Darjeeling is the tea that inspired me to begin my beautiful journey through the wide world of tea and will always reign supreme in my tea pantry! My first tea love, so to speak. I positively adore a truly great Darjeeling such as a good muscatel second flush. Autumn flush Darjeeling, I believe, has been greatly under appreciated. Darjeeling autumn flush Gopaldhara Red Thunder Gold that I purchased through What-Cha is the best tea of any kind I have ever had the pleasure of drinking!
I also love fine Chinese tea. Quite often I find myself in the mood for a smoky Keemun with cocoa and plummy notes or a spicy, peppery and sweet Yunnan Dian Hong. I love Keemun almost as much as I love Darjeeling! And that’s really saying something! When I get in the mood for a really great Chinese tea nothing else will do. My favorite Chinese tea so far is the Non-Smoky Lapsang Souchong Wild Black Tea from Teavivre. It has a natural caramel sweetness that is sensational!
I must also admit to a special appreciation of fine Ceylon teas – Especially top-drawer low grown Ceylons such as New Vithanakande with yummy notes of chocolate and apricot. That being said, I do, on occasion, like a good strong cup of Harney & Sons Uva Highlands Ceylon with its wonderful strong notes of wintergreen. Smith Teamaker’s No. 23 Kandy brings together full and flavory Dimbula with highly aromatic and intense Uva and lightly scented high-grown Nuwara Eliya. Perfect for all day sipping, it is one of my favorite blends, Ceylon or otherwise. Ceylon tea makes the best iced tea, I think.
As far as scented teas go, I am particularly partial to floral teas such as jasmine, rose, orange blossom, lavender and violet. I absolutely LOVE Earl Grey tea! Earl Grey Imperial by Harney & Sons and Lord Bergamot by Smith Teamaker are my go to Earl Greys and my overall favorite EG teas. Black currant, strawberry, cherry, apricot, orange/citrus, lychee, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, maple, almond, honey and spice are favorites as well. Pleine Lune by Mariage Frères, an exquisite blend of Chinese black tea with almond, honey and mild, sweet spices is, without a doubt, my favorite flavored tea after my beloved Earl Grey tea. Buckingham Palace Garden Party Tea from Culinary Teas and The English Tea Store is another favorite. It’s a blend of high-grown pure Ceylon Earl Grey, soft jasmine, malty Assam, Dimbula Ceylon and brisk and golden tea from Kenya. This magnificent, magical tea was served at Queen Elizabeth II’s springtime garden party at Buckingham Palace every May. Prince Vladimir by Kusmi is my favorite Russian blend, with complex flavors of bergamot, orange, lime, grapefruit, vanilla and spice.
I brew my tea western style exclusively, and I prefer to drink my tea in the Russian fashion – Sweetening my tea with sugar, raw, unfiltered honey or jam. I seldom add milk to my tea but when I do I only use oat milk. Russian tea culture totally fascinates me. I hope to one day own an antique Russian samovar.
In addition to Russian tea culture I am also greatly enamored of French tea culture and tend to gravitate towards French style tea blends.
I’m quite fond of various herbal teas such as rooibos, honeybush, camomile and anise. Straight lavender herbal tea is another favorite of mine, as is Linden tea. No. 42, Little Dickens, from Belloc is a scrumptious blend of rooibos, cocoa, spices, vanilla and mint. I DETEST HIBISCUS!
BLACK tea and HERBAL tisanes are my main go to teas. I am not a fan of most green teas. I do, however enjoy a nice floral or fruit scented green tea on occasion. No. 52, Etoile de l’Inde from Belloc is delicious. I find black/green blends quite pleasant too. Also, I do appreciate fine white teas every once in a while, as well as a good oolong – Especially a high quality Formosa or Wuyi oolong. The more I have drunk pu‑erh tea the more I have come to really enjoy it too!
I love robust breakfast teas with Smith Teamaker’s No. 1851 Portland Breakfast, an organic blend of pu-erh, Keemun and a fine second flush Assam, being one of my supreme favorites. This is my main go to tea. It’s absolutely perfect for drinking Russian style using honey or jam for sweeteners and no milk.
My favorite purveyors of tea:
2) Mariage Frères
3) Smith Teamaker
5) Harney & Sons
6) Bellocq Tea Atelier
7) Simpson & Vail
8) Mark T. Wendell / Grace Tea Company
9) Happy Earth Tea
11) The Cultured Cup
12) Culinary Teas
13) Palais des Thés
14) Arbor Teas
Organic tea is my preference whenever possible.
Richmond, Virginia, USA