First Colony isn’t a well-known name, at least to me; I ran across their Bencheley line of teas in a discount store, but had never heard of them before then. Since I am always looking for more decaf teas, it intrigued me that the Bencheley line includes almost every flavor in a decaf version as well as a regular version. These are sold in “tins” of 25 bags, and they’re pretty standard tea bags – not sachets. What they offer are the usual reasons people buy tea in bags: convenience and cost, and they offer it in more decaf varieties than many common supermarket brands have.
First Colony describes this tea as:
Rich creamy vanilla mixed with the taste of fresh juicy cherries. This tea is absolutely delicious!
Oh, the tea: it’s OK. Not bad. A mild Black Tea, not too strong or brisk, even though it brews up very dark. The flavorings are not too strong. When one first opens the tin, there is barely any aroma, but that’s not so unusual for tea bags. Once brewed, the cherry and vanilla become detectable, and a bit of sugar brings them out more, but it’s still not an overwhelming flavor, just nicely mild for times when you don’t want to have to think too hard about your tea.
The vanilla adds notes of sweetness and creaminess. The tea also ices nicely, staying about the same strength and flavor. A bit of mint goes well in the iced tea; I wouldn’t add lemon to this, as the sourness would argue with the vanilla and overwhelm the cherry flavor. If you like milk in your hot tea, it blends nicely with this, although you don’t want to add too much or you’ll lose the flavors. All in all, a nice flavor, if not exciting, and a great find for someone looking for convenience and decaf! First Colony’s web site lists more flavors than I saw in the store, and one can shop right from the web site, so I’ll be looking at more flavors – cherry almond, anyone? Peach melba? Chocolate mint?
A small note about the tins – they are cardboard, with a plastic top, rather than metal tins. So they won’t provide as much air-tightness or protection from heat as a metal tin would; you’ll want to keep this in a spot away from your stove, and use the bags up within a few months of opening the tin.
First Colony also offers loose teas in one-pound bags; they’re inexpensive, but that’s still an awful lot of tea at a time, so you may want to try the tea bags of a particular flavor first before ordering an entire pound of loose tea.