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Recent Tasting Notes
When JusTea sent me this several weeks ago I was really excited by the prospect of trying an Earl Grey with a twist and it killed me not being able to review it yet. Earl Grey has been a favorite of mine absolutely forever, but because it is a favorite of mine I have very high standards.
Honestly, I didn’t like this tea at all in the beginning, it took quite a few cups for me to appreciate the differences the Kenya Black base brought to the table. There was a sweetness that I’m not accustomed to finding in an EG and the flavor was much more malty that I’m accustomed to. The familiar citrus flavors from the bergamot were there as was the slightly drying effect I generally associate with EG. What I loved was that this is no shy EG, it really packs a wallop, which may not appeal to everyone; however, I love a good strong cup of EG on a cold day like today.
My biggest disappointment with this tea, and one I had with the Kenyan Black as well, is that it just does not resteep well. I was only able to resteep it once and would love to see some improvement in that area.
One thing that I think is important to note is that the steeping instructions for this tea are slightly different than I am accustomed to using with a black tea and Earl Grey in general. It calls for a much lower temperature (195°F) and 2 teaspoons of leaf per 12oz. I double checked and all of the Earl Greys in my cabinet call for either boiling or near boiling water. For anyone who is having trouble with astringency, try dropping your steeping temperature and see if that makes a difference.
I would like to thank Tyrone at JusTea for sending me this sample. I hope you will all check out their crowdfunding campaign which launched on 16 September to raise the necessary capital to allow them to work with Kenyan farmers and provide quality “Direct Trade” tea to the masses and improve the quality of life of the farmers providing you your tea. You can find more information on their website http://www.justea.com/ you can also check out my full review of Kenya Black, which was used as a base for this tea on my blog
Sipdown, 126. I drank the last of my sample pouch of this today. I do still have two individual small samples of this, but those are the spread-the-world “gift” pouches that I am supposed to pass on to others, so I will save them for future swaps, and I am counting this as a sipdown.
I had it with a bit of maple syrup, which was divine. I still think I probably shouldn’t drink assams (Kenyan teas being the C. sinensis assamica varietal of the tea bush) on a nearly empty stomach (with just some cereal) because my stomach wasn’t too happy with me after a pot of this. Still, it was quite tasty. Thanks again to JusTea for this sample… I just saw that they have some neat Christmas gifts on their site now, if you missed the crowdsourcing campaign they had earlier!
It turns out that 1.5 tsp of tea for 12oz, versus the 2 tsp that I usually use, is really the magic amount for this tea. I found it tasty but slightly astringent the first couple of times I had it using the latter measurements, but today I tried it with 1.5 tsp and there is no astringency to be had. Perfect!
However, at this point I’m not bumping the rating because although this is nicely malty with light sweetness and no bitterness or astringency, there is also some other note in there that’s not really optimal for me. I do think it’s an assam-y note in general, although I haven’t tried a lot of straight up assams yet. It’s maybe a hint of fruit? Almost floral, really. It sounds like a note I would like, but for whatever reason I don’t. I’ve come across it before, but can’t ever quite put my finger on it. I think that with the Kathryne Earl Grey with this base the bergamot masks it, which is why I like that one so much. Glad to have tried this one, though, and I’m very grateful for the samples.
Thanks to Justea for providing this sample for review. I am pretty picky these days about teas and I no longer jump on every offer for free tea on the forums. But this company stuck out: working to bring a sustainable, whole-leaf tea processing company to Kenya, whose tea farmers grow most of the worlds’ tea (!) but see basically none of the profits as their product is chopped up into tea for bags. I have a soft spot for the fact that it’s Kenya, too, because I have spent some time in East Africa and the people there are so wonderful and really deserve a better option.
I tried this tea when I first got it because I couldn’t wait until the crowdfunding effort went live, now accessible at http://www.justea.com . At the time, I remember that it was malty and a bit sweet, but also with a decent hit of astringency. I think this astringency characterizes African teas in general, and more broadly it applies (for me) to most assams, which makes sense because the tea bushes in Africa are of var. assamica.
I steeped this one for a slightly shorter time than recommended (but at the recommended temp) and it has definitely toned down the astringency a bit. There’s pretty much no completely removing it, but it’s actually desirable for many people (usually described as “briskness”). The cup is a bit malty, with some cocoa notes in the nose but not really on the palate. There is definitely a slight fruitiness to this tea as well, perhaps a bit of stone fruit. Overall a very nice tea, and one I would highly recommend for lovers of a brisk morning cup. I can’t wait to try the Earl Grey that I also have from this company.
A tasty, brisk tea to help you wake up in the morning!
For pictures, and my full review, please visit:
Realized how far I am falling behind in my class that I was ahead of every one else in until I caught the lazies. So today I went to the library and watched all the required videos. Still have to download some example pdf’s and I have two assignments due before Wednesday that will require a ton of research and work.
Walked in the door at home exhausted and knew I needed Earl Grey to help me relax. This is a wonderful version. Not heavy on the bergamot and lots of emphasis on the Kenyan base. Really like this one.
The tea helped but I made the mistake of checking my FB page before coming here. Please bear with me as I vent. Trouble in the praise team is brewing. Ladies, no offense, but in general you are really hard for guys to work with. With guys you just tell them to stop being a jerk and get over themselves – and they do and even if they don’t that’s usually the end of it. Drama and having to constantly calm people down wears thin after a while. The lady involved knows she is behaving terribly but that doesn’t seem to stop her. I’m not in charge so I am not sure why this has become my issue to deal with. Arrgh! Give me strength.
I love it when you wake up and don’t have to debate with your sleepy head on what tea you will start with today. I could smell this before I even got up (metaphorically – cause the tea elves in my home don’t make it to suit me). Filtered my water and prepared a bagel while steeping, now its sippin’ time.
I love the smoothness and the fruity/floral aspects of the bergamot. This really hits all the right buttons for me.
I found out in a comment of my first review that this is named to honor a 93 year old grandmother – so here’s to you Kathryne!
I love Earl Grey and I have some very definite ideas of how it should taste. I have a rule about it when reviewing – if it is anything but tea and bergamot you better call it something else or I will complain. If you change the name I will cut you some slack and judge it on its own merits. This tea passes on both ends of my rule. It is Earl Grey but the name change suggests to me there is something different about it. Thank you Justea for this subtle but important attention to detail.
My normal everyday earl is Ceylon based, which I believe to be the standard. I like my bergamot front and center. I don’t want to have to search for it but don’t overwhelm me. I do demand balance. I want to taste the tea as well. Some tea companies call their tea earl grey and overemphasize the base or the bergamot. Justea once again pays attention to the details and balances this blend nicely.
This particular blend using the Kenyan base is malty and smooth, yet slightly drying. It does not have the throat grabbing bite of the Ceylon standard. This is why I appreciate the name Kathryne, it suggests a softer, more gentle approach to my beloved tea.
The bergamot is very well suited to the base. By my standard it is not overpowering. The flavor is balanced between floral and fruit but I would say leaning towards floral. It is not perfumey or fake tasting. Nicely done.
After sipping this hot, I iced it down and found it to be very refreshing. This takes sweetener well. I greatly enjoyed this one. Thank you Justea.
For those who may have missed it – Justea is a non-profit organization attempting to break the cycle of poverty that too many tea farmers face by teaching them to process their own leaves and selling direct.
My impressions of this tea, based off my first few sips are actually pretty similar to the impression I formed based on the aroma. It has a nutty flavor with a hint of malt, but the sweetness is much more apparent in the brewed tea than it was with just the dry leaf. While the tea is hot I do pick up a hint of astringency, but not enough to bother me, only enough to make itself known. This fades almost completely as the tea cools to room temperature.
I was not provided with suggested times for resteeping this tea so I opted to go with my default for black tea. My second steep was at 4m and produced a cup very similar to the first. I was surprised that this tea actually managed to gain sweetness in the second steep. The more I drink, the more I enjoy the almost fruity aspect of this tea.
You can check out my full review of this tea on my blog http://www.notstarvingyet.com/index/2013/9/16/tuesday-tea-kenyan-black-justea.html
Upon first pour, you immediately notice the malty, earthy aroma. It’s smooth and slightly sweet, and it’s taste profile is reminiscent of a good coffee. There’s very mild dryness, not astringent, with practically no bitterness. It is the best Kenyan black I’ve tried and would definitely recommend it to anyone trying and looking for a good Kenyan Black.
The aroma of this tea is very floral from the bergamot, while the citrus hides in the background.
The bergamot taste is very overpowering, and it lingers melding with a strong citrus taste in the end. It has an astringent finish, with slight bitterness.
This tea is drinkable for me, but definitely does not rank high in my list of Earl Greys.
What a pleasant smelling tea! The aroma is a wonderful mix of earthy and malty with a slight note of nuttiness. It is a very clean, pure tea smell which I think would be great to drink on its own but also a perfect base for blends.
Again the sweetness, I think I have found the source of that intoxicating sweet aroma in the other teas. The aroma is a wonderful mix of malt, marshmallows, cocoa nibs, and delicate earthiness. I almost feel the aroma of this tea can be a dessert all on its own.
My favorite of the three! I love this tea, it is a perfect blend of maltiness, richness, earthiness and sweetness. I am not sure why this black tea is so sweet but it is, it is not sugary sweet I should say, but very sweet for a tea. I stand by my original assumption that this tea would be great in blends. I feel like this tea has the best aspect of Assam, Keemun, and Kenyan blacks and blended it into a magical happy taste. I am certainly going to be getting more of the Kenyan Black for my collection.
Woo! That Earl packs a punch! Very strong bergamot and what seems like a mild note of lemons hiding under the bergamot. Not an unpleasant potency, it would be perfect as a wake up aroma. I often amuse myself by comparing a good Earl Grey to Victorian smelling salts, it would make a better fainting remedy I think! The aroma is very tart with little whispers of malt from the base tea.
Sweetness, that was something I was not expecting! After the initial surprise of the sweet aroma I get lots of citrus: lemons, oranges, bergamot, it is a veritable citrus melange. There is also a very pleasant underlying maltiness to the aroma that I am thoroughly enjoying.
I did not like this tea, and I feel really awful for saying it. I thought perhaps it was a fault on my end so I brewed a new cup with a lower temperature and I still did not enjoy it. The taste was unpleasantly bitter, the bitterness you get when eating a citrus fruit and you make the mistake of accidentally eating the rind. After the initial (almost medicinal tasting) bitterness fades you are left with the taste of sweetness and bergamot. As the tea cools the bitterness fades some but it is replaced with tartness, it is better but still not my…umm…cup of tea
Very sweet and very spicy are the first things I notice when appreciating this tea. The leaves and spices are a beautiful combination of colors…pardon me while I ogle this tea for a moment. The aroma blends earthiness, floral (mostly rose), pepper, and fennel notes with little hints of licorice and coriander for a powerful yet subtle aroma. It reminds me of the spice bushes I had in my yard when I was a little girl.
The spiciness has increased! Very peppery, which I like, also very earthy, which I also like. For all that is smells very spicy it is also very mild. Nothing really over powers your senses so you can just inhale the aroma and enjoy it. This chai smells mouthwatering.
My first impression on this tea is ‘what an unusual chai’ the spices blend together but no one flavor sticks out. This is just a personal preference, but when I drink chai I like one flavor to be king while the other flavors play as courtier to it. The fennel gives a wonderful mouth tingle (always a favorite) and mix that with the pepper, sweetness, and spice warmth and you almost get a chai that feels like a palate cleanser. I do feel like there may be too many spices or just too much going on because the flavors become muddied. Just as a contrast, Ben had a taste and really enjoyed it, so I do not think this is any fault of the tea just a preference thing. The chai becomes sweeter as it cools and gains a level of richness. I am curious to try this as an iced chai at some point.
Additional notes: I was thinking of buying some of this one (which I really shouldn’t!) but luckily Dexter3657 sent me a few extra teaspoons in that awesome package so it will prevent me from buying some at the moment. :D thanks so much! This time around it doesn’t taste like Yunnan, though at the time I thought I was projecting what I wanted it to taste like anyway. It is tough to describe how this DOES taste other then Kenyan tea. Kenyan tea actually has its own flavor profile, especially if it isn’t processed in the CTC way and you can actually taste anything through all that astringency. But this is unique & nice.
I was in the mood for a Yunnan tea, but I thought I’d give this one a try. Even though this is a Kenyan tea, it has the exact flavor profile I wanted anyway. Malty chocolately goodness! After a three minute steep the flavor is divine (it might be a bit much for some, but it has the perfect astringency for me). So it has the malt and chocolate of a Yunnan tea, but there is an astringency here that might not usually be with a Yunnan. The brisk Yunnan then! The flavor reminds me of something I recently had but I’m not sure what it was — definitely something from Butiki or Teavivre though… so only the best! The cup color is a lovely light mahogany. The dry leaves are very black and about a half inch long, the fragrance is surprisingly grassy! I know I’ve compared this to a Yunnan, but that is only because that was what I was in the mood for and was surprised that it was so similar. This MUST be the best Kenyan tea I’ve tried. Very delicious! I will certainly enjoy the rest of my free sample — thank you!
I have to thank justea for the big samples and especially for there work with this fairtrade project in kenya. I just love it when people help others, people that in many options don’t got a other way off living deserve some help and if that tea kitchen is a way to help get them more self employed then thats a very good thing!
Now time for tea talk!
The dry leaf smell very fresh and even a bit fruity tough this is the regular kenyan black. When brewing the leaf the liquor turns out a ruby like red (just like someone else here on steepster noticed). Never had a African tea except some rooibos but technically speaking thats a herbal.
I’m fond of strong black tea’s like assam, in color this reminds me a bit of assam tea. My first sips with this tea is when its a bit to hot. But even then i can notice a strong full body element. When its cooled down a bit more u get a fresh riche taste thats a bit malty!
I’m comparing this to great assam and its passing the test. If the cost for sending a larger parcel isn’t to big i’m pretty damn sure i’m going to order this again!
I’m very surprised about the quality of this tea, didn’t know the region was able to produce tea’s that in quality might be equal with chinese and indian tea’s…
The brew in the picture looks orange. In my cup it was more of a beautiful ruby red. I was completely surprised by this tea. After reading that 95% of bagged black tea is Kenyan tea, I was expecting this to taste like, well tea. You know like the grocery store stuff. Nope not even close! This is wonderfully malty. Silky smooth with no rough edges. Not bitter. Slightly drying. Nice depth.
Even if this were not part of a great non-profit effort to break the cycle of poverty in Kenya, I would still recommend this. It is really good.
More in depth review here: http://theeverdayteablog.blogspot.com/2013/09/justea-kenyan-black-tea.html