548 Tasting Notes

94

2 TB for a 600mL pot

Received a lovely tin of this Dragonwell as a gift last night. The large leaved spied through the peek-a-boo lid are long, a bit twiggy, dark dark jade … and look good enough to eat. Ever the cynic, I dumped some tea out of the tin to see if most of the volume was fannings of broken leaves over which full leaves had been laid … but nope. All leaf, all the way.

First infusion: steeped for just under two minutes. Liquor is pale green with yellow tones. Scent is sweet and light. Body is light but creamy. Taste is sweet and very refreshing. No mineral or brine notes. Faint fruitness rounds out the aftertaste. Maybe some distant smoke — hard to say. Slight nuttiness.

A competitor’s Dragonwell promised improved concentration, which did happen. I’ll report later on this one.

Refreshing. I keep coming back to that, but yeah, refreshing to the point of being invigorating. Not at all a caffeine smack-up-the-head like, say, Damn Fine’s Captain Assam, but definitely a sweet buzz. Invites meditation.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 45 sec

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93

1 heaping TB for 600mL pot, 1 packet of stevia, no milk.

Blueberries. I adore blueberries. And they grow wild, rampant and lush here in Newfoundland. Not the great big rubbery monsters that import from South America in the winter months, no: sun-warmed, low-bush, get-down-on-your-knees and eat em off the bush bits of deep blue heaven.

So I’m spoiled for blueberries. And I honestly believe the best wild ones grow here.

And I’m leery of flavoured black teas. Hubby, however, adores flavoured black teas — and blueberries — so he bought us a nice sized packet of Wild Blueberry from Britannia.

The aroma: redolent. Seriously penentrating blueberry. REAL blueberry, not that powdery horror that might scent an eraser.

Black tea base is quite mild—China blacks, I’m guessing. I followed instructions — three-minute steep — and got a beautiful amber liquor, clear all the way through, with that delicious, now almost winey scent of blueberries. I also used water just off the boil so as not to scald the fruit, ’cause yes, there are dried real blueberries in here!

The light sweetening does bring out the berry taste, but I think I’ll drink it bare from now on so I can taste the black tea, too.

Lovely flavoured tea. I’d recommend this for evening-in sipping, or in place of / alongside port, cognanc etc.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Oh yes — NO HIBISCUS IN THIS BLEND.

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95

2 scant TB for a 600mL pot, drunk bare.

A most resilient tea. This time I nearly ruint it — really, too much leaf for the pot, but even though the brew got slightly bitter, it’s still great. Also brighter and more assertive, in a cheery way, like a noisy and well-loved friend announcing herself as she swings open the door. I had planned to make this tasting note a warning not to use too much leaf, but I’m really liking what I made here.

Mineral notes are also more pronounced, but, as I’ve noted elsewhere, mineral notes may come from my tap water, which in turn comes from a lake.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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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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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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