Sunday evening, eight mismatched mugs and two tired girls. We start by smelling the tea bags. They definitely all smell like tea: this is good. Lorna overfills the kettle and spills water everywhere.
The notes suggest judging colour – we decide tea A is bright red, and B is a rich plum. The latter will prove to be a deciding factor in the final scores as B is awarded 0.1 bonus points because Lorna likes the colour. D is cloudy – we can’t see the bottom of the mug, and may not quite be sure whether to treat this as a scientific experiment. Tea H is the lightest in colour, although we couldn’t say what that means.
We try them all black first, comparing them in pairs to make it a little easier…
A: Lacks character. We are not thrilled.
B: Drinking black tea is hard so Ella judges A and B by how well they go with chocolate. B edges A out.
C: We like.
D: Tastes of grass, or something.
E: Ella: “too tangy” / Lorna: “mmm, i like”.
F: Smells stronger than it tastes.
G: After six tastings of black tea, Ella tries but fails to deliver a coherent response. It starts to get a bit much. G doesn’t leave a nice taste in the mouth, and more chocolate is consumed.
H: Lorna goes this alone and is distinctly unimpressed. After a period of recovery, and on Lorna’s insistence, Ella tries it. It tastes like a farmyard smells.
Next, milk is added. Ella is still struggling but milk might make things better.
A: Continues to underwhelm
C: Turns out to be v. pleasant both black and white.
D: Still pretty grassy. Lorna is not quite sure where Ella is going with this.
E: The jury is still out.
F: Ella bows out again and Lorna forges on. Much to her disgust, F tastes WRONG with milk.
G: Still not good.
H: Lorna is appalled. ‘SHOULD NEVER HAVE MILK!” Let this be a warning to all.
It is Lorna’s turn to sit back and relax while Ella gives in to her sweet tooth. A handy brother brings the sugar pot and we commence stage 3 of the tasting, in which only a few extra comments need to be made…
B: Bad with sugar. This has never happened before.
C: Even better with sugar, and Ella takes a moment to appreciate the joy of a nice cup of tea.
D: Nicer with sugar, but still like grass.
F: Has found a new flowery taste.
Teas not mentioned were by this point so disappointing to both tasters that they were disregarded.
At last – with mug C drained of every drop and the others scattered forlornly around the table, it is time for the scores. Last words are said on each tea, most of which are scornful and/or cutting. The excessive consumption of black tea has caused mild hysterics in all involved. Teas are awarded points out of 10 as follows:
A: 3 (uninspiring)
B: 3.1 (ditto, +0.1 for colour)
C: 10 (joyful)
D: 5.5 (+0.5 for the pun of the weekend, uttered by Ella in a final comment: “the grass grows on you..”)
E: 2 (undecided)
F: 4 (could do worse)
G: 1 (not as bad as H)
H: 0 (sad face)
And with that, we vow to never drink another drop of tea as long as we leave (or, at least for 24 hours…). We clear everything away and wait in suspense for the reveal. Here’s to many more cups of Tea C.