Best English Breakfast Tea?
Does anyone have recommendations for a great stop for tea? We enjoy Samovar and even Lovejoy's -- wondering if there are others?
Also, I am looking for a great brand of English breakfast tea (bag, not loose). Someone in the UK recommended Pratt's brand to me, but I have no luck in finding in it.
Suggestions are much appreciated.
I really like Harney & Sons English Breakfast. They sell the bagged version at Barnes & Noble; I buy looseleaf online (and their Supreme Breakfast, with a touch of smokiness, is off the hook).
I've never been too keen on actual English brands of tea, finding they lack finesse. There was a good NYT article a while back on the new crop of tea bags whose quality is as high as looseleaf that noted, "The English often drink tea with milk and sugar, so they like it dark and strong, just the way cheap tea bags make it."
Dark and strong doesn't come from "cheap tea bags" but from really great English ones! Understand it's all a matter of taste and culture here. Anyway, I'm a Fortnum and Mason fan for some of the more "nuanced" kinds (their Fortmason Blend is to die for). That's the good news. The bad news is that they stopped distributing it in the US. You can probably mail order from F & M, but that gets kind of ridiculous re $$s. I get some whenever I'm in England or whenever someone I know is going, along w/ my every-day bags which are Marks and Spencer's Extremely Strong Teabags. I wonder if the British Food Center in Campbell stocks--or could be persuaded to stock--either. Finally, good places to look are South and East Asian food shops--Lipton's Yellow Label has a good reputation, though...again it's all about taste--it's not dark or strong enough for me!
British Food Center
1614 W Campbell Ave, Campbell, CA 95008
PG Tips and Ty-Phoo are classic. Berkeley Bowl has a British section but I'm not sure what kinds of tea they stock.
I agree with sundeck sue - There's a huge difference in quality of nuance in blends of English Breakfast tea.
I do like the F&M blend. But I actually import mine from "Murchie's" up in Vancouver. They've changed the name to "English afternoon tea", and it's excellent: strong, complex flavor. They sell it either bulk or in teabags.
pass the marmite for my toast, please...
I think you're overgeneralizing. Most of the widely distributed English teabags are crap -- just like most widely distributed mass commercial products. While many English people enjoy a fine cup of tea, most English people use cheap teabags to create a strong brew and add milk and often sugar, which makes using a high-quality, "nuanced" tea pointless. That's not to say that there aren't great teas available from England, just that if you're looking for high quality and "nuance" the average supermarket tea, or even the above-average supermarket tea, is not where you're going to find it.
Personally, I think you're better off buying a good quality tea from a source that does a big volume/turnover than a box of tea that's been sitting on the shelf in a supermarket's "specialty" section for who knows how long. Honestly, I'd rather buy it from Peet's.