Today we drove a good 50 miles to go to the nearest Whole Foods, which means that I didn’t really have a lot of spare time to brew tea at home properly, as I don’t like to do a full session at night (which can affect my sleep). Instead, feeling the need for some tea, I bought a cup of tea at the Whole Foods… featuring Republic of Tea teabags. Of course, being RoT, it means that the only thing that isn’t flavoured with vanilla or blueberries or butterscotch or some such was the Assam Breakfast. Sure…
It was all right, a regular Assam-esque teabag. Nothing too fancy, nothing too bad.
Then I came home, and feeling a little indigestion after dinner, had another teabag, this time something that somebody gave me as a gift. Signature Estates Assam. Somehow…. I didn’t feel a whole lot of difference between the two. Obviously, if I stick a Lipton “brisk” tea against one of these, the “brisk” will obviously taste inferior. However, would the difference be that obvious between teabags of the same regions? Whereas if these teas were whole leaf, and if I brewed them my usual way (or even the grandpa way), I am sure I can tell some differences, when they’re in a bag form… it’s almost impossible, or at least, so subtle as to make it a moot point.
Which makes me wonder… why pay the higher price for some of these things?
I think it’s probably worth it to pay the extra to get either of these instead of a box of “brisk” tea, but is there any difference between these two? While the websites show similar prices, I know retail in a non-mail-order form the Signature Estates cost a bit more. On the other hand, it’s got a nice box.
Which means that it all comes down to branding… at some point, it’s no longer the tea being sold, but the distribution chains, the brand image, the packaging, and the idea that the tea is superior… when it is really all tea dust. Does it really matter where a tea is from when it’s tea dust?