A church in Sorrento, Italy, the Mary altar.
All of you Darjeeling fans may be in for some price rises. There has been a drought in some parts of Darjeeling and now some of the gardens' workers are striking for things like a living wage, better working conditions, education for their children abd health care. Apparently some of the attempted discussions to bring settlement have gotten very heated and there has been harassment of workers. Although I do like first flush Darjeeling, which is now ready to be picked, I am with the workers, who make only about $1 a day and live too far from schools and medical care. If you buy Fair Trade teas, these issues are addressed and some organic companies also are dealing with them.
Have I mention Alex Zorach's fine website http://www.ratetea.net/ ? It is a very worthwhile site, carrying some fine reviews of a wide range of teas and you can add your own if you would like. Another in somewhat the same vein is http://www.steepster.com/. There are many many blogs and review sites about tea and most of them are fun as well as informative.
Today I am in a black tea mood and I am trying Russian Style Black from the Bamboo Tea House in California. http://www.bambooteas.com/ I found their service to be very quick and they even went out of their way to make the shipping cheaper. My only quibble is there isn't much information on their site about the dirrerent teas.
The dry tea isa mix of brown and really black leaves. It smells dark, earthy winey, with some tobacco lurking in the background. I brewed it for almost 4 minutes with water just off theboil. The brewed tea is very dark, rich and fresh tasting, with maybethe very tiniest hint of smoke. The tea is very smooth and rich with a woody wine like flavor, backed up with a touch of astringency at the end. Somehow it conveys a smokey back room filled with intellectuals. (Touch of fantasy there.) I see why it is called Russian. It is not at all delicate, but just as smooth as can be. it takes milk and sweetener well.