The Daily Spud

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Pu-erh Missus

In my own personal taxonomy of tea, there are 2 broad classifications, those being (a) real tea and (b) everything else.

Real tea is what we mean when we talk about tea in Ireland, that cup that will be offered to you on entry to almost every Irish household. Be it Lyons or be it Barry’s, cups of same regularly punctuate my day.

To avoid overdosing on the real stuff, however, I do drink a variety of those other teas and will happily try new ones if they come my way. So when Barry’s got in touch about their new pu-erh and rooibos teas, that was my cue to put the kettle on.

Pu-erh and rooibos teas from Barry's

Pu-erh and rooibos teas from Barry's

First into the pot was the pu-erh. A black tea, named after a region in southwest China where the tea plant from which it’s made is found, it is highly regarded in that part of the world for its medicinal properties. Rich in antioxidants, it is said to both aid digestion and help reduce blood cholesterol.

It is also described as having a “pronounced earthy aroma”. Having inhaled the stuff, I can’t disagree. In fact, there was something of the farmyard about the smell which, to be honest, is not a quality I generally look for in a cuppa – pu-erh indeed! Fortunately this doesn’t carry through as strongly to the taste, so it was similar to drinking real tea but without the milk. While pleasant enough, pu-erh still feels to me like it’s more in the drink-because-it’s-good-for-ya category rather than a drink for pure refreshment.

Rooibos Tea

Red-hued rooibos tea

Rooibos (or red bush) tea, on the other hand, is something I would quite happily drink, either with or without milk, just for the pleasure of it. Made from a herb found in the Cederberg mountain region of South Africa, it’s a caffeine-free tea that smells and tastes to me of warm dry bushland. It reminded me, in no small way, of a campfire-brewed Australian billy tea and transported me to warmer climes as I drank it.

That, I hasten to add, is just my take.

Fortunately, Barry’s have given me a gift pack to give away – including pu-erh, rooibos, original gold blend and more – so that one of you, wherever in the world you might be, will get a chance to sample these teas for yourselves.

If you want in, just tell me what your favourite cup of tea is in a comment below. I’ll leave this open until midnight (GMT) on Sunday May 23rd, at which time I’ll pick a winner from the proverbial hat.

Now, methinks it’s time to put that kettle on again.

Update 24/5/10: …and congrats to Aisling O’Dwyer, winner of the bountiful Barry’s gift pack. Hope you’ve got the kettle on, Aisling!

18 Comments

  1. My favorite cup-a-tea is any tea on a bright sunny morning in Los Angeles when I have no real obligations in front of me and the LA Times (for once in a blue moon) is a good as it used to be. GREG

  2. I bought some autumn leaves Pu-ehr and chrysanthemum blossoms a while back for my husband (he has high cholesterol). Well, that didn’t work, as after his second cup he proclaimed the tea “tasted like dirt” (it did) and refused any more.

    Myself, I tend to drink English Breakfast tea every morning, with milk and sugar. When I need a real eye opener, I do the same thing with Irish Breakfast tea.

  3. “Pu-erh, indeed!” [Giggle]

    I nursed my box of Barry’s tea, carried all the way back to Minnesota from Ireland, as long as possible, but now it’s all gone. So, I’d love to win these new Barry’s brews, farmyard-y aroma and all. Although I’m usually drinking a mint-lemongrass tea, my absolute favorite above all else is Formosa Oolong.

  4. Don’t include me as part of the draw but if anybody would like to see what the gift pack looks like (while allowing me a shameless plug) you can see below :)

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Messy-Chef/109764308262?ref=ts

  5. There’s a special place in my heart for Barry’s tea, but for me the ultimate tea experience is a cup of refreshingly citrus-y Lady Grey tea on a hot summers day. If tea cake wants to involve itself in the scenario than so be it!

  6. Daily Spud

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Greg: I will use my influence to ensure that your entry gets the attention it deserves :)

    Haley: oh dear – no matter how good something is supposed to be for you, if it tastes like dirt, chances are it’s not going to go down well!

    Tangled Noodle: I’d love to have the opportunity to send you all of these teas, let’s see if the final draw agrees :)

    Ivan: thanks for that, plug away!

    Aisling: I think that a lot of people have a special place in their hearts for the regular Barry’s tea, though I’m fond of both Earl and Lady Grey myself – with cake being my preferred option :)

  7. My favourite cup of tea is the one I’m finishing off right now. Mid morning, in the office, a break away from the desk and a chance for a natter with one of the other girls I work with…for the record, it’s Lyons, but brand doesn’t really matter, really it’s all about that stroll out to the kitchen, the quick chat and then back to the desk…sigh..back to work!

  8. I so love real rooibos tea!! Love it to bits!

  9. I love rooibos, especially spiced with milk; it makes a lovely chai! I’ve only had the pu-erh once, and think I need to try it again – I love earthy scents and flavors!

  10. I love rooibos, especially spiced with milk, it makes a great chai.

  11. I do love me a good cup of tea when I can. Delicious. I’m usually more of a green tea kind of gal, but I love trying all kinds of flavors.

  12. Daily Spud

    Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Kate: ah yes, it’s all about time and place too!

    Sophie: am loving it myself :)

    kirsten: I can see that rooibos would make a lovely chai indeed, will have to try that!

    jenn: nothing wrong with green tea of course, though it’s nice to try out new flavours too

  13. I think I’d brew up a cup JUST for the farmyard aroma! This industrial city livin’ means that I’m light on good old “country” smells!! The closest I’ve gotten is a whif of a Bison in the National Park!! Looking forward to a resupply of Barry’s Gold in June when the Out Laws arrive – but would love to try these new varieties – just another thing to look forward to in September I guess!! :)

  14. A fellow expat from London who I met where we lived in Brazil brought back some Pu-erh tea for me from her trip to China. (Yes, I just dropped a lot of countries right there. Ha!) I found it unlike any tea I’ve had before. None of the tang or tannin sensation that I get from most teas. It has such an interesting history and process for making it. Was this variety in the pressed brick form?

    Needless to say, if you don’t think you’ll use it up, send it my way. ;)

  15. Daily Spud

    Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Foxycoxy: I’ll do you a cup of farmyard brew when you’re here in September, howzat?! :)

    Lori: this pu-erh was in tea bags, so I don’t know how it would compare to the pressed brick form, though I’d be curious to try…

  16. Bewleys Irish Breakfast tea. The one you get in hotels. Its just lovely. (Though not with that excuse for milk) :D

  17. Thanks so much for alerting me to your give-away, dear Spud! I’ve been woefully behind on my blog reading these past two weeks. Sigh.

    I’m sure I don’t need to tell you my favorite cuppa is … Barry’s! I’m having a nice strong cup right now with a bit of milk. Oh how I love this stuff! The flavor is so full and strong its spoiled me for any other brand.

    I’ve always been curious about the pu-erh, but slightly afraid to try it. LOL

  18. Daily Spud

    Friday, May 21, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Sarah: I hear ya on the milk comment! Sorry we didn’t get to chat at the Bord Bia event yesterday – will have to say hello next time :)

    Diva: I knew you’d be interested in a Barry’s giveaway :) At least you’re guaranteed to get some Gold Blend if you win and, as for the pu-erh, you get to taste it and see what you think!

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