Imperial Teas of Lincoln

Recent Tasting Notes

94

These notes are from five or six weeks ago and I forgot to post them.

My previous tasting notes were for a sample; these are for a new 100gm. Interestingly, when I opened the packet for the first time, I got a distinct whiff of oranges and leaf tobacco. I made this brew with a heaped teaspoon steeped for two and a half minutes with boiling water.

It made a medium-intensity, clear, orange-brown brew.

In the nose there is straw and a herby note that I think comes nearest dried thyme – it’s in the general thyme-rosemary-sage area – and a touch of pizza base. The aroma is comparatively strong with this one, so that you can’t drink the tea without being conscious of it.

In the mouth it’s quite complex. Sipping it, I get butter and – quite strongly – the thyme note, plus digestive biscuits and good basic tea. Taking a good mouthful, I can also detect the straw note, the thyme is reined back a bit and there’s just the tiniest hint of orange juice in there. I can’t make up my mind whether there’s also a hint of orange peel in there or whether that’s just the interface of the thyme and orange juice notes.

This is very enjoyable. With most things, it’s ‘damning with faint praise’ to call something ‘interesting’; but, in the case of tea, I think it can be regarded as a high compliment and this one is definitely interesting. It has big, ‘here I am’, flavour and aroma notes that really grab you and make you give it your full attention. It’s a pleasure to just sit and savour it.

I made a second infusion, two and a half minutes, again.

I don’t think it looked any weaker.

In the nose I got cut grass and pizza base and a definite note of digestive biscuits, but no straw that I could detect.

Sipping it, I get cut grass, digestive biscuits, butter or toffee, perhaps the tiniest hint of orange juice. It could do with a little more of the basic tea note – that’s quite subdued – it’s still a good tea, though. Surprisingly enough, taking a good mouthful gives me much less flavour – it’s quite bland, but with a rather firm and metallic note. It’s much nicer sipped.

A third infusion was showing signs of being weaker, but still quite drinkable.

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94

In spite of the fears of bankruptcy I expressed in the last tasting note, I bought a 100g of this. So this is a tasting note for the new lot.

I made a brew with a well-heaped teaspoon brewed for four mintues, boiling water.

It made an intensely-coloured to the point of being opaque, slightly-yellowish, brown infusion.

The nose this time seems to be somewhere between digestive biscuits and pizza base. There’s just a hint of something else in there, somewhere between straw and good, sweet hay.

Sipping the tea, I get digestive biscuits and toffee, good basic tea, and a firm note rather like liquorice if you could imagine liquorice without any sweetness. This note is oddly contrasting because the immediate impression of the tea is the digestive biscuit and toffee sweetness; so it’s a sweet-flavoured tea with an unsweet note to it.

Taking a good mouthful of it, I get a touch of bitterness in the back of the throat, vaguely similar to stale tea. I’m a bit surprised by that – don’t like it.

I made a second infusion, four minutes and boiling water, again.

It’s still intensely-coloured but I can just see to the bottom of the cup.

I can smell faint touches of pizza base and butter.

Sipping it, the first thing I notice is orange, perhaps with the tiniest edge of orange-peel to it. There’s something like toffee or warm butter. Taking a bit more of a mouthful, there’s a very slight bite; it’s like cut grass with a barely noticeable pepperiness or gingeriness – difficult to pin down precisely – to it. There’s enough basic tea there not to be noticeable by its absence.

Taking more of a mouthful brings out the digestive biscuit stroke toffee thing – or perhaps it’s because it’s cooler. There’s definitely not bitterness or staleness there.

I’m finding this a rather more enjoyable cup than the first infusion – it’s excellent.

I made a third infusion for completion’s sake – same way.

It’s still quite an intense colour – I’d describe it as medium-intensity.

I’m not getting a lot in the nose – perhaps a hint of pizza base or raw dough. Then, after a sip or two, I started to get a hint of cut grass in the nose.

First little sip: that digestive biscuit note is really intense, really rich and sweet. That peppery or gingery grass thing is there with a little more of the bite, but not at all unpleasantly so – the bite is still not strong enough to identify more exactly. There’s butter and basic tea in there. Again, there’s absolutely no sign of the bitterness of the first infusion. As I get to the bottom of the cup and it’s quite cool, I’m getting just a hint of the orange again.

This is a lighter cup than the first two infusions, but it’s still an excellent cup of tea. It’s a bit like a delicate but very good Darjeeling.

I’m almost tempted to try a fourth infusion, just for curiosity; but I didn’t really want this one so I’ll stop there.

Well, I had reservations about the first infusion, but, going on the second and third infusions, I have to say this is a really excellent tea and I’m going to keep my rating the same.

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54

This note is liable to turn into something of a saga.

My previous notes were made on a sample of this I had and I found the brewing of it quite problematic. I got really excellent cups of tea by using less tea and bland ones by using more – which didn’t make any kind of sense to me. However, when I got it right it was one of the finest teas I’ve tasted – really special.

So, a month ago, I decided to treat myself to 100g of it. It was the most expensive tea I’ve so far bought in other the sample quantity. I felt it deserved a little better than my mugs, so I bought an ornate infuser cup with a lid, from the same site. Determined to sort out the problem of exactly how much to use, I also bought a cheap, 100g x 0.01g scales. Trying to accurately weigh just one or two grammes on my regular kitchen scales was clearly wildly optimistic.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it was all a waste of money.

The excellent results I previously had were all with small quantities steeped for two minutes, boiling water. So I made brews the same way with 0.5g, 1g, 1.5g, 1.75g, 2g, 2.5g and 3.5g, though not in that order. In each case I got disappointed. At the best, I got a little basic tea with touches of chocolate and grass and not much else – a reasonable cup of tea but really nothing at all special. I’d pretty much written it off by this time but, just for experiment, I tried steeping for three minutes with 2g, and then 3g. The only difference was a possible tiny-tiniest hint of white pepper.

This is clearly not the same tea as the sample I had. Whether it’s because they come from different seasons – I bought them five months apart – I don’t know. But it’s been a real disappointment and I’m going to drop my rating drastically.

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87

Delicious, one of the best green teas I have ever had. Easily brews three times with no issues and still tastes great. When I get it right, it’s lovely and smooth, with a nice strong flavour.

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70

The instructions are for ‘2 – 5 mins’ so I split the difference and brewed for three and a half minutes with boiling water. This is one of those awkward-to-spoon, long-stranded teas, but I used a near-as-I-could-judge heaped teaspoon. Actually, as this is quite light in weight, I’m now wondering if I should have used two.

It made a quite dark, slightly orange, brown brew, clear, but intense enough in colour to be almost opaque.

In the nose: there is a very subtle, but rich, fragrance which is difficult to pin down – it seems to differ with different sniffs. I get a good, clean, basic tea, a roast beef or Oxo note, uncooked pastry dough and, sometimes, just a hint of flowers or perfume. As it cools and the level falls, I’m noting a ‘herby’ hint – possibly somewhere between thyme and sage, but just a hint.

In the mouth I get the good, clean basic tea (I should explain that: when I used cheap teabags, as far as I remember I got a single, basic tea note but it had a rather diffuse or ‘muddy’ taste which contrasted with the ‘cleaner’ or more ‘pure’ flavour of the best of the loose tea we used to have when I was a youngster, before teabags were so widespread – I taste the teas I have now as varying between these two extremes). The roast beef or Oxo note of the smell is not so noticeable. I’m getting a good, smooth butteriness rather than the dough thing. There’s a note that is somewhere between cut grass and the thyme-sage thing I noted for the aroma.

I made a second infusion, same way.

In appearance, the colour didn’t look any less intense than the first time, but there were oily spots on the surface.

There was less aroma: I think I could detect a very faint and fleeting butteriness and an equally faint grassy-metallic element.

In the mouth it was definitely less interesting than the first infusion – I didn’t get much apart from a faint, doughy butteriness and a little basic tea flavour.

This is a pretty good brew – the first infusion, at least; but I think that when I make a fresh one I’ll try two heaped teaspoons.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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100

This is a go to tea for mellow moods. It’s not sweet in itself but has a chocolatey caramel aroma and smooth finish which makes it delicious at any time of day. I don’t drink it regularly, but that’s only because it’s quite exceptional.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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84

I made a brew with a heaped teaspoon steeped for three minutes.

The aroma is quite changeable, with different elements showing in different sniffs.

In the mouth there is that ‘smell of shredded hedge clippings’ thing I mentioned in the earlier note, good basic tea (quite a generous note of this) and mixed dried fruit notes; with tiny hints of chocolate and butter. Actually, I started to notice a quite chocolatey aftertaste a significant time after I’d finished the mug (I was thirsty and it went down rather fast) – I’d put the mug down after finishing it, wrote a line or so of the next paragraph, and then became aware of it.

This is an excellent cup of tea and I’m sure it’s a little superior to the brew I made exactly the same way on the 23/04/2012. I’m sure it’s more intensely flavoured. Thinking back, I remember that, perhaps feeling a little flamboyant, I poured in the hot water from significantly higher than normal – from about six inches above rather than carefully with the kettle almost touching the infuser (I was whistling at the time, too – one of those mornings). Could this make a significant difference to the brew? After all, the leaves are going to be given more of a stirring-up. Also, the water’s going to be a little aerated.

Now, this has given me something to think about – especially with those Darjeelings that I’ve been finding so changeable from brew to brew.

I made a second infusion the same way – even down to the height of pouring (forgot to whistle, though).

Again the aroma is quite changeable. On times, I’m noticing a note similar to some chocolate and coconut-flavoured sweet I’ve eaten at some time or other – can’t remember exact details, but may be something from a box of chocolates.

In the mouth, the vegetation thing is less noticeable and there is more chocolate. The dried fruit thing is not so prominent, but is now giving almost a ‘tingle’ to the flavour. There’s still quite a generous element of good basic tea – I don’t have to ‘look for it’, as it were; it’s quite prominent in the flavour and aroma.

I made a third infusion and – wouldn’t you know it – I forgot about pouring the water from a height. I remembered and lifted the kettle at the last moment, hardly enough to put any bubbles into it.

It’s still quite a pleasant brew, though nothing special this time – nowhere near the standard of the first two. I’m getting good basic tea still, plus chocolate, and just the tiniest, fleeting hint of the dried fruit.

On the strength of today’s infusions I’m going to give this quite a high rating.

Also, I’m quite intrigued with this height of pouring business and I’m looking forward to experimenting with other teas. I’m now wondering whether I’ve not had the best out of some quite expensive tea samples about which I’ve given a low opinion. Or is the whole thing just in my imagination?

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

I can imagine the high pour/ low pour might make a difference. Something to do with oxygen content in your water, perhaps. When you’re pouring from a height you get more oxygen back into the water than when pouring low.

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I made a brew of this about a month ago and was a little disappointed, having previously been entranced by the same garden’s second flush Moonlight Delight. I’ve had another go today, and still found it disappointing. However, I’m not rating it yet as I suspect that, as so often with me and Darjeelings, I’ve yet to properly get to grips with brewing it. Anyway, here’s a write-up of my two sets of notes.

04/04/2012:

I brewed a mug with a heaped teaspoonful brewed for two minutes, boiling water.

In the mug it was a clear, light-orange brew with a faint, clean smell, somewhere between eau-de-cologne and cut grass.

In the mouth there’s a lingering smoothness, difficult to define, perhaps like a very, very mild butter. I get good basic tea with hints of cut grass and, perhaps, vanilla. Oddly, the vanilla and basic tea seem to fade as the level in the cup lowers and the tea cools.

It’s only the first mug, and I’ve previously found Darjeelings quite variable, but this doesn’t strike me as anything like as good as the second flush, Tumsong’s ‘Moonlight Delight’.

It says you can make one or two infusions, so I tried a second one, made the same way.

To my surprise, I’m tasting this as a fraction stronger. In the nose and mouth I’m not really getting the eau-de-cologne and vanilla elements now, but in both I’m getting a hint of the smell of fresh, sweet hay. Having said I thought it a fraction stronger, this time I don’t seem to be getting the flavour ‘fading’ as the level in the cup is falling.

03/05/12:

I brewed a mug with a well-heaped teaspoonful brewed for two and a half mintues, boiling water.

In the mug i’s a clear, pale yellow-orange; but I really can’t make anything much of the smell. I’m not getting it as the description in the last note.

In the mouth it’s quite bland: there are tiny hints of basic tea (perhaps just a fraction stale), nettles, toffee and something like the smell of ripped-up cardboard – but I do mean ‘tiny’, in each case. On that thing of the flavour fading, as it cools and the level falls I seem to have lost the hints of nettles and butter. This is disappointing, even compared to the last note.

I made a second infusion, exactly the same way.

The brew looks just the same as the first, but, this time, I’m getting a fruity smell – possibly a faint smell of packet, dried, mixed fruit.

I’m getting quite fleeting flavours in the mouth. I picked the mug up and took a sip and got the mixed, dried fruit with an immediate aftertaste of toffee; and a second sip gave ‘smell of nettles’ and grass – rather different to the first. Then I put the mug down and thought about it for a few moments, thinking what to write, picked it up for another sip before writing, and got different again; this time the sweetness had gone and I got quite a firm element – like the smell of grass or green vegetation, but without any sweetness to it.

These are all quite faint elements, though. I don’t think the experiment of two and a half minutes instead of the recommended two has made any noticeable improvement – perhaps I should try two teaspoonfuls?

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75

Will review again when I have another cup. The first time I tried it, I made a pot and it turned out quite well. A pleasant tea, possibly for an afternoon, very subtle flavours. The second time was with a ball infuser in a cup – I tried it after steeping about 3mins and it didnt seem ready, when I tried it again – possibly a little late 4.30-5 it had turned completely on me and was overly bitter.

Maybe when I get more proficient at exact steeping I will have another go!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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94

I brewed this with a well-heaped teaspoon steeped for four minutes, boiling water.

The colour is so intense a dark brown as to be opaque and almost black, with a yellowish cast round the edge of the surface circumference.

In the nose there’s a doughy element and there’s a meaty element reminiscent of Oxo or Bovril or some such thing.

In the mouth … I’m actually struggling for words, this is a bit different. First of all, as you’d expect from the seller’s notes, there’s absolutely no Lapsang Souchong taste of pine, nor is there any smokiness. It has that smoothness and body I usually link to a ‘butter’ element, but this time it’s definitely not a butter taste; perhaps I could call it toffee, but it’s not sweet – not that it’s at all harsh or bitter. It’s almost as if it ‘thickens’ the tea and it definitely gives a richness of flavour. There’s that Bovril or Oxo element – just a hint of beefiness. There’s just enough good basic tea there, but, oddly, I’m getting a rather stronger basic tea element in the aftertaste, from a second or so after swallowing, onwards. There’s the faintest hint of liquorice in there. These things blend together to give a quite savoury, meaty whole.

I could characterise this as a very ‘satisfying’, ‘soothing’, ‘comforting’ tea, but if that makes it sound like the traditional British cuppa it’s the wrong impression. This is a bit different – something out on it’s own. It’s a really excellent cup of tea.

This doesn’t seem like the kind of stuff that would bear a second infusion, but the instructions say one or two, so I’m trying a second – four minutes, again.

Surprisingly, this is still quite an intense colour. It may be a fraction less intense but I still can’t see to the bottom.

It smells almost the same, but with, perhaps, the very faintest metallic hint.

In the mouth it strikes me as a slightly lighter cup of tea than the first. That thing I was hesitant about calling toffee is now definitely a toffee element. The meaty thing is, perhaps, reined back a little. That tiny metallic hint is there, too, but I’m not sure if it’s right to call it ‘metallic’; it’s not grassy, perhaps it’s something between grassy and metallic. It’s very, very faint though, just enough to put a slightest ‘edge’ in the flavour. There’s something in the aftertaste – now, this sounds horrible, but I’m really not describing something horrible – that is reminiscent of that ‘smell of sick’ note you get in good champagne (I’ve actually seen it described as such by wine professionals, so it’s not just me being fanciful).

This is an excellent cup of tea, again, but not quite the same thing as the first one.

At £30 per 100g ($48 plus or €39 plus at the time of writing), this stuff causes some soul-searching, though. I only have a sample and I’d love to get in a stock of it; but it’s not as if it’s the only expensive tea in this batch that I’m thinking the same thing about – I can think of at least three without looking at my notes. If I gave in to the temptation, bankruptcy would loom, I think.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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84

As an experiment, I’m trying this with two-minute infusions, like the Buddha’s Hand: a heaped teaspoon, boiling water.

It’s a quite intense red-brown in the mug. It doesn’t look at all weak; but I can see to the bottom of the mug.

In the nose I’m getting good tea and a smell of green, lush undergrowth.

Tasting it, I’m thinking the two minutes might be a mistake. It’s noticeably blander than previous brews. It’s quite grassy to taste and I suppose the steeping time was enough for that element to come out, but not enough to properly allow the others, so that it’s unbalanced. There’s good basic tea there, though.

It’s right on the border between ‘okay’ and ‘not very nice’

Second infusion: I made it the same way.

The appearance and aroma are the same.

The flavour is pretty much the same as for the first infusion, but the grassy element is a fraction more bitter.

I made a third infusion, same way. This is rather blander, an infusion too many.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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84

In view of the dealer info above, I possibly brewed my first mug of this too long. The above contains detailed brewing info, as opposed to the ‘Tea Brewing Info’ tab which simply says ‘3 – 6 mins’. I went on the latter, split the difference, and brewed for four and a half minutes. I used a well-heaped teaspoon (this is the correct amount as I actually weighed it at 3g, the instructions give 1g per 100ml, and I’m using a half-pint mug which is 284ml). I used boiling water.

In the mug it’s an intense, dark brown, quite opaque in its intensity.

It smells at least of cut grass and good basic tea and I think there’s something else in there, something darker and firmer, which I can’t quite pin down. I could possibly call it liquorice but it’s not quite that. I should note, as well, that you get whiffs of good, clean basic tea from this without bending down to the cup.

In the mouth it’s quite elusive – I think I’m getting different flavours with different sips and I think the flavour changes as the tea cools. I got basic tea and cut grass, possibly a hint of liquorice, butter, possibly vanilla or something similar – some sweet-smelling flower, perhaps.

Though it’s complex with good basic tea flavour, I wouldn’t describe this as a robust tea but as more delicate and refined – more like an expensive Darjeeling, but different.

Second infusion: as I’ve already probably overdone it with the first one, I’m giving this another four and a half minutes.

It’s not opaque like the first, but still an intense, dark brown and almost opaque in its intensity.

In the nose it was similar but I thought I was having hay rather than cut grass. There may be a yeasty or doughy hint, too.

In the mouth it’s just as complex and elusive. I don’t know what to think of it. There’s a hard edge in there, difficult to describe but perhaps somewhere between grass and metal polish; but then that’s balanced by a toffee- or butter-like softness. But I get little, fleeting ‘glimpses’ of flavour, both when drinking and as after-taste, which are really difficult to pin down.

This is one of three small samples of these expensive, Taiwanese, black teas I had from Imperial Teas and was actually the first I opened (I believe they’re called ‘Oriental Beauty’ teas but I’m ready to be corrected on that – wrong – I’ve just looked up the Oriental Beauty teas and they’re oolongs). The notes for this entry were made some time ago, but I forgot to post here. Since then I’ve opened the second, the ‘Buddha’s Hand’ Fo Shou Hon Cha, and I’ve been having so many adventures with that one (see my notes on it) that I’m not going to rate this until I’ve made at least two more tasting notes to experiment with quantities used.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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54

Following on from my previous three tasting notes for this (I can’t figure out why they’re not in chronological order), this time I made a mug with about 1.5g of dry tea.

It’s a good, strong colour, but clear enough to be transparent to the bottom of the mug.

In the nose I’m getting fleeting hints of pizza base and flowers.

In the mouth it’s quite complex. There’s just enough basic tea and the flowers, again. There are hints of liquorice and cut grass, giving a little touch of firmness to the flavour. There’s a little touch of butter or toffee, giving a body and smoothness to it. Again, I think I’m aware of the flavour slightly intensifying as the tea cools.

I made a second infusion, the same way (two minutes with boiling water).

It’s slightly less intense in colour with hints of pizza base, cut grass and straw in the nose. Now, the straw is new.

In the mouth I think it’s a fraction less sweet. The straw is there, again, and the other flavours are just slightly subdued compared to the first infusion.

As it is cooling and the level in mug going down, the flavours are intensifying again and the straw element is drifting slightly towards packet mixed dried fruit. It’s different to the first infusion – a fraction more ‘bite’ because of the straw slash dry fruit thing – but still a pretty excellent brew.

This is equivalent in enjoyment to the really excellent infusions I made in the first tasting note, but it’s less full-on and more ‘genteel’ – less Theda Bara and more Audrey Hepburn. I have to believe that the amount of dry tea used is really critical with this stuff. I’m also starting to wonder if the flavour isn’t going to be subtly different with each new brew – I seem to remember reading something to that effect about some Chinese or Taiwanese tea on a seller’s website.

Whatever, this is so good when I get it right that I’m going to give it my highest rating. This is something really special.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

I think that they’re not supposed to be in chronological order. I seem to recall having seen something once about the system being in order of the most popular based on comments and likes. Or something. I can’t remember the details or even the source so take that expkanation with a grain of salt.

alaudacorax

Thanks, Angrboda.

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54

Following on from the last two notes, where I, first, made a really excellent brew with less than half the recommended amount of tea and, second, made an indifferent brew with the correct amount, I made a mug of this with 1g of tea, carefully weighed and steeped for two and a quarter minutes – I’d intended two, but my attention momentarily wandered.

I’m struggling for words, here. Like in the first note, it made an excellent cup of tea. This was probably to be expected as I’m making it the same way. The trouble is it’s a different cup of tea.

It actually tastes of basic tea and Turkish Delight!

I made a second infusion, the same way. This time the Turkish Delight is reined back a bit and there is hint of butter or toffee and the tiniest hint of chocolate.

Thinking on it, I may have used a fraction less tea than in my first note. That time I roughly weighed out a gramme whereas this time I very carefully weighed it out – so it was just the bare gramme. Whether that explains the difference I don’t know. Next time, I’ll weigh out a gramme, add a few strands and see what happens. Or perhaps I’m cracking up.

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54

In my last tasting note for this, I noted that I absent-mindedly used less than half the recommended amount of dry tea. This time I used the correct amount, about two and a half times what I used last time. I brewed it for two minutes, again – boiling water.

It made a dark brown, very slightly yellowish infusion, intense enough in colour to be pretty much opaque.

This is seriously weird. I’m not getting anything much in the way of aroma and little more in the way of variety of flavour: in the mouth there’s the basic tea element, which is now very slightly bitter – I think I’ve brewed it too strong – and just the tiniest hint of chocolate. And that’s it – a real disappointment after last time’s absolutely heavenly brew of this stuff.

I’m just baffled by this – I’ve even gone to the length of going outside to breath fresh air deeply through the nose for a minute or so, to make sure my head is quite clear, but it makes no difference.

I’m making a second infusion, two minutes again.

It’s a little less intense in colour and I get a faint metallic hint and touch of the pizza dough in the nose.

In the mouth there’s now possibly a little grass and a little butter, and that bitterness is no longer noticeable. As the tea is cooling, there may be the tiniest hint of vanilla coming in. It’s pleasant enough, but nothing special, still.

I’m quite bemused about this – how can 1g of tea taste so much better than 2.5g? The dry tea is so distinctive in appearance that it’s quite impossible for me to have got the wrong tea today or last time – they’re definitely both the same tea.

Well, I’m even less ready to rate this. I now, of course, have to make another brew with the lesser amount; to be sure that it’s the tea and not, somehow, me. I shall do that later – I’m tea-full at the moment.

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54

I actually got it a bit wrong with this.

The instructions are for 1g per 100ml, which is, for my mugs, normally a well-heaped teaspoon, which is about 2.5g. The trouble is, this is so coarse and long and straggly in the dry that I couldn’t handle it with the spoon. So I used my fingers and weighed it on the kitchen scales. The trouble was that I absent-mindedly weighed out 1g instead of 2.5g.

Here’s the strange thing: it made an excellent cup of tea – I mean really, really excellent.

It made a quite intense clear-brown infusion and didn’t look at all too weak for a black tea.

The aroma is a little odd – it seems to change. I sniff it and get that pastry dough or pizza base aroma; but another sniff will get a beautiful, grassy, perfumey, flowery aroma.

In the mouth, there is what immediately struck me as a ‘garden’ element. I mean the ‘lawns and flower beds type’ garden. It’s that warm evening perfume of damp lawns and mixed flowers, especially if there are a few lilies in the garden. There’s just enough good basic tea to it, and there’s a toffee or butter element adding body and smoothness.

Is it over the top to describe a tea as ‘sensuous’? I’ve got into a habit of describing teas as either ‘delicate’, as with Darjeelings, or ‘robust’ as with a Lapsang Souchong; but neither seems to fit, here. It seems on the delicate side, but it’s full-on and seductive, rather than delicate and refined. I’m now sorry that I used that ‘Theda Bara of teas’ crack about the Turzum ‘Muscatel Dream’ because it would fit much better here.

I made a second infusion – same way.

It was a little lighter in colour and I thought the aroma was now more grass than flower.

The flavour is still pretty good, but different. The basic tea element has developed a little toastiness, bringing it more to the fore; the floweriness is reined back a bit and it’s a little more grassy. Having mentioned the Turzum ‘Muscatel Dream’, above, it strikes me that this second infusion could very easily be the first infusion of a good Darjeeling – it’s that sort of flavour.

I made a third infusion – same way. This was too many and the tea was much less intense in colour and rather lacking in flavour.

I’m not going to rate this at the moment. I’ll wait till another day when I’ve used the correct amount of dry tea. Having said that, it was so excellent as it was that it hardly seems worth the bother of trying a larger amount.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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94

These are my notes for the day before yesterday:

I used a well-heaped teaspoon steeped for two minutes, boiling water. The tea hadn’t completely waterlogged and sunk at the end: the instructions are for one infusion; but, I suspect there’s another one there.

In the mug it’s a moderately intense brown, with a slightly yellowish tinge.

In the nose I get a faint combination of the smells of nettles and of straw, plus a little basic tea and a slight hint of uncooked pastry-dough.

In the mouth I get good basic tea and the straw and nettles smells elements again. It hasn’t got that grass or hay sweetness, but it’s not particularly bitter or astringent – it’s clean and firm without being that. There’s something else in there that’s difficult to pin down: it’s a hint of a bite, but not so much a peppery bite as nearer to dried raisins or currants – it’s just a tiny hint in the background, noticeable as the tea cools.

Bearing in mind what I said about thinking there was another infusion in there, I made one – steeping for two and three-quarter minutes. The tea was surprisingly good and not noticeably weaker, similar to the last cup but with the addition, perhaps, of the tiniest hint of vanilla. I’m now thinking that, if the sellers are only recommending one infusion, I might have given the original infusion a bit longer than their recommended two minutes.

Just for an experiment, I tried another infusion. It’s still good. It’s less intense in colour and in flavour, but it’s a little more buttery, and, I think, a little more grassy.

These are yesterday’s notes:

I made a mug today with a well-heaped teaspoon, boiling water, and this time, bearing in mind all the infusions I was able to get yesterday, I brewed for three minutes.

It was the same intense but clear brown in the mug.

I’m not sure I get the same straw and nettles in the nose; there’s the pastry dough – or, perhaps, pizza base – and, now, a metallic touch.

In the mouth it’s harder and firmer and less sweet and I think three minutes was probably too long. This surprises me a little after all yesterday’s infusions without that happening. I must try two and a half minutes for next time’s first infusion. I’m sort of getting the straw and grass thing but it’s varied a little towards something like the flavour of digestive biscuits but without the sweetness.. As the level is falling and the tea cooling, I think the flavour is getting a little more intense and a little less firm and hard – or, perhaps, my taste buds are just getting used to it.

I made a second infusion but forgot it and let it steep for twenty-four minutes. It wasn’t anything like as bad as one might suspect, but not really to be recommended.

I made a fresh mug with a well-heaped teaspoon, this time brewing for two and a half minutes.

I think I hit this one spot on.

It has a good, noticeable aroma to it, the straw and nettles and pizza base, plus, perhaps, the tiniest touch of grassiness.

In the mouth it has the straw and nettles and the digestive biscuits, plus the tiniest hint of cut grass and that tiny bite – I described it above as ‘not so much a peppery bite as nearer to dried raisins or currants’, but now I’m thinking there’s a hint of sage to it.

The whole thing adds up to a refreshing and characterful tea, nearer to the ‘delicate’ side than the ‘robust’, but a little more robust than the typical tea of this type, I think.

I made a second infusion, two and a half minutes again, and I really can’t spot much difference – it’s the equal to the first, I think.

These are today’s notes:

I made a brew today with a well-heaped teaspoon and steeped for three minutes – I’d intended two and a half, but let it run over while I was checking through my (mostly junk) mail.

So it should have been a little too ‘hard’, like yesterday. It wasn’t; it was pretty good – but different to yesterday.

It has a doughy aroma with a hint of grass.

In the mouth it has good basic tea and, this time, has more than a hint of butter – it’s a definite element, giving a mellow smoothness and I’m not sure if it hasn’t the tiniest hint of chocolate to it – I mean a smooth milk chocolate, not one with any bitterness. There’s the tiniest hint of sage and thyme underneath. The flavour definitely gets a little stronger as the tea cools.

I’ve made a second infusion, this time managing to hit the two and a half minutes. It’s no weaker but slightly different in that, this time, there’s the addition of that ‘smell of nettles’ hint, both in the nose and the mouth.

This business of a tea altering from day to day makes me wonder if it’s my taste buds are altering; but it’s only with Darjeelings that I’m really aware of it happening – don’t know what to make of that. I’m fairly sure it’s the teas that are altering, not me, but I wouldn’t want to swear to it.

Anyway, as is evident from all the woffle above, I’m finding this a fascinating tea. It’s quite seductive – you start off being cool and objective, then you’ve fallen under the spell and find yourself cajoled and forced into giving a high rating – a Theda Bara of teas.

ETA – Since I posted the level in the cup has got half-way down and the tea cooled noticeably, and the aroma and flavour have most definitely got more intense – it’s well-worth having the patience to let it cool a little.

ETA, again – I made a third infusion – it may have been fraction weaker but it was still a delightful cup of tea. This one will definitely stand a second and third infusion.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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94

I made a mug of this with a heaped teaspoon brewed for three minutes – boiling water.

It was a medium intensity red-brown colour in the mug. I didn’t get a lot of aroma – a hint of rust.

I struggled a bit to describe the flavour, though I found it very pleasant. There was some of the proper, generic, tea flavour; there was butter, giving a pleasant smoothness to it; there was also a fruity, ‘bright’ element in there that I found difficult to place – the dealer’s description mentions an “almost ‘Muscatel’ fragrance and aftertaste” so perhaps it was a hint of that I was detecting – it could well have been a hint of grape juice.

I found this a very enjoyable tea.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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80

I’ve found this one of those most difficult of teas to describe. On first sup, it doesn’t seem anything special and I’d describe it as having very little flavour, but then it sort of sneaks up on me and I realise that I’m quite enjoying it and finding it quite satisfying. The best summation I can think of is as a ‘very subtle’ tea, though I know that doesn’t mean much.

I can’t really detect anything in the way of aroma – nothing I can describe, anyway. In the mouth, there is a quite mild flavour somewhere in the middle between chocolate, roast beef and basic tea – I don’t mean three elements but one, somewhere between them all. There is also a subtle, difficult-to-define, ‘tingle’ to it: it’s not really that hint of ginger or white pepper I get from some teas – I want to say ‘metallic’ but it’s not at all unpleasant, as ‘metallic’ implies, rather something like the smell of nettles, but cleaner – perhaps leaning very, very slightly towards spearmint. There’s a very faint fruitiness to it, too faint to define more exactly but making the tea a fraction sweeter than the norm. There’s the faintest hint of liquorice. Oddly these flavours seem to get more noticeable as the level in the cup falls – perhaps because the tea is cooling?

The instructions are for 2.5gms to the cup, which is a bit more than normal, so I used two heaped teaspoons; for one to two minutes’ steeping, so I gave it two; and for only 70°, so I let the water go off the boil for several minutes and then for several minutes more (so two severals of minutes off the boil – really must sort out a thermometer).

I actually got a fourth infusion out of the tea with no noticeable difference in flavour and the tea still floating at the surface and I’m sure I could have gone on.

Quite an intriguing tea.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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60

I’ve finished this sample now but here’s a follow-up to my last note.

I managed on one or two occasions to get a reasonable brew out of this. It had a difficult-to-pin-down ‘greenery’ aroma – not quite cut grass and not quite nettles. This was an element in the flavour as well, plus an equally difficult-to-pin-down hint of ‘fruitiness’ – possibly gooseberry. On the strength of this (though I really didn’t find any ‘strength’ to the flavour), I’m upping my rating from 50 to 60.

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95

The instructions are a little confusing for this as the website recommends 1gm to a cup and the packet recommends 3gms. It’s quite a light tea – long, tangly strands – so I shoved in two heaped teaspoons (brewing in the mug). I used boiling water (they say 80-100 °) and brewed for three minutes (they say two but – absent-mindedness).

The brew was an intense, but clear, orange-brown with an aroma that was part yeasty and part new-mown grass. The flavour had some basic tea, a firm, fruity element somewhere between orange-peel and gooseberry, and an element somewhere between new-mown grass and good, sweet hay. There may have been, just on the very edge of my sense of taste, a floral perfume element – or possibly vanilla.

The instructions say that it ‘can be rebrewed a number of times’, so I made a second mug with the same tea. This was a little weaker but, strangely, there seemed to be more ‘bite’ to it – a slight hint of raw ginger root.

I have to say that I find this rather special – an excellent tea and definitely one of the best Darjeelings I’ve tried.

ETA – I’ve realised that I haven’t really explained why I’m so much more enthusiastic about this than some other Darjeelings I’ve tried. Quite simply, for me it has a noticeably more intense flavour.

Another ETA – I can’t resist just adding that I found this tea delightful(!)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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60

I used a well-heaped teaspoonful to a half-pint mug. The instructions for this are for two minutes’ brewing at 85° – 100°, so I let the water go off the boil for a couple of minutes and then brewed for two minutes. I noticed that all the tea had not sunk to the bottom – the instructions say you can get a second infusion.

It was quite a strong colour in the mug, a dark orange-brown, but I couldn’t detect anything much with the nose. In the mouth it had a little basic tea flavour – not a lot, at all – and, perhaps, the tiniest hint of butter smoothness.

I made a second infusion from the same tea and that was definitely a bit watery.

So I made another mug with a well-heaped teaspoonful and this time I used boiling water and brewed for three minutes. It really wasn’t much different. There may, possibly, have been the tiniest hint of fruitiness and a metallic hint, but they were very elusive and I only really detected them at all on the very first sip.

That was all yesterday. I made another boiling water stroke three minutes mug today, remembering how other Darjeelings have struck me differently on different days, but this one was no different.

This is a disappointment for a comparatively expensive tea, but it’s quite innocuous – nothing at all unpleasant about it – so I’m going to give it a neutral 50 rating.

A postscript: this tea prompted me to experiment with my kitchen scales and some of the teas I have in quantity, to work out the weights of various teas, and I am definitely using at least the recommended quantity (Imperial Teas recommends 1gm to 100mls for this one).

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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