Through conversations on twitter I've recently discovered The Little Red Cup Tea Company. I was originally attracted to their bold graphics, and then their focus on quality Chinese teas drew me in further. Their teas are all organic and fair trade certified, which basically sealed the deal for me. From what I've learned through their website the small selection of teas have been lovingly chosen for quality and taste.
Through the rest of this month (better act fast) they have lowered the price of their 5 bag sampler, which is how I took the plunge to try their teas. The portions are generous and of good quality. So far I've tried two, the Keemun and Lu Mei green.
The Keemun's dry leaf smells sweet and earthy. It is a wood-like aroma that reminds me of an antique piece of furniture. After brewing, the tea has a malty and slightly smoky scent. The brewed Keemun has a distinct smokey/leathery flavor that makes me think of tobacco and leather jackets. It also has a red wine pungency to it. It feels like a good autumn tea. This would also be a nice tea for those that enjoy a smoky flavor, but when lapsang souchong is just too powerful. Since it's so strong, it would be a good morning tea. It would hold up well to milk if that is your preference.
I also tried the Lu Mei green tea. The twisted leaves smell sweet and grassy. The brew is quite different from the dry leaf. On Steepster a few people complained about the bitterness of this tea, but it's just right for me. I actually prefer my green teas on the bitter side since I don't love the super vegetal, gentle teas (shhhh!). This tea is slightly vegetal yet bitter, reminding me of a roasted Brussels sprout. It also has a lingering mellow sweetness. It's a great morning tea since it's got an eye-opening punch.
I adore the packaging with the bold black and red graphics. It would be great on a reusable tea tin (hint, hint) instead of brown bags. My one gripe is that they do not give brewing instructions on the package. I know how to brew the teas, but for the novice it would be annoying to first go to the website to look up brewing instructions. I assume it was to save money on packaging, but even a little brewing booklet in the shipment it would be helpful.
I look forward to trying the other three teas in the sampler. I hope this company continues to do well, and add more teas to their catalog.