I tried this tea already a few times as a morning wake-up brew but it lacks the satisfying body that I want in my 4am breakfast teas. And the caffeine buzz leaves me feeling jittery instead of invigorated, so I relegated Painted Desert back to the black tea drawer for a time more appropriate, which is today!

I really like the idea of this flavor profile — Ceylon black tea, cocoa shells, cinnamon, chili. I’m not often the mood for Mexican-style hot chocolate but when I am, I crave it hard. In stark contrast to the weather of a few days ago (100+F), last night was cold for us of California thin blood. Despite it warming up to 70F currently, the chill of last night left me craving the flavor profile of Painted Desert.

All of that for a short review. August Uncommon calls this a “crisp black tea” that tastes like “dried pasilla chili, Mexican cinnamon, cacao” and feels like “soft warm mahogany.” Yep. Though the cacao note is cocoa for me and is more present in the aroma and finish than in the actual taste. The base tea is crisp, fairly light and woody, lacking the astringency I find typical of Ceylon blacks. The chili and softly sweet cinnamon give only a bit of warmth, melding smoothly with the cocoa shells and tea. The safflower petals really add to the ‘painted desert’ visual element of the dry leaf, like a striking sunset.

While I enjoy this tea, there’s something about it that makes me not interested in purchasing it again. Maybe it’s because I have in mind Mexican hot chocolate and the comforting thickness associated with it. As with most chocolate-flavored tea blends, I feel like a base of a good Yunnan red would be more complementary in terms of mouthfeel and flavor. The Ceylon base is kinda leaving me hanging but maybe their blender has good reason for choosing it. Still decent stuff.

Also, I’m wondering what the added flavor is.

[Western, 3.5g, 10oz, 205F]

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy — message me if you want to try something! I send international :)

Most enjoyment:

Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, sheng puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, GABA oolong. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes.

I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog, matcha latte and golden milk.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings, just nothing cloying. And no added sugars, sweeteners, candy or chocolate.

I abandoned both my preference reference and the recording of detailed steeping parameters in January 2020, favoring a focus on qualitative descriptions. At this point, I am still comfortable toggling the “Not/Recommended” button.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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