579 Tasting Notes

1.5 tsp (more or less, very long leaves) for 300mL water @95C, steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds.

Oooohh, the Zhu Rong is strong in this year’s blend. I adore Zhu Rong. It dances with the Laoshan, and the Big Red Robe is very clear, too. I am not a pu’er fan, but I do like how it works in this blend, and I have a sample of Master Hans 2002 Shu Pu’er on hand this time, to see if I can educate myself.

Liquor is light bronze. First aroma notes are smoke (very subtle), leather, cedar, and chocolate. Then everything else kisses you. The Zhu Rong leaves a note of sweet potato this year. An excellent blend. I wish I could drink this every day.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, rinsed, then steeped 3 minutes 30 seconds Western style, 1st infusion.

Happy sigh.

Sweeter than that 2013 harvest. Creamy and floral, with some melon notes and some mineral in the finish. Complex and nuanced. So very good.

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1.25 tsp for 300mL water @96C, steeped four minutes.

Very strong scent of licorice. It dominated. I can even smell it through a sealed plastic bag, where I dumped the wet leaves. Could not even try to drink this.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped four minutes.

Dry leaf smells nice – cinnamon, vanilla, roses.

Steeped tea would make a good bath soap.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped 3 minutes.

Dry leaf is pretty. I’m not sure what the blackberry leaf is doing there – maybe it’s meant to look like a full tea leaf. The white tea itself scant and twiggy. Liquor is a cloudy light bronze. Decent nectarine/apricot flavouring, with none of the sharp nastiness we now find in DavidsTea Long Life Peach Oolong, but the flavouring does dominate. I cannot detect any white tea notes at all.

I used a cooler water tempt than the 90C recommended.

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1.25 tsp for 300mL water @98C, steeped four minutes.

I love a second flush Darjeeling.

This gorgeous offering gives tiny and tight dry leaves with an earthy, slightly peppery scent. Wet leaves are small and cut, mostly tan with some green, with a sharp scent: astringency. Liquor is coppery with some down and a deep, very satisfying aroma of muscatel and other Darjeeling notes. There’s also a quality to the scent here that I can only call “Indian tea.” Some Assams have it, too. This is fairly assertive for a Darjeeling, almost muscular — not your classic delicate Darjeeling to serve with fine cakes and little sandwiches, the sort Buzz Lightyear mocks. A restorative cup of tea. One of my favourite Darjeelings yet

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1.5 tsp for 300mL @95C, steeped 4 minutes 15 seconds.

This is Tea Campaign’s “budget” Darjeeling, and it’s a steal. Dry leaf smells of muscatel. Some twigs. Wet leaf is green and bronze and smells strongly of Darjeeling. Liquor tends to a darker bronze with some down. Bright and astringent, lots of first flush notes and a assertive muscatel finish. Light body. Smooth mouth-feel. A sweetness that reminds me of a true Dragonwell.

This is a blend, but it comes form the one garden: Pussimbing.

Just delicious.

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1.25 tsp for 300mL water @ 90C, steeped four minutes.

Tea Campaign Canada is the Canadian branch of Teekampagne in Germany. Teekampange sells only Darjeelings. They’e also invested in improving life for tea workers for decades now. The teas are organic and tested for “486 possible chemical residues.” Tea Campaign Canada works by mail-order, and the pricing for Darjeeling tea is very reasonable.

So, the First Flush 2014 Blend. Dry leaf shows some green and brown and a few twigs and gives some scent of Muscatel. Wet leaves are almost all green and bright. Liquor is light bronze. The flavour is closer to good Chinese green tea, true Dragonwell, that sort of sweetness, with an undercurrent of classic Darjeeling astringence and muscatel. I think this blend benefits from a lower water temp. I expect water at 100C, or even 98, might singe the leaves.

This is a gorgeous tea. I love Darjeelings. I usually prefer second flush, but this first flush is teaching me things. It also has a slight peppery bite, as you find in some Yunnans.

All of the Darjeeling sold by Tea Campaign is certified as Darjeeling by The Tea Board of India.

Flavors: Astringent, Black Pepper, Dry Grass, Green, Muscatel

Michelle Butler Hallett

For Canadians, with a link in the upper right corner for the US site: http://www.teacampaign.ca

Michelle Butler Hallett

I made a second cup of this with water at 95C. Yeah, don’t do that. The leaves scald and yield up bitterness and brine. 90C at most for this delicate leaf.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL @100C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.

A blend of Assam and Ceylon teas. Dry leaf smells of raisins and honey— that’s the Assam, I expect. Dry leaves are long, tight, and dark brown, with some amber leaves. Wet leaf smells of brilliant sunshine — even of laundry dried on the clothesline — and, faintly, of copper: that’s the Dimbulla Ceylon. Wet leaf is uniformly coppery-brown. Liquor is dark copper with a little foam on top, that puckering froth some Ceylons deliver. As the tea steeps, the aroma develops notes of dark honey and bread.

At four minutes, this tea is malty and strong and just tending towards bitterness; I wouldn’t steep it much longer. Plenty of malty pucker. Its not a subtle tea, but then it doesn’t claim to be. A very good blend, living up to its packet copy, and priced low. In fact, I’d call this one a steal.

‘Irish Breakfast’ is, like ‘English Breakfast,’ an almost meaningless label. There is no one recipe for either ‘Breakfast’ blend, though those labelled ‘Irish’ usually have some Assam in them, and often some Kenyan. Those labelled ‘English’ often had some Keemun in them, but that’s getting rare. It’s always worth trying different brands of Irish and English Breakfast.

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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.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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