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Recent Tasting Notes
Thank you Arbor Teas for sending these wonderful samples my way. I was quite curious to try a tea from Viet Nam and I can report that it is quite good. It is certainly not as brisk or astringent as other Assams I have sampled. Which is a good thing. I am trying to cut down my sugar use and I do not want some astringent tea that needs to be smothered in sugar to make it palatable. In fact, it was quite mild w/ a background note of molasses as described by Arbor teas. Possibly could work as an afternoon tea as well as a morning tea. Luckily, I still have some left and am looking forward to trying it tomorrow.
This tea comes across with a sort of fierce confidence compared to the calm, mellow darjeeling I tried earlier. The leaves are more tightly rolled and darker, almost black. The scent is sharper as well, and it has that distinct Ceylon signature.
Within seconds the water turned a deep reddish amber. I was impressed. This would be excellent on a cold morning, as the caffeine level feels pretty high. As usual, I added sugar to compliment the pleasant bitterness. I personally love Ceylon, so this was a real treat. It’s much better than any of the Ceylons I’ve tried from Adagio and other random places.
Also, I’d like to mention that not only is this tea certified organic, Fair Trade, and delicious, it comes in a compostable bag. Everything about this tea is biodegradable. I highly recommend it.
The guys and I are sharing a pot of this tonight with the balcony door left open. My glass mug is still steaming furiously, but I keep trying to steal a sip anyway. I’m impatient. I still love this tea. It’s such a complex and summery thing.
We’ve been having a pot of tea every night, since I always have at least one person hanging out at my place these days. Previously, I’ve been blending my teas and not logging it because I don’t really like making pages for custom blends. But I’ve been mostly making “fall” teas. Apple cranberry, vanilla assam, stuff like that…
Backlogging from earlier today. My brother and I had this iced with a little sugar. It came out perfect this time, I think. I let the water stop bubbling just before it hit the leaves, which I think keeps it from getting that odd aftertaste darjeelings can have if the water is too hot. It’s almost like an oolong that way. Anyway, I’m going to have to make a pitcher after tasting it again. So good.
Made a pitcher of this tea today. Been sipping it iced all day. It’s a special tea to me, and I’m happy to have it again. It makes the farmer’s market blend seem sharp and coarse in comparison. Deliciously smooth, both fruity and floral at the same time. With a hint of apricot. Wonderful.
Backlogging from around 2:30 today.
So sad to be at the end of this sample. I had been holding out, but I’m back from vacation and wanted to have something nice on my first day back. My friend had never had darjeeling before, so I was happy to introduce him to it today. He was out of regular sweetener or sugar, so we used brown sugar instead. That made this seriously decadent. I probably should have given it one more minute to really bring out the muscatel flavor, but I’ll know next time.
Yeah, I’m definitely getting myself a bag of this. I’d miss it too much otherwise.
I’m celebrating Fair Trade Month early with my first darjeeling. Thank you, Taylor!
I knew I was going to like this tea the second I opened the bag and sniffed. It smelled so deliciously sweet and enticing, but dark. Like the woods in fall. The leaves don’t look like a traditional black I’m used to. They were a lighter brown, and had bits that remind me almost of a white tea mixed in.
I could hardly wait the five minutes I let it steep. The initial flavor is a cultured, smooth black tea with a hint of honey. It also has a sort of fruity zest to it, sort of lemony. There is no bitterness at all, and it is not astringent in the least. I can suddenly understand why people call darjeelings “the champagne of tea”.
This might be my mainstay black tea from now on.
Just as an experiment, I thought I’d bring down the temperature another couple notches for this one to see what would happen. So far I’ve used 205, 200, and 195, but this time I’m bringing it down to 185 – all at three minutes.
The result seems to be less emphasis on the roasty notes, and more on the juicy – combined with the slight hitch of astringency still present, it’s reminiscent of biting into a tart Granny Smith apple that somehow still has just a bit of oven-baked flavor in it. A really nice cup of Darjeeling.
I cooled off the water a bit from last time and found that helped eliminate the burnt notes I had encountered. Instead I got a full-bodied, rather raisiny tea with just a touch of astringency and no bitterness. I was reading a little yesterday about the differences found in first flush vs. second flush teas, so now I’m interested to try two side-by-side to see if I can taste the same things. The descriptions made me think that I’d probably enjoy second flush more, as it’s said to exhibit more of the muscatel flavors that I enjoy in Darjeelings – we’ll just have to see about that!
This time I think I made the water a bit too hot – still a good cup of tea, but it was more roasty in character, stronger on the astringency, and the fruity flavors were a little washed out. That’ll teach me! I’ll have to tread more lightly with first flush Darjeelings in the future.
Despite that, I still got a nice set of tastes to enjoy. Stone fruit, touches of floral and spice there too along with the aforementioned roastiness – which wasn’t a bad thing, just not what I usually go to Darjeelings for.
I just received several Arbor tea samples for evaluation and happen to be in the mood for Darjeeling today, so this one is up to bat. Before I get into the tea though, I want to mention their packaging – the samples are in biodegradable, opaque cellulose bags. I like that there is one less piece of plastic to worry about resulting from my tea habit.
The dry leaf really runs the range of colors, from green to medium brown to dark brown, in nice size chunks. The smell of the leaf is really rich, with fruit, grass, and the characteristic muscatel all present.
The steeping parameters recommend a slightly lower temperature and shorter steeping time than regular black tea, so I’m giving it 3 minutes at 200 degrees. The resulting liquor is a very pretty clear medium-light orange/brown, and smells nice. Not whack you in the face strong, but an interesting mix of malt and fruit.
Taste – really good! There is a pronounced fruit juice element to it along with toasted bread, with the aftertaste moving towards dried apricot/peach. I’m getting a pleasing amount of astringency but no significant bitterness. I often put milk and sugar into Darjeeling and find that brings out the muscatel notes, but with this one I’m afraid that would cover up too much of the flavor I’m getting from it straight, so I’m going to leave well enough alone.
Auggy’s post inspired me to try this one again. Usually pu-erh helps settle my stomache, and I’ve been feeling a bit queasy today, so when I read her review the idea to drink some pu-erh popped into my head. Pu-erh teas are one of those strange things in life where I’m not sure why I like it or love it, I just know that I do. Maybe like rainy days.
Anyways, the tea definitely did the job, feeling much better now.
This tea has that deep, dark, inky pu-erh color. It has a very natural plant-like flavor. It’s very soft, but with an astringency that seems to cleanse the mouth. Overall, it’s very earthy – fans of this style of pu-erh will definitely enjoy this tea. It’s quite the opposite of a dessert tea, and for some reason seems to have an air of seriousness to it.
I was stunned by the incredible deep golden, coppery color of this infusion and its pleasant jasmine fragrance. Usually I am not a fan of jasmine teas – they tend to come out tasting rather soapy. I think what makes this one different (and much better) is that it is not jasmine FLAVORED, but rather SCENTED with jasmine. The jasmine has a very noticeable presence, but does not overpower the tea like others I’ve tried. The taste is pleasantly floral, with a short-lived astringency that makes the tea ‘crisp.’ The aftertaste is a relaxed lingering jasmine.
Despite normally being the kind of tea drinker that loathes flavoring or anything like that, I really enjoyed this tea. I will almost certainly go through a bag of this during the fall.
This is a very interesting oolong! I agree with the description – it certainly has some lemon notes to it, and a short-lived astringency that is actually quite refreshing. This is a surprisingly sweet oolong. It has the depth and base taste of a good quality non-green oolong, but with that surprisingly lemony twist.
The daughter of one of my dear friends has started a tea business. Lucy (my friend) and Mama France were talking one day (we’re all in the same quilt guild), and the topic came up. Next thing I know, a package of samples arrived in the mail. Oh, yes, that was a Good Mail Day.
I’m not sure which company is her actual tea source, but this tea by Arbor Teas is identical in look and ingredients, so rather than add another tea and company, I’m noting it as this.
The dry blend smells so very strongly, that I was a bit let down when I sniffed my cup. There’s not really any similarity between the two. The scent of the brew is very weak.
But the taste!! If you love fruit teas, and strong, thick fruit teas, this is one for you. The strongest flavors are hibiscus and black currant, with tart cranberries to follow. Kids and juice drinkers would appreciate this tea. And I’m thinking that it wouldn’t be bad iced with a splash of rum.
This sencha is incredible for the price. Has the normal vegetal, savory notes of any good sencha, and little-to-no astringency if brewed properly. It has that delicious deep aftertaste you can only get with a great sencha. Overall, it leaves me feeling fantastic – a good theanine to caffeine ratio in this one for sure.
First Infusion: This is a very different pu-erh than most I’ve sampled. It retains the earthiness of most pu-erhs, but it has a very slight sweetness to it that really rounds out the taste. Additionally, it smells more like a black tea than a pu-erh. But it’s really nice to find a pu-erh that doesn’t smell like fish :p
Second Infusion: This time I used a third less water in order to concentrate the flavor more. It definitely has more of the rose-tinted hue described on the company’s website. The flavor is even more complex than the first infusion. It kind of reminds me of a cross between a black tea and a white tea, if that makes any sense – you can easily identify a black tea taste to it, with some of the lingering lightness of a white tea.
Overall, this is a pleasant and very interesting pu-erh. Definitely worth the price of a sample on the company’s website.
This is a delicious Chinese green tea. Usually I’m more into Japanese greens, but this one might just change my mind. It has a soft (non-astringent) taste with note of butter…and maybe gingerbread? Like most Lung Ching teas, it is very subtle. But this one still packs enough flavor to satisfy. This is probably my favorite Chinese green tea I’ve had to date (today’s date being Aug 16, 2010).