Welcome back, fellow tea enthusiasts! Since April Fool’s Day has just passed, this week I have decided to feature a tea that has for far too long simply been in my collection listed as “Mystery Tea,” because I honestly had no idea what it was or where it came from. I only know that I received it from a coworker that didn’t care for it years ago, shortly after I started working at the library (and I’ve been there now for thirteen years, so this is some seriously old tea!) I do realize that tea leaves normally shouldn’t be kept that long, so this may go horribly bad… ah well, this segment always has been about being adventurous!
At least I’ve kept it sealed in a glass jar… surely it’s fine!
In trying to identify this tea, I started, of course, with a sniff test. Opening the jar, it smelled heavily of cinnamon. Obviously the leaves are black tea leaves, but I’ll be honest here… I would not be able to tell an assam from a ceylon from any other kind of black tea leaf so… any experts here feel free to take a guess!
A visual inspection of the leaves showed only the black leaves with what appeared to me like small pieces of dried fruit, except they smelled of cinnamon. In my mind, cinnamon is always in a stick or powdered, so I’d imagine it being… more… hard and crunchy?
Still, it was my only clue, so like the librarian that I am, I did a Google Image search for “black cinnamon tea” and… bingo! The images did indeed match what I had! (So much for my preconceived notions of what chopped cinnamon should look like, hahaha!) This picture from Fusion Teas is a dead ringer! Adagio Teas also offers a Cinnamon Black tea. While I have no idea the source of the particular blend I have, both of these sites offer cheap samplers and are pretty affordable for larger sizes.
I gave this tea a six-minute steep in 212 F water and it was a bit lighter than most black teas, appearing more of a ginger color.
I wasn’t impressed on my first swig, but once I’d added a bit of sweetener and the cinnamon had left a bit of an after-taste on my tongue, the rest of the cup was very pleasant! It’s a very simple blend, yet very warm and cozy. I know some people associate cinnamon tastes with the “red hot” that comes with candies, but the tea isn’t “hot” or “spicy,” it blends well with the flavor of the tea and just gives it a “warm” cinnamon zing. The flavor is also strong enough that I found the tea tasted good on a second steep, when often black teas don’t hold up too well to resteeping. I currently have viral pharyngitis, and found a hot cup of this tea a real relief on my throat!
This tea was lovingly brewed in the newest teacup to be added to my collection, which I picked up on my vacation to Portland, Oregon last month:
On my birthday (St. Patrick’s Day), my friend Todd (featured in my Chocolate Strawberry Black Tea review) and I visited several places around a very rainy Portland (a shame it wasn’t raining books like on that cup!) Sharing an oversized umbrella, we visited Powell’s City of Books, a bookstore so large it is three-stories tall and takes up a city block by itself. You can imagine why a librarian like myself was excited to go there! (The fact they had such an awesome coffee cup was just a bonus… isn’t that just a great design?)
This was just one of the two entrances into this behemoth of a bookstore (the other was located on the other block corner). To get an idea of just how big it is, I suggest you check out their store map, which they have kindly provided online. I’m one of those tourists that always brings my pamphlets and maps from my trips home with me, so I have the copy I picked up in the store as a souvenir.
Did I visit all the sections in the store? Ehh… to be honest, I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot, so I was very careful not to over-strain it on this trip. I mainly hit the areas that had books either I or Todd were interested in, but even just that meant we visited most areas of the store! Here was my haul:
The helpful librarian in the front (because I don’t care if you work in a bookstore, if you answer reference questions to direct a patron to find materials they are looking for, you are a librarian as far as I’m concerned!) directed me to the Herbal Medicine section to find this beauty. I’ve wanted an “encyclopedia” of herbs to look up the effects of different herbs in herbal teas for a long time, and the books that are about herbal teas are just recipe books in my library. This was precisely what I’ve been wanting!
In fact, I’m going to look up “cinnamon” right now… *looks up* Well, I knew it was great for stomach ailments like nausea and indigestion (it is in many tummy teas), but apparently it can help with pain as well! “It contains eugenol, a natural anesthetic oil that may help relieve the pain of household mishaps.” Well, no wonder a hot cup of cinnamon tea feels great on my painfully sore throat!
Most folks know that I love Japanese culture, so I couldn’t help but stop by the Mythology section, which was nicely separated into different cultures, so Asian Mythology had its own little section. One of my favorite video game series, Fatal Frame, takes a lot of inspiration from Japanese mythology and ghosts, so these were a handy find (they are also quite small and will make nice airplane reading in the future).
And of course, I spent far too much time at the huge selection of coloring books! (I’m very particular, I like to look through them not so much for the artwork but more to see if the paper will hold up to gel pens and to make sure the pages are only printed single-sided; if there are pictures on both sides of the page, I immediately put it back on the shelf). This publisher is very good about only printing on one side of the page, and it is probably little surprise that a cat coloring book and mehdi designs with black backgrounds that are going to stand out vibrantly in gel pen were my choices!
Cause we all know about my gel pen coloring addiction… THEY’RE SO GLITTERY!
Finally, we visited the fiction section at the bottom of the store, where Todd grabbed a science fiction book and some yuri manga. There was a display down there which we adored, filled with those old, cheesy sci-fi, fantasy, and romance covers from yester-year. Just looking at them was way too much fun! So I will leave you all with the cover from the display that got our chuckles the hardest:
I hope you had a fantastic first of April! (And were the prankster rather than the prank-victim, heehee)! Do any of you have any teas laying around that are a mystery to you just what they are or where you got them? Maybe it’s time to dust them off and try them out! You might find something really tasty at the back of your cupboards you’d completely forgotten about!