Tea is wonderful, as discussed in Part 1 of this topic. But today I’ll tell you how I became a fan of British tea, and why it’s better. Better make a pot for this one.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Another week, another “where did the time go” moment. Last week, BF dragged me out of bed early to run an errand in the Baton Rouge area. We were actually in Prairieville, so there was no visit to Trader Joe’s, Joann Fabrics, or Cost Plus World Market. He went to work at 2:00 pm, so we were under a time constraint. We also needed dog food so we didn’t risk becoming dog food.
While Houston–and most of Texas–is still roasting, we’ve been fortunate with plenty of intermittent rain that keeps the temperatures below 90F degrees. If I could “gift” rain to Texas, I would.
I decided to cut this second blog post of tea into two because it’s just that long. Part three is next. But I have some other news first.
RIP: The Boy
On a few occasions, I’ve mentioned a friend of ours I affectionately nicknamed “The Boy.”
I called him that because, well, we’re old enough to be his parents, but we didn’t mind. His real name is Triston Pennington. A nice guy, well-liked, and had a lot going on with a sense of humor that sneaks up on you. We enjoyed having him over, and he was a favorite dinner guest. He and BF were coworkers and were also occasionally working on something car-related outside of work.
Unfortunately, on Saturday night, it ended. Everyone is stunned. We got the call from their manager just after 3:00 am Sunday morning.
Triston was involved in an accident on the east side of town, and he didn’t make it. He was driving by himself at about 11:00 pm, and we know for certain is that he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The Louisiana State Police’s investigation is ongoing. The funeral is Friday. Triston’s Dad is dealing with so much, and BF has offered to help. He’ll be picking up Triston’s vehicle this week from the impound yard once the LSP finishes its investigation.
Little Roasty Potatoes
On one occasion, BF notified me that Triston would be joining us for dinner while I was in Hammond. Think fast, Amy! I bought a bag of fingerling potatoes at Rouse’s to roast with whatever else I was making. All it took was a light drizzle of olive oil, a shake of salt, and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning on a parchment-lined pan. Mix them to coat, then roast at 425F for an hour in the countertop oven.
The next day, BF came home and told me that Triston really enjoyed the “little roasty potatoes.” When he came back for dinner another time, I cut some larger potatoes down to bite size and did the same thing so he could enjoy them again. Maybe I should call them “Triston’s Potatoes.”
If you are so inclined, please say a prayer for his Dad and everyone who worked with him. We miss him already.
Hatch Chile Days Return
I got a text from Neighbor E this morning. He visited the lovely HEB on Clear Lake City Boulevard and saw the Hatch Chiles on display.
HEB is supposed to have some Hatch Chile dark chocolate tomorrow. E will be all over that, as I would if I were there.
Rouse’s also has Hatch Chiles, but I haven’t made it to Hammond to get some. BF will definitely be unhappy when I do. They’re only available for a little while, so if you’re a fan, don’t wait to buy yours.
Neighbor E also had a visitor this morning:
Egrets are one of the many birds native to the Gulf Coast, as are Great Blue Herons. They’re also weird birds. They just show up anywhere they like. Makes you wonder if they’re related to cats in some way.
Anyway. . .let’s talk tea.
Discovering British Tea
Let me just say that although I love coffee, I also love tea. But now, as I say, I’m picky. Years of watching Britcoms taught me how to make a proper cup of British tea. Except I don’t put lemon in mine.
Many years ago, I was at AWAI’s Copywriting Bootcamp in Delray Beach, FL, where I met many people that I still keep in touch with today. (Thank you, Facebook.) One of them is a British lady, LH, who married an American, and now lives in California.
We were talking one morning over breakfast with another AWAI member from Houston. I happened to mention that they had “real British tea” in the hotel rooms with the coffee supplies. LH replied that she normally just brings her own tea because it usually isn’t. (LH doesn’t like coffee.)
After breakfast, we took a walk down to the closest Publix in Delray Beach, to get some supplies for ourselves and our companion. When we passed that spot in Publix, LH pointed out, “this is real British tea.”
I saw PG Tips in HEB many times, but never paid attention or even bought a box. Turns out, real British tea was right there all along. I said, “Oh, I can buy that at H-E-B when I get home to Houston.”
I did, and it’s delicious! I boiled the water, put the distinctive triangular tea bag in the cup, poured the hot water in, and walked away for a few minutes. Just like you would with Lipton, right? Well. . . .
This must be what Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force pilots drink before they hop into the cockpit of their planes. MAN, that tea is strong!
I worked on the third floor of the Bay Area Building. I felt like I could fly right off that back balcony, singing, I Believe I Can Fly. You get away with that ONE TIME.
I ended up giving the rest of the box to a lady upstairs in ISS who was not only British but drank PG Tips from the time she was small.
It even comes in an extra strong version. Yes, I’ve tried that one time–never again. Avoid anything that makes your teeth wiggle.
Fortunately, PG Tips does come in decaf,
This decaf tastes exactly like the regular version without staying awake for 36 hours. Maybe next order I’ll get a couple of extra boxes, it’s that good.
I’ve seen small boxes of regular PG Tips available in a few places here; Whole Foods is one. I got the extra strong from Vitacost once. I keep the real thing around for emergencies where I need to be awake.
I’m out of decaf right now but will be ordering more soon since it’s not available locally. In fact, I only saw small boxes of decaf in The Fresh Market in Houston, once upon a time.
You Only Get The OOOOH! with Typhoo!
Typhoo is another brand of Britain’s finest tea that comes in a very good decaf version. I have some round bags of Typhoo decaf, but LH kindly sent me a packet of the real thing. More on that in the next post.
I can’t find the picture of this one, but the round tea bags come in foil sleeves to keep them fresh. And the decaf Typhoo is also flavorful.
Typhoo doesn’t have the heart-racing, mind-altering strength of PG Tips, but it’s still an excellent British tea. TV cooking show host Nigella Lawson made cute commercials for the brand a few years ago. On the company’s website, a quote from her mentions that she never leaves the country without a box of Typhoo in her suitcase. Understandable.
Typhoo Tea has graced Britain’s teapots since 1903. Both regular and decaf are available at Cost Plus World Market, Amazon, TeaDog, and The English Tea Store, as well as some grocery stores. I’ve bought it at the Cost Plus stores in Baton Rouge and New Orleans a few times. I bought it frequently in Houston at the Cost Plus on Bay Area Boulevard.
Our British expat friend WF reminds me that “British Tea” isn’t actually grown in Britain. India, Sri Lanka, and a few other places, yes, but not anywhere in the UK.
The “real British tea” that was in our hotel rooms at the Delray Beach Marriott so many years ago was this:
Scottish Breakfast Tea from Taylors of Harrogate, the company that also makes the delicious Yorkshire tea we also like. (Yorkshire happens to be LH’s favorite.) After my return to Houston, I found more of this wonderful Scottish Breakfast tea in Central Market. I was so happy I bought a box.
But life went on and I never bought it again, until recently. Amazon carries this amazing tea, in 20 individually wrapped bags, boxes of 50 un-wrapped tea bags like the one in the picture, boxes of 100, and the loose leaf version. However, I can’t drink that every day, it’s too strong, and there’s no decaf.
I bought two 50-count boxes a few months ago from TeaDog.com (more on them in the next blog post.) The Post Office sent one of those great big vans to deliver the tiny little boxes in a small shipping box. I’m stocked for a while.
Scottish Breakfast Tea Is A Type
There are multiple brands of “Scottish Breakfast Tea.” Turns out it’s a blend that goes well with Scotland’s soft waters. It’s made from a blend of Indian Assam and African teas. Taylors of Harrogate just so happens to be the one I’m familiar with, but I’ll happily try another brand one day.
In addition to Yorkshire and Yorkshire Gold teas, the company also makes decaf. It’s equally good, just like the original. Yorkshire Gold tea is an orange pekoe. They even make a Yorkshire tea for hard water, which someone from Houston reviewed on Amazon.
This brand of British tea has been around for more than 300 years and is enjoyed worldwide. It’s still run by the same family and has a royal crest. It’s considered the preeminent British tea. Readily available in grocery stores and online, the company produces hundreds of different teas. Many come in K-cups.
It’s just plain tea. Compared to the other British teas, Twinings doesn’t have the thing that makes you go oooohhh.
The company has a USA site as well as a UK site. The UK site has more gifting and accessories than the US store has, including a nice range of tea ware. Well, maybe I can order this lovely set from that site.
If the currency exchange rate isn’t too bad one day.
Other Brands Of Tea
There are quite a few British teas available in the US, somewhere. Way too many Americans have tried British tea, either on a visit or some other way like me, and do not want the American cuppa anymore. British brands just seem to taste better, and are made for anyone who is serious about their tea.
Admittedly, I keep several brands around, and BF has no idea what they are. He drinks milk, Coke, and water occasionally, and sometimes orders sweetened iced tea in a restaurant. He wouldn’t know what to do with a cup of hot tea, though I’ve offered him a taste many times. The tea in the pantry is, in his opinion, simply taking up space.
I’ve bought their decaffeinated Afternoon Tea many times at Phoenicia Foods in Houston.
It’s also available online (Phoenicia ships!), as are their other teas, including English Breakfast. Nobody’s ever heard of it here that I’ve found. Ahmad’s is also good tea, regular or decaf, such as their Evening Tea, which I bought occasionally in Houston.
Fortunately, it’s readily available online, and not terribly expensive, either.
There are several brands of tea that are called “builder’s tea”, but there is an actual brand called Builder’s Tea. The term is colloquial for very strong (and inexpensive) tea that builders enjoy.
Truly teas for the workers:
Neither was the US, mate.
I have not personally tried this tea myself. But our friend Beverly recently tried some. She received a box of it in a gift basket some time ago. She posted: “I have a box of Builder’s I’m afraid to try. It has caution markings around the top for heaven’s sake.”
But recently, Beverly decided to make a pitcher of iced tea with Builder’s Tea. Beverly and her family live in rural Georgia, where they have roughly the same weather we have, and iced tea is normal during summer.
Until you make it with real British Builder’s Tea.
Beverly said that after drinking a glass, “I didn’t blink for four hours.”
Don’t say I didn’t warn you, OK?
Tazo’s Awake English Breakfast Tea
I mentioned this in the previous blog post.
Tazo is a readily available American brand. Their Awake stands up to the British teas, but not with nearly the punch of PG Tips.
It has just the right amount of heart racing I need in the afternoon. Not too strong, but a tasty tea that’s close to British. Thankfully, Winn-Dixie carries it locally.
Another American brand that LH introduced me to is Stash, which is a bit stronger than Tazo.
Equally good, and I do buy it occasionally when I find it. Both Stash and Tazo have a wide range of tea flavors, available in most grocery stores and online.
Newman’s Own and Store Brands
Newman’s Own also has an English Breakfast Tea, which, in my opinion, is decaf. It tastes all right, but it won’t give you a boost, a jolt, or even a nudge when you need it. It’s not bad, though.
And then just a few weeks ago, I discovered that Winn-Dixie now has its own brand of teas, including English Breakfast tea.
We were in the Hammond store, and I found some, two boxes for $4, although it’s now $2.69. It’s a good tea, but it’s not nearly as tasty as, well, real English Breakfast Tea.
I don’t see this tea on their app or website anymore, so I wonder if it’s already been discontinued. Still, it’s not bad for $2.69.
Our local Winn-Dixie is being renovated, and it’s almost finished. I’ll have pictures of that in an upcoming blog. More room, more stuff, self-checkouts, and it’s fabulous. BF is not amused.
HEB has its own brand of English Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey, as well as many others. (There’s also a Central Market Organics brand.) HEB has more tea than they had when I shopped there regularly. I remember their store-brand tea being the same high quality as many others I’ve bought. But it’s been a while.
More Coming Soon
The third part of the tea post is next, complete with pictures, including the wonderful box of things LH kindly sent me from California.
I’m working on a couple of other food-related topics, and as promised, will show you the recipe for the blackberry galette. We’re due to make another one for BF soon.