Sunday, November 27, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Black Teas Of The Moment

People often ask me: "what is your favorite tea?", and those who know me a little better may ask the more open question: "Do you have a favorite tea?", to which I usually answer "not really, although I have a few favorite teas at the moment". My tastes in tea change frequently, so it's hard for me to pick universal favorites. However, at the moment, there are five black teas that I can pick out as favorites. These include teas that I've tried recently as well as ones I have not had in some time, and am simply remembering:

  • TK18: Livingstonia Estate GFBOP - I've tried a few Tanzanian teas now, including a very good one from Teas Etc, and I've liked all of them. This one, however, is my favorite, and is one of the most interesting / unusual black teas I've tried yet, with tones of wintergreen and a suggestion of Queen Anne's lace in the aroma. It is a high grade of broken-leaf orthodox tea.

  • Makaibari Estate Darjeeling First Flush from Arbor Teas - As I've written about before, I love everythig I've ever tried to come out of Makaibari estate. This was not my favorite tea from theirs (this title goes to a long-leaf green tea), but it is the favorite batch of black tea I've tried.

  • The now-discontinued Himalayan BOP from Upton Tea Imports. I have tried a number of similar teas Upton added after retiring this one, but I haven't found one I like as much as this one. This tea is inexpensive, Darjeeling-like, but very edgy, with a greener character for a black tea, yet considerable bitterness. My next-best bet for a similar tea is one from Jun Chiyabari estate in Nepal, provided by Imperial Tea Garden, but I have yet to find a tea in this genre that I like quite as much as Upton's discontinued one.

  • Panyang Tippy Golden Needles Imperial - A tippy black tea, also from Upton, this tea was remarkably light for a Chinese black tea, and had an aroma suggestive of pastry crust, yet with considerable complexity.

  • Darjeeling from Hampstead Tea - This tea is also from Makaibari estate, and to my knowledge is a mixed flush tea, although this is not explicitly stated. It is my second-favorite black tea from that estate, richer and with more depth and bitterness than their first flush but still with some of the first-flush character in the aroma.

I also want to add that I think all of these teas are reasonably priced, but the Livingstonia Estate GFBOP is a particular bargain.

As a disclaimer, Upton Tea Imports is my favorite tea company, which biases me to order and sample more teas from them than from any other company. I'm sure there are many other outstanding sources of black tea out there. These teas mentioned here are simply the ones that got my attention the most.

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