Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Persimmon Tree, English Breakfast

English Breakfast Tin
The Persimmon Tree Description:
For the perfect start to your day, try a cup of English Breakfast. This classic black loose-leaf tea has a robust flavor with a smooth, clean finish. Enjoy black, or with a splash of milk and sugar like the English have traditionally done.

Sample provided by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company.

My Review:
The Persimmon Tree website lists the ingredients as Organic, Biodynamic Black Loose-Leaf Tea. That's a bit vague for me. According to the all knowing Wikipedia - English breakfast tea is a traditional blend of teas originating from Assam, Ceylon and Kenya. It is one of the most popular blended teas and the most common form of tea in British tea culture. I don't know if this particular tea is a blend of the three types listed or it contains something else, but we will use this as our reference point.

The Persimmon Tree sells all their teas in nice tins. They seem to seal reasonably well, keeping the tea fresh for a long time. Cutting the tape from the lid and opening, I get an aroma that reminds me of cherry pipe tobacco and maple syrup. Honestly I was expecting this to have a very generic black 'tea' aroma. Why? Because I have had so many of them served in a paper tea bag and they all smell like 'tea'. So nice beginning here.

The Dry Leaf
Removing a scoop of leaf for examination reveals broken pieces of leaf. I do not mean fannings here. This is not the dust found in my previous mentioned paper bags. The broken pieces are typical of a good loose leaf English Breakfast tea. The idea is to brew up a quick, hearty, no fuss cuppa. They are generally served with milk and sugar. The leaf is dark brown and cinnamon in color.

I used about 3 g in my Bodum press with the water heated to the recommended 195 F. I steeped it for a little over two minutes. The recommended time is 3 - 5 minutes. I went short because Assam and Ceylon teas can tend to cause stomach burn with me. I always err on the side of caution with a new tea.

Early Morning Tea
The result is a deep orange cup that as it sits on my desk, with the light glittering through, it takes on a glowing ember look. Very cool. It is bright and while hard to see through, is not cloudy. The wet leaf has really expanded and has lost the cherry aroma in favor of a lightly malty smooth aroma.

After this cools, I take my first sip. I immediately realize I could have steeped longer with out fear. This is very smooth. I thought it would be more throat grabbing and harsh. I will try another cup later at full boil and at least a three minute steep to see what I get, as I imagine most people would prepare this, by default, with out reading the instructions.

For now, lets deal with what I have before me. As I say, the first reaction is smooth. I don't get robust or brisk as much as comfortable. There is a definite peppery note in the background. It is not hot and spicy, just flavorful. It is also lightly malty. The aftertaste is pleasant and lingering. It does cause a wee bit of tongue tingle and a tad more cheek tingle. It is moderately drying, because it is English Breakfast tea after all.

A Pile Of Wet Leaf
I find I like this, however, please know I am not keen on most English Breakfast teas. Why? Because I generally find them on one hand too beige, an on the other a bit too brutish. This has a little more color and is slightly more refined. That may or may not be what you are looking for in this type tea. It is what I like.

Now as promised, for the second mug I used the same amount of new leaf (3 g) and brought the water to a full rolling boil (212 F / 100 C). I am feeling brave and let it steep for 4 minutes. My guess is the average morning tea drinker will come closer to using these parameters than the recommended ones.

The brew is only slightly darker than before, looking more ruby red. The aroma of the wet leaf is about the same. The taste difference is not nearly as significant as I expected. It is more robust than before but still remains more or less smooth. The pepperiness combines with the increased briskness to give this just a touch of an edge. I have to admit, I kind of like it this way as well. It appears this is a very forgiving tea. That is something I need in a morning cup. Even with the increased temp and time it did not seem to cause stomach burn in me. I still would not trust it on an empty belly when bagels are just a toaster away, but that's just me :)

You can find The Persimmon Tree's English Breakfast here.

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