Hope all the mothers out there had a great weekend!
So, we traveled to see my parents this past weekend but they had a surprise for me-they took me on a short trip to a mom and pop tea shop they recently discovered. There are zero teashops anywhere near where I live, so getting to go to one is kinda a big deal.
The shop is in an historic building built before the Civil War. It had an unusual but not unpleasant aroma inside-like a mélange of spices that I smell when I go into the health food store-more about the aroma later.
Anyhow, the shop is all Republic of Tea, Stash, and Harney and Sons. RoT was in tins only and Stash was just bags. Harney was the big attraction since I have never tried any of their teas before and the only tea sold in bulk. Armed with notes from Steepster reviews, I began checking out the tea. This is just a shop-no food or drinks are served, but they brewed a cup of tea for my parents the last time they visited. Today (Mother’s Day), it was just pop there and he said no, they don’t offer samples. Fortunately, he sells tea in amounts as small as one ounce and the prices are about the same as Harney’s web site-so it’s no big deal if I don’t like any one tea. Disappointment right off the bat as they don’t carry Golden Monkey. They had most of the others I was interested in. The teas were in 1 or 2 pound zip-locked foil-lined sacks which were then placed inside giant Harney tea tins. I was at least able to smell the teas before purchasing. I’m not convinced the owner was that passionate about tea-he knew enough to suggest Lapsang if I liked smoky teas, but he had never actually brewed a cup for himself. He also didn’t have any First Flush Darjeelings. I think maybe a financial planner recommended the tea shop as a business for them to run when they retired. Still, I was comfortable enough with my own knowledge and the collected wisdom of Steepsterites to buy 7 teas.
First up-Queen Catherine tea. All dark and a few medium brown leaves. Maybe one or two golden tips. I wish Harney’s wasn’t so mysterioso about what is in their blends, but I did catch a whiff of what I think is Fujian black in the dry and brewed leaf. I also thought I smelled a bit of malty Assam in the dry leaf-that should not be possible as this is supposed to be all Chinese teas. Maybe it’s a Yunnan black. This is smooth and lively. I taste a bit of chocolate. Body is medium-full. Maybe a touch tannic in the aftertaste. This is very enjoyable. Maybe I can come up with better descriptions after a second cup. I could definitely drink this as a breakfast tea-probably always cupped plain, though.