545 Tasting Notes

95

1 rounded TB for 500mL water, drunk bare.

Teatime! Elevenses!

Sipping this beautiful brew after a quick, um, breakfast of slightly stale toffee loaf chopped up and soaked in coffee-flavoured yogurt. Puurrrrrr …

But the tea, the tea! Mineral and slightly smoky this morning with a rich Yunnan finish. I love how this blend subtly varies so much. Mad hot, refreshing, especially after an insanely rich morning of capucinno, hot chocolate and the above-mentioned alleged breakfast.

Some Assam (?) depth as I sip further down the cup. Peace.

I find the recommended four-minute steep to be perfect. HB can get bitter if steeped longer.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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75

1 scant TB for 400mL water, 1 packet of stevia, no milk.

Ah, a new bag of Super Chocolate under the tree, lucky me!

Luckier than I knew … SC is temporarily out of stock. David’sTea assures me they’re not discontinuing this one, just re-formulating. They suggest I drink their Spicy Chocolate Rooibos in the meantime. SCR is nice, but it’s red rooibos and can get a bit woody. Hmph. Be keeping my eye on this …

This particular 250g bag has much more cocoa in the nose and in the flavour than my last two, which were apple-y (and delicious). But it’s good to have a decent whack of cocoa back in this blend; the chocolate scent wafts out the cup and beckons you to kiss it and sip in green rooibos goodness, that apple-y taste, if not so pronounced this time, plus a bit of cinnamon.

I got two great steeps from the 1 TB in the 400mL mug. Not so great a second steep in a 500mL mug, which makes sense.

Super Chocolate is also fabulous chilled. So if you let some go cold and don’t want to nuke it, fret not! Just knock it back.

Hope everyone’s having a great time.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more

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95

1 scant TB for a 400mL travel mug. Drunk bare.

Steeped just four minutes this time instead of six — much more balanced. Water just off the boil vs at a rolling boil yields a better liquor, more complex, sweeter. The Assam remains assertive but does not get all woody on the aftertaste. Much more oolong and Darjeeling up front. I agree with another reviewer that Stash’s Christmas Morning rivals Tazo’s Joy. I think the Stash CM is a bit sweeter with the Assam finish, but Tazo’s Joy has more oolong in the nose. I’d need them side by side to determine which one a I like more.

All told, a beautiful blend.

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

Good to know. I like Joy, but it’s a little hard to hunt down around here. (Literally and … figuratively? :)

Michelle Butler Hallett

I’ve got my 100g of CM one-third GONE. Yeesh, better switch gears today. Back to Damm Fine Holiday Blend!

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95

4TB for a 12-cup pot, drunk bare.

Dry leaves: some tips, faint scents of jasmine and Keemun and a lovely comforting hug of Assam.

Steeped: jasmine disappears but resurfaces very subtly in the taste. Oolong aromas. Slight smokiness from the keemun. Winey-ness from the keemun dances with the wine-to-maltiness from the Assam. Aftertaste: Darjeeling, and Yunnan pepper. Some astringency, but I did steep this for 6 minutes; 4 minutes would be better, I think. Medium body. No bitterness. Quite lovely. I feel very relaxed and blessed, drinking this one.

I used water just off the boil out of respect for the oolong and jasmine in the blend.

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

A slightly woody finish — I definitely steeped this just a bit too long and allowed the Assam to jump around. But delicious. Oh, so good.

Geoffrey Norman

I sampled this last week. What a surprisingly good blend it was.

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99

1 rounded TB for 500mL water, drunk bare.

Nor’easter, day two. Rain and wind just battering us. Some areas have lost electricity. I should make tea in a pot and cozy, just in case.

A perfect day for drinking LOTS of tea. I’m about one cuppa each away from finishing tins of my faves — including this beauty. Robust. An almost creamy mouthfeel. Some malt, some smoke, some wine. Slight astringency. No bitterness. Never boring. Rich.

Preparation
5 min, 45 sec

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95

1 rounded TB for 500mL water, drunk bare.

Mmmm … getting something crisp, sunny and earthy all at once in the foretaste … Darjeeling? Nepal? Mineral notes, too, but that may be my tap water.

Hahahaha — ‘Cup of Brown Joy’ just came up in my iTunes playlist. ‘You could say I’m mad for tea, or just say I’m mad.’

Overall, once more, delicious and sparkling. Cheering. Tends slightly to bitterness, which makes me wonder if something more delicate in the blend mightn’t be happier with water just off the boil. Must try that next.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

… aaaaaand drinking it again …

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95

COMBO: 2/3 TB A&D Damn Fiine Holiday Blend plus 1/3 TB of Stash’s Kopili Assam for 500mL water, drunk bare.

Woke up craving Holiday Blend. And Assam. Ai. Have just ordered more HB and some Captain Assam. Is there opium in the Holiday Blend, or what? Woke. Up. Craving. It.

The addition of the Kopili Assam smooths out the brightness /sharpness (slightly smoky sharpness) of Holiday Blend, adds some depth, sweetens the whole brew a bit, and gives it a heavier body. I like the combo, but Holiday Blend is also damn fine on its own. Can’t wait to introduce HB to Captain Assam.

Now, back to Holiday Blend on its own. Sigh. Bliss. TEA!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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95

1 heaped TB for 500 mL water, drunk bare.

I admit it. The label got me. Sweater-knit Imperial Walkers. A & D could have stuffed the tin with grass clippings and I still would have bought it just for the label.

And today, in the first of a three-day nor’easter, horizontal rain, wind that’s trying to uproot trees: it came! My poor drenched postman brought the Damn Fine Holiday blend! I figured I wouldn’t see it til well after Christmas, as out ferries aren’t running (nor-easter’s affecting the entire island) and so lots of mail is tied up. Worse, lots of people aren’t getting home for Christmas.

I wish I could visit each stranded one and give them a cup of this tea.

Dry leaves are long and tippy. You know how some Assam smells raisiny? I’m sure I’m catching a faint whiff of smoked pears instead. And Yunnan — God, there must be Yunnan in here. Keemun? Pinch o’ lapsang? All an Imperial secret? Dunno, don’t care. What I can say is this: bright but not astringent, assertive but not a bully, deep but not bitter. Truly a happy-making tea. Restorative. Medium body, thick-to-creamy mouthfeel. My brew is a teensy bit bitter, but only because I steeped it six minutes.

And yes, it goes fab with cookies. I noshed a shortbread while sipping.

PS For anyone frightened off by my mentioning lapsang, the smokiness is NOT that strong. More of a Keemuny-smokiness, or a mild, milk Caravan … and that’s only one tasting note in a blend. So Holiday Blend is not a smoky tea.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Love love lovety love…

Michelle Butler Hallett

Oooooh, yes, nice caffeine punch. No, caffeine lift, like when you’re really small and an adult you love and trust lifts you high in the air for a shoulder ride. Not the same high-seas caffeine buzz I got from Captain Assam, but a delicious buzz nonetheless.

pinky

Sounds like you like it!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Hee hee. Just a bit.

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92

1 rounded TB for 500 mL water, 1 packet stevia.

My regular nightcap. Now that I’ve shaken up the packet a bit, I get more of the petal-ly bits which seem to put the ‘cream’ in this brew, and that mellows the tartness. Much more balanaced.

I agree with another reviewer: it’s hard to tell there’s rooibos in Lemon Cream Pie. It’s a cheerful tea, provided you like lemon. It’s also mondo refreshing if you don’t finish you tea before falling asleep and wake up later parched and drink it cold.

Upping the rating.

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

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100

1 TB for 500mL water, drunk bare, second infusion

Less smoke and honey, more mineral and pepper. Given that this is a second infusion after a 5-minute steep, impressive amount of flavour.

Ye gods, I love this stuff.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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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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