Winter Morning 2019/20 - Seasonal, rare black blend
Malty, cocoa, warming spice
Our seasonal blend of nuanced, rare black teas
Winter Morning has always been inspired by a sampling of rare, small lot black teas from China. I taste through familiar and unfamiliar styles, looking for the examples that stand out as exceptional and unique. From there, I work on combining favorites to achieve layers of flavor and a new quality that doesn’t exist in the individual components.
I create Winter Morning anew every year 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. I look for teas that stand out as exceptional or unusual that I can weave together into a new cup that welcomes with enticing aroma, approachable texture and unique flavor.
To start, I reach out to my tea sources and ask for samples of exceptional black teas. I always enjoy setting up the cupping to see how familiar styles will compare to years past, always with the hope of new discovery. Some teas weren’t as good this year as in years past (like Gold Dust Yunnan), while others showed up really well. The thing that never changes is that the teas themselves lead the creation of the blend. This year was a first - all three teas came from Fujian province.
Golden Monkey provides the foundation. It’s a famous tea named for the golden buds and a leaf shape said to resemble a monkey’s paw. One leaf and a golden bud are plucked to make it. The selective plucking accounts for the more delicate flavors, and takes much more work. It’s also a first flush early-picked spring tea and production is very limited. This lot has a soft mouthfeel with flavors of cocoa, wood, and tobacco.
Yao Qing Hua Xiang is a tea I’ve never even heard of before. Grown in the Wuyi Mountains and plucked from a rare camellia sinensis variety, this lot has a wiry black leaf that shows an insanely prominent fruitiness - it reminds me of ripe melon crossed with strawberry kool-aid! Deeper in the cup I get a hoppy floral note that rounds it out in an interesting way. A little of this tea goes a long way, and that’s just as well because production is very limited.
The third component is a lot selected by David Lee Hoffman, one of my trusted sources, and is an example of the benefit of working with multiple suppliers. Each has their own connections with producers and access to different teas, which expands the range of teas available to me. This particular tea David simply calls China Black. The name isn’t for one tea, but a catch all. Under this unassuming name David is able to source many small lots of good taste and value. This specific one (Lot FB) contributes a maltiness and spicy character that fill out the cup nicely.
Winter Morning launches at the same time as our Celebration Blend, but unlike the coffee we’ll continue to offer it into the new year and through the entire Winter season. I hope you enjoy this tea, and that it gives you and our guests some pleasure in these crazy times.