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I made a mug of this with a moderately-heaped teaspoon (it’s one of those long, straggly teas – difficult to spoon out accurately) steeped for two and a half minutes with water that had been left for several minutes to cool (the instructions are for 80°C and two to three minutes).

I thought at first that I’d brewed it a bit weak as it was very pale in the mug – rather like a green tea – but there was a quite pronounced aroma to it: somewhere between good soil, rotting wood and freshly ripped-up cardboard. There may have been a hint of chocolate just on the very edge of my sense of smell.

The very first word into my mind on tasting it was ‘satisfying’ – as in that advert where someone sips the tea, goes “Aaah!” and relaxes back into their chair. It had good basic tea flavour, earthiness, an Oxo-like meatiness and a bright, fruity element that I can’t quite pin down, but is somewhere between cherry, grape and, possibly, liquorice. Again, I thought I detected just the tiniest hint of chocolate.

I really enjoyed that mug – complex, satisfying and relaxing. Having said that, I can’t really say the same about the second and third brewings. The tea is described as suitable for multiple infusions and I made two more mugs, brewing exactly the same way, with the same tea. I don’t really know what’s going on here: the second and third mugs had all the same elements as the first, perhaps with the chocolate being a little more noticeable, and I couldn’t detect the third as being any weaker than the second; but they were both definitely weaker than the first, especially the aroma. The result was that they didn’t have for me that mellow, satisfying thing going on.

ETA – I forgot to mention that with the third mug I thought the fruity element was developing a touch of bitterness.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Bio

Happily retired male.

Started exploring ‘proper’ tea in March, 2010 after decades of PG Tips teabags. I was initially looking for ‘the perfect tea’; now I don’t want to find one – I’m so much more enjoying exploring the variety.

A confession: I take my tea with four sweeteners to a half-pint mug.
28/05/2012 – I’ve decided to wean myself off the sweeteners, starting this morning, so, three per mug instead of four (I’m getting a growing feeling that I’m failing to get the best out of some of the oolongs and greens I try and I intend getting a gaiwan and the appropriate little cups, and sweeteners don’t seem to be appropriate, there). 16/02/2013 – since New Year’s Day I’ve only been using two sweeteners. I’m struggling to get used to it, to be honest – some teas are more difficult than others.

How I make tea: either in a traditional teapot which holds enough for three half-pint mugs and has a removable infuser (London Teapot Company); or in a half-pint mug with an Agatha’s Bester filter. Sometimes I vaguely think about getting some nice, genteel cups and saucers …

Important: I measure the tea with plastic kitchen measuring spoons – teaspoon and half-teaspoon sizes – so when I say a ‘heaped teaspoon’, as the correct measure is a levelled one, I should probably be calling it ‘two teaspoons’!

Location

Derbyshire/Staffordshire, UK.

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