This is a tea of the month for August on the Classic Plan. I am so behind in my tea drinking that I still haven’t tried all the July ones. Ugh. Things continue to be crazy around here. Getting the house painted on top of the usual work trauma and the start of the school year. What I wouldn’t give for some quiet time to catch up on my tea drinking.

In any case, these dry leaves smell very earthy (a bit like soil, actually) and a tiny bit leathery. They look like their picture, so I won’t dwell on that. Steeped, it’s a deep reddish brown. Very pretty. Not the russet of many Ceylons, but more of a cherry wood color. There’s a fruity aroma. Berry-like, really.

The flavor is strong and malty. What I think of as stout. It’s pretty close to some of the Scottish Breakfasts I’ve tried, more that than English to me. It’s not overly sweet, as some malty teas are. And I’ve had smoother teas than this. It has a little grab at the back of the throat on some sips.

It’s better than average, but it doesn’t send me over the top. I have a whole slew of black blends that I quite like, and I don’t think this one is different or special enough to require a place in the finals, or even the semi-finals. I would not pass it up if offered, but I don’t feel compelled to put it on my must order list.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tastes developed they became less appealing — I still enjoy nicely done blends. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. I used to hate hibiscus, but I’ve turned that corner. Licorice, not so much.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 Excellent; first rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Very good; will likely buy more

70-79 Good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Okay; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes


Bay Area, California



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