I think I mentioned a certain British girl I used to work with on this blog before. Okay, make that twice. Alright . . . technically, it was three times, if you count a guest blog for Lochan Tea. Point being, she was one of my favorite highlights of 2014. A person to pal around tea places with. Alas, in December of that year, she moved back to England. We agreed to keep in touch, but – as with most long-distance friendships – I assumed contact would grow scarce.
I was wrong.
While long-winded missives were a scarcity between the both of us, there was just enough contact to keep things current. It started off with messages back and forth, regaling the remains of the week. But then the penpal-ing took an interesting turn.
One morning – while arriving to work in my usual blurry-eyed, pre-caffeinated state – one of the supervisors said to me, “There’s a present for you on the desk.”
Odd, I thought. I didn’t do anything to deserve a gift.
Then my eyes met the gift itself.
Tregothnan Earl Grey, my favorite Earl Grey. I extolled upon its virtues in blog form before. English-grown tea blended with Assam and English-grown bergamot oil. In short, the most British Earl Grey ever. And it was a gift from a certain British Girl.
Over the course a year, that’s how it happened. She would send a care-package to her former work cronies here in the States, and made special mention that the tea was always for me. The beauty of it all was that she seemed to know my palate far too eerily well. I couldn’t recall being that vocal about my selective snobbery.
Or maybe I was, and I didn’t notice. As evidenced by the second tea gift – a pu-erh from a company I’d never heard of called Tedor Teas. A sheng pu-erh, no less!
If I were a betting man, I would’ve assumed it originated from Yiwu based upon its fluttery profile. But I’m not a betting man . . . so, I’ll just say it was damn good and well-sating.
It possessed all the usual Assam suspects – a chewy, malty profile and a bit of bitterness on the front. But the flavor also had a creamy, chocolaty bend to it, followed by a floral trail-off. These were a few unusual characteristics that I looked for in Assam teas. A bit outside the norm, yes, but so was my palate.
The last delivery to date was probably the most unexpected, and oddly enough, my favorite. It was an Earl Grey that tasted very un-Earl-Grey-y. The company it hailed from was an outfit called Hampstead Teas. I remembered the name from my early review days. Their Organic Earl Grey used a Darjeeling base – Makaibari estate, to be precise – and organic bergamot oil for the blend. I never knew there was such a thing.
The bold, muscatel profile of the Darjeeling and the sour citrus bergamot were at odds on the initial sip, but once my senses settled down, I grew to enjoy it. Prefer it, in point of fact. For the last month or two, when I needed to fill my travel mug for a work shift, it was the first thing I reached for. The act had grown almost instinctive.
However, over the course of months, a thought occurred to me. I hadn’t sent the British girl anything in return. Out of all the unsolicited tea presents, I had yet to make it up to her. I suppose I’m writing this – in some small way – to repay that debt. This was to let her know that she is missed, and that knowing there is a presence across the pond looking out for me is of great comfort.
And seeing letters like these . . .
Makes me smile every time.