515 Tasting Notes

95

1 TB for 500mL water, no milk or sweetener.

I am not an Earl Grey fan. Sometimes I really want it. Most days I ignore it. Very much a mood thing with me. But when I do drink Earl Grey, I am horribly picky. So far, only two EGs, Numi Aged Earl Grey and Stash’s Earl Grey, have ever wowed me. Many, including Twinings, make me gag.

I ordered Series 3 — an Earl Grey, a Caravan, and a Jasmine Green — from Andrews & Dunham solely on the strenth of their Captain Assam’s High Seas Elixir and their really funny copywriting. And the labels. I freakin LOVE the labels.

I figured the Earl Grey would be one I’d give away as a Christmas gift. But nooooo, this evening, after an exhausting and almost fruitless workday (now entering hour 11 of same), I want Earl Grey. Hot. Diplomatic solution to Klingons off the port bow, the whole bit. Damn Fine, eh? Let’s check the mettle of your dilithum, then.

Warp core breach! In the best possible way. Smoooooooth black tea base, and a bergamot flavour the proves that bergamot is, in fact, a citrus fruit and not paint stripper. No bitterness, which is a lovely suprise; too many EGs used a crappy tea base that gets really bitter on its own and then further sours under the bergamot. Body is light — very pleasingly so — and but not weak. Liquor is about halfway between brass and copper. Fragrance is distinctive and delightful. Clean finish: the tea taste vanishes, but the bergamot haunts.

If you don’t already like Earl Grey, I doubt this will convert you, as it’s the Earl Grey-iest I’ve drunk in a long time. If you like Earl Grey, you really should try this one.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Dorothy

Its sad, but a lot of Earl Grey tea is awful. So when you find a good one it really knocks your socks off.

Michelle Butler Hallett

You’re right. And it doesn’t have to be awful. People keep trying to hide poor tea with enough bergamot flavouring to choke a horse. You can’t skimp on Earl Grey, or you end up with sour socks in dish soap.

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35

2 bags for a 500mL teapot, no milk or sweetener.

A very pleasant aroma of rum, nutmeg and, faintly, ginger, but the overall brew is weak and thin. Faintly spiced rum aftertaste but with an oily mouthfeel. No tea taste whatsoever. I remember Holiday Chai being much, much better. Rats.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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95

1 scant TB for 500mL water, nothing added.

I love jasmine tea. It can be tricky to brew, and I learned recently, thanks to this very site, that for years I’ve been using water that’s too hot. Water that’s too hot can scald tea leaves and blossoms and make the overall tea bitter.

Today, I followed instructions … at least, as best I could without a thermometer or fancy adjustable kettle.

Dry leaves are medium to long and twisted. Liquor is pale straw. Scent is heady and heavy with jasmine … with REAL jasmine. No fakery here. Assertive and pleasant finish. Clean mouth-feel, which I really like and generally only find in white teas.

The green tea, as another Steepsterite has noted, is not especially strong and is almost as delicate as white tea. Almost, but not quite: there’s a slight bit of vegetal and (ooh, look at me with my new word!) mineral tastes from the green tea. The mineral taste may come from my tap water, either; my city’s water supply comes from a lake. In winter, when the city lowers the chlorine levels, you can catch bits of reed and rocks in the water, very refreshing.

But back to the tea. The jasmine mouth-feel is fairly heavy; someone else compared it to soap. I wouldn’t go that far, but this is a serious jasmine tea. The scent alone intoxicates, in a good way; can’t wait for the jasmine “hit” from this brew. AHHHHH, there it is … laughter and smiles and peace. Any word on whether jasmine flowers are narcotic at all? ;)

Final note: aftertaste goes from clean to slightly powdery.

I slightly prefer the Dragon Pearls I got from my local teashop, but Andrews and Dunham’s Jasmine Green is also excellent. I’ll be sorry to finish this little tin, but I won’t be hoarding it, either.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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89

1TB, 500mL water, no milk or sugar

Oh, MY! I steeped this in a little 500mL teapot set on a desktop mug-warmer … and then FORGOT about it. Half an hour later, I found it. I thought, oh well, let’s see how bad this got.

Guess what?

It’s amazing.

Dark liquor, yes, but clear, no murk or sediment. No bitterness! A simply divine scent of some mysterious fruit brandy — beyond raisin — then the taste of really, really good deep Assam. An astringent finish, but I like that with Assam. The brandy-like scent translates to a heavy-wine mouthfeel, something like what you get with a good Keemun, only heftier.

Kopili Estate, I salute you.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
gmathis

This is, I think, my absolute favorite basic, no-nonsense breakfast tea. (Well, one of them.)

Michelle Butler Hallett

It’s utterly dependable. An excellent tea.

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70

2-3 TB in 125mL gourd, 1/2-1 packet stevia, 125 mL steaming (not boiling) water.

Sweet yet ‘green.’ Some coffee flavour, some white chocolate, some cloves. Really pleasant and mellow green mate taste amongst it all. Medium body and slightly creamy mouthfeel when sipped through a bombilla, versus a definitely thin body and sharp mouthfeel when drunk as a tisane. Good for 3-4 infusions. Can be quite potent. A good friend when fighting deadlines. Yerba mate does not affect my sleep hours after the fact, something I really like. Dregs in the gourd look like the bottom of a bog, but that’s okay — everyone else is scared to drink it. More for me!

I try never to run out of this one. I’ve asked for a big 250g bag as a Christmas present.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 45 sec

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91

Superb on its own. Versatile enough to add to a custom chai brew. Excellent ginger flavour. Mellow black tea flavour. Just fabulous.

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93

500mL mug

1 part chai concentrate, 1 part 2% milk. Gently heat in microwave til steaming. Then add two Stash Ginger Breakfast teabags and a splash of boiling water. Cover and steep on a desktop mug warmer for 5 minutes. Allow milk to carry sweet hot spicy gingery bliss throughout body. Sigh. Smile.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Gets hotter and more gingery with each sip! Booya, sweetest burrrrnnnn …

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88
drank Joy by Tazo
515 tasting notes

1 big bag for 500mL water (medium take-out cup from Starbucks), no milk or sweetener.

Ai yi yi. Be careful if you get Joy to go. Traffic and other delays meant mine steeped wayyyy too long. The oolong is lost. Astringent and spicy Darjeelings, intoxicated with new power, have bullied this cup. Some stronger black tea is grunting in the background. Something else— oolong?— tastes scalded. I love a good strong tea, but Tazo’s Joy is delicate and complex. Steep carefully!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Last few sips remind me of, um, rocks. Clean rocks. Iron ore, maybe. I don’t go around licking rocks, so I really don’t know why I’m thinking this … hard to explain. Is there an official term for this taste?

gmathis

Mineral taste is a valid description!

Michelle Butler Hallett

‘Mineral.’ Okay, I can go with that. Once again, Steepster proves I am not crazy. ;)

gmathis

But I really like “licking a rock” better. Much more vivid.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Meh — it’s a hobby. :)

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93

1 TB for 500mL water, no milk or sweetener.

I find Kenya Black Dryer Mouth — so named for the malty pucker it can cause — tastes and feels like a cousin of Assam. It’s brighter in scent and liquor than an Assam, more like a Ceylon that way, but it’s got maltiness, baby. Smooth finish, no bitterness.

Dry leaves look black; steeped leaves turn a beautiful dark rust with some dark green.

Light to medium mouthfeel. Not as creamy or chewy as a good Assam (can ya tell I’m out of Assam and dying to have some this morning?) but very, very good. Bright and feisty.

Many Irish Breakfast blends use Kenya teas.

Preparation
Boiling 5 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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