26 Tasting Notes
This is the 2011 batch, which isn’t available any more from Upton. But I thought I’d write a review anyway.
I really liked this tea. It had character and richness but was completely smooth, with a mouthfeel that was almost milky-silky. The brewed tea was beautiful coppery clear brown, and had peach, cured wood, and muted vegetal scents. Better without milk.
I brewed 2.20 cupweight in 12 oz water poured from a just-boiled electric kettle, 5 minutes. (Directions on Upton’s packet said 3-6 minutes, which is a larger range than I usually see for tea brewing time.)
After I poured off the tea I hovered over the teapot and enjoyed the steam rising off the wet leaves. I got sweet rich scents of earth and chocolate, and perhaps dry grass.
Neat, I found the tea a bit too thin and sharp-tasting.
With a bit of 2% milk (not as much as I put in Assams or the Ceylons that can take it), I thought the taste was a bit funny, reminiscent of the clash between dairy and citrus.
I found it hard to “place” this tea – it had a neutral pleasing quality but no personality I could recognize. Yet it did have a “satisfying mouth feel” as Upton puts it. Odd. It’s almost like how tea tastes when you are reading something very interesting; your attention is usurped by the text, and your mind just registers “I’m drinking tea” rather than getting into the flavors and experience of it. A good “background” tea, then, when you want a good cup but don’t want to fuss all gourmand-like over it.
I tried. I really did. More/less tea, hotter/cooler water, longer/shorter steep times. Okay, so I didn’t try all 24 combinations of those variables — I had a sample pack after all — but I think by now I’m competent at making a good cup. Nevertheless, this tea turned out weak or bitter for me. On the weaker side, I thought it was a very nice weak tea, with hay notes. I hope others have better success with this one.
Ordered this at the beginning of September and here it is a month later that I get around to drinking it. I brewed two cups for the recommended three minutes, transferred the tea to a warmed pot with some milk already in it, topped up with cold milk until it was the proper tawny milky color, and took it to a morning meeting. On the first sip I was immediately reminded of the tea served to me when I was bumped up to first class on British Air in the late ‘80s on a flight from London to Edinburgh. I was tired from the trans-Atlantic part of my journey and the tea was so tasty, so nourishing and calming at the same time, and, barely out of my teenagerdom, I felt so sophisticated enjoying a proper cup of morning tea in a real china cup along with my complimentary wee packet of Twix bars, as we looked down on grey clouds and smidges of England below. It wasn’t fancy but it was gooood. Made the difference in my morning then, just as this tea did on a dull Thursday morning meeting these many years later. Just for laughs I brewed a second pot from the spent tea, using only one cup of water and brewing it for five minutes. It tasted dusty — just like a cup of tea made with an okay teabag.
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.