548 Tasting Notes

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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95

1gently rounded TB for 500mL water, drunk bare.

Steeped 3 minutes to get that creamy mouthfeel.

A lovely Tu Kuan Yin. I’ve only tried one other, so I’m no expert. A haunting tea, faintly mineral, more floral. Medium-bodied, yet delicate, if that makes any sense. Infuses multiple times; I get at least two good long steeps. The less greedy amongst us could probably get three or four.

Love. Gentle, lasting tea love.

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

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89

1 TB for 500 mL water, drunk bare.

Yes, at the Kopili Assam again. Tasting bitterness for the first time — only because I ate some ice cream before sipping the tea. Silly mbh.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Teeth cleabed. Tea tastes much better. I think this tea would go great with cookies.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Cleabed? Lord. Cleaned.

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100

1 scant TB for 500mL water, drunk bare.

Dry leabes are long and look like living honeyed brass.

Note to self: heaping TB is the better option. Still, this Yunnan is luxurious without being heinously decadent. Layers and layers of flavour today, including honey, smoke and pepper, earth. Crisp finish. No bitterness. Yes, I abused it again today with a longer-than-approved steep, but hell, I like it. Excellent for a rainy day. I am craving a malty Assam; this Yunnan will make me appreciate the Assam all the more, while at the same time being fab in and of itself.

Le sigh. Le bliss.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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91

2 bags for a 500mL travel mug, drunk bare.

Another delight for a rainy morning drive. A dependable, really tasty ginger black tea that takes the chill out of the pouring rain. Practically screams to be simmered in milk on the stove with from cinammon black tea. Forgives a long steep — really good black tea base.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Meghann M

I haven’t seen this variety in stores, I’ll have to check it out. I love their ginger peach black and green, so this is one I would have to try!

Michelle Butler Hallett

As far as I know, the Ginger Breakfast is only available online, where it’s a bestseller. I order this in batches of 240 bags. Man, I wish it came loose, but for a bagged tea, it’s excellent. http://www.stashtea.com/products/products.aspx?sku=030035

Michelle Butler Hallett

Sorry — here’s a better link that lets you choose the quantity. http://www.stashtea.com/products/Ginger+Breakfast+Black+Tea.aspx

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95

1 rounded TB for 500mL water, drunk bare (nothing added).

As others have noted, jasmine does a cheery ‘Ta-da!’ when you open the tin. And that’s great.

I set the timer but couldn’t repond right away and ended up with more of a 4-minute steep. With that length of a steep, a new scent wafts up from the brew: line-dried white shirts. That incredibly clean scent you only get in summer when you, that’s right, hand white shirts on the line to dry in the sun and the wind. I love that.

The longer steep thickens the body a bit; any longer and it might get soapy. I’ll probably water this cuppa down a bit. But oh, that clean, irreplacable lovely jasmine. I can taste more of the green tea base today, too: a sweet green, as others have pointed out, thank goodnes, not grassy and not briny.

Jasmine fabness. One of the best I’ve tried. Up there with some of the jasmine pearls.

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100

1 heaping TB for 500mL water, drunk bare (no milk or sweetener).

Left the leaves steeping merrily in the travel mug in this morning, as I needed to do the morning driving …

The faint peppery scent of mad hot Yunnan wafting up from a travel cup as I naviagte traffic on a rainsoaked morning — now THAT is a blessing to count. It got strong, of course, but not bitter, just very, very rich. One caveat: I wouldn’t dare drink it this strong on an empty stomach. Same goes for super-steeped Assam.

Rich and mysterious, like dark silk in winter: you wouldn’t think something normally so delicate and fine could keep you warm, but it does. The peppery notes seem to mute as the steeps past 6 minutes, but they fight back on the aftertaste. The honey and, well, Yunnan tea notes deepen. Gets a tiny bit smoky when it’s this strong, too.

A super-steep gives this normally light (not thin) bodied tea more of a medium body that drenches the taste buds.

Auggy

This makes me want to bust out a yunnan RIGHT NOW!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Yunnan rocks. It’s an expensive little habit, though. (rolls eyes at self)

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91

3 bags for a 1L pot, drunk bare (no milk of sweetener).

A really smooth and deliciously gingery black tea blend. Very resilient, too; today’s cup was re-heated in the microwave but still tasted fresh. Three bags is a little light for the volume of water, but my mom-in-law and I leave the bags in. This tea does not get bitter, even when the bags are left in overnight and the tea heated up again in the morning. Wish it came loose.

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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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