by Correen Coultas
I have never been a coffee drinker. Very few coffee aromas intrigue me to taste them. But tea….now that’s a different story. Tea has been a standard beverage in the Collins household for as long as I can remember. My paternal grandparents always had iced tea in the house, not sweet either, in spite of their southern heritage. I am quite thankful for that since I learned to actually enjoy the taste of the tea that way. Now that I am older I understand that many people dump boat loads of sugar into tea because they think that tea is bitter. May I suggest that someone didn’t know how to make a proper cup of tea? I was in that boat myself when I ventured on my own to try different kinds of tea.
I have enjoyed many cups of tea in my day, both hot and iced. I have noticed that there are distinct differences in flavor, color and types of tea. And if I really enjoy something, I will do the research so I know exactly what it is of which I partake.
I will not discuss herbal teas because I have never acquired a taste for them and quite frankly the smell of them does not appeal to me either. I know from research that many herbal concoctions can be “good” for you, but if I can’t stand the taste, it does me no good sitting in the cup or the cupboard.
There are several kinds of tea, grades of tea, and brands. I have not tried every kind, but I have tried well over 50 kinds and brands of tea. Once I learned how to make a good cup of hot tea, my iced tea was never again to be born of instant granules! I am not wealthy by any means so I had to come up with a way to try teas without taking out a loan. I just hate the thought of buying a box of tea only to find I didn’t care for it and then the rest of the box went to waste. So I had some options: 1.) Whenever I visited family and friends and they asked, “Would you like something to drink?” I always ask for tea. Then I could get information on the brand and flavor without having to buy a whole box. 2.) I found a specialty store in my area that offers several coffee and tea choices a day to its customers for a small charge. I buy the tea bags individually for 35 to 50 cents each, which is so much cheaper than buying the whole package. And if I see a brand on the shelf that I am interested in, the manager will open the box and place it in the offerings for the day while I get 1 tea bag to try at home. 3.) I check tea websites often and look for sample packs and free offers. Companies know that if you can try the merchandise, you will mostly likely become a customer. I have tried many loose leaf teas in this manner.
Of all the brands I have tried, and I like several of them, my all time favorite tea is PG Tips®. To me, this brand tastes like tea should taste. A full, strong flavor, but not bitter, unless you steep it too long and I have made that mistake. As a matter of fact, my husband prefers his tea much weaker and by his standards one PG Tips® tea bag offers him about 5 cups of tea, whereas I can get 2 cups out of one bag. For 2 quarts of iced tea I use 4 tea bags steeped for exactly 5 minutes and please don’t squeeze the tea bags or the final product becomes cloudy and you will find tea tannins settled on the bottom of the container; not attractive, nor tasty. I just love the color of freshly brewed iced tea! (See photo) And to be even thriftier, after steeping the four bags for iced tea, I can make 2 or 3 more cups of hot tea out of the same bags! Try doing that with a store brand tea bag!
If you have to add sugar or honey to your tea, I won’t have a fit, but I would ask you to try it without first. I found a fabulous website that explains everything you need to know about tea. If you are really not into the history and science of the subject, they also offer a chart for the type of tea you are drinking, what temperature the water should be, and how long the tea should steep to make the perfect cup. (See info below) You may find that you have been missing out on good tea flavor for a long time!
PG Tips® is specially blended in England with imported estate teas from mostly India and Africa. As its name implies, PG Tips® uses only the top 2 leaves and the bud in its blends. The brand of tea that I buy uses the pyramid-shaped tea bag which allows the leaves more room to move about while steeping. (See photo)This mimics the idea of whole leaf tea steeping without all the fuss. This tea may be ordered from many companies online, but I found that Meijer sells it too, and for not much more than its online competitors. This tea has been around since 1930 and is considered England’s number one tea. Hey, if anyone knows tea it has to be the British! So I thought I would give a British friend of mine here in the states a reminder of home by giving him some of the tea bags. He said his mom sends it to him all the time and it truly is their favorite. Now it is my favorite too. I even put it on my Christmas list last year! (Thanks, Sis! We are enjoying it right now!)
http://the-tea-site.com/ (Tea 101 site)
I am not being compensated by this company for this review. It is my own opinion~Correen Coultas.
(Photos: Correen Coultas and PG Tips Tea)