Recommend a tea?

I would like to get back into buying my teas from a place like Adagio or SpecialTeas, and I’d also like to learn what I like instead of simply buying what’s available.

The terms are a bit baffling to me: Assam, Darjeeling, first flush, tippy, etc. And all the regions make it a bit tricky to figure out where to start.

I do know that I don’t like green tea, herbals, or Rooibos.

I seem to like stronger rather than weaker.

And I have a coupon for SpecialTeas.

So, any suggestions?

Hmmm. Special Teas doesn’t appear to have my favorite ---- Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold. If you like English Breakfast Tea, you’ll love this ---- it’s very reminiscent of English Breakfast Tea, but it’s it’s both richer and smoother.

I only like really flavorful teas too. I only drink chai and I love Persian tea. I don’t see any on that website I think I’d like. If any maybe one of the spiced ones.

Lapsang Souchong. It’s very smokey. Not everyone’s cup of tea, though.

Trader joes pomegranate & white tea is da bomb. I like gunpowder tea, but again, it’s not for everyone.

Earl Grey. Regular or green. Twinnings of England makes it and can be found in
U. S. stores, but I prefer the Earl Grey by Bigelow, a U. S. company. It’s named after the earl who added bergamot to the tea. I’m drinking Earl Grey green – green tea with the bergamot. I like my tea very strong, with no milk or sugar, and I steep it for at least ten minutes.

Given your coupon, I’d make a beeline for this one, because it’s an interesting mix of flavors, it’s beautiful and I love red tea (with lemon and sugar).
This would be my second choice.

My favorite tea. They also make a wonderful red chai and red chamomile.

I’m a plain old English Breakfast gal (although I occasionally do the decaf chai from SpecialTeas). We get EB fair trade oganic in bulk from Frontier Co-op.

You might want to try a nice Assam.
I like this one a lot but unfortunately it’s more expensive than it is here.

I like Orange Pekoe, also known as Yunnan black tea. I used to drink the Numi brand, before I discovered you can get the same thing for a tenth of the price at any Chinese grocery store. My favorite ever is Fu Joy Lychee Black Tea.

And, what’s this? No green tea? What about Jasmine green tea? Trader Joe’s makes a very decent jasmine that I like to drink iced with lots of sugar.

What do you like in tea? Do you like flavorings like jasmine or bergamot (used in Earl Gray) or do you like pure tea? Personally, I like unflavored tea, but lapsang souchong is an exception because it isn’t flowery or fruity, instead the tea is smoked over pine giving it a wonderful piney, tarry flavor.

For plain teas, I’m a big fan of Kimun, which has a strong flavor sometimes described as winey. Darjeeling has a distinctive floral taste that is quite nice, though I sometimes find it cloying. Oolong teas are among the finest (and most expensive) teas, with complex fruity overtones. Assam teas are usually described as “malty” but I’ve never been interested enough to figure out exactly what this refers to; I find Assams boring and astringent (of course because of this, I haven’t tried many). English breakfast blends are usually dominated by Assam and Keemun, so if you usually like English breakfast blends, you might start with those.

Don’t worry about things like tippy golden flowery or first flush yet, just figure out what kind you like first. (Generally speaking the more letters in the name the better [TGFOP (tippy golden flowery orange pekoe) is better than FOP (flowery orange pekoe)] but it’s a very rough classification based on the size of the leaves and degree of brokenness, not the actual taste).

One nice thing about tea is that even the most expensive works out to just a few cents per cup (especially since the better and more expensive teas can usually be infused more than once). Another is that it’s very easy to find teas in bulk (Try a health food store) so that you can buy small bags of several teas to sample instead of whole tins.

FTR, I also drink a lot of pu-erh, but it’s an acquired taste. I don’t recommend it to the uninitiated unless you like strong earthy flavors. Think damp forest floor.

The best tea I’ve had in America is Stash brand’s English Breakfast. It’s still not quite as good as what the B&Bs in Ireland serve, though.

I’ve yet to encounter a flavoring added to decent tea that I thought improved it. Tisanes are good, too, but they’re a completely different beverage.

To add a bit of description on terminology to what’s been said:

The “Flush” refers to when the leaves are harvested. As far as I know, this mainly applies to Darjeeling. Tea leaves are harvested in Spring - “First Flush” is earlier in the season, and “Second Flush” is toward the end. There’s not a massive difference (though if you compare two directly and have had tea before, it’s noticeable). Second Flush has a stronger flavor, and usually commands the higher price. If you’re going to get that detailed go for the Second Flush (based on what you say you like).

Among Darjeeling teas, you can also get “Single Estate” and even from some particular estates (though I believe some of the ‘estates’ may cover several growers). This starts to get similar to Scotch (with ‘single malt’ vs. blended). Personally I think there’s greater variation between harvest year than between estates, and there’s not enough difference in either to really matter much. Most of the time you’ll have blends, which can be really excellent (again, it’s like varieties of Scotch).

As for the regional names, each has its own flavor :

Darjeeling tends to have strong flavor. It has a heady but slightly flowery aroma and a distinctive sharpness. With higher quality the aftertaste is pleasant despite the tea’s astringency (to my tastes). The majority is sold as black tea, but you can get green and even white tea from there (and you should try it just once if you can. It’s not highly vegetal like most Chinese green teas - it’s more of the Darjeeling floral quality, with less of the complexity and astringency of the black tea).

Assam tea is malty (in a slightly earthy “peaty” way) and mellow. It’s mild (but good ones are full-bodied). It’s also know for its deep amber liquor (in Assam, tea without milk is called “Red Tea”). If you’re ordering it on its own, just make sure it’s “Orthodox” [Whole Leaf]. Most Assam tea is of the cheaper, machine-processed type (CTC) intended to be boiled and mixed with spices for milk tea (roughly what’s known in the US as ‘chai’).

Ceylon tea comes from Sri Lanka (too bad we couldn’t call it Serendipi). It has a very strongly fruity, slightly sweet flavor. On its own it can smell a little like rose hips or strawberries. It often appears in blends, but can be nice straight, if a bit forceful.

Nilgiri tea is a less common variety. It comes from down south as well (Tamil Nadu). I’ve never tried it, but it’s supposedly similar to Ceylon.

There are a few other areas in India that grow tea, but I’m not too familiar with all of them.
[Right now I’m drinking a Darjeeling Muscatel (blended by this woman)].

I would recommend a loose leaf tea instead of a bagged tea. I have been drinking stash russian caravan, lapsang souchon, a green tea and a white tea lately and I had tea made from a bigelowes earl grey tea bag and it was bridge sweepings in quality. i got a pod maker from an online store and make my own teabags to take with me now.

You might try Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast. You will definitely notice a difference! It’s got a much stronger flavor.

I will sometimes drink a cinnamon tea, but I usually just drink things like English Breakfast.

I don’t like Earl Gray at all. I’ve never had lapsang souchong, but I don’t like smokey flavors, generally.

I did used to buy coconut tea from Adagio that I really liked. I haven’t bought it in years.

Ooh, good to know.

Excellent. Thanks. Maybe I’ll try this sampler, since it looks like Assam might be a good bet.

Thanks for the neat details.

Orthodox? Hmm. I’m not seeing that on my sampler description, drat it.

I’ll take your advice and try a Darjeeling green someday. But wow, I have never liked a green tea yet.

Thanks, everyone! I appreciate all the suggestions.

Finally I have something to contribute, and I come into the thread and it is the first reply!

Yorkshire tea is the nectar of the Gods. Makes up for that godforsaken county producing Geoff Boycott, it does.

I would think that anything sold on its own as a loose tea is likely to be orthodox. CTC tea usually ends up in bags. Certainly anything with letters ending FOP (flowery orange pekoe) is going to be orthodox. BOP (broken orange pekoe) could be either one, but you usually just see that in a few teas, mostly higher end varietals like Darjeeling IME, where they can still charge a premium for a lower grade.

Looking at the sampler you picked, I’m very sure those are all orthodox leaves. I don’t think that site would sell anything else. The only one that conceivably could be CTC is the 217 Assam Bargang TGBOP, which looks to be one of their entry-level Assams, but I’m sure it’s just broken-leaf orthodox tea, not crushed.