This came as a free sample in my last order from Upton. I needed a strong cuppa when I got home from work yesterday and thought, sure, I’ll give this a try. “Strong cuppa” indeed! The dry nose was somewhat smoky with maybe a touch of malt, but the wet aroma (I like to stick my nose way down deep in the leaves) was strangely flat. The brew was very smooth and full, with a somewhat coffee-y touch and minimal tannins. I found no hidden flavors or much aftertaste. It just is what it is: strong black tea. Note to the caffeine-conscious: this one packs a wallop. Perhaps next time, if there is a next time, I’ll add a spot of milk to see if that brings out some of the malt. I’m in no rush to try this one again.

Flavors: Malt, Smoke

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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I grew up drinking Lipton with lots of sugar and lemon. It’s only over the last few years that I’ve come to discover and appreciate real tea. Now I’m on a mission to expose as many of my friends as possible to the delights of Camellia sinensis. I dream of opening a tea shop someday where people can sit, slow down, and enjoy a proper cup properly steeped. I have so much to learn to make that happen, so I’m eager to chat, meet, and sip with those who know more than I.

I can’t say that I’ve discovered a favorite tea yet. I lean toward the bolder black teas (I don’t think I’ve tried a keemun I didn’t like), but those with lots of golden tips spark my taste buds too (Golden Monkey, dubbed “Monkey Butt” by my then-teenage son, is always popular in my house).

I love the pu-ehrs I’ve tried, but I know that that is a whole world of flavors that could take me years to explore. I keep sampling subtler white, green, and yellow teas, and I’m learning as I go. Let’s face it, I’m sampling everything I can and having a ball doing it.

Speaking of sampling, I’m eager to swap, so feel free to peruse my cupboard (I’m making a concerted effort to record what I have) and ask me for any of it.

When I’m not steeping, I write, bike, raise kids, love my wife, and cook fine vegetarian fare.

That picture is of me at a rest stop on a long bike ride. I’m still working on how to combine long-distance cycling with tea drinking. Hmmm . . .


Newton, Massachusetts

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