44 Tasting Notes
For Christmas, my brother got me my first Yixing teapot—and I decided to dedicate it to Tieguanyin oolong (partly because the Whole Foods in town sells it, and I like to avoid shipping). So, I seasoned my pot with it and used it to makes very first gongfu style tea. I was really impressed—I loved this one Western style (see my other review for more detail), but I think gongfu brings out the subtleties more (no doubt partly due to the number of steeping a possible). I’m really looking forward to experiencing this tea even more as my pot continues to soak it in—it’s now an every-weekend tradition!
Starbucks is switching over from Tazo to Teavana. I don’t work there any more, but my brother does, so he got some of this for me. I was… not impressed.
The first time I tried it, I brewed it according to directions (3 minutes). It was weak and watery—even the color was only a very pale brown. I thought I might have used too much water, and, since it’s not CTC, I figured 3 minutes was too short. So, I tried again today.
It took six minutes before the tea looked about right, and it did pour a lovely color. But again, it was incredibly weak. I used 1 teaspoon per cup, and one for the pot, but I could hardly taste the tea at all (milk and sugar, of course, made it even harder to get any flavor).
Maybe this would taste good if I used 2 teaspoons per cup, but I don’t think I’m going to try that—after two failures, we taped up the tin and gave it to our daughter to use as a shaker.
This was one of the most disappointing teas I’ve ever had—not least because, if I hadn’t gotten it for free, it would have cost $8.95 pre-tax for 1.7 ounces. The taste wasn’t bad, it was just almost nonexistent. I’m a fan of subtleties in tea, but a tea that calls itself an English Breakfast should have a strong flavor, even with milk and sugar. I’d rather drink Lipton than this.
Missed my morning Yorkshire Gold the other day, and didn’t want to get into my work stash, so I picked out the tea that they have at the office—Lipton. Brewed for 3.5 minutes with one packet of sugar. When I drank it, I mentally quoted Sherlock: “surprisingly ok.” Nothing great, and it has a bit of a strange peppery quality, but I was expecting something absolutely terrible based on most of the reviews here (I’d had it as a kid, but not since). I compare it to a decent American adjunct lager in the world of craft beer—not something I’d go out of my way to drink, but not something I’d avoid if I were offered one.
This is one of my absolute favorite teas. There’s a small British import shop in town which I occasionally visit, and I knew that they had this in loose leaf, so I had to pick it up. My wife had just bought me a teapot, so I was looking for a good, everyday leaf tea. I had heard good things about this one, but what made me decide to buy it for sure was reading an interview with Nigel Melican. His favorite tea for special occasions the same as one of mine (though I assume he has access to a much higher quality golden tippy Yunnan than I), so I figured we might have similar tastes. He said that Yorkshire Gold was his favorite “everyday” tea, and that it contained Rwandan leaves. This was when I made up my mind. I’ve got friends in Rwanda, and have visited there. I’ve ridden with fifteen other people in a matatu bus meant to hold nine or ten and looked down across the lush valleys filled with camellia sinensis. And I’ve drunk pure Rwandan tea black, and been pleased by the incredible smooth flavor and lack of bitterness. I had to try this tea.
So, we made our way down to Willy’s Emporium to get a bag. Not long after we got home, I fired up the trusty electric kettle, prepared the teapot, and made a pot full of Yorkshire Gold (well, not really full—we figured a six-cup pot would be more versatile, allowing us to have tea alone or with company). I was a bit worried that I’d been building it up too much in my mind. I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.
This really is an incredible tea. It’s strong, full, and malty, and certainly has good kick. And yet, perhaps due to the Rwandan tea, it’s not bitter. Indeed, it has a remarkably brisk flavor in addition to its stoutness. The pour is golden and beautiful, and the aroma is pleasant the whole way through. It takes milk wonderfully, and sugar, too. I see what Mr Melican means—this has quickly become my everyday morning tea (I usually have other tea at work, where I don’t have access to a pot, a kettle, or milk). I’m down near the bottom of the bag now, and am already planning my next trip to the store to replenish my supply.