Tea Review

Pure Ceylon English Breakfast, Select Blend

Upton TB18. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: dark BOP size bits, see photo. Dry tea scent: hints of mint and cedar. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, malty. Taste: Mild, brackish, woody. Moderately astringent.

Most ‘English Breakfast’ blends include some Assam for maltiness. This does not, and suffers a little for it.

Tea Review

Christmas Tea, blended in Germany

Upton TE90. 2.5 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 212℉. Impression: BOP-size tea with lighter bits of other material, see photo. Dry tea scent of lemon, clove, cardamom, potpourri-like. Brewed tea scent is dominated by clove, but there are hints of roses and perhaps cardamom? Taste: clove-y. Mildly astringent.

I am not a huge fan of flavored teas, but this one is okay. Sweetening and milk might improve it, if you drink tea that way, which I usually don’t. The ingredients list includes black tea, citrus peels, rose petals, chopped almonds, cloves, vanilla bits, cardamom, ‘artificial flavor.’

Tea Review

Idulgashinna Black Tea OP Organic, Ceylon Premium Tea

Upton TC60. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: long, dark twisted whole leaves, see photo. Dry tea scent resinous, floral, sweet, slightly grassy. Brewed tea scent is yeasty. Taste: malty, yeasty, like old leather, hint of spice. Very astringent.

A pretty tea, both in the dramatic appearance of the dry tea and the deep, clear amber of the brew. Unusual scents when dry for a black tea.

Tea Review

Uva Special BOP

(Ceylon) Upton TC51. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Dry tea scent: resin, fallen tree leaves. Taste: harsh, brackish, with notes of rotted wood. Moderately astringent. Unusual taste for black tea. Not for me.

Tea Review

Golden Kenya, Black Tea GFBOP

Upton TK25. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: BOP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells of citrus. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, spicy, brothy. Taste: Clear and bright, no brackishness, hints of peaches, mushrooms and toast. Mildly astringent.

I had never had an African tea before, but Kenya was recommended to me. This is a very pleasant tea, with some unique flavors I haven’t come across before in black tea. A nice switch from my usual round of Ceylons and Assams.

Award Eligibility Post for 2018

It’s that time of the year.

Half-Witch is my only publication this year, but one I’m very happy with. I believe it is eligible for the Nebula, Hugo, Andre Norton, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Mythopoeic, and Shirley Jackson awards, at least. My Campbell eligibility has long since expired. Half-Witch is being marketed as Middle Grade, but seems to have been read widely by adults, and might qualify in either YA or Adult novel categories

Kirkus starred review: “Readers who appreciate powerful female friendships and sui generis whimsy will cherish it.”

Amal El-Mohtar, The Best New Fantasy Novels, in the New York Times: “Half-Witch is a marvel of storytelling, balancing humor, terror and grace. Lizbet… and Strix are a perfect double act, and the shape and texture of the friendship they build is a joy to discover.”

NPR’s Best Books of 2018: “A marvelous blend of whimsy, terror and deep feeling.”

Colleen Mondor in Locus: “There is something deeply satisfying about a traditional fantasy with plucky protagonists, nefarious villains, hungry goblins, tricky witches, and a dangerous and difficult quest… Everything you expect to find is present, plus a lot of unlikely twists and turns that make this adventure a classic read.”

A Junior Library Guild Selection.

Half-Witch is available from its publisher Small Beer Press, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookseller.

Tea Review

Pettiagalla OP1, Thé noir de Ceylon

Mariage Freres T302. 2.5 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: OP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells like roses and apricots. Brewed tea scent yeasty, malty. Taste: woody, brackish, briary, hints of tobacco. Not much finish. Strongly astringent.

A solid Ceylon, without any unpleasant notes. Similar to blends often called ‘Scottish breakfast tea,’ though this is a varietal, not a blend.

Tea Review

Delmar Estate FBOP, Ceylon Premium Tea

 Upton TC31. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: Broken orange pekoe-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells floral. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, malty. Taste: floral, stone fruit, old paper, tobacco, oregano, weeds, pond muck. Moderately astringent.

Ceylon black teas are quite variable in taste. Some are lovely; some have tastes that are jut not right for me. This is one of the latter.