Robust flavor with low bitterness?

Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.

Nov 17th 15 2:17 pm
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Robust flavor with low bitterness?

by RDSam » Nov 17th 15 2:17 pm

Hi there. I'm new to tea, so please forgive what may be a crazy question/observation.

I've been ordering lots of samples from Adagio recently to get exposed to some new teas. Being more familiar with black teas, I've focused more on greens and Oolongs, which I have really enjoyed. My last order, though, I decided to revisit black teas to see if I'd been missing a whole dimension of that type of tea. Since Twinings English Breakfast tea used to be my favorite, I figured I'd also try Adagio's English and Irish Breakfast teas to compare. I also threw in a sample of Yunan Gold.

After brewing a couple of cups of the English and Irish breakfast teas, and feeling a bit disappointed, I decided to do a taste test. I brewed three cups (one Adagio English, one Adagio Irish, and one Twinings English breakfast tea). I was shocked to find that I still strongly preferred the Twinings. Before you go dismissing me as an ignoramus, hear me out.

I found both the Adagio teas to be significantly weaker tasting than the Twinings. I tried a couple more times, increasing the brewing time to closer to 5 minutes, and doubling the amount of tea (about 2 tsp) per cup to see if that was the issue. While that did make a stronger (and sometimes more bitter) cup, I still found the flavor of the Twinings to be more robust while avoiding bitterness. In short, I would choose the Twinings any day over the two Adagio teas. So I wondered, was I doing something wrong?

At this point, I still hadn't tried the Yunan Gold, but frankly I wasn't too excited about it given what I'd tasted from the other two. I brewed a cup anyway, and all I can say is "wow!" If I rate the Twinings at a 6/10, the English Breakfast from Adagio at a 3/10, and the Irish Breakfast from Adagio at a 4/10, the Yunan Gold gets a solid 9/10 in my book.

So, I'm encouraged that I don't seem to have some unconscious bias against the Adagio black teas, but I'm curious to know if others have felt similarly. Can it be that a cheap, bagged tea from Twinings that's available in all grocery stores is better than the Adagio English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast teas? Or am I doing something wrong? Any thoughts would be most welcome!

Thanks,
Rob

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Nov 17th 15 9:23 pm
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Re: Robust flavor with low bitterness?

by William » Nov 17th 15 9:23 pm

Maybe a dumb question, but have you tried to play with the temperature?
I often brew black teas with different temperatures, varying from boiling water to lightly warm.

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Nov 17th 15 10:45 pm
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Re: Robust flavor with low bitterness?

by kuánglóng » Nov 17th 15 10:45 pm

I haven't tried any of Adagios offerings so far, but most Twinings teas at some point in the past. One thing to keep in mind when you compare them is that the Adagio blends you've mentioned are full-leave teas whereas the Twinings bags usually contain broken leaves or fannings (small particles) and dust. That isn't necessarily a bad thing but apart from the actual blend this usually contributes to the stronger, more robust cup you describe.
If you like the Twinings better depends on your individual taste and preferences and there's no arguing with that. I prefer my rather humble standby Keemun to much pricier alternatives even though I could easily afford them. Regarding Yunnan blacks/reds (Dian Hong) there's a lot to choose from as well. Happy exploring!

Nov 18th 15 5:02 am
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Re: Robust flavor with low bitterness?

by ethan » Nov 18th 15 5:02 am

Commercial black teas, that is tea brands commonly found in supermarkets in teabags, have up to 35% tea dust. Thus, the bags quickly darken boiling water & one has a "stronger" brew produced quickly. It is what most people are brought up on & get used to drinking. Adagio's "better" tea w/ leaf replacing dust, may not be better for you ever or maybe only after some time.
Adagio's yunnan gold is excellent & definitely different than commercial tea; however, it is a "different' that you are more likely to appreciate.

Nov 18th 15 11:36 am
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Re: Robust flavor with low bitterness?

by .m. » Nov 18th 15 11:36 am

RDSam wrote: Can it be that a cheap, bagged tea from Twinings that's available in all grocery stores is better than the Adagio English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast teas?
Why not? I have no experience with Adagio teas, so I cant talk about them. But a priori it is entirely possible that the two teas you mentioned are not that good.
Sometimes, I drink Sea Dyke Brand roasted tieguanyin. Its not a great tea, but neither too bad, and it is usually really cheap. It serves for me as a low benchmark: a tea that costs substantially more should be substantially better, if not than it is a bad deal. Let's not snub on cheap teas. ;)
As far as I know, some of the loose leaf Twinings and Ahmad teas are quite ok.

Nov 19th 15 2:53 pm
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Re: Robust flavor with low bitterness?

by ethan » Nov 19th 15 2:53 pm

.m.,
I like your comment about value, though it is not in vogue. People pay a lot more for just a bit more quality--often. Maybe it gets a bit crazy. So subjective! Something is worth what people are willing to pay for it. Cheers.