Origin: Assam, India
Type: Black Tea
Preparation: Steeped in about eight ounces of boiling water for three minutes, sipped plain
The name of the place is Brownstones Coffee. And indeed, the coffee is phenomenal; the Rwanda prepared with a manual drip is to die for. But it is so much more than just a great cup of Joe: breakfast place, lunch place, time machine, and tea shop as well.
I do not know if its line of teas, branded "Circa 1867," is a house brand or a separate gig, but it is very good. The menu features dozens of teas of all types, with much to recommend. One can get loose tea to go, or order a cup to sip. Having lunch there the other day, I tried the first item on the list: a simple black Assam.
Offering a honey, butterscotch nose, the tea also emits a hint of snapdragon, a scent that I have not experienced since visiting my grandparents' garden as a youth. The hue of the tea is, interestingly, like coffee. Remarkably like coffee, actually, although not as deep or rich to the eye. Maybe there is a tinge of caramel color there, too. The taste is light; delicate but not fragile. It is savory, woodsy but not smoky, maybe almost nutty. There is also a handful of tannins to to go around. The texture is medium, edging towards the airier side of things. The finish is quite the same as the taste.
Brownstones describes the Assam as "robust, hearty, and malty." I agree with that last adjective, if none other. But then again, how could I dispute anything that they say? The staff also claims that the No Guilt Breakfast Wrap is delicious, and heck if it is anything less! As for their claim that an unimposing, almost mild tea is "robust", there is no denying that it stands up to the wrap ("healthy egg whites, baby spinach, tomatoes, cracked pepper mill turkey, melted alpine lace Swiss cheese, in a whole wheat wrap") just fine. A friendly, quiet Assam with latent muscles to hold its own anywhere: what could be better than that?