Tea taste test: Trying out the teas in my cupboard

Ever since I was twelve, and I asked for a sip of my Mum’s white, no sugar cuppa, I’ve been a tea drinker. As such, I am often gifted with teas. However, I’m not particularly adventurous tea drinker and never had the nerve or inclination to try them. So they sat there. Untasted. Rather than let them waste away, I decided to bite the bullet and review all the teas left in my tea cupboard. That’s right. A tea roulette. A roulettea.

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Photo credit: John-Mark Kuznietsov

Jasmine

Now this one’s a cheat because I drink it everyday. But still, to begin the tea journey there was no better than jasmine tea – the tea of champions. I first drank jasmine tea last year when I had pulled an all-nighter and was going into an early morning lecture. The uni cafe had a special: one large tea for two dollars. Wanting to avoid the intimidating boutique teas, I thought jasmine would be the safest option.

Jasmine was at first a little bitter, with a pinch at the back of the tongue, but then soothing with that dusky, flowery aftertaste. This tea gets me through that four hour lecture every time. Call it Pavolv, call it providence, but jasmine has become my go-to tea. Recommend for everyone.

Rating: 12/10
Smell: Like flowers and happiness
Steep time: 1 to 2 minutes

Chamomile

That smell. As soon as I took it out of its packaging, chamomile sucker-punched my nose. T2 calls it ‘Just Chamomile’ which is just as well, add anything else to this tisane and my sense of smell wouldn’t survive. Chamomile tea tastes like it smells – like golden syrup. Recommend for sweet-toothed people.

Rating: 6/10
Smell: Overpowering, but pleasant
Steep time: 1 to 2 minutes

Earl Grey

Another winning but weird scent combination of citrus and pot-pourri. Tastes like lemony black tea with an faint sharp edge. Recommend for lovers of bergamot and feeling posh.

Rating: 7/10
Smell: Your grandmother’s living room
Steep time: 2 min

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My (fifty shades of) Earl Grey

Sencha

My first experience with green tea was … not great so my hopes were not high for sencha. The T2 blurb on the back described its ‘sweet, smooth, grassy flavour’. Grassy? I smelt the tea. And yeah, kind of grassy. Not in a nice, freshly mown kind of way either. More like month-old mouldering glass clipping smell. I was honestly scared to taste it.

I took a sip and it was hot water, with faint notes of grass. I waited a bit longer for it to steep and I tasted what I can only describe as what I’d imagine the colour green to taste like, slightly diluted. Not unpleasant. Recommend for people who’ve always secretly envied a cow’s diet.

Rating: 3/10
Smell: …Grassy
Steep time: 3 to 4 solid min to get that pure grassy taste

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Get you some of that sweet sencha taste. I swear there was grass in the teabag.  Photo credit: Zé Zorzan

Peppermint

One question. Ever wondered what it would be like to drink a candy cane? This is it. Recommend for instant boost of Christmas cheer.

Rating: 5/10
Smell: On the tin
Steep time: 1 min is enough

Chai

Last but not least, chai tea, one of the OG teas. Chai actually means tea, so I tried tea tea. By itself it tasted pretty nice. A little bit of cinnamon, bit of ginger. Subtle and sweet. But it wouldn’t really be chai unless I added some milk. And dang, it was even better with milk. Good work India. Recommend for a treat yourself tea. 

Rating: 8/10 by itself, 9/10 with milk
Smell: Like your spice cabinet wishes it could be
Steep time: 2 min

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Got milk?

Conclusion

Well, after six teas and three bathroom breaks, I faced adversi-tea, drank grass and annoyed everyone around me by shoving tea under their noses and asking, ‘What does this smell like to you?’ But no longer will I feel guilty about my limited tea experience. Quali-tea content.

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12 thoughts on “Tea taste test: Trying out the teas in my cupboard

    1. Thanks! I’ve never tried Pukka three mints tea before, but it sounds lovely, so I’ll have to put on my list of teas to try. (Great pun).

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  1. This is right up my alley. My tea shop lined alley. That said, I totally disagree with your rating of Sencha. 3 out of 10! *insert shocked face emoji* But I support the tea democracy we live in and so that’s all I’ll say on that. On the other hand, fully support your Jasmine rating! I’d even go as far as 15 out of 10.
    Top marks for pun game, too!

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    1. I’m sorry, I must report the truth as I taste it. I can not enjoy grassy tea. But to each their own in our democra-tea. I’m glad we’re in agreement about jasmine though, as it is the Supreme Tea.
      (Thanks, I try.)

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  2. I’m a tea drinker coming from the other side of the tea pool, preferring the herbal side of the spectrum. Chamomile, Peppermint and Green are my faves but I’ll met you in the middle at Chai or Tea Tea. I think that’s why it has become o popular – its therapy medium.

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  3. I really appreciate the authentici-tea of this review. I personally can’t go past a classic English breakfast, perhaps with an Earl Grey or Chai thrown in here and there for some varie-tea. I really liked the images you used in this post too—I’m very cold right now and the pictures of warm steamy tea made me feel all warm and cosy. Thank you!

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  4. The variety of herbal and fruit teas on the market these days is astounding. Like you, I also have a cupboard full of them, many of which are routinely ignored as I reach for my favourites. Unlike you, I have no one to blame for this problem but myself! I’m drinking Earl Grey as I write this, and admiring the mixed pack of Pukka teas I bought last month because the packaging was so pretty – I’ve been slightly disappointed by the flavours so far to be honest, but perhaps I’m not letting them steep for long enough. I admire your scientific approach to finding the right steeping time and the fact you’ve made your adventure such an entertaining read. Maybe it’s time I did my own little taste testing session.

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  5. As a coffee drinker, this is extraordinarily helpful. All my friends are tea drinkers and you have no idea how lost I feel at their homes. I feel rude refusing an offered cup of tea, but always dread the following question of ‘what type would you like?’

    ‘Err… Umm… Just… Tea?’

    And then it’s a half hour presentation as they explain their dozens of T2 boxes while I stare blankly and nod.

    ‘Just… Whatever’s the most like coffee?’

    But I fully intend to strut into their houses and, when that oh so horrible question comes up, I will proudly state, in a haughty English accent:

    ‘I feel like the citrus tang of bergamot, so perhaps the Earl Grey today.’

    Thank you for the invaluable knowledge and confidence you have gifted me with ❤ Cheers

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    1. So true. There are so many types it can be intimidating, especially when you have advanced tea drinkers as friends, but I’m happy to be of service. Go get that tea!

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  6. What a fabulous idea – there is a bit of a stash in my cupboard too. For the mornings I regularly choose English Breakfast, which I am quite happy with. For the afternoons I flit between orange and cinnamon, and lemon and ginger, but could really do with some more inspiration and so will check out the chai option – there’s probably even some at the back of the cupboard!

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  7. This was a really enjoyable read! It was great to sit down to with a cup of tea! I never drink tea during the warmer months and then, around this time of year, there’s a cold day when I decide to have one instead of coffee and every year I’ve forgotten how much I love it. My favourite at the moment is this Turkish Delight tea that I treated myself to a few weeks ago. A friend also just bought me some Vanilla Chai as a gift, I haven’t tried it yet but it smells delicious!

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  8. A very crea-teave review of these beau-teaful teas. I must say I’m defini-tea looking forward to trying that Jasmine, it looks tea-rrific! But I disagree about the intenci-tea of the Peppermint, I find it quite gen-teale. (Very funny too).

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