Flavour, aroma and colour (of the infused tea) are the essential qualities looked at when the quality of teas are assessed.
Consistency, which expert tea blenders try to achieve, is not easily or always obtained.
Tea is a natural agricultural product and seasonal factors can and do, affect the flavour (very similar to wine).
Tea packed at different months of the year will vary in flavour.
Tea producers often wish it can be artificially manufactured to a formula – that would make life so much easier! But then it will be so boring!
Water, location and changes in medication can affect the flavour of tea as well. Storage in an airtight container is also a must.
Additionally one can become slightly desensitised to the flavour by regular use.
For example, visitors to a tea warehouse will often remark on the beautiful aroma of tea when they enter the premises.
Sadly, the people who work daily in that environment cannot enjoy it – they are totally desensitised!
However, if they are away for a week or so they can actually experience the aroma when they return!
A suggestion (if you are experiencing a variation of flavour in the teabag is that you use) is that you try brewing leaf tea (actually cheaper by the cup) rather than tea bags.
This will enable you to vary the quantity used, to give you the brew you desire.
But remember, although brewed tea will usually give you a better tea experience and that all teabags are not bad, you must use GOOD QUALITY TEA AND TEABAGS and not the generally cheap and nasty varieties found in major supermarkets.
Storage of tea in clear glass jars, especially if they are kept outside of pantry cupboards, results in the tea leaves ‘breaking down’ and losing their quality.
Proper storage of tea is important if you want the tea to retain quality, aroma and character.
The natural enemies of good tea are moisture, air and light.
It is quite simple – always use a dry spoon and store your teas in an airtight metal or ceramic storage canister. Another good habit is to occasionally shake the canister.
Follow these rules even for storage of your teabags.
Tea is hygroscopic, which simply means it readily absorbs any flavours and aromas introduced to it or placed close to it.
If you store opened tea or teabags close to strong flavoured items such as coffee or onions, you will have coffee or onion flavoured tea within a day or two.
This is why storage of tea in dry, airtight containers (preferably not clear glass) is important. Moisture, air and light are the enemies of tea and cause the tea to ‘break down’ and lose its particular flavour, aroma and character.
Earl Grey tea is generally black tea flavoured with essence of Bergamot. A milder version is Madame Bergamot which adds cornflowers and lemon.
There are thousands of flavoured teas, black, green or white, some flavoured with actual fruit, flowers, berries or herbs with or without the addition of flavoured oils or other flavouring.
But be warned. Because flavouring can mask the actual tea quality some flavoured teas use poor quality tea. It is recognised that the highest quality flavoured teas come from Hamburg in Germany.
Flavoured teas are best enjoyed and appreciated without milk.