86

This smells awesome in the sample packet. It has that planty, earthy smell I get from good Assams with something else as well. It’s not really chocolate, not really vanilla, but it might be a hint of either of those. Not really smoke but could be a hint of that as well. The leaves are really pretty and bird nesty looking like some Ceylons (which is interesting since this doesn’t have Ceylon in it according to the picture at the top of this page).

It makes a dark, mahogany colored tea, with a sweet, smooth and malty aroma. The flavor is really yummy. It is a hearty flavor without a heaviness to it like some of the stouter breakfast teas (e.g., Queen Catherine). I’d describe it as medium bodied leaning toward full. It isn’t overly complex or deep, but it is full flavored, fairly smooth (a got tiny nip at the back of the throat, but it’s not consistent), and not overly sweet despite its malty aroma.

My main problem now is that I’m liking so many black teas, I’m not being very successful at narrowing down what I buy after sampling. With the exception of a few real stand outs, I’m getting a cluster of very goods and excellents and I’m having a hard time cutting them more finely. I also can’t keep them all in my head each time I taste a new one.

Does anyone have a systematic way of doing this successfully?

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

I try to pay attention to which area they come from. This sampler box from Nothing But Tea that I’ve been playing with has really helped there. For example it has confirmed to me what I already suspected of not really being a Ceylon fan. For a long time now it has seemed to me that I have a tendency to prefer Chinese, it’s just a shame that my box only had three Chinese ones in it, but I might be able to confirm some things depending on what I think of all the Indian ones. So, country first, then region.

JacquelineM

I’m horribly old fashioned and have a molskine in my purse. This is sort of goofy, but I’ll tell you anyway :) Each page has a shop I frequent (whether online or bricks ‘n mortar) and what I’d like to get from it. When I have money, I then have a list of what I’m dreaming of, and then can make decisions based on my budget and needs.

When it comes to teas, I have about 10 pages devoted to shops. I write the shop at the top, and then list all of the teas that I think are good as I taste them (these would be your “cluster of very goods and excellents”) over time. Then when I am ready to order from/go visit a particular shop I have everything that I like/want in a convenient place, and can make decisions. You’ll have the list, and can go back over your tasting notes on Steepster if need be to help you – and you can then get your budget and what holes you have in your collection involved :)

I do this with everything. I have some pages related to clothing, I have a few for bookstores, certain art and craft related shops, etc. Because it’s in my purse at all times, I never get the OMG not WHAT was the book that I wanted or HOW many yards of elastic did I need or wind up buying a pair of shoes when I really, really, really need a blouse.

I imagine this would work in some kind of iPhone type thing too that you always have with you, but like I said, I’m horribly old fashioned. :)

__Morgana__

Thanks for the ideas, keep em coming.

Jacqueline, that is a much better system than I have (I don’t have much of one). Here’s what I’ve been doing. I had been intending to “weed” in layers. I pretty much discount anything that I rate below a 70 as something I’d order again, so that’s the initial cut. Then if it’s a specialty sort of item, like a decaf or a tisane, I ask myself would I really drink it much or would I prefer one I already have. If the answer is no, I don’t put it on the list. For everything else, I’ve been collecting full tins that I have been intending to go back and do a second round on. A good example is chai, because I’m pretty much narrowed down on that one already. I have 4 or 5 front runners and I measure against those. So I have the Samovar which is my all time favorite, then I have a spicy one that I like (Rishi) and a mild one (GM), and a decaf one (LeafSpa), and an unusual one (like the GM pu erh chai). And I measure all new ones that I taste against those. If any of them is close, I’d order more and try to do a run off between them.

The problem with the blacks is that there are so many of them, and they’re blended so many different ways and in so many variations. You can’t even really compare an English breakfast to an English breakfast because their ingredients aren’t standard. I think at some point I’ll have to do what Angrboda suggested and just line them all up by ingredient and do a run off.

ashmanra

Jacqueline, I am with you on the moleskine! I keep one with tea quotes, a list of the tea I have sent to friends via mail, a list of tea currently in the house, and a list of teas I have given people when they come over, indicating their preferences and favorites! At the back is also a wish list based on tea reviews I have read that intrigued me and teas I have seen in shops.

Morgana, I am also trying to “keep things straight” and right now I am trying to rank some of my breakfast teas by smokiness. The difficulty is that sometimes the perception of the taste changes based on whether I measures the leaves and time carefully, how much milk and sugar did I add, what was the temperature of the tea while I was drinking it, etc. So I just shrug and realize I will have to keep trying more tea! :)

Also, sometimes I go through a “mood” where I want a certain tea of type, and then that phase passes and I don’t want it for a while. Fortunately it keeps a long time! But keep those beloved forerunners on the shelf, and then add some that you liked very well for variety!

teabird

Commenting on an old post because 1) Carolyn made this sound delicious so I wanted to read the other reviews and 2) I think that’s an interesting question (organizing and deciding what to buy)

I’ve only been at this for a couple years, so I can’t speak to the long-term effectiveness, but basically I decide based on the tea shop. I use Steepster to keep track of the ones I like well enough to buy a full tin of (that’s what my “shopping list” is for, and my tasting notes really), and I plan to make my next order from whichever company has the most teas I’ve been meaning to buy. I make the order either when there’s space in the cupboard and spending money, or I see they’re running a sale.

It does mean that I sometimes run out of favorites for awhile, but then I usually appreciate them more when I get them back :) I do also add teas I’d like to try to my shopping list, but it’s not hard to figure out which is which – if I haven’t tried it, there’s no tasting note!

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Angrboda

I try to pay attention to which area they come from. This sampler box from Nothing But Tea that I’ve been playing with has really helped there. For example it has confirmed to me what I already suspected of not really being a Ceylon fan. For a long time now it has seemed to me that I have a tendency to prefer Chinese, it’s just a shame that my box only had three Chinese ones in it, but I might be able to confirm some things depending on what I think of all the Indian ones. So, country first, then region.

JacquelineM

I’m horribly old fashioned and have a molskine in my purse. This is sort of goofy, but I’ll tell you anyway :) Each page has a shop I frequent (whether online or bricks ‘n mortar) and what I’d like to get from it. When I have money, I then have a list of what I’m dreaming of, and then can make decisions based on my budget and needs.

When it comes to teas, I have about 10 pages devoted to shops. I write the shop at the top, and then list all of the teas that I think are good as I taste them (these would be your “cluster of very goods and excellents”) over time. Then when I am ready to order from/go visit a particular shop I have everything that I like/want in a convenient place, and can make decisions. You’ll have the list, and can go back over your tasting notes on Steepster if need be to help you – and you can then get your budget and what holes you have in your collection involved :)

I do this with everything. I have some pages related to clothing, I have a few for bookstores, certain art and craft related shops, etc. Because it’s in my purse at all times, I never get the OMG not WHAT was the book that I wanted or HOW many yards of elastic did I need or wind up buying a pair of shoes when I really, really, really need a blouse.

I imagine this would work in some kind of iPhone type thing too that you always have with you, but like I said, I’m horribly old fashioned. :)

__Morgana__

Thanks for the ideas, keep em coming.

Jacqueline, that is a much better system than I have (I don’t have much of one). Here’s what I’ve been doing. I had been intending to “weed” in layers. I pretty much discount anything that I rate below a 70 as something I’d order again, so that’s the initial cut. Then if it’s a specialty sort of item, like a decaf or a tisane, I ask myself would I really drink it much or would I prefer one I already have. If the answer is no, I don’t put it on the list. For everything else, I’ve been collecting full tins that I have been intending to go back and do a second round on. A good example is chai, because I’m pretty much narrowed down on that one already. I have 4 or 5 front runners and I measure against those. So I have the Samovar which is my all time favorite, then I have a spicy one that I like (Rishi) and a mild one (GM), and a decaf one (LeafSpa), and an unusual one (like the GM pu erh chai). And I measure all new ones that I taste against those. If any of them is close, I’d order more and try to do a run off between them.

The problem with the blacks is that there are so many of them, and they’re blended so many different ways and in so many variations. You can’t even really compare an English breakfast to an English breakfast because their ingredients aren’t standard. I think at some point I’ll have to do what Angrboda suggested and just line them all up by ingredient and do a run off.

ashmanra

Jacqueline, I am with you on the moleskine! I keep one with tea quotes, a list of the tea I have sent to friends via mail, a list of tea currently in the house, and a list of teas I have given people when they come over, indicating their preferences and favorites! At the back is also a wish list based on tea reviews I have read that intrigued me and teas I have seen in shops.

Morgana, I am also trying to “keep things straight” and right now I am trying to rank some of my breakfast teas by smokiness. The difficulty is that sometimes the perception of the taste changes based on whether I measures the leaves and time carefully, how much milk and sugar did I add, what was the temperature of the tea while I was drinking it, etc. So I just shrug and realize I will have to keep trying more tea! :)

Also, sometimes I go through a “mood” where I want a certain tea of type, and then that phase passes and I don’t want it for a while. Fortunately it keeps a long time! But keep those beloved forerunners on the shelf, and then add some that you liked very well for variety!

teabird

Commenting on an old post because 1) Carolyn made this sound delicious so I wanted to read the other reviews and 2) I think that’s an interesting question (organizing and deciding what to buy)

I’ve only been at this for a couple years, so I can’t speak to the long-term effectiveness, but basically I decide based on the tea shop. I use Steepster to keep track of the ones I like well enough to buy a full tin of (that’s what my “shopping list” is for, and my tasting notes really), and I plan to make my next order from whichever company has the most teas I’ve been meaning to buy. I make the order either when there’s space in the cupboard and spending money, or I see they’re running a sale.

It does mean that I sometimes run out of favorites for awhile, but then I usually appreciate them more when I get them back :) I do also add teas I’d like to try to my shopping list, but it’s not hard to figure out which is which – if I haven’t tried it, there’s no tasting note!

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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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