It’s no secret: I love black tea. I enjoy it so much that I put it in baked goods. I’ll drink it hot or cold. With sugar or plain. Cream? No thanks, I want to taste the full flavor. Normally gravitate toward Earl Grey in all its tasty glory, but I’m just a sucker for any black tea. That’s why decided to keep it simple and try Twinings loose leaf English Breakfast Tea. I wasn’t disappointed.
It comes in a tin, which is much nicer than the zip-bags from other places. This means I’m not digging down with a spoon and losing half my tea as I pull it out of the bag (hint, hint, Teavana). It also means I can’t suck the air out of it when I replace the lid, which is what I do with zip bags. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. There’s no promise the zip bags are airtight once sealed, but the tin should at least not let more air in. In fact, that’s what I’m betting on; I’ll definitely keep the tin to store tea after this batch is gone.
My first impression is mixed. The tea smells nice and strong, just like I like it. There’s no scent of fruit, flowers, or other flavors. At the same time, Twinings loose leaf is more like exactly what you’d pour out of one of their tea bags: tea finely ground like coffee.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily bad, but I like to use an infuser. There’s simply no way that will work unless I want to literally drink tea flakes. I do keep some paper tea filter bags on hand, though, and they work perfectly.
I use a flat teaspoon (not heaping) in my bag, and I let it steep for about 2 to 3 minutes before it’s good to go.
Twinings describes the tea as
…the finest teas from five different regions, each with its own unique characteristics. Tea from Kenya and Malawi provides the briskness and coppery-red colour while Assam gives full-body and flavour. The robustness from these regions is complemented by the softer and more subtle teas from China and Indonesia. The combination of these varieties yields a complex, full-bodied, lively cup of tea that is perfect any time of day.
From the first sip, I can agree with that. It has that strong tea smell you expect from a black tea, and the first taste is robust. There’s no sweetness nor anything else to temper the flavor. For some, the strength might be too much, as it has a bit of a bitter bite. Me? That’s just how I like it.
I tried a cup with milk and sugar, since that’s one of the classic ways to drink it, and I really don’t see the point. The strength of the tea doesn’t dwindle. (Keep in mind that I do like my tea rather plain, so that doesn’t mean others won’t find it good that way.)
All in all, the flavor is great! I used my 1-teaspoon teabag for two cups, and it was still strong for the second. My only complaint is one that really impacted my rating: I feel like I’m about to make coffee when I open the tin. To me, that’s not loose leaf. I could open a box of English Breakfast teabags from Twinings and pour out the bags to get the same thing, so why did I buy it in a tin?
Does that mean Twinings English Breakfast is a bad tea? Nope. But if you want loose leaf tea like you’re used to, you won’t get it from Twinings.