Decided to try the last of this sample back to back with the LIT Keemun Black Tea Grade II.
Wow, glad I did this! Extremely interesting. They are very similar in some ways, very different in others.
There’s no initial sharpness with this one. The smokiness is different. I’d say the LIT has a little bit more, but the real difference isn’t in the amount so much as in the way the flavor works in the tea. In the H&S, it is more part and parcel of the tea itself if that makes sense. Whereas in the LIT, it seems a more separate flavor. I don’t really prefer one to the other, but I find the difference fascinating.
I think the LIT is a bit brisker. They have a similar flavor aspect that I’ll call the “woodiness” piece, but I’d say the H&S leans more toward fruity notes and the LIT more toward bready notes. Though they both have some of each.
I now understand part of my ambivalence on my earlier tasting of this. It had to do with how I was thinking about it. I was thinking about it compared to other things advertised as breakfast teas, most of which are breakfast blends of several teas, and are therefore somewhat fuller and (to use a word I have on my brain from an earlier use) stouter. In truth, for me anyway, English Breakfast is a little bit of a misnomer here. I’m drinking this in the afternoon and enjoying it quite a bit. I probably wouldn’t choose it as a breakfast tea. I’d most likely drink an Earl Grey or a blend. But (eureka) if I don’t have to pit this against other breakfast offerings, how I look at it changes entirely.
I can’t really say I strongly prefer this to the LIT. This has an edge, but they’re each charming in their own ways.
Now I really need to stop drinking black tea or I’ll never get to sleep tonight. ;-)