Tea is the most popular and probably the most consumed category of beverages. Its a cultural necessity in many parts of the world, being an important aspect of ceremonies and prestige. Growing up in India, tea has been the norm in every household, and a social bonding event. Wikipedia has a comprehensive overview on the history, impact, use, and categorisation of tea across the world. There are several ways to categorise tea. I like to follow the commonly used way of identifying tea using the processing method. On this page, I keep track of the teas, shops, and brands I've consumed and my thoughts about them. Consider this my tea diary.
Earl Grey My favoured black tea. Great taste, classical status, and refreshing with a lemon. Earl Grey has many varieties in Dublin. The best one to go by is called "Earl Grey Superior" in Wall & Keogh. I prefer the leaves rather than tea packets or bags as they allow better control of taste and usually taste more intense. If leaves are not available, Twinings is the best brand for an authentic taste.
Chai The quintessiantial way of making tea in India. Chai as a term is a collective concept representing all the different varieties and recipies for making tea in the homes and streets of India. For me, a good cup of homemade chai is made thus: (i) boil slightly more than a cup of water (ii) add to the boiling water - crushed ginger and cardamom - simmer for 30seconds (ii) add one teaspoon if black tea is powdered, or two if it is dried long leaf (iii) boil the mixture for 30 seconds for a mild cup, longer for more intense tastes. If milk is to be added, separately prior to making tea, heat milk until it is boiling, and add this milk to a sieved cup as needed.
Russian Caravan A blend of oolong, keemun (black), and lapsang souchong (black). Tastes incredibly smoky and dry. The oolong provides the base notes, while the keeum and lapsang souchong provide smoked overtones. Requires knowledge of how to prepare the mixture to have a good taste. Most shops do not contain a decent tasting set, and I've had mixed results with Wall & Keogh.
Black Tea with Rose An interesting mixture from Clement & Pekoe consisting of Chinese black tea and rose petals. The taste was similar to Eary Grey in providing basic tones of black tea with overtones of rose instead of bergemot.
Black Tea with Vanilla Another interesting mixture from Clement & Pekoe consisting of black tea and bourbon-scented vanilla. Its made by Tom Crean brewery in Kenmare. The taste is similar to Eary Grey and Black Rose Tea in that with a rich vanilla scented infusion that has hints of bourbon.
Sencha A popular Japanese green tea that has a rich grassy flavour. Taste heavily depends on quality of the leaves and method of preparation.
White Tea, Lemon, and Rosemary A curious mixture from Clement & Pekoe that combines a light flavoured white tea with lemon and rosemary to produce a fragrant tea that smells delicious. The additiona of rosemary (leaves and sticks) creates a lingering aroma and flavour that first balances and later enriches the basic notes of tea leaves.
Jin Xuan (Milk Oolong) A rich flavoursome variety of oolong from Taiwan that gets its name from the comparison with milky feeling of flavour when drinking it. A safe bet to get when unsure about oolongs.
Dong Ding (Red Oolong) The more expensive cousing of other oolongs, this is a variety from Taiwan that has rich aromas and can produce woody notes depending of manufacturing processes.
Mint Refreshing, and good for digestion.
Peppermint Same as mint, but with a more pronounced 'cool' flavour. Peppermint tastes good whether hot or cold.
Chamomile As 'weedy' as a tea can get, chamomile has an intense flavour and dense notes that do not go well with other flavours. Often consumed under the misconception of producing a good sleep, chamomile actually promotes peeing - so not a good idea to take just before bed.
Rooibus Intense grassy flavours with a hint of woodiness. Rooibus is a great alternative to the black and green teas without containing any caffeine. Goes really well with ginger, citrus, lemongrass, and other mixtures that enhance the flavours of its base notes.