28 February 2013

Product Review - Whittard of Chelsea Tea - and How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea


If you've been reading Delightful Repast for any length of time, or following me on Twitter (@delightfulrepas), you know that a good strong cup of black tea is my beverage of choice (and has been since the age of two-ish). Whilst I do use the occasional teabag, I most often use loose leaf tea. I have several favourites: Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Earl Grey and some proprietary house blends of companies in England. 

Whittard of Chelsea recently sent me three of their blends for review: Afternoon, Earl Grey and English Breakfast (comes in a Whittard gift set). Whether I'm reviewing a product I've purchased or one that was given to me, I always tell my readers what I really think. As I say to brands on my PR page, my opinions are not for sale. I brewed the teas in my usual way (see below) and tasted them with and without milk (I use 2%).

I've drunk many brands of English Breakfast tea, and they are all different. Whittard's is a blend of malty Assam for strength, crisp Ceylon for depth and mellow Kenyan for colour. This is a great wake-up tea. Good without, but I love it with just a splash of milk. A splendid way to greet the day!

Next I tried the Earl Grey, a lighter tea than English Breakfast. Earl Grey is a tea some brands just don't do well. One brand I'm thinking of tastes very much like a popular pine cleaner! Not the case here. Whittard's excellent Earl Grey is a blend of Indian and China teas flavoured with the characteristic bergamot. Traditionally an afternoon tea, I drink it pretty much around the clock! Usually drunk without milk or with just a dash (I used 1 teaspoon), I liked it both ways. 

I saved Afternoon for last because it is unique to Whittard, being a house blend created by Mr. Whittard in the 1940s. It's an aromatic blend of black and green teas flavoured with jasmine and a touch of bergamot. It's a much lighter tea than I am accustomed to drinking. I don't really consider green tea tea; tend to lump it in with herbal infusions. Of course, that is not the case; green tea is "real" tea made from the same plant as black tea. If you are a fan of green tea, you would probably enjoy this fragrant blend.

The next Whittard of Chelsea teas I'd like to try are the Darjeeling, 1886 Blend and the organic Earl Grey and English Breakfast.


How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea 

To make a proper cup (pot, really) of black tea, just before a kettle of freshly drawn water comes to the boil, warm the teapot with hot water, empty it, add one measuring teaspoon of tea leaves for each 6 or 8 ounces of water (depending on the strength you prefer). Immediately (that's why the teapot is sitting on the stove in the photo above) pour in the freshly boiling water, let it stand for 5 minutes, stir, and then strain into cups. If you prefer to use a tea ball, be sure it is large enough to allow the tea leaves to unfurl. Serve with sugar or sugar cubes, thin slices (not wedges) of lemon and a small pitcher of milk (never cream).

Note: If you drink a great deal of tea throughout the day--or work in an office where people are constantly boiling water for tea, French press coffee, hot chocolate, soups and noodles--you might take a look at the Zojirushi Water Boiler and Warmer and read my review of it.

What are your favourite teas?

42 comments:

Cranberry Morning said...

Sounds wonderful and I love those canisters!! Thanks for the refresher in making the proper cup of tea. I need to get some loose leaf tea. I have many types of tea bags, but from what I've read, putting tea in bags means they've been able to include stems as well as leaves. Hmmm. Tricky.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Judy! And please pass along my "refresher" to any restaurants you visit - almost none serve a proper cup of tea!

There *are* a few quality teabags out there, but ... To check the quality of some you might have on hand, open one up and compare the contents to the tea leaves in my photo.

Softie said...

I bet those were delicous. I love those canisters too.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks for commenting! And, yes, these little canisters are gorgeous! They go perfectly with my blue and white china.

Southerner said...

Jean i have a whittards shop about a mile from me. you must tell your readers they also sell a beautiful rannge of teapots , mugs and tea cups all with the whittard name on the bottom of them. They are all made of bone china. I have selection of Whittard teapots. and a couple of mugs. I alternate between drinking Twinings and Whittards teas. Of course Twinings is a much older firm. Jane Austen used to buy her tea from Mr Twining in The Strand and the shop is still there.

All the best,
Tony

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Tony. Good to know that about Jane! Twinings (Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Darjeeling) have been my "regular" tea for most of my life. I slip in Yorkshire Gold, Fortnum & Mason, etc, once in a while too. Glad to be adding Whittard to my rotation! I must get one of their lovely teapots. Of course, my husband (who has lost count of the teapots around here) will question my need for yet another!

Taryn said...

I think I'll go make myself a cup of tea now..:)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Taryn, that's *always* a good idea! Think I will, too!

Bernideen said...

Before it was discontinued, I sold a Whittard Afternoon Tea - loose that came with a silverplate infuser - it was very cute - but alas, gone.....
You have some great info here and I am so glad you linked to "Open House".

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Bernideen! Does your shop do mail order?

Oregon Kimm said...

There's a Whittard's right off of Picadilly Circus. It's become a tradition of mine to visit it and stock up before coming home. Great gifts there!!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

The virtues of tea are not wasted on me. But you already know I cannot abide the stuff. Have tried. Ergo, I salute you tea-drinkers, admire your “art” – it really is an art from brewing to sipping – and merely say that’s an interesting stove you have…

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Kimm, that's a tradition I'd like to adopt! I've heard the shops are lovely, and a visit to one, perhaps at Picadilly Circus, is definitely in my future.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Sully. Oh, and not sure what you find interesting about my stove, but the most interesting feature to me - the warming drawer at the bottom - is also the least used. The two things I appreciate every day are its closed burners and the continuous grate.

Chatty Crone said...

Now I didn't know all this about tea. I love tea. I love Earl Grey - I didn't know breakfast brand was darker then the regular one. I usually drink my from tea bags. lol

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Sandie, thank you! Loose tea or teabags, we tea drinkers have to stick together!

Ruth Schiffmann said...

I am not a tea drinker but I have been wanting to stop over and say hello. I haven't been trying any new recipes lately, but I'm hoping to get back in the swing of things soon and I will be scouting through old posts for something (easy) to make =)
I hope you are well, Jean.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Ruth, thank you. So good to hear from you! I have an easy one coming up next week - Irish Brown Soda Bread. And watch for another grassfed organic beef giveaway.

Mrs. Tuna said...

Lately I've been doing Peach tea and then chilling over ice. Yum!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks for the tip, Mrs. Tuna! That sounds like something I need to serve by the pitcherful at summer barbecues!

Julia | JuliasAlbum.com said...

Another great post about tea! I love to use loose tea leaves (no tea bags), and my pantry is stuffed with tea. Hot drinks, tea especially (I am not a coffee drinker), is my favorite choice of drinks.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Julia! I agree. I like hot tea much better than cold drinks.

Sippity Sup said...

I am a fan of green tea and often start my day with it. I'll keep my eyes open for these teas. GREG

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Greg. Seems like most times I have green tea, it's iced. Bet that Afternoon blend with black and green would be great iced.

Mr. P said...

I didn't know their afternoon blend was so exciting! I'll have to check it out. Whittards is EVERYWHERE in the UK...

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks so much for commenting, Mr. P. I wish Whittard shops were everywhere in the US!

Charles said...

Oh, tell me about it. Some places really do not do Earl Grey well! I think the whole reason some people dislike it so is because they've probably never had a good cup. It's really one of my favourites. I'm really into darjeeling right now, but my absolute favourites are probably Keemun and Rose Pouchong (the latter, or maybe both may be proprietary Twinings blends, but sadly I can't find them anywhere :(. Still - am going to England soon... must try and source them somewhere!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Charles, you've just told me about a tea I don't know. Rose pouchong. Never heard of it! I'll be on the lookout for it. Let me know if you find a source for it and the Keemun.

Brooks Walker said...

I need to reconnect with tea...I've been missing the process of getting a pot on. Jean, you're so right about a proper sized tea ball - wiggle room is important to allow maximum exposure to the tea leaves. Cheers from NorCal!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Yes, Brooks, you do! Nothing goes better with your beautiful and delicious cakes than tea. Cheers!

Kathy Shea Mormino said...

Hi! I’m new follower of your blog and would like to invite you to join me at my weekly Clever Chicks Blog Hop:

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/03/clever-chicks-blog-hop-24-and-three.html



I hope you can make it!



Cheers,

Kathy Shea Mormino

The Chicken Chick

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Well, I'm a clever chick alright, though I don't "keep" chickens - not yet anyway! My next door neighbor has two ducks. I love hearing them quack every so often. Makes me feel as if I'm in the country.

Yenta Mary said...

My Irish grandmother always used to say that a proper pot of tea requires two tea kettles: one for heating the water for the tea itself, the other for heating the water that will then heat the teapot. Loved seeing that you included this critical detail! Not that I'm surprised, of course ... :)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Mary! Your grandmother was so right. I actually have three kettles - the white Chantal pictured, another in yellow, and a huge stainless steel number that holds about a gallon. I don't keep count of my teapots - the number is probably bordering on Crazy Woman!

Beth said...

I really enjoy tea, and so many people don't know how to prepare it. Thanks for your great post!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Beth! It's really a problem here in the US.

LANA said...

Those teas look wonderful. I like to start my day off with a hearty Irish Breakfast tea, afternoons and evenings I usually stick with Earl Grey decaf. I usually use teabags, lazy I guess, and my brand of preference is Twinnings and Barry's Irish. I have the little brown betty teapot and a tea cozy I bought in a tearoom that is really thick and quilted, keeps the tea hot!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Lana! I love Twinings too. I've never tried Barry's Irish--I'll look for it. Isn't it amazing how well those thick quilted tea cozies work?

kristin said...

I love Whittard's of Chelsea. I found them originally on a business trip to London, when I wandered into their shop in Covent Garden. Every time I'm in London, now, I stop by.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Kristin, I'm so jealous! I would love to visit a Whittard shop in London!

Kitty, Tea at Three said...

Hi Jean, Love your white kettle! I hope you get to London to enjoy a cuppa:-)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Kitty! Yes, I long to see London again. It's been far too long.

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