Taste test - Tea

  • The List
  • 2 October 2008

China Green Tea from Dragonfly Tea ●●●●

£1.69 for 25 bags
Green tea is made from fully-grown but non-fermented tea leaves, and there’s a vast range of different styles. This one is mild and inoffensive, combining a subtle grassiness with a smooth, refreshing taste. Fans talk up the lower caffeine and higher anti-oxidant properties. Limit the brewing time to three or four minutes to avoid any bitterness.

Happiness Tea from Today Was Fun ●●●●●

£4.99 for 60g, for Edinburgh stockists, see www.todaywasfun.com
There’s something engaging about the way this range of teas is packaged and marketed. It’s a well-judged cocktail of rosemary, hibiscus flowers and cardamon that slowly turns the water deep pink. There’s a bit of Sunday roast on the nose but an amazing two-layered taste.

Yunnan from Twinings Light Classics range ●●

£1.99 for 50 bags
Strictly a black tea, in that it’s made from fermented leaves, the colour is actually a light bronze and this is really one to be drunk without milk. It has a slightly smoky, faintly nutty smell – though nothing like as strong as lapsang souchong – but lacks the clean taste of a green or white tea. Overall, rather lacking in character.

Yerba Maté from Mr Scruff’s Make Us a Brew Tea Company ●●●●

£1.99 for 25 bags, www.makeusabrew.com
This one is made from the dried, fermented leaves of a holly tree native to South America. The brewed colour is greener than green tea but the taste is refreshing and comforting with the very faintest hint of Christmas holly. It does contain caffeine, but is regarded as a jitter-free alternative to coffee in South America.

Rose Tea from Brewhaha ●●●

£1.99 for 25 bags, a Glasgow company soon to open a shop in Buchanan Galleries, www.brewhaha.ltd.com
Teas have a distinctive capacity to divide into love or loathe camps: think earl grey or red bush. Rose tea is a case in point. Sri Lankan black tea with a natural rose petal flavour through it, it’s actually less perfumey than the candy pink retro packaging suggests, with the floral sweetness only coming through on the aftertaste.

White Tea from Tea Tree Tea ●●●

£5 for 50g (10-12 small pots), 13 Bread Street, Edinburgh
White tea leaves are harvested before the leaves are fully open, while the buds are still covered by fine white hair. Sold loose, the tiny scrolled leaves of ying zhen look like dried pine needles and the brewed colour is very pale. The wet-animal smell isn’t particularly appealing, though the clean, fresh, non-bitter taste is quite seductive.