It’s never happened to me before, but this time you broke me. You tied me to a chair, shone a bright light in my face and teabagged me ferociously until I gave in. (Think that awkward scene with Daniel Craig, a dining chair with no bottom and an aggressive bit of rope in Casino Royale.) I HATE giving in to peer pressure. I hope you are pleased with yourselves, and that this blog post shows how I am willing to suffer for my art as a real ‘method blogger’, and above all…how desperate I am for you all to love me (I await a deluge of Valentine’s gifts in the post – *HINT* I am partial to tea).
So, what did you make me do? What torture did I succumb to? What do I now have to pay a thera-tea-ist to get over?
I spent a week. Seven whole days. 168 hours. TEABAGGING. Again, and again, and again. FOR YOU, Twitchers! Yes, bow to my dedication, my Witch’s apprentices. Don’t panic though, I’m still a loose leaf prophet. But in response to many readers’ recommendations, it’s about time I investigated the nation’s favourite man made scrot sacs, in the interest of fairness, democracy and…my bloody minded curiosi-tea. Without further ado then, here are my diary room entries for my week in The Big Teabag House (of Horrors…primarily anyway.)
My first trip to the brewing room after a particularly hellish journey on the M1, consisted of Yogi Tea’s Choco. An Ayurvedic spice infusion (does yoga and sings at pigeons or summat), it consists of cocoa, liquorice, cardamom and ginger. After a good 10 minutes brewing, I was moderately impressed with the deep, rich nutty taste of the cocoa and added spicy sweetness from cinnamon and vanilla extract. The taste reminded me of a Hotel Chocolat praline, and as such this would make a great dessert substitute if you are avidly avoiding breeze block cake slices in the New Year. BUT – as with most teabags – the taste was quite ‘thin’ and the smell promised more than it delivered. Similar to getting Christina Hendricks home (yes, she is BACK!), ripping her clothes off and finding that she is a hermaphrodite. In sum, Choco had great foreplay but a disappointing end game.
Dorset’s Breaky Blend is your old fashioned, no-nonsense, dogs bollocks morning brew. Made with 100% black tea (no further information given, because we trust nice Dorset folk), this was probably the most game changing teabag experience of my life. It had the distinct malty balls that you want from a breakfast cuppa, yet combined with light and fruity floral notes that gave the humble brew a much needed face-lift (think Carol Vorderman in a BodyCon dress). The complexity and depth of flavour delivered from this sac of joy was so incredible that if I blind tested it, I am sure I would have thought it was loose leaf. I know. I am as shocked as you that I actually LIKED a teabag…and left a review of it on the Dorset site…and then promptly bought two boxes. Shhh don’t tell anyone.
These teabags came highly recommended from his holiness Michael II of Hashtag Teaclub, and her loveliness Sarah from Mugen Tea House. I had high hopes for this brew with its trusted endorsement and fair trade Assam leaf base. However, I thought this tea was…alright. Nothing special, just an acceptable teabag, as teabags go. It was bold and malty, but that was about it. After my Dorset Breaky teagasm earlier that day, this was a poor supporting act. Like eating at The Ritz and then going for a meal at Zizzis; perfectly acceptable fare yet bland and average. Sorry Tea Messiahs, this one was not for me!
This infusion from the popular pretties at Pukka, consisted of ALL the mints. I thought there were only two: Polo original and Polo spearmint. Apparently, there is also peppermint, fieldmint AND spearmint; obviously lived a sheltered life. This cuppa was certainly minty (I would have called Trading Standards if it wasn’t), yet it was chemically so. It tasted plastic like and synthetic, rather than the familiar minty-fresh taste of a loose leaf mint blend. So more Polo wrapped in a condom, rather than unadulterated barebacking with a Trebor Extra Strong (other mint brands are available).
Now, I wouldn’t strictly call a Phrooti infusion a teabag. One, because it is a biodegradable sac that contains only powdered fruit; and two, because the wonderful Jerome (Lord of Phrooti) has now done away with the bag element and gone for a ‘loose leaf’ style powder. Nevertheless, this was the older teabag sampler version, and thus appropriate here to reassure you sticklers for detail. True to my original experience with Phrooti, this was a moreish, molten fruity syrup, with all the Phrooti naughtiness of a vat full of Haribo, without any of the calories. Phrooti (or Netflix…) and chill anyone?
Containing only the finest Assam tea leaves, I expected great things from the Sith Overlord of the tea world. Alas, I was not (completely) disappointed. Initially, this brew started off very non-descript, but once I had left the teabag in for a few more minutes this cuppa developed into a malty, well-balanced blend. Definitely a grower not a show-er…but would still take a loose leaf version any day!
A gift from the delectable ‘Owl’ after carefully worded Twitter begging, Okinawa Sunrise combines simply bitter melon and peppermint for a refreshing after dinner drink. It shit all over Pukka’s minty offering with an in-your-face minty kick, and an unusual tangy aftertaste from the bitter melon. I liken it to being kissed by an After Eight and then given a love bite by a Haribo Tangfastic; slightly odd, yet strangely alluring at the same time. I also enjoyed the silken pyramids that the tea came in as you can physically SEE what you are getting…a similar advantage found in crotchless undies. In all then, an unusual yet immensely likeable infusion.
Another recommendation from Baron Brew himself – the aforementioned M of Hashtag Teaclub – Taylors Rose Lemonade was a spritely little number. Including lemon peel, lemongrass and rose, this was an irresistibly sugar sweet cuppa that reminded me of aggressively flavoured Panda Pops in the summer. Zingy, full bodied and syrupy, I was bowled over by the summer flavours and sheer fruitiness that this delivered. Maybe teabagging isn’t all bad after all…
It is common knowledge that I think most green tea tastes like ‘Yoda’s sweaty jock strap,’ or words to that effect. And to some extent Twinnings’ offering did have a whiff of the Jedi knickers about it…but was SAVED by the addition of ginger pieces and golden syrup. Despite the characteristically ‘thin’ taste of a teabag, this tea tasted spicy, warming and above all, very little like a traditional green tea. Not blown away by it, although feeling like I was sucking the toes of a pervy gingerbread man was not that unpleasant.
I had to double check to see if Dorset’s Breaky Blend wasn’t just a fluke. It wasn’t – this brew was bloody marvellous as well. A blend of African and Indian leaves from Rainforest Alliance Certified Farms, my cuppa was wholesome, hearty and even a tad spicy – the perfect combination for when you need a brew that wet dreams are made of. In the words of Utterly Butterly (sort of): ‘I can’t believe it’s not loose leaf!’
There we have it then, folks. A week in The Big Teabag House has intensified my love for loose leaf as 80% of the brews above left me pining for a ‘real’ cuppa. HOWEVER, this experience has also mellowed my hatred towards all things in mesh, excluding the fashion monstrosity that is the string vest. It seems that I must begrudgingly admit that there are some half drinkable…alright, rather nice teabags out there. A special mention must go to Dorset Tea as their blends left me speechless – the quali-tea was on a par with my favourite loose leaf black teas.
So what have we learned? Well, loose leaf still reigns supreme in my eyes…but I’m open minded to slumming it with a dir-tea bag slag if pushed.
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