasoning's English Breakfast was the only tea that lost in both categories. All the rest tasted well in one of the two settings.
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Postby Chip » Dec 3rd, '07, 10:09

I was a citizen of the RoT in 1999 when I started drinking tea. But I had to flee the Republic when both their green tea label as well as their customer service told me to use boiling water for green tea. Bleh. At the time I did not know any better.

At the start, they actually had good tea, but something went wrong soon after. Perhaps it was all the ridiculous trendy products they started offering.

I have been dealing with non mainstream vendors ever since...
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Postby yukondoit » Dec 3rd, '07, 10:29

I think the Twinings Ceylon and possibly Tazo Awake are the only two teas I ever add milk to, though at off-kilter moments in my life I have been known to drink green tea with milk. I'm not surprised Celestial Seasonings lost. Any time I see anyone drinking CS tea I ask them why. Never really get a good answer.

I just ordered the samplers of Adaigo Rooibos and then the holiday sampler (saw the holiday tea post). Hope those are good!
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Postby divintea » Dec 3rd, '07, 10:58

Yukondoit, this is a great topic to discuss! My whole life, my Irish mother was used to adding milk to her tea, and lots of it. That's just how they roll in Ireland. When green tea starting getting more popular with the antioxidant levels, my family started drinking it more and predictably so, my mom doused it with milk. Is this taboo?? I always thought so. Good to hear you have off-kilter moments... my mom would high-five you.
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Postby yukondoit » Dec 3rd, '07, 11:05

Last year a study came out that said that milk basically neutralizes a lot of the good things in tea, namely its antioxidant values. I think that tea has become pretty popular because people are starting to discover how healthy it is, and now it may be a little taboo to regularly add milk to tea.

I grew up on very, very strong Russian-style black teas, and almost never added milk. To me, milk tastes best in Ceylon and also in cheap OP/PC black teas you find in diners.

To me a lot of green teas carry a bizarre aftertaste, and develop a very soft, rounded taste if you add some milk. The green tea can't be too weak to begin with if you are going to add milk to it, but if you make a good strength of green tea and add a few spoonfuls of milk, it's pretty good, though people may frown upon it because of milk/antioxidant thing. I also don't know many people who PUT milk in green tea.
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Postby Chip » Dec 3rd, '07, 11:08

No...very few people add milk to green tea.

I guess the most obvious exception could be green tea chai.

I drink green tea straight, that is my personal preference.
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Postby yukondoit » Dec 3rd, '07, 11:11

It's definitely not something I do often. It's kind of a "try it first, if it's not great, add milk." I'd obviously prefer to find a green tea without a weird aftertaste, but they are few and far between.
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Postby divintea » Dec 3rd, '07, 11:22

And adding soy milk is a whole nother issue! Once I added it to green tea and weird clumps formed. Ew, not something I'd like to repeat.
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Postby divintea » Dec 3rd, '07, 11:41

Oh, and thanks for the info on milk neutralizing tea benefits, yukondoit. I wonder what my mom will say to that! She'll probably shake her head and deny it.

Like the pun in your username. You from Yukon area?
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Postby yukondoit » Dec 3rd, '07, 12:32

I've added soymilk a few times. I drink soymilk regularly so I figured it would work well....apparently not so much. It gets clumpy and also kind of filmy and weird at the top.

It's funny that someone noticed my goofy pun username. I am not from the Yukon region but have a few friends there (mushers) and am moving to Fairbanks AK next year, so I won't be far from YT.
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Postby divintea » Dec 3rd, '07, 15:16

Our thread inspired me to grab some hot tea and add soy milk. I just did so with Earl Grey, and no clumping happened! It must just be a weird green tea-ism. Thoughts?
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Postby yukondoit » Dec 3rd, '07, 15:21

I think it has something to do with the temperature, not the actual chemistry of the tea. I use soymilk for everything, from baking to cream of wheat, etc, but I've never seen it hit the right consistency in hot liquids, including hot chocolate and coffee.
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Postby Wesli » Dec 3rd, '07, 15:24

I avoid absolutely all of these kinds of brand names. I used to enjoy some tazo as well (awake, china green tips), but the more and more I ventured into high quality loose tea online, the less I desired these "name brand" lesser teas. In my opinion, the name brands are only out there for cash.
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Postby yukondoit » Dec 3rd, '07, 15:29

I remember when Tazo was still a small company just starting off and you had to call to order their catalog to order tea from them. Now that they're huge I just don't know if the tea is the same quality anyway. To me, I like the bagged tea sometimes for convenience, at work, when I'm in a hurry or traveling, but ultimately the loose, small company / tea room stuff is better.
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