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
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.