Friday, September 6, 2013

Barry's loose leaf Gold Blend, at last

San Diego's Old Town neighborhood is a touristy bastion, crammed with Mexican restaurants and trinket shops hawking ponchos and sombreros. It's the least likely place on the coast, perhaps, to find good tea. Yet that's exactly why I went.

I'd run out of Barry's, you see. Hadn't had any since we moved. Despite being a center of gravity for local Hispanic culture, smack in the middle of the neighborhood is the Irish Import Shop. (Tea lore lovers might enjoy that the shop is even located on Harney Street.) I dashed in, spotted the goods in the back — shelves of Heinz beans and bottles of Goodall's of Dublin, past the "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" T-shirts and racks of shamrock pendants and pennants — and grabbed boxes of Gold Blend. As I approached the counter, clutching the boxes to my breast and with surely a look of relief on my face, the proprietor looked at me and said, "Oh, you were on a mission, weren't you?"

I'd always enjoyed Barry's — Ireland's stout standard, "a real broth of a brew" — in bags, because that's all I've found in the off-isle aisles. This shop had some loose leaf, also in the Gold Blend, a dark grainy Assam stuff that's turned out to be splendid if a bit easy to over-brew. Mornings (and my oatmeal) are back to normal.

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