This is a tea of the month for August on the Classic Plan. I am so behind in my tea drinking that I still haven’t tried all the July ones. Ugh. Things continue to be crazy around here. Getting the house painted on top of the usual work trauma and the start of the school year. What I wouldn’t give for some quiet time to catch up on my tea drinking.

In any case, these dry leaves smell very earthy (a bit like soil, actually) and a tiny bit leathery. They look like their picture, so I won’t dwell on that. Steeped, it’s a deep reddish brown. Very pretty. Not the russet of many Ceylons, but more of a cherry wood color. There’s a fruity aroma. Berry-like, really.

The flavor is strong and malty. What I think of as stout. It’s pretty close to some of the Scottish Breakfasts I’ve tried, more that than English to me. It’s not overly sweet, as some malty teas are. And I’ve had smoother teas than this. It has a little grab at the back of the throat on some sips.

It’s better than average, but it doesn’t send me over the top. I have a whole slew of black blends that I quite like, and I don’t think this one is different or special enough to require a place in the finals, or even the semi-finals. I would not pass it up if offered, but I don’t feel compelled to put it on my must order list.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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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.


Bay Area, California



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