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My order of samples from Upton came this morning just in time for breakfast. I ordered mostly white teas but also two Lapsang Souchongs, the much acclaimed Baker Street Afternoon Blend and some breakfast blends for comparison, because for a dollar each why not?

Now I am not really not a breakfast tea person, I don’t drink much black tea in general due to caffeine sensitivity but if I do it is one type of whole leaf tea. So my only point of comparison before this tasting is Teavana’s English Breakfast, their now retired Assam Gold Rain and Celyon from a gift set.

So I brewed this in cast-iron with filtered water at the recommended 212 for 3 mins. The smell was not as strong as I expected and the taste certainly not as malty. This tasted like a nice clean non-China black like you would use for ice tea and I will probably end of let my husband use the rest for that purpose.

I didn’t get much Assam from this (but remember I don’t have a whole lot of experience with Assam) but the high notes I would assume are from the Ceylon, they were very “bright” though probably grounded and mellowed a bit by the Assam. I wouldn’t call this a complex tea but it wasn’t a singular note either.

I decided to try it with some cream and sugar (I’ve honestly never had tea with cream and sugar with the exception of random mate lattes our barista makes at work- Teavana that I only have a sip of) but figured this was part of the experience and would be part of the evaluation. I can see why folks take Assam and blends this way, it was pleasant though I think would have been better with rock sugar (but I was adding it to the cup not the pot). The other teas I sampled (Irish, Scottish and River Shannon) actually took better to the cream, so I think I shall give this to the husband to do what he will.

Its definitely not a bad tea, its neither bitter nor bland, its just not what I look for in hot tea, like the hint of butteryness I got from the River Shannon blend. I am really looking forward to the Baker Street blend tonight though with the husband while we watch Sherlock (new BBC).

Edit to add: made this tea for my husband this morning, his reaction as expected- “it tastes like regular tea” which is not to say he didn’t like it, Teavana does not carry a good “regular tea” for him to make iced, though he loves his now retired Nine Dragon Golden Needle, we have over 2lbs stocked up. He also really like the Baker Street Afternoon blend which I need to revisit and review but first impression is it was quite good bit it didn’t wow me.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Bio

Druid, artist, poet, mum, lover of tea, ritual and myth. I grew up on Celestial Seasons herbals but fell in love with straight loose leaf tea working at my local Teavana for a year. I am grateful for the introduction and the experience, but have moved on.

I see tea as an experience for the senses, I like to imagine tasting the land and the weather as well as the effect of sun, air, fire and the human hand. I have a soft spot for shu pu’er, yabao, scented oolongs, wuyi oolongs, taiwanese tea as well as smooth naturally sweet blacks, creamy greens and surprisingly complex whites.

I began ordering lots of samples from Upton to educate myself on different varieties of tea we didn’t have at work and have fallen head over heels for the unique offerings from Verdant Tea. I am learning things I like: buttery mouthfeel, surprising sweet or spice notes, woodiness, mineral notes, depth and complexity and things I don’t: astringency, dry and sour notes.

I collect tea tins and am in danger of collecting pots, though I am trying to restrain the urge due to current lack of space. I brew mostly in a glass infuser mug or a tea maker, only using cast-iron for company now (still need to get a gaiwan) and tend not to sweeten my teas unless they are British or fruity and iced, which is not often.

As far as ratings, I lack a definite system and haven’t been assigning numbers lately, wanting to spend multiple sessions with a tea first. I usually only log a tea once, unless it is a new harvest or I have significantly different observations, but will go back and edit or comment if I find something interesting or new.

Location

Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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