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First of all, this tea looks and smells GORGEOUS. It’s got this malty, chocolate-y aroma that just makes your toes curl. MMMMMMmmmm.

That said, on to the specs:

Leafage: The first time, I only made a single cup, so I used one and a half teaspoons. The second time, I used about 4 teaspoons for 16 oz. of tea. I’m discovering that I prefer the stronger, manly side of black tea. It puts hair on your… nevermind.
Leaf color and smell: Pre-steeping, it was that lovely mottled gold/brown color stated in the tea’s description. The leaves seemed to me to be a bit… puny, I suppose is the right word. They looked smaller than other black tea leaves I’ve seen before. The smell was, as I said, malty and chocolate-y, with promise of lots of creamy flavors. Post-steeping, the leaves hadn’t opened all that much, just enough to look like grass shards. I suppose they really are smaller than other leaves I’ve seen, though I’m not trying to say that’s a bad thing. Just be prepared, if you decide you want to order this one. Of course, it may just be this particular batch. le shrug

Taste: I maaaay have walked out of the room temporarily while the tea was steeping the first time (don’t judge me D:), so when I came back, the timer had been going off for probably a couple of minutes. However, I sugared it anyway, prepared to soldier through the tannins to the bitter end (ha ha ha)… but then I found that it wasn’t nearly as bitter as I had expected. In fact, it tasted very much like someone had sneaked in the room while I wasn’t there and poured some semisweet chocolate chips in my tea. The texture wasn’t right for chocolate… but the flavor was SPOT ON. I didn’t have to add any milk (which is typically my cure for oversteeped tea, which happens in my house more frequently than I care to admit… myself not being the most fastidious person in the world). I was floored.

The second time, just today, I decided to break it out again for myself and the hubby when he came home for his lunch break. :) This time, I deliberately steeped it for about four minutes, instead of the recommended two or three, to see if I could achieve some of that chocolate-y flavor without quite so much of the bitterness from last time. Sadly, the chocolate flavor wasn’t QUITE there… but it was nonetheless enjoyable, tasting more like the creamy notes I detected in the smell. I will be trying this one again! Sooo gooooood :)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I very clearly remember my first experience with tea. It was in a Target near my house, and my best friend handed me a cup of chai from the Starbucks inside the store and said, “Try this.” I believe I was about 12 at the time, and from then on, I was completely hooked.

Anyway, as my increasingly weirded out family will tell you, my obsession with tea has (almost) steadily escalated since then. I discovered the world of tea slowly, first with just chai, and then with bagged teas I could get from supermarkets and specialty stores, and then with loose leaf teas. I mostly shop for tea at Teavana, but I also patronize other local shops that I’ve discovered within the last couple of years. I’ve ordered a smattering of teas from a few online places, but I’m always leery of buying tea online, since most of how I select teas in person is by smell… unless I’m at The English Tea Room.

My favorite types of tea are blacks and flavored blacks. And oolongs. Right underneath that are rooiboses and whites, and then greens and herbals, and then mates. I’m always looking for a new favorite (I get on tea kicks, which are various lengths of time in which I’ll drink one or two teas religiously, and then I’ll switch), but I appreciate rediscovering old favorites. I like to blend teas, but I never store them that way, mostly because I like to leave myself options.

I prefer nutty/sweet/rich teas to fruity/light-flavored teas or bold/full-bodied teas, but I do try to drink some of everything to widen my palate. I’m always willing to try any tea at least once (except this one tea that Teavana mercifully discontinued… the loose leaf smelled like cheese, I swear). I do perhaps rate teas a little leniently… because I’m not very picky. I will try a tea at least three times before I pronounce that I hate it, and I will always focus on the good aspects of a tea rather than the bad. That’s just how I roll. :3

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Louisiana, USA

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