560 Tasting Notes

30

1 TB for 450mL water, bare.

First, I want to get the word out for The Tea Brewery: independent tea blenders and merchants. And they’re in Nova Scotia, a sister province to my own Newfoundland and Labrador. So yay!

They carry a very full line of teas and tisanes (http://www.teabrewery.com/priceList.pdf), and I really want to try some more.

I received the Decadence White Chocolate Rooibos as a gift. It’s another one I really wanted to like. The red rooibos base is woody and a bit minty, occasional and unpreditcable features of red rooibos that I don’t care for but many others like or love. The white chocolate comes from white chocolate chips, the kind you bake with. They melt evenly with the tea, but, as the tea cools, blobs of fat from the white chocolate chips rise to the surface, like blobs of fat from a bone rise up in a soup stock. Most people will have the hot tisane drunk long before this happens, but it is an unappetizing sight. I would not recommend this tisane be brewed for cold/iced drinking. The white chocolate adds some sweetness to the overall tisane, which cuts and smooths out the woodiness of the rooibos. I couldn’t finish mine, but that’s a matter of taste in the drinker, not necessarily competenence in the tea blender … though I do wonder if baking chips are the way to go.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Uniquity

Sorry, I had to comment – Yay The Tea Brewery!! I recently established that they sell their tea at the halifax farmers market, well on sundays at least. I didn’t realize anyone on Steepster had added them yet : ) I’ve got their NS Blueberry and a few little samplers.

Also…Finally clued in why your name was so familiar to me. : ) I worked at Frog Hollow until it closed, and am pretty certain I have a signed copy of Double Blind on my bookshelf…

Michelle Butler Hallett

I can’t wait to try some of their other teas.

Yep, that’s me.

I was so sorry to hear Frog Hollow had closed. Damn, we need more indie bookstores.

Uniquity

I love the little rack of $2 sample packs they stick up at the market. I tried a couple apple ones I was interested in that way. I have a tendency to buy 100 g of everything then see if I like it, so those little pouches really work to get me hooked on truly awesome tea. And how could I not love anything so wonderfully Maritimes? : )

Michelle Butler Hallett

I hear that. Call it cultural chauvinism, but I always want to support Atlantic Canadian businesses — provided they’re any good, of course.

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75

1 TB tea for 450mL water plus 1 packet of stevia, leaves and filter sac left in.

Siiiiggghhhh … my beloved Super Chocolate is still unavailable for online order. There is no retail David’sTea in my province, let alone city, so I rely on the heartless internet for my supply of this one.

Unless a good friend travels to a city housing a bricks-and-mortar David’sTea.

This batch, bought from the Halifax-Dartmouth store, is noticeably different from my last two batches bought online. Much smoother, almost creamy. Lovely subtle chocolate and very faint cinnamon aftertaste. Far more chocolate bits, and more long green tea leaves (they look like Dragonwell). Less apple-y green rooibos taste but stil plenty of green rooibos, which has a freshness no other tisane can match. This particular variation on Super Chocolate is my fave and tastes most like the very first batch I ever ordered. I love all the variations, but I do wish David’sTea would hurry up and get the recipe standardized — and more importantly, back online.

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5

1 teabag for 400mL water, bare, two-minute steep.

Got a box of 50 foil-sealed bags for Christmas, as a loving gift, so I feel a bit guilty giving this tea an honest review, but here goes …

The Royal Albert crowd put out some lively china. I own a Royal ALbert “Regency” tea cup and saucer (http://www.amazon.com/Royal-Albert-1900-Regency-Tea-Saucer/dp/B001RIYRW6) and several Royal Albert mugs. Beautiful pieces.

But when the Royal Albert people urge me to “enjoy this superior [green] tea at its best” by steeping the green tea in freshly boiled water for 3-5 minutes, and then gently squeezing the teabag, I, uh, get suspicious. And I did no such thing when brewing a cuppa of Royal Albert Green.

The bags are thick and cloudy gauze with about 1.5 tsp of teeny weeny leaves — almost crumbs — imprisoned within. The tea smells stale. Or is that the gauze, which is almost thick enough to dress a wound? Steeped two minutes at off-the-boil water, the leaves release an attractively pale green liquour. However, this tea tastes about as good as it smells: stale. Stale lawn clippings. A very grassy green tea, and tending towards bitterness. Last year’s grass that dried and fell off the mower blades onto the basement floor. (Yes, there’s an unpleasant metallic tinge, too — faint, but undeniable.

Maybe it would taste better if made according to directions, but I doubt it.

I can’t even finish the cup.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

That cup is lovely!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Isn’t it? Not too floral and girly. It came with a matching dessert plate.

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95

BLEND: 2/3 Damn FIne Holiday Blend, 1/3 Damn Fine Captain Assam

1 heaping TB tea for 500mL water, bare.

The Captain mellows the Holiday Blend’s sharpness without overpowering it, resulting in a heavier, creamier cuppa. And quite the dose of caffeine, I might add. Will experiment later with different ratios. I also want to introduce the Captain to some Keemun, but I gotta find some Keemun first.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec
Beckara

I ordered myself a tin of Holiday Blend yesterday!!!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Let me know what you think of it.

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99

1TB for 500mL water, bare.

An old favourite that never disappoints. Chewy and creamy and smoky this morning — and an excellent foil for the hit and spicy peanuts that just made up part of my breakfast.

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95

1TB for 500mL water, bare.

Dry, like a dry white wine. Floral, but a welcome change from jasmine (which I love). Dry again. A bit sweet, a bit ‘green,’ but not grassy-green. Clean. Lighter all round than many oolongs I’ve tried. Relaxing. Helps me focus.

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

Beautiful leaves, bioth dry and steeped.

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32

(Store-made, medium size, 2% milk, with a full-leaf teabag rather than liquid concentrate.)

Meh. I remember these being much tastier. Or maybe my palate’s matured / gotten snootier? Last time I had one was 2008.

Woody and minty rooibos, something a bit like toothpaste, and tepid milk. To be fair, did a great job of calming my jangled nerves, but I did not enjoy drinking it. I really don’t care for minty/woody red rooibos. There must be region/farm/estate differences with rooibos leaves just as there are with any other tea or tisane leaf. Anyway, this tasted at once medicinal, fakey-sweet and grenadine-y to me. And it cooled off very quickly.

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94

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

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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Profile

Bio

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