Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Consistency Is The Hallmark Of Bigelow, Even With The Lousy Flavors: English Teatime Decaf!

The Good: Somewhat bold, if difficult to describe taste, Good ingredient
The Bad: Decaffeinated, Dry aftertaste, Extraneous packaging
The Basics: English Teatime Decaffeinated tastes identical to the original English Teatime by Bigelow, but without caffeine, it leaves less to recommend.

Bigelow teas are, for those who do not follow my many tea reviews, not my favorite on the marketplace. I take issue with the amount of waste they generate (thanks to a much higher environmental standard Celestial Seasonings exhibits) and so few of their flavors actually impress me with tasting like what they claim to. Bigelow is tea for people who like the flavor of tea. If one wants a flavorful tea that tastes like fruits and mints and all other manner of hot drink, there are other teas that embody the flavors they claim to be better than Bigelow, at least in my experiences.

But what Bigelow most certainly has going for it is consistency. I learned this recently when I dida taste test between Bigelow English Teatime (reviewed here!) and English Teatime Decaffeinated. The result of a side-by-side comparison was pretty clear. English Teatime by Bigelow is English Teatime be it caffeinated or decaffeinated. While the Decaffeintated version was in tiny bit more watery in its taste, after a few sips back and forth, there was no difference between the two. As a result, English Teatime Decaffeinated is about as good as the original. The problem is, I wasn't a huge fan of the original and without the kick of caffeine, the tea is not even near the borderline that the original was for me.


English Teatime Decaf is a tea from Bigelow. It is a tea that is decaffeinated and it is one of the stronger black teas Bigelow makes and markets. English Teatime Decaf comes in Bigelow's standard individually-wrapped tea bags, means that each tea bag has a wax papery envelope it is sealed in for freshness. Each tea bag has a five-inch string with a little paper tab at the end, which is quite a bit more waste than I like from a tea bag. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags and making a steeping pot of English Teatime Decaf reminds me of why I like the easy environmentalism of Celestial Seasonings' stringless bags. A box of English Teatime Decaf comes with 20 individually-wrapped tea bags.

English Teatime Decaf is marketed as a tea-flavored tea and it is adequate in that regard. If one wants something that is flavored like tea leaves - and strong ones at that - this will fit the bill. I tend to like flavorful teas, not the bland ones that are simply what they claim to be.

Ease Of Preparation

English Teatime Decaf is a black tea, which means preparation is as easy as boiling a pot of water! English Teatime Decaf, as the directions clearly state, require water that is boiling. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea, though reusing the tea bags yields little more than hot water. These tea bags can be reused and the resulting beverage is about 1/2 strength and has a more potent dry aftertaste than the original brewing. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, even for a second pot.

To prepare English Teatime Decaf, simply boil up some water, and pour it over the tea bags in a cup, mug or steeping pot. This tea is recommended to take one to two minutes to steep and after a couple cups and pots, I've found that with boiling water, the tea is ready at the two minute mark and letting it steep longer does not truly change the results. Letting the tea steep more than three minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.


English Teatime Decaf is a tea that tastes like what it is, much like Earl Grey. Unlike most flavors that either have a taste or scent that tries to be something else, English Teatime Decaf is a tea flavored tea. Like black coffee when it goes by the location (Columbian, Supreme, etc.) that tells one nothing about the actual flavor, English Teatime Decaf is an adjective tea whose name does not exactly describe the taste sensation that it is.

For those wondering, though, English Teatime Decaf from Bigelow is a tea that smells woody and tea-like. It smells like deep forest in autumn when there is that air of decay and death in the wind and the distant scent of something burning. It is pretty much impossible to nail the scent down in non-poetic terms because this is a tea-scented tea.

As for the taste, this has a rather bold and woody taste, like chewing on dried herbs or weeds. This has a strong, dark flavor that is forceful but unlike anything but tea. If Earl Grey is a flavor that is superconcentrated black tea that is almost like a coffee and like about five Lipton style tea bags in one, English Teatime Decaf might be best described as four times the strength of Lipton's bland, regular tea. This is a tea that if forceful, but lacks the aroma and energy of Earl Grey. This is truly tea flavored tea and the only real taste note might well be that it has a very dry aftertaste.

With a teaspoon of sugar, English Teatime Decaf maintains its dry taste as the primary taste and does not becomes sufficiently sweet to suggest it is anything other than tea. Strangely, my cups of Bigelow English Teatime Decaf have ended up accenting the taste of water in the tea when the tea has sugar added to it, diluting the sense of the tea flavor some. The aftertaste, very dry, is not cut in any significant way by the addition of sugar to the tea.

Similarly, milk does little for the tea and while it does not overwhelm the tea flavor, it certainly dilutes it some. As the tea becomes cooler, it continues to taste drier, becoming more and more sour as well. This is not an ideal tea to have iced, unless one likes cool, dry and sour for their beverage choices.


It is utterly unsurprising that the dominant flavor in English Teatime Decaf is tea as the only ingredient is decaffeinated black tea. English Teatime Decaf tea is all natural, gluten free, and does not contain caffeine.

Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of English Teatime Decaf, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, caffeine, carbohydrates or protein.


English Teatime Decaf is a dark black tea. As a result, cleanup is rather simple, save on fabrics. The mugs and steeping pot easily rinse out. This tea will stain if it is left on fabrics, so simply do not let the tea cups or mugs linger on light colored materials that might stain!

English Teatime Decaf is easy to clean up after - the tea bags may be disposed in the garbage, or composted if you have a good garden and/or compost pile. One of the nice things about this tea - like most - is that so long as it is kept cool and dry, it can last for a long time and it is easy to clean up. However, like all Bigelow teas, there is extra waste from the strings, paper tabs and individual wrappings around each bag.


English Teatime Decaffeinated is a fair tea as far as flavor goes, but the (mostly) bold taste fails to live up because it does not produce a reasonable kick to with caffeine to keep the consumer awake.

For other Bigelow tea reviews, please check out:
Mint Medley
Cozy Chamomile
Earl Grey


For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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