Some teas evoke images of pagodas and elegant ceremonies. That’s the sort of thing I was imagining at the first whiff of this in the package. I’m still not sure what happened. Perhaps I’m a lousy judge of character where teas are concerned. Or maybe this tea, which rode in with a sample package from Harplady (Thanks Sis!), picked up some of the more refined fragrances from those surrounding it. Or maybe, as when a rugged man tidies himself up like a gentleman to win over the ladies, it just gave me the wrong impression. No matter. The minute the hot water touched it, this teas true nature emerged. The scent did NOT evoke images of pretty ceremonies in little rice paper lined tea rooms at all. No, my imagination told me I was camping out with Genghis Khan and his rowdy entourage. It tastes like…well, tea, but with an interesting smokiness. I have read reviews of smoky teas with some skepticism. I wouldn’t have expected to like a smokey tea but found it surprisingly pleasing. Maybe it has something to do with my love of barbeque. Perhaps it’s the yen I’ve had for seasonal flavors. Pumpkin spices aren’t the only thing you smell in Autumn, it is also the season for smoky bonfires and firing up the wood stove. What better than a smoky blend such as this one to celebrate this time of year? The tea itself is a subtly fragrant presence with no bitterness, just a light familiar background flavor. As a girl with some Southern influences, I thought of barbeque and of sweet tea. I thought, ‘this would make the perfect sweet tea for an event without barbeque.’ Near the end of my cup, I tried it sweet and it was good. Then I added lemon. That was a little strange. I reflected that my husband (resident hillbilly and sweet tea expert) is right, lemon isn’t necessary or helpful. During the unprecedented second steeping I did consider going with the barbeque theme and adding a bit of cider vinegar and molasses. I’ve always been a fan of switchel and suspect this would make a good base. Perhaps when I try this a a cold brew, I will. But that second steeping was as good as the first and I had it all by itself savoring it’s uniqueness. I think I’ve found my new favorite autumn tea.
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