Tuesday, 19 July 2011

the 'best tea'?

Was asked by a friend today what the 'best tea' was. What a question, eh? But I love a good debate. And blog comments. In case I've been unclear in the past, I really really like blog comments. So here's my not-so-humble answer. I wonder how the rest of you might respond.

Many teabloggers focus on green and/or Oolong tea, but as much as I like them, I've focused more on black tea. Most tea sellers in Germany make their own unique Ostfriesen Blend that is often a mix of strong, malty Assam and a Chinese Keemun (and maybe an Indian Nilgiri). If I had to choose my favourite non-single estate tea, it'd be one of those specialty blends.

But if it's brands we're talking about, the tastiest and most consistent tea I've found is 'Yorkshire Gold' made by Taylors of Harrogate. But that's only if we're talking about black tea blends.

I'd say the best non-green/Oolong tea, in my opinion, is still a single estate Darjeeling (to be truly accurate, most 'black' Darjeeling is really only 90% oxidised, so it's actually Oolong). I like stronger tea, so I enjoy second as well as first flush Darjeeling.

But the best brand? If you're buying from a seller that can tell you on which estate a Darjeeling was grown, then the likelihood is that it'll be better than something labeled simply as 'Darjeeling'. The estimation is that 40,000 tonnes of Darjeeling are sold worldwide, while only 10,000 tonnes are grown. Logically, one isn't always entirely sure that purchased Darjeeling was actually grown there.

Again, I'm very grateful for the question. Clearly the answer you'll get is entirely objective. I like thinking about how to make loose-leaf tea drinking more attractive. If I were a tea snob, it'd be the worst way of going about the whole thing.

What about you other tea obsessives? When someone asks you what the 'best tea' is, what might you say? I know on the face of it, it's an impossible question. But please jump in and claim your stake on this issue.

Did I mention that blog comments are encouraged?


  1. I'll go along with Yorkshire Gold as best branded tea as I too like a stronger cup. I have heard they vary the blend between regions to suit the water, but have no proof. To me the true value of loose tea is to be able to see the clear jewel colours, to watch leaves unfurl and to enjoy the aroma as well as the taste. I prefer tea without milk and favour glassware to brew and serve.

  2. T put it simply, the best tea is the one you drink most often and invariably go back to after trying many others. Too simple? Well, I'm a simple kind of girl!

  3. I know I am 'the friend' quoted above (how nice!) and I enjoyed reading this entry. I am no connoisseur of tea, probably because I have always been a coffee drinker. I would never order a tea anywhere until very recently and only drank it if someone made it for me. However, I dislike instant coffee and I would much rather drink tea than that. I would like to experiment a bit more now and will use your ideas as a starting point. Thanks for answering so fully x

  4. I'm actually drinking Yorkshire Gold right as I type this. It's definitely my go-to tea. I try not to say that I have a favorite, because I there are so many teas that I haven't tried. If I had a favorite, then I'd probably be less inclined to try new teas. But I definitely gravitate towards black teas most, and then Oolong.

  5. The 'best tea' is a tea well-remembered, a tea made for you and most importantly tea you can trust. That said, I have gone into the fact that puer tea is the best tea to drink. Very original and vast variety of flavors, long-lasting, can be sustainably sourced and is like a friend with which you can grow old.