56
drank Assam Gold Rain by Teavana
1119 tasting notes

This is a tea of the month for April on the Classic plan. Unlike the other April TOMs, I have been drinking this one. I’ve had it plain, I’ve had it as the black tea added to stovetop chai. I just haven’t written a note about it.

I like the way it looks — it’s a salt (or maybe light cinnamon) and pepper kind of look with the tippy tan highlighting the dark brown. Distinguished. A touch of not really grey. Grateful Dead stuck in your head now, anyone? Guilty.

The dry leaves have a woody smell with a little damp canvas mixed in, that reminds me of waking up early at a camp site. I get a fair amount of the same from the tea’s aroma, though there’s a mysterious fruity undercurrent.

The difficulty I’m having with this (and other Assams, though I’ve only had them in blends) is there’s an aspect to them that I don’t find easy to love. It’s hard for me to describe, though I suspect the aspect that grates on me is what you’re supposed to love if you love Assams. I’ve read about it being described as malty, but it isn’t what I think of as maltiness. Malty to me is sweet, like the flavor inside malted milk balls. This isn’t sweet. I guess I’d call it more yeasty than malty, there’s something vaguely bready about it. It’s very bold, and to me it often comes across as pretty harsh.

Today I’m having this for breakfast with milk and some sweetener and that makes a huge difference. Perhaps, coming from India, this was a style of tea that was developed for the British milk and sugar palate? It certainly stands up to both. The yeasty flavor is still there, but it doesn’t grab the back of my throat with the additives.

I’m just not sure solo Assam is for me, but as I said, this is really my first attempt. I’ve had it in blends, but not straight up before. So I’m trying to keep an open mind.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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