322 Tasting Notes
Part of the Teabox all the Darjeelings sample.
This is a white tea, so if you don’t enjoy white teas, move along, move along home (I wonder who will get the reference…).
If you, like me, enjoy white teas, then this tea is definitely not for you. You will be disappointed.
The leaves of this tea are very light olive green, with a lot of white interspersed. They look impressive – large, whole leaves, that look to have been meticulously picked.
Teabox recommends that you brew this at 85-90C. I tried it at 70C at first (standard white tea setting, because I wasn’t paying attention to the package), and brewed it for about 7 minutes, because it looked like the tea needed more time in the water. I have a feeling that I could have left it there for an hour at that temperature and I’d still would have gotten the same result: very lightly tinted warm water. No taste worth mentioning. Fail.
Next try was as Teabox directed – 90C, for 5 minutes. I got some flavor!!! I wish that I hadn’t!!!!
Take a cucumber. Squeeze out all of its juice into a glass. Fill the glass with water – and there you have it. This is what this tea tastes like. Very diluted cucumber juice.
Now I love white tea, and I love cucumber-y white tea, but this is the first time ever that I’ve tasted a white tea that actually tasted like thinned out cucumber juice, and didn’t just have subtle hints of cucumber. It wasn’t pleasant, and to the sink went the cup.
I hate giving up on a tea without giving it a fair chance, so I chucked it into my Takaya pitcher, and stuck it in the fridge overnight, to cold brew. After tasting it in the morning I was not impressed. Added some lemon and mint leaves, and left it to settle for a while longer in the fridge. If it’s not good by tomorrow, then I’m chucking it out and writing this tea off as a failure. For now, I DO NOT RECOMMEND!
I’ve already written about Teabox’s wonderful customer service. Well the box of tea samples arrived today and it is AMAZING!!!!! I’ve never seen anything like it.
You get dozens and dozens and dozens of beautiful tiny black tea pouches, each with zip lock closure, each with an individual label with everything you need to know about the tea, as well as steeping instructions. What more do you need?
The samples that I got (in the “all the Darjeelings” sample pack) included mostly black teas, but also several white teas, green teas and oolongs. There were also three free samples with the pack – two Assams and a Nilgiri.
Each sample is 10g, which is enough for 2-3 servings (at least), and a very generous amount indeed. If you have a tea loving friend nearby, you could easily buy a sample pack, and split it between you.
Now off to the review:
Dry leaves are dark, large sized (for a black tea. They are medium sized compared to oolongs), with an occasional greenish silver leaf or a golden brown tip tucked between them. They, strangely enough, smell of raw dark chocolate.
Followed the brewing recommendations: boiling water, 1 tsp of tea for a 200 ml cup (using a Finum brew basket), infused for 3 minutes.
The liquor is a clear light golden red, between the color of amber and of maple leaves in the fall. It smells fruity.
The tea is medium bodied, with a medium-low caffeine content,with no astringency. It won’t take milk well, like all the Darjeelings that I’ve encountered. It is a tad bitter when brewed without sweeteners, but not to a point of being undrinkable. Just a little kick at the edge of each sip. If that’s not your “cup of tea,” a bit of sugar removes the bitterness and enhances the fruity tastes of this tea.
This is a fruity tea (stone fruit, raisins), and has a bit of the famous “muscatel” flavor, that adds spiciness and depth to the cup.
A great introduction to Darjeeling tea for people venturing into it for the first time, particularly if they’ve only experienced Chinese teas before.
A tasty brew to “share with friends”, as teabox recommends.
Flavors: Raisins, Stonefruits
The wonderful Chinese Tea Company of Portobello Road, London has a small basket of wonderful samples, each one containing enough tea for one session, and each one costing £1. The teas are packed in convenient small clear plastic bags, so you can see what you are getting before you purchase anything. I got two samples during my last visit, and this is one of them. The lovely proprietress didn’t charge me for them, as I’d bought quite a lot of tea and tea ware while there.
Anyway, the leaves reminded me of Norbu’s Ye Sheng Hong Cha, but they are small and darker. They clearly contain a leaf an a bud, or two leaves and a bud, and great care has been taken not to break them during their processing into black/red tea.
The liquor is reddish gold, like maple leaves in the fall, glowing in the sun.
This is a smooth, smooth tea, with almost a creamy texture, and no astringency. It is sweet, with hints of sweet potato, and honeycomb.
I wish I’d bought an entire pouch of this, but it wasn’t in stock.
As it is, this is a sip down, although I do hope to get at least two more steepings out of these wonderful leaves.
A great introduction to Chinese red/black teas, and a great lazy morning/early afternoon tea.
Flavors: Honey, Sweet Potatoes
Brewed this western style, using a Finum basket. Gave it 3-4 minutes, and it needs that time to open up.
The leaves are long, long, long and blacker than a moonless night. They take time to open up, and patience is required for them to release their exquisite flavors.
This is very gently smoked tea, that tastes like a very, very good Keemun – it has some of the malt/bread flavor to it, with a gentle smokiness that does not feel artificial, but gives it depth and body. There is something of the sweetness of sugar to it, and I did not experience any astringency when drinking it. A great intro to smoked teas,and a wonderful companion for a cold winter’s night, in a large steaming mug, with your hands wrapped around it for warmth.
Norbu did it again!
Flavors: Baked Bread
Had a not so great day at work, so enjoying delicious, delicious tea that I like, and not being adventurous with new tea. This joins the seemingly never ending list of teas that I like that are out of stock:
Piccadilly Blend, F&M
Assam Hazelbank, Whittards
Assam Golden Lion, Butiki
York Tea, Whittards
Lao Cong Zi Ya, Norbu
I like the new tasting note format.
This time I brewed this tea in a Gaiwan, Gongfu style. And suddenly the whipped cream flavor came out. Startling and nothing that I’ve ever encountered in a tea before.
I wish that Verdant still stocked this. Apart from this being one of the most beautiful teas that I’ve ever seen, I really love this flavor profile, and I haven’t gotten it from other dianhongs.
Flavors: Cream, Honey
A friend went on a trip to Seychelles, and as a kind gesture brought me this tea as a gift. It did not look promising, being a very fine grained CTC black tea packed in a plastic bag, stuffed in a rather nice white cloth bag with no description on it other than “Sey Te, Chemical Free Bio-Tea”. I’m assuming that this tea is organic, but there’s no indication of any form of official certification, so caveat emptor.
My best guess is that this tea is a blend of mostly Kenyan teas, possibly with some assam thrown in. It’s almost dust level finely cut, so it is super super strong. Be careful when brewing. Surprisingly, it doesn’t re-brew well beyond the fourth cup, and at the sixth cup its all tired out. I expected such a strong tea to show more stamina ;)
In any case, it’s not totally undrinkable, but it’s pretty bad. I don’t see myself ever picking it up, particularly not on an empty stomach, it’s so powerful. Even after a large meal it made me feel queasy about 30 minutes after drinking. Not surprisingly I did not finish my cup.
If you’re stuck with a choice of this tea or a run of the mill teabag, choose teabag.