Restaurant and Food Reviews by William P. Meyers

Red Rose Tea

November 24, 2009

This site is powered by Red Rose Tea. It is my daily tea, usually twice a day. I can't remember exactly when I switched to Red Rose. I used to get A&P or Lipton for my regular tea, from my childhood until some time in the 1980's. Red Rose was a revelation and I have bought it ever since, barring a couple of times when I could not find any. Of course I have tried many specialty teas over the years, your English Breakfast and Prince of Wales and etc., and I like them fine. But I don't believe a product is better tasting simply because it costs more or has a fancy name. Red Rose Tea is practically free when you buy it in a box of 100 tea bags, and think about cost per cup, much better than the fancy teas that come a few bags to a box.

Red Rose is a classic black tea. You get just tea flavor, no adulterants (I hate, I just hate Earl Gray). It is a blend of orange pekoe and pekoe, you can brew it from a gentle orange to a dark brown, yet it is smooth as silk on the tongue. I drink mine without sugar or milk. I guess what I love is the pure tea flavor.

I am growing my own tea now, but the plants are to young to take more than an occasional sample. Green tea is much easier to make than black tea. For green tea you just quickly dry the harvested leaves. You can do that at home.

Black tea is fermented. However, it is not generally fermented by yeast or bacteria like cheese or beer. The leaves are fermented by their internal enzymes. This happens to some extent if you just let a picked leaf dry out slowly, but making good black tea is a labor-intensive art. Black teas are traditionally much more valuable than green teas. Right now there is a green tea fad in the U.S., and there is nothing wrong with green tea, but it is funny to see people paying premiums for inferior stuff.

As with wine, what tea you like is a matter of taste. I do like some occasional variety, the special cup, even going so far as to have non-tea infusions ("herbal tea") when I don't want the moderate amount of caffeine that is in my Red Rose. Which reminds me: coffee gives me the jitters. I find the dose of caffeine in my Red Rose to be far better attuned to my metabolism.

So if you have not tried Red Rose, I suggest you taste it. It is a good tea to have when tea-loving guests visit, too.

Finally, there are the ceramic figurines, one per box of 100 tea bags. The old ones are collectible. As the years have passed they have become tackier and tackier. The box I opened today had a orange pumpkin with a kitten's head popping out of it. Maybe it is time to re-do the classics, or at least bring out a line that makes you think of fine tea, instead of elementary school ceramics class.

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