31 Tasting Notes
From the moment I cut open the bag and caught a whiff of the strikingly golden brown tea leaves, I knew this one would be special… and it did not disappoint! I used numerous 30 second Gongfu style steepings. The first steeping was mild in flavour, but not without aroma. Perhaps I didn’t wait quite a full 30 seconds, as an immediate pronounced rich colour developed. The second steeping was much more pronounced in flavour, aroma and colour, yet it still defied description. My nose perceived a floral, perfumey sweetness; my tongue perceived a malty tartness. Even at the fifth steeping — or was it the sixth, it was no longer possible to keep track — the liquor remained a deep golden brown. I will make it somewhat stronger next time to see if I can more precisely define the tastes.
I was surprised. After trying about a dozen bagged chais, mostly expensive natural brands, and finding them all to taste fake, this one is quite acceptable. It’s inexpensive and available at the supermarket. It has a nice spice flavour: not overpowering, yet not so weak that it can’t be drunk with milk. This is a good standby for on the go.
This good, economical bagged black tea was in every household when I was growing up. It still tastes good.
We used to drink it as they do in parts of Germany, with freshly squeezed lemon juice. As a boy, sitting at the table under the sparkling light from the chandelier, I enjoyed watching the red-brown colour change to a sunny gold as I stirred the juice into the porcelain teacup. The flavour became somewhat tart, complementing the fine, whipped cream covered, fresh fruit tortes my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother used to bake.
For breakfast, I douse it with a lot of milk and leave the bag in my mug to get every last molecule of flavour. Put some Suraj tea masala (ground spice mixture from Superstore’s Indian aisle) into the water as it is heating to make your own authentic chai. Add further ground spices to adjust the flavour to your taste. Serve with hot milk. The robust tea flavour shines through admirably.
Unappealing. After the decaffeination process, there is little flavour left. It is muddy and brownish with a dull, nondescript taste. With milk, it is thin, watery and greyish. Chemical residues are not appealing, either. I have given up on decaffeinated teas and coffees. There are many naturally caffeine-free beverages to enjoy.
I got this tea at a grocery store in Chinatown for only a few dollars. I was told that elderly people like it, but I had no idea that it was pu-erh. It was hard as rock and sat forever in my cupboard, having eluded all my efforts to break it apart. One day, I decided to deal with it once and for all. I took it into the basement and struck it variously with a hammer and an axe. Chunks bounced off the walls. I reduced it to manageable pieces that I collected in a jar without losing too much. I began to drink it assiduously. It turned out to have a rich body and a good flavour, rather earthy in character, but in no manner musty. It suffers only in its impossible packaging, for which I docked 5 points.