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If there’s darjeeling in here, as the Kusmi site appears to suggest, it’s a very dark one. The dry leaves in the sample tin have no green-ness to them. If I try really hard, I can get a bit of a darjeeling sharpness in the smell of the dry leaf, but it isn’t overly obvious. Mostly it smells like a peppery black tea. Hmm. I got pepper in the Earl Grey too.

The aroma is mild with a tiny bit of the pepper I smelled in the dry leaf. Otherwise it has a generic black tea smell. It’s a medium-dark amber with a little red in it.

The flavor has a cleanness and a perkiness to it that could well be from darjeeling. It’s a little brisk, and fairly smooth except for a small, barely noticeable peppery kick. I can see why this is billed as an evening tea. It isn’t thick or malty or hearty or eye-openingly strong, or any of the other qualities I’ve come to associate with breakfast blends.

It’s sort of like the Earl Grey, except without the pretext of being Earl Grey and so lacking a little bitterness injected by the bergamot, and though it has a peppery reminder, it’s not nearly as peppery as the Earl Grey is to my palate. Which makes it, actually, more pleasant to my mind than the Earl Grey. There’s a mild, slightly sweet aftertaste.

Though I like some of the other Kusmis better, this isn’t bad. It’s probably on the low end of the good black tea huddle I have going that I’m going to have to pare down eventually, but only because it doesn’t have the depth and character I enjoy in really fine black teas.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I’ve updated this bio as it’s been a couple of years since I “started getting into” tea. It’s now more accurate to say that I was obsessed with tea for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it, and 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’ve recently started writing fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I much prefer to drink tea without additives such as milk and sugar. If a tea needs additives to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’m going to rate it high. The exception is chai, which I make on the stove top using a recipe I found here on Steepster. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs into the harder stuff, but once I learned how to make a decent cup of tea they became far less appealing to 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. I’m revising them slightly to make them less granular as I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas against other similar versions. So I rate Earl Greys, for example, against other Earl Greys, rather than against all teas. If something rates very high with me, though, it probably means it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is; will keep this stocked until the cows come home

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

80-89 Excellent; likely to become a favorite, will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again if in the mood for this particular one or a better, similar version not available

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but probably wouldn’t buy again unless craving this particular flavor

50-59 Okay or run of the mill

Below 50 So-so, iffy, would definitely pass
or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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