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I’ve had this sitting in a little bowl on my counter that is overflowing with other samples on my short list of things to try for a couple of weeks now. I decided that today was the day, since I’m celebrating the demise of two boxes of bagged black tea today from my “starter” teas.

I haven’t (knowingly) had a Ceylon black before by itself, though it does make appearances in black blends so I’m sure I’ve tasted it intermingled with other things. But solo, this is a first.

I really liked the look of the dry leaves. They’re dark and pretty and vaguely twiggy. I thought they’d make a very attractive nest for a very small bird, or a lovely, very small basket if they could be woven into such a thing. This may sound odd, but their smell is warm. The air around them gives off the impression of being some degrees warmer than the surrounding air. I haven’t experienced this before and thought it was a cool thing. They don’t have a very loud smell, in fact they’re less aromatic than just about all the other Samovar samples I’ve tried, as I recall. They do have a fruity smell, that is also somewhat like tobacco. Like a fruit flavored pipe tobacco. Cherry maybe.

After steeping, the aroma is of carmelized sugar, and a high, somewhat “narrow” note that might be wine or might be citrus. The tea is a lovely clear reddish tea color. A deep coppery color.

There’s a vaguely metallic note to the taste, though I must admit that I’m not sophisticated enough in my tasting of metals to be able to distinguish iron from zinc from copper. It’s a full, sweet flavor, with some malt, and some tang which could be either the aforementioned wine or citrus. It’s not as smooth as the other Samovar blacks I’ve tasted (which smoothness I had come to regard as a sort of trademark) but this could also be because I steeped this one a bit longer than I did the others because I was feeling adventurous today. Still, it’s not bumpy either. Not harsh. There’s a bit of toastiness and a coffee-like quality, not so much in the taste as in the overall impression of the flavor and body.

But is there raspberry?

Yes, with this caveat. My mother was a big crossword puzzle worker and she used to tell me that to be good at crossword puzzles you had to “throw your mind out of focus” a little, to be receptive to meanings you might not think of initially. To get the raspberry taste while the tea was hot, I had to throw my mind out of focus a bit. It’s there in the aroma, and in the aftertaste.

And, as I just discovered when I sipped what was left in the cup after typing to this point, it’s much more readily identifiable when the tea is cooler.

Wet, the leaves have an interesting reddish tinge. One of the other notes mentioned they smelled like tomatoes, so I had to give them a sniff. They do! (More like tomato sauce to me, actually.)

It’s not my favorite Samovar black, but it’s still an excellent drink. Onto the shopping list it goes.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Rabs

I went through several years of doing crosswords on a daily basis – and I LOVE your mom’s “throw your mind out of focus a little.” That nails it :)

Lori

My grandfather completed the NYT crossword puzzle everyday until he died..so maybe that’s how he did it…

__Morgana__

Yeah, I thought it was a pretty good way of describing what you have to do not to get stuck in crosswords. :-)

Stephanie

Love that crossword puzzle reference! No wonder I’ve never been good at them—they just tend to frustrate me because I focus too much!

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Rabs

I went through several years of doing crosswords on a daily basis – and I LOVE your mom’s “throw your mind out of focus a little.” That nails it :)

Lori

My grandfather completed the NYT crossword puzzle everyday until he died..so maybe that’s how he did it…

__Morgana__

Yeah, I thought it was a pretty good way of describing what you have to do not to get stuck in crosswords. :-)

Stephanie

Love that crossword puzzle reference! No wonder I’ve never been good at them—they just tend to frustrate me because I focus too much!

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Bio

I’ve updated this bio as it’s been a couple of years since I “started getting into” tea. It’s now more accurate to say that I was obsessed with tea for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it, and I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I’ve recently started writing fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I much prefer to drink tea without additives such as milk and sugar. If a tea needs additives to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’m going to rate it high. The exception is chai, which I make on the stove top using a recipe I found here on Steepster. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs into the harder stuff, but once I learned how to make a decent cup of tea they became far less appealing to me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. I’m revising them slightly to make them less granular as I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas against other similar versions. So I rate Earl Greys, for example, against other Earl Greys, rather than against all teas. If something rates very high with me, though, it probably means it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is; will keep this stocked until the cows come home

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; likely to become a favorite, will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again if in the mood for this particular one or a better, similar version not available

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but probably wouldn’t buy again unless craving this particular flavor

50-59 Okay or run of the mill

Below 50 So-so, iffy, would definitely pass
or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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