Although my kitchen has a drawer dedicated to and overflowing with tea, I’m always on the lookout for something new. I drink tea on a constant basis–at home, at work, at restaurants, and at the homes of others. My closest friends tend to put the kettle on when they know I’m heading over, even when the summer sun is blazing. ♥ Lately I’ve been feeling somewhat bored with my current options. Mentions of small tea companies producing quality teas have been cropping up in every publication I’ve come across lately. I suspect it’s related to the Alice in Wonderland fever from the recently-released movie.
For Christmas a few years ago, my grandmother gave me a box of Tea Forté. The tea itself isn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it isn’t bad–and the packaging is so adorable! The tea “bags” are little narrow pyramids with a small green leaf atop a green wire, as if a small plant is sprouting from the tip of the bag. The rigid structure is very useful–it won’t slip into the cup like a teabag’s tag-on-a-string might, making it simple to remove the teabag later. Part of my grandmother’s gift included a set of little stands, perfectly suited to resting one of the tea bags. This prodded me towards purchasing another set of their teas when I found some at a store I stopped in for thank you notes.
As I am myself, I selected the “dessert tea” Dolce Vita set. The six flavors are Belgian Mint, Coco Truffle, Orchid Vanilla, Raspberry Nectar, Vienna Cinnamon & White Ambrosia~ The tea is fairly good quality, although not as good as, say Tea Gschwendner, my all-time favourite company. ♥ Although the tea isn’t sugary, the flavours are sweeter than a harsher tea yet also very intense. They’re intended to pair well with very sweet desserts, so they have to avoid being overpowered.
That didn’t quite satisfy my desire for trying something new, though~ I poked around at local stores, but didn’t spot anything that really caught my attention. In an old-lady way, I save magazine and newspaper clippings; I recalled that I had a few for teas I wanted to try. Sure enough, I found one I had removed from a Martha Stewart Living magazine for Steven Smith Teamaker of Oregon. I browsed their beautiful website and placed my order, wishing that I could have smelled the teas in-store before purchasing.
There were so many things I wanted to try, but I didn’t want to overwhelm my already-stuffed tea drawer. I settled on all black teas, as that’s what I primarily drink; white and green teas could wait for a future order, if I place one. I ordered No. 23 Kandy because I couldn’t resist the name, No. 9 Yunna because I thought my husband might be intrigued with the description of “spice & leather,” and No. 64 Ceylon Dimbulla BOP1 because I like Ceylon yet rarely buy it and it’s a common base for Earl Grey, which I adore. (BOP1 is part of the grading system for Pekoe tea. It’s used for broken/fannings/dust teas–there’s a different system for crush/tear/curl teas. BOP1 means “broken Orange Pekoe first grade,” containing roughly 40% full leaves and 60% broken leaves.)
Ordering from Smith Tea was very simple. The website is beautiful but uncomplicated, and the ordering process well-organized. My tea shipped the day after I ordered it and arrived when estimated. The box was a little crushed at the corners, but the tea was well-packed and even the shipping invoice was unbent.
As soon as it arrived we opted to try No. 23 Kandy, obviously because of the name. It’s a smooth, mild black tea without bitterness. I liked the faint floral notes. It was very good, overall, and I can think of a lot of circumstances that it would be perfectly suited to~
No. 9 Yunna was the second to be tried. It did have a smoky flavor, as listed in the description, but not very intense. Usually, when I think of smoky teas I think of Lapsang Souchong, which is intensely smoky. This had a much more subdued flavor, and the taste of spices paired with it well. It went very well with the mini stroopwafels I had picked up earlier in the week~ ♥
Some other tea companies I hope to try include Damn Fine Tea, Tea for All Reasons, Portsmouth Tea (particularly because they make a blend specifically for Milk Tea), and Serendipitea. Maybe after Dolpa–if I keep buying tea it will interfere with my budgeting!
If you know any others, recommend or suggest something to me! ♥ I’m always looking to try something new~