552 Tasting Notes

95

BLEND: one part A&D Earl Grey, one part A&D Caravan. 1 TB tea for 500mL water, bare, drunk while nibbling peppered nuts and strong cheese.

The Earl spent the night at the pubs and finally a coffeehouse at the docks and just stumbled in to his ancestral home, where his mother entertains various hoity-toities with tea and cookies. Breaking out some peppered nuts and strong cheese, the Earl adds his smoked self to the party. While his mother worries he might be suffering an identity crisis, the Earl himself rests confident — if bleary-eyed — that the mind-altering night spent with that mysterious woman who writes and sings and wafts out ancient yet spicy campfire smoke each time she adjusts her pashmina is worth each and every strange look from his mother. His mother’s friend continue discussing a shocking new novel … and the author photo reveals to the Earl yet another layer of truth: the smoky pashmina woman.

A startling blend, the A&D Earl Grey and A&D Caravan on a 1 to 1 ratio, but bracing and unforgettable. The bergamot ultimately surrenders to the smoke, but only in the sense of the smoke riding on top.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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95

1 scant TB for 500mL water, bare, 4-minute steep.

I’ve written a lot about this blend already, but today I’m picking up some delicious new notes in the aftertaste as this cuppa cools to tepid: floral (from jasmine) bright honey (Yunnan?) winey-ness (Keemun?). I bet this blend would be lovely cold-brewed.

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94

BLEND: Caravan with A&D’s Earl Grey, 1 part Caravan, 2 parts Earl Grey. 1 TB tea for 500mL water, bare. Water just off the boil.

I’ve been mulling over a blend of A&D’s Earl Grey and Carvan for some time. I even open both tins side by side and inhale. I’ve been wary of experimenting with blend ratios, only because I have a limited amount of both teas and really like them — especially, to my surprise, the Earl Grey. And A&D’s Caravan is a very bright Caravan blend, not just crappy stale black tea doused in liqud smoke and then laid out to dry. (I’ve drunk Caravans which taste like that.) Both the Eargl Grey and the Caravan seem to lean very much to the China tea end of the spectrum, so the tea bases, at least shouldn’t clash.

Liquor: dark copper.

Aroma: bergamot and smoke, big surprise there.

At 3 minutes of steeping: Top notes of citrus and bergamot, with a savoury, almost salty bite. Smoky finish. Wish I’d upped the Caravn j4st a bit — maybe a equal parts, but I want a marriage here, not a brawl.

At 5 minutes of steeping: more depth, more ‘ting’ from the Earl Grey and more ‘tang’ from the Caravan. Sharp and smoky finish. Hot toast with a bitter marmalade would go soooo well with this.

Conclusion: A really good wake-me-up-after-lunch tea. Will try equal parts next time.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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95

BLEND: 2 parts A&D Earl Grey, 1 part A&D Caravan. 1TB tea for 500mL water, bare. (Water just off the boil; I find Earl Grey tastes better that way.)

I’ve been mulling over a blend of A&D’s Earl Grey and Carvan for some time. I even open both tins side by side and inhale. I’ve been wary of experimenting with blend ratios, only because I have a limited amount of both teas and really like them — especially, to my surprise, the Earl Grey. And A&D’s Caravan is a very bright Caravan blend, not just crappy stale black tea doused in liqud smoke and then laid out to dry. (I’ve drunk Caravans which taste like that.) Both the Eargl Grey and the Caravan seem to lean very much to the China tea end of the spectrum, so the tea bases, at least shouldn’t clash.

Liquor: dark copper.

Aroma: bergamot and smoke, big surprise there.

At 3 minutes of steeping: Top notes of citrus and bergamot, with a savoury, almost salty bite. Smoky finish. Wish I’d upped the Caravn j4st a bit — maybe a equal parts, but I want a marriage here, not a brawl.

At 5 minutes of steeping: more depth, more ‘ting’ from the Earl Grey and more ‘tang’ from the Caravan. Sharp and smoky finish. Hot toast with a bitter marmalade would go soooo well with this.

Conclusion: A really good wake-me-up-after-lunch tea. Will try equal parts next time.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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99

2 scant TB for a 600mL pot, bare.

A warm welcome for Captain Assam, just back in port here in St John’s Harbour. Raisiny/deep cherry/cranberry/brandy scent to those gorgeous tippy brown leaves, mondo caffeine, gentle but stimulatng Assam maltiness and depth. He’s a soft soul, this captain, for all his brawn. Gorgeous dark copper-light brown liquor, perfectly translucent. No bitterness. Some pucker to the finish if you steep over 4 minutes. Bliss.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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95

1 TB for 500mL, bare.

Ahhhhh, last TB of Holiday Blend, and the tin now sits on my desk holding my favourite pens. How does ‘Farewell, HB’ taste? Like the hug of a dear friend whose warm heart and lively conversation make me understand contentment. Yes, it’s that good. This morning I get mostly brightness and Keemun wine with a top note of honey-Yunnan. At least, I think that’s what I’m tasting. Perhaps I’m just a windbag. But never mind me. This is a brilliant blend. Get some while you can, before Andrews and Dunham start flogging single estate leaves trod on by milk-fed elephants.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 30 sec

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95

BLEND: 1 TB Andews and Dunham Damn Fine Jasmine Green + 1 TB Boston Tea Company Dragonwell Green in a 600mL pot, bare, steeped two minutes.

A beautiful (not pretty) woman just sat down — intelligent eyes all stormy behind her glasses — and asked you something provocative about your favourite book. Now you know you’ll be up all night talking books and music and philosophy and comedy. You love this woman but don’t necessarily desire here. You feel no jealousy of this woman. You just want to be with her.

That’s how this blend tastes. Sweet and sharp greens and florals. Generous and gentle but no pushover. Slight smokiness from the Dragonwell; sunshine clean-ness from the Jasmine Green.

A simple blend of two complex teas.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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95

2 TB for 600mL pot, bare, steeped 8 minutes on a warming plate.

Okay, the only reason I’m logging about Damn Fine Holiday Blend AGAIN is because I keep experimenting with it and want to share. This time I made a small pot and steeped it on the mug-warmer playe I keep on my desk these days. Highly recommend one for your small pots.

Normally I use 1 TB for 500mL, but today tried adding “one for the pot.” Then carefully poured some of this ambrosia into a small china cup.

Yep, right thing to do.

Slightly heavier body, no bitterness, dark copper liquor, bright Ceylon (?) notes, assertive Assam malt. Winey Keemun (?) in the aftertaste. Faintest whiff of Darjeeling, I think.

Every batch of HB I’ve made has been slightly different. Very glad I ordered another tin, because this one is 3/4 gone.

Thank you, Steepsterites, for alerting me to A&D.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more
Michelle Butler Hallett

Second cup from this pot yields much more Darjeeling snap and Muscatel. Bliss.

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95

1 TB for 500mL water, drunk bare, steeped 4 minutes in a covered mug. water just off the boil.

I’ve already made several notes on the Damn Fine Holiday blend. Today I just want to add that, as it cools, fruity notes come out. Second fruity surprise today, and most welcome.

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

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93

1 sachet for 250mL water, covered and steeped a good 10 minutes while I showered.

Oh, mad-hot steeped tea right out of the shower. YUM.

This Darjeeling, one of my faves, does not get bitter with a long steep but does get very fruity — sunshine fruit with a hint of plum, plus some sharp Muscatel. A lovely Darjeeling blend.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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Bio

Writer and tea fiend. Author of DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE. New novel next spring called THIS MARLOWE.

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

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.

Location

St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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