This week, I received a pack from Twinnings with samples of their English Breakfast range. Twinnings English Breakfast Tea have three strengths – decaf, regular and extra strong.
I love my tea. To me, tea time is a moment of pause, a break from the crazy rush. It is a moment that can be enjoyed with people in social gatherings or even just in the company of your own thoughts. Nowadays, it is more rushed as I try to achieve deadlines at work.
I am quite particular with the flavour of my tea – I love my Indian Chai. Not the prepackaged stuff – that just tastes of preservatives and I am yet to find one that has the right balance of flavours; I mix my own concoction to brew my tea in. However, that’s not to say that I won’t have the quick plain (read: unflavoured) tea. The only aspect that I would not compromise on is the temperature. I need my tea really hot. I don’t want to down it like a shot. I want the theatre of the steam escaping the cup, being able to hug the mug to ward off the chills of the cold winter (or to simply enjoy the enveloping warmth of the mug), the time it takes for me to be able to enjoy the brew…the works.
My secret for my scaled down version of Indian Chai is cardamom. My tea is incomplete without cardamom! I crush a cardamom pod to release the oils and aromatics and let it infuse into hot water. Add milk and let it come to the boil. That’s when I add a tea bag (or two – depending on how strong I want my tea).
My brother does a more elaborate version of Chai that involves ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and of course cardamom. He adds a bunch of other spices, but won’t let me in on the secret and the ratios of each ingredient. Oh, and he uses tea leaf as opposed to tea bags (too processed he says!).
To say that it is aromatic is an understatement. One sip of his version of Chai immediately takes me back to those wonderful moments, huddled under an umbrella at the local Bombay Chowpatti sharing snacks like Behl Puri and Dahi Vada with friends or sitting with my family, dunking biscuits into the tea as my dad reads the newspaper and my mom potters around planning dinner just as the sun begins to set.
I don’t try to find out the recipe from my brother, because that way, it becomes an excuse to hang out and relive those memorable moments.
The Twinnings English Breakfast tea is quite delicious. I have to admit that I prefer the extra strength tea bag; the regular strength version is just not my cup of tea (I would need to add two bags for my brew and let it steep). I will leave the decaf for my friends who love tea, yet need to restrict their caffeine intake. I absolutely adore the range of black tea from Twinnings and in the last 5 years, I am yet to find another brand that is comparable in flavour and strength.
Are you a tea drinker? What are your favourite flavours?