|"Piney, woodsy and smoky flavors are distinct and a part of every sip. There's a fine natural sweetness to the tea that makes additional sweetener strictly optional. I also enjoy the dry and sweet but also resinous aftertaste."|
The first of the three black teas that I am going to review is called Victorian Afternoon. Here's what the Mark T. Wendell catalog has to say about this blend, "Created over 15 years ago and previously sold as a private label blend for the Elizabethan Club of Yale University, we are pleased to offer this original black tea blend to our customers as our Victorian Afternoon tea blend. This vibrant blend of Indian, Sri Lankan and Formosan teas is further complemented by a slightly smoky character. "
The tea is a blend and offers a variety of leaf in the mix. The leaves are short to medium in length along with a very few reddish twigs, and all of them have a light twist. The smokey aroma is lovely. It's complex and piney but also quite in check. It's not a full blooded Lapsang but has wonderful tones that add a sweet, smoky and woodsy aroma to the blend.
I used a teaspoon of leaf to each 8 ounces of freshly boiled water and allowed a nearly four minute steep. The blend infuses to a medium dark copper color and has a sweet light fragrance. Smoky notes delight the senses and come out light and balanced in the nose and on the tongue. This really does come across as a well blended afternoon tea. It's light, despite the medium dark infusion, as well as uplifting. There isn't a malty strength behind this tea, it isn't the kind you would reach for on a very sleepy morning. I really enjoy the smoky scent and taste that winds fully through the cup. There's something in the taste that makes you comfortable lingering a little.
Piney, woodsy and smoky flavors are distinct and a part of every sip. There's a fine natural sweetness (albeit light and not overly pronounced) to the tea that makes additional sweetener strictly optional. I also enjoy the dry and sweet but also resinous aftertaste. This tea is extremely smooth in body.
A light sweetening (for me, with liquid stevia) softens the smokiness and renders it slightly syrupy and more like a burnt sugar flavor than piney. The inclusion the stevia also lessens the dryness at the end of the sip and rounds things out a bit. I have to admit, I like both versions. The tea tastes markedly different each way. Still, despite the differences, the best thing about this tea holds its own regardless of additions. There's a wonderful smoky complexity that remains in the forefront and is always enjoyable and well balanced.
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