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Arbor Teas

Recent Tasting Notes

75

I’m trying to drink this one more often to finish the bag. I went and got 2oz of it originally, when I thought it would be one of my faves. It really isn’t bad, but i’ve been too spoiled with options since I bought this one and it’s hard not to be picky.

I didn’t think much of it before, but this dragonwell has a lot of twigs in the mix, maybe that is what is taking from its potentially more vegetal flavor? It’s very mildly smoky, I think.

Brew notes:
3.5g/12oz water 1.5min@170deg

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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75

I tried different brewing parameters this time. Trying to get it just right! I used 3 grams for 16oz of water and steeped for 1.5min at 175. It was a pretty decent cup. I haven’t been careful about introducing the water slowly at the edge before pouring directly on the leaves. I wonder how much difference that even makes. I’ll have to try it next time.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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75

Dragonwell was one of my favorites in the beginning of my tea adventures, but lately I’ve been craving more savory vegetal greens. I have this dragonwell along with arbor teas less premium variety. I can detect the differences, but neither is particularly ‘better’ to me. I also have one from Adagio that I don’t like so much (it is vaguely reminiscent of cat pee, not kidding). I still like my dragonwells and will keep trying new ones from different sources, but it’s not my favorite green at the moment.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85

I tried brewing this that past couple of times according to ‘traditional’ methods (using more leaf per oz, 160-150deg water, 90sec) and it seemes to produce a more bitter cup than when I originally brewed it at 175 for 2 min with less leaf. It’s been a while since that first cup, so I am going to have to try again to see if it makes the difference. It’s still really good, even with the bitterness. I like it better than sencha for sure.

EDIT: I just re-steeped the leaves after a few hours. I used 150deg water like the first time (I meant to use hotter, but I let it cool too long). I let the leaves steep for 60 seconds (an arbitrary choice) and the final product was a lot less bitter than the first cup. This is probably the first time that a second steeping has turned out better than the first for me.

I think gyokuro is going to take a lot of experimentation to get it just right all the time. But I look forward to the task :)

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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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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75

After sampling so many different types of tea and then returning to this, one of my originals, I find that it is not as good as I remember. It has a hint of that dirty/muddy flat taste that I associated with my Sencha for a while (until I figured out how to brew it correctly!). But I prepared this the same as I always have, so I dunno why it seems different now.

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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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75

Sipdown

Don’t know if I’ll be restocking yet. It was good, but I want to try out other black teas too.

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

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70

I used whistled water, which is why it had a bitter undertone. I forgot which tea I was preparing the water for. I gave a cup to my daughter who was in bed with a sore throat bug. She said it made her throat feel better. I finished off my cup of Chun Mee and, although not prepared correctly, was satisfying just the same.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 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. 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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75

I haven’t had a lot of black teas. I tried the occasional bagged ‘English Breakfast’ blends before I started buying loose tea, but mostly I drank bagged green teas. I don’t know quite how an Assam is supposed to taste, but based on descriptions I’ve read, I wouldn’t describe this as similar to one. I have Yunnan gold-tip teas from two different sources and I don’t think this tea significantly different in terms of strength and astringency. I’ll have to start expanding my black tea collection in order to make better assessments :)

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70

My sister got a lot of this for me for my birthday in February hoping that it would end my search for the perfect blackberry tea. The tea is good, but the rooibos definitely overpowers the blackberry. I didn’t like this tea at first, but it has grown on me. It tastes much better sweetened with honey and I have to be careful not to steep it for too long or else it just tastes too muddy. If steeped for just a couple of minutes, it tastes rich and smooth with just a light, fruity undertone. I’ll often drink it with breakfast or a meal, but not on its own as the main attraction.

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89

This tea appears to be a very high quality Gyokuro. Color is deep green, leaves are mostly full, flattened needles, there is some breakage, but that is no doubt due to the extremely fragile almost crystalline nature of the gyokuro needles, and not an actual knock on the quality of the tea itself. The color of the brew is spot on classic gyokuro, just a beautiful light green, almost highlighter green, its quite amazing.

Flavors on this are as follows:

Uni (sea urchin)
Rocky seaweed
Edamame/Snow peas
Sweet
Grain

Thick mouth feel with lingering subtle sweetness.

I found this tea to be quite enjoyable. It does tend to have a shellfish (or as many other describe, seaweed) flavor profile that is very prevalent in the first brew, but mellows out later. Personally I like it quite a bit and tend to handle these types of flavors like a boss, but I could see how it might not suite some folks. The likening to the taste of uni is quite remarkable, owing no doubt to the high theanine content – a mark of a high quality and properly grown gyokuro. There is almost no astringency at all, especially brewed at low temperatures.

Brew this one low low temperature, close to body temperature for 90-120 seconds and you will be amazed at how well it turns out. Good for about 3 steeps before it starts to lose the the magic.

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 45 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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75

Much different that Japan’s staple green tea. Dragonwell is a lot less grassy. It is somewhat nutty and reminds me vaguely of the tea I remember having in Chinese restaurants (though I’ve heard that they usually serve oolongs or jasmine, none that I went to ever served a tea that tasted like oolong or even the least bit floral).

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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100

One of my 3 most favorite teas. It’s not grassy like Sencha or gyokuru and not too fruity or citrusy like some other green teas. It has a buttery mild vegetal flavor that blends well with a variety of tea snacks or even a meal. A lot of teas I prefer to drink solo because other foods distract from the flavor. Not so with the Kukicha.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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33

Unfortunately, they went and changed the cinnamon formula and added cloves. NO one as far as I can find just does a straight black cinnamon tea…everyone always has to do the same boring and horrible tasting (in my opinion) mix of cloves, cardamon, ginger etc. Hopefully they will change this formula back or at least offer two kinds.

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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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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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75

Steep Information:
Amount: 2 tsp
Water: 500ml at 195°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: a little over 2 minutes
Served: Hot
Tasting Notes:
Dry Leaf Smell: vegetal
Steeped Tea Smell: lightly vegetal, sweet
Flavor: vegetal
Body: Light
Aftertaste: sweet
Liquor: translucent green-yellow
smooth but not silky. Good, but not exceptional.

Resteep:
500ml at 195°F for 3 minutes

still smooth and delicious

Rating: 3/4 leaves

Blog: http://amazonv.blogspot.com/2013/03/arbor-teas-company-loose-leaf-oolong.html

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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75

Steep Information:
Amount: 2 tsp
Water: 500ml at 212°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 1 minute
Served: Hot
Tasting Notes:
Dry Leaf Smell: earthy
Steeped Tea Smell: fall leaves, dirt
Flavor: earthy yet smooth
Body: Medium
Aftertaste: sweet
Liquor: translucent dark red-brown
Resteep:
500ml at 212°F for 1 minute 30 seconds
Exactly the same as the first steep

Resteep:
500ml at 212°F for 2 minutes
Exactly the same as the first steep

This tea could have kept going, but the work day was over

Rating: 3/4 leaves

Blog: http://amazonv.blogspot.com/2013/03/arbor-teas-loose-leaf-pu-erh-tea.html

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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80

After Steepster’s twitter posted a story about the sweetened spearmint tea that is a staple of meetings all over Morocco I just had to get my hands on a good Moroccan mint tea to try out.

I knew what I really wanted to do was make some iced sweet-tea with this, but the night I got home to this delivery I just couldn’t wait that long for the tea to cool and made myself a warm unsweetened cup to start. As soon as I opened the bag I knew I was in for a treat – the sweet smell of spearmint filled the air. The tea even looks beautiful with those perfect balls of gunpowder green tea swimming in a sea of dried spearmint.

I don’t actually like the smell of steeping spearmint all that much, but the balance of the spearmint and green tea brewing in this cup are very pleasant. The gunpowder green brings the spearmint smell back down to earth. The taste is much the same. The spearmint is the real star of this tea — it stands at the forefront of the flavor and draws you in. However, it’s impeccably balanced with the green. There’s just enough green tea to sit at the end of every sip and delicately mellow that spearmint flavor. What a calming warm brew.

But now for what I really came for — Moroccan Mint sweet tea. This does not disappoint. With some time to cool and a dash of sugar this calming warm brew turns into an incredibly refreshing sweet tea. It’s still a cold, rainy 45 degrees here in Seattle, but I can’t help but reach for a cold glass of this tea. By my third pitcher I decided to make it double-strong so I’d only have to brew half as often. I’m so glad I ordered the 10oz bag, because when those warm days come I will be flying through this tea so fast.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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