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I went on an oolong binge a couple of months ago, I pretty much bought anything that was called an oolong. It is very obvious to me now that I should have done a little research first, tried a few, looked for others with similar characteristics etc. Now that I’ve moved on to blacks, I don’t want to make that mistake again.
I’ve tried a few blacks but don’t really know if I like certain ones because they are high end or if I like that style of black tea. So, I went to Davids (it’s relatively inexpensive and I have one really close to me) and bought 5 straight black teas. I thought they should all be of similar quality and I could get a feel for which style of black I like better. I’ve decided to take one black tea a day to work and see what I think of them. This is yesterday’s tea.

I’ve never had anything called darjeeling before. I found it to be light and somewhat astringent. This was what I thought black tea was like before I really got into tea. This is why I’ve been avoiding blacks until now. I don’t like this. I like big, bold, dark, malty black tea. This isn’t it. I didn’t mind the first steep, was ok,but it was all downhill from there. I couldn’t drink the third steep at all. Way too astringent for my tastes.
From what I’ve been reading (I know scary – me doing research) this is probably a classic example of a darjeeling, and if that’s true – I’ve learned that darjeeling isn’t the black for me. This one is getting moved to the “for iced tea” pile.

Anna

This is really helpful – what a great experiment! Big, bold, dark and malty is exactly what I want as well and I think assam gives me the most in that department, as a general rule.

Dexter3657

That’s good to hear, I have an assam to try as part of this. May save it for Friday if should be more my style.

Anna

I wish you’d just try all of them right now, I’m completely nerding out over this.

Dexter3657

I was drinking Teavivre Dragon Pearls last night – that’s not part of the experiment I KNOW I like Dragon Pearls – I’m going to drink Mandala’s version tonight to compare. LOL I know too many comparisons going on, but I’m really surprised at how much I like black tea.

ifjuly

i’m looking forward to seeing the different types of straight blacks you try in your survey; i love stuff like this. if you decide for some reason you want other sources to do this sort of fairly uniform type thing with besides david’s, upton is really good for this kind of basic level testing of general tea types thing.

(though i will say, man steepster as a rule just hates darjeeling! i love it, so i always feel a little like a misfit, ha. i can definitely see how someone really into malty, bold, smooth black tea would hate darjeeling’s sandalwood-y, astringent qualities though, for sure. i also think it’s awesome cold steeped, in case you need a reason to use up what’s left and hate it so much the idea of another hot cup gets to you.)

Dexter3657

I’ve looked at Upton. Way too many choices for my poor uneducated brain to handle. Thanks for the suggestion, I will take another look once I’ve learned some more and can make a more educated decision. (Their shipping is also pretty pricey to Canada – will need to order quite a bit to make it worth while).
I don’t mean to be a darjeeling hater :(( this one just didn’t suit my tastes. I will use the rest of it for cold steeping, you can cold steep almost anything…..

ifjuly

Nah, it’s cool, i was just joshin’ ya and musing a bit. (: Bonnie’s right re: Nepali teas by the way (I don’t mean to sound like I know a lot either, which I just realized I might come off as trying to do…I’m as new as you!), at least in my experience (because I love darjeeling a lot but yeah it’s pricey as hell I discovered Nepali teas pretty quickly as they’re sort of marketed as the cheap but up-and-coming little sister to darjeelings, an assessment I happily agree with). But on the other hand, sometimes you find the exception tea, of a type you normally dislike but for whatever reason just really works for you (for me it’s Golden Moon’s Sinharaja; I’m really not a fan of Ceylons generally but it’s so gooood). Then you just horde it like mad and hope it never goes out of stock, ha.

Anyway, best of luck in your exploration and thanks for posting about it!

ifjuly

And yeah I can def. understand that about Upton being too overwhelming. I keep forgetting so many Steepsters are in Canada too, whoops my bad.

Dexter3657

It’s all good. I’ll take all the advice I can get. I thought I would buy one example of each, try them, see what I like, narrow the search. But if the Nepal tea I have isn’t a “typical” example of a Nepal tea, then I haven’t really learned anything.
Thanks for the advice. The search continues……

ifjuly

only just saw now that you grabbed some teavivre like, this week. based on what you’ve said about the kind of flavors you want in a black tea i would highly recommend if you haven’t yet, trying those—the bailin gongfu, dian hong, golden monkey, and tan yang. assam has those malty qualities, as already mentioned too…i think most of the most active steepsters who like black tea share your tastes and love those famous types of chinese teas, and good chinese tea in general. all of them are sweeter, smoother, and richer than what i’m used to (until steepster i was mainly an indian tea person), with lots of bakery and caramel-y sweet potato things going on. and if you’re worried it’s “just” the company’s quality you’re responding to, you’ll be able to find out easily enough with those because they’re basic types of chinese tea that are available elsewhere (dian hongs and golden monkey in particular i see, sometimes with different names granted, lots of places).

and i know this is really off topic because you’re trying to find specific plain black teas you like as a general rule, but there are certain blends that sound like this (malty, robust, not astringent) to me too. just about all of andrews and dunham’s blends are like this (double knit blend’s my fave—just pure black tea flavor, strong, satisfying, bold but smooth).

i think the more tea i drink and like to varying degrees, the more i pay attention to what the leaves look like, where they come from, and how they’re processed (i didn’t like greens until i realized i like them bilochun-style, rolled/twisted a certain way, and that i prefer pan fried greens to steamed ones because they’re less bitter and more roasty, so now i know) to help me get a better understanding of what to look for in the future, even when source isn’t as black and white specified you can get a sense of what the teas you like tend to look like dry and most shops now show pics of that.

if you ever want a basic survey of some of the major types of teas around the world, how each is grown and processed and how that affects its flavor, i recommend the harney and sons guide to tea (it’s available on kindle too). it’s not 100% comprehensive (i haven’t found a guide that is yet), but i found it very helpful when i felt like i didn’t even know where or how to start because you don’t know enough to even know what to look for.

i ramble too much, sorry. i really hope you find what you’re looking for!

Dexter3657

I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t have other black tea choices. I did just get an order from Teavivre, but to be honest, I’m still really confused with the language. I know these are Chinese blacks, but it’s like what you said about seeing dian hongs and golden monkey under different names. I haven’t learned to put those names together. My Davids tea excursion was looking for common name types. Assam, Yunnan, Darjeeling – those are names I see all the time. I’m just really confused and trying to learn. I thought picking up some standard, mid grade, common name teas was taking a deep breath and starting from the beginning.
I did also get a guide/handbook in the mail yesterday. Hoping to sort some of this out. I agree that the one I have isn’t totally comprehensive, and am open to looking for more/others to compliment this one. Will take a look for the Harney and Son’s one.
Yes, I understand that there are blends out there – lol probably hundreds of blend, but I thought I needed to know what assam, cylon, darjeeling taste like to be able to look at a blend and decide if it is something that I would like. Hense, the deep breath go back to the beginning thought.
I know from my oolong experiences that the shape of leaf is a clue to what the tea is like – I have learned something. So far with blacks I like longer twisted leaves (they almost look like oolong) better than the chopped up bits and pieces look. If that makes any sense. But then I’m drinking dragon pearls right now, so I guess you can’t always judge….
I appreciate your time, I am trying to wrap my head around what you are saying, and get the gist of most of it. I still think I need to try more teas, I was just hoping to eliminate some of the obvious ones before I ended up ordering 100 black teas trying to find a few similar to the one I’m really wanting. (I probably didn’t mention this – this all started because a wonderful generous steepsterite send me a sample of something called Jin Ping Gong Fu from Tao Tea Leaf. That’s all I know about it. I’ve drank her sample, ordered more from the company. LOVE it – can’t afford it to be my go to black tea. I’m looking for more like it. I thought gong fu was a brewing style, until I found more called gong fu at Teavivre, ordered some of those, and in the mean times started trying to learn more about black tea – the more I looked into it the more confused I got). And that leads up back to where I am today. Thanks again for the advice. I will keep posting notes as I go through my list. Kenya is on tap for tomorrow….will see how that goes.

ifjuly

ah, it’s late but thanks for the thoughtful reply. i’ll try to come back to this later. for now though, given what you’ve said—and believe me, i so hear you about the wall you hit when it comes to marketed tea names vis a vis chinese translation, ee!—i thought maybe this might be useful a bit. the rest of the site has some info that’s a little controversial/not proven to actually be accurate re: caffeine if i recall, which can then throw doubt towards everything, but it was one starting point for me along with a couple tea books, steepster discussions and logs from people who seem to know a lot about tea (so glad the search function for the board works!), wiki, and some of the info guides at places like teavivre and verdant.

http://teatropolitan.wordpress.com/category/guides/

caile

This is such a great post! Thank-you for reviewing these Dexter3657!! And so many interesting and helpful comments – I am really going to learn a lot!

Terri HarpLady

Dexter, I am totally loving your posts right now, just thought you’d like to know! Through my ‘tea research’, I’ve discovered that most of the time I’m not a big fan of darjeelings, & even less of a fan of ceylon teas, but as I sample them anyway, I find that some are more enjoyable than others. I actually keep notes that I can refer back to to see if I’ve drank this tea or that, & would I like to drink it again, etc.
I have to second pretty much everything ifjuly said too!
Just remember, this is for fun & pleasure, & although reading about teas tells us so much, the most important part is your enjoyment! That applies to everything: Tea, Food, Music, Bubble Baths, etc. Anyway, if there’s ever anything you want to sample that I’ve got, just send me a list.

Dexter3657

Thanks Terri. I’m not good at expressing tastes in teas. I’m not experienced enough. Lots of my posts are more about how a tea makes me feel rather than what it tastes like. I am trying to clarify WHY a tea makes me feel that way. Thanks for the support.
LOL I would love to crawl into your tea cupboard, and take a cup out into your garden, and maybe swipe a jar or two out of your pantry. At least in my mind (and based on some of the things you’ve posted here), I think you live in a quaint little character house, surrounded by flower and veggie garden. I miss my garden. Sorry that was off topic. I just like how your seem to enjoy your outdoor space. Thanks for the offer of tea, I may take you up on that one day. :)) Right now I need to learn, and try more of the ones I already have, then branch out from there. You’ve got a nice stash…

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Anna

This is really helpful – what a great experiment! Big, bold, dark and malty is exactly what I want as well and I think assam gives me the most in that department, as a general rule.

Dexter3657

That’s good to hear, I have an assam to try as part of this. May save it for Friday if should be more my style.

Anna

I wish you’d just try all of them right now, I’m completely nerding out over this.

Dexter3657

I was drinking Teavivre Dragon Pearls last night – that’s not part of the experiment I KNOW I like Dragon Pearls – I’m going to drink Mandala’s version tonight to compare. LOL I know too many comparisons going on, but I’m really surprised at how much I like black tea.

ifjuly

i’m looking forward to seeing the different types of straight blacks you try in your survey; i love stuff like this. if you decide for some reason you want other sources to do this sort of fairly uniform type thing with besides david’s, upton is really good for this kind of basic level testing of general tea types thing.

(though i will say, man steepster as a rule just hates darjeeling! i love it, so i always feel a little like a misfit, ha. i can definitely see how someone really into malty, bold, smooth black tea would hate darjeeling’s sandalwood-y, astringent qualities though, for sure. i also think it’s awesome cold steeped, in case you need a reason to use up what’s left and hate it so much the idea of another hot cup gets to you.)

Dexter3657

I’ve looked at Upton. Way too many choices for my poor uneducated brain to handle. Thanks for the suggestion, I will take another look once I’ve learned some more and can make a more educated decision. (Their shipping is also pretty pricey to Canada – will need to order quite a bit to make it worth while).
I don’t mean to be a darjeeling hater :(( this one just didn’t suit my tastes. I will use the rest of it for cold steeping, you can cold steep almost anything…..

ifjuly

Nah, it’s cool, i was just joshin’ ya and musing a bit. (: Bonnie’s right re: Nepali teas by the way (I don’t mean to sound like I know a lot either, which I just realized I might come off as trying to do…I’m as new as you!), at least in my experience (because I love darjeeling a lot but yeah it’s pricey as hell I discovered Nepali teas pretty quickly as they’re sort of marketed as the cheap but up-and-coming little sister to darjeelings, an assessment I happily agree with). But on the other hand, sometimes you find the exception tea, of a type you normally dislike but for whatever reason just really works for you (for me it’s Golden Moon’s Sinharaja; I’m really not a fan of Ceylons generally but it’s so gooood). Then you just horde it like mad and hope it never goes out of stock, ha.

Anyway, best of luck in your exploration and thanks for posting about it!

ifjuly

And yeah I can def. understand that about Upton being too overwhelming. I keep forgetting so many Steepsters are in Canada too, whoops my bad.

Dexter3657

It’s all good. I’ll take all the advice I can get. I thought I would buy one example of each, try them, see what I like, narrow the search. But if the Nepal tea I have isn’t a “typical” example of a Nepal tea, then I haven’t really learned anything.
Thanks for the advice. The search continues……

ifjuly

only just saw now that you grabbed some teavivre like, this week. based on what you’ve said about the kind of flavors you want in a black tea i would highly recommend if you haven’t yet, trying those—the bailin gongfu, dian hong, golden monkey, and tan yang. assam has those malty qualities, as already mentioned too…i think most of the most active steepsters who like black tea share your tastes and love those famous types of chinese teas, and good chinese tea in general. all of them are sweeter, smoother, and richer than what i’m used to (until steepster i was mainly an indian tea person), with lots of bakery and caramel-y sweet potato things going on. and if you’re worried it’s “just” the company’s quality you’re responding to, you’ll be able to find out easily enough with those because they’re basic types of chinese tea that are available elsewhere (dian hongs and golden monkey in particular i see, sometimes with different names granted, lots of places).

and i know this is really off topic because you’re trying to find specific plain black teas you like as a general rule, but there are certain blends that sound like this (malty, robust, not astringent) to me too. just about all of andrews and dunham’s blends are like this (double knit blend’s my fave—just pure black tea flavor, strong, satisfying, bold but smooth).

i think the more tea i drink and like to varying degrees, the more i pay attention to what the leaves look like, where they come from, and how they’re processed (i didn’t like greens until i realized i like them bilochun-style, rolled/twisted a certain way, and that i prefer pan fried greens to steamed ones because they’re less bitter and more roasty, so now i know) to help me get a better understanding of what to look for in the future, even when source isn’t as black and white specified you can get a sense of what the teas you like tend to look like dry and most shops now show pics of that.

if you ever want a basic survey of some of the major types of teas around the world, how each is grown and processed and how that affects its flavor, i recommend the harney and sons guide to tea (it’s available on kindle too). it’s not 100% comprehensive (i haven’t found a guide that is yet), but i found it very helpful when i felt like i didn’t even know where or how to start because you don’t know enough to even know what to look for.

i ramble too much, sorry. i really hope you find what you’re looking for!

Dexter3657

I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t have other black tea choices. I did just get an order from Teavivre, but to be honest, I’m still really confused with the language. I know these are Chinese blacks, but it’s like what you said about seeing dian hongs and golden monkey under different names. I haven’t learned to put those names together. My Davids tea excursion was looking for common name types. Assam, Yunnan, Darjeeling – those are names I see all the time. I’m just really confused and trying to learn. I thought picking up some standard, mid grade, common name teas was taking a deep breath and starting from the beginning.
I did also get a guide/handbook in the mail yesterday. Hoping to sort some of this out. I agree that the one I have isn’t totally comprehensive, and am open to looking for more/others to compliment this one. Will take a look for the Harney and Son’s one.
Yes, I understand that there are blends out there – lol probably hundreds of blend, but I thought I needed to know what assam, cylon, darjeeling taste like to be able to look at a blend and decide if it is something that I would like. Hense, the deep breath go back to the beginning thought.
I know from my oolong experiences that the shape of leaf is a clue to what the tea is like – I have learned something. So far with blacks I like longer twisted leaves (they almost look like oolong) better than the chopped up bits and pieces look. If that makes any sense. But then I’m drinking dragon pearls right now, so I guess you can’t always judge….
I appreciate your time, I am trying to wrap my head around what you are saying, and get the gist of most of it. I still think I need to try more teas, I was just hoping to eliminate some of the obvious ones before I ended up ordering 100 black teas trying to find a few similar to the one I’m really wanting. (I probably didn’t mention this – this all started because a wonderful generous steepsterite send me a sample of something called Jin Ping Gong Fu from Tao Tea Leaf. That’s all I know about it. I’ve drank her sample, ordered more from the company. LOVE it – can’t afford it to be my go to black tea. I’m looking for more like it. I thought gong fu was a brewing style, until I found more called gong fu at Teavivre, ordered some of those, and in the mean times started trying to learn more about black tea – the more I looked into it the more confused I got). And that leads up back to where I am today. Thanks again for the advice. I will keep posting notes as I go through my list. Kenya is on tap for tomorrow….will see how that goes.

ifjuly

ah, it’s late but thanks for the thoughtful reply. i’ll try to come back to this later. for now though, given what you’ve said—and believe me, i so hear you about the wall you hit when it comes to marketed tea names vis a vis chinese translation, ee!—i thought maybe this might be useful a bit. the rest of the site has some info that’s a little controversial/not proven to actually be accurate re: caffeine if i recall, which can then throw doubt towards everything, but it was one starting point for me along with a couple tea books, steepster discussions and logs from people who seem to know a lot about tea (so glad the search function for the board works!), wiki, and some of the info guides at places like teavivre and verdant.

http://teatropolitan.wordpress.com/category/guides/

caile

This is such a great post! Thank-you for reviewing these Dexter3657!! And so many interesting and helpful comments – I am really going to learn a lot!

Terri HarpLady

Dexter, I am totally loving your posts right now, just thought you’d like to know! Through my ‘tea research’, I’ve discovered that most of the time I’m not a big fan of darjeelings, & even less of a fan of ceylon teas, but as I sample them anyway, I find that some are more enjoyable than others. I actually keep notes that I can refer back to to see if I’ve drank this tea or that, & would I like to drink it again, etc.
I have to second pretty much everything ifjuly said too!
Just remember, this is for fun & pleasure, & although reading about teas tells us so much, the most important part is your enjoyment! That applies to everything: Tea, Food, Music, Bubble Baths, etc. Anyway, if there’s ever anything you want to sample that I’ve got, just send me a list.

Dexter3657

Thanks Terri. I’m not good at expressing tastes in teas. I’m not experienced enough. Lots of my posts are more about how a tea makes me feel rather than what it tastes like. I am trying to clarify WHY a tea makes me feel that way. Thanks for the support.
LOL I would love to crawl into your tea cupboard, and take a cup out into your garden, and maybe swipe a jar or two out of your pantry. At least in my mind (and based on some of the things you’ve posted here), I think you live in a quaint little character house, surrounded by flower and veggie garden. I miss my garden. Sorry that was off topic. I just like how your seem to enjoy your outdoor space. Thanks for the offer of tea, I may take you up on that one day. :)) Right now I need to learn, and try more of the ones I already have, then branch out from there. You’ve got a nice stash…

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Bio

C.S. Lewis – “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

I needed to update my profile. I joined Steepster 03Mar13. I am just amazed at how much my tastes have changed since then.
When I discovered loose leaf tea about a year and half ago, I didn’t know anything other than my local Davids and Teavana/Teaopia. Stumbling onto Steepster CHANGED EVERYTHING.
Hello, my name is Dex I’m a tea addict.
I’ve been through the “I need to try every single tea out there” phase. I really hope the worst of that has passed. I’ve learned enough to know that I only need to try HALF of all the teas out there. LOL
When I started this journey, I was all about the flavored rooibos and fruity tisanes. Don’t get me wrong there is still room for dessert (chocolate/caramel/nutty) Rooibos teas in my cupboard and I still do enjoy them, BUT I am quickly learning to appreciate the some of the straight teas of the world.
Big bold (but not icky)pu’erh is suddenly my favorite, followed by woody/roasted oolongs. I’m just starting to explore straight black teas, and have found some that I really like.
Generally speaking I’m not into greens at all, only like the occasional green oolong, and white teas are just too mild for my tastes (unless they are fruit flavored). I still enjoy really good fruit tisanes, but am now cold steeping them.
I don’t like floral/herbal blends, and mint anything is not on my preferred list.
I am still exploring new teas, adapting to my changing tastes, understanding more every day how little I really know about tea. Ultimately I would love to find approximately 50 teas that I just “can’t live without” and always have them in my cupboard. That might not be practical, but that what I’m searching for. It’s going to be a fun journey.

All in all, I love this site. I’ve met some wonderful people, and have gotten to try some amazing teas because of them. It really restores your faith in humanity when you get a note saying “oh by the way I sent you some tea”. Wonderful, generous, people here.

Location

Manitoba Canada

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