Am I cheating by highlighting English Breakfast two days in a row? Maybe. But I thought it might be useful to talk about the differences between Twinings’ and Tazo’s Awake English Breakfast just to emphasize that not all teas that share a name taste the same.
So, let’s talk geography for a moment. You’ll remember that Twinings’ English Breakfast is blended from teas from several countries: Assam, China, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi. That careful blend gives the tea a balanced and full-bodied flavor.
Starbucks-owned Tazo goes about their Awake English Breakfast with a pruned import list, gathering teas from India and Sri Lanka (at least that’s what it says on the tin…). Black teas from India tend to have a malty flavour, and ceylon teas from Sri Lanka tend to leave a zesty, spicy impression (Sri Lanka was called Ceylon by Brits until 1972, and I’d be remiss not to mention that colonial history or mention the lives of the folks who harvest the tea. I’ll explore the ethics of cuppa’ time in a later post). Side note: sometimes all this talk about different teas and regions of black teas can get confusing, because really it’s the same plant: Camellia sinensis. Different growing conditions (mountains or high altitudes, soil types, etc.) result in different flavours (not a misspelling, btw). Feel like sometimes you can’t really taste the difference? There’s an art to tea tasting.
The result, to me at least, is perhaps a more nuanced flavour. I feel I can pick up on more distinct notes in Tazo’s English Breakfast, and I’d agree with them that this tea is invigorating with a particular “depth of character” all its own, making for a dynamic brew. That said, the cup is not as smooth and even as the Twinings brand.
Sachet vs. Filterbag
After brewing both the filter bag and the full-leaf tea sachet for the prescribed 5 minutes and sweetening with cream (which is my favourite sweetening method), we did a taste test. The flavours end up the same, but the cup is stronger when we use the conventional filter bag. I found that surprising, because the tea leaves are more intact in the sachet, so seem to have a higher grade, and a higher grade is supposed to = better taste. Because they result in a weaker cup, the sachets probably could steep longer than 5 minutes.
Why opt for the sachet only anyway? Less packaging, so better from the environment. The tin, if reused, could end up being more sustainable than the cardboard packaging. That said, neither is really environmentally friendly, because you can’t compost either. Thus, loose tea is best for the environment–more on that tomorrow!
All in all, the Tazo Awake Breakfast Tea makes for an energizing morning full of exciting flavour and tastes great when enjoyed with cream and sugar, lemon and sugar, or vanilla creamer.
Which English Breakfast brand do you prefer, and why? Let me know in the comments!
Tomorrow? Earl Grey.