This is a store that usually has some sort of black tea that will work in a pinch. On occasion I've even found a few that have pleasantly surprised me. Today the pickings were slim, but I noticed a little box of Kusmi Tea 'Russian Morning No 24' on the shelf. I've enjoyed the loose leaf version of this tea before, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's an odd tea to find at a grocery store, and it was pricey at $10 for a box of 20 'muslin teabags', but I was desperate. Besides, when you break it down per cup, it is not too expensive. At least, that is what I was trying to tell myself.
There were a few warning signs that I ignored about this box of tea, and I'm sorry I didn't pay more attention to them. 1) the box was the last one on the shelf, and it was a little smooshed. 2) there is a place for a 'best before' stamp, but there was no date. 3) something about 'muslin tea bags' for mass produced tea just made me think i was going to be disappointed. perhaps because it is trying too hard. But desperate me decided that I'd spring for it anyway.
Right out of the box, the muslin teabag is a little disappointing, but there is room for hope. The bits of tea leaves are small but at least recognizable. It makes me wonder why they bothered to use a muslin bag for steeping such small pieces of tea. But at least they were attempting to give their tea a chance to shine. I took a sniff, and the tea didn't smell like anything at all. Still trying to be optimistic, I brewed a small pot. I took a sip, and was sad. The tea didn't really taste like anything. Just warm, slightly malty water. A big disappointment. Since I have enjoyed this tea before, but in the loose leaf form, it's possible that the grocery store just sold me stale tea. They must have kept that little box on the shelf for months, hoping some desperate sucker would come by and purchase it. If anyone has had a positive experience with this bagged tea, please let me know!
If I'd wanted a tasteless tea, I'd just go for one of the generic bags that are offered in our lunchroom. I was looking for a nice bold breakfast tea for a chilly, sleepy, late morning break. I guess I will just have to use this tea to warm my hands when it gets particularly cold in the office. Or perhaps I could figure out a way to empty the tea out of the muslin, and use it to steep a better tea.
Kusmi Russian Morning No 24