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  • Andrea K. Marcinkus

Tea Drinking for the Bold

I first learned about August Uncommon teas from a Facebook advertisement. "Ok," I thought, " Here is a company with great marketing, slick packaging, and probably sad tea." I was delightfully wrong about my last point.

Boasting exciting flavors like "Black Metallic," "Civil Disobedience," and "The Black Lodge," I placed an order for their Top 10 sample pack and a few other varieties that needed to be in my order. I had one hell of a time trying to decide on flavors - I could have ordered them all. I loved that August Uncommon had small tasting packs - enough for 4 cups to see if you liked a flavor - I didn't want to get stuck with another large package of disappointing tea.

About two weeks later, their package arrived! Here is the assortment that was in my bag:

Great names and packaging, right?! I was hoping they taste as good as they sound. Their favors are really exciting. August Uncommon uses a blend of loose-teas, herbs and spices to create unique favor profiles. Its almost like drinking a cocktail and not tea. In addition to these traditional ingredients, the package also lists "natural flavors." I wasn't too sure about that ingredient on the list, so I was still trying to curb my enthusiasm.

I'm a big fan of loose-leaf teas. Tea bags, with their dusty leaves are a sad disappointment. You cannot see the quality of the leaf. August Uncommon's blends use whole leaves, which I found appealing. When I opened the sample packages, I was struck by how beautiful the blends are! They look like sexy potpourri. The smell was fresh, and I could clearly detect the ingredients on the list.

Let me get the kettle on and spill the tea on some of my favorites in this package!

The Black Lodge and Leatherbound were the first two I tried. The Black Lodge was rich and complex - like a sophisticated desert served with scotch. It was really good with a little sugar and cream added - might also be really good as a hot toddy with a little of that scotch. Leatherbound was everything I was hoping it to be. I have never thought to combine cocoa and caraway, but it is such a delicious combination, I need to use this tea as an inspiration for a dessert! The caraway gives the comfortable sensation of rye bread, without it being over the top and the cocoa rounds out the flavor profile. This tea was equally good with honey and without.

Low Country and Cabaret were up next. Low Country is a bourbon drinker's dream in tea cup. I love the smokey taste of lapsang souchong tea, and here it was used in just the right proportion. The addition of whole-grain malt added to infuse an excellent cup. The chocolate-cherry flavor of Cabaret is very chocolate-forward and even has some creaminess to its mouthfeel. Cabaret was really good with sugar and cream added to boost these dessert qualities.

Although I'm a sucker for a strong black tea, I figured I should try some of the other tea varieties in the Top Ten selection, and these were as good as the black varieties. Combray uses the backdrop of green tea to pull the pop of cardamon with vanilla to the forefront. The whole green cardamon pods were a pleasant surprise. Know By Heart reminded me of eating crisp cookies with my cuppa. It was light and floral, but remained grounded in the subtle taste of almonds. It also induced the craving for poundcake.

I decided to ice Biarritz, a rooibos tea, because I typically dislike the mouthfeel of this tea style when hot. (They seem a little too slippery and thick to me.) This was an excellent choice - the flavor profile was a little similar to Know By Heart, but more complex, with almost boozy brandy-like notes. I'm going to be making this iced during the summer as a cocktail-alternative.

Overall, these teas are excellent. The blends are thoughtfully created with their complexity that tells a story and transports you to a new environment. That is a tall order for some tea, but when most of the tea on the market is either single origin (I'm a fan - not knocking those teas) or some two-note blend of common flavors, August Uncommon stands out as a clear innovator. These teas are great when you want something that will excite your palate and want something more exciting than traditional flavored blends. While I wouldn't give up by single-origin teas, August Uncommon's teas will be taking over the place in my pantry for flavored teas.

Right now, you can take advantage of 20% off your new-customer order by giving August Uncommon your email address. They also offer free shipping for orders over $25.

I really enjoyed these teas, and hope that you will, too. Let me know what you think? Cheers, and pinkies up!

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