Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea
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Recent Tasting Notes
Swap from Shadowfall!
Hmm, this is a rich indian tea flavor without the dryness. It’s like it’s pulsing to want to be dry and brisk, but never gets there. The texture is thick with a silky sip, a bit bread crusty, malty with slight stone fruit sweetness. The finish is more bread crust flavor. Not bad, glad to of tried it!
Time for another black tea (this one is also from boychik). I’ve tried two other A&D teas so far and enjoyed them both, so I have high hopes for this one. The description is quite vague and tells me only that this a blend of Indian teas. The leaves are small and somewhat broken, and they’re almost all dark chocolate brown with a few small gold pieces. Dry, the leaves aren’t giving off much scent aside from a vague sweet quality and perhaps the promise of malt. Since the leaves are small, I made sure to measure a level teaspoon for this one, and I let it steep for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
The liquid smells quite bready and I’m getting a rather surprising tart apricot aroma. I must say, I did not expect fruit from this tea. And to be honest, there’s not much fruit in the taste. There is some dark wheat bread however, and it’s alongside some strong malt and a touch of wood. I do taste just a little bit of apricot preserve, but whether it’s my nose tricking me, I don’t know. This seems to be a simple tea to me, it’s quite strong but not bitter or particularly astringent (there is a wee bit, but I noticed that they recommend a steep shorter than 3 minutes, so that’s my bad). I could see this being a nice breakfast tea, especially for someone who adds milk to theirs.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Malt
So, I have almost finished my tin of this tea and realized I haven’t even reviewed it yet.
I could drink this every morning! Bold, malty and flavorful, yet smooth and sweet. Easy to brew, delicious with milk, and makes a wonderful second cup. Perfect!
I could swear I have reviewed this before… I’ve had this tea quite a while now, and though I had some technical difficulties when I was first learning to brew it, I feel I’ve definitely figured out my preferred method to get the most of the tea without making an overpowered cup. I have gone through quite a few shifts in the method I use to brew red/black teas in the gongfu style before I found one that really worked great for me.
Anyway, this is one of the best red teas I’ve had. There’s an interesting light floral quality to the scent resting atop some darker notes of earth, baked bread, cocoa, forest floor, and yam. The darker, mustier qualities are well balanced by a lightness that comes through in the flavor as yam and honey. The tea is tangy with a hint of bitterness on the back-end like dark chocolate or coffee, but to be fair I brew this a bit on the full-bodied side, while I’ve noticed most practitioners of Gongfu Cha I’ve met will brew red teas more on the light side, making a honey-colored liquor rather than a red one. That tends to yield more of the subtle notes present in a red tea. I prefer a bit more strength since repeated infusions will eventually yield a lighter liquor anyway. Not that this tastes exactly the same as if you had brewed it light to begin with, but it’s similar.
On a final note, I absolutely love the tin design and its designation as a “Year of the Horse” tea. I know A&D have done some teas like this before and I really am eager to see what comes out next year for the Year of the Goat. My only complaint is that the tin is basically a small paint can, so you will need something handy to pry the lid off if you purchase a tea tin from these guys. I keep a quarter resting atop the lid as it works well to do the trick and doesn’t take up any extra space while the tin is in the cupboard.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Earth, Floral, Forest Floor, Honey, Yams
Stephanie sent this as a bonus sample in our swap. Thanks, Stephanie! Not one, but two A&D teas to try!
This tea is what you would expect from a blend of Indian teas…malty, bright, with some citrus notes. It’s a great tea to pair with breakfast. Recently, though, I think my tastes have moved away from Indian black teas and more towards Chinese black teas, but it was nice to try it!
This was my morning cup, thanks to Stephanie! :) I’ve been curious about this company for awhile now, but wasn’t willing to go all out and buy multiple ounces without trying them first. Swaps are awesome for that! So, the verdict? I think I’m in love with Keemun! Every one I’ve tried, I’ve enjoyed. This one was similar to TeaVivre’s organic superfine fragrant Keemun, which I recently discovered. It tastes like dark chocolate, apricots, and a little smoke. I think I’ve seen dark chocolate covered dried apricots before….that might be what this tea tastes like, except the smoke rounds out the sweetness. Absolutely the perfect morning cup! So, first tea tried from A&D is a winner. And, as far as price, it’s actually 17 cents cheaper than the TeaVivre one I mentioned; however, TeaVivre’s is organic, so makes sense. Anyway, I’m looking forward to trying more Keemuns in the future and would not mind it if this one landed in my cupboard!
I wish I had bought a second tin!
Okay, so I’m at work (10pm to 7am) and I forgot my infusers… No bags also…
So, just floated this bad boy and spooned it out. I really don’t mind doing it this way often (I feel it gives the leaves a chance to really unfurl and fully infuse) and they usually settle to the bottom anyway.
Boiling water in my hot pot in the break room.
About 1 to 1.5 tsp on a 8 oz cup.
Sit for 3 min. First sip was WOWZA! Honey notes, malty, bread, yeasty note. (I work in an ER, saying yeasty didn’t seem quite fitting, but co-workers got a good laugh.) I was apprehensive about liking yunnan. This is my first. Let’s just say I’m hooked!
After about 10 minutes now, there’s a nice bold earthy flavor, still some honey. Not as much honey undertones as golden monkey has.
Now its probably been 2 hours, and its still great cold. Its a bit bitter, but not so much that its not like a good cup of black coffee.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Earth, Honey, Hops, Yeasty
This sample came from Stephanie (thanks dear). I don’t have a lot of experience with Keemuns in general, but this one seemed to get rave reviews and I liked the other tea that I tried from Andrew & Dunham. The leaves are very dark and slender, and they’re formed into little curls. I don’t really get a dry scent from them, but I’ve noticed that seems to be common for some black teas. I did a 3 minute steep at 200 degrees, as per usual for black tea.
The brewed aroma is very malty with some graininess. I can smell a little bit of spice (cinnamon maybe?) along with a touch of fruit. Holy smokes, this is a bready tea! It tastes like delicious whole-wheat bread with honey butter slathered over the top. Yums! There’s a little bit of a raisiny note, but it’s extremely mild and hides in the background. I also get a touch of floral near the end, but it’s not enough to make me like this any less. :P Thanks, Stephanie!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Honey, Malt, Raisins
Queued post, written June 18th 2014
A random grab in the box this time. Here’s one that Auggy sent me this year. Yunnan is the type where our tastes part company a little bit. She seems to appreciate them a little more than I do, but it’s still close enough I think. It depends on how hay-like they are.
This one doesn’t strike me as very hay-like. I think it’s the sweetness in them that sometimes comes across as a haystack to me. In this one it’s more just sort of sweet-sweet with a bit of hay on the side.
I don’t really know what else to say about it… I try to analyse it a bit, but the words aren’t coming. It won’t show me its secrets. Maybe there’s a little honey note in there? I think so. Perhaps with a bit of grain? Yes, maybe. Only when I try to think about it more, all that comes to mind is that it’s a very long time since I baked a honey bread…
I think what I’m trying to get at is that this tea reminds me of my honey bread recipe.
Difficult to decipher as it may be for me, it’s still a quite good tea, even with the hay-y notes. They could have been worse, a LOT worse. I don’t really like them stronger than this, but at this level it’s nice. It’s a bit like herbs and spices in food. Too much is awful, too little is meh and bland, but just right is lovely.
This was in the sample bowl and there was enough for one cup, thanks Stephanie!
There is a lot of value in finding both what you like, and what you don’t like. Unfortunately, this one fell into the latter category. The leaf smelled ok, so I went through with it. But then as I was carrying the mug down the stairs, I kept smelling smoke and I kept thinking that I should have known better. With a name like “Caravan” it was bound to be smoky.
Then I started sipping and to drink it wasn’t as bad as to smell it, so I kept at it for a while. But around the halfway point I just had to dump it. If you like smoke though, this is probably great!
The funny thing is, Earl Grey is what got me into a different level of tea (post teabag). I realized when I picked this up out of the sample bowl that I haven’t had one in months.
I liked it, although I’m not sure I like EG as much as I used to. I didn’t dislike it, but it didn’t elicit any MMMMM feelings from me. It was more of a utilitarian cup. And I don’t think it’s the tea, I think it’s me and my changing tastes. Interesting!
So yesterday we went to another board game thing. It’s an every Sunday afternoon thing, and we have met some nice people there. The people who run it are a married couple and very likable. Not the weird unwashed gamer stereotype. But, there is this other couple that is just weird. At our first interaction, the guy sat down and burped super loudly, and then he spent the whole game making inappropriate noises and doing gross things. Fine to see a couple of hours a week, but not really our preferred game partners at these events.
Yesterday we had 9 people, and had to split up into 4 and 5, and we ended up playing with the weird couple. Turns out the girl isn’t that weird. But the guy was sitting next to me and my skin was just crawling the whole time. ESPECIALLY when he took his fingernail, scratched inside of his ear (the ear next to me), and then scraped that nail off on one of his lower teeth. I. Just. About. Died. So there you go.
Another sample from Stephanie. I liked this one! I had it yesterday and today. The resteep was a little wimpy but the first cup was great.
So paychecks went out this morning and now I have writer’s cramp. Yes, I still hand write them. I don’t know why exactly, I just think it keeps me more in track with it somehow.
Yesterday we went to another board game thing and played Puerto Rico (ours) and Takenoko (someone else’s). We already know we liked PR but Takenoko was very cute and fun too. The basic premise is that if you move the panda (adorable), he eats bamboo. If you move the gardener, he grows bamboo. There are other things you can do as well, and it’s a pretty strategic game. It’s good that we liked it since we already had it on the way this week.
Queued post, written May 28th 2014
The first cup of tea after having descaled the kettle is always a bit dodgy. Not taste-wise, mind. But oh-gosh-have-I-poisoned-myself-now?-wise. I’m always a very thorough rinser after that process, but even so.
I’m hazarding a cup, though. This is actually a resteep that I’m writing about here, since the first steep of these leaves that Auggy shared with me recently was consumed as part of a courage-gathering process before having to ring our former landlord to ask where the rest of our deposit had got to. I hate talking on the phone even when it’s about pleasant things and avoid it whenever possible, so you can probably imagine the amount of courage-gathering is necessary before ringing someone to quibble. So, yeah. Tea? Lovely, but didn’t pay attention.
So the second steep smells relatively grainy and quite malty. I do actually remember that I thought ‘malty and honey’ with the first steep. I’m not getting anything in the way of floral and/or smoky notes though.
The flavour is quite grainy, though, and VERY floral. It really lives up to the ‘spring’ part of the name. It’s like drinking a flowershop. When it cools down the flowers calm down a bit too, becoming a bit less overwhelming, but it’s still not the sort of keemun that I like best. I prefer them with a rougher, more smoky note.
This might, however, have something to do with it being the second steep. I really didn’t pay attention to the first one at all. I will do so next time I have this and add to the post.
If I remember. Also, no unforeseen poisonings of self, so I think the kettle is safe. The lid is still wonky, though.
Additional notes at the time of posting
I can report that the deposit issue has still not been sorted. We have been very very patient, but enough is enough. At some point during the next week we shall be contacting our solicitor.
In happier news, Husband worked out why the kettle lid had gone wonky and repaired it good as new.
This might be my favourite Andrews and Dunham tea so far. It is a nice moderately smoked tea where the smoke is strong enough to leave a slight tingle at the back of the throat but not enough to overwhelm the rest of the flavours of the tea. Instead it contributes a certain spiciness to the tea as well as a certain depth to the flavour ranging from roasted smoke notes, pine and pine tar. It is not as smooth as you would find in a straight Lapsang Souchong. The base tea is slightly tart from red fruits and has a bready note and texture. There is a hint of molasses heading towards a maple note, and a bit of cocoa. There is a bit of sharpness and astringency to the tea.
I did two steeps of this tea at around 95°C at 3 and 4 minutes. The resteeps was flavourful, and was slightly sweeter and fruitier. This makes for a nice cozy and flavourful tea. Thanks boychik for the opportunity to try this tea!
Sample from hapatite! Thanks hun!
This is the second time I’ve tried this tea. The first time I was too busy to write any notes and I wanted to give it a proper review. So! I brewed some of this up tonight. I was craving a bready, malty Yunnan. When I set my mug aside to cool, an ant somehow found its way into my cup. I deliberated for a moment…and then just picked him out. I’m gross. ): But I didn’t want to sacrifice the entire cup when I only had a few teaspoons of leaf left.
Usual method for blacks without instruction: 1.5tsp/10oz, pre-boil, 2 min. Subsequent steep times vary, but this time it was 3min.
It’s a little brisk at the beginning of each sip—especially when it’s hot. Notes of citrus, cocoa, bread, and a maltiness that coats the tongue. It has a smooth texture and it’s surprisingly light-bodied. Maybe medium. Towards the end of each sip you get stone fruits. Red fruits. It has me thinking of plums, then it has me thinking of raisins. There are notes of sweet potato: rich and thick, with a lingering sweetness. There is a bit of honey there as well. The sweet potato, grain, and fruit notes are more prominent as the liquid cools.
Well, this is a decent tea. It doesn’t wow my pants off like I hoped it would. It’s not overly complex. It stays consistent through steeps and it could probably hold up to milk and sugar. No muss, no fuss. For those reasons I would make it an everyday tea…maybe an everyday morning tea. The cost makes it less desirable, though. There are other teas with similar flavor profiles that are of higher quality and more affordable. Plus I think they just sold their last tin!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Cocoa, Fruity, Grain, Honey, Stonefruits, Sweet Potatoes
This smooth and pleasant tea accompanied my morning yesterday. These dark medium large leaves mixed with around 25% golden tip yielded 3 good steeps using my usual method of 1 TSP/225ml/94°C/1 min+1 for next steep, which is slightly less resilient than some of the Yunnan’s I’ve been drinking. The last steep was weakening and I will probably extend the steep time the next time I drink it.
The first steep smelled of malt, cocoa, a musky, grainy scent, and red fruit. The taste was sweeter than the scent with with a strong barley note mixed with cocoa and caramel. There was a faint leather spice mixed in with light malt and a touch of fruit. The tea had a slightly metallic, mineral note that leant a certain coolness to the flavour of the tea. The tea was very smooth on the tongue.
Future steeps introduced a light bright floral note, plum mixed with red fruit and a light hay note. The caramel evolved to cane sugar.
Altogether this was a smooth, pleasant, and uncomplicated accompaniment to my day.
Thanks boychik for the sample!
Thanks VariaTEA for the sample! Not sure if you knew, but this was my first Damn Fine Tea! I know the company is pretty beloved here on Steepster, and based on this one I can see why.
I made it up in my timolino, but sadly I didn’t get around to drinking it until it was pretty luke-warm. Even still I really enjoyed it; it was smooth with no bitterness or astringency, and it had lovely malt notes and very light smoke notes that blended together really well. I think some milk (just a little splash) would have made this one to die for, as well!
Sadly I had to drink it pretty quickly because Tre and I were going out for supper (spontaneous roommate bonding time, since I got off work early) and I felt bad taking tea into the restaurant. It was a good meal! French toast with strawberry topping and berry syrup, and mozza sticks with the most divine, sweet marinara sauce! Plus, Tre let me steal the maraschino cherry from his dessert and I got to show off my mad skills at tying knots in cherry stems with my tongue.
Supposedly that’s hard to do; I wonder if it’s a genetic thing though because both my brother and I can do it really easily? I wonder if my little sister can; if so it’s gotta be genetic (and passed down by my mom, since we have different dads)…
This is a very smooth tea up until the very end of the sip where it is just a touch dry. Throughout the sip, it is sweet and malty and smooth and delicious. I don’t know if I would have wanted a whole tin but I am very grateful to Cavocorax for the generous sample that will allow me another cup or so of this lovely tea. Thank you Cavo!!
MzPriss’ Unflavored Tea Box – Tea #1
I’m very excited to have MzPriss’ unflavored tea box make a stop at the house! This is like the classy, no nonsense, fancy restaurant of tea boxes… some of the best of the best are in this one. This is what tea boxes are for: sampling a ton of amazing teas. No offense to the other fun tea boxes (including the one I started!) So thank you to MzPriss, the other participants, and Single Origin Teas for adding a few teas to the box!
This is the first I went with. The leaves look oddly enough like Verdant’s Laoshan black. The flavor seems to be similar, but it has more tanginess rather than the chocolate & caramel that is supposedly in Laoshan Black, but is something I haven’t found too much. I wouldn’t say that this tastes like what I would imagine a keemun should be, no smokiness. But it is an interesting flavor. Not a bad cup, but not a keemun I would choose to stock. It’s a lighter brew, which I think is my problem with Laoshan. The steep suggestion is fairly long too… I know that over three minutes ruins Laoshan. Here I go comparing a tea to Laoshan again. Sheesh. I will never say no to trying any tea though! :D
Steep #1 // few min after boiling // 5 min
Steep #2 // half a mug // just boiled // 5 min
Ehhh this is a little bit astringent this morning unfortunately, I think I brewed it a tad too long with a bit too hot water. Ah well, it still is bold and bright and is serving the purpose of kicking me awake, well, the tea and the classic rock blaring from my computer at work lol. I made myself get up early and come to work at 7 so I can get off at 1, so my brain is a bit blarggghhhh right now haha. Ah well, only 5 more hours! See previous notes on this tea :)
Good morning steepsters! I had an amazing weekend in the mountains, hiked like crazy (probably ~20km total), drove, and enjoyed life. We lucked out with great weather again this year and it was a wonderful trip with the guy! But now it is Monday, he is back off to work for 2 weeks, and I am also at work and sooooo tired. Eyes do not want to stay open…going to be a long day.
I made this tea this morning in the hopes the caffeine would keep me alert, but it’s just making me relaxed and content haha. This tea is soo darn tasty! I like that it is a lighter A&D blend, yet still ridiculously flavorful. Bright and rich. Still that creaminess in there. A lovely cup to start the week, just hoping I wake up a bit more as the day progresses lol. See previous notes!
My A&D order arrived on Tuesday, quite fast shipping as I ordered it on Canada Day (a week?? ok VERY fast shipping lol). I tore it open and smelled all the teas except my restock of Mount Grey as I’m saving it for when I’m out of the current tin, and they all smell soo lovely. However I have been going easy on caffeine again, mostly due to stressing about the blood test this week lol (it went smoothly BTW, my mom managed to distract me and it went well! First one that has EVER gone well lol). And this tea arrived after my test, so it was my reward haha :)
I had a tough time deciding which black tea to bring to work today, but this one won out, mostly because it seemed the least potent/caffeine filled of the three lol. The smell was quite malty from what I remember at home (I’m drinking it at work) and I steeped for 3 minutes with just under boiling water (~200 degrees).
The liquor is a light brown and has a slightly fruity scent, unless that is travel mug contamination. As for the taste, yes I hate reviewing teas for the first time when they come out of my travel mug, but this one is definitely bright and creamy. I got some actual butteriness at one point lol. I think there must be darjeeling in this, it has that fruity dryness but is not overpowering. There is maybe also a bolder black tea mixed, as I’ve found (with my limited experience with darjeelings lol) that they seem a bit lighter than other black teas. Whatever the combo is, it is darn good, has given me a right kick in the pants at work and I plan to get lots done for the rest of the day since I’m still nursing this cup.
Overall – a tasty malty tea with fruitiness and punch. Bright, a good morning cup, and I do like the tin, along with the swag that came with my order (pins, a coaster, temporary tattoos (!!) haha love it!) Another win from A&D! No rating until I brew it in optimal conditions, aka not in the travel mug.
Oh, and another aside – my allergies are wreaking havoc with my system today. Must be the forest fire smoke again ughhh I have been sniffling, sneezing and a general mess haha. Only my nose at least! And it’s like +20 C today..a vast change from the 25-30 degrees it’s been for the past week or so. My body is freaking out and freezing in my office, and my mind is also thinking it’s autumn..umm not yet lol. Get back on track weather, don’t be cloudy, rainy and cold!