Natural Vanilla Black Ceylon
Sweet, yet eschewing saccharine sentimentality, this crowd-pleaser tends to overpower the palate, making it likely to erase from memory even the worst culinary fiasco. Nicely warms up bitter accusations emanating from exes, especially those never-ending circular diatribes along the lines of who named the stray cat “Moebius,” condemning the poor thing to eternally roll over while chasing its tail. But don’t overdo it: the magic starts to wear off after the first couple of cups. Recommended, but with reservations.
TS score: 76/100.
Let’s put it this way, Reena: back to India! We here at Tea Spectator have no idea what you think you’re doing by trying to pawn off cheap broken Orange Pekoe as top-grade Assam in this cleverly over-cinnamoned version of one of our favorite blends. But we’re onto you! Oh baby, is this one harsh. More bitter than a mother-in-law who lost the family fortune to a failed dot-com groom who promised “a tenfold-return overnight” only to disappear in 2000 and rumored to be living in a charming bungalow somewhere in the heart of the Amazon. Like the foregoing, this is a scam to avoid at all costs.
TS score: 39/100.
Poobong Estate Lopchu-style Darjeeling (2nd flush)
Yes, it’s true: the second flush is always cleaner than the first flush. At least when you have good plumbing, that is. One sip of this racy Indian bomb will hook you so fast, you’ll need more than two trips to the bathroom to handle the endless stream of pots you’ll find yourself brewing. Has all the polished elegance of Poobong 1st flush, but with less poo and more bong. And what’s not to like about that?
TS score: 94/100.
Slightly more charm and sophistication than TGFOP, plain ol’ GFOP and certainly the notoriously sleazy BOP and BPS in-laws. But a warning for those trying to steep on the cheap: this ain’t no SFTGFOPI! Once again proving TANSTAAFL and WYSIWYG. FWIW, AOK for HDL and PMS. BFD. BTW, WTF with that MSRP?
TS score: TBD.
Formosa Dong Ding Oolong
Whoops! Looks like those wacky Chinese got their word order mixed up again in translation — or did they? This mild brew with a sketchy grasp of English grammar shies away from chatty sociability, making it perfect for those long, lonely nights of candle-lit meditation. After a few cups, you’ll find yourself wondering if the dong really comes before the ding, the cart before the horse, and that chronic sense of apathy before the current Bush administration. Limited edition packaging includes free pewter Buddha.
TS score: 82/100.
Dragon Phoenix Pearl Jasmine
Don’t let the name fool you; this stuff tastes like burnt soap! Maybe it’s because the dragon breathed too much fire onto the leaves, but there’s nothing about this caffeinated liquor that remotely approaches the lusty sexuality of a pearl (or the Egyptian Phoenix — yeah, baby). This is the acid you serve to people you don’t really like but towards which you keep up minimal pleasantries in order to use their Maxiload SUV for a quickie run to Ikea on a Saturday afternoon. May also be used as a mild disinfectant, wound cauterizer or drain declogger in a pinch.
TS score: 58/100.
Special Rare Tippy Assam
Earth to Reena — this is what you should be putting in your Chai! Yes, it’s roughly triple-price compared to your run-of-the-mill Assam loose-leaf, but then most Assam isn’t special, rare, and tippy, is it? Lesson learned: you get what you pay for. Excellent for seducing dark, spicy Latin women on sultry summer nights, particularly when Cuban salsa is wafting through the window off-street. It even got our balding, pasty executive managing editor laid last week (!). Swing it, baby, swing it!
TS score: 98/100.
Min-Nan Oolong, Special Grade
Ooh-la-long! It don’t get much better than this, folks! Not too ripe yet never overly-firm; pale but with a light dusting of across-the-nose freckles, this exquisite hand-harvested delicacy shoots to the top of the list of companions you can live with for the rest of your life. Others may dazzle more in one-night-stands, but this intelligent, sweet, and occasionally spunky mate will keep you coming back week after week, year after year for the perfect sense of balance she imparts to your life. Very hard to find but definitely worth the long, grueling search.
TS score: 100/100.