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No. 23 Kandy Black Tea from Steven Smith Teamaker

KandyBoxTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Steven Smith Teamaker

Tea Description:

Named after one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka, Kandy brings together full and flavory Dimbulla with highly aromatic and intense Uva and lightly scented high-grown Nuwara Eliya. A tea made for sipping with pleasure all day.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I got Kandy no.23 black tea from a friend recently, and with the recent news of Steven Smith himself passing I wanted to pay homage to him by drinking one of his creations. He had many successful companies, one you might have heard of too. If anyone has had any of Tazo’s teas while they were still at Starbucks, raise you hand. If you want to read more about his legacy, there is a great article here.

Kandy is a blend of three different Ceylon teas. I’m going to disappoint anyone who thinks that this tea is going to tastes like actual candy; this tea is named after a city in Sri Lanka, not after a sweet treat. However, I am convinced that there is something sweet about this tea. In the large square sachet, smells of malted milk balls and raisinets waft into my nose. Smells like classic movie theater candy. Yum. Let’s get this started!

Now, I am not one to follow directions on packages, but reading the one on the outside of the sachet I just had to pay attention. The directions are as follows:

“Bring filtered water to a roiling boil. Steep 5 minutes, while googling the ornate Palace of the Sacred Tooth.”

Now you have my attention.

So google I did. According to Wikipedia, The Temple of the Tooth is a Buddhist temple in Kandy, Sri Lanka. In that temple is contained the sacred tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because whoever holds the tooth holds the governing power of the country. Kandy was the last capital of Sri Lanka, so it gets the tooth. Huh. Quite a history lesson for my daily cuppa.

Whilst ruminating on this, I sipped this tea in silence. I got the classic malt notes, as well as bright citrus and raisin notes. It’s smooth without having any trace of astringency. While this is not the most interesting and unique blend on the market today, there is something just so nostalgic about black tea from India and Sri Lanka. It tastes like a hot summer day with a refreshing cup of sweetened sun tea with lemon. It’s a cool rainy morning with a dash of milk. This would make for a great daily drinker for anyone who loves the mellow yet rich profiles of Ceylon teas.

The thing I like the most about this tea is the history that this company wants you to know about this tea. I really enjoy getting to know everything I can about the leaves in my cup. What are it’s hobbies? What music is it into? Is it named after a city who is famous for owning a tooth? This tea demands to be understood. And Steven Smith Tea maker is sure to get it’s point across.

Craighead Single Estate Black Tea from P.M.David Silva & Sons

craigheadTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  PMD (P.M.David Silva & Sons)

Tea Description: 

Craighead Estate is stationed 1,100 metres above sea level in the picturesque Gampola valley within the Kandy district. The Kandy district saw the success of the first commercially planted tea in Sri Lanka. This triumph led to the conception of the Ceylon Tea industry and in due course the establishment of Craighead Estate..

The combination of the western quality season and the skills of the resident tea maker create a truly regal mid-grown tea. Craighead possesses intense malty characteristics whilst embodying a brisk finish. It is ideally drunk with milk during the late morning or early afternoon.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was very excited when I got a package from the UK!  From P.M.David Silva & Sons … a new to me company!  Double excitement from one package!  Woo hoo!

This Craighead Kintyre Oya Seasonal Single Estate Ceylon Tea is the first tea that I’m sampling from them, and it’s a really lovely Ceylon!

When I think of Ceylon, I often think of the smooth, medium-bodied, even tempered, easy going black tea that has a moderate flavor that seems to take to adding flavor to quite well, which is why it’s one of the often utilized teas when it comes to selecting a base to create flavored teas.  However, there are a lot of different Ceylon teas out there, and some have really surprised me.  Like this Craighead, for example!

This is a rich and malty Ceylon, and if I had to compare it to another tea, I’d say that this is very Assam-like!  It has that rich, bold flavor of an Assam, with a sweet, caramel-y undertone and a wonderful malty note.  It isn’t quite as hefty as a typical Assam, I don’t think that I would turn to this tea for my first cup of the day.  It doesn’t have that “shake me awake,” invigorating quality to it that I get from Assam tea.

But, it does have a very robust character, and it’s a tea that I’d want as my second cup of the day, and it would make a lovely afternoon tea as well.  Because it does have a strong, assertive flavor, it would take well to the addition of milk and honey, if you’d like to add those.  It would also make a great tea to serve to guests at a tea party, because usually, people like to add tea cubes and a splash of milk to their tea at tea parties.  (This is based on my observation of the behaviors of guests at my favorite tea room.)

This is slightly tannic, but not overly so.  I find that the tannins here seem to keep the sweeter notes of the tea in balance, so I get a nice, well-rounded taste with every sip.

I like that this tea makes me rethink “Ceylon.”  This is not at all what I expected from a Ceylon, and I’m loving that!