Monthly Archives: March 2010

Take It From the Monkey

PG Tips Black Tea

(Check out their Web site here; available at your local grocery store.)

I was enchanted by PG Tips’ Black Tea, and very happy to have a reader, Mary K., recommend it. As you can see, it has a nice reddish-brown color, full-bodied (yes, you can use this word to describe tea, not just beer), and a delight from start to finish. A mix of Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan teas, this is truly a quality, rich black tea. Take it from the monkey, as he touts in their ad campaign, “It’s the taste.”

Part of that taste comes from the excellent brewing capacity of their tea bags.  The pyramid shape gives the tea leaves room to unfurl and release their flavor. It gives you the brew of a loose-leaf with the convenience of a tea bag (if you want to call using a strainer or teapot an inconvenience).

Their box is chock-full of information about their company and product, proclaiming themselves “England’s No. 1 Tea” (sorry, Darvilles, no royal appointment required). They even give tips on teamaking (as PG Tips should), such as warming the teapot before brewing. Their founder, Arthur Brooke of Manchester, England, established the company in 1869 as Brooke, Bond & Co., “Bond” being a made-up entity to round out the name. Who’s to say there’s a right or wrong way to name a company? They started producing tea bags for the public in 1930, calling it “Pre-Gest Tee,” tea that should help the digestion (abbreviated to “PG”). “Tips” comes from their dedication to selecting only the finest quality tea, using the top leaves and buds of the plants.

If this isn’t enough enticement to try PG Tips, just visit their Web site to watch a video of Monkey and Al. The most recent video will play upon entering the site; however, I most enjoyed their morning tea together, so click here to see it. As an American, I’m convinced that all British people choreograph their tea preparation with such dramatic flair.


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Daily Greens

Daily Green Tea with Honey and Ginseng
by The Republic of Tea
(Available here.)

We’re all looking for ways to get our daily amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle. Consider boosting your immune system and fighting off germs part of an even healthier lifestyle. Finding a daily green tea to give you antioxidants is a step in the right direction, but what if this tea could also boost your immune system?

A coworker offered me Daily Green Tea with Honey and Ginseng once and I’ve been drinking it ever since. It has wild ingredients, like pollen and lindenflowers, that make it kind of adventurous. For those of you who like trying loose-leaf tea with whole flower heads in it, you know the kind of feeling this conjures up. The touch of honey brings all the ingredients together with a subtle sweetness that masks all the good-for-me components. I usually add just a little bit of sugar to bring out the honey and make it a smidge sweeter.

I bring some of this tea to work with me and drink it at least five mornings a week. Needless to say, I’ve started buying it in bulk. Another great thing about The Republic of Tea: bulk items are listed first under package options, so you don’ t have to search around to find the big quantities you require. Also available: refills for 50 tea bag packages, full leaf, and traveler’s tins of 6 bags.

Some of you may be thinking, Sure, it’s another green tea with supposed immune-boosting capabilities. You’ll just have to try it to believe it. No guarantees from Tea Notes, but you have my hearty endorsement. I’ve given you all the info you need to try it for yourself. What’s holding you back?

A fun discovery when I received my first bulk order: they used the clippings from the tea bags to pack the box. No waste. I like it.

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The Coffee of Tea

Royalty Assam Blend
by Darvilles of Windsor
(Learn more about them here; order there.)

I like to call this blend “the coffee of tea.” It’s very strong and rich. You sort of get that pucker feeling in your mouth like you do when you take a sip of coffee. After it has steeped and you take your first sip, you are engulfed by the thick aroma of this deep blend. Assam tea is so flavorful, it will knock your socks off. The longer you steep, the stronger it gets. Unlike most black tea, though, this one strengthens in half the time. It might be a good idea to taste after 3 or 4 minutes of steep. I like mine strong, so I let it go a little longer.

Assam tea comes, as is apparent in the name, Assam, India. It is fabled that a Scotsman, Robert Bruce, stumbled upon the plant growing in what was then a British colony. That’s the Scottish for you. I don’t think we should let them take all the credit for this wonderful flavor. In light of this, it should come as no surprise that assam is part of the blend for many breakfast teas, including Scottish breakfast tea.

However, in this case, England took control. Darvilles of Windsor is a British teamaker, and, might I add, a grocer by appointment to H. M. Queen Elizabeth II. With a title like that, who wouldn’t try them?  I actually found the Darvilles at a discount store right here in the US, much to their disgust, I’m sure.  But it worked out for them in the end, because now I know they have a Web site. And so do you.

Royalty Assam blend is available as tea bags and loose-leaf.


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Supremely Grey

Earl Grey Supreme
by Harney & Sons

(Available at

I found myself enjoying Harney & Sons tea a few weekends ago at a hotel in town. I was attending a conference for our church and exploring the breakfast spread.  I thoroughly enjoyed their Orange Pekoe, so I made a mental note to look up the teamakers when I got home. Turns out, their site is very well organized and informative. That’s when I spotted it: Earl Grey Supreme. You’re kidding, I thought, No way these guys are trying to perfect a classic like Earl Grey.

I ended up ordering the a box of the Supreme, Orange Pekoe, and Paris. All of them are excellent, but this blog is about the Earl.

This tea assaults your tongue with bergamot and leaves you (no pun intended) warm and satisfied. Have you ever sipped regular Earl Grey and just felt like it lacked something? If you’re a fan of rich, black tea with full-bodied flavor with nothing left to your imagination, this is the tea for you. Bergamot, of course, is a fruit that acts as the key ingredient in Earl Grey tea. It’s a citrus fruit grown mainly in Italy, and the essential oil from the peel is extracted for flavoring.

The Earl, for those of you who may not be familiar with this tea’s history (but neither was I until I did some research), is more formally known as Earl Charles Grey (1764-1845). He supposedly received black tea with bergamot oil from a friend, and the drink was named for him. Apparently Grey was also Prime Minister who made a bunch of politically progressive decisions for the Whig party, but his legacy is overshadowed by his gift of tea. I don’t know if we should feel sorry for him or not. Either way, we have Earl Grey tea, and what a delight it is.

This particular tea comes in loose-leaf, bags, and sachets, all in a variety of sizes and very reasonably priced. Check it out.


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