508 Tasting Notes

100

WORTH EVERY PENNY. My only quarrel is the teeny-weeny tea scoop that hardly looks like it holds even half a tsp. Minor stuff.

I made two pots of tea in this baby yesterday, both black — Nepal Black (Jun Chiyabari Estate) and Assam (Kopili Estate) — and almost fainted in bliss. The basket cycle is glorious. I used to wonder if the tea steeped properly, seeing as the leaves spend a fair bit of time ascending back up the pole, and if you’re only making a small amount of tea, the basket will leave the water. It’s not an issue. If I want the tea strong, I scoop in a little extra. The basket cycle gets the tea stirred as it steeps and makes for complexities of flavour and aroma that you can’t get making tea one cup at a time. A weekend pleasure.

Yes, it’s expensive. But it makes good tea even better. What else might you spend that money on that will give you such lasting, and repeated, pleasure?

Michelle Butler Hallett

I use it as a variable-temp kettle throughout the week when making tea one cup at a time.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Oh yeah — the Keep Warm feature. Turn it on. Get caught up in your work and forget you made tea — then remember — and drink MORE HOT TEA. (The Keep Warm feature lasts for an hour, and you do have to turn it back on every time you lift the pot from the base.)

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100

2 tsp for 300mL water @95C, steeped four minutes.

Yeah. That’s a lot of tea, but the leaves are long and fluffy.

Dark brass to copper liquor. Honey, musk and minerals. Not as peppery as a batch I drank from a few years ago but still lovely. Smells like an old forest: a bit dark, a bit sweet, ancient mysteries. Superb black tea. No bitterness.

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97

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 5 minutes, drunk bare.

Mmmmmm.

Tasting the new version of David’s Organic Breakfast Blend really pissed me off, so I was picking up this cup with apprehension — but ahhhhh. In with the good air, out with the bad.

Honey notes, some Darjeeling-y crispness and even distant muscatel, and a Yunnan-like sweetness and smooth finish. Some spiciness in the scent and foretaste that morphs into floral and bready notes. No malt. Medium body with a slightly buttery mouthfeel that brings out the crispness and sweetness. Delicious.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Good call since some tea farms are next to Darjeeling.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I love a good Darjeeling, and I respect the strict rules around using the name, but some of the Nepal teas are really exciting and deserve a lot more press.

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60

1.5 tsp for 300mL @100C, steeped 4 minutes.

They’ve changed it.

This was a blend of Keemun, Assam, Yunnan and Uva. On the DavidsTea site, on the front page for black teas, it still is. When you get to the indiviaul listing, though, it’s now a blend of Darjeeling, Yunnan, and Ceylon. Could we get it together here, people? Grumble snort.

Ceylon, huh? I dunno …

And what’s with DavidsTea and Keemun? First, they dropped their Keemun offering, and now this blend no longer has Keemun. I had liked how this blend was heavier on China than India black tea.

So yeah, I am not feeling kindly inclined.

Lots of copper from the Ceylon, and that sunshiny but slightly flat taste some Ceylons offer.

Where’s the Darjeeing? Where’s the Yunnan?

A Ceylon-heavy blend. Fine, if you really like Ceylons. Disappointing, if you were in the mood for China. As for being in the mood for Darjeeling … yeah, go get some decent Darjeeling.

Not bitter, and not acidic — but only a medim body. No heft, no snap, no surprise — just a lot of coppery Ceylon. If you like coppery Ceylons, you might really enjoy this incarnation of the blend.

Bleah. Hauling my rating down.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

I can’t even finish this. So not what I was expecting. I am choking on copper.

Indigobloom

Maybe they lost their Keemum supplier? :(

June's Flame

Disappointing . . . I love a good blend with Keemun and have been looking for a good one.

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96

1.25 tsp for 250mL water @90C, steeped 4 minutes.

I’m at a workshop and depending on big urn of hot water for tea. The water is hot and steamig but not bubbling, so I am guessing it’s about 90C. This temp makes for a creamy, heavy-bodied Keemun today, with sweet and almost fruity notes, plus a lovely floral scent. HEAVEN.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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76

1.5 tsp for 300mL @ 95C, steeped 6 minutes.

Yes, I steeped it a long time. And that’s okay, because it did not get bitter.

I hardly tasted the mate at all, getting much more of the honeydew and green rooibos. It’s sweet, and it tastes mainly of honeydew melon. Quite agreeable, if you like honeydew. I’ll report later on any mate buzz.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

As it cools down, it does give off that bubblegum scent I found distasteful in DT’s Whiskey White (an abomination) and Goji Pop (the horror, the horror). The bubblegum thing might be a deal-breaker for me.

Claire

I cackled at the Heart of Darkness reference. Now the next time I have an awful flavored tea I’ll think the horror, the horror…

Michelle Butler Hallett

Hee hee. Glad I made you laugh.

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99

3 tsp for a 500mL pot @ 100C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

I made this a little strong, but it was also a matter of emptying the packet.

My local indie tea shop, Britannia Teas and Gifts, is shifting to online. The bricks and mortar store is gone. I will remain an online customer, and I most definitely need to re-stock on this beautiful blended black tea.

Bright, winey, and malty, with a good body.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

99 is pretty darn good! Oh no brick and mortar store?! I’d hate to lose mine!

Michelle Butler Hallett

It’s an excellent blend. Best ever blended black I’ve tasted. Organic, fair trade, and a bit pricey — $11.50 for 50 grams — but well worth it.

I cried over Britannia closing.

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96

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @ 100C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

Horns up, babeh!

Light to medium body China black teas with a mineral finish and a lovely bit of smoke. Doesn’t pack the caffeine punch of, say, a good Assam, but it does give a lift and a buzz. I miss the savoury note from the first edition of Caravan, but whaddya do — tea plants have a mind of their own. This is still one of the best Caravans I’ve ever had. Too many of them out there are dusty and point to the number one failing of many flavoured teas: a crappy tea base. Not this one. Caravan Resurrected can also be a very contemplative cup as you sit there and try to puzzle out all the nuances. Dry leaf looks a bit twiggy.

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87

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

A very good Ceylon. It doesn’t scream ‘copper’, like Lover’s Leap Estate does, but it is unmistakably Ceylon black tea. I tend for forget about it, as I like to around with the fancy China teas and the bold Assams, but Ahmnad’s Ceylon is quiet, dependable, and delicious. No bitterness at 4 minutes.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

And despite what the note says, there is absolutely NO bergamot in this tea.

gmathis

Ahmad. Solid and dependable. You nailed it.

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92

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @95C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.

I am experimenting with cooler water on black teas, but for this robust blend, I think a full 100C boil does the best job of bringing out the creamy heft of Assam. The smokier (Keemun?) tea dominated and got a little bitter. Very enjoyable, still, and it gave me a great boost this evening.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Profile

Bio

Writer and tea fiend. Author of DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE.

I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Oolongs and blacks are my favourites.

Location

St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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