Orange Pekoe Special from Swallowtail Tea

When the tea has “special” in the name, it starts with a lot of expectations to live up to.  Good thing Orange Pekoe Special from Swallowtail Tea truly is a special mug of tea.

Right away, I was taken in by the scent of the dry tea leaves.  This is a pure black tea, not flavored, not a chai, and yet the leaves smelled sweet and earthy and strongly of cinnamon.  It was so comforting and flavorful it was hard to take my face out of the bag.

When I brewed this tea, the cinnamon took a backseat and more of the traditional black tea flavors came to the forefront.  The tea was bright and crisp, with just a touch of citrus that says to me it would be delicious if served with a wedge of lemon.  All of these forward flavors were quickly chased by smoother, toasted tones, almost malty and starchy like a not-too-sweet dessert.

The brewed tea smelled like crushed leaves and old wood, with just a whiff of woodsmoke.  The more I drank the tea the more the smoky notes came forward. This isn’t full-on chimney-bacon smokiness like you find in some lapsang souchong teas, this was more delicate, like the appealing sugar char of a creme brulee, or the faded campfire smell after the logs have long gone out.

All these natural flavors like wood and smoke and leaves in Orange Pekoe Special really put me in the mood for fall.  With a beautifully illustrated tin and such a rich flavor experience, this is now the tea I imagine when I think of someone stumbling upon a cabin in the woods and the owner pulls out “the good tea” for a special occasion.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Swallowtail Tea
Description:

Grown at the base of the Himalayas, this tea was first discovered growing wild in the jungles during the mid 1800’s. Assam is known for its deep, burgundy-red cup and pungent but sweet-starchy flavor. This is India’s most popular variety because of its intense flavor and ability to mix well with milk and honey.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Keemun Chinese Black Tea from The Tea Spot

I love the discovery of new tea flavors, finding their nuances, comparing and contrasting from a baseline. I started educating myself on tea with subscription boxes, and still have a soft spot for them. Looks like Tea Spot will be my next choice. They offer a monthly subscription box for $16 for about an ounce worth of 5-6 teas and also a quarterly loose leaf club at $45 for 3+ teas of one chosen style, in larger portions obviously. This selection seems to be from the former.

The dry Keemun smells very gentle, a bit like the coriander in my cupboard. There are uniformly tight, straight, leaves, appearing medium on the spectrum of browns. I see some broken bits in wet leaves and a tamarind color brew. It smells subtly sweet, and reminds me of cherries – cheerful but with a slightly tart finish.  1 heaping tsp per 8 oz from the brewing instructions, does not make a strong tea, which some people prefer. I’m not the type to drink this flavor straight, because tannins and I are frenemies.  I think it is It may leave a slight orange taste in my mouth but, this tea is still excellent at its job of caffeinating me!

Just like the Beastie Boys, I like my Sugar with [Keemun] and cream, too sweet to be sour, too nice to be mean.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy: The Tea Spot
Description:

A splendor of toasty flavor and aroma! The most refined and perhaps the most well-known of Chinese black teas, this Keemun is handpicked in Anhui Province. This tea has an indescribable flavor, with the most delicate hints of smoky pine, orchid, crushed apple and a rich, sweet body.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

English Breakfast from the Virginia Tea Company . . . .

When you need a tried-and-true pick-me-up in the morning, many of us reach for a cup of English Breakfast black tea.  But each tea company has a little different take on this style of tea. English Breakfast from the Virginia Tea Company is robust in scent, taste, and texture.

This tea is full and malty, almost chewy, with toasty tones of baked bread.  This tea is strong enough to have flavor after being mixed with milk and sugar, and to hold up on its own against the savory flavors of your breakfast.

The first scent and taste are the rich and complex flavors like roasted wheat or leather, followed by the little crisp bite of black tea that we come to expect.  There is a hint of earthy smoke at the back of each sip, along with the the less bitter black tea tannins and thicker mouthfeel.

This is a black tea that makes you feel strong and invigorated, while also giving your palette a full-bodied flavor experience.  For those mornings where it is hard to get your head on straight, be sure to brew up a strong cup of English Breakfast from the Virgina Tea Company and get back on track.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Virginia Tea Co.
Description:

This organic tea is perfect for pairing with your morning meal. The full-bodied flavor can be blended with milk and sugar to create an even better drinking experience.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Sweet Ghost from Malfoy Tea Emporium . . .

This morning’s tea is a dessert option called Sweet Ghost. The Emporium describes it as “a decadent loose leaf tea blend that is crafted from black tea, natural gingerbread flavor, natural vanilla flavor, natural creme flavor, ginger root, orange peels, cinnamon bark and chocolate chips.”

It’s basically chocolate cream with slight chai spices. It’s a very strong, saturated flavor.

The only thing that bothers me is that it’s called “Sweet Ghost.” Like… why? I could see a delicately-flavored tea as being ephereal. Maybe a white tea.

Also, when was the last time a sweet ghost was featured in a movie? ALMOST NEVER. Ghosts are usually haunting people, screaming with their eyes pure white, crawling out of floors, moaning, flailing — causing an unpleasant ruckus, basically. They’re impolite. They’re horrible houseguests.

Rename the tea something nice, guys! Maybe something Harry Potter themed. There are tons of options! Here are a few freebies: Hogwarts Express Fuel. Hagrid’s Third Dessert of the Night. Mrs Weasley’s Evening Crochet Me-Time.

You’re welcome.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Malfoy Tea Emporium 
Description

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

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Wake Me Up, Scotty! From 52Teas

For Star Trek fans or just plain tea lovers alike, do yourself a favor and brew up a cup of Wake Me Up Scotty from 52Teas.  This is based around a Scottish black tea, and gently sweetened with hints of butterscotch and a scattering of marshmallow root.  The name of course, is in reference to the Star Trek phrase, Beam Me Up, Scotty. The tea got its name from all the ‘scotch and Scottish ingredients, and from the hearty caffeine dose of black tea.

I love a good Scottish breakfast blend first thing in the morning, though when I reach for a breakfast tea, I also want a little bit of tartness to make me feel fresh and awake.  I was a little wary that the black tea in this blend would be hidden beneath its dessert flavors, but despite the candy-like inclusions, this tea preserves plenty of that crisp breakfast black tea taste.

This blend has it all: flavorful integrity of the black tea and a caress of caramel and cream flavors. You definitely taste the butterscotch and marshmallow, but not at the expense of the bright black tea.  I take my tea without sugar or milk, but if you love the butterscotch notes, you can draw them forward by brewing this as a latte or by adding your favorite sweetener.

The caramel and marshmallow come across in this blend with almost the same nutty sweetness as honeyed breakfast cereal with mini marshmallows, which takes this whole idea of a breakfast tea to a new level.  A delicious and balanced blend that I should keep on hand in my cabinet for any breakfast time brewing.

I applaud 52Teas for always being inventive in their flavors; they seek out new teas and flavor blends, and boldly go where no tea company has gone before!

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Description:

So this tea comes with a story – please bear with me . . .

I don’t usually go for teas that have already been blended. I usually want to do the blending myself. I also usually don’t go for CTC teas. But this tea presents us with an exception to that – because on a whim, I happened to sample an organic Scottish Breakfast Blend from a would-be supplier and I absolutely loved it. It was rich, rugged and malty and I immediately began to imagine what I might do with this tea.

So I ordered some of the tea to play around with it a bit and while playing around, I thought – hey, it’s a Scottish Breakfast Blend, I should try blending it with butterscotch. Not real creative, I know. But after my initial taste test of the blend flavored with butterscotch – I was hooked. I decided to lighten things up with some soft, creamy marshmallow. And my “Scotty Breakfast Blend” was born. Again – not a really creative name, right?

As I was sitting around with Mat and updating him with my tea studio happenings, he asked me why I called this one “Scotty Breakfast Blend.” And I told him something like: because it was made with a Scottish Breakfast Blend and I used ButterSCOTCH as the primary flavor component.

He mentioned I should call it “McBreakfast Blend” or something like that. Then I thought, what if McDonalds decides to slap a Cease and Desist on me for using their Mc. He told me that he didn’t think they could actually do that and they probably don’t lay claim to the prefix Mc. However, I wasn’t too keen on McBreakfast Blend … what about O’Scotty Breakfast Blend? During this exchange, I’m not sure who threw in “Beam Me Up, Scotty” into the mix . . . but I liked it. Not because I’m a big Star Trek fan because really, I’m not. I’m much more Harry Potter than Star Trek although I really liked Ricardo Montalbán’s portrayal as Khan.

But I digress.

I liked the idea that – for those of us who like to see different meanings in words – the “Beam Me Up” could be thought of as waking someone up or inspiring a sense of alertness which is what black tea (especially a rich CTC blend like this) does for me. At the end of my exchange with Mat, he said, just call it “Wake Me Up, Scotty!” because those who are Star Trek fans will appreciate the alluding to “Beam Me Up” without actually saying that – and those who wouldn’t get what I’m alluding to might still appreciate that this is a wake-me-up kind of tea with a Scottish Breakfast Blend base and a butterscotch flavor.

This a well-rounded black tea that on it’s own is pretty robust and stimulating – a fantastic first tea of the morning! The butterscotch and hint of marshmallow offer a pleasant sweetness to the cup. A delightful cuppa!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!