Recently in Coffee and Tea Category

stash_super_irish_breakfast.gifThere occasionally comes a time in life when one is forced to retreat from the ceremony of loose leaf tea and embrace, if even for a short sojourn, the convenience of bagged tea.  As your loyal correspondent, I have spent the last couple of years searching for a worthy tea bag so that you, dear reader, wouldn't have to, and I do believe I've found it.  Stash Super Irish Breakfast is a swarthy, strong black tea that makes up for the customary blandness of tea bags by throwing away subtlety once an for all, and delivering to the mouth a blatant blast of pure, malty black tea.  I'd strongly suggest drinking this tea with milk and sugar.

Stash says that this tea has an Assam base with a good dose of Ceylon thrown in for good measure, and as those are my two favorite non-Chinese teas, that may by why I enjoy this particular bag so much (I mean, when loose leaf isn't available).    And for those of you who take a strong liking to this particular blend, it's also available in loose leaf form from the Stash website.

Adagio TeasToday I'm going to take a look at Adagio Teas Darjeeling #22, a fairly light and pleasant second-flush black tea. As usual, I cleaned my yixing teapot and filled it with hot water while I prepared the rest of my kit. After the teapot was finished warming, I put the loose tea in there, shook it around, and gave it a big sniff. The leaves smelled strongly of earth and chocolate, with perhaps a slight hint of nori. It was such a rich aroma that I couldn't help but go back for multiple whiffs of its elegant perfume.

I steeped the tea for the suggested five minutes, and then examined the liquor, which was of a very transparent and pale ruby color. It smelled slightly smokey, perhaps a bit tinny with strong hints of a mineral twang. The leaves left in the pot opened up quite beautifully, and only a few small broken pieces made it into my cup. Carefully, I sipped at the hot liquor. There's supposedly a preferred method for tasting tea which involves slurping a tiny spray of the boiling hot liquor into your mouth in such a way as to avoid burning your tongue. I keep trying to do this, but never know if I'm doing it correctly. Regardless, the tea had a roasted flavor with nutty undertones. There is that characteristic Darjeeling minerality to it, but not as overpowering and metallic as other Darjeelings, which in my opinion makes this tea far more drinkable than its brethren from the region.

The final test of a good black tea in my book is how well it holds up to milk and sugar. I therefore doctored my tea, and was dismayed to find out that it held up not well at all. The sugar seemed to overpower most of the subtlety of the liquor, and the milk seems to mellow out all of the roasted flavors and leaves behind just the mineral tones. However, as the cup of tea cooled a bit and the flavors had a chance to mellow out, I've found it to be quite drinkable and enjoyable. Though I am not typically a fan of Darjeeling teas, I feel very comfortable recommending this one as a tea to try out.


Adagio Teas' Keemun Concerto

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On awaking this morning, I made my way to the kitchen for my customary cup of tea.  Just the other day, a shipment of samples from Adagio Teas had arrived, and I was eager not only for some caffeine but for the aroma and luxurious flavor of Keemun.  Keemun is a Chinese black tea, sometimes called "red tea", and as far as tea production goes, is a relative newcomer, having been introduced in the 19th century. It is typically noted for its rich, smoky aroma and for being used in many English breakfast blends.

The instructions for this particular tea stated to brew it for five minutes, which seemed a bit long. Tea when overbrewed tends to release too much tannic acid, creating a harsh and bitter beverage. But I gave Adagio the benefit of the doubt, and let the tea leaves brew in my little yixing teapot for the prescribed duration. The liquor that emerged was dark, nearly opaque (but that may be because I brew my tea too strong), and fragrant. It smelled of smoke, maybe a hint of tobacco, and some undertones of earth. I savored the aroma for a few minutes before adding a small amount of milk, which is the traditional English way of drinking this particular kind of tea.

The neat thing about Keemun is that when you add a little milk, the aroma takes on a new sort of character. It begins to smell very much like buttered toast. Try it, you'll see. It's a really pleasant smell for those who are fans of this particular tea. And now, finally, it was time for my first sip. Keemun Concerto is not a strongly-flavored tea, which makes it a nice introduction to the world of Keemuns, I suppose. I was able to pick out many of the same flavors I'd smelled before, and, surprisingly, the long steeping did not create any overwhelming tannins. In fact, this tea is remarkably smooth and soft on the palate, perhaps too subtle to be able to hold up to any added sugar, though I plan on trying that next. The smokey Keemun notes are probably the strongest elements of its flavor. If you would like to try out Keemun Concerto for yourself, please click on our affiliate link!

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