Punjana Irish Breakfast: My St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

Punjana Irish Breakfast Tea

Of the many gifts the Irish gave the world, at least two were intended to be tossed back frequently: extra stout beer and strong black tea. I hardly touch alcohol these days, but I do appreciate a strong Irish tea.

My St. Patrick’s Day celebration began early in the morn whilst changing my son’s poopy diaper. The blueberries he ate the day before turned his stool a dark, mossy green — a reminder to me that this was the day to pay tribute to the Emerald Isle.

Since my last visit to a Big Lots store (about 5 years ago) they’ve added an international foods section, which happens to stock an Irish tea I’ve been wanting to try. Oh what my life has come to. The tea in question is Punjana Irish Breakfast, and drinking it — in addition to wearing a green shirt — would be my only commemorative activity of the day.

The tea itself was a pleasant surprise. I read about how flavorful it was compared to other Irish teas — a point that was proven true.

While its body isn’t as thick and its taste isn’t as malty as Barry’s or Lyons brand teas, it seems to exhibit a brighter and sweeter tone. I steeped one tea bag for A Punjana Toast to St. Patrick's Dayabout 5 minutes (much longer than the Irish brands mentioned above), yet I didn’t detect any bitterness in taste.

Punjana Irish Breakfast tea stood up well to milk and only required a little honey. I have 79 more tea bags which I intend to drink in the afternoon at work — hopefully with the help and in the company of others. Here’s to the Irish!

UPDATE 3/20/2012: Punjana Irish Breakfast tea steeps just as quickly as other Irish brands. If you give the tea bag a nudge or two while steeping, you can get a perfect cup in about 2 minutes. Five or more minutes will result in bitterness.

UPDATE 4/6/2012: This is great f***in tea! My new favorite.

Tie-Guan-Yin Z078 from Upton Tea

Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong 2nd Grade from Upton Tea

Upton Tea sells many teas you should know about. This review concerns their Tie-Guan-Yin 2nd Grade (product code Z078).

Tie-Guan-Yin is a variety of Oolong created through a series of steps that involve sun withering and leaf tossing. Sometimes Tie-Guan-Yin is roasted for a darker color and rich flavor, but not this one.

I placed a big spoonful of tea leaves — which my coworker said looked like pot — in a tea filter, added boiling water, and let step for 3 minutes. It brewed to a dark yellow color, similar to many green teas I’ve had.

This impressive Tie-Guan-Yin was smooth and slightly sweet. I did not detect any bitterness or acidity — very pleasant all around.

While black tea may be my preference, I will certainly schedule this Tie-Guan-Yin into my day until the sample packet is empty. After that, I have more Upton Tea samples to work through; however, I will someday return Tie-Guan-Yin #Z078.

PG Tips vs Twinings English Breakfast Tea: A Tea Bag Battle

PG Tips vs Twinings English Breakfast

It’s a battle of two tea bags — a little workplace frivolity instigated by my co-worker, who recently purchased a pack of Twinings English Breakfast from Walmart. So, which delivers a better brew — the traditional stringed tea bag from Twinings (very common in America), or the state-of-the-art meshed floater from PG Tips?

Comparing these two teas is a bit like comparing Budweiser and Bud Light beer. But which one is which?

I’ve depended on PG Tips for years. What it lacks in complexity, it makes up for it in body, strength, and malty goodness. Twinings English Breakfast is something I’ve had maybe once and never considered again. I believe both brands contain blends of Assam, Kenyan, and Ceylon teas, but I don’t know for sure.

PG Tips wins this contest hands down. When I drink a “breakfast tea”, I want a full body that will stand up well to milk and a little bitterness, which I like to temper with honey. It brews perfectly in about 2 minutes.

Twinings English Breakfast was better than expected. If you want a moderately strong tea that can be drunk without milk and/or sweetener, it’s a decent option; however, there are more flavorful loose leaf teas out there that better serve this purpose (including English Tea Store’s Scottish Breakfast, reviewed recently at Second Cuppa). Approximately 4–5 minutes will yield the desired result.

I’ve read (but not yet verifed) that the UK and US versions of Twinings are not the same. I don’t believe the same is true regarding PG Tips.

In summary, PG Tips is the Budweiser and Twinings English Breakfast is the Bud Light. Good night.