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loose leaf black tea

Organic Assam Black Tea/OLLTco -Ashmanra

Photo Credit: OLLTco

I received a generous sample of this tea in my box from the Sisters. Many thanks!

I am not usually a big drinker of Assam tea. I liked it when I first started drinking “fine” tea but back then I added milk and sugar.

As I began to take my tea plain, Assam and a few other teas (like really pepper-y Yunnan) were not only a little strong for me but seemed to cause tummy trouble. Some of the high quality ones don’t bother me as long as I steep carefully with a lower temp and shorter time. But I really gravitated toward Chinese black teas, especially Fujian and Qimen.

I have never even heard of this tea company, so naturally I looked them up before writing this. Their “about” info says that they carry carefully curated organic teas that are better for you and better for the environment. I clicked on shop and…there are only two teas for sale! This one and a jasmine green from China.

This one is super affordable. At the time of writing this, it is around $3 an ounce.

I made it to go with breakfast and…well, I’ll be danged. This is really good.

Bracing myself for a puckered mouth, dreading the potential burning stomach later, instead I got a pot of really enjoyable, moderately bracing, good black tea. I even resteeped it, and extra Assam isn’t something I often go after. In fact, I am already a little excited about having it again tomorrow!

There is absolutely no need of milk and sugar but it can take it if that’s how you roll.

This is rich and malty, has good body, lightly brisk without sourness, and really nice with breakfast. Now I am intrigued by that Jasmine Green they sell…


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  OLLTco

Description

Organic loose leaf black tea from Assam, India

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Charlotte aux Fruits Rouges/Damann Freres- Ashmanra

Photo Credit: Dammann Freres

My first “gourmet” flavored tea was by Dammann Freres, and it felt like a whole new wonderful world had been opened up to me. It astonished me that they could put so many flavors into a single tea without them competing and turning it into a pure mush in which one flavor could not be distinguished from another. I remember seeing “biscuit” flavor listed and thinking, “Hah! How can you make tea really taste like biscuit? It probably just tastes like vanilla!” And then I sipped and my eyes widened and I said, “OOOOOOOOH! It tastes like biscuit!”

Not flour-y buttered biscuits from the good old Southern USA, but a lightly sweet European biscuit. They NAILED it. Oh, delightful pastry, how I love thee!

That first tea had lots of different flavors, but this one boasts of just biscuit and four red fruits. They have achieved marvelous balance with this tea, as the sweetish biscuit flavor rises hand in hand with the fruit flavors in a perfect blending. I detect mostly strawberry, not tart but not candy sweet.

The biscuit flavor keeps it feeling like a decadent grown-up tea and not a candy tea for a children’s tea time. The base has nice heft. I steeped it just below boiling and at about three minutes. (I have found that I prefer those parameters for almost all black French teas.) I definitely made nommy noises. We all cried, “Encore!” when the pot was finished.

The good news is that the second steep was just as good as the first. Bravo, Dammann.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Damann Freres

Description

A blend of black teas with the delicious scents of red fruits, combining the aromas of cherry, strawberry, raspberry and red currant for an irresistibly fruity tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Sakurambo/Lupicia – ashmanra –

Photo Credit: Lupicia

A good friend surprised me with a box containing a Lupicia green rooibos blend and two sample sachets. I couldn’t wait to try them all! This was first pick.

A quick peek at google to find out whether it was a black or green tea so I could set the kettle to the proper temp told me it was cherry scented and I did not look any further. But it was a conundrum. Go ahead and make a fruity tea even though I was having waffles and maple syrup for breakfast, or rummage through my stash to find a plain black? My experience with Lupicia was that their fruity teas are SUPER fruity and it might all be too sweet together, but I decided I really wanted to try these sooner rather than later!

Then rats rats rats! I tasted the waffle before sipping the tea! I like to try a new tea unadulterated to get the full flavor. Nevermind, a few sips would clear the palate to give me the true taste.

And that’s where it got confusing.

Nice black tea base…yes, a hint of cherry but not super fruity, rather…..smokey? What is that? What is happening? Not smokey….SAVORY. And then…..warmth from a little spice starts to glow. Is that pepper? I don’t like peppery chai and this wasn’t offending me so what was it? Was the syrup messing with the true taste of the tea too much?

Here is where I had to stop everything and look up the tea to find out what was going on. The savory was coming from rosemary! And the spice was pink peppercorns, which I couldn’t see in the sachet at all but when I tore it open it was there. If there is going to pepper in my tea, I highly prefer pink peppercorn to any other kind.

This tea was a great pairing with the sweet syrup and waffles. The rosemary gave deep herbal notes and enhanced the black base while the pink peppercorns gave warmth and spice and a nice, lingering aftertaste that cut the sweetness of the food without the raw heat of black peppercorns. The cherry wasn’t cough syrup cherry or candy cough drop cherry, but a nice, realistic Japanese cherry that was not too sour.

This gets a thumbs up from me! In future I would buy it loose leaf so I could see those adorable bright pink/red peppercorns looking like tiny cherries!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Lupicia

Description

SAKURAMBO is A fresh, intriguing blend of black tea scented with juicy Japanese cherries, one of our best-selling flavored teas of all time. The tea is topped with crisp rosemary and pink peppercorns imitating the ripe fruit. Visually appealing, this tea will make a great gift. Try its delicious sister product, SAKURAMBO VERT, which is a green tea blend.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

(photo credit:  Lupicia)

Black Beauty/Mandala Tea -Skysamurai-

NOOOOO!! I thought this was a Lapsang.

It smelled to heavily of campfire smoke I didn’t think it could be anything but Lapsang….

But no… It’s a wonderful black tea And why am I screaming?

Because I dumped a good lot of it in my bone broth that is cooking from yesterdays turkey leftovers. Shame, shame, shame. It really s too bad. This tea is so smooth.

A Keenum style but without the astringency. Aroma of apricots and slightly earthy in the wet leaf. I’m currently on my third steeping and it’s still going strong. I hope my bone broth is amazing.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Mandala Tea

Description

Black Beauty is a very fitting name for this wonderful tea!  If you are a fan of Keemun style black teas, you will want to try this one.  Most of our customers and myself, now prefer this over the Keemun black.  It is wonderfully sweet, almost chocolatey and little to no astringency present! The tea liquor is clear and longer steepings will give it a slightly red hue.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

China Keemun First Grade/Upton Tea Imports -Ashmanra-

I received a gift of this tea in the mail from a fellow tea lover. Tea people are THE BEST! And Keemun is one of my favorite tea types, so let’s get down to business!

The package says First Grade China Keemun but the website puts it the other way around as China Keemun First Grade. This is an entry level Keemun with an astonishingly low price, so if you are not overly picky and want a daily drinker, this would be very economical.

The aroma of the dry leaves is very nostalgic for me. It smells just like the tea section of A Southern Season, harkening back to my earliest explorations of tea. This smells like TEA. The aroma is bracing and rich, and very comforting to me.

I erred on the side of caution and made this more like they would in China with a slightly lower temperature and a short three minute first steep, followed by a four minute re-steep.

Wow. I can not imagine taking this to five minutes with boiling water unless you are adding milk and sugar. Strong stuff.

I am getting no cocoa at all, no chocolate. The overwhelming impression is tobacco and wood.
There is a touch of wine or muscatel, like a darjeeling. There is a definite natural smokey flavor, not like lapsang but rather the light smoke often found in daily drinker Chinese black tea.

The aroma had so many layers and was so rich that I really thought the tea was going to blow me away. But it isn’t quite my favorite profile. I enjoyed it without milk or sugar with my breakfast, but this wouldn’t do double duty for me as an afternoon tea or a dessert accompaniment.

What I think it WILL do very well is sweet iced tea. It has the heft and smoothness to carry it off.

UPDATE: I made it as a sweet tea and let it chill overnight because we all know iced tea tastes best after it has had time to meld.

The taste really surprised me. I thought it would be a really classic iced black tea flavor but somehow the fruity aspect really amped up, to the point that it almost tastes like a flavored tea! Interesting!

Not a favorite Keemun type for me, but glad to have tried it. If you like winey Keemuns and are looking for a super economical price point, this is worth checking out.

 


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Description

With its rich flavor profile and smooth mouth feel, this standard grade Keemun represents a great value for a China black tea. Hints of wine and a suggestion of smoke round out the earthy, full-bodied cup.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!