Tea is very important to British people. Incredibly important, any nation that can rename the final, main, meal of the day to “tea” has to be a bit obsessed. So it doesn’t take long for your average Brit to realise that normal (read: tea from tea bags) tea is just not as good here.
This is easily remedied however, due it’s long staying power it is easy to ask family and friends for supplies. The huge box of PG Tips in my kitchen which has lasted about 6 months is testament to that. I soon discovered there are no good dunking biscuits though.
In Japan there are none of the brands that a British guy trusts. No HobNobs, no Rich Teas, nothing. The Japanese equivalents just aren’t as good. Perhaps because there is no culture of dunking here, Japanese biscuits just don’t seem to be up to the task.
Japanese tea drinking culture seems to be a bit odd in general. Ice teas are popular enough here, especially Oolong, Jasmin and Lemon. In fact, ice tea plus shochu is very widely drunk. These are all actually quite nice though, unlike the cold milk “afternoon” tea that is sold here. After tasting it I can’t think of any time in the day, afternoon, morning or evening, I would want to drink it again. It’s still strange that I have to specify that I want my tea hot when I go to cafés.
As I wanted to find some sort of biscuits to enjoy with my tea I decided to set up Pepsi challenge style blind independent taste tests. (Hey! Nights are long and I get bored easily).
So 3 brave candidates took the challenge.
Candidate 1, RS, enjoys his tea with milk and 1 sugar. He is Scottish.
Candidate 2, YK, also prefers hers with milk and 1 sugar. She is Japanese.
Candidate 3, MH, likes his tea simply with milk and no sugar. He is an Englishman.
6 biscuits were tested and feedback was as follows,
Biscuit 1: Coconut Sable
Reactions to this one were largely positive, RS commented that it was sweet and sugary while MH added that it was tasty and soft. However it was perhaps too soft for YK who commented that it melted immediately, it should be mentioned though that she instantly went for a second bite. Overall it seems that this biscuit has a good taste but is perhaps too soft for effective dunking.
Biscuit 2: Salt and Chocolate Digestive
Things started badly for this biscuit, with MH wondering if it was orange flavoured and stated that the chocolate and the tea did not react well. YK disagreed and simply exclaimed that the chocolate was delicious. RS gave a more balanced view and said that this biscuit was preferable to the Coconut Sable but really hard to chew. So a mixed reception greeted this one.
Biscuit 3: Homepie Premium.
The runt of the litter, MH said that it had no taste, RS elaborated by saying that it does not add anything to the tea, while YK said it was disgusting. A no go then.
Biscuit 4: Midnight Cookie
The uniquely named Midnight Cookie was also not a hit. YK again said it was disgusting, RS complemented on the texture but lamented on the fact it turned to mush as soon as it was put into the tea. MH added that it tasted like sand. Overall then not a good dipping experience, it’s just too soft.
Biscuit 5: Oreo
A big hit with the testers. RS waxed lyrical that as soon as he put it in his mouth there was “sweetie goodness”. YK loved it, taking four bites of this one. MH simply added “NOM! NOM! NOM!”. Here I feel the reactions speak for themselves.
Biscuit 6: Pocky
Pocky was a left-field choice, not a biscuit per se but a long pretzel stick covered in chocolate. As MH noted this made it excellent for stirring the tea but he found the taste disappointing. YK felt that the Pocky needed two dips to get the tea to absorb and as a result the chocolate melted. RS felt it was good but would not have it in tea all the time. So the Pocky turned out to be a disappointment, the advantage of the shape was far outweighed by the mess created by the chocolate dripping on the floor.
Biscuit 7: Regular Digestive
This was considered to be a control of sorts, a biscuit readily available in both the UK and Japan would be expected to earn positive but not stellar results. However reactions were surprising, RS wondered if it was a dog biscuit, MH said it was dull and plain and YK was so disgusted that she took her blindfold off and walked away.
I think that the results are clear, Oreos are great in tea.
I may have taken this whole thing a bit too far.