Bourbon Vanilla

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Today’s tea is Bourbon Vanilla, and it is a black flavored tea from Highwire Coffee Roasters (although I purchased this back when it was Peaberry’s). So this is a tea that may or may not be the same that they carry. It’s quite possible they have a different source for it.

Even though the vanilla is called “Bourbon” vanilla, it does not mean that bourbon liquor is processed with the vanilla. (Although I like the idea!) It refers to the Bourbon Islands, where the vanilla is grown.

It’s very cold today, and my tea is cooling rapidly, so let’s get to it.

The vanilla in the tin smells quite flavorful and makes me want to eat the tea leaves. The leaves themselves are dark, with not a lot of gradation in color. There’s a speck of gold here or there. This is the second of the two vanilla teas I have, the first being the Black Orchid that I reviewed last time.

The flavor isn’t quite as pronounced as the Black Orchid. It is smooth, with a background and aftertaste of vanilla. I’m hesitating to say that it’s disappointing, because it’s not quite that–it just doesn’t pack the punch that I was expecting. It is much more subtle. It is also good with milk, better even. Overall, I’d say it’s good, but if you’re looking for a vanilla tea, the Black Orchid was better.

You can get it here: http://www.highwirecoffee.com/collections/black-teas/products/bourbon-vanilla

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Black Orchid

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Today’s tea is Black Orchid, and it is a flavored vanilla black tea from Mariage Freres.

I can really smell the vanilla as soon as I open the familiar glossy black tin. The tea itself is very black, with a slight variation in color. It has a sweet, malty scent as well.

I have used this tea in a blend that I make called Springtime in Paris. It is one teaspoon each of Earl Grey, Jasmine Green Tea and Black Orchid to make a standard size mug of tea. It is quite tasty, and I prefer it to this tea alone. Try it sometime.

The flavor of this tea is rich and malty with quite a kick of vanilla. It’s good, overall. Adding milk makes it creamy and  taste dessert-like. This would make a very nice afternoon tea.

You can find it here: http://www.markethallfoods.com/products.php?product=Mariage-Frères-Black-Orchid

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Wedding Imperial

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Today’s tea is Wedding Imperial. It is a black flavored tea from Mariage Freres. Mariage Freres was established in 1854 in Paris, France.

The flavors are chocolate and caramel in Assam tea. Normally I don’t like flavored teas, and I should have known better, but this one smelled so good!

The leaves are twisted and flecked with gold, so this doesn’t appear to be cheap tea that’s then flavored, which is what you used to get when you got flavored tea (same goes for coffee). The chocolate and caramel scent is enticing, and is why I bought the tea.

It brews up a nice reddish-brown cup, but a warning: this tea turns bitter and undrinkable when it’s cold, so drink up while it’s hot. It is slightly sweet, the chocolate and caramel flavors are not over the top, and the Assam saves the day. The last time I tried it I didn’t like it, but it’s really not bad at all now. I don’t think I’d add it to my daily rotation group, but it’s nice, especially for the holidays. It would make a good afternoon tea.

You can get it here: http://www.markethallfoods.com/products.php?product=Mariage-Frères-Wedding-Imperial

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Scottish Breakfast

P1010409 Hello, today’s tea is Scottish Breakfast, and it is a black tea blend from Peet’s Coffee & Tea. It has India teas with Lapsang Souchong. The Lapsang Souchong makes it smoky, and I smell it as soon as I stick my nose in the tin. Looking at the tea there are a few golden tips in there, so perhaps Assam is making an appearance as well. It brews a hearty, reddish-brown cup that smells smoky, but not overwhelmingly so–it smells rich. The flavor is also hearty and full-bodied, and is another tea made for milk, but it tastes good without it as well. I’m always surprised when that happens. It is a rich blend of flavors that go well together. Peet’s tea blends are nearly always top-notch. This is a tea that I have occasionally because I’m not a huge fan of Lapsang Souchong–although I like it–I have to be in the mood for it.  I agree with with what Peet’s says on its website about this tea: “It’s a good tea for cold weather, with its full body, pungent taste, and woodsmoke aroma.” You can get it here: http://www.peets.com/shop/tea_detail.asp?id=80&cid=1000154

Edit: This tea is no longer a regular offering at Peet’s. They blend it twice a year and then sell it in one-pound bags. It’s worth stocking up when it’s offered if this tea is a favorite.

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Pumphrey’s Blend

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Good morning, today’s tea is Pumphrey’s Blend, and it is a unique blend of black and green teas from Peet’s Coffee & Tea. The black teas come from India and China and there is green tea and jasmine scented green tea in it as well.

At first, a tea purist might think, “How can you combine black and green teas when they are brewed at different temperatures? That’s preposterous!” Well, as it turns out, it works. Brewing the green tea at a temperature for black tea doesn’t ruin the flavor of this tea. It simply works.

The fragrance of the jasmine is what you smell first. Then the earthiness of the black teas come into play. This is another tea (like the Pride of the Port) that smells like perfume, but in a good way. The leaves are dark, and the green tea doesn’t really stand out against the black like I would expect it to.

It’s intriguing, this blend. You wonder how it can possibly come together in something that is palatable. But not only is it palatable, it’s a dream. The flavors mingle in such a way that is so unusual, yet brilliant. It’s one of those things you wish you had thought of yourself. “Fresh” is a word they use to describe it on the tin, and I would agree with that. I add milk as well, which sounds strange since there is green tea in the blend, but again, it works.

Pumphrey’s Blend is in regular rotation at my house. It was made for an afternoon tea, but I drink it in the morning. It is also supposed to be especially good iced. It’s one I recommend highly, especially if you are a jasmine tea lover.

You can get it here: http://www.peets.com/shop/tea_detail.asp?id=82&cid=1000154

 

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Pride of the Port

Today’s tea is Pride of the Port, and it is a black tea from Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

A quick peek inside the tin reveals full leaves, not choppy ones. They are twisted and flecked with gold. This is also a blended tea, with teas from China and India, and I’m betting that there is some Assam in there, given the malty scent. The tea smells like perfume–but in a good way, not a choke-on-it way. It is not overbearing, but fully fragrant and lush. I’m picking up subtle floral notes as well.

The color in the cup is a lovely amber-reddish-brown. The flavor is full and rich and malty, maybe a little grainy as well. It is a hearty cup, and really good without milk even. The addition of milk pulls everything together and smoothes out the cup. This is one of my favorite teas, and one that is in regular rotation. This blend was created at Peet’s in 1999, and I’ve probably been drinking it for four or five years. It’s a keeper, for sure.

You can get it here: http://www.peets.com/shop/tea_detail.asp?id=239&cid=1000185

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Kangaita Breakfast

Today’s tea is Kangaita Breakfast, and it is an African black tea from Rare Tea Republic.

What I like about Rare Tea Republic is that the labels on the bags are hand written and they tell you not only where the tea originates (in this case, Kenya), but the plucking date as well, so you know exactly how old your tea is. Pretty amazing, huh? The rest of the label is the important stuff about how much tea to use and how long to brew it and for what temperature.

Kenya has been producing tea for only 50 years, yet ranked third in the world for black tea production, according to The Story of Tea. (Heiss, 239)

The tea is very dark, without much gradation in color. Most breakfast blends contain Assam, but this one is not a blend. It smells malty and strong, just the way I like it. It brews up a hearty red-brown cup. It smells and tastes a bit earthy, with a robust, slightly astringent flavor. This is another tea that is made for milk. It smoothes the tea out and blends the flavors.

This is a tea I’ve added to my rotation. I ordered it on a whim, just because it was a breakfast tea, and I had never had an African tea before. Unfortunately, Rare Tea Republic is now The Republic of Tea. I’m so disappointed that they’ve combined the companies, and I can’t find this tea on their site. I’m not a fan of Republic of Tea. My experience with their tea is that it is just not that good. It’s sad that in the few short months that I’ve been doing this blog, two of the suppliers for my tea no longer exist. First L’Amyx Tea here in Oakland, and now Rare Tea Republic out of Novato, both here in California.

I was able to find this tea on Stash Tea’s site. I might order from them when I run out. It would be worth checking out from another supplier, and they sell it loose leaf: http://www.stashtea.com/Stash-Tea-Kenya-Black-Kangaita/dp/B005DM5KQE

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