Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Art of Tea: Joseph Walsh, Candy Stores, and Brandy

When Food and Wine magazine lists your tea in their top holiday gift guide you know you have a product that is a cut above the rest. That is exactly what Art of Tea has, a fantastic selection of teas. Art of Tea is located in Los Angeles, California and was founded in 1996. Steven Schwartz, the CEO and founder, wanted to create an organic tea company that was a leader in Fair Trade Tea and has successfully done so with Art of Tea. All of the teas are carefully blended specially by the company so the consumer can enjoy the highest quality tea. One of the best aspects of the company is the wide and varied selection they have to offer. Art of Tea carries so many unique blends that even the Darjeeling Darlings couldn’t pick a favorite, but we certainly enjoyed the tasting process in search of one! 

            “I am a huge fan of black tea and the “1896” blend was just up my alley. “1896” was created in honor of author Joseph Walsh. Walsh was one of the first people to publish a book on tea blending in 1896. I loved this tea so much that I ended up drinking the whole bag’s worth of leaves in 2 days! It was bold and rich, so it gave me just the kick that I needed while writing an English paper (the paper was on Jane Austen, so it seemed fitting). My first impression of “1896” was how flavorful it was. I could really taste the apple cinnamon coming through as the dominant flavor, which was then smoothed by the taste of white peach. I would definitely recommend “1896” for any avid black tea lover.

            Secondly, I have to admit I was a little skeptical of trying the blend “Chocolate Monkey.” For some reason the taste of hot bananas just does not appeal to me. Well, I should not have judged a tea packet by its cover. I was shocked by just how much I enjoyed it. The chocolate and banana worked so well together with the pink peppercorn to surprisingly create a delightful dessert tea. It had the perfect amount of sweetness, which left my cup without the need of supplemental sugar. This tea would be sure to prove as a dessert favorite among guests at your next dinner party!”


            “Browsing and sampling teas from the Art of Tea was an absolute field day. I felt like a kid in the candy store. You remember what it was like, right? You walk in with eyes as big as saucers and gaze from wall to wall at all the possibilities. You’re greeted by your old favorites and intrigued by the unknown. Gummy bears wave hello while full cylinders of European chocolate welcome you to a new frontier. And then there’s everything in between. Hard candy, soft candy, the sours, the sweets, pre-packaged Mars bars, yogurt-covered pretzels, licorice, sea-salted this, caramel-filled that, lemon drops, cola bottles, peppermints, malt balls, and jelly beans. Where do you begin? 

Much like the candy store, it’s hard to pass up the teas that jump out with color. In this case that would be the “Halo” and “Birds of Paradise” blends. Much like their name implies, these aren’t your average earthly loose-leaf teas. Instead they are quarter-sized tea “bombs” of green and pink leaves rolled into a heavenly little ball.  “Halo” is a white tea of amaranth and jasmine ingredients followed by a fun surprise of blueberry and peach taste. “Birds of Paradise” is a gentle blend of white and green tea with a delightful floral aroma. The flavor is a simple plum that is neither fruity nor bland, but rather mellow. However, even my best attempts at descriptions won’t do these teas justice. All I can say is that if I were a dyeing woman, I would drink one of these as my last taste of tea. 

The fun continues with the “Amoré” blend of white tea, peppermint, spearmint, rose, and lavender. It is described as an “late night elixir or after meal pick up to refresh mind and enhance mood.” They had me at ‘elixir’… I mean, the whole thing sounds like a much-needed helping hand to the midnight oil burning college student. “Yes, please” for me!  And as you can imagine, there are lots of things to be tasted within this concoction, the most dominant being lavender and rose. It’s tasty, it’s refreshing, and I think it’s safe to give it some credit for the ‘A’ I received on my Social Psychology paper that was written at an inhumane hour of the wee morning. 

A couple other honorable mentions were “Caramelized Pear” and “Earl Grey Cremé.” “Pear” is a straightforward, herbal, caffeine-free, loose-leaf tea that would make an excellent desert drink.  I like it because there are no surprises; just a simple caramel and pear flavor much like the gummy bears in the candy store we talked about earlier. The same is true of “Earl Grey,” it’s the classic Early Grey you love with a touch of French Vanilla. However, this tea makes me extra happy because it’s identical in taste to one of my favorite drinks at Starbucks, the “London Fog.” The “London Fog” is simply an Early Grey tea latté with a couple shots of vanilla syrup. With Art of Tea’s Early Grey in my tea repertoire, I can have the “London Fog” taste without being filled up by a latté and at a much more cost efficient price! 

London Fog: Earl Grey tea, steamed milk, and a touch of Vanilla syrup. Nectar of the gods in a cup!

The last tea I must speak my mind on is the “1896” blend because it truly is a notch above most black tea/rooibos hybrids. Just by looking at the black and red leaves, you can determine that it’s a mix of black and African bush teas. But you can’t tell that it also is composed of honeybush, safflower, hibiscus, and rose ingredients that blend all too well for an incredible tea. I’ve talked before of my admiration of rooibos and honeybush teas, but that isn’t necessarily saying much. What I think makes “1896” special is it’s aroma that I can only describe as being kin to a glass of brandy-but subtler of course. Its taste is strong from black leaves and sweetened by rooibos. If Rhett Butler drank tea, this would be his go-to. In fact, I would imagine “1896” to be a favorite among men in general because of it’s bold and prominent flavor that opposes faint and subtle herbal teas.”

Maybe Rhett Butler didn't drink morning tea, but Clark Gable did!


  The Art of Tea could not be more appropriately named. They truly have made an art out of blending teas of the finest flavors and tastes. It's no wonder so many of their teas have won awards. The Darjeeling Darlings only scratched the surface though. Pop on over to the Art of Tea store and have a look around at their wonderful selection. Whether you prefer floral herbal teas or strong black teas, there is something for everyone. Better yet, if you do find something you like, take 15% off your purchase total* with the coupon code DD15. Regardless of your tastes, you’ll be sure to love what Art of Tea has to offer-they’re Darjeeling Darling approved and recommended! 


~The Darjeeling Darlings  

*Discount excludes Tea of the Month, gift cards, wholesale orders, and cannot be combined with any other coupon. 


  1. How nice to be close to a fab tea shop. The 1896 blend sounds like something I would love as well. Bring on the kudos for tea...let it take it's place as distinguished!