Arabian Kismet from Swallowtail Tea. . . .

I love black tea with unusual combinations of spices, so I was very excited to try Arabian Kismet from Swallowtail Tea.  This is a blend based around orange pekoe special Assam black tea with added sage and cardamom.

The full flavors of the black tea itself pair perfectly with the fresh and earthy sage, and the sweet and mellow cardamom.  This is one of those teas that will work for any occasion. It has classic black tea for those staunch pekoe drinkers and a little bit of spice for chai lovers.  But without the classic chai spices like cinnamon and ginger, this tea is much more versatile and unexpected.

Sage always makes me think of Thanksgiving, so this feels very much like a fall tea to me.  The cardamom helps that image, bringing up spicy visions of the upcoming winter spice cookies.  This tea smells like a classic kitchen or herb garden, but its flavor combination in a tea blend is a new and exciting change of pace for me.  Great for breakfast or afternoon, or anytime you want to feel a little cozy and a little dreamy.


Here’s the scoop!

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

This delightful blend of Assam, sage, and cardamom might make you believe in Kismet after all.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

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!

Blue Lady from Zest Tea

With a name like Blue Lady I thought this would be like Lady Grey, a type of earl grey. But I was mistaken! Not an earl grey, but a flowery orange pekoe.

Beyond the black tea, there is hibiscus and passion fruit, fragrant even in the dry leaf. Brewed, the black tea is bright and crisp, which pairs well with the juicy hibiscus. The sour red fruit taste of the hibiscus adds a jammy, berry flavor beneath the citrus tones of the orange pekoe.

This is not too sweet or sour, still very suitable for a breakfast cup of tea. With just enough tropical flair this blend is summery and satisfying, hot or iced.

And since this blend is from Zest Tea, there is added tea extract so you know each cup packs a punch of caffeine without the coffee jitters. When you want a juicier take on classic orange pekoe, brew up a mug of Blue Lady.


Here’s the scoop!

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

Our Blue Lady Black blends a sultry South Indian black tea base with an aromatic mix of orange, lemon, passion fruit, and hibiscus. A peppering of vivid blue cornflower petals and bits of orange peel make for a visual spectacle. Blue lady will excite all of your senses. No wonder this is a favorite among hot and chilled tea drinkers.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Palas Supreme from BOH Teas. . . .

Orange pekoe teas tend to get that name due to some quality grading and inspections that take place, rating the size and quality of the tea leaf and so on.  I once had a colleague who only drank orange pekoe tea, they wouldn’t settle for anything else.  So when I find out the tea I’m tasking is an orange pekoe, I already feel fancy before opening the bag.

This time, I brewed Palas Supreme from BOH Teas.  Billed as an orange pekoe tea, the leaves looked to be good quality, long and dark and curly that unfurled in shape and flavor as I brewed.

This tea tasted bright and sweet, not too sharp or tart.  There were slight citrus flavors and some gentle floral flavors, but main taste of the the brew was driven by a smooth and bright black tea taste.

BOH Teas describes Palas Supreme as a flowery pekoe.  While it does have floral accents, it is not the blooming garden of flower flavors and scents that I would expect from a “flowery pekoe.”  This tea stands out because it isn’t all about the tart sharpness of the black tea.  It actually has a smooth mouthfeel and while there are orange notes, they aren’t biting citrus, instead tasting much more like sweet mandarin oranges.

As the tea cools there are more date and raisin after tones beneath the sweet citrus and smooth black tea.

This is is part of the BOH Teas garden collection and it even ships in a butterfly-and-blossom-themed canister.  I didn’t get as much floral flavor as I expected, but this tea is still a delicious orange pekoe fit to brighten any day.


Here’s the scoop!

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

When you savour the taste of this tea, the first thing you experience is its aroma. This fine garden tea is cultivated on the cool tropical slopes of Sungei Palas. The Flowery Pekoe of Ceylon and Assam varieties imparts an exquisite and delicate aroma. With its pure and delicate fragrance, this large-leafed amber tea is best enjoyed plain throughout the day.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Yun Nan Dian Hong Black from Teavivre

Yun Nan Dian Hong BlackTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

Dian Hong black tea, also known as Yunnan black tea, is one of China’s most famous black teas.  This is the highest grade Dian Hong generally available in China – called Golden Tip Dian Hong.  It has lots of orange pekoe in the dried tea, and brews into an absolutely great tasting, golden coloured tea, with very rich taste and aroma.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This tea really wowed me from start to finish. You begin the cup with such attractive, even dry leaf that has a breath taking proportion of golden tips to it. I would agree that you can see the orange pekoe quite clearly in the leaf and I can’t help but wonder what the grade is – I’d guess at least TGFOP? It’s easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing black teas I’ve gotten to try in a long time.

Of course, the grade really has very little to do with the actual taste of the tea; it only describes physical aspects of the leaf and not the taste of the brew – that said, this brewed up bammin’ slammin’ delicious.

There were a lot of flavors going on but they were all so harmonious; the big one for me was the sweet taste of stonefruit that gave the tea an overall jammy quality. It was very much like overripe dark cherries and it easily stood out the most to me. Cocoa, molasses malt, and honey/light caramel notes were all present too – mostly as top notes, with the exception of the molasses which I thought was a bit stronger near the end of the sip. The body was, in addition to being quite fruity, rather starchy as well but in a sweeter way, like from yams.

This easily stands out among the majority of pure black blends I’ve had in the last month – if not longer. There’s no need for sweetener either; Yun Nan Dian Hong has such a solid and nuanced flavor profile all on its own. I absolutely recommend this tea to just about anyone and I look really forward to revisiting it.