This article was originally posted to T Ching in March of 2013.

Lichee-Black-TeaAs “tea geeks” (or whatever similar term you’d like to use -“tea enthusiasts,” perhaps?), it’s easy to get caught up finding the rarest teas or the finest and most authentic kind of a particular style of tea. If I see a pound of tea sitting on the shelf for $11, chances are I’m not going to give it a second thought because I have some $400/pound tea at home waiting for me. Yet, there are times I find myself drinking, for lack of a better term, cheap tea. And get this: I’m OK with it!

One such tea is Sunflower Brand (yes, “Brand” is part of their name) China Lichee (Lychee) Black tea. At the start of my tea journey, I bought a small tin of it and enjoyed it. The next time I bought some, I bought a gigantic one-pound tin. Now I know you should never buy a pound of any tea at once, but back then? It was cheap, I liked it, so I bought it. I still have that tin and it’s probably over ten years old at this point.

The tea is as far from “subtle” or “nuanced” as you can get. The flavor is best described as “harshly fruity” and packs quite the punch. It’s the type that a Folgers drinker might use to transition to tea. But it has three things going for it:

  1. It’s cheap.
  2. It brings back good memories of my early tea-drinking days.
  3. By some miracle of science or witchcraft, it tastes the same now as it did ten years ago.

While I’ll never say that I prefer Sunflower Brand China Lichee Black tea to a really good Bai Hao Yin Zhen, I’m coming out of the closet to say that, yes, it’s OK for a tea geek to let go of the pretense and enjoy the cheapest of teas from time to time.

(And just so you know: the tin is still 75% full.)