Arbor Teas

Recent Tasting Notes

84

Backlog. This was the second of three teas I ordered, because I’d heard different versions of it compared to black dragon pearl, which of course is my FAVORITE.

I’ll have to retry it more carefully and not on the way to work to be sure, but it doesn’t remind me so much of black dragon pearl because I didn’t get the cocoa/raisin undertones. I did, however, get a pleasant sweetness, with a bit of astringency that reminded me of a Western tea. Will probably become a standard.

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81

Really? I’ve had this three times? I only remember one.

I’ve had this one for forever, and I just noticed it in my cupboard again today. I had to get new tires on my car, so I’m going to be broke until I get my tax return. So I’ll be going through and trying to sip down some of the excess stuff I’ve got kicking around.

I did a fairly short steep time on this (like 2 minutes), and it came out really smooth. There’s an astringent note in the aftertaste, right on the tip of my tongue after I swallow it, but it’s very pleasant. I think the first time I tried this, I brewed it for 5 minutes or so, and it was QUITE potent. Which Irish teas are supposed to be, as I understand. But the shorter brew time came out a lot more enjoyable than I expected.

And now I’m off to shower then, instead of putting away laundry or cleaning like I had PLANNED, I’m going to go work on my last-minute program notes assignment. God I love it when people think their time takes priority over your time.

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81

The one nice thing about waking up two hours before you’re supposed to get up and not being able to go back to sleep is that you get the opportunity to get up a few minutes early, take time to fix a semi-substantial breakfast, and sit for a few minutes with a cup of tea. Last night at work, I stressed myself out with a customer situation that I think I goofed, and teaching myself to handle these kinds of things better is like reinventing the wheel. I’m having the most trouble getting the idea out of my head that feeling stressed and guilty is the only way to properly address the problem with the other person’s interests in mind, and that NOT stressing about it is selfish and inconsiderate.

I’ve still got the super-nutritious (NOT) breakfast taste in my mouth, so I don’t taste it quite as much as I normally do. Will probably take some to work with me today to help me stay awake. Mmm black tea.

ashmanra

Let me know how you overcome that! LOL! I am a guilt machine! I took care of my godparents and my mother before they died, and after they were gone I felt guilty for sitting down to watch t with my family! You are right, stressing doesn’t help anyone or anything. It is hard, but all people make mistakes, life is messy, and you are valuable! So just learn from it, smile, and try again! :) I hope you feel better.

ashmanra

That was supposed to be TV up there!

Fuzzy_Peachkin

I ride the stress train far too often! Luckily ta helps me slow down and chillax.

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81

I don’t make sense.

How is it that I am disappointed to the point of mild irritation with teas that taste like grass and barley – scents and flavors which I don’t really mind, yet I find enjoyment in drinking teas that remind me of mushrooms, which I do actively dislike?

This tea is astringent as hell. Even a bit bitter. And that dirt-like, mushroom flavor isn’t a deep mossy bed flavor, it’s right here and right now and HEY! Stop daydreaming and wake up! Coffee substitute tea? Oh, yes. Why do I enjoy it so?

At the end of the day, I think it’s because mushroomy-tasting breakfast teas were some of the first things I tried when I began my giant tea experiment, and for better or worse, I now have that flavor engrained in my mind as “tea.” And I came to this tea expecting a stroooong breakfast tea. It’s kind of in the same category as lapsang souchong – it’s a really strong flavor profile that I know I’ll either enjoy or have fun thinking of ways to describe how goddamn strong it tastes.

And this brings me back to my ever-recurring theme with tea: expectations are everything. I wonder what would happen if I never read a product description before buying a tea again?

Anywho, in conclusion. Irish Breakfast: my go-to for those mornings I cannot drag my ass out of bed – and my head out of my ass – to save my life!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

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81

Backlog from yesterday. This is one of the three new black teas I ordered to try, since I’d heard a lot about this one and figured I wouldn’t be a good tea addict unless I tried it. Damn good thing I picked this one, because what was supposed to be a 7.5 hour day at work turned into a 12 hour day! Complete with unexpectedly having to train one of our new part-timers, AND forgetting my phone on the way home and having to turn back around and get it!

The first time I tasted it, it gave me the impression that I’d oversteeped it. Not a pleasant taste at all. But the more I drank it, the more it just reminded me of a stronger, mushroomier version of English Breakfast. Then again, I was drinking it on the fly in a cup that tasted like dishwasher detergent. I’ll have to give this one another go before I rate it.

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I’ve made it my mission to get through all my swap samples before I can purchase more tea. I doubt I’ll succeed, but hey, its nice to have goals!

I got this in a mystery swap from Shelley_Lorraine. It’s a pretty good vanilla black tea. The vanilla flavor is really nice, not fakey at all. I think I want a little more out of the base black tea, but honestly, it’s pretty good. Not a “I gotta go buy more of this right now” tea, but still, a good tea to start my saturday sipdown with! Thanks Shelley_Lorraine!

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Brewed per Arbor Teas’ recommendation: “one generous tsp.” / 8 oz. / 212*F / 3 to 5-min. without sweeteners, milk or cream.

Dry leaf: Uniform short length, chocolate brown
Fragrance: Reminded me of fine pipe tobacco
Liquor: Clear & coppery

3 min. Initial taste: The tea was smooth and medium-bodied w/o any bitterness or astringency.

4-Min.: Full-bodied w/o any bitterness. However, a light level of astringency was noted.

1.5 tsp. / 8oz. / 195F / 3 min.* The clear, lively, coppery liquor is now medium dark. This Nilgiri is brisk without any hint of bitterness or astringency.

Impression: The flavor is very smooth, simple, and enjoyable. Your teacup will be empty before you realize it. Well done!

Thanks to Aubrey at Arbor Teas for providing this generous size free sample.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I brewed this tea following Arbor Teas’ recommendation: “one generous tsp.” / 8 oz. / 212*F for 3 to 5-min. without sweeteners, milk or cream.

Dry leaf: well twisted, uniform sized, blackish brown
Fragrance: Subtle hints of pipe tobacco
Liquor: Clear & mahogany colored

3 min. Initial taste: The tea was smooth and medium-bodied w/o any bitterness or astringency.

4-Min.: The longer infusion did allow the flavor to more fully develop. Now this tea was smooth, somewhat malty, and full-bodied w/o any bitterness. However, after a few sips a moderate-to-strong level of astringency developed and persisted on the front center of my tongue. I understand astringency can be associated with high-altitude teas. This “…organic Ceylon tea hails from Sri Lanka’s eastern Uva District, grown between 5,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level.” I would definitely not suggest a longer infusion.

Next, I tried 1.5 tsp. / 8oz. / 195 F / 3 min.: Wow, now we’re talking! The clear, lively, coppery liquor is now medium dark. The flavor is now very smooth with a malty richness and with a subtle caramel sweetness. There is no hint of bitterness and only a very mild drying effect on the finish. As my cup cools, I’m delighted by the sweet caramel finish.

The increased amount of leaf produced a richer sip and a delicate caramel sweetness. The decreased temperature and reduced time significantly reduced the level of astringency.

Impression: This is one Sri Lankan black tea you don’t want to miss!

Thanks to Aubrey at Arbor Teas for providing this generous size free sample.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
yyz

glad you found a way to love it!

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I’m on a unflavored black tea kick right now so I’m hunting though all my swaps to find some to try. Yunnans seem to be pretty reliably ok enough tea, never my favorite, but never really awful either. This one is a classic Yunnan. So I liked it enough. Thanks Shelley_Lorraine!

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I really enjoyed this green tea. It was very full flavored. Buttered vegetables. Yum!

Thanks Shelley_Lorraine!

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Sample package label:
“USDA Organic, Fair Trade certified
Suggested Steeping Guide:
One scant tsp. / 212*F / 3-5 minutes”
http://www.arborteas.com/organic-keemun-hao-ya-a-black-tea.html#

Introduction: Kevin @ The Whistling Kettle first introduced me to Keemun tea: http://steepster.com/looseTman/posts/152917#likes I’ve purchased several pounds from him and have thoroughly enjoyed it. When I saw that Arbor Teas offers two different organic Keemun teas, I had to sample them. This second review is of their premium Keemun.

Technique:
8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 25 ppm, heated to 212*F
1 “scant” Tevanna teaspoon, without sweeteners, milk or cream.

Results:
This tea has a mild smoky fragrance.
Dark brown hue

1st cup:
3-min Initial Impression: The taste is medium-bodied & smooth. It’s not at all bitter or astringent. (I then let it steep for an additional two minutes.)
5-min: Too long – It now has a prominent roasted quality that overshadows the subtle wine-like Keemun flavor.

2nd cup:
4-min: It’s a deep, smooth, rich, full-bodied breakfast tea with a slight smokiness and a subtle wine-like Keemun flavor that’s not at all bitter or astringent.

5-min re-steep:
Still enjoyable and a little lighter as you would expect. In fact, the classic wine-like Keemun flavor is now a little better appreciated.

Impression: A smooth, full-bodied, organic Keemun that is more robust than their less expensive organic Keemun. However, it has a subtle classic wine-like Keemun flavor, which one would not expect of a premium Hao Ya A.

Suggestion: Using teaspoon measurements such as “scant” “rounded”, “generous”, “heaping”, etc. are sometimes too imprecise. Adding the weight of tea in grams to the brewing recommendations would insure an optimum first impression and be more time efficient.

Thanks to Arbor Teas and Aubrey for providing this overstuffed free sample.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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Sample package label:
“USDA Organic, Fair Trade certified
Suggested Steeping Guide:
One generous tsp. / 212*F / 3-5 minutes”
http://www.arborteas.com/organic-keemun-black-tea.html

Introduction: Kevin @ The Whistling Kettle first introduced me to Keemun tea: http://steepster.com/looseTman/posts/152917#likes I’ve purchased several pounds from him and have thoroughly enjoyed it. When I saw that Arbor Teas offers two different organic Keemun teas, I had to sample them. This first review is of the more cost-effective one.

Technique: 8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 21 ppm, heated to 212*F
1 “generous” Tevanna teaspoon, without sweeteners, milk or cream.

Results:
This tea has a mild smoky fragrance.
Amber hue

1st cup: I first followed the brewing recommendations and after 5 minutes this Keemun was medium-bodied – not what I expected.

2nd cup: I kept everything the same but reduced the water to 6 oz. and it was too strong.

3rd Cup (8 oz. water & 1 Heaping tsp.):
3-min Initial Impression: The taste is light & smooth. It’s not at all bitter or astringent. (I then let it steep for an additional minute.)
4-min: Improving
5-min: It’s a smooth, full-bodied breakfast tea with a prominent roasted quality that overshadows the subtle wine-like Keemun flavor.

Impression: A cost-effective, smooth, full-bodied, organic Keemun.

Suggestion: With this tea, I used most of the sample to find the optimum balance of water & tea. This results in less of an opportunity to explore the subtleties of the tea. Using teaspoon measurements such as “rounded”, “generous”, “heaping”, etc. are sometimes too imprecise. Adding the weight of tea in grams to the brewing recommendations would be helpful and more time efficient.

(This tasting experience reminds me, I need to find a good digital tea scale. Does anyone have a recommendation?)

Thanks to Arbor Teas and Aubrey for providing this overstuffed free sample.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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The first time I reviewed this tea I brewed it for just 3-min. to minimize the potential for any astringency and was very favorably impressed.

Today, I decided to brew this tea following Arbor Teas’ recommendation: “one generous tsp.” / 8 oz. / 212*F for the maximum of 5-min.

The longer infusion did allow the aroma and flavor to more fully develop. The clear, lively, coppery liquor yields a sweet floral/fruity aroma. The initial taste is very smooth and has a delicate caramel sweetness. There was no hint of bitterness. However, there is a medium amount of astringency in the middle of my tongue.

Next, I tried 1.5 tsp. / 8oz. / 195*F / 4 min. Wow, now we’re talking! The clear, lively, coppery liquor is now medium dark. The aroma is more fruity than floral. The flavor is now very smooth and rich with a definite caramel sweetness. There is no hint of bitterness and only a very mild drying effect on the finish. As my cup cools, the first part of the sip is fruity and is followed by a sweet caramel finish.

The increased amount of leaf produced a stronger aroma, a much richer sip and a solid caramel sweetness. The decreased temperature and reduced time significantly reduced the level of astringency. This is one Indian black tea you don’t want to miss!

Thanks to Aubrey at Arbor Teas for providing this generous size free sample.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

sounds yummy

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Sample package label:
“Ingredients: Organic Indian Black Tea, Fair-Trade Certified, USDA Organic
Steep 212*F, 3 – 5 minutes. 1 generous teaspoon”

http://www.arborteas.com/organic-singampatti-oothu-estate-black-tea.html

Technique:
8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 20 ppm, heated to 212*F – verified with DAVIDsTEA digital thermometer
Note: Arbor Teas web site specifies 8-oz (not 6) – more tea to enjoy w/o additional cost! However, the sample package doesn’t list this important point.
1 “generous” Tevanna teaspoon, without sweeteners, milk or cream.

This fragrance of this tea has hints of fresh Spring vegetation. A day after opening, there are also hints of sweet cocoa or fruit.

Clear amber hue

First Infusion: Since Arbor Teas states in their description of this tea “…with light to medium astringency.” I chose a 3-min infusion to minimize any astringency.
3-min:
There is a clean fresh spring vegetation hint in both the aroma and the flavor – Perhaps a faint hint of fresh Spring onion? “In fact, Oothu translates to “spring of water.”” There is also a gentle cocoa sweetness. This is a very smooth, medium-bodied tea with a clean finish. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency.

2nd Infusion:
4-min: Too light
5-min: Enjoyable, but lighter than the first cup. The flavor of the re-steep was primarily the gentle cocoa sweetness.

Impression: This is a unique unflavored very smooth organic Indian black tea without any bitterness or astringency that is worth experiencing.

Thanks to Arbor Teas and Aubrey for providing this generous overstuffed free sample.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Sample package label:
Ingredients: Organic Vietnamese Black Tea, Fair-Trade Certified, USDA Organic
1 “generous” teaspoon – steep 212*F, 3 – 5 minutes.

8-oz* water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 24 ppm, boiled

This tea has a grassy cinnamon fragrance.
Vibrant reddish hue
First Infusion:
3-min: Initial taste – Very soft, smooth, & pleasing. I then steeped it an additional 2-min.
5-min: Very soft, smooth, with a strong note of cinnamon. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency.

2nd Infusion (6-oz, 6-min): Enjoyable & slightly lighter than the first cup.

Impression: This is a very soft, smooth, medium-bodied, somewhat malty, slightly sweet, black tea with a strong note of cinnamon, and without any bitterness or astringency – a surprising taste experience for a “Vietnamese Assam.” This is a great choice for an afternoon or evening tea.

Arbor Teas 4 Organic Black Tea Sample Series Conclusion:
Of the four organic Arbor Teas I’ve tasted: Earl Grey, Assam TGFOP, Golden Yunnan, Vietnam Nam Lanh, the Assam TGFOP was my favorite breakfast tea and the Golden Yunnan was my favorite choice for afternoon or evening.

Thanks once again to Arbor Teas for providing these generous size free samples.

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Sample package label:
Ingredients: Organic Chinese Black Tea, Fair-Trade Certified, USDA Organic
Steep 212*F, 3 – 5 minutes.
8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 23 ppm, boiled
1 level Tevanna teaspoon, no sweeteners, milk or cream

This tea has a subtle earthy fragrance.
Dark reddish hue
First Infusion:
3-min: Initial taste – Very smooth. I then steeped it an additional 2-min.
5-min: Very smooth & rich, with a wonderful cream-like mouthfeel. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency.
2nd Infusion (5-min): Very close to the first cup.
3rd Infusion (6-min): Similar to the 2nd cup, but with lighter body

Impression: This is my first Golden Yunnan and it’s excellent! I enjoyed the first cup even more than the Arbor Teas Assam I drank yesterday. It has a soft mouth-feel that I didn’t experience with yesterday’s Assam. It also has a subtle wine-like taste similar to Keemun tea and a light natural sweetness – no sweetener needed.

Plan on re-steeping – your teacup will be empty before you know it and it’s too good to waste after only a single infusion.

Thanks to Arbor Teas for providing this generous size free sample.

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Per Aubrey at Arbor Teas:
“We are no longer sourcing our Assam from the Rembeng estate … because they are no longer Fair Trade Certified.”
“Our new … “Assam Black Tea” is now sourced from the Banaspati Estate and is both Organic and Fair Trade Certified.”

Brewed per Arbor Teas’ recommendation: 1 level tsp. / 8 oz. / 212*F / 3 to 5-min. – without sweeteners, milk or cream.

Dry leaf: uniform short length, dark brown
Fragrance: Reminded me of pipe tobacco
Liquor: Clear & coppery

3 min. Initial taste: I’ll steep it longer.

4-Min.: The tea was smooth and medium-bodied w/o any bitterness or astringency.

5-Min.: Medium-to-full-bodied with a delicate sweetness and w/o any bitterness or astringency.

1.5 tsp. / 8oz. / 212 F / 5 min. The clear, lively, coppery liquor is now medium dark and full-bodied, without any hint of bitterness or astringency. The malty character and caramel-like sweetness are now better appreciated.

10 min. Resteep: Produced an enjoyable cup.

Impression: This is a very smooth organic Assam. For those who enjoy a more robust cup of Assam, more than a tsp. is recommended.

Thanks to Aubrey at Arbor Teas for providing this generous size free sample.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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Sample package label:
Ingredients: Organic Indian Black Tea, Fair-Trade Certified, USDA Organic
Steep 212*F, 3 – 5 minutes.

8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 30 ppm, boiled
Note: Arbor Teas web site specifies 8-oz (not 6) – more tea to enjoy w/o additional cost! However, the sample package doesn’t list this important point – one level teaspoon in 6-oz is too strong.

1 level Tevanna teaspoon

This tea has a rich earthy fragrance.

Vibrant reddish hue

First Infusion:
3-min: Initial taste – Very smooth. I then steeped it an additional 2-min.
5-min: Vey smooth & full-bodied, with a clean finish. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency.

2nd Infusion (6-min):
Much lighter than the first.

Impression: This is an excellent Assam! It’s a robust, full-bodied, malty tea without any bitterness or astringency. Plan on brewing a full pot, your teacup will be empty before you know it! I could sip this Assam all day long.

Thanks to Arbor Teas for providing this generous size free sample.

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Sample package label:
“Ingredients: Organic Black Tea, and natural oil of Bergamot.”
Fair Trade certified – USDA Organic
“Suggested serving size – one level teaspoon”
“Suggested Steeping Guide: 212*F, Steep 3 – 5 minutes”

6-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 15 ppm, boiled

1 level Tevanna teaspoon:

Introduction: I understand Arbor Teas Earl Grey organic base comes from the “Assam and Dooars areas of India. Most EG teas come from Shi Lanka formerly known as Ceylon. Having a different base tea, was a significant reason for wanting to sample this tea. Our current EG has a Ceylon base and I can’t get past the astringency. Other primary reasons: My wife loves EG and prefers organic teas.

This tea has that classic lemon Earl Grey fragrance – quite fantastic!

Amber hue

5-min Infusion: A mild lemon aroma, medium-bodied EG without astringency – Excellent! The taste of lemon does not linger too long on the tongue.

Impression: An excellent classic Earl Grey tea.

Additional thoughts: I would like to encourage Arbor Teas to develop a well-balanced organic Vanilla Earl Grey or EG Cream. Why you ask?

Per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergamot_orange):
“Citrus bergamia is a small tree which blossoms during the winter. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. The distinctive aroma of bergamot is most commonly known for its use in Earl Grey tea.8

The tartness of citrus bergamia is a common characteristic of most Earl Grey tea. Adding a creamy vanilla should smooth out the natural tartness of the oil of Bergamot. Other tea companies have tried this approach. Many of them are not organic and at least one uses artificial flavoring. Only a few have discovered a pleasing balance of among all the ingredients.

Thanks to Arbor Teas for providing this very generous size free sample.

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It’s late so I didn’t want caffeine and remembered I had this tucked away. Arbor Teas has a handy guide with instructions on how to prepare chai latte. Following their advice, I used 3 tsp of the tea, added 1/3 cup boiling water, and steeped for 5 min. Meanwhile I steamed 2/3 cup almond milk and mixed it with the steeped tea along with sweetener. Next time I’ll use my frother for the milk, but I was feeling a little lazy. So today, being off from work, I have managed to work my way through a Golden Monkey tea chilled, 2 chilled Macadamia Nut Matcha lattes, a freebie fruit tisane mixed with Dragonwell and serve hot, and then this Chai Latte. A satisfying tea day. I don’t usually drink decaf teas, but I thought this was quite good and will be something I’ll keep in mind for a late bedtime snack.

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