Posted by: ben | March 9, 2009

back to black


Ben: The whole raison d’être of this blog, aside from being something productive to fritter our time away on, was to discover new teas. Problem is, it’s all to easy to get sidetracked – there’s so many white teas, green teas and weird infusions that I’ve started to lose sight of the ubiquitous black. Black tea is truly the king of teas and has started to get a little maligned around these parts. No longer! A return to black teas is a perfect excuse to try Jing’s Ceylon Black. Will it rekindle a lost love or make us go looking further afield?

Opening the packet of little spindly leaves, the smell is surprisingly subtle for what is reputed to be such a strong tea. There’s a smoky delicacy that surrounds the normal preparation process, a warm, mellow scent that gently lulls you. Even better, once the water is added to the leaves there’s a very strong caramel-toffee fragrance. As the brew darkens over the three minutes, that wonderfully creamy smell mellows just a tad. I can’t help it – I have to add a dot of milk and a little sugar. It’d be rude not to.

Ben's milky Ceylon

Ben's milky Ceylon

And the taste! Oh, the taste! It’s gorgeous! It’s got an immediate sweetness, a warm, creamy top followed by a tremendous smoky blast. It’s not an especially complex drink like a white tea but those three notes it hits are just the three you want tea to hit.

I love this tea. It has an old-fashioned, wood-and-oak, smoky fairground toffee feel to it. I want to drink it in a leather-bound study with a few HobNobs, I want to drink it on a glowing afternoon, I want to drink it with friends.

I want to drink this all the time. If you want a classic black tea with a little more depth and strength than an airy-fairy Earl Grey or a common-or-garden English Breakfast, this is the fella for you. Go! Drink! Enjoy!

Now comes the bit where Dan will disagree with everything I’ve said.

Dry Ceylon leaves

Dry Ceylon leaves

Dan: I’ve not tried a Ceylon before, but this is a pleasant introduction. The dried leaves have a deep, rich tea smell, with a sweet, nutty undertone. It’s a pleasing scent from an otherwise unassuming appearance, as the leaves are thin, spindly and black. I used a full two teaspoons for the first cup, as I like my black teas quite strong.

The colour these leaves create is nothing short of beautiful. It instantly turns the water a shiny bronze, which darkens over the three minute brewing time. Then when you pour it, you can see the usual golden hue of tea deepen in to a blood red, closer in appearance to a wine. At last, it settles into a deep brownish orange.

The taste is quite rich, and also a little smoky. There’s a deep smoothness to it, and it’s a lot lighter than other black teas. Earl Grey, for example, is almost oppressive in flavour, but this Ceylon is a lot more forgiving to the palate. Even so, I can’t get overly excited about the taste, as the deliciousness of the tea is replaced with a fuzzy texture when you swallow, and you’re left with a lingering aftertaste of an average tea. It is easily drinkable, though, as the deliciousness is there with each sip, and the fuzzy aftertaste does not linger for too long.

With the second cup, I added milk and sugar. It really only needs a drop of milk, or the taste gets over-powered; and it only needs half a teaspoon of sugar to make the flavour complete. The fuzzy aftertaste is replaced with a slightly toffee flavour instead, which makes it much tastier and easier to drink.

Ben and Dan were drinking Jing’s Ceylon Black Tea, available from a bargainous £1.50 for 50g or as a part of their Tea Explorers Sample set.



  1. I adore a good Ceylon myself, and this sounds like one that I would love to try. I am not normally one for milk and sugar in tea, but it seems as though both would be appropriate.

    Great review, thanks!

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