Monday, September 04, 2006

Tea Review 74 - Lipton Black Pearl

Black Pearl Pure Long-Leaf Black Tea

I was really wishing that this would be the one. I crossed my fingers and hoped that Lipton's Black Pearl would be that rare tea that you could pick up at your local grocery, at about $3 for a pack of 20 pyramid tea bags ($2.89 in my neck of the woods), a black tea that would taste so good that you wouldn't need to bother with mail order.

But I kind of knew better and, in the end, I was right. Black Pearl is not that tea. But, as $3 20-packs of "big name" tea go, I guess it's not all that bad either. It's just not really what I'm looking for.

We should give Lipton credit for trying to do some things right, starting with the surprisingly attractive packaging. Then there are those pyramid tea bags. For those who haven't encountered these before, they're just that - a pyramid-shaped bag that allows the tea to expand and the water to circulate better among the leaves than with the standard issue bag.

Then there's the matter of tea leaves. Examine your average bag of Lipton black tea and you're not likely to find any actual tea leaves in the mix. This is the kind of tea that typically uses the smaller "fannings" and "dust." So a thumbs-up to Lipton for going with a "long-leaf." Though I have to quibble on this point and say that the leaves are a lot smaller than the name led me to believe.

In the end, it all comes down to taste - or at least it does for me. Black Pearl is a Ceylon tea, the name still given to tea grown on the island of Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. I don't have a wide range of experience with Ceylons, but I've never been overwhelmed with the ones I've sampled.

Including this one. Lipton recommends a three-minute brew, which sounded much too long to me. The first cup I brewed was for one minute. I admit to having mixed feelings about sampling it so I let it sit until it was almost cold. If the truth be told, the flavor was not all that bad. There was little bitterness, but then again, there wasn't much taste to it either. Kind of flat for my likes.

To be fair, I went ahead and brewed a cup for three minutes. This one I found way too astringent and completely undrinkable. The one I brewed for ninety seconds was in the same ballpark as the first, but by that time I was tired of the whole exercise.

I'm not really a cream, sweetener or lemon kind of guy when it comes to black tea - or any other kind, for that matter. But I suspect that if this is how you like yours you might not find Black Pearl to be all that bad. In fact, you might even find it to be worth the modest additional investment.

As for me, I'm going to move this one into my hand-me-down pile and start putting together another mail order.

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Buy Lipton Black Pearl at Amazon


~ Phyll said...

Thanks for the TN. I'll avoid this Lipton "Black Pearl" like I avoid any Lipton in general.

Joshua Uebergang said...

I actually don't mind this tea. Though I've heard a lot of people saying something similar to you.

William I. Lengeman III said...

Maybe this one would have worked better for me if they'd used Assam, rather than Ceylon. But I guess most of Lipton's gardens are located in Ceylon.

Anonymous said...

Just tried Lipton Black Pearl Tea and I have indigestion and my husband was itchy under his arm - there were little bumps...anyone else?

Vtknitboy said...

ceylon teas are fabulous. i bet the tea used in this tea is lower elevation ceylon teas, which are unremarkable. highest elevation ceylons have a wonderful almost choclately flavor, and rival many assams. i'd roughly categorize assams as malty, and ceylons as chocolatey. lover's leap is a popular perennial favorite. try for choices. no connection there, just a happy customer!

kathmat said...

Desperation is taking hold as my supplies of Twinings 1706 are running out. Twinings USA don't plan on carrying it any more as according to them - "Due to such high demand of this product, we are completely sold out and will not be re-stocking. We apologize for the disappointment and any inconvenience." I still have not been able to wrap my head around that one?? i.e. - this is a big seller so we won't be selling it anymore!
Actually, I found that the Lipton's Black Pearl wasn't bad, but if anyone knows of a closer match to Twining's 1706 I would be forever in your debt.