132 Tasting Notes

90

Just when I think I won’t taste another Keemun that I could love as much as those who have already stolen my heart, here comes another one. The dry leaf of Teavivre’s Superfine Keemun Mao Feng is wiry little black leaves that smell of dried fruit and light earthiness. After a 4 minutes steep, the liquid is a beautiful amber color and smells of molasses and moss….and it gets better!!! The taste of this tea is much like the leaves…delicate, balanced and completely captivating. It is breathtakingly aromatic, with gentle notes of forest moss, sweetness of dried fruit and molasses and a touch of light toasty grain to round the flavor profile out. This tea is smooth, fragrant, and not to be missed!

Flavors: Grain, Molasses, Moss, Peach, Stonefruits, Toasty

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 7 g 16 OZ / 473 ML
looseTman

A beautiful description!

donkeytiara

a beautiful tea!

looseTman

Understood, inspiration “is included at no extra charge.”

Terri HarpLady

WANT! I need to get some of this!

donkeytiara

Terri, I’m actually ordering tomorrow because of this sample!

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85

I am really glad that I took a “gamble” and ordered a few of the blends that What- Cha offers. When I sniffed What-Cha’s English Breakfast blend in the bag, my eyes got big (like cartoon eyes, I’m sure!) Cocoa!!! Stonefruit!! Malt!! Rah! Rah! Rah! The leaves were large, dark and twisty, a wonderful sign of things to come, I hoped….. and I was right! The blend of Kenyan Orthodox, Assam, Nepal and 2 types of Ceylon creates a dark amber liquor that smells of toasted grains and biscuits, malt, and a “lurking” of cocoa. I over-leafed this tea on purpose, and the cup I poured for myself was STRONG and GOOD. Milk and honey added that comfort feeling that I love so much in UK blends. The Nepal tea brings a woodsy rose note to this tea that is unexpected, and I LOVE that in a tea! This is a nicely rounded cup with some expected (malt, toasty grains, light astringency) and unexpected (woodsy, rose) notes that English blend-lovers should try. The smaller boutique tea purveyors like What-Cha that produce blended teas are helping me understand more about what goes into blends and how creative they can be when done on a small scale. Well done and recommended.

Flavors: Burnt, Cocoa, Grain, Malt, Rose, Stonefruits, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
What-Cha

I’m very glad that it met with your approval and thanks once again for the detailed review, it truly is invaluable (especially so on blends).

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74

I am a BIG black blend tea fan. Frisian blends, Scottish, English, Irish….they’re all good with me, as long as they are married to milk and honey! So obviously, I was rather excited to get my hands on the blends offered by What-Cha. The promise of a blend including Nepal tea was too much to resist. The first time my husband and I tried a cup of this tea, I immediately looked at the bag to make sure I leafed it correctly…. the tea was very weak and non-descript. Hmmmmm…. so I tried again this morning. Sadly, I had the same experience. I use spring water for my tea, so I know it wasn’t the water…. I finally had to use 3 teaspoons of tea in 12 oz of water to get the tea to stand up to milk and sugar. Now mind you, the flavor of the blend isn’t bad, it was just weak. What-Cha uses 2 different Ceylons in this blend (along with Assam and Nepal), and they are what comes through strongest in this blend. There is a woodsy note, as well as a green note that floats languidly in the cup…. but overall, the thin mouthfeel and the lack of roundness in the flavor profile just didn’t make it something I would order again. If you like Ceylons and drink your black tea without milk and sugar, I would give this tea a go…. the Ceylon in this blend seems to offer something inviting, but for me it was just from too far away…..

Flavors: Green Wood, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
What-Cha

I’m sorry it wasn’t quite to your taste, I very much modelled the blends on what I enjoy in a cup of tea and as someone who drinks tea exclusively without milk, in hindsight its unsurprising that the blends can come across on the weaker side. I’ve only produced a limited amount of each blend and when they are sold out, I will take on board all feedback and evaluate what changes need making or possibly drop the current blends and create more unique blends better tailored to the regions I specialise in rather than trying to recreate known blends.

What-Cha

Forgot to say thanks for the tasting notes, I really appreciate your taking the time to write the notes and it is invaluable for me as a retailer to see what needs changing and what does not

donkeytiara

You are very welcome! This wasn’t a bad tea by any means, but I guess I was expecting something to put hair on a chest (not mine…my husbands, please.) :) I will anxiously watch for the announcement of your new blends…and I still have the English and the Irish to try!

What-Cha

Hopefully the Irish and English will be more to your taste, as the Irish is predominantly Assam and the English is predominantly Kenyan. Also a longer steeping time of 4-5 minutes should help the strength.

donkeytiara

Review of English is up! :)

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83

This is my second stab at this tea. The first came out weak and inconsequential in the cup…so if first you don’t succeed, try again!

Ordering Whispering Pines Second Breakfast was close to a no-brainer for me. I love good tea blends. What I mean by I love good tea blends is that I love good tea in good tea blends. Because Whispering Pines sells so few straight black teas, and all that I have tasted have been to my liking, it was easy to know I would like this tea. And like I do!

Second Breakfast dry leaf in incredibly chocolatey smelling. Not cocoa. Chocolate. The chocolate note joins with the sugar cane quality in the Ailaoshan black tea to give a strong scent of warm chocolate syrup. Wet, the leaves unfurl long and beautiful. The liquor of Second Breakfast is a warm amber brown that smells of earth and chocolate and a touch of dark stone fruit. In the cup, the keemun’s earthiness mutes the usual boldness of the Ailaoshan black. It expands the base flavor profile of this tea so much so that there isn’t much going on the middle of the cup. There is some grain and a touch of malt as a middle note, which is a pleasing combination with the earthy chocolate bottom note. Top note is a dark stone fruit and a dark forest floral note. Nothing bright in this cup, but nothing overly dark and brooding either. If this cup was a forest and you were Lil Red Riding Hood, you’d continue on your way to your grandma’s house. The audience wouldn’t be waiting for a big “BOO”, and hopefully, when you got to grandma’s house, she’d have a lovely large cup of Second Breakfast waiting for you. Warm, earthy and comforting, it is a good cup of tea with a lovely deep flavor profile.

Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Earth, Floral, Grain

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Ok folks, I’ve put my big girl panties on to attempt to try some “big girl” tea. Darjeeling? Big girl tea? I admit, it has always scared me. “The champagne of teas”…..and the price! This tea currently sells for $33 for 100grams. That seems pretty fancy to me. Well, Teabox was kind enough to send me a sample of Jungpana summer flush organic darjeeling with my Assams, and it’s been sitting in my cabinet, chiding me whenever I reached into my tea cabinet…like it knew I was afraid. But today…..today is big girl panty day and here I am with my first darjeeling.
In the packet, the leaf smells of sweetness and fruitiness and a touch of what I think is malt, as the first thought that went skidding through my mind was “fruity malted milk balls”, but since this is my first darjeeling, I have to put a DISCLAIMER here that these notes could be imprecise, as I’m tasting this tea via a “black tea” developed palate. Wet, the leaves and liquor smell of sweet and fruit and dry….dry like the skins of grapes. It smelled very bright and cheerful, compared to my beloved earthy black teas, which wasn’t quite scary at all! The taste of this tea….wow…. how to describe it? It IS fruity, it IS sweet but also dry and NOW I understand what “muscatel” is when describing tea! The dryness is very grape-like in character (skins and all) and lingers on the tongue wonderfully….so wonderfully, in fact, that it makes me want another sip….and another…. wow.

Jungpana Sumer Darjeeling is a bright, fruity tea with very obvious muscatel notes that stay long after the teacup is empty. Perhaps I was lucky, having this as my first darjeeling (Jungpana is a sister plantation to Goomtee, after all!) but suddenly I’m not afraid of darjeelings anymore. This is big girl tea. and it is gooooooood.

Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Sami Kelsh

Ohhhhhh yes. There’s not much more joyous than a really good Darjeeling. I’m a big fan!

donkeytiara

Sami, we’re having a darjeeling discussion on the boards….you should come join us! I’m learning loads from the serious darjeeling drinkers!

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84

What-Cha is a small business in the UK that has some very interesting and unique offerings for tea drinkers. I am a true fan of of most quality Yunnan teas, and this tea is certainly one of those.

Surprisingly, the dry leaf wasn’t actually as tippy as I though it would be, considering the fragrance coming off the leaf! The dry leaf is long and twist…the kind that won’t stay in the teaspoon and you’re never quite sure that you’re measuring properly because it won’t go IN the teaspoon. But I’m not going to complain about that quality in any tea! Notes of cocoa, apricot and yam were gentle but present in the dry leaf. Wet, the leaf is long and beautiful, leaving a golden amber liquor in the cup.

This tea has the same wonderful notes that make me a true fan of teas from this region: dark cocoa, earthy sweet potato skin, a touch of raisin….but this tea also has a woodsy note that some Yunnans have. It’s the taste that reminds me of long-forgotten secret places and old trees that should be visited with reverence. The earthy yam skin and cocoa notes give this tea a beautiful base to balance the raisin and woodsy note on. There is a slight apricot top note, but the strength in this tea lies in it’s deeper notes. Overall this is a well balanced cup of tea, with no astringency and a medium well-rounded mouthfeel that is worthy of a tea drinkers favorite thing….quiet contemplation and enjoyment.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
K S

Sounds yum!

SimpliciTEA

Great review!

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81

My journey with tea is one of my favorite parts of the week. New samples lead me to new places in my education, but for me, assam tea always taste like “home”. I started drinking tea when I lived in Ireland in my early teens….milk, sugar and a lovely dreary day was all that was required for inner sunshine to come flying through the magic cup of tea. I made a lifetime of friends over cups of tea at Bewleys… friends that when I speak to them 34 years later, it is like no time has passed. Tea can do that for us. It’s ritual gives us time to connect…either with friends, strangers or even our own thoughts. A gift to be treasured to be sure! Oh! Tea Review! That’s right! Onward!

Jaipur Second Flush Assam is a 2nd flush assam with charcoal colored leaves and gold tips. Dry, this tea is nice and malty, with a chocolate undertone that is reminiscent of dark cocoa powder. Steeped for 4 minutes, this tea gives a lovely deep reddish brown liquor that gives a solid malty cup of assam. The cocoa is definitely the base note in this tea. The middle of the flavor profile is a nuttiness that joins the hallmark maltiness of assam to make this tea a very welcome addition to my cup! There is some astringency to this assam, but it isn’t going to strip the paint off any walls….just enough to tenderly dry your tongue a touch so that you crave another sip. It’s working…..as I’ve suddenly looked down into an empty cup. With Jaipur Second Flush, Teabox has found another assam worth drinking ~ and for that I am always grateful!

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Nutty

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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85

Lukwah (Summer) Assam is from the Harmutty plantation and a second flush, so it already has 2 oooooooh points in it’s favor even before I got it in my cup! The leaves are a very healthy size for an Assam, and the smell in the packet was deep and chocolatey…one more OOOOOH point for that! There is a heavy mouthfeel to this tea, which is unique, because the notes of malt and chocolate aren’t sitting heavily at the bottom of this cup (like the earthy taste of a keemun would). The malt and chocolate fill your mouth from top to bottom with a touch of astringency that keeps them buoyant in the middle of the flavor profile. This is a strong representation of all the different things that an Assam can be, and as I explore the offerings of Teabox, I realize how many things that can be!

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Malt

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 17 OZ / 502 ML
pyarkaaloo

An assam with chocolate notes?? i’ve never had one! this sounds decadently rich and yummy.

Sami Kelsh

Oh, hot JAM this sounds delightful!

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88

What an extraordinary Assam. This is so wonderfully different, that I just checked the label to make sure I was drinking what I had intended to drink this morning! This tippy dry tea, which gave a gorgeous deep red/amber liquor, has just made my palate very happy. For me, malt is usually a heavier bottom-note in tea, that anchors the mid and top notes and give a solid base to the tea. Nokhroy Assam has an unusual maltiness that spreads through the cup, not just anchoring the base of the tea, but also gently joining with the mid note of peach to bring a smoothness and a baked biscuit note to the tea. The top note is a sensation of floral, but I can’t quite tell you if there is a floral note or if the peachy maltiness is causing a happy floral sensation in my mouth. Wow. There is some astringency present, but it is just enough to bring some magic to the teacup…and there is a lot of magic to be had here.
This is the kind of tea that makes me panic and order more immediately. Nokhroy Assam is one of the best assams I have had and though it is not currently in stock, Teabox assured me that they will have it in September. And that’s when my birthday is. Guess what I’m getting? :)

Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Honey, Malt, Peach

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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82

We are having another strange day of weather in Southern California…Usually when I look at the fan in the window and see an 8 and a 6/9 (the fan sits in the window vertically, not horizontally) it means 89 degrees….today, with another strand of thunderstorms off to our west, it means a lovely 68 degrees!! ASSAM DAY!!!! Rhymes with YAAAAAAAAAY!
This selection from Teabox is a blend of second flush assams. Low in astringency at a 4 minute steep, this is a great malty cup. I’m not detecting any smoke (as the website states) but I am drinking the 2013 version of this blend…Teabox is currently selling their 2014 blend, so it might be different. There’s not a lot of complexity to this cup, just a honeyed maltiness. Simply, it’s just a nice assam for a ridiculously gorgeous August day in Southern California.

Flavors: Malt

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Cameron B.

Luckily (?) for me, I live with two boys and they keep the thermostat too low for my tastes, so I never have an issue drinking hot teas. :P

I also wear many sweatshirts…

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Profile

Bio

Spot or pot, I love a cup!

I learned to drink tea while living in Dublin in the early 80’s, so as you can imagine, I am a hearty brew lover, and take tea with milk and honey. I am trying to expand my horizons with tea….that is why I’m now on Steepster! Just joined in January 2014…

Currently loving strong black teas that hold up to milk and honey well. Since I’ve joined, I have a new found curiosity for keemuns and yunnans. Trying green teas….trying. Herbal? No thanks…they still taste like vase water to me. Maybe that will change one day!

I do like some naturally flavoured teas…almond, vanilla, cardamom, ginger. But mostly I’m an unflavoured tea drinker.

My husband is British and a man whose religion is Tetley, so we’ll see where I drag him on this journey!

Location

San diego

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