545 Tasting Notes

97

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

WOW.

I don’t drink a lot of Earl Grey, because I’ve had so much crappy Earl Grey, stuff that tastes like it could be furniture polish (Twinings), or just tastes stale, or uses a crappy tea base (again, Twinings). Damn Fine’s Earl Grey, which came with in a set with Caravan and Jasmine, was lovely. I think Mount Gray is even better.

The black tea base seems to be a China tea: light body and a slightly sweet finish, no malt. The bergamot is beautiful. Not harsh but deeply fragrant. I brought some Mount Gray to my worklace, and I can smell it through a sealed Ziploc bag. The mineral finish works very well with the bergamot, which does not overpower the tea. All in all, an excellent, and vert refreshing, Earl Grey. Once again, Damn Fine lives up to their name.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Wash your cup or pot thoroughly before making a siffernt tea in it. I’ve got some Double Knit here now with a serious Mount Gray hangover. My entire desk is redolent with bergamot.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I’ll be blending this with some Caravan Resurrected when I get home.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Sorry — siffert = different.

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89

1.5 tsp @100C, 4 minutes, drunk bare.

Pale liquor. Astringent and mineral — muscat and cold winds and clean, clean water. Leaves are tippy and greenish-brown. Earth notes. Just lovely, if you like a Darjeeling or a Nepal tea.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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96

4.5 tsp for 750mL water @95C, steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds — Breville, basket cycle on.

The last of my precious Keemun Hao Ya.

RED liquor. Toasty, biscuity notes. Distant smoke in the nose. Some wineyness. A bit of oak. All the usual Keemun Hao Ya gorgeousness. Such a beautiful black tea.

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96

1.5 tsp for 300mL @ 95C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

I try to save this Keemun for the weekends, because it’s expensive and hard to get, but after another try-to-choke-down-the-new-Davids-Breakfast fiasco, I figured I deserved this.

As always, a delight. I find the slightly cooler water brings out sweeter notes and more of the orchid scent. (The cooler water also tames some of the bitter smoke in the lower grades of Keemun, which can get a bit tarry.) Some lovely biscuit notes tonight, too.

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

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60

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

Trying this one again tonight, knowing this time to expect Ceylon.

CEYLON CEYLON CEYLON CEYLON CEYLON

Which is fine, if you want Ceylon. I am still grumpy about the change of this blend, as it’s hard to find a blend that’s got some China black in it. Yunnan is listed on this batch, but I swear, I cannot taste it. If you put a gun to my head, I might pick out some Darjeeling. Tastes a lot like Red Rose with some wood notes. Not brilliant. Made this for the sake of deciding which tea to drink this evening, and I’m expecting this one to go down the drain again.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Think-bodied, too. Just — sigh. I feel like I’m going out of my way to complain here, but this blend is just awful, especially when compared to what it used to be. Stale Red Rose, with some wood notes. I’d drink green-boxed Barry’s over this in a heartbeat.

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89

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

Best of the Assams I’ve drunk, and I’ve drunk a lot of Assam. Damn Fine’s Captain Assam comes very, very close — God, I miss the Captain — but Kopili Estate wins in the end. Never bitter. Juicy and bright and creamy and medium-to-heavy bodied. Packs a nice caffeine hit.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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81

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @95C, steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds.

I’m experimenting with slightly cooler water for black tea. I am finding that Assams and Ceylons seem better with the full rolling boil at 100C. So does Scottish Blend, a CTC that seems heavy on the Kenyan tea. The 95C water doesn’t make the tea and sweeter, as happens with some China black, just duller. Live and learn.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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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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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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