Fortnum & Mason

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Recent Tasting Notes

Adventageddon Day 24 – Tea 3/4

Couldn’t think of a more fitting tea to end this advent with if I tried.

A lot of European (especially French) tea companies tend to do this thing where the blend the exact same tea but on different bases. So, for a split second, I thought this might just be a black tea version of the Christmas Green from a few days ago. They’re very, very different teas though. This one is a MAJOR clove bomb. Bits of cinnamon and orange too, but more clove than anything else. I fucking loved it. That flavour profiles 100% tastes like Christmas to me, and it made today feel very, very festive to me. Definitely a lot more of the flavour I thought yesterday’s Spiceed Orange blend from Plum Deluxe was gonna have.

Would I do this advent again? Probably not – I feel like it doesn’t change enough year over year to warrant repeating it. However, it was pretty close to exactly what I expected from it. Maybe even just a little bit higher. Lots of British style teas, but with a few surprising blends mixed in there that I wouldn’t have discovered from Fortnum otherwise. Some of which I’ll definitely be buying whenever my next F&M order ends up being in the far future.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C1QHuq0OvkR/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ygiyWvdZ4I

istara

I’ve loved reading your reviews of this calendar! I also probably wouldn’t do it again, it’s very expensive compared to other calendars and if they don’t change the teas much each year, there seems less point doing it.

Particular standouts for me were Rose Pouchong, Black Tea with Vanilla, Green Tea with Mandarin and possibly Gin & Tonic Tea, though I really want to try this last one again. I wish the calendar did two bags per flavour like Bird & Blend.

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Adventageddon Day 23 – Tea 2/4

Super excited to try this tea today – I’ve been curious about it for a long, long while now. It was very good too! I thought the pine-y notes of juniper and distinct taste of tonic were so representative of a good G&T, and I appreciate the light citrusy finish as well. Overall definitely a little sweeter than expected (licorice root) – especially in the lingering finish. However, as a person sensitive to licorice root I did think it was pretty well balanced.

If I didn’t have DT’s version (which I slightly prefer – it’s less sweet) I would probably be tempted to get more of this. It’s quite interesting tasting while still being really delish.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C1Nib5IOsB3/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jRjKaRnzGw

Martin Bednář

On F&M website it is moreless affordable for me, but they don’t offer shipping to my country. And Czech shop which is having them twice as expensive (all the teas), so I guess I will pass on this one. It sounds interesting and lovely though!

istara

I also thought this was excellent! The Bergamot note reminded me of Bird & Blend’s Whisktea.

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Adventageddon Day 22 – Tea 1/4

This was, shockingly, one of the best teas of the day. Best new to me tea, for sure. I haven’t looked up the ingredients yet, but it was just such a smooth and creamy cup with an almost anise-y sweetness to it! Maybe not a flavour for everyone, but I thought it was wonderful – especially with this ooey gooey baked brie topped with today’s sweet and tropical jam! You’ll have to excuse how sad it looks though; I thought it might look prettier outside of the brie baker, but it wasn’t quite as structurally sound as expected…

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C1K_pUOuXLN/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxygR8Cb7a4

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drank Chai by Fortnum & Mason
15442 tasting notes

Adventageddon Day 21 – Tea 2/4

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again a million other times, but I’m just not huge on chai blends. Especially one like this that is as close to the most basic as they come. However, this was technically my only advent tea that was truly new to me, so I tried to go into my cup with a receptive mindset. Even though Chai isn’t usually a go-to for me, I appreciated that this was an especially clove and anise forward cup. I know those are highly polarizing flavours, but I actually do enjoy both so it helped redeem the cuppa for me!

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C1IZE2AOCfJ/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSUt3xoBVK0

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Adventageddon Day 20 – Tea 1/4

Oof, I hate Gunpowder green tea, and this one was an especially coarse and unpleasantly mulchy tasting cup. It was my first tea of the day which was kind of unfortunate, but at least I was able to get it out of the way quickly and move onto something nicer.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C1F0HEXu3XQ/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQf2LG5qtzY

Mastress Alita

I feel the same about Gunpowder Green… to me it tastes too much like how cigarettes smell, which is a very unpleasant association for me and gives me migraines. I normally can only handle it in a strong blend like Moroccan Mint where the mint hides the ashtray taste.

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Adventageddon Day 19 – Tea 1/4

Hopefully this is the last Earl Grey in the F&M calendar because, I believe, there have been three now!? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since this more British/High Tea kind of vibe is really their bread and butter.

In terms of taste, this is basically just a lavender Earl Grey. Heavier on the bergamot than the lavender, but both flavours come through and are decently well balanced. I enjoyed starting my day with it, but it’s probably a little too much blergamot to be anything I’d personally want to revisit.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C1DQq6tu9xP/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTtBjAz2l4c

istara

I like this one a lot – I agree the lavender is well balanced with the bergamot.

There’s also liquorice in it though I can’t taste that at all (maybe milk drowned it out?) And honey – I can’t detect any honey note beyond the bergamot and lavender.

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Adventageddon Day 18 – Tea 4/4

I liked this more than I expected to! In my head it was going to be a Sleigh Ride style intense hibiscus blend with an excessive amount of cinnamon. It definitely does still have that sort of vibe with the tartness and mulled cider sort of quality, but it’s not as aggressive and in your face. That a roundness to the fruit notes, and something about the apple (though cider-like) also kind of reads like the warm, sweet and gooey filling of a well baked apple pie. Plum is tricky in tea, but I think here it benefits from having these other flavours to pull focus.

Is it a smash hit? And can I find comparable elsewhere? No, and yes. However, it still really hit the spot on this surprisingly rainy December day. It was cozy, and I think I’d be much more likely to turn to this than something more punchy and intense like Sleigh Ride.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C1AsG9VO40p/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7enVLMLE7M

istara

I’m greatly enjoying this! I was also anticipating a cup of sour hibiscus, but the apple is coming through nicely and the spices are nicely balanced. I rather wish they’d make this blend with just the rosehip. It reminds me of that powdered Turkish apple tea you can buy, tangy and super sweet (not sure there’s actually any tea in it or even real apple).

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Adventageddon Day 17 – Tea 3/4

Wow, this is not a tea for me. I don’t even really like chamomile on a good day, but the fact this is a chamomile blend also drowning in licorice root feels like a flavour crime targeting me personally. I did add a bit of honey before I realized there was licorice root in the tea, and I couldn’t even taste it at all over that sickly sweet flavour. Like musty basement flowers dunked in pure sweet.

It’s a shame because the bee pollen element is really cool but you can’t taste it at all, so I sort of felt like what’s the point? I’m sure that this would be a great blend for a lot of people; I can see the soothing chamomile and honey angle being relaxing or how the licorice root and honey might be nice for a raw feeling throat. It’s just super not for me.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0-G7urOC8D/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNHEm2yFmu8

Leafhopper

Licorice is a flavour crime. :P

istara

I also dislike chamomile, however the liquorice (more subtle in my bag than yours, I think – a problem with one-bag trials as the blend may not be evenly spread in each “dose”) actually helped mitigate the chamomile. I think I drank this with milk but can’t recall.

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Adventageddon Day 16 – Tea 4/4

Another back to back! Yesterday we had a kind of just okay Darjeeling from Plum Deluxe, so it was interesting timing to see this one today. Honestly? I liked this better. Still not an amazing cuppa, but a lot less flat. I thought it had that perfect Darjeeling astringency to it and the sweet notes of flower nectar were well balanced by a hint of muscatel grape and a lot of tannin.

It also ended up being a part of a tropical themed fruit and jam pairing – star fruit and orange guava & lime jam, to be specific. Though I normally probably would have chosen a different tea to drink with this fruit/jam combo, this Darjeeling ended up working surprisingly well.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C07hr09uQmr/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbNnViEfBI8

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Adventageddon Day 15 – Tea 3/4

I feel like this tea probably would have been better with milk, but I’ve had basically all the straight black teas from F&M with milk so far this advent so I wanted to drink it plain. It was brisk and full bodied, but actually very enjoyable. Sweeter than I thought it would be with a bit of a sugar cane note alongside more expected flavours like malt, walnut, baked break, and raisin. A bit of a red fruit sort of thing going on, too.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C049M5QuHNI/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU7E__eIkVE

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Adventageddon Day 14 – Tea 2/4

Usually I try to make sure my first tea in the morning is caffeinated, but these Fortnum & Mason teas aren’t in an over wrap so for most of advent season they’ve been the first thing I’ve drank each day since they’re less easy to transport.

This was actually delightful though as a morning tea, aside from the no caffeine part. I was up so early today and so I got to enjoy the crisp, cooling peppermint as the sun came up. Definitely a peppermint with a slightly more earthy and less “pure” taste to it, but really nothing to turn your nose up at either!

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C02ZiiMU5Dz/?igshid=YzZhTZiNWI3Nw==

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4lRtiISWSc

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Adventageddon Day 13 – Tea 2/4

If there’s anything in advent that I feel like I’m really missing this year it’s more black teas. I’ve just really been craving them, and my advent selection has skewed more on the green/oolong side. So I was thrilled for this tea! I’ve certainly had much better vanilla black teas, and I don’t think I’ve ever buy from F&M because I find it very expensive for what it is. However, I’ve also had much worse vanilla black teas too. This is full bodied, creamy in an almost marshmallow goo sort of way, and ultimately very agreeable.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0z38OLuPeM/?igshid=YzZhZTZiNWI3Nw==

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fmGhdlf4fs

Dustin

IF you ever find yourself at the Heathrow airport with a little spare time, F&M has a store and a section in gift shop where the tea wasn’t very expensive. I got a 250g tin of smoked EG for 14 pounds/18usd.

ashmanra

I may throw this in my next hamper. I have been eyeing it for a while. Not until the cupboard is lower, though, which I hope it will be by the next hamper!

Ilse Wouters

and when at Heathrow airport over Xmas period : go to the F&M shop. The shopwindows are always a real pleasure to see at that time of the year. As far as I am concerned, it´s on same level (not same size, of course) as Galeries Lafayette in Paris. And it doesn´t cost anything to go and watch ;-) !!! (only the danger to go inside and buy half of the shop :-)) )

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Adventageddon Day 12 – Tea 1/4

We’re halfway through folks!

I’m kind of annoyed right now because my roommate/landlord has gone back to China for several months, and apparently has not paid our wireless internet bill – and it’s just not been possible to get in contact the last few days. I’d pay it myself, but I don’t actually know our account information…

It’s super annoying, and making working from home impossible right now.

As for this tea, I neither loved nor hated it. The vibes are very similar to the Apricot, Honey, and Lavender tisane from earlier in the advent and I really enjoyed that blend so perhaps my expectations were too high. I think my main issue is that the bulk of the sip was really nice. The combination of all three flavours was light, sweet, fruity, and floral in a way that all combined was kind of prosecco or champagne-like and I really liked that. However, the finish was a bit like drinking perfume – overly rosy to the point where it had a slight “baby wipes” chemical floral quality that I was really turned off by. Maybe a lighter steep time would have helped, but unfortunately with only the one teabag I can’t know for sure and I would probably never take the gamble on ordering it again to find out…

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0xPAg6ulwP/?igshid=YzZhZTZiNWI3Nw==

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBqOh8WG__g

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Adventageddon Day 11 -Tea 4/4

Moroccan Mint isn’t super my thing, but it was still kind of nice to see a new flavour profile explored across my advents. Usually, by now, the presence of mint or candy cane is much higher. I had this one for breakfast paired with a bagel with today’s jam: apricot and lavendar, though you couldn’t taste the lavender. It was a pretty standard Moroccan Mint with just a bit of coarseness from the Gunpowder. Most interesting element was that the mint had a sweetness that lingered so prominently that for a split second I could have sworn there was added licorice root in this tea.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0uqf7gOYTS/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ogyk6GY_Io

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Adventageddon Day 10 – Tea 3/4

Double digits, baby!!

Today I pretty much just continued my fandom catch up from yesterday, though this time with some comics I picked up ages ago and just haven’t had the time to sit down and read. My favourite thing from the day was honestly today’s bright and zesty jam from Bonne Maman. It was lemon and yuzu, and it tasted like sweet and zingy sunshine!

When I saw the F&M tea today was an Earl Grey I knew they would work well together. I didn’t actually look up what the “twist” on the EG was until just now writing this review, but when I smelled the sachet I could tell it had some kind of extra citrus added to it. I actually thought it might have been lemon, but that may have been me projecting the flavour of the jam onto the tea. Turns out it’s orange! Regardless, I enjoyed this much more than the lasy Fortnum Earl Grey in the advent – the classic. This was fresher and a bit sweeter, with less of that metallic sort of twinge I found off putting.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0sEWVnuQOF/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsmLXW05n8Q

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drank Rooibos by Fortnum & Mason
15442 tasting notes

Adventageddon Day 9 – Tea 1/4

I know so many people who would have been disappointed to see a plain rooibos in an advent, but I was stoked. This was my standout today. Though I do love a nice rooibos on its own, I think this was my favourite mostly because it made for a deliciously elevated cuppa when paired with some hazelnut crackers, burrata, and today’s honey. Yes, that’s right – as a lovely surprise, today’s jam was actually a sweet and golden honey!! As the rooibos itself was rich and nutty with a natural sweetness, this just worked so serendipitously. Not as nice as Wild Grown Rooibos from DT (my fav plain one – so nutty), but really pleasant!!

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0pgjjIuitc/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCOOjL1vvLM

ashmanra

The Fortnum advent rooibos was the first red rooibos I ever actually liked..and the last.

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Adventageddon Day 8 – Tea 2/4

Today was one of the busiest work days I’ve had in months, so when I saw a simple and straight forward Assam from F&M this morning I was just relieved. Was it amazing? No, but it was solid and that really full bodied, brisk and super malty profile with a splash of milk was so grounding and just perfect for the chaos of the day.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0m_Wc4uXps/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SFvCNlziwY

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Adventageddon Day 7 – Tea 3/4(ish)

Such a surprising tea to see from F&M this morning, but it was honestly the best tea today by far. The apricot was really lush and ripe tasting but not too intense or excessively sweet or tart. Just a hint of honey, but I do think it was the right amount – too much would have possibly pushed this into cloying territory but any less and I would have just attributed it as an element of the apricot itself. The lavender was aromatic and fresh with a smoothness and soothing quality that was like a balm for my nerves this afternoon. When I get stressed I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders and jaw, and I could just felt myself unwinding as I sipped this during the afternoon.

Plus all the flavours just play so well together! I mean, the apricot and lavender would have probably tasted just fine without the honey, but it’s a perfect bridge flavour to just fully cement this flavour trio.

Really doesn’t feel like a “traditional” F&M blend in terms of style/composition, but I loved it and it’s 100% something I would consider ordering in a larger amount.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0kaEKuO5Du/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbXxOtkOYPc

istara

I was looking forward to this one more than anything, but was a little bit disappointed. I got barely any apricot and no honey, but when I added honey the apricot flavour came out much more strongly. Maybe I should have steeped for longer? I had thought I might buy this one, but without trying it again, I probably won’t.

It’s a pity Fortnums doesn’t do two teabags per day, like Bird & Blend does – it gives me a much better sense of the tea if I can try it twice.

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Adventageddon Day 6 – Tea 4/4

This was my favourite tea of the day, even though it was similar to Plum Deluxe’s Candied Orange blend from day one. I liked it both because it truly tasted of authentic mandarin (and not just orange) and because it paired so well today’s very unique jam selection, which was grapefruit and dragonfruit.

Simple, but delish.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0hzetzu5km/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYvwAsoKWBM

ashmanra

I have been tempted to throw this in my next hamper. You may have talked me into it!

istara

I’m drinking this today (I got the Advent calendar half price in a sale, so I’m doing it through January) and I love it! I don’t usually like green teas that much. I’ve added some honey, I brewed it slightly below boiling – let the kettle cool a bit then swirled it before pouring – and it’s really rounded and aromatic. Not bitter at all.

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Adventageddon Day 5 – Tea 3/4

Wasn’t super enthusiastic about seeing an Earl Grey this morning, but when it comes to advent season it’s always an inevitability that there’ll be lots of classic tea profiles and that means accepting some EG in the mix. This one was fine. Full bodied and pretty floral leaning with a little bit of a pungency to the bergamot. Not in a negative way per say, but just that there was a lot of “oomph” to it. Good for the bergamot loves, less good for me though.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0fNj5YOs0U/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0VN59KsCJ0

istara

This one smelt beautiful to me but when brewed, I could barely detect any bergamot! I’ll have to try it again if I can get hold of more, but I wasn’t impressed.

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Adventageddon Day 4 – Tea 2/4

I was excited to see this included in the Fortnum advent since so many of their teas are more traditional/conservatively blended black or green teas. Even though lemon ginger teas are a dime a dozen, it does stand out just a little bit as being a more interesting profile to come from F&M in particular.

I made this in a tea for one pot with a bagel and today’s jam (a very ‘mid’ tasting Cherry & Pink Peppercorn jam) to have for breakfast, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get into this one. Though the zesty heat from the ginger itself was nice, the lemon was just reading quite intensely as Pinesol-esque cleaner to my palate. It’s a bit brutal to say, but I even ended up gagging a little bit drinking through it.

Very disappointing…

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0cpM5NuW5Z/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En6tbgDl65w

istara

I found the ginger in this one pretty fiery, in a good way. It tasted fresh.

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Adventageddon Day 3 – Tea 3/4

This was my favourite tea today, though the name infuriates me a little bit. I mean, why on earth would you call this a pouchong? It just sets up this weird expectation for the blend to be an oolong when it’s actually a very lovely black tea. Rose Keemun sounds just as lovely as pouchong. Like… just make it make sense.

But aside from that the rose in this tea is really, really good. Very fragrant and fresh with an inherent sweetness that plays nicely with the more woody, cocoa-like, and ever so slightly smokey black tea. Mind you I’m a sucker for a good rose blend, but this was really well executed. Not perfumey and gross at all.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0aC3COOTwI/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2modzA5VxE

ashmanra

I have asked A Southern Season, Fortnum and Mason, and the Rare Tea Company if they have any idea why rose scented Chinese black tea gets the moniker Pouchong and no one could come up with an answer. Fortnum even contacted their source warehouse who also didn’t know why.

Leafhopper

I’m not sure why it gets this name either. Pouchong is another name for baozhong, which supposedly means “wrapped kind,” as the tea was traditionally wrapped in paper before being roasted (or alternatively, before being sold, depending on your source, as modern Taiwanese BZ oolong isn’t usually a roasted tea). I’ve seen baozhong used to refer to any strip-style tea, whether oolong or not. I guess any strip-style tea could technically be called pouchong. Still, it’s confusing for customers, and I’d also wrongly assume this tea was an oolong.

ashmanra

I did ask them if possibly this tea is wrapped for the scenting process and they didn’t know. Maybe the mystery will be solved one day!

Leafhopper

I obviously have too much time on my hands, so I did a bit more research. Pouchong originated in Fujian, China (or according to one old tea book I found online, in Canton, wherever that is now). It was categorized among several kinds of scented tea. The book describes it as “a bold, rough-looking leaf, dull black in color and peculiar in scent, the latter being imparted to it by the admixture of the seeds of the Chulan flower” (also don’t know what this is). A quick Google search also reveals scented pouchongs/baozhongs made with green tea. Taiwan adopted this wrapped style of tea in the 1880s and it must have gradually become the oolong we know as baozhong without completely negating the original meaning of the term.

As that old tea book suggests, it’s also possible that souchong (a grade of large leaf) got muddled in with all this and created even more confusion.

Has anyone seen an unscented BZ that’s not an oolong?

ashmanra

The only BZ I have that is unscented is Wen Shan and it is an oolong. Maybe there are some out there, though!

Great research! Thank you for sharing that!

Dustin

I had the shortest layover at Heathrow airport earlier this year and I’m so bummed that in my frantic stop at the F&M shop I didn’t think to grab a tin of this.

istara

I absolutely adored this one – everything about it was perfect. I typically drink Bird & Blend’s rose-scented Belle’s Breakfast but I may buy the Fortnum’s in future as well. I only had the one bag to try so want to do a side-by-side comparison some day!

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Adventageddon Day 2 – Tea 1/4

Started the morning strong with a big mug of tea paired with some fresh fruit, a cranberry scone, and today’s jam (strawberry and linden)! I’m realizing pretty quickly that it’s gonna be extra important to have an assortment of fruits, cheeses, and baked goods on hand in order to have something to use the jam with since I’m not such a big fan of the idea of just having it straight-up and there’s no guarantee that it’ll compliment the day’s tea selections.

As for the oolong I thought it was a perfectly servicable cup of tea! No off notes at all and, though I found it just a smidge flat tasting overall, the silky florals and greener undertones of timothy hay, iceberg lettuce, and sweetgrass were pleasant tasting and peaceful. It made for a really nice, gentle start to my day while I enjoyed my breakfast.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0Xf_rYOG6Y/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_bIKjSZYeU

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Adventageddon Day 1 – Tea 3/4

I’ve wanted to do Fortnum & Mason’s sachet advent for a few years now, but in past years it’s actually only had twenty two unique teas in it – two have repeated. The concept of that just drove me a little crazy, but thankfully this year they seem to have wised up and the calendar has twenty four unique teas instead.

I’m not sure what makes this Sri Lankan black tea “Royal” but I was happy to see a strong black tea this morning because it was perfect for sipping on during my early morning meetings while working from home today. I found it very full bodied and brisk with a pleasant tannic quality and a flavour that was a nice mix of malted grains, red fruits, raisin, a touch of citrus, and a bit of a coppery mineral note. I was surprised, actually, that it wasn’t quite as fruity as expected because the aroma of the dry leaf itself was VERY strongly red fruit smelling – like red currant jelly!

Overall maybe a little forgettable longterm, but very nice in the moment.

Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0U5HFmO091/?img_index=1

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nSvl1YkXPs

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