I took my wife out to breakfast for her birthday yesterday, and we went to a great place downtown called Smiley’s. I placed my food order (sausages and fried ripe tomatoes—delicious), and was about to skip getting tea (last time we went, my mom got tea, and I seem to recall it being served in one of those leaky metal teapots that I used to hate when I worked in food service). I saw that they had a selection of Twinings, including Darjeeling, so I ordered a cup. I was happy to see them pull out a ceramic teapot (it was a rather unique-looking one, with a large spout and flattened sides). The water they used wasn’t boiling—it came from a hot-water tap—but it was very close, and I was able to time the steep, since I watched them pour the water. After a 4-minute steep, I removed the bag from the pot, and drank the tea without any milk or sugar.
I was really pleasantly surprised! Although it lacked the grape-skin flavor (which I’m informed is properly called “muscatel”) that I had experienced in other Darjeelings, it had a very pleasant taste. It was sweet and smooth, with pretty much no bitterness. I caught hints of “Darjeeling” flavors which I can’t quite isolate, but seem to have been present in all Darjeelings I’ve had. So, while this isn’t a high-end first flush hand-selected full-leaf Darjeeling, it’s an excellent cup of tea, especially when you want something without any milk or sugar. After my box of Stash Earl Grey is used up, I may buy a box of this to be my work tea.