80 Tasting Notes

84

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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64

I made my first mug of this with a moderately-heaped teaspoon but I may have left the water a little too long to cool (they recommend 80°). I brewed for three minutes. I was slightly surprised that the tea was still floating at the end. I could detect absolutely no aroma. To taste it had a touch of the basic tea flavour and a touch of butter and I didn’t really get anything else.
I made a second mug with the same tea and with the water a little hotter, again for three minutes. Again the tea was still floating at the end. I thought I detected a hint of roast beef in the aroma, but it wasn’t noticeably different to taste.
I made a third mug with the water perhaps a little hotter again. This time the tea sank to the bottom of the infuser immediately but I didn’t detect anything different about the flavour.

I made a second brew of this with rather more tea – a well-heaped teaspoon rather than moderately-heaped, but I couldn’t detect any differences.

I found this pleasant enough to drink, but with nothing memorable or impressive about it.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I made my first mug of this with a moderately-heaped teaspoon and brewed (as per the instructions) for two minutes. It’s an orange brew in the mug but I found it quite bland – a touch of butter, perhaps a hint of vanilla, but not much else.

So I made a second mug with a heavily-heaped teaspoon – right up on the handle – probably a heaped teaspoon and a half-teaspoon; two minutes again. It smells of cut grass and rust. It has a much stronger flavour, with an element verging on the harsh element I described in my notes on Imperial Teas’ Superior Breakfast – liquorice without any hint of sweetness. There is just the tiniest hint of orange peel (not sweet orange, I mean the bitter juice that sprays from the peel itself,) and a hint of cut grass.

I didn’t enjoy this very much but I’m not rating it because I don’t yet think I’ve properly got to grips with brewing it.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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95

I made a pot of this with two, heaped teaspoons brewed for four and a half minutes.

It has an aroma of pizza base and ‘pine-fresh’ disinfectant.

In the mouth it has butter, conifer sawdust, wood-smoke, the basic tea-flavour, of course; but all well-blended together with none prominent above the others. There are tiny hints of mixed, dried fruit and cut grass and the tiniest ‘bite’ – something reminiscent of white pepper or root ginger, but almost more of a feel than a taste.

For purposes of comparison, I made this exactly the same way as the Nothing But Tea Smokey Souchong I wrote up yesterday. I strongly suspect these two are the same tea – both excellent, though, and among my top favourites.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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95

So I made a pot of this with two heaped teaspoons brewed for four and a half minutes. It doesn’t strike me as noticeably stronger, yet it strikes me as a slightly better mug of tea (I suppost I’m going to struggle to explain that).

There’s nothing new to the aroma – pizza base and ‘pine-fresh’ disinfectant.

I’m getting a strong impression of the flavour as very well-balanced: there is butter, conifer sawdust, wood-smoke (and the proper ‘tea’ taste, of course) – but none of them prominent and to the fore, but each in balance with the others – and tiny hints of cut grass and mixed, dried fruit. The tiny hint I mentioned of white pepper or root ginger is more felt than tasted – it’s just the tiniest ‘bite’, and is just right at that, giving that ‘invigorating’ thing to the tea.

I don’t know why I gave this such a (comparatively) low rating as I really love it – so I’m upping it to 95.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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82
drank Big Smoke by Postcard Teas
80 tasting notes

As regards the flavour and smell, I haven’t anything to add to the last note I did, but I’ve decided to downgrade this a bit. Now that the novelty’s worn off, I’m finding the flavour – that cherry and cinnamon element – a little too ‘confectionery’ for my liking and something of which one tires. Indeed, I’m rarely drinking it ‘straight’ anymore, more usually brewing it half and half with the Bolivian Cochabamba.

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95

Do the words ‘rich’ and ‘mild’ go together? They are the first words that came to mind with this. Having said that, I may have made this a little weak – I used, for the teapot, a heaped teaspoon and a heaped half-teaspoon (I’ve found lapsangs quite strong in the past). I brewed it for four minutes.

In the nostrils it has a touch of pine-scented disinfectant and a touch of pizza base. In the mouth there’s an element like the smell of conifer sawdust, another of butter, a tiny ‘bite’ – somewhere between white pepper and root ginger and just the tiniest hint of mixed dried fruit.

This is pretty good as it is but I’m wondering would be better made rather stronger – I shall find out in due course.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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75

I found this worked best with a well-heaped teaspoon to the mug or three of the same to the pot and brewed for three minutes.

It had a good proper tea flavour with a hint of ‘firmness’ or ‘hardness’ to it, plus a touch of butter, giving a smoothness to it. I bought this in the same order as the Ceylon Lovers Leap Broken Orange Pekoe, which was a little cheaper, and – to me – it suffers a little by the comparison to that one – though pleasant enough, the flavour has less complexity and interest. If I’d had to guess on tasting alone I’d have said this was the cheaper tea.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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82

This is another of those difficult-to-brew teas: it is very easy to make it either bland and boring or over-strong and harsh.

When I get it right it is with a moderately-heaped teaspoon to the mug or three such to the pot, and brewed for three minutes.

It has plenty of the proper generic tea taste with the tiniest touch of ‘firmness’ or ‘hardness’ to it – I don’t mean anything like staleness; plus it has a touch of pear (imagine a pear nicely in the middle between the quite sweet ones and the quite dry ones), plus the tiniest touches of toffee and a ‘brightness’ – difficult to describe this last but it’s slightly reminiscent of the ‘bite’ you get from sparkling wines – as I said, it’s just the tiniest touch.

Not a big favourite but it is quite pleasant.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 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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