After a few years of being away from my tea cabinet and passion for all things Camellia sinensis, it was a cuppa from one of my favorite mass-market purveyors of that wonderful leaf that brought me running back to the wonderful world of tea: Harney and Sons with their Hot Cinnamon Spice.

Yes, it’s more spice than tea. Yes, it’s punchy, fully of cinnamon, and tastes a lot like the winter holidays. It’s also one of my favorite “over-flavored” teas I can also share with my roommate or someone I am introducing to the huge variety of teas available and how delicious some of them can be. Doesn’t require any sweetener or additions whatsoever IMHO, as it is perfect unadulterated.

I would score it higher just because it brought me back to the old tea habit (now searching for local tea shops having just moved from Chicago to San Fran), but then one cuppa last week I felt some of those “wet hay / animal bedding” flavors in it… characteristic of improperly stored or older teas. The spices do a good job covering it over and it’s less pronounced when piping hot, but as it cools more of the undertones become noticeable.

What do you want for a USD $8.00/100g loose leaf you can subscribe to on Amazon for monthly shipments? It won’t be top-grade tea and I don’t expect it to, but the perfect blend of the orange peel, cinnamon and clove totally make up for it. Perfect for a foggy morning!!

A new score for a solid tea. Don’t have it with sandwiches, just drink it on cold foggy days or in the evenings before heading to bed.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Clove, Hot Hay, Straw

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 20 OZ / 600 ML

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Musician, pilot, philanthropist, tea lover. Nothing beats a spiced oolong at 10,000 feet. Except maybe a cuppa dian hong with my feet next to the fireplace. Or some fresh bai hao yin zhen before bedtime. My rating system is pretty much like this:

1-20 : ‘Blech’ cuppa. Didn’t even finish the one I brewed, rest went in trash. That bad, at least for me.

21-40: ‘Meh’ cuppa. Finished it but threw away the rest of the tea or used it for other purposes like baking, gifts for in-laws, or serve to unwanted houseguests. Kinda like Twinnings or Lipton bag tea.

41-60: ‘Standard’ cuppa. Won’t buy any more, but will certainly brew all that I have left. Probably will use it to blend with other teas or as a base, or large quantities of iced tea for parties and such.

61-80: Good cuppa. Now we’re talking. Worth buying more if at the right price, love blending some of these too. Sometimes a few oddballs will find their way into this score just because I liked the fruity flavor or having it as an iced tea. Also my starting score range for new kinds of tea until I develop a good feel for my preferences or learn to better distinguish quality characteristics.

81-99: Awesome cuppa. You’ll probably find this in my pantry pretty regularly, unless it has been discontinued or I’m waiting for my next trip to Asia or Europe to pick up some more. Holds up well to multiple infusions (unless black/herbal), and will typically drink it unadulterated/straight. I’ll gladly pay premium prices and chances are I’ll be ordering and tasting a bunch of other teas this producer/company offers.

100: Cuppa bliss, oh where have you been all my life???! I will burn frequent flier miles and journey to the ends of the earth while paying nearly any price to make sure I have this stocked at all times. Over time as I discover some magical new teas, a few may fall off this list. Try to keep it max 1 per type of tea.

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