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photo courtesy of fairmont

in my city, it seems like autumn has been skipped over–overnight we went from summer to winter, and the rain has been pouring all day. we had a mild summer–my dahlias did not bloom much, and my tomatoes didn’t get very ripe.  and my only regret is that i did not get to use my picnic basket this summer.

i love the stormy weather because it makes me want to nest–with a good novel, cozy blanket, scented candle and something baking in the oven. on the first stormy day of autumn, my husband and i talked ourselves out of our yearly pilgrimage to a music festival and opted to stay home, warm, and dry. we made breakfast and sipped on tea with cream. autumn is wonderful because i keep thinking of all the delicious foods that i will make–foods that are somehow just not very good in the summer.

not everyone of my lovely friends feels the same way about the passing of a summer that was barely here. hot drinks help. so does the caffeine. so without further adieu, here are some of my favorite black teas.

photo by weezermonkey

fairmont’s empress blend black tea is a blend of flavors from assam, ceylon, kenya, south india, and china. each tea bag can produce two cups of tea (but by cups, we mean 6 oz cups, not your favorite coffee mug). it’s great with a cube of sugar and cream, and is my go-to tea in the morning. i have yet to figure out where i can buy it, other than at the empress hotel. but a perk is that you get enough for 20 cups of tea as a thank-you gift for attending afternoon tea at the empress. (plus all you can drink while you’re there!) it can brew up pretty strong, so follow the suggested brew times. it’s never as delicious as the tea you drink at the empress, but it is a close second.

harney & son’s paris tea is a wonderful and very fragrant tea. it has a hint of vanilla and it doesn’t brew very strong–it has more fragrance than flavor in many ways. adding milk makes it seem very light, almost like a delicate dessert. it’s not my robust-every-day-get-me-out-of-bed-and-out-the-door… it’s more for enjoying on a sunday morning while looking at a cashe of magazines that came in the mail over the week. it is an amazing tea, and apparently modeled after the blend of tea that are famously served in paris tea shops. it also comes whole leaf, in silk sachets, again each bag is said to brew two cups.

in a move to be thrifty, i bought a very cheap box of irish tea to drink at the office. it was the kind of tea that was basically the pulverized tea leaf dust that is left after all the good, mediocre, and bad tea leaves are packaged. basically the floor sweepings. after about 3 months of drinking it, i couldn’t stand it any longer and i looked for an upgrade. i really enjoy drinking pg tips tea, which i find in the import section of my grocery store. it’s a british brand, and probably more like the lipton’s of england. it can be bitter if you let it over brew, so remove the bag quickly–it gets pretty strong and tannin-y. i always add milk (well–i add “land-o-lakes mini-moos), but it is an eye opening tea, exactly what i need at work.

a well-made cup of tea can be just as comforting, warming, and energizing as running to the starbucks downstairs for a tall, non-fat, latte–and really at a fraction of the cost.

unless you need the fancy electric kettle that warms water to specific temperatures based on the exactly optimal brewing temperature of the tea. *covet*