Tea of the Week – Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Darjeeling

Box of tea<– New tea! πŸ™‚ in a pretty box … went shopping this week and happened to be in a big supermarket for once (in terms of physical size of store, rather than size of organization) so checked out their teas … and found this.

Source: Sainsbury’s! Well, the tea is from Darjeeling (which you should’ve guessed from the name), in northern India.

Cost: I think it’s normally Β£1.25 for 50 teabags or 125g loose leaf; as it’s on offer at the moment I paid Β£0.83 for 50 teabags. Fantastic value for a Fairtrade tea, I must say.

Ethics: Fairtrade. Kudos to Sainsbury’s – over the last few years very many of their products have been slowly but surely moving over to being fairly traded (e.g. all the bananas they sell; their hot chocolate including their value super-cheap hot chocolate, their tea and coffee). Definitely definitely Sainsbury’s > Tesco here.

Brewing instructions: Look at the box, see if you see what I see:

Back of box with brewing instructions… 3-5 minutes???

That looked dodgy when I spotted it (far too long), and I thought “well … maybe it’ll work … you should try it” so earlier today I made a mug of tea with 4 minutes’ brewing time (I used a kitchen timer and everything) and it was definitely overbrewed. With the addition of milk it was still drinkable, but definitely overbrewed. So don’t listen to the box!

Brew with boiling water, of course (the box got that bit right). I’d say if you’re adding milk, a maximum of 2 minutes; if you’re not going to add milk then less time.

Appearance: Whilst brewing and before adding milk, it goes this beautiful colour that reminds me of liquid honey …

Tea beginning to brewBrewed tea (no milk)

… and then you add milk and it goes a rather odd and unappealing colour:

Brewed tea (with milk)It’s sort of a yellowish-grey, somehow … for tea, anyway. (NB if I was making this just to drink I’d never make it in a glass mug; in a normal mug it wouldn’t look anywhere near as odd).

Nose / Taste: I think this is a slightly ‘cleaner / brighter’ tasting tea than a normal ‘everyday tea’ blend, but to be honest I’m not sure if I’m just tasting that because that’s what I expect to taste.

It is on the light side of black tea without being weak, and has a bit of a fragrance to it which is rather nice … although look at the claims on the box:

Box with description… ‘unique muscatel flavour’? Um, no. Definitely not. (I had to look up what ‘muscatel’ means and it means ‘like the muscat grape’) – fragrant / slightly floral character, absolutely (although I must say that if you brew it for 3 mins + you will COMPLETELY miss that!) but this is not a fine Darjeeling and they really shouldn’t be trying to imply that it is. It’s an everyday tea (I’m also not sure about this ‘delicious indulgence’ stuff) that’s really quite nice.

Not an amazing Darjeeling, I must say, but at Β£1.25 for 50 teabags it isn’t bad. Perfectly drinkable.

Food match: As an everyday drinkable tea … this will go with lots of things. As it’s slightly lighter, I feel it’s more appropriate late in the evening than other teas (hence drinking it at about 9pm tonight – although if I’m awake at 2am no doubt I’ll regret that …). For some reason I feel like recommending drinking this whilst eating fish and chips. I’m not quite sure why. I’m sure it would be nice, though.

So in summary: good, drinkable everyday tea, at a great price. Don’t follow the brewing instructions on the box or you’ll miss the whole point of buying Darjeeling, because you won’t be able to taste the fragrant / slightly floral notes over all the tannins, but so long as you’re sensible it should be very pleasant.

Cupping a mug of teaMmmm, tea πŸ™‚

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5 Responses to Tea of the Week – Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Darjeeling

  1. Pingback: Tea of the Week – Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Darjeeling … | India Tea

  2. Pingback: Tea Tea Tea … a retrospective | Eudoxia Friday : Thoughtful Eclecticism

  3. Robert Hustwick says:

    An interesting article….I had searched Google to find if anybody agreed with me that the Fairtrade version of Sainsburys own brand Darjeeling tea which has replaced the presumably non-Fairtrade version (same price, same type of box but different colours) is an inferior tea. I wouldn’t agrue with your comment that it is an everyday drinkable tea and I suspect that you have not been as outspoken in your assessment as you might have been. I certainly agree that the tea making method described on the packet will obliterate any vestige of darjeeling taste that it may have had.

    I personally have been very disappointed with the change for two reasons: one is the tea itself and the other is that I shall have to revert to more expensive teas to get the authentic darjeeling taste.

    Incidentally the first couple of packets I bought, when it first appeared with the special offer, were much better than recent purchases, also virtually the same as the non-Fairtrade version.

    Best wishes

  4. Hi Robert,

    I agree that one needs to go to more expensive teas for a proper Darjeeling taste … this definitely doesn’t come close to the real thing, but compared with “standard” tea you can at least tell it’s a Darjeeling (so long as you don’t brew it for 5 minutes …)

    If you’re looking for reasonably priced good Darjeeling and don’t have a particular one in mind you could try looking in char (http://charteas.com/Teas.aspx?cat=DARJ).

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a Darjeeling from them, but I have tasted probably ~12 different teas from there (wide range – green/black/various flavourings / etc) and they have all been good. They seem to have a few different darjeelings and describe them well, and I generally have the impression that they know their stuff.

    Thanks for commenting – I’d also be interested to hear if you have any recommendations for darjeeling πŸ™‚ as it’s a kind of tea that I know I’ve only really tasted mediocre examples of.

  5. Robert says:

    But what has happened to the loose Darjeeling tea? Can’t find it even in the larger Sainburys’ stores. A friend of mine, who used to have his Darjeeling loose tea imported from Darjeeling, thought that the next best Darjeeling tea available in the UK was Sainburys. Can’t see why anybody would want to drink such tea in a tea bag (unless they’re just too lazy to make a proper cup of tea ( ; ).Might as well have PG tips. The tea bag version is not the same taste as the loose tea version. So what has happened to the loose tea version?.

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