Breakfast tasting

Tulips of Skagit Valley 2016.
We spent a little time visiting the tulip fields. They were already peaking the first week in April.

Each Spring we make a valiant attempt to get to the Skagit Valley to enjoy the Tulip Festival. Some years we do it up right with a grand tour of a grower’s facility and other years we are content with gawking at the incredible displays of color.  This year we towed a trailer over with a piece of potato planting machinery the previous day, so we had the empty trailer behind us as we meandered through the valley.  The daffodils were almost gone and the tulips were at their peak the first week of April. Have you ‘done’ the Tulip Festival?

Ruby Sue's Tea Shop, La Conner, WA.
Ruby Sue’s Tea Shop in the town of La Conner carries Harney & Sons Fine Teas; we came home with some.

To shake things up a bit we parked on a back street of La Conner to walk through town as it had been a few years since we last visited. ( If you haven’t been to this sweet little town, you should put it on your bucket list right now.)  Lots of artist galleries, there are some fun foodie places with terrific seafood, and a smattering of other places along with seaside village charm.  Our stops this visit were Ruby Sue’s Tea Shop and The Wood Merchant as we were a bit early in the day for many others; we have restocked the tea cupboard.

Our tea haul included Irish and Scottish Breakfast teas; we have English Breakfast from Germany.  All are blends of black (oxidized) tea leaves [Camellia sinensis] from China, Shri Lanka, India,  and other Asian countries.  We spent a blissfully slow Saturday morning comparing the three teas: measuring the loose tea into the tea balls, boiling the water just right, smelling the aromas as the steam rose, ah, yes.  The teas steeped for four minutes, recommended steeping time is 3-7 minutes.  I don’t care for the rough tannins that long steeping releases; besides, this was to taste the nuances of each tea to compare them and that was enough before the temperature of the water dropped too far for ideal extraction.

Breakfast Tea Tasting

The English Breakfast tea (Tee Handelskontor), possibly the most recognized, is a medium sized cut leaf: with smokey, earthy aromas and flavors with smooth tannins and minimal acidity.

The Scottish Breakfast tea (Metropolitan Tea Co.), most obscure of the three, is a large cut leaf: similar aromas, but more earthy than smokey aromas and flavors with dusty tannins and mild acidity.

The Irish Breakfast tea (Metropolitan Tea Co.), also fairly common, is pelletized rather than flat leaf: more barnyard than earthy aromas and flavors with gritty tannins and crisp acidity.

I add a smidge of honey to each of mine while hubby adds a tablespoon of creamer.  Those additions shift the mouth feel of the teas and play with the acid and tannin perceptions.  The creamer smooths the rougher tannins while the honey balances the acids.  We tasted all three teas without amendments first, then we sat back and enjoyed them as we would typically have then.  Like wine, tea is all about where it came from and who blended it.  If we purchased another trio of breakfast teas we might find different results.  Recently two tea companies were suggested: Builders and Harney & Sons Fine Teas.  I don’t think Builders will be my cuppa but Hubby might like it, but Harney & Sons definitely has a lovely selection of teas. In another post I will tell you about one we brought home with us.

The colors, aromas, flavors and acid/tannin balances of tea have similar components to wine.  (Although I don’t drink coffee, it does too.)  When I slow down to explore what I am eating and drinking, to really taste it and enjoy, I tend to need less volume and more variety. How about you? Cheers!