What, precisely, is the value of being adorable?
That’s the question raised by the new Jane Austen series of 17 teas produced by Minneapolis-based Bingley’s Teas. Each loose leaf tea blend is named for one of the author’s characters. Here is Captain Wentworth, according to his package: “When you are half agony, half hope, this tea has strength enough to weather all storms; land, sea or love. A CTC Indian Assam black tea and a dashing dose of China Qimen.” Each character-inspired tea comes in a box with watercolor art of the titular character. Also in the box: a darling, gold-embossed cardboard insert helpfully detailing “A Gentle Person’s Guide to Steeping Your Fine Tea” and a silken ribbon that would serve nicely as a bookmark. The whole package retails for $17 and includes 2.64 ounces of tea, enough for a half dozen pots (give or take, based on how strong you like your tea and the size of your pot).
For our money, this would make an ideal gift for any Austenite out there. The whole production has enough hoopla to be truly fun, and — this is no small point — the tea is delicious. We found Captain Wentworth to be a profoundly smooth and gentle tea with a backbone of smoke and a mildly astringent finish. Much like the mass-market Yellow Label blend by Lipton (which we’ve consumed by the boatload over the years), it takes sugar and milk very well. Unlike Lipton, it is actually quite good — assertive but mellow, not meek and one-dimensional.