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Grace Tea Company

Recent Tasting Notes

Back in the early loose leaf days when I used to go to A Southern Season and sniff sniff SNIFF pouch after pouch of tea and tin after tin from the Fine Tea Wall, I thought Russian Caravans were pretty much the same thing as Lapsang Souchong. They both smelled really smoky to me and I was afraid of them, and puerh was on that list, too.

I lost my fear as I drank teas that had natural light smokiness, then I had some lovely blends, and then I was finally ready for the real thing. The funny thing was that my youngest child loved smoky tea right off the bat.

So here I am drinking this Caravan and wondering where the smoke is! LOL! There are a number of teas that used to seem so very smoky to me that now just seem hearty. This is very lightly smoky but it is sweet and good. No milk or sugar is needed to make this palatable, and it is comforting and bracing as we look out on yet another gray, rainy day with no sign of sunshine in the near future.

Grace Rare Tea has done what they set out to do. They carry only a few types of tea but strive to carry the best examples they can get of those types. I have never been disappointed by them.

Thank you again, Hesper June, for the amazing box o’ smoky teas! This has been the perfect week to try them all!

Hesper June

You are most welcome! I am so glad you are enjoying them:)

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I have liked everything I ever bought from this company. Hesper June generously sent me this sample of their Russian Caravan, one of the few of their blends I have never tried.

It was rainy and chilly (for here, fifty degrees is chilly until we get used to it!) today, with flocks of birds mobbing my dogwood trees and stripping them of their berries. Very much a wet, fall day that begs for comfort foods! It stayed gray and overcast all day.

I served this with homemade Snickerdoodles today, but first we had Morgan Blend by Simpson and Vail, which was rich, layered, and smoky, while this tea didn’t smell nearly as smoky, but I guess Russian Caravan teas usually are not as smoky as lapsangs. From the aroma of the two teas, I thought the Morgan Blend was going to take all the awards.

But the first sip of this GRT changed my mind! Yes, it was much less smoky, but the tea base was delicious! And just as complex! My guest, the owner of the puppy we keep every Tuesday, had only had Lipton until a few weeks ago when we asked him to join us for some tea. He has liked everything we have given him so far, and he declared this one his favorite of the day.

What surprised me most was that my youngest daughter, who loves smoky tea, liked this one better than the Simpson and Vail, too. She said the Morgan Blend was very good, but that the Russian Caravan had “personality.” LOL! I think I know what she means.

It was rather like meeting someone that you had no idea you would enjoy talking to, and then you find yourself in lively conversation, surprised at this person not being quite what you anticipated.
What a fun tea tasting we had today!

Thank you, Hesper June! We have several more still to try!

Sil

Sounds awesome!

TheTeaFairy

love these moments in life when tea brings people together :-)

Hesper June

I agree, this tea has quite the personality.
When I first opened the tin on this I thought I was going to be disappointed, it did not smell all that remarkable.
But, like you, the first sip certainly changed my mind:)

TeaBrat

@Hesper June – I want to try this! Would you like to swap for anything in my cupboard? :-)

Hesper June

Sure! I will browse through your cupboard and message you:)

ashmanra

I am having some right now! :)

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Top o’the (chilly) morning to you. Not quite enough for two cups, more than I needed for one, so I used it all, steeped double strength and spiked it with plenty of milk. Classic Assam to get your toes tapping.

…and if that doesn’t work, how about this little Celtic ditty-do? (It’s Carman, so I’m dating myself here—loved him in 1982, love him now :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WjMDRgpKvo

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90

This is my breakfast tea of the morning.
Good tea. A little smoke and leather in the background, up front is a smooth black tea.
I like this tea and I am liking Grace Tea’s quality teas more and more.
(see previous note for more on this tea)
Now, that I had my tea and pumpkin spice bread, I can batten down the hatches for the winter storm that they have been warning about all morning.
Maybe I should make a large teapot of this and put it in a thermos in case the power goes out.
I would hate to be without tea…

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
gmathis

Bundle up and be safe!

Azzrian

Good planning ahead!

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I had this again at tea party today. We had made a loaf of homemade buttermilk bread from the flour we grind fresh for baking. I toasted several pieces and cut them small and we tested out some new fruit jams. I had purchased Black Currant jam just because I was unfamiliar with it and like the flavor in some of my teas. I had read that it is sort of the European equivalent to our grape-flavored everything! I also had a French Four Fruit jam for us to try.

The jams were delicious and the tea was perfect with it. It made a wonderful contrast with the sweetness and the smoke was mild and pleasant, almost dignified I might say!

Thank you to Hesper June for the sample!

Rebecca Lynn

You grind your own flour? Like, at home? Or do you work in a bakery? Whatever the case, that’s awesome and I am jealous.

ashmanra

We do! We buy different kinds of wheat and oats and grind it in a Nutrimill. We make bread, pizza dough, cookies, and pound cake mostly. It is whole wheat, yet tastes completely different from whole wheat bread from the store and is far more nutritious. There is none of the sour taste that comes from the oxidation of the vitamin E.

Ysaurella

if your 4 fruits jam was a Bonne Maman jam, you are in possession of my daughter’s favourite jam :)

Hesper June

Mmmm, nothing like homemade bread right out of the oven!
Yes, fresh ground flour tastes so different than store bought, once you have had it and then you go back to store bought, the store bought almost taste rancid.

ashmanra

Ysaurella: Actually it is called St. Dalfour, but it is so good. It has chunks of cherries in it.
I will look for the brand you mentioned!

ashmanra

So right, Hesper June, there is nothing like it! My middle daughter used to have headaches and allergy problems. They vanished when we started grinding our own wheat. Kamut makes excellent waffles – the grain itself is yellow and buttery and makes yellow flour. Hard red makes cookies that taste like they have pecan meal in them, and hard white makes delicious breads and brownies. Soft white is what we use for our pound cakes.

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Not long ago, Hesper June offered to send me a sample of this tea. She asked only a bit of Baker Street in return. But when my tea came, it was a WHOLE BOX of tea in the cutest little tins! There are all sorts of smoky teas in it!

Grace Rare Tea is one of the first fine loose teas I bought. I had never heard of the company but my youngest daughter is named Grace and she loved tea the most at the time, so I bought it on a lark for her. I have since purchased almost every tea they make because the quality is so high.

Looking at this tea, it is hard to believe that I am looking at a Lapsang. Sometimes, lesser teas get chosen for heavy flavoring, but not in the case of GRT. The base looks great, and the aroma isn’t plain smoke. There is more to it. There is a sweet and fruity aspect as well.

Sipping, the taste of the base holds up to my expectations. It is smooth and sweet, medium bodied. The smoke is a surprise, though. There was a strong smoke aroma to the dry leaf but it is much lighter in the cup. Wen you sip, it gets really interesting. The smoke is subtle and then it blooms from your throat to your mouth.

This is definitely going to be added to the cupboard. Hesper sent so much that I don’t need to rush to Durham to buy it, though! Thank you, Hesper June!

Hesper June

You are welcome:)
So glad you are enjoying it!

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90

I am warming up nicely to Lapsang Souchong.
I especially like this one by Grace Tea.
Their teas always smell so fresh and are some of the better quality tea I have ever had.
The smoke odor in both the leaf and in the tea is not light or puny, it is still very much a LS.
It is not harsh or rough though.
It very much tastes and smells like a tea that a fine gentleman (or lady) would like.
The hubster likes it but it still is not rough enough for him.
I think at some point I will take some burned pine needles from a campfire and some black tea and just brew it up, ash and dirt and all for him.
That just might be rough enough for him.
But, for me, this LS is lovely.
Since I am recent to LS’s, I enjoy the fact that I can still recognize a nice quality black tea as well as the smokiness in this tea.
Well done, Grace Tea Company.
Now, I am going to enjoy a few moments on this rainy morning, sipping this lovely tea while eating a piece of Spiced Pear Coffeecake.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

Dadgummit! I KNEW there was another tea by Grace Rare Tea that I wanted to try when I was at Southern Season. This was it. Next time…

Claire

Hesper June, are you drinking the lapsang souchong straight or with milk and sugar?

Hesper June

Ashmanra, it is pretty tasty.
Would you like me to send you a sample before you purchase some?
Claire, I drink most all teas plain and the same goes for LS’s.
Although, I did try it sweetened and with milk (because Bonnie was talking about how she takes her LS this way, and when I grow up I want to be like Bonnie:) I personally did not care for it.
But, each to their own!

ashmanra

Aw, you are sweet to offer! Take a look at my cupboard and see if there is something you would like to try!

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87

Zzzzzzzz
Whoops, gotta wake up now.
What tea will help me do that?
This one.
As I said in my previous review of this “when the awoken world is alluding me”
Well, that is today.
And everyday as of late.
I stayed up later last night to make these so we would have something to grab to eat in the mornings:
http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/glazed-doughnut-muffins/
They seriously taste like Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
So, hopefully between this tea and a small sugar boost, I will be ready for my shift in the harvest truck.

ashmanra

Oh my gosh, they even LOOK like KK glazed doughnuts! Drool

MegWesley

That’s funny! Krispy Kremes must be on the brain.

Bonnie

Sin in a muffin wrapper!

DaisyChubb

uh oh… I have everything in my cupboard to make these… gulp. Although I’ve never had a Krispy Kreme! I know I’m missing out haha

ashmanra

@DaisyChubb: O.O Never had Krispy Kreme? I was indoctrinated quite young as my father took me to ours and we would stand outside and watch the doughnuts on the conveyer go through the rising station, then ride the flat strip to the hot oil, then flip over and pass under the Niagra Falls of liquid glaze….

Nicole

Oh, that looks like a dangerous recipe …

Hesper June

Oh, you see, the secret is to tell yourself they are healthy because they are not fried…

DaisyChubb

I know ashmanra! It’s blasphemous! There are only 4 locations in all of Canada so that makes it quite hard for me, ohh but I’ve heard so much about them and they ARE on my bucket list! haha

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90

I like this tea.
Dry leaf smells like a good quality black tea.
The tea itself has a very pleasant smell, almost like leathery smoke.
But, its in the background, not in your face.
This is my first Russian Caravan tea, so I am not sure if I am a expert on saying what it should taste like, but I like this tea.
This is my kind of breakfast tea.
Taste is a bright black tea, then a hint of smoke, then a little honey-like sweetness lingers on the tongue.
This tea is worth getting up for in the morning.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

I may have to buy this one. I have liked their other teas and this sounds like it is pretty much right up our alley!

Hesper June

I thought I would be disappointed when I first smelled the dry leaf, but I am quite pleased with it:)

Lynne-tea

mmmm Russian Caravans are so good =)

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87

A great eye opening tea.
Bright and robust morning tea.
Careful about over brewing, it can get a bit too robust if forgotten.
I have not had too much experience with Assam’s but this one seems to be of very nice quality.
I agree with the description, that if you were a milk/cream and sweetener person, that this tea would hold up to it well.
I rated this tea in the upper 80’s simply for the fact that I do not always require a tea like this for my mornings.
But, I am very glad I have this on hand for those mornings where the awoken world is alluding me.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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This was the final tea served at tea party yesterday, and while I love it, I was too busy downing that huge pot of Formosa Oolong and didn’t get around to drinking this! My guest had one cup of it, then went back to drinking Anna’s by Tin Roof Tea because she was really in love with it.

I had planned to make some of my new samples today when I remembered the leftover pot of tea. I didn’t want to be wasteful so I reheated this and have been sipping away at it all morning.

When I heated it and the aroma began to float from the cup, I thought, now THAT is tea. This is a good quality cup of what you expect tea to be. This Keemun isn’t chocolate-y, I don’t pick up lots of cocoa, and it really isn’t smoky. It does have a Winey tang to it that is very pleasant, but it is not astringent or drying. I take it without milk and sugar.

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79

I made an extra large pot of this today because I remembered that my guest loved it last time. Today, however, she loved the Anna’s tea so much that I drank mostly this so she could have more of her favorite! I have really been craving oolongs lately, so I didn’t mind!

It was no sacrifice. This is a lovely Formosa oolong and as usual, GRT does it right. My tin is almost empty, but I will keep it because the labels are so cool!

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91

This is a new offering from Grace. The leaves are fairly long and are sturdy and dark in color. It infuses to a light brown color but still “see-thru”.

It smells a bit woodsy and a bit smoky…with a touch of ‘rock’ or ‘mineral’ type aroma. (Like if you were to smell a rock in a stream, almost…c’mon…I know it’s weird…but I know you know what I am talking about!!!! You’ve smelled a rock before, haven’t you?)

The taste is mellower than other Wuiyi Rock oolongs I have tried strength-wise but the taste is better than others I have tried. It’s sweeter than others and less “rock-tasting/mineral-tasting”. It’s on the verge of a Formosa, too, which I really like! It’s pretty sweet and from start to finish has nice mouth-swirling potential!

I really like this! It’s dandy!

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This is listed as an English breakfast tea, but it is equally at home as an afternoon tea, sans additions and served with food or snacks. For tea party today it was served with brownies, strawberries, and blueberries, all topped with whipped cream, plus a cookie plate and Milka Toffee Bars.

This is a very smooth Keemun, so much so that I wonder if some would consider it too tame for mornings. I love it, but I almost exclusively drink it in the afternoon or evening. There are no strong chocolate or roasty aromas and flavors to this, it really is a bit Winey!

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I received this in a swap with Liberteas.. Thank you!

I really enjoy the offerings I have had from Grace Rare Tea and this was no exception. The leaf is quite small, looking rather chopped. My first thought was that this might begone of those darjeelings like the first I had ever, the one that bullied me and beat me up.

Not so! This is very nice with lovely fruity notes, some muscatel, and very pretty color in the cup. I am taking it plain, enjoying it with a slice of pound cake with lemon fluff frosting. It must be really good. I just poured the last bit into my cup.

I did use cooler water, around 195F, and ny steeped for about 2 minutes.

Thank you, Liberteas!

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I tried this one again, and to be fair gave it a little leeway from comparing it with ANY dragon pearl tea. It isn’t a dragon pearl and I shouldn’t let my love of DP give me a bad attitude toward other jasmine teas!

The pot was sitting out and I gave it a sniff and asked youngest what it was. She said she didn’t remember. I decided to drink it anyway! I thought it was decent with a tad of astringency, the good kind. As I finished the pot, I thought I had figured out what it was, asked daughter if it was Flowery Jasmine, and she said it was. I immediately repented of my bad attitude toward it on the first tasting.

This is a good jasmine tea, but incredibly, Teavivre’s Jasmine Dragon Pearls are cheaper! I like how they make special occasion tea affordable enough for every day. I will probably not ever replace this tin, and mostly bought it out of curiosity and because I had a gift certificate for the store selling it.

I will continue to replace my JDP from Teavivre whenever it gets low. I had a friend growl at me last week because she says I have gotten her addicted to it and now she has to keep it in stock as well! And she didn’t even like green tea until a few weeks ago.

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83

Backlog from this morning: My first tea tasting from this month’s Steepster Select box. This is really good. Full-bodied and robust, with notes of fermented fruit and a lovely sweetness. Earthy and a slight smoky note. Even a hint of leather. Very pleasant, a very nice, well-rounded cup of tea.

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I have loved every tea I purchased from Grace Rare Tea, until this one. I don’t hate it, it just doesn’t have much jasmine flavor. I wonder if it is old? I bought the two ounce tin at A Southern Season. I asked if it was a pouchong base and the manager said she had never heard of a jasmine tea having a pouchong base and told me it was a black tea base. Hmmm. Most of the jasmine teas I have seen are pouchong! Harney’s basic jasmine is pouchong and really tastes great for the price.

Anyway, I opened it up and sniffed and the jasmine aroma was very good. Steeped, it is a typical pouchong base in color and strength, fairly smooth. The jasmine flavor isn’t strong enough for me, though. It isn’t soapy and nasty like the jasmine black I tried from SS. The more you sip, the more the jasmine comes through. If I had never had Teavivre’s Jasmine Dragon Pearls, I might really like this. Unfortunately, this is standing in the shadow of an awesome tea. I am glad I got to try it, though!

Teavivre’s Jasmine Dragon Peals still have my number one spot for jasmines!

LiberTEAS

most of the jasmine teas that I’ve encountered are green tea, with white tea coming in at #2… pouchong would probably be third.

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85

A nice enough black tea. Nothing that made me praise the tea gods but an alright black breakfast tea. I think I kind of understand where the “winey” part of the title is coming from but its almost as if the winey flavor is part of the slight astringency itself. Still, its not what I had in mind and was looking forward to with a name like Winey Keemun. Sure the tea is a deep red color but oh well thats not enough to make me jump up and down.
Yet there is a calming morning salute here and somehow this tea becomes quite relaxing for a wake up tea, quite enjoyable almost as if it is whispering in the back of your mind “don’t worry, don’t rush, everything will go smooth today, relax…” and as you become more and more alert you do so without cramming your crumpet in your face while grabbing your items and jaunting out the door – this is the laid back take er easy tea for morning people who want to savor the moments in life. But again, like I said … nothing to write home about. :P

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92

Wow! This tea is full of surprises. I was first surprised to notice a hint of cocoa in the aroma. I noticed some familiar Darjeeling-esque tones in the fragrance: woody, earthy … but there, in the distance, is also a distinct cocoa-ish note. Intriguing!

I wondered … as I impatiently waited for this tea to brew … if the cocoa notes would be discernible in the flavor. And they are, although they are rather subtle. The flavors build and develop as I sip it. It starts out as a light, almost sparkling taste on the tongue with its notes of fruit (even a hint of muscatel) and wood … and just a whisper of dark chocolate-y notes in the background. As I continue to sip, the flavor develops and the body changes from a light-to-medium bodied tea, to a medium-bodied tea, to an almost full-bodied tea.

A very unique and pleasant Darjeeling.

ashmanra

This is a great company. I love the label on their tins and I love the teas I have had from them. I have a gift certificate for A Southern Season, and I think I will use it to try their Jasmine. I have Winey Keemun, which everyone LOVES, Formosa oolong, and Oure Assam. I haven’t tried this one.

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Breakfast tea notwithstanding, this is way too nice to doctor up with milk. Lovely and juicy on its own. Isn’t a bit drying or acidic in the mouth.

ashmanra

This is my favorite assam so far. This is one of the first loose leaf tea brands I ever purchased, and then only because a.) my daughter’s name is Grace – she is my GiGi! – she is a rare treasure, and she loves tea so it was très meta, and 2.)they have really cool tins. In fact, the tin even has a sticker telling how it won some food design award or something. I love their Winey Keemun and this Assam. I need to try their jasmine tea. Oh dear! I shall have to go to Chapel Hill to visit my son, I guess! :)

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