“I have seen a great deal of him, have studied his sentiments and heard his opinion on subjects of literature and taste; and, upon the whole, I venture to pronounce that his mind is well-informed, his enjoyment of books exceedingly great, his imagination lively, his observation just and correct, and his taste delicate and pure.… At present, I know him so well, that I think him really handsome; or, at least, almost so.”
Elinor Dashwood, Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”
If Marianne Dashwood represents the “sensibility” of Sense and Sensibility, her older sister Elinor would be the “sense.” She’s practical, well-mannered, and rational, making her the perfect – if not only – choice as her mother’s counselor and the Dashwoods’ accountant. Even when Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her logic overrules her heart, and she places her responsibilities for her family over her desire for marriage. Awwwwww.
It’s impossible not to admire Elinor Dashwood for her strong morals and cool head. A tea named for her would need to demonstrate those same qualities. Luckily, such a tea exists: Elinor’s Heart, a sensible black tea blend that’ the Jane Austen Tea Series from Bingley’s Teas. If you’re a fan of English Breakfast tea, this review should pique your interest.
Bingley’s Description: “She is the one to turn to, practical with a good understanding. Steady and strong, this blend of black teas carries itself well with full body, slight briskness, currant undertones. A blend of Ceylon, Kenyan teas. Similar to an English Breakfast.”
Ingredients: Ceylon and Kenyan black tea leaves
Steeping Instructions: Use 1 tsp of tea for every 8 oz of water. Heat water to boiling (205 – 208 degrees Fahrenheit / 96 – 98 degrees Celsius) and steep for 4 to 5 minutes.
Multiple Brews?: No
Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf
Caffeine Level: High
English Breakfast teas don’t have a set “recipe.” Depending on the vendor, the blend might feature Assam (India), Keemun (China), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and sometimes Indonesian or Kenyan leaves. Elinor’s Heart falls under this category, pairing lively Ceylon with enigmatic Kenyan. By the latter, I mean that I’ve never tried Kenyan black tea before now. So, Elinor’s Heart offers yet another first for Tea Time.
Appearance-wise, Elinor’s Heart looks like a typical black tea, with fine brown-black and lighter brown leaf tendrils and occasional twig pieces. It smells like your standard black tea as well: malty, smoky, and tannic. Then again, it’s an unflavored black tea blend. Wouldn’t make sense for it to smell like anything else, right? 😉
For my first cup of Elinor’s Heart, I steep 1 teaspoon in boiling water for 4 minutes. The brew is a mahogany-umber brown, very dark and bold. The malty, smoky fragrance isn’t much different from the dry leaves’ aroma. Each sip, however, offer lovely surprises. I really can tell this is a blend of two different black teas because it balances qualities of each kind. There’s the bright citrus taste of Ceylon, and a full, jam-like mouthfeel that must be a result of the Kenyan leaves. This reminds me a bit of a Chinese black tea known as Yunnan Gold, which has a similar consistency. I like this so far!
My second brew of Elinor’s Heart (with a fresh teaspoon of leaves) steeps for 5 minutes to test the higher end of the brewing range. Ohhhhhhhh am I happy I tried that! The Kenyan tea dominates over the Ceylon now, with its juicy texture blanketing my mouth. The fragrance and flavor bouquets have also evolved. This is still a smoky, malty black tea, but with layers of currants and stone fruit unfurling. And with very little astringency and limited tannins, it’s not at all bitter. This is an excellent second steep, and definitely my favorite of the two.
Black tea couldn’t be a more appropriate choice to reflect Elinor Dashwood’s steadiness and conviction. Elinor’s Heart is well-rounded and full-bodied, with dark fruit hints and a jammy mouthfeel that adds a delicious liveliness. This blend shines most when brewed closer to 5 minutes, so it draws out more of the decadent texture. I wasn’t as blown away by Elinor’s Heart as I have been by other black teas (hence the rating below), but I definitely enjoyed each cup and would consider restocking it in the future. English Breakfast fans, make sure you add this to your tea wishlist!
Grade: 8.5 / 10
- Tea Drinkers Who: Like black tea, especially English or Irish Breakfast blends
- Time of Day and Year: With breakfast or later in the morning, especially during autumn or winter
- Possible Book Pairings: Apart from Sense and Sensibility, I’d recommend Elinor’s Heart with books whose characters stick to their beliefs, including Jon Snow (George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons), Katsa (Kristin Cashore’s Graceling), and Alina Starkov (Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, starting with Shadow and Bone).
You can purchase Elinor’s Heart directly from Bingley’s Teas here.
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In addition to being a tea enthusiast, Sara Letourneau is an avid reader and a writer who… well, enjoys writing! Currently she’s working on a novel, and she writes book reviews and articles on the craft of writing. She’s also a published poet with works available in various print and online publications. Visit Sara at her personal blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
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