21 Tasting Notes
Just ordered this from Upton (TC78) as a trial size (12g), for $1.50. I am new to Ceylons but of the six I’ve tried from Upton so far this October (others were TC85: Kenilworth Estate OP, TC45: Court Lodge Estate FBOP, TC40: Nuwara Eliya BOP, TC32: Kandy OP, and TC20: Dimbula BOP), I found this the easiest to like. So many interesting notes and flavors! After brewing two cups, I strained the tea with a high pour (about 18" from spout of brewing pot to top of serving pot; I read somewhere that in the regions where they’re grown, ceylons and darjeelings are poured this way to “oxidize” the tea, and this is supposed to improve the flavor). The scent of the brewed leaves, once all the water was poured off, was complex but not too intense, and mouthwateringly perfumey. I got notes of cured hay, homemade white bread toasted (but no malty heft), a warm-edged (vanilla-ish?) citrus, and also a touch of fresh light lush green, like the mist rising from a rainforest. It was very nice to sip neat, smooth and just bright, not tannic – no dusty feeling left on my tongue. But I did add milk for my second cup, and liked it “tamed” that way too — the flavors of the tea interlaced with the sweetness of the milk and made that cup a smooth-drinking experience. Somehow I picked up a few spicy notes — muted — in the milky cup. I had this for breakfast (it was a great companion to a toasted “everything” bagel with cream cheese) but I think it’s interesting enough for an afternoon cup too, with perhaps a lightly vanilla-flavored or lemon sugar cookie alongside.
I could smell the bergamot as soon as I removed the plastic outer wrapper on the tin. I was bowled over by the bergamot when I opened the tin. And then I undid the label on the cellophane wrapper inside the tin….
Fortunately I’m still standing. I made a 2-cup pot and have to say the first cup tasted better than the second. Perhaps 4 minutes was a minute too long for brewing, since it picked up a bitter taste. I’ve noticed in general that Kusmi teas need less brew time — in fact the lovely perfumes are stronger when brewed quickly — but since it was a decaf, I let it stew. A nice basic decaf tea and transcendent bergamot flavor — not cloying.
Fast on the heels of my post about weak two-cup brewing (http://steepster.com/discuss/5563-riddle-me-this-why-does-1-cup-always-taste-better-than-2), I tried brewing three cupweight of this tea in 12 oz water in my 2-cup teapot. Tea came out on the strong side but not at all bitter or tannic, and delightfully stout with milk added — almost as chewy as an East Frisian, but more subtle. If they were classical singers, the Mincing Lane would be an interestingly wide-ranged supple baritone compared to the East Frisian’s firmly planted, deep bass. I noticed after the five minute brewtime that the water temperature had dropped to 151F. Does anyone else take the temperature of their tea just before drinking? (Surely there’s another tea nerd out there recording this variable….)
Thanks, Nicole, for the sample of this you brought to the NYC meetup at the beginning of August. I brewed this a bit light (2.10 cupweight acc. to Upton tea scale, 14 oz boiling water) for three minutes and got a tea that was light but flavorful. I have rarely enjoyed drinking a strong black tea without milk as much as I’m enjoying this cup. Fragrant, almost Earl Greyish/smoky quality seems to be the Indian side; earthy, minerally depth from the Chinese side. Interesting conversation between the two; somehow it reminds me of the sweetness you can sense in hay and wood.
Sometimes you can’t escape it — you’re in a Darjeeling mood. “I’d like a cup of black tea, but not too heavy, and I don’t want milk, and I’d like the flavor to be subtle but wonderful.” This tea does all of that, with a surprising extra flair that won me over as soon as I inhaled the brewed liquor vapors. It had a faint flavor — not lingering on the palate — almost like jasmine tea if you could take all the ponderous cloying qualities of jasmine away. Nothing too fancy, but of the very highest quality. Very smooth, soft drinking.