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Paradise Lost?

by Lori Way, MS, RD

Holy Royal Golden YunnanDespite my love of a wide variety of teas, for the last ten years, I had pretty much settled on one tea to drink every morning, Royal Golden Yunnan, which, as some of you surely know, is no longer available.  Since I knew this was about to happen, I started to drink smaller portions, always re-brewing the leaves, in an effort to delay the inevitable loss of my favorite.  Well, it’s been gone for some time now, and I’ve been drinking –gads– “other” teas.  Here are some observations:

On the one hand, to my surprise, it hasn’t been the end of the world.  Some days I drink whatever I grab out of my copious tea basket.  It’s always at least pretty darn good, and after all, it’s hot with caffeine, so that’s part of what I’m after first thing in the morning.  I drink my pot and move on with the day none the worse for the experience.

On the other hand, darn it, it’s not the flavor I’m used to and crave.  All those years really created quite a habit.  I can’t help but compare whatever I’m drinking to my favorite taste, and usually it falls short.  Some days, I really want my beloved, and I stare into my tea basket and grudgingly choose something else.

Still, it’s nice to experiment with other teas.  I’ve remembered how much I enjoy certain others, and it’s a refreshing change of pace.  Back when I had the Royal Golden Yunnan every day, I would notice that after a few weeks I sort of couldn’t taste it anymore, and I’d have to cleanse my palate by drinking something totally different for a few days.  Then I’d go back to the Royal Golden Yunnan and it would taste amazing again.  Changing things up like that made a huge difference, and I highly recommend this practice to any of you who routinely drink the same tea each day.

I had hoped that after a short while we would be able to find a tea so similar to Royal Golden Yunnan that it would completely pacify me.  Alas, that has not happened yet.  We have tasted every so called “Royal Golden Yunnan” that we have come across and not one of them matches the flavor profile of our old one.  Apart from being from the Yunnan province in China and having the general characteristics of teas from that region, they have all differed greatly from each other and from our favorite.  This is another good thing to keep in mind when tasting teas — the name of the tea sometimes doesn’t mean that much.

I know we have lots of customers who are dedicated to their favorite tea.  We get orders for pounds and pounds of one single tea by the same folks all the time.  I’m thrilled to see such adoration for any tea, but I also worry — what if something happens and that tea goes away?  How will you cope?  I know this has already happened to some of you, and now that I’ve joined your ranks I understand the struggle.  I strongly suggest that you find other teas that you enjoy, just in case.  Do it while it isn’t urgent, so you can relax about it and know you have your favorite at hand if you don’t like whatever you’re trying.  You’ll probably be able to find a handful of others that like well enough, and you might be surprised to even find one you like better.

(For those of you who are interested, instead of Royal Golden Yunnan I’m drinking Nine Bend Black Dragon, any Keemun, Antony and Cleopatra, and Tippy Mangalam Assam the most often.  None of these really tastes much like a Yunnan, but they each have a distinctive character that I enjoy in the morning.)

So, paradise lost?  To some degree, yes.  I remain not completely satisfied, but still finding much enjoyment in tea.  If you’ve been down this road, feel free to comment on the experience!

20 comments to Paradise Lost?

  • nancy

    This would the perfect time to have a “tea book” A special little book where you note the different teas that you try and what you think of them. In alphabitiacal order with taste, color, body etc notations. Have you ever seen one? I know I would like one to mark what I have tried and liked or didn’t.

  • Uhhh…Lori, if you want you can come over to my house and enjoy one last cup. I still have some. I didn’t realize the hold this tea had on you!

  • Denise

    Oh, I remember the passing of Keemun Imperial with sadness because it was my everyday tea. I have found that Natural Panda Keemun is a good substitute. As time goes by, I enjoy it more and more. I really do try to mix it up now and then :) Thanks for always having samples available!

  • Becky Green

    I have lost my favorite tea in that I have to have DECAF now! My favorite? Lady Londonderry! But, like you, I discovered other teas will do fine. ( I still would like to see her in Decaf though- if you’re listening!!!!! ) :) I have discovered some other teas just through a plain old MISTAKE! I’ve NEVER cared for Earl Grey. But, I had a sample from you. WOW!!!!! What a difference from the tea bags at the store! OK, I liked Russian Earl Grey now! I recently ordered what I thought was Russian Earl Grey. I ordered Earl Grey GREEN TEA! I discovered my mistake BEFORE I opened the pouch. I was PLEASANTLY SURPRISED AGAIN!Thanks for offering such GOOD QUALITY TEAS!!!!!!!!! :)

  • Mary J Mills

    HI Lori. What happens? Is it just unaffordable, crop failure, exporters lose contracts?

    • Hi Mary, thanks for the good question. It can be any of those things. If the tea is a blend, crop failures aren’t really a problem, but it could be that the blender isn’t blending it anymore. We blend some of our own teas, but not all of them. Frequently if we lose a blend that we’ve been buying, we can recreate it or even improve upon it, although this can take some time to develop. It could also be that the blender or importer has gone out of business, which has been happening frequently in the last few years. Crop failures or limited production is more of an issue with single-estate teas (i.e.,not blends), and it very often happens that certain teas may disappear for a year or so, or just become unavailable late in the season because all that was grown has been sold.

  • Jennifer Alvey

    I am not looking forward to the day that Buckingham Palace Garden Party is no longer available. I have been drinking it since you had your little store in Old Town. I was sad when it closed, but so happy that I could pick it up in town on a certain day. I was thrilled, when I moved away, that you could ship it to me. I get it so quickly too! I think I will take your advice and look around your website for another wonderful tea that suits my taste buds. I really love Holiday Dream and Bingo Blueberry, but not as an everyday “get me started in the morning” kind of flavor. I am so glad that you offer samples!

  • Liz Messineo

    I know your pain! I drank 2 teas from Teavana religiously and they discontinued both! The upside? Since they had nothing comparable, I started trying different tea websites, and tasted a lot of different teas, which was really fun. And your teas have been the best I’ve tried! I’m working my way through your flavored black teas, so as NOT to limit myself to one or two again. I’ve never been able to duplicate the old ones (Cranberry & Ginger Apricot Peach) but I have found some new favorites (Blackberry, Black Current, B.P. Garden Party) and others that are very good, too. Your samples rock!

  • Carol Kramer

    When I lived in Ohio I purchased all my teas from a local tea shop, and she only offered them in little tins. As there was a buy 10-get one free, I always bought 10 different kinds of tea. So, as a result, I never got so I only drank one favorite. Now that I’ve moved to Georgia and am buying from you, I still buy a variety. If I really like a particular tea, I’ll buy 2 ounces instead of one. I stick notes on the back of the envelopes for future reference when ordering. That helps.

  • Cindy

    My favorite on-line tea source was bought out, and all my favorites were gone. I shopped several different site looking for one that could give me something close to my favorites and provide me with some nice additions. Thank you so much for your dedication to quality! I now have a new tea source and a couple of new favorites! The Tea Table and the internet have saved my mornings!

  • Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. I can see that this is a very common experience, and I’m not surprised. Glad to hear so many are learning to sample new teas and not just cry in their empty teacup!

  • Don Emerson

    I suppose your article puts the stamp of finality for me on the end of Royal Golden Yunnan. Every so often, after I first discovered that it was unavailable, I would check out your website and hope that I’d find that it had reappeared just as suddenly and mysteriously as it had initially disappeared. Alas, it has not. As I opened your website with anticipation again today that I’d find my old lost friend, I was struck by the title of your posting and took a peak. Reading it filled me with mixed emotions: on the one hand, a sense of sadness that it was still not available and would probably remain so, and on the other, a comforting feeling of closure. I guess I won’t be looking to find Royal Golden Yunnan as I expectantly open the Tea Table site in the future.
    Another interesting aspect of this episode is, despite the new contraction of the world, how hard it is to know anything more about this tea and therefore, why it is no longer being produced. We don’t know who was the inspired individual who created this tea and what happened to him or her. We don’t know on which estate the leaves grown, in which facility it was processed, who tasted it for quality control. Amazing lesson in the realities of this world when everything appears as close as our fingertips on a keyboard.
    A last point. What is it about taste that creates such strong emotions? There was some extra flavor, something unique and intense that elevated the experience of drinking this tea to a higher plane. (I would usually drink this Yunan only on weekends in order to fully savor it). So, yes I have tried multiple other teas containing the names Golden, Yunnan, and Royal, and none of them have had that extra special character. I cannot put my finger on it but I certainly know it when I taste it.
    So thanks for your piece. I guess I will now make a half a cup from the remaining half teaspoon of my Royal Golden Yunan that I’ve refused to use till now. I will one last time savor this tea even as accept that it is truly gone.

  • Kathy Wolf

    Royal Golden Yunnan was my favorite special tea, and Keemun Imperial my everyday favorite. I am crying crocidile tears!!
    However I have found a new beloved in Supreme Breakfast and I also quite enjoy Anthony and Cleopatra, so all is not lost.
    I wouldn’t at all though mind a new tea that had the golden smooth flavor of the Royal Golden Yunnan. That was one very fine tea.

  • Leigh

    I know just how y’all feel. When I could no longer find Lover’s Leap, I was heartbroken. It was such a great light tea. I would look forward to having it in the late afternoon after having finished grading papers.

    Oh well, I have found that East Fresia is a good substitue.

  • Angie

    Nancy, the idea of a tea book is great! I have the complete opposite situation. I have always disliked ‘traditional’ iced tea. (lipton, Luzianne, etc). But very recently discovered that I liked bottled green tea. (lipton) I am sure you’ll groan and think I’m drinking swill, but it encouraged me to start investigating green teas and brewing my own. I would prefer to not drink all the sugar and chemicals in the bottled stuff.

    I just ordered about five different teas from this site, and look forward to ‘learning’ to drink real tea. I plan to cold brew it and think the idea of the tea book is perfect for me, a ‘green’ tea drinker. *pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist*

  • Although I have not had to experience the pain of my favorite morning blend becoming no longer available, I have wondered if that could happen. Well, now I know. Thank you, Lori, for writing a great article with some good suggestions.

    I’d like to share what I drink (most of the time) in the morning. I make a blend of two teaspoons of Yorkshire Gold and one teaspoon of East Fresian to about 750 ml of water. This makes a good strong blend. I also tried the Mountain Morning Natural, as a sample, and have decided that this would also make a great start for the day.

    I have been ordering teas from The Tea Table for a few years now. I can honestly say that this is truly THE best tea company I have found. I have tried numerous tea companies and not one measures up! Tea from The Tea Table is ALWAYS fresh, packaged well, and as someone else mentioned, the fact the one can order samples(free)is a major plus. I have found many new teas this way.

    Lori, I never thought of trying the Nine Blend Black Dragon as a morning tea, but I will. That is also a favorite of mine that I usually drink in the afternoon.

    On a morning when I don’t have to prepare lesson plans or do housework, I brew some Cafe Latte; another fantastic tea of The Tea Table.

    As far as keeping a book about teas, that is an excellent idea. I do that with my red wines, so why not! When I try new samples, I mark the package with a smiley face and tuck it away to order more with my next order. The book is a much better idea to keep track of teas since I have duplicated teas from time to time.

    On a last note, if some of you have not seen the new tea maker by Breville, it is a must. Although expensive it is worth the price. It will brew any tea at the right temperature and time plus allow you to custom program for your own taste. Also, you can progam your tea to be ready when you get up! I ordered mine through Amazon which is always a savings.

    Well, I’m off to try a cup of Anthony and Cleopatra. Wishing everyone a great day!

  • ChrisB

    Alas, this is how I felt when I drank my last cup of Lemon Chiffon Rooibos I got from you. :-( I keep checking to see if it ever comes back….

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