1 bag for 250mL boiling water. Bare. Sampled at 5 minutes and then at 8 minutes.

Every now and then I still buy bagged tea at the supermarket. It’s usually a disappointment, but the Just Us tea intrigued me. Just Us is a small coffee roaster and tea importing co-operative in Nova Scotia. The Just Us coffees are pretty good, and I was low on a basic black tea blend, and, after some time outside in the fog, right in the mood for a proper cup of TEA. Just Us Maritime Breakfast one says it’s all India black tea — yay — from TPI. I like Kenya and China and Ceylon blacks, but sometimes only Indian black tea will do.

The Maritime Breakfast is a fairly small teabag filled with fannings. I felt a letdown when I saw that. But the scent — there’s a nice pinch of Darjeeling in this blend, the muscatel sharpness unmistakable.

So I steeped it, one little teabag to strictly 250mL/8oz of boiling water, for 5 minutes.

Maritime Breakfast brews up dark and fast, like Tetley, but the comparison ends there. The Just Us blend smells earthy (Assam?) and a bit sharp (Darjeeling?). There’s some maltiness and heft and an astringent finish that, if you steep it to 8 minutes (like i did when I got distacted) is really pronounced. The finish is mineral and sweet — oh, that’s gottabe Darjeeling, even if a low quality — with some wood notes. At 8 minutes, the liquor is very dark, almost coffee-like, and opaque. Strong without being bitter. For a black tea blend in general, quite nice if you like India tea. For a supermarket baggie blend stuffed with fannings, it’s great. It’s also fairly cheap. It also reminds me a lot of what ‘regular tea’ tasted like when I was a kid, before many manufacturers seemed to switch more to Kenya and Ceylon in their blends. Or maybe I’m just imagining that.

If you like a strong cuppa, I wouldn’t steep a bag in a big mug; it really is a fairly stingy serving of tea.

Rating: 85.

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Writer and tea fiend. Author of DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE. New novel this March called THIS MARLOWE.

I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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