Karakundah Black/Simple Loose Leaf

Some mornings are no-nonsense; this Monday is one of them. No time for blends. Time for serious faces, email, and caffeine.

This black tea, which I received this month in my Simple Loose Leaf box, is a yummer. (Nope, “yummer” is not a word — or is it NOW a word? Language evolves, guys. Start using “yummer.” Let’s see if we can get it to catch on).

I knew immediately that this tea was from India because of its slightly spicy and raisin-y tones. The name “Karakundah” also helped — the name didn’t ring as Asian. Turns out that this estate is the highest commercial tea estate in the world.

Make sure to share that fact at your next party. You’ll be swarmed with friends in no time.

This black tea’s powerful rich and malty flavor from a single teaspoon made it clear to me from the get-go that it was a high quality pick. And, lo and behold, it turns out that it’s an “orange pekoe,” which is the highest quality of leaf on the grading scale. (The lowest quality is “fannings and dust,” which I’ve heard is what they throw into commercially-available pre-bagged cheap tea.)

Overall, this pick has gusted me into Awake Land in a quality, unfettered way. It met and, I daresay, exceeded my expectations. Nice work, you high-elevation pals. I tip my cap to you.

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf


Karakundah tea estates, found in the Nilgiri region of India, produce some of the highest grade black teas in that region. Commonly known for the medium-bodied cup of tea, Karakundah black teas are highly sought after on the world stage making this tea a prize for international buyers. Serve with or without milk and add sugar to taste.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

English Breakfast/Steeped Tea

This tea was my first exposure to Steeped Tea, and from what I can discern looking at their website and online catalog, you can “join” and become a Sipologist, selling their products through hosted parties, catalogs, etc. They have a variety of products from tea (including white, green, matcha, black, herbal tisanes, etc.) to teaware, scone mixes, cookie mixes, kombucha supplies, and even hot chocolate. A lot of the teaware is very modern with bold, fun colors, but there are also elegant, classic tea sets.

The English Breakfast tea is simply listed as containing organic black tea without any information as to origin of the tea, and they do not provide this information as it is protected as a proprietary blend. The herbal blends and flavored teas do specify all additional ingredients other than tea, though. I am pleased to see that the herbal selection does NOT contain stevia, as I really don’t enjoy stevia and it has become almost omnipresent in herbals.

If I had to guess, I would say this is Indian tea, and may have a touch of Darjeeling in it. There is a prominent lemony note, which is sometimes indicative of high grown tea, usually a Ceylon like Uva Highlands. It is quite brisk and bright and it tingles the tongue. If you like milk and sugar in your tea, this may be right up your alley. I am a Keemun kind of gal, and I take my tea straight, but I found it drinkable even without additions if you like lots of high citrus notes in your black tea. Don’t expect the deep base notes of Chinese black tea in this one.

The liquor is very clear and has nice color, and didn’t cloud even after cooling down to room temperature.

Many companies now have a chosen charity that receives a portion of the profits, usually from specific products that change periodically. Steeped Tea supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and they will also help you set up a findraiser with their products.

Check out their catalog online and see if you find something special that is just right for you!

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Steeped Tea


Ingredients: Black tea.
Contains Naturally Occurring Caffeine

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Keemun Mao Feng Black Tea Grade One/AprTea Mall

Keemun is my absolute favorite tea for breakfast. Once upon a time long ago, if you asked for breakfast tea, Keemun was what you were given. These days, even specifically ordering English Breakfast can result in many different types of tea being delivered to you, with Assam or Kenyan tea being the most likely to show up at your table. There are many, many kinds!

But Keemun is gentler on my stomach and still has that “start the day” vibe. Although I rarely add anything to my tea, Keemun can take additions of milk and/or sugar and still shine. The taste is so great as is that I don’t want to dampen it.

This particular Keemun is the middle grade offered by AprTea Mall. I reserve the highest grades for afternoon tea or for drinking by themselves, and I don’t enjoy lower grade Keemun teas nearly as much, but I find a mid-grade to be just what I am looking for in a breakfast tea or to pair with a meal.

The leaves are very dark, long, and lightly twisted. These are whole leaves and not broken bits. The dry leaf aroma is fruity, and the wet leaf aroma is fruity and bright.

It has just enough heft and just enough cocoa or malt flavor to be paired with waffles and syrup and clear the palate without the pucker factor of most breakfast teas. This particular Keemun also has that hint of fruit that earns some of these the designation of a “winey” Keemun, although it is just a hint here and not terribly pronounced.

Overall, I deem this to be a good, serviceable Keemun that I can enjoy as a daily drinker.

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  AprTea Mall


Keemun Mao Feng (祁门毛峰): Keemun Mao Feng is a kind of Keemun Black Tea,has a more refined production process.using one bud and one leaf for full fermentation. the shape is cord tight knot small as eyebrow, the luster is Ukraine; tea aroma lasting fragrance, like fruit orchid fragrance, the aroma has this special name “Qimen fragrant” in the international tea market; tea soup color and leaf color is red and bright, the taste is fresh and thick, and even drink with milk and the sweet sugar, the aroma is not only reduced, but more fragrant.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Zhen Quo Fine Black Tea/A Southern Season

I have seen this tea sold under several different spellings, but this is the only one of this type I have tried. It is one of the first fine loose leaf teas I ever purchased, and I haven’t outgrown it. When I am in the town where they sell it, I get a bit for the shelf.

My husband only likes his black tea with milk and sugar, and since he tries to cut back on sugar where he can he prefers that we drink green, white, oolong or puerh together. I had a hunch that he would like this one plain, and it paid off. That tells you a good bit about this special tea from the Yunnan Province. It tells you that it doesn’t taste like a breakfast tea, it isn’t malty, and it isn’t very brisk. So let’s talk about what it IS.

This lovely black tea steeps up a little light in color, but it is far from light in flavor. There are layers of goodness in each cup. This is smooth, slightly savory, and has hints of golden raisin and honey, a hint of sweet pastry, and a little fruit. High notes and middle notes abound, with just a little bit of bass.

It resteeps wonderfully, so even though this is a regional shop with only a few locations, they do ship, and it is worth a try. Or perhaps you can try a Zhen Qu from other sources and let us know how it compares to this description!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: A Southern Season


A black tea from Yunnan province, a big bodied, deep rich brew that is a mix of dry savory notes balanced by pervasive sweetness and a hint of fruit

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Darjeeling Spring Black Tea / Udyan Tea

Never have I seen a tea company use so many tea puns. I love it!

There is a lot to love about this company, besides the puns of course. They are a team of tea lovers who want to bring the best tea to others.

They offer only Indian teas but from what I can tell they only offer top grade tea.

For those herbal lovers they also have an interesting line of wellness teas.

As for this Darjeeling, I am impressed. It has a bit of astringency to it but it works well with the sweet floral notes. The moment you open the bag and smell the dry leaf there is no doubt in your mind that it is a Darjeeling.

It has that classic aroma which turns almost muscatel when wet. Speaking of which I detect a faint amount of honey but not much in the way of muscetal notes. The only unfortunate part for me is that they are located in India.

If you don’t mind the extra time and cost in shipping definitely check these guys out.

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Udyan Tea


A finely selected, round and full bodied Black Tea from First Flush season in Darjeeling

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!