85
drank Black Pearl Sumatra by Tealux
1 tasting notes

This is my very first tasting note on Steepster, simply because it is only now that I feel equipped to write such a thing. Furthermore, this note won’t be about taste so much as brewing procedure. In the majority of the tasting notes I have read here at Steepster, there has always been at least one piece of brewing information missing, and it has usually been the amount of water the tea was brewed in. Also, the little data sheet Steepster includes at the bottom of each note does not allow space for the amount of water, nor the times for multiple infusions. I have discovered that it is a rare tea that does not respond well to multiple infusions. Heck, even Teavana’s cacao mint black (I suspect Ceylon) tea responds to at least two infusions.

So I will use this opportunity to provide a full summary of the steeping procedure I have found successful with Tealux’s Black Pearl Sumatra, along with a very rudimentary tasting note.

Water Temp.: 97º C (I’m a Canadian)
Amount of Leaf and Water: 2.8 g. per 4 oz.
Brewing Times: 1st infusion-1 min.; 2nd-1 min.; 3rd-1 min.; 4th-2 min.

I based this choice of amounts on what I have found successful with one of my Tie Guan Yins, because the dry Black Pearl Sumatra leaves looked and smelled enough like a rolled oolong for that to make sense to me. The result was very pleasing. I think the confusion about whether this should be called a black tea or an oolong results from the fact that its flavour really defies categorization. It is rather sweet-potato-and-bean-like in the sense of Verdant Tea’s ‘Master Han’s Wild Picked Yunnan Black’ (or even Golden Fleece to a lesser degree), while also whispering some very enjoyable, dulcet (floral?) undertones of a green oolong.

However, based on the brewing procedure that worked for me, I think Tealux’s categorization of this tea as an oolong is perhaps the most appropriate. Technically, I guess we would need to know how much the leaves were allowed to oxidize before we could identify the scientifically correct category.

Dexter

Welcome to Steepster. I’m one of those people that this tea confuses. I think it steeps like and oolong but tastes like a black. I have decided that it really doesn’t matter what it is, I just like it. :))

GroWeb

Hi Dexter;
Thanks for the welcome and the comment. I agree that what matters most is whether you like the tea, rather than its categorization. Nevertheless, next time you brew some of this tea, see if you can notice the oolong-ish undertones in the flavour.

Dexter

I’m not disagreeing that this tea has some oolong undertones, but I find it interesting that you are finding “dulcet (floral?) undertones of a green oolong”. There are some dark oolongs that I think have some of those green tones. Hasn’t noticed them in this one. Will pay more attention for them next time I drink it.

GroWeb

My characterization of the “dulcet (floral?) undertones of a green oolong” may simply be a reflection of my novice status in the world of tea flavours, and my lisping effort to find words over on the left side of my brain for something that is so much of a right-brain experience. Please let me know how you would describe the oolong character of this tea and I’ll see if your words match my experience.

Dexter

I just took a quick snoop through your cupboard, nice choices. I like Tealux for straight teas – inexpensive nice quality. I really like Verdant as well – good customer service, nice rewards program – love Loashan Black. Have you taken a look at Mandala? AMAZING pu’erh, fantastic black pearls, phenomenal milk oolong. You have some great teas in your cupboards, and it just seems like Mandala would fit right in. :))

Dexter

No, you said it perfectly. I understand exactly what you are talking about. I’m the one who doesn’t have the vocabulary to describe what I taste in teas. What I was trying to say is that this one to me tasted like a black tea with dark oolong undertones – I’ve had a few black teas that I thought has some dark oolong characteristics to it. I’ve also had dark oolongs that had some green oolong notes to it. Depends on amount of oxidization. I just didn’t notice any green oolong notes to this one. Will need to pay attention.

GroWeb

Thanks for the recommendation of Mandala Tea; I’ve been looking for a source of good pu-erhs. By the way, how did you manage to add a Canadian shipping/billing address to your account with them? In my effort to do so, I found that “United States” is the only choice of country their site will allow. I sent them an e-mail to inquire, but I’d like to know what you did about it.

In return for your recommendation of Mandala Tea, I would recommend that you try some teas from Capital Tea (capitaltea.com), which is entirely web-based, but run out of Toronto by a guy named Joel. I have a couple of his Darjeelings and Assams, along with a Ceylon tea. I have discovered in general (i.e. not just in relation to Capital Tea) that I like Ceylon teas only when they are spiced or otherwise flavoured. However, the Darjeelings and Assams from Capital Tea that I have tried are excellent; in fact the Darjeelings are simply exquisite!

In his product descriptions, Joel occasionally writes “highly recommended,” and I have found that he can be trusted on this. I would especially suggest “Thurbo SFTGFOP1 1st Flush Darjeeling,” “Giddapahar SFTGFOP 2nd Flush Darjeeling,” and “Doomni Estate Assam FGTGFOP.” One drawback with ordering from Capital Tea is that most of the teas come in a minimum 100 g. quantity. However, the prices are very reasonable, the teas come beautifully wrapped and are obviously lovingly cared for, and they are extremely good. The Darjeelings can be brewed at 85º C and will deliver at least 5 lovely, subtly nuanced infusions. I have discovered that here is a good reason why Darjeelings are called the Champagne of black tea.

Dexter

Mandala will ship worldwide, their site just isn’t set up for it. This is what Garret (owner – super nice guy) wrote on another posting note just the other day.
“Garret
HI! We can totally ship to the UK! Already do. It’s just not an option on the site. Our international customers can email me at garret AT mandalatea.com and let me know what they want. Then we figure out the shipping options, send a paypal invoice and get the teas on their wonderful journey!”
Just email him with what you want and they will send you out a Paypal invoice. I’ve ordered from them a few times and never had a problem. Garret comments on lots of tasting notes, active here in the community. Great guy, amazing teas. If you are looking for pu’erh – they press their own cakes. Anything that is one of their own is AMAZING – Noble Mark is my favorite shu – Silver Buds Raw 2011 is my favorite sheng.

I will take a look at Capital Tea – I like finding good Canadian Companies to order from. I’m at work right now but will take a look tonight. LOL Can never have enough teas…

GroWeb

Hi Dexter;
Just wanted you to know that Garret got back to me very quickly, shipping costs got figured out, and I now have some Mandala pu-erhs coming my way. Thanks again for the recommendation; Garret is indeed a great guy to deal with.

I also thought that, since you enjoy teas from Tealux, you might like to try their Brandy Oolong. Kinda like the Black Pearl Sumatra, the Brandy Oolong blurs the flavour boundary between oolong and black tea.

Dexter

Awesome, I knew Garret would come through for you. I hope you enjoy their teas as much as I do.
I had taken a quick look at the Capital Tea site yesterday and was a bit overwhelmed at the choices. Then today I saw someone else recommend it and a really positive tasting note on the tea that I was most interested in. Anyway – the short version is I ordered 100g of the one tea and samples of 8 others. Thanks for mentioning them. :))

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Dexter

Welcome to Steepster. I’m one of those people that this tea confuses. I think it steeps like and oolong but tastes like a black. I have decided that it really doesn’t matter what it is, I just like it. :))

GroWeb

Hi Dexter;
Thanks for the welcome and the comment. I agree that what matters most is whether you like the tea, rather than its categorization. Nevertheless, next time you brew some of this tea, see if you can notice the oolong-ish undertones in the flavour.

Dexter

I’m not disagreeing that this tea has some oolong undertones, but I find it interesting that you are finding “dulcet (floral?) undertones of a green oolong”. There are some dark oolongs that I think have some of those green tones. Hasn’t noticed them in this one. Will pay more attention for them next time I drink it.

GroWeb

My characterization of the “dulcet (floral?) undertones of a green oolong” may simply be a reflection of my novice status in the world of tea flavours, and my lisping effort to find words over on the left side of my brain for something that is so much of a right-brain experience. Please let me know how you would describe the oolong character of this tea and I’ll see if your words match my experience.

Dexter

I just took a quick snoop through your cupboard, nice choices. I like Tealux for straight teas – inexpensive nice quality. I really like Verdant as well – good customer service, nice rewards program – love Loashan Black. Have you taken a look at Mandala? AMAZING pu’erh, fantastic black pearls, phenomenal milk oolong. You have some great teas in your cupboards, and it just seems like Mandala would fit right in. :))

Dexter

No, you said it perfectly. I understand exactly what you are talking about. I’m the one who doesn’t have the vocabulary to describe what I taste in teas. What I was trying to say is that this one to me tasted like a black tea with dark oolong undertones – I’ve had a few black teas that I thought has some dark oolong characteristics to it. I’ve also had dark oolongs that had some green oolong notes to it. Depends on amount of oxidization. I just didn’t notice any green oolong notes to this one. Will need to pay attention.

GroWeb

Thanks for the recommendation of Mandala Tea; I’ve been looking for a source of good pu-erhs. By the way, how did you manage to add a Canadian shipping/billing address to your account with them? In my effort to do so, I found that “United States” is the only choice of country their site will allow. I sent them an e-mail to inquire, but I’d like to know what you did about it.

In return for your recommendation of Mandala Tea, I would recommend that you try some teas from Capital Tea (capitaltea.com), which is entirely web-based, but run out of Toronto by a guy named Joel. I have a couple of his Darjeelings and Assams, along with a Ceylon tea. I have discovered in general (i.e. not just in relation to Capital Tea) that I like Ceylon teas only when they are spiced or otherwise flavoured. However, the Darjeelings and Assams from Capital Tea that I have tried are excellent; in fact the Darjeelings are simply exquisite!

In his product descriptions, Joel occasionally writes “highly recommended,” and I have found that he can be trusted on this. I would especially suggest “Thurbo SFTGFOP1 1st Flush Darjeeling,” “Giddapahar SFTGFOP 2nd Flush Darjeeling,” and “Doomni Estate Assam FGTGFOP.” One drawback with ordering from Capital Tea is that most of the teas come in a minimum 100 g. quantity. However, the prices are very reasonable, the teas come beautifully wrapped and are obviously lovingly cared for, and they are extremely good. The Darjeelings can be brewed at 85º C and will deliver at least 5 lovely, subtly nuanced infusions. I have discovered that here is a good reason why Darjeelings are called the Champagne of black tea.

Dexter

Mandala will ship worldwide, their site just isn’t set up for it. This is what Garret (owner – super nice guy) wrote on another posting note just the other day.
“Garret
HI! We can totally ship to the UK! Already do. It’s just not an option on the site. Our international customers can email me at garret AT mandalatea.com and let me know what they want. Then we figure out the shipping options, send a paypal invoice and get the teas on their wonderful journey!”
Just email him with what you want and they will send you out a Paypal invoice. I’ve ordered from them a few times and never had a problem. Garret comments on lots of tasting notes, active here in the community. Great guy, amazing teas. If you are looking for pu’erh – they press their own cakes. Anything that is one of their own is AMAZING – Noble Mark is my favorite shu – Silver Buds Raw 2011 is my favorite sheng.

I will take a look at Capital Tea – I like finding good Canadian Companies to order from. I’m at work right now but will take a look tonight. LOL Can never have enough teas…

GroWeb

Hi Dexter;
Just wanted you to know that Garret got back to me very quickly, shipping costs got figured out, and I now have some Mandala pu-erhs coming my way. Thanks again for the recommendation; Garret is indeed a great guy to deal with.

I also thought that, since you enjoy teas from Tealux, you might like to try their Brandy Oolong. Kinda like the Black Pearl Sumatra, the Brandy Oolong blurs the flavour boundary between oolong and black tea.

Dexter

Awesome, I knew Garret would come through for you. I hope you enjoy their teas as much as I do.
I had taken a quick look at the Capital Tea site yesterday and was a bit overwhelmed at the choices. Then today I saw someone else recommend it and a really positive tasting note on the tea that I was most interested in. Anyway – the short version is I ordered 100g of the one tea and samples of 8 others. Thanks for mentioning them. :))

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