Mountains, lakes, life is good.
The gang is out so I am sneaking some time to write. We went to Wegman's today - think super grocery store - and I checked out the tea aisles (yes, aisles as in three). Be still my heart. They had about 50 loose teas in big steel canisters, very nice sealable bags to put them in and a weight/sticker machine that not only gave the price, but brewing instructions as well. So, of course, I got several samples to try and bought some tea from the Eastern Shore Tea Co., as well. About 1/3 of the teas were Japanese and there were several organic teas, along with a fairly wide selection of storage canisters and many tea gizmos and pots.
One of the samples I purchased was Nilgiri Select Black Tea from southwestern India. The leaves were a long dark brown, very twisted. The scent was unremarkable - just tea. I brewed it for 4 minutes with 212 degree water and many of the leaves were not yet unfurled. I think I should have brewed it closer to the upper limit of six minutes, as the tea was pleasant, but bland. I was smart enough to make my samples large enough to do several pots, so I will try more another day.
I was pleased to see the tea in stainless steel containers, protected from the light and each had its own scooping spoon to avoid cross-contamination. Someone at Wegman's has paid attention to the basics of tea. From what I could see in a very quick perusal, the other teas were all tea bags, but I was in a hurry and will need to go back to check them out some more.