Sample package label:
“Our Traditional blend of organic and biodynamic fair trade black tea. This provides a superior organic black tea creating a robust flavor perfect for beginning the day. Brews a smooth malty cup with a clean finish. Ingredients: Organic Black Tea. Steep 3 – 5 minutes.”

I did not read The Tea Merchant’s website marketing description of this tea prior to tasting.

6-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 24 ppm, boiled, left to stand so only steaming hot
1 rounded Tevanna teaspoon

This tea has a fresh clean smell that reminds me of something more than just tea. But what is it?
Vibrant reddish hue

First Infusion:
3-min: Smooth but light-bodied with a clean finish. I then steeped it an additional 2-min.
5-min: Smooth & medium bodied, with light floral/fruity notes and a clean finish. At this point I can’t identify the floral/fruity notes. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency.

2nd 5-min Infusion:
Lighter than the first infusion, but still very enjoyable. I debated whether to try a 2nd infusion. However, I’m glad I did.

First Impression: I typically think of English Breakfast Tea as a strong, full-bodied, wake up breakfast tea. While I am now more alert, I find myself craving something more full-bodied. Perhaps this truly enjoyable tea deserves a new name that better describes its character.

2nd Cup:
First 5-min Infusion:
Prepared as above, but with a heaping Tevanna teaspoon. Now we’re talking – much more robust! This definitely is English Breakfast Tea! Best of all, there is still zero hint of bitterness or astringency. My teacup was empty before I knew it. Well done!! Time for a …

2nd 5-min Infusion:
As you would expect, the heaping teaspoon also improved this infusion – definitely more full-bodied, but of course not as much as the first infusion of the 2nd cup.

Final thoughts: Thanks to The Tea Merchant for providing this generous size free sample. It’s a good thing that Joey Landford provided enough tea for more than one cup! I would urge The Tea Merchant to specify a heaping teaspoon on their packaging since they describe this tea as providing a “robust flavor perfect for beginning the day”. Such information may prevent tea drinkers from forming a less than favorable first impression of this excellent tea.

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I am passionate about teas that are full-bodied, rich, & smooth. I joined Steepster to explore Multiple Infusion Teas (MITs) such as Pu-erh.

Currently, my focus is on un-flavored orthodox black & pu-erh teas. Cost-effective organic teas or teas that meet the EU Food Safety Commission Pesticide Maximum Residue Limit EUROFINS are also of interest. Many people drink tea for the anti-oxidant health benefits. So why would health conscious tea lovers drink tea that contains pesticide residues?

I especially enjoy teas with a natural rich chocolate flavor profile as opposed to natural bittersweet cocoa.

Complete steeping instructions on the bag are greatly appreciated:
tsp. (g) / oz. / temp. / rinse? / min. for both Western & Gongfu brewing.

Incomplete, non-specific, or cutesy instructions such as: “Just add water and enjoy.” significantly reduces the possibility that I will purchase that particular tea.

Having to discover the optimum brewing parameters through “trial & error” is too time-inefficient, wastes valuable tea and impairs the progress and joy of tea exploration.

The best tea suppliers evaluate each crop / batch of tea each year to determine the optimum brewing parameters. This insures the best possible first impression of their tea, greatly increases customer satisfaction, and thus increases word-of-mouth advertising – the best form of advertising that money can’t buy. You never have a 2nd chance to make an Outstanding First Impression.

My wife is an Earl Grey Fan. We enjoyed Twinings for many years – mostly Earl Grey, also English/Irish Breakfast, & Prince of Wales. Several years ago, TEG no longer tasted as good.

Rishi EG & China Breakfast then became our regular teas. However, after winning Tea Expo awards, the prices kept rising.

Our recent orders have been from: Tao Tea Leaf, Whispering Pines, Yezi, TeaVivre, What-Cha, Mandala, Zen Tea Life, and Verdant. Kudos to: Tao, Brenden, Boris, Angel Chen, Alistair Rea, Garret Sorensen, Kenneth Son, & David Duckler who have all been extremely helpful.

My cupboard doesn’t include the many greatly appreciated samples generously provided by Steepsters’s favorite tea suppliers and by several very kind Steepster members.

High quality water is essential for excellent tasting tea.
Our 450’ well provides hard water. For details see:

#1. Rainsoft water softener with
Q2 computerized control valve

#2. Abundant Flow Water
Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System with re-mineralization filter
Model: Zeta RO:
- Dow Filmtec TFC R.O. membrane
- Omnipure Inline Post filter
- Puregen Aptera Alkaline Filter:

- Aquatec ERP-500 & ASV 2000
- 3/8" Output
- HM Digital DM-1:

My profile picture is a Red-Breasted Nuthatch, a winter visitor to our woodpecker feeder.


Mid-Atlantic, USA

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