Character: A delicate tea with a distinct muscatel flavour from the district renowned for producing the world's most expensive teas.
How and when to serve: Serve with or without milk. Mainly an afternoon drink, however, this classic tea can be drunk at any time of day. Origin: Foothills of the Himalayas. Stenght 1.
* Prices may differ from that shown
Darjeeling tea is a light, fragrant tea which is perfect if you don't like the heavy builders' style teas. It has a lovely golden colour and a slightly floral fragrance, very pleasant.
Tea is graded carefully when it's sold, and any tea which does not state the quality grade is likely to be very low quality. This, unfortunately, constitutes most of the tea brands available in British supermarkets. This is an ungraded Darjeeling. It's also a blend from different places, so lacks the character and quality that single-estate teas have. I brewed it for a couple of minutes and it seemed rather strong and bitter. The leaves are small and poor quality (higher quality tea is not so fragmented and has whole leaves).
It's OK if you can't find anything better, but if you have the time I recommend trying to find something of a higher quality. Darjeeling is a wonderful tea, and if you can get hold of a good quality one it's delicate and golden with no hint of bitterness. Whittards sell some fantastic ones, available in store and online.
It's definitely better than the other mainstream brands though, so 3* for that.
Like most English people I like a cup of tea, and having recently had a cup of relatively rare and expensive Tazo brand of Darjeeling which I loved I was keen to find a replacement in the local supermarket/shops. Twinings, having a reputation for being fine tea makers, seemed like a good place to start. So how was it, did this supermarket brand taste as good as the more upmarket one?
Appearance: A deep golden colour, not quite as pale as Ceylon and only marginally lighter than Assam or English breakfast tea. Only a tiny amount of milk will turn it very pale.
Aroma: Much like any other tea but with a slight earthy smell.
Taste: Again similar to most other mass-produced tea but with a pleasant and subtle grassy, earthy flavour which I'd expect from darjeeling, and what I was looking for after the Tazo equivalent, however it just isn't as fresh and intense as that brand was.
As far as widely available mass-produced teas go, Twinings Darjeeling is satisfactory if you cannot get your hands on a more upmarket (or expensive!) product and much better than a supermarket's own brand which is indistinguishable from PG Tips (not a bad thing but not what you'd look for in a specialty tea)
What is Darjeeling?
Darjeeling tea is often called the "champagne of teas". Such comparisons are not entirely appropriate. For instance, this doesn't fizz, and banging a teapot of it against the hull of ships on their maiden voyage isn't really recommended. But it does have a certain delicacy of flavour and a fragrance to it that make the phrase not entirely inappropriate.
The rules for calling a product "Darjeeling" are quite strict. To get that appellation, the tea has to be grown, produced, manufactured and processed in tea gardens in the Darjeeling area, a beautiful, hilly part of West Bengal, India.
How do I make it?
Tea nuts will say that the best way to make it is to use water that has boiled and then cooled a little. For two large cups, place half a teaspoon of leaf into a pot, and cover with water. Leave for five minutes, strain and drink. Really, though, provided you don't overload on the leaves, this makes a bloody good cuppa however you make it.
What does it taste like?
Darjeeling is technically an oolong tea though it's often referred to as a "black" tea. You may have heard about Oolong in the media lately, because Oprah has been shouting its merits as a diet aid from the rooftops (apparently, a cup of tea does suppress your appetite a little). When you brew it, you get a cup of very light
brown, thin, perfumed liquid tasting of muscatel. Technically, you're supposed to drink it on its own (i.e. without milk, which tends to ruin it).
What's the Twinings stuff like?
Twinings Darjeeling can be bought in virtually any large supermarket, and costs about £1.50 for a packet. Given that you only need about half a teaspoon of leaves to brew a pot, it'll last ages, even for even total tea addicts.
It makes a pleasant everyday cuppa, a little bit more luxurious and more refreshing than traditional English teas which are really black, tannic and milky.
If you're a real tea enthusiast, though, you'll probably want to stick to single estate Darjeelings from specialist tea shops like Whittards! This can't really compete with those, but then it's in a completely different price bracket. If, like me, tea is your life blood, then this is a great one to buy for your daily fix!
The packaging is recyclable cardboard with a thin plastic sleeve, so good marks there. However, the tea isn't fair trade or organic, which is a shame. Twinings really ought to try to sort this out - these days, there's no excuse!
I've never been a fan of twinings tea. I don't have any intention of going through and reviewing every Twinings brand as that would be overkill, but I think that its worth using my favourite style of tea, the light, delicate and distinctively flavoured darjeeling to make a point.
Now, I drink this style of tea maybe four times a day and its fair to say that the Twinings variety is fairly adequate of you just want to maintain your habit and get your caffeine fix. Providing you drink loose leaf and not teabags (dunk a teabag for more than ten seconds and the flavour is marred by the chemicals used on the bag to keep it white)you'll be rewarded with an average tasting fairly delicate light tea that is perfectly comforting and enjoyable to drink. However, when compared to a non supermarket brand like taylor's of harrogate, betty's or Whittard you'll be amazed at how little freshness there is in the mass produced Twinings alternative. Good darjeeling should have a spellbinding aroma that twinings lacks and the flavour should be distinctive; it should do more than just slip down the throat in a hot and wet way.
Buy Twinings Darjeeling over other supermarket brands definitely - that is if you're not interested in issues like fair trade and where the tea comes from - becasue next to PG Tips or Typhoo there's no comparison. But this is stilla t heart a brand produced for supermarkets and not die hard tea connoisseurs.