81 Tasting Notes
Dammit – I overleafed the hell out of this one. Plus I gongfu’d it (meh, we try things, sometimes they work, sometimes, not so much). So, not really a fair tea review. Just a note saying: DO NOT OVERLEAF. Unless, of course, serious bitter, tannic results are what’s desired. Now that I know, I may try Western style brewing next time, or another gongfu (I’m supposed to be getting three steeps out of this one) session with MUCH less leaf. I’ll review again, once my throat’s recovered from the tannic assault. Should be promising – I’m expecting notes of dark chocolate, cherry, and plum. Sounds delicious and something I hope to actually experience next time.
I’ve been in the mood for straight blacks recently, maybe because I’ve been sick with a stubborn upper respiratory infection that makes flavored teas less palatable to my compromised taste buds. I got this tea to have as a breakfast tea since I tend to love my black teas with milk. It’s really nice – a solid, strong black that pairs well with milk, as the name indicates. Really nice with a sweet kind of breakfast. No subtlety here, but none expected. I would like to emphasize the brewing time – this one’s easy to overbrew so be careful with the timing of it. Usually with flavored blacks I’m so lazy that I leave the tea leaves in the infuser for the entire time I’m drinking the pot of tea, but I don’t recommend doing that with this one. Respect the brewing time and you’ll end up with a very good pot of smooth, strong black tea – not tannic, almost a little sweet, with a lovely aroma.
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Whenever I see a Ceylon Nuwara Eliya, I usually jump on it, as it’s one of my favorites. Broke this one open from my Berlin trip – I was excited to see that Tee & Ton carries it, so of course I had to buy some! This one’s definitely got the subtle refreshing brightness I expected, but much more toned down, more gentle. It’s a solid, great tea and I’ve been having it for breakfast lately with milk. It could be that the milk is affecting the perceived strength of the tea. Ceylons shouldn’t be bold, anyway, but this one may be better “naked” – no sugar, milk or any other additives. I may try it plain, but I tend to drink Ceylons with milk regardless. It’s very pleasant, but doesn’t beat my fave Nuwara Eliya from Lupicia. That being said, if I ever get back to that little shop in Berlin, I’ll definitely get more.
My favorite vanilla black, finally back in my cupboard. A friend of mine was going to Paris and asked if she could bring back any tea for me. I kind of felt bad, but, as long as she was asking, I said, “Sure!” and proceeded to extoll the virtues of this tea. I said to her what I always say when describing it: “It’s so vanilla, it’s practically chocolate!” And so it is – you just have to taste it and then you’ll understand what I mean. Anyway, I just opened the package today to have some for the first time in way too long. It’s still the same, excellent vanilla black I remember. Luscious, not-too-sweet vanilla flavor along with a subtle smoky, woody aspect. Very satisfying, especially when it’s what I expect and remember.
Could I have ordered this myself instead of getting my friend to bring it back for me? Of course. But I always seem to have an excuse not to do that (“I already have too much tea!” or “I need to try new ones!”). So glad I relented, it’s like having an old friend back for a visit.
Flavors: Vanilla, Wood
Such a strange experience with this tea. The dry leaf aroma is pure vanilla pudding, which smelled so enticing in the shop, I just had to buy it. Although it’s a flavored black, I went against my instincts and followed the vendor’s instructions: brew temp of 195 (kind of like an oolong), 2 minute steep. Not what I would usually do. According to the instructions, you can do 2 infusions, which is what I did.
At first, I detected a smoky, very faint vanilla. VERY subtle. I detected some leather in there. Then the malty, almost cocoa notes – could it be from the bourbon vanilla pieces? And then – so weird – a bright note that reminded me of bergamot. There is NO bergamot flavoring in this tea so I was very surprised, and seeing as how I don’t like bergamot anymore, I was not too happy (I overdid it on some Harrod’s Earl Grey years ago, and haven’t been the same toward bergamot ever since). And finally, again, strangely, it finished with an almost artichoke flavor – very subtle as well. None of the flavors overpowered the tea itself, so that was good.
So, not at all what I was expecting. I tried it both with and without milk, which didn’t make much of a difference in taste, but just added a creamy texture, of course. Did the second steep, which held up pretty well, only slightly muted the flavors. And since the liquor for both steeps was a nice, rich red and not overpowering, but not too weak, either, I’m inclined to agree with the steeping instructions provided.
I’m just really hung up on the bergamot thing. It’s not supposed to be there, but it’s all I can focus on, which is really too bad. I was expecting a warm, smooth, comforting vanilla, so I’m a little disappointed, but on the plus side, it’s a very complex brew.
Flavors: Artichoke, Cocoa, Leather, Malt, Smoke, Vanilla
…sigh…I don’t know. I tried this first unsweetened and iced. And it was just so tart. So very citrusy. Overpoweringly so, really. I like citrus and was hoping to find it refreshing, but it was just too much. So, the next time I tried it I added sugar, in an effort to curb that grapefuit flavor that made my whole face pucker. I rarely sweeten my teas (or tisanes), either hot or cold, but this helped. I added three generous teaspoons for the entire liter. Not enough to make it taste really sweet, just to tone down the tartness. I’d like to try to reduce the amount of sugar, but will have to experiment a bit. I now can taste more of a fresh orange flavor with strong grapefruit notes that don’t overwhelm. Not sure if I’d ever try it hot, maybe if I was sick and wanted to add honey to it, but honestly, I’ll just finish this off and probably not get it again. It is bracing, refreshing, and great if you love grapefruit (which I don’t).
Flavors: Biting, Citrus, Grapefruit, Orange, Tart
While visiting my friends in Berlin recently, they introduced me to a tiny tea vendor in their old neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg. Tee & Ton sells all kinds of tea and accessories like teapots and teasets (the “ton” is German for “clay”). There was so much to choose from, I almost couldn’t make a decision! But when my friends pointed out the marzipan tea, and I took a sniff, I knew I had to have it.
Fast forward to today’s morning cup of tea. Dry leaf aroma is one thing, but I was still not sure of the brewed flavor. I put in some milk, took a sip, and, well, this is awesome! Beautiful almond flavor for days! I’ve been looking for a decent almond-flavored black, and this delivered. Perfect balance of sweet almond that doesn’t overpower the taste of the black tea. It’s dessert-y enough without being cloying. I find that it doesn’t have that artificial flavor that’s so common with this kind of scented tea. I’m so happy with it I just might have to pester my friends to ship some more over to me when I run out of it!
Flavors: Almond, Cake, Sweet
Well, we are finally at the end, Bamboozled. I tried my best to convince David’s Tea not to discontinue you, to no avail. Bought a ton while I could and made it last longer than I expected. And now that summer is starting to wind down, I’ll drink the last of you, and raise my glass in honor of your unfailingly refreshing pineapple-y goodness. Bye-bye, Bamboozled! It was nice knowin’ ya!
Flavors: Fruity, Pineapple
Wow – I just love this stuff! I picked some up at the Tea and Coffee Festival earlier this year and finally got around to trying it. I’ve been drinking it all week and it is soooooo good. The honey notes are very strong, making this tea smell and taste almost sweet. Excellent plain or with milk, it’s so versatile. This is my first foray into Yunnan blacks and I’m sure it won’t be my last.
Flavors: Floral, Honey