140 Tasting Notes
This tea is beautiful. Gorgeous golden leaves, wrapped tightly, promise something wonderful in the cup. Steeped, the leaves unfurl into long lovely light brown leaves and tips that smell of apricot, bittersweet cocoa and …well… tea!! Whenever I have this tea, I am delighted. The combination of cocoa, apricot and a subtle keemun note of light earthiness gives this tea a beautiful round mouthfeel with just the right amount of complexity to deliver a great cup of tea. There is no astringency in this tea, which makes the finish true to the lovely notes of this tea. Highly Recommended.
Flavors: Apricot, Cocoa, Earth, Loam
Grandpa’s Afternoon Tea from Stylin’ Teas is exactly what it promises to be, but that almost sounds like an oxymoron: a robust afternoon tea? Aren’t afternoon teas supposed to be a bit lighter than other teas? Well, this tea has a bit lighter of a mouthfeel than Grandpa’s Anytime Tea (it’s elusive “sister” tea) but maaaaaan, it’s still a wonderful cup of wholesome malty goodness that most tea drinkers might say is strong. Steeped at 1 minute, there is little astringency, and a flavor profile that will stand up to breakfast, lunch or dinner. I find it calmly invigorating. (which would be the second oxymoron in this review!) If you like robust tea that fills your mouth with flavor and makes a great partner for your bagel, or oatmeal on a chilly fall day, you just might want to try this tea. I prefer these Kenyan teas to the average English Breakfast blend that I’ve experienced. I will be ordering more.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt
WHOA! This tea is strong! BAM! Steeped for just a minute, this is one eye-opening cup of malty eye-opening KA-POW! Stylin’ Tea is a current purveyor of this tea, along with several other Royal Tea of Kenya products. If you like Kenyan teas, don’t pass their CTCs up. Each one holds a unique flavor profile that will give you a wonderful understanding of the teas that come out of Kenya. Ok, now I’m happily returning to my cup of “take on the universe!” Rah!!
Flavors: Astringent, Malt, Tea
One of my favorite teas is Grandpa’s Anytime Tea from Royal Teas of Kenya. This is a cousin to that wonderful CTC, available through Stylin’ Tea. Steeped for 1 minute, this is a light, pleasant tea, with a gentle baked malty flavor and a touch of citrus for a nice finish. It is more refined than Royal Kenya’s other teas that I’ve tried and would suit afternoon tea with a scone or shortbread beautifully. Yum.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Malt
Ok, I’m on a CTC roll….. Since my exploring “nicer” teas began 9 months ago, I have given the cold shoulder to the CTCs I’ve received as samples, somehow believing I’d “been there” already (with tea bags) and shunning them from my coveted spot in the daily cup I look forward to. Since my surgery, I’ve found my palate is out of whack, and so I thought it might be the perfect time to return to the CTC stash to weed through them. Weed?? This isn’t weeding….this is ENJOYING!!
The mornings in Southern California have finally gone a tad chilly (hey, when it’s 90 during the day, 60 in the morning seems chilly!) and this CTC exploration has made it feel like fall. Assam Exotic Blend from Golden Tips Tea is a simple one note cup of wonderful maltiness. With a full, round mouthfeel and low astringency when steeped at 3 minutes, this is the equivalent of the “everyday cup of joe” that people grab as they run out the door to join the rat race. Hearty, reliable and satisfying, this is the flavor profile that the British love so much. Extra added bonus: if you were someone who created their own flavored teas, including chai, the versatility of this CTC would be perfect blank canvas for your creations.
This is a “kick in the pants” breakfast tea. The fact that it is a CTC means not that it is a “lower grade” tea than orthodox teas….although some folks would like to believe that is the case. There is room in every tea cabinet for CTCs, and as Butiki Teas taught us with Crimson Horizon and Grandpa’s Anytime Tea, some CTCs are extraordinary.
This CTC offering from Golden Tips is a strong, full mouthfeel Assam with traditional malty notes, but also gives an unexpected note of something green….green wood perhaps? Or maybe a touch of vegetal? Not sure exactly (thanks to surgery my palate is still a bit out of whack), but this unexpected note gives the maltiness a different twist of taste. There isn’t a lot of astringency in my cup, but I short-steeped it at 2 min 30 seconds, as I didn’t need hair on my chest today. With milk and honey, this tea is a solid choice for when you hit the snooze button one too many times and now need assistance to get your motor running. I like it.
Flavors: Green Wood, Malt, Vegetal
During my recent hospital stay, my cousin was thoughtful enough to buy this tea for me instead of flowers….. how fortuitous for me! Since I went straight from the horse-piddle (as it’s known around here) to my mom’s home for a week, this tea helped nurse me through the panic of “will my tummy let me have tea?” after gastrointestinal surgery. Is this tea an astounding assam? No, not really. Is it a solid citizen in the tea world that relieved my fears by easing me back into the world of caffeine with quiet malt notes and low astringency? Absolutely. Because of this, it will always have a place in my heart when things look bleak and confusing. A comforting cup has never been more welcome, and this was mine.
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
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