I’m excited about this year’s Winter Morning. While it’s always a fun blend to create, this year added a fresh layer - I got to work on it with my 5 year old daughter. As background, I found myself with blend work to do and Esther was home sick but feeling pretty good, so I brought the teas home. Even though she’s never tasted “grown up” tea before, Esther’s well versed in the aromas of tea and tea leaves, and has favorites. I let her know that I wanted her help designing the blend, and she decided to turn it into a competition of who could create the best tea.

I set up all my potential teas to consider, and Esther went to work on her own blend. I prepared black teas with notes of cedar, malt, honey, and vanilla. She cold steeped candy cane and sugar cookie tea bags with a fresh raspberry and some honey. It was on.



As we went through and evaluated aromatics, I took notes and Esther developed her own method of tracking favorites. When we smelled the leaves of Gold Dust Yunnan, for instance, Esther put the back of her hand to her forehead and feigned a swoon, then attached a little piece of paper with a pumpkin on it to the teapot as a marker of favorite. And on we went until many of the teapots had little pumpkins on them.

When it came time to taste, Esther surprised me by wanting to try some, and blew me away when she actually liked what she tried. Her first grown up tea and she liked it! Consider me a proud papa. We went down the lineup of 8 teas, and she took a sip of each, giving her thoughts on every one.

After that initial round of components, I started working on combinations - 2 spoons of one, a spoon each of a couple others, and she gave her input. From a handful of combinations I narrowed the field to a favorite, and put it head to head against Esther’s tea. She advocated strongly for hers and suggested I consider offering it at 4track. When all was said and done we each complimented the other’s efforts but preferred our own.


Winter Morning is our seasonal blend of nuanced, rare black teas. I create it as a kind of thank you to our community. A cup to savor as the year winds down and we reflect on what we’ve experienced and what’s ahead in the new year. It’s always somewhat optimistic, reflective of flavors I love in a cold weather tea, and hopeful for what the future will bring.

This year’s blend is based on Gold Dust Yunnan, the large leaf black tea with striking gold tips that we currently offer as a seasonal single origin. This tea is soft and luxurious, with flavors of honey and cedar. While it’s lovely on its own, I wondered what I could achieve by combining it with complimentary teas. One of those is Honey Orchid, a high grown slow growing meizhan variety from Fujian with long black leaves and notes of cocoa and malt. The third component is a rare lot of black tea with spicy, brisk and somewhat woodsy character. It’s a tea that I likely won’t be able to get anymore, so I’m looking forward to enjoying what it contributes to this year’s blend, created anew every year as a comforting addition to those colder winter days.

The finished tea is smooth and aromatic. Expect to taste elements of malt, a dried fruit sweetness, and honeysuckle. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did while creating it with my budding tea blender.

Here's to warming Winter mornings.

October 31, 2018 — Rich Avella

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