This was the tea I was rummaging around for to have as a follow-up to a breakfast of a lentil/garbanzo/quinoa patty sandwich and some tater tots.

Gone full western this time. No gaiwan action with this 5g pouch. 8oz, 200F, 4 good steeps at 2/3/5/? minutes.

The dry leaf smelled strongly of tar and cedar smoke. It wasn’t so strong that it was nauseating, though In fact I really enjoyed it. I’m a weirdo and love the smell of a house being re-roofed and the laying of asphalt. I was happy I picked this because it seemed like it was going to go well with the slight smokiness and spiciness of the paprika in my veg patty. The aroma of the first steep smelled moderately of cedar smoke and wood, leather, roasted almond skins and mineral. There was also an umami presence that my olfactories said was cheese, like a tangy and sweet, buttery aged gouda. I like.

The brew started out with a tasty layer of cedar smoke enveloping mineral lemon water. It had a good, light to medium body but also some astringency in the very front of the mouth along my gums which was kind of distracting. Some light bitterness presented in the back. The aftertastes hung around with notes of smoked meat, leather, cedar and a tartness.

I sniffed the leaves after the second steep. With the cedar smoke and leather, there was also a floral note, perhaps white or yellow rose. This didn’t come through in taste in the first few steeps and was likely masked by the smoke but it did appear in the third steep.

As I progressed through the rest of the steeps, the tastes stayed roughly the same. There was an addition of roasted peanut, and as I mentioned the floral note finally came through. The lemon tartness became stronger at the top back of the mouth and on the sides of my tongue. My mouth watered, helping with the astringency. A delayed light returning sweetness also appeared.

This didn’t blow me away, but I’m not really expecting that with a smoked tea. It was comforting yet clean and refined, without the smokiness bowling me over. Good longevity, too. I think it’s worth a try if you’re looking for a higher quality smoked black tea.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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If you’re an aspiring or current tea grower, let’s talk! I am slowly beginning a tea farm here in Northern California. Currently growing are young plants pulled from the ground and gifted to me after a visit to Fairhope Tea Plantation in Alabama. The parent plants are sinensis variety from a defunct Lipton research project. I’ve also started seeds from Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina. The types include Camellia taliensis, an assamica variety, and 3 sinensis varieties including “Small leaf” “Large leaf” and “Black Sea.” I also picked up 2 older plants from a a local nursery. They were grown from seed supposedly acquired from a tea farm in Washington. To learn how to process tea into different styles, I plan on traveling to China and Taiwan if/when COVID becomes a relative non-issue. I’m taking Mandarin classes to aid in this journey.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came, following a lone tin of some Tie Guan Yin oolong many years prior, in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng pu’er, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? While I may not mention those effects in tea notes, it is what I value most.

Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently. Drink a variety of teabags at work. Herbal teas/tisanes provide balance. Unfiltered tap water heathen (it’s good here).

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes.

One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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