Some teas seem to have a real “social” quality, suited to a more social tea time, whether it’s Afternoon Tea or High Tea, or a big tea time gala. They are generally teas best steeped in smaller quantities and able to undergo multiple steepings. A number of options are out there awaiting your selection for when you need that bit of time to yourself and your tea (herbals, too!).

Here are a few recommendations, based on reviews hubby and I have done:

1 Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling — Of the many tea estates in the Darjeeling region of India, Margaret’s Hope is one of the better known, and this tea does the reputation of that estate fair credit. The leaf pieces are broken leaf, clearly evident when dry, and are a dark green to coppery after steeping. This is not a tea that takes milk, since that typical Darjeeling muscatel flavor clashes with the milk. You might need a sweetener, but I encourage you to give this and other Darjeelings a try without it. The complexities of the flavors and the changes they undergo as the liquid cools a bit are worth the experience. This comes from a tea drinker who until about a year-and-a-half ago hardly ever drank a black tea without milk. Challenge your tea time guests to expand their tea horizons!

Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling just naturally draws a crowd!

Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling just naturally draws a crowd!

2 Buckingham Palace Garden Party — If you’ve ever had a fantasy of attending a garden tea party at Buckingham Palace and wanted to see if this tea would take you there (in your mind, that is), I can cheerfully say that it will! The smell of the dry tea has strong floral notes, especially rose and lilac, and a definite citrus aroma. These scents are typical of Earl Grey tea flavored with oil of bergamot (a type of orange) and jasmine. The taste of the tea plain in the cup carries forth those floral notes along with a bit of an edge. A little milk and sweetener heightens the floral notes. A perfect tea for tea parties, especially when served with some mild tasting foods like finger sandwiches made with cream cheese or rich-tasting Scottish shortbread cookies to balance out the strong floral.

If it’s good enough for a Buckingham Palace Garden Party, this tea is good enough for your garden party!

If it’s good enough for a Buckingham Palace Garden Party, this tea is good enough for your garden party!

3 Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri — This tea from the Nilgiri region of India is said to taste similar to Ceylon teas and are supposed to have a fruitiness. That depends, since how long you steep this tea can vary the taste considerably. The vendor gives a steeping time range of 2 to 5 minutes. Steeped at 2 minutes, the tea was light, fruity, and needed no additives — a great tea break for those who like their tea straight. Steeped at 5 minutes, the flavor was more similar to a nice Assam tea, with a dark amber color, a malty aroma, and taste that endured even with a bit of milk added — perfect for those who like milk in their tea and a stronger taste.

Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri pleases a wide range of palates.

Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri pleases a wide range of palates.

4 Bingo Blueberry Herbal — This herbal is a mix of fruit and floral — blueberries, blackcurrants, rose petals, dried apple, and more. It’s naturally sweet, yet slightly lemony (from the apple?) and still smooth tasting with no bitterness. Way better than fruit drinks, both hot and chilled (or with ice, whichever you prefer). The chilled version needs a bit of sweetener. Of course, there is no real tea in this. Tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant and its varietals such as Camellia Sinensis assamica. That’s actually good news to anyone wanting to avoid caffeine. However, if you want the theanine and other beneficial things in real tea, you won’t get them here. You will have a great herbal for adults and kids alike, so invite the whole family to the party!

Bingo Blueberry Herbal

Bingo Blueberry Herbal

5 Yorkshire Harrogate — This tasty and economical version of Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire tea is a true find! Open the pack and inhale a wonderful jammy fragrance emitting from those dark brown broken tea leaf pieces. Steep 4 minutes in water that had been brought to a full boil. The resulting liquid will be a fabulous, rich-looking reddish brown with a mild aroma. Straight, this tea has a smooth flavor with no bitterness, so those of you who can’t stand a “doctored” cuppa this is a great tea for you. However, for the rest of us, this tea, with a bit of milk and sweetener, is heavenly! Smooth and rich with the sweetener bringing out the jammy quality. Unlike a lot of other teas out there, what you smell in the dry leaves is what you get in the cup. Wonderful, especially in an age of highly flavored teas that smell great in the shop but disappoint when steeped. This tea was so fine that the Sticky Fingers Scone Mixes jumped out of the cupboard and begged to be baked so they could be part of that tea time. (It’s true, I swear!)

Some Yorkshire Harrogate tea and a few dozen scones will create the perfect social setting.

Some Yorkshire Harrogate tea and a few dozen scones will create the perfect social setting.

Pick your own social tea or herbal, something that can be enjoyed by a crowd. Enjoy!

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