Tim Hortons Earl Grey

I ended up at Tim Hortons over the weekend, the iconic Canadian coffee shop.

I bought an Earl Grey tea.

I wasn’t going to write about it, just drink it.

After I started drinking it, however, I realized how often I’ve gone into some chain coffee shop, or a restaurant with some recognizable mass-market brand of tea, and really wished there were something I could identify as something good.

Usually, I just end up getting a water.

How Good Is Tim Hortons Earl Grey?

I settled on Earl Grey after looking at the options.  Earl Grey isn’t too variable in the flavors blended into it, and, even if the tea isn’t great, the citrus flavor makes up for it.

I certainly have gone wrong with Earl Grey in the past once (a story for another post), but I figured this was a risk worth taking, since tea was all that sounded good.

I got the tea and hot water, and left the bag in for four minutes.

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Tim Hortons Earl Grey started off in the first sip with flavors you would expect: Bergamot, some floral notes, and a thin, raisin-like aftertaste.

The bergamot flavors seemed to dissipate almost right away, long before the tea had cooled at all, and what was left wasn’t all that pleasant. As I kept drinking the cup, it seemed to drift into an almost jasmine-tea flavor, that culminated in something resembling cheap bathroom handsoap.

Despite the fact that the tea in the cup was dark — almost the color of a cup of Yorkshire Tea steeped till the spoon stands up — the mouthfeel was incredibly thin and watery.

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So dark!  But the tea had almost no tannins, which was something I began to long for, as there wasn’t much else to balance out the lemon dishwashing liquid notes that pervaded this tea.

This was a cup of peculiar contrasts.

While I had a hankering for a cup of tea, and I was glad to have it, this wasn’t a great offering.

Tim Hortons Can Do No Wrong, and You, Charles, Are a Hoser

I know, reviewing tea from Tim Hortons is like reviewing the local bar by the quality of their parking lot:  It’s not what you go there for.

Tim Hortons brings to mind walking through Toronto, stopping in somewhere late at night for a doughnut or sandwich when nothing else around was open.

The restaurant was always an inviting beacon — a place to escape the chill in the winter, or the mugginess in the summer.

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Throughout southern Ontario, Tim Hortons is ubiquitous, and I probably visited more Tim Hortons north of the border than anywhere else.  (A close second, though, might have been their competitor Coffee Time, which seemed, years ago, to be a restaurant devoted to patrons chain-smoking an entire pack of Players in one sitting in the dingy, glassed-in smoking section, tables littered with empty packs covered in disgusting warning labels.)

What you should get at Tim Hortons is coffee.  Their coffee is excellent — super for a chain, and I would argue it is good even by independent coffee shop criteria.

Their doughnuts are perfectly fine, and their selection of soups and sandwiches are always a treat.

It’s also pleasant as fast-food restaurants go:  Real plates and silverware, and mugs for your coffee.

And now that they have shops in the U.S., which took years to finally reach me, I hate to say rotten things about their Earl Grey.

We’re Up All Night to Get Coffee

Instead of taking this post as a knock against Tim Hortons Earl Grey tea, instead consider it a recommendation to get a small coffee, original roast, black.

Mountain Tea Heritage Honey — Teadorks Podcast

Many flavors.

Many colors.

Many reasons to try Heritage Honey.
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Mountain Tea’s Clearance Gem

I ask myself why this is on clearance every time I order another box.

This has to be one of my favorite teas for drinking every day. It’s flavorful enough that I never feel let down, but not so complex that it seems like a special occasion item.

I hope it sticks around for a long time.

The flavors are great on the first steeping: Floral and sweet. It comes out of the teapot on the first steeping chartreuse. Later it becomes more of a pear color, then a light, clear, carmel color.

The second steepings of the tea end up with more of a honey and citrus flavor. At least three or four steepings are easily achieved.

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A Dynamic Tea, for Any Occasion

When I have folks come by my office or home, and they’re maybe not big into the details of teas, this is my go-to tea that I serve.

Everyone seems to enjoy this one.

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Visit MountainTea.com to see the listing for Heritage Honey & add the tea to your cart.

Yamamotoyama Genmaicha — Teadorks Podcast

You ever wake up in the morning and you think to yourself, when did my life become an Elliott Smith song?

That was my last week.

After a great week before — brewing up tea, getting things done, and generally loving life — last week was spent mostly wondering what non-specific office illness had decided to lodge with me in this mortal coil.

I felt miserable. Food was out of the question. And I knew all was lost when even tea sounded bad.

Anticipating Genmaicha

I felt worse yet, knowing that we’d just recorded a wonderful podcast on this tea, and I couldn’t even sit up in bed to post it online.

… enough grousing, though.  We’re here now, and you’re about to experience with us some Yamamotoyama Genmaicha.

Brewing genmaicha is an exercise in managing anticipation and taxes my restraint.

Clearly I get excited by teas, but the smell of roasted grains in this tea starts my mouth watering just as I start putting tea in the pot.

Hints of cereal fill the air, like a drive through Battle Creek, Michigan, on a sunny afternoon (just trust me on this one).

Don’t Go Too Far, Stay Who You Are

I’m not a fan of herbal tea.  And I’m pretty particular about flavored teas. While I would say as a rule that tea is best when it’s just tea leaves, I make an exception here.

Genmaicha greets you with a balance of flavors reminiscent of well-done toast; a modicum of sweet, malted undertones; and a healthy dose of green tea.

The flavors in the Yamamotoyama Genmaicha we had were well-balanced:  Breakfast grains, meet gentle green tea.

Do I Pour Hot Water on It Like Tea? Or Milk on It Like Rice Krispies?

Brew this tea with a 175-degree Fahrenheit or slightly cooler water.  Short brew times are fine.

We weren’t being especially careful with water temperatures on our first steeping of this, and the result was unnecessarily tannic and metallic.

Yes, when you get this, there will be lots of puffed rice and toasted rice inside.  Shake the bag to whatever looks like an even mixture, and put approx. 1 teaspoon of tea krispies in the teapot for each cup you’re making.

Say Yes

I’m in love … with genmaicha.

As usual, we’re going to recommend a loose tea option.

A teapot or tea infuser is necessary if you go with a loose genmaicha, though, as the tea is pretty fine chopped, and the rice doesn’t predictably fall to the bottom up a cup like tea leaves might.

The Yamamotoyama teas are priced reasonably, and Amazon seems to sell them in bulk quantities — put the kettle on!