Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stir Crazy

I am a big fan of different types of tea. I am a connoisseur rather than a snob, however, as I have gotten very used to the British cuppa of black bagged tea with lots of milk. But when I'm feeling in a fancier mood it's nice to have something more refined for the palette, and as we know, loose tea is by far the best-tasting type. At the moment, the collection runs as follows:

From the New Mexico Tea Rooms
Rainbow roibos Possibly the nicest non-black tea in the world, this is beautiful to look at, wonderful to smell, and heavenly to taste. Roibos of course is the tea made from the redbush of southern Africa and therefore is not tea in the sense of being camellia--but that also means it has no caffeine. This blend smells like a cake baking, and the amaretto flavoring makes it a wonderful dessert tea--equally good as an afternoon tea on its own.
Black Jasmine Cream This is a blend of jasmine (green) tea and black tea, which is unusual, with vanilla flavoring as well. I have to confess, I am not a big fan of plain green tea though of course I respect its role in Japanese and Chinese tea culture. I like scented green teas and a strong oolong occasionally. This is good with a touch of milk or brewed quite weak on its own.

From the St James Tea Rooms
Lemon souffle This is a recent discovery, and in smell and look this resembles the rainbow roibos above quite strongly. However, the difference is the addition of lemon rather than amaretto, which is a nice variation on the theme and is really nice for spring/summer. It is a great dessert tea and is a startling amber/red in the cup.
Blueberry This was a gift and I am less keen on black teas scented with fruits than with other flavors. Nevertheless, it smells strongly of blueberry and is nice as a weak brew without milk.
Sparkling sugar plum fairy is a gorgeous winter tea which actually shimmers! It is a strong black tea with seasonal notes of cinnamon and clove and benefits from some milk.
Hearthside toddy resembles the above tea with much the same taste although it is rather like a chai (without the latte of course).
Lady Londonderry is an exception to the black tea/fruit rule as it is quite a nice refined traditional black tea that is good with milk and not so heavily satured in flavor/scent as to not serve with scones or tea sandwiches. Along with Buckingham Palace Garden Party and Atlantic City Jubilee 1921 it is among my favorite scented black teas.
Pumpkin Pie is another autumnal scented black tea which is just wonderfully redolent of Thanksgiving because it is like drinking a pumpkin pie. It may sound bizarre but it's quite a comforting and hearty tea.

From Whittard of Chelsea
Christmas Leaf Tea I had a cull of all my old teas recently as they were not being drunk and had to get rid of my old Whittard of Chelsea stock. I couldn't bear to get rid of this one, though, as its scents are so rich and so associated with Christmas. It is similar to the Hearthside Toddy tea above.

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