Twinings Yunnan Tea

I recently received an email from a company offering to send me some free Twinings tea of my choice to review.

Looking in the kitchen tea cupboard, I observed that there were already 7 boxes of different Twinings teas lurking there, 5 black teas, 1 herbal and 1 green tea:

Taken in the context of the 115 varieties on offer from Twinings, this is a very small sample.

A quick squiz at their website suggested a few others I’d like to try, so I wrote back requesting some teas and a couple of days later a substantial box arrived.

The box contained not the handful of individual selected teabags I had been expecting, but no less than four full boxes of Twinings tea. Also enclosed was a high quality ‘with compliments’ card, adorned with a gold lion:

It felt a bit like Christmas.

Of all of the teas enclosed, the Yunnan tea was perhaps the one I was most excited to try, simply because I had no idea what to expect and it sounded intriguing.

According to the blurb on the box, “Yunnan, in South West China is well known for it’s* magically fertile land and spectacular fields of beautiful flowers. It may be no surprise then to learn that Yunnan is where tea was born over 2000 years ago, and many of the ancient tea trees are still nurtured and picked from today.”

(*A superfluous apostrophe; when I saw this mistake I was reminded of just how difficult it is to achieve perfection. When I was writing my tearoom guidebook I read and re-read the text numerous times, checking for errors. I also had two other proofreaders, and yet when it was published several mistakes were discovered. Frustrating, but part of life!)

The front of the box showed a golden land and an appealing description of the tea inside:

The tea came in teabags:
The first time I brewed this tea, I made it for myself and my two most delightful assistants. I should have taken photographs at the time but I’m afraid I was too intent on the tea consumption.

Brewing it again for myself this morning, I had a second bash at the tasting.

The instructions on the box say that you should “drink it black, or with a drop of milk”. When tasting with the delightful assistants, we all started off trying it black. The thing that struck me most about it was a smokiness that reminded me of Lapsang Souchong.

It reminded me of Lapsang Souchong again today, although the smoke was less prominent than I’ve found it to be in Lapsang Souchong. The other thing that struck me was a silkiness, which was perhaps my interpretation of the “mellow” alluded to on the packet.

When I first tasted it black I found it a little too bitter, but tasting it today I wasn’t put off by the slight bitterness.

In my mind, I was whisked off to the lounge of some quiet country house hotel. The room contained good quality, but comfortably worn, soft furnishings and a log fire producing sweet smelling wood smoke. A grandfather clock ticked soothingly in the corner, there was the gentle murmur of background chatter from other guests, and time slowed to a pleasantly relaxed pace.

I had been fully intending to add milk after the first couple of sips, but looking into my teacup I found that I had polished off the whole cupful before getting round to it.

Luckily I still had some in the teapot for another cup:

During our first tasting, both assistants declared that the flavour was improved by the addition of milk. It then improved for both of them again with the addition of sugar. I didn’t go that far myself, having tasted a sip of a sugared tea, and stuck to the addition to milk only.

Although I would have been completely happy to drink another cup black this morning, there was something nice about it milked up.

The taste became smoother, and the little bitterness present when black disappeared.

Drinking it with milk transported me to the grounds of the aforementioned country house hotel, where I sat in an elegant outdoor chair on a patio, looking out over beautiful gardens under a bright blue sky and blissful sunshine. The twittering of small birds and the buzzing of bees filled the air.

Being ever ready for a small snack, I didn’t drink the tea without a little comestible. A piece of fruit cake slipped down just as well with milky tea as it did with the unmilked version.

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What I deduce from these tea tastings is:

a) I initially enjoyed Yunnan with a splash of milk
b) On second tasting, I found I enjoyed it just as much black
c) I am utterly delighted to have been given a free box of this delightful beverage

I still have another three teas to taste, but I’ll keep them for other posts. In the meantime, I raise my teacup to you, dear bloggers, and say a hearty thank you to Twinings for introducing me to the joy of Yunnan tea.

If you’ve never tried Twinings teas, or even if you have, you might like to know about the free samples you can obtain from their website. I don’t know if this is restricted to the UK or not, but I took advantage of it myself some time ago and it led to me buying a box of tea I might not otherwise have tried.

Incidentally, I wasn’t the only one taking an interest in the tea tasting this morning:

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Categories: Fruit cake, Photography, Tea, Tea tasting, Teacup, Twinings, Vintage china | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

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42 thoughts on “Twinings Yunnan Tea

  1. I think you’ve hit the big-time, Lorna dear, in being sought after for your tea reviews! Jolly good for you. I’m a Twinings fan, myself, but I typically don’t venture further than Earl Grey. And so far, the Earl has transported me nowhere, so perhaps it’s time for me to branch out.
    By the way, it was good of you to note the errant apostrophe and then be so forgiving of it.

    • Thank you Robin, I must say that getting to review tea is a nice little job. Earl Grey is one I think of as a bit of a special treat. I don’t have it often but every now and then I just fancy it and find it delightful. As for being forgiving, my inital reaction wasn’t so magnanimous, but then I was reminded of my own failings in that department and realised I had a bit of a cheek to be so critical.

  2. Twinings has found the perfect taster! And I’ve learned about a new tea!

  3. PS I enjoyed the glimpse into your tea cupboard – someday I must share with you a pic of mine :-)!

  4. How delightful, to receive such lovely samples of tea! The Yunnan looks delicious and I might try some myself. I’m currently enjoying Twinings’ Assam. Your photos are superb, and your ‘comestible’ looks wonderful. :D As for your country house idyll, I can almost imagine M. Poirot tapping gently along the terrace: “Ah, Ma’moiselle, the tisane, it is for me, non?”

    • Ah Jo, you understand me perfectly, it was precisely the sort of gaff Poirot would find himself in. I love the scenes in the TV series when you see him with his tisane, always so elegant in a glass cup. I do recommend the Yunnan, although it might not be to everyone’s taste. Still, you never know if you don’t try. Assam is a real classic isn’t it? A staple in the tea cupboard. That comestible was the fruit cake I made the other day after doing a post about the Christmas cake. I think I should have taken it out of the oven a little sooner it but it’s still quite edible.

  5. Next thing we know you be sampling cakes for Harrods. You’re obviously a bit of an expert now in the tea and cakes department!

    • Sampling cakes for Harrods? How do I get that job?! I thought sampling tea was a bit of a humdinger, but sampling cakes alongside it would be my idea of heaven. Anyone reading this post and wishing to send me cakes, please feel free.

  6. Lorna, I just love your writing…your review was delightful and spot on in my opinion about Yunnan tea…a teeny bit smokey, softened with milk. Had to laugh at your apostrophe “catch” as I recently re-read Lynn Truss’s cleverly written grammar book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves for a second time. She would be proud of you identifying this mis-placed apostrophe to the Twinings people; albeit lovely they sent you samples.

    • My dear Linda, you’re too kind, thank you. I’m glad you agree about the Yunnan, are you a fan of it? Lynn Truss is brilliant on grammar, I’m glad there are people like her standing up for punctuation!

      • Occasionally I enjoy a smokey tea…Yunnan can be good, Russian Caravan usually a bit over the top for me…Lapsang Souchan completely too too smokey for my taste; however, it is quite fun trying various teas…I keep coming back to pure Assam’s as my favorite…although I’m a bit hooked on an English Breakfast (Keemun) from Harney & Sons right now…probably too much info for you but it’s late and I can’t sleep so am catching up on responses :-)

        • You never give me too much information on teas, I’m always interested to read your thoughts, both on here and in your own fine blog. You really can’t go wrong with a pure Assam, can you? It’s a fundamental part of the tea cupboard, in my opinion. I’m sorry you couldn’t sleep and hope that a bit of blogging did the trick.

  7. Great post Lorna. We have been Twinings tea drinkers for a long time, back to the days when the tea came in metal tins. We kept our tins and I think they are now collectors items, ours are still in use. In our part of the world it is difficult to get the selection you would find elsewhere so our tea choices are limited. My husband drinks Yunnan but it is too smoky for my taste.
    Congratulations on getting samples from Twinings to review. They know they are on to a good thing. :-)

    • Thank you Heather, and how wonderful to have the old tins. I bet they would fetch a bit if you were to sell them, but of course much nicer to keep your tea in them. I was thinking when I took the photo of the tea packets that it’s a shame they’re all in cardboard boxes. One day perhaps I will try and seek out some of those old tins, they’d be lovely to have. I’m most grateful to Twinings, I’m very happy to part with cash for their tea but even happier to get it for free!

  8. Loved the peek in your pantry. It’s so tidy!

    When you sent the copy of your book, you enclosed a Twinings Assam teabag. I’d never had it before, and it was amazing.. I got some Republic of Tea loose Assam from the bulk department at my favorite store…delicious, but not exactly the same. I’m trying to locate Twinings Assam nearby, because I must have it again!

    Loved your editing story. One of the things that makes me take so long between posts is editing anxiety! And you’re right, no matter how many times you go over a thing, there are always misses. Plus, it’s almost hopeless to find all mistakes by yourself.

    Your tea “arrangement” was too pretty, but I especially liked the cup. It looks like Spode Blue Italian, but the shaped differently than usual, and the picture at the bottom of the cup is charming. The little dogs watching made me laugh.

    Thanks for all your fun posts, and they all are!

    • You’ve rumbled me Marian, I tidied the cupboard especially for the photo. :-)

      I’m sorry to hear you can’t get Twinings Assam near you, it always puzzles me how companies choose which of their range to export and which keep for home consumption. I wonder what they base their decision on. Are you able to get the Twinings online at all? The down side there of course is that you have to pay postage and packaging, not to mention waiting for it to arrive.

      Editing is an ongoing trauma and I quite understand your reluctance to post, however sometimes you have to accept that the world is never perfect and mistakes are inevitable. I frequently make mistakes in posts, which does annoy me but then I think, well, that’s life. You can only do your best.

      The china is indeed Spode’s Italian. I’ve noticed that this range does vary in cup shape, perhaps dependent on the date of production?

      Thank you for all your comments, warm and generous as ever! :-)

  9. Definitely love Twinings and thanks for the free tea link!

  10. Now that is an exciting parcel to get, I must look out for that tea. I also am quite jealous of your tea cupboard!

    • I was very excited, the more teas the merrier. Sometimes just opening the cupboard door is enough to lift my spirits, I can recommend collecting nice teas as a hobby.

  11. A lovely post Lorna. I have a few teas of the asian variety which I kerp aside and tea from the Yunnan region is quite renowned (as are their noodles-that’s another story!)

    How very fortunate that you’ve been blessed with a lovely range of teas to sample. I dare say some earl great teacakes might appear in your kitchen sometime soon, (or the recipes at least!)

    I’ve been enjoying a busy (and productive week) and I can’t wait for my Sunday afternoon to sit and enjoy a cuppa from (my favourite pot) and scour some more food blogs!

    Look forward to your musings on the other Teinings varieties soon!

    • Thank you Alice, I’d love to know about the Yunnan noodles, perhaps they’ll appear on your blog some time? Earl Grey teacakes sound wonderful!

      I hope you have a lovely relaxing weekend with plenty of tea and tasty treats. :-)

  12. Oooh…a box of free tea. Heaven! If all reviews were as entertaining as yours, I might read more of them. You’ve also made me want to add a dab of milk to my next cuppa. Somehow, it makes it seem a little more decadent. (Like a third, uh second, slice of cake.) Looking forward to your other Twinings posts. Happy sipping, my friend!

    • Thank you Lucinda, it was heaven to receive all that tea. You’re most kind about my review, do you never take milk in tea, or just not in Yunnan? I tried it again today and again had one cup black and one with milk; very nice both ways. I even had it without cake, just to see if I could do it, and I managed fine.

  13. I also enjoyed a peek into your tea cupboard. how positively splendid! so many lovely teas to choose from. i am very happy for you that Twinings has sent you these wonderful teas. you are very much the perfect person to receive this gift and i am glad for you that you seem to enjoying all the reviewing you are doing. ;) i like that you have cake with your tea too.

    • Thank you Alison, I do enjoy tasting teas, and when they’re posted to me free, gratis and for nowt, it’s even better! Sometimes one has to have a little piece of cake to bring out the full flavour of the tea (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). :-)

  14. bellasatisha

    Hi…have been wanting to write for a while to let you know how much I love your posts way down here in OZ.

    I see myself as an apprenticeTea Aficionado..and have it in my dreams to have a “Tea” inspired business.

    I am very fortunate to have a local business called “Bun” who specialise in Coffee & Tea from around the world on my doorstep. They also have a great selection of organic teas as well

    I am a bit of a ‘snob’ as I prefer tealeaves over a teabag any day as well as a fine bone china teacup to a mug.

    Congratulations on your blog, it’s a little gem.

    • Thank you kindly for popping in to comment, I’m delighted to hear of your desire to run some sort of tea business. Immersing yourself in tea, so to speak, sounds like the sort of career that would lead to a happy, contented life.

      I like the name ‘Bun’, do they sell buns as well as beverages?

      I agree with you, there is something special about leaf tea and fine bone china, it’s a little bit of luxury isn’t it?

  15. I am in awe of your tea cupboard! I usually have three different kinds on the bench and feel a little bit spoiled sometimes, but now I see there are far greater heights to aspire to! And I fully intend to do so. Nice gig!

    • Hurrah! I hope you find some nice new teas to try. It’s amazing how many different teas there are, something to suit every mood and occasion. My own sample is a small one compared with what’s available. One tea cupboard hardly seems sufficient really.

  16. Lovely description of your tea tasting experience. I especially loved when you recall some memories of country house hotel… delightful experience for me as a reader too! Enjoyed reading this post Lorna :-)

    • Thank you Aparna, it’s nice to be whisked off to another place isn’t it? I get that every time I visit your blog and read your marvellous poems, so it’s a pleasure to be able to return the favour. :-)

  17. What a great review of a new tea. Twinnings is a good product and I have tried a number of their teas but not this one. Love the puppies looking on!

    • It was completely new to me too, Darlene, but I’m very pleased to have become acquainted with it. Those puppies are very curious about everything, but I must say they conduct themselves very nicely.

  18. I now realize that I know very little about tea, so thank you for the tutorial! Now I want to know more… :)

  19. I’ll definitely try that link. I’m enjoying the fragrant delights of a cup of Earl Grey as I write. I’m glad to see that you also have a cupboard packed full with various teas, including those wonderful Twinings teas. A delight for all!

    • Thanks Lou, a stash of Twinings teas is indeed a delight. I hope you enjoy the Yunnan if you try it, as a nice change from your fragrant Earl Grey.

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