2017 Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong from Verdant Tea. . .

The Backstreet Boys have a song on an early album that went, “If you wanna get it good, girl, get yourself a bad boy.” This is pretty rich coming from the Backstreet Boys, obviously, but one cannot deny the appeal of a bad boy. Cigarettes, leather, motorcycles, hard liquor, and a devil-may-care attitude.

In my teas (and in my real life), I tend toward the “good boy”: straight or sweetly-flavored teas. But every once in a while, the bad boy winks at me — and I see, for a moment, what all the other girls are gushing about.

This lapsang souchong is a trouble-maker. It’s smoky and rich and dark and mineral. Its flavor is “natural and subtle addition that came from drying the leaves in a wok heated by pine wood. The smoke from the pine wood naturally mixed with the tea, creating a deeper and more foresty flavor that accentuated the tea’s minerality.”

If you’d like to see that drying room in action (you know you do), you should go to the listing for the tea.

Although this tea isn’t my “type,” I totally see its appeal for other people, and think that, if you want to try a rich new lapsang souchong, this might be the one for you. It’s a wild, satisfying ride.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

The earliest Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, (or Lapsang Souchong as it is commonly referred to in the West) was never deep-smoked. The smokiness was a natural and subtle addition that came from drying the leaves in a wok heated by pine wood. The smoke from the pine wood naturally mixed with the tea, creating a deeper and more foresty flavor that accentuated the tea’s minerality. The Li Family preserves this old-school aesthetic with careful application of smoke from local resinous pine. The sweet, roasted quality of the smoke processing blends with the rich flavor of the tea to yield a dark fruity flavor, and bring front and center the mineral texture of the soil of Wuyi.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Butter Brew/Bird & Blend. . . .

When I was in Harry Potter World in Universal, I tried “Butter Beer.” The over-hyped, lackluster beverage was $6 for a clear Solo cup’s worth. The flavor was like a cream soda mixed with a root beer. Meh.

After that disappointment, I was on the lookout for a better butter beer — and have found it with Butter Brew from Bird and Blend. (Alliteration, anyone?)

This blend is like an English Breakfast into which someone dumped molasses/sweetness/creamer. A LOT OF CREAMER. The warm dairy sweetness of this is POTENT.

This blend also includes calendula petals. I looked up this plant, because I keep seeing those petals everywhere. What’s their flavor? What’s their reason?

Turns out — in case you were wondering at all — that calendula is a type of flower that includes the marigold. (You may have seen it in gardens. Perhaps your own garden.) The flower has alleged anti-inflammatory properties. MOSTLY, however, calendula is used to give a pop of color to a dish. Which I totally get, because tea is so dull and brown without the flowers. I love a good inclusion. It says “here’s a fancy, pretty treat JUST FOR YOU, on this bitter and sad and cold morning.” The yellow also, I suppose, is the color of butter, now that I think of it.

Depending on who you are, the $6 soda concoction might be for you. But I, personally, prefer the MANY, MUCH BETTER cups of tea you can get for a comparable price at Bird & Blend.

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Bird & Blend


This tea is no longer available but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Peach Mai Tai from DAVIDs Tea. . . .

Peach teas can be hard to get right. They often times come off as artificial tasting or just tasting off. Because of this I have a love and hate relationship with peach teas. I love the idea of them because when done right they are amazing. But, so often I am let down because the peach taste is just not up to par. So, when I saw that Davids Tea was releasing yet another peach tea (yes, they release a lot of these sort of teas) I was interested.

Peach Mai Tai is based on the popular tropical mixed drink of the same name. The dry leaves smelt like peach and also had a nuttiness to it which is odd but perhaps something in the artificial flavors is contributing to that smell. I steeped the tea at 212 degrees for 3 minutes and served it over ice. The first taste is a very mild, mellow black tea. I do wish that Davids Tea would list what black tea is used as I am always curious about that. After the initial black tea taste the peach flavor pops up followed by a very subtle ginger back-taste. The peach in here is good. Although the ingredients have artificial flavors added peach is listed in the ingredients and I think that is why the peach is coming off tasting more genuine. I expected to taste the candied ginger in this more but overall nothing overpowers here, the black tea, ginger and peach are all in balance resulting in a very nice glass of iced tea.

I do like this tea, Davids Tea did get the peach flavor right. My only criticism is that this tea is very similar to Lady Marmalade that was released last year. As a tea addict I am always looking for something fresh and new and this tea, although very tasty, has been done by Davids Tea before.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  DAVIDs Tea

Be a peach and pour another glass of this juicy and energizing black tea. With its mouthwatering tiki punch of peach, ginger and marigold blossom, you know you won’t want to share yours. Try it straight up for a bold and crisp iced tea. Or class it up by adding a splash of prosecco and fresh peach slices. Don’t forget the cute little cocktail umbrella!


Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Organic Nilgiri Black Tea from Bare Leaves Tea via Sipsby Box. . . . .

Black tea is a variety of tea that just isn’t my go to.  Give me a solid white, green, or oolong and I’m a happy camper.  For some reason I seem to shy away from black teas more and more. Which is why I adore Sips By boxes so much.

Sips By is a company that curates a monthly tea box for about $15 that contains tea from a variety of different tea companies.  Usually get 4 different selections in your box.  These selections are based on your tasting profile that you fill out when you sign up for the service.

So I will admit. . . this sample has been hanging out in my tea stash for a few months.  Again, because black tea just isn’t what I grab as my daily drinker. But after you discovering my love for my Wall Infuser Mug, I thought this tea may just be the way to start off my day today.

Brewed up freshly boiled water and scooped in a hearty serving of the tea into my Wall Infuser Mug.  Allowed the tea to steep for a few minutes and took my first sip. And to be honest, this tea isn’t too bad.  Actually, I’m digging this tea a lot!

The tea is very soft and subtle.  The malty notes are slight and so is the astringency factor. I’m also noticing this flavor that reminds me of a floral note.  This is such a gentle blend that I would have no problem drinking this as a daily drinker.  I’m excited to try this tea as a cold brew.  I can only imagine the dynamite cold brew this tea could offer.

And before I know it, my mug is empty and I need more water for a second steeping. If you are like me and maybe black tea varieties just aren’t your (ahem) cup of tea. . . maybe check out this offering from Bare Leaves.  It might just give you a change of pace that you didn’t realize you were even looking for!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy: Bare Leaves 

This bright and fragrant tea comes from the South Indian mountainous region of Nilgiri, which translates to “Blue Mountains.”

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Banana Pancakes Black Tea from 52Teas. . . . .

Banana flavored teas are my favorite. I’m a huge banana fan and when I can get a banana flavored tea. . .it just makes me happy.

This particular banana flavored tea is black with pancake flavoring (and 52Teas’ pancake flavoring!) to boot. . I mean c’mon the only possible combo that could be better would be if this tea was a green tea.  I’ve been holding this tea for a day where I could really treat myself and that day came over the weekend. (This tea was part of the Christmas special last year so I wanted to treat this tea right.)

This weekend we had a Scholastic Bowl Tournament for my kiddo and I knew this tea would give me the umph to get my day going. I prepared freshly boiled water, added a few scoops of this tea into my Libre Tumbler and set upon my day.  I was a little afraid of using my Libre Tumbler since this is a black tea but I wanted that lovely banana pancake flavor so I took a chance.

And I am so glad I did.  This tea gave me everything I could have asked for and more.  Crisp banana flavors with a sweet pancake maple syrup finish.  I eagerly and greedily gulped this tea with abandonment.  I even had a few people ask me about my cool tumbler and when they got closer to me and smelled the tea, the conversation quickly turned to- did you just eat a pancake with a side of banana?  I wish I could have captured their faces when I told them it was the tea I was drinking.

Delicious with flavors on point, this tea blend was destroyed this weekend.  After I got back from the tournament, I actually did a cold brew with what was left of the tea and it was out of this world delicious.  The flavors were about the same as when I brewed the tea hot.  Just delicious banana flavor with that pancake-maple syrup finish.

As happy as I am that I was able to experience this tea, I’m also kind of sad.  This tea was so delicious that I wish I could get more of it and hopefully in the future, this tea will be a reblend so I’ll be able to enjoy this banana flavored pancake tea again.

Thank you 52Teas for again going outside of the box for a flavor that was absolutely fabulous!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy:  52Teas

This tea is on longer available but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!