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Recent Tasting Notes
f I had to choose between dark oolong or green oolong, for me it would be green every time. I find them characterful and unique, with more variation in flavour than I’ve typically found (at least so far…) among their roasted counterparts. And that’s coming from a habitual black tea drinker.
Himalayan Shangri-la is a Nepalese Oolong from 2015. It’s a first flush, or spring, oolong comprising highly graded leaves taken from a single estate.
The leaf here is pretty impressive – they’re long and twisty, with a high predominance of downy buds, and vary from a dark khaki to the palest green-silver. The scent is lightly vegetal and just a touch floral, in the way of orchids.
Just received my order from Teabox for Diwali and this was a free sample included. From my forays into all things Indian tea from last year, Darjeeling oolongs are a softer version of the muscatels blacks from the same region but with a more pleasant complex aroma and flavor. This is a very nice representation of the oolongs I tasted previously, soft and light but with enough of a bouquet of dried apple to bring you in. Flavors of malt and plum pit and the faint rose finish the flavor profile albeit soft and gentle. Not much caffeine to speak of so I may purchase a bit to enjoy in the afternoons after some yard work and gardening.
This is so good and now it’s gone. A rich, bold Assam with a dominant brown sugar note, lots of malt and a hint of fruitiness.
Minimally astringent – this would be great with milk and sugar, but it doesn’t need it.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Fruity, Malt
I was looking at the statistics of my blog and realized that once again I was oblivious to a milestone! I totally derped over a week ago when I missed my three year blog anniversary, and four days ago I derped and missed my 900th post. That is a lot, and considering I have notebooks filled with notes that have not made it onto the blog yet (or ever in the case of some teas and companies going away) I really do drink a lot of tea and have a lot to say about it, in perspective you can say that yes I am obsessed. Also, speaking of the blog, starting tomorrow posts will be going up every other day, I am excited to see how this new schedule will affect things!
You know one of my favorite things about reviewing Darjeeling teas? Knowing the name of the estate they come from so I can google the region and ogle pretty pictures, really this region of India is so gorgeous. Today’s tea is one of those, Teabox’s Upper Namring Exotic Spring Black Tea, this estate is both old and big, so big it is split into upper and lower, and then split into three gardens, with Upper Namring being the highest. The leaves are quite pretty, marbled greens, silvery fuzz, and golden tones, they look like sunlight through summer leaves. The aroma is delicate, notes of coriander and delicate distant flowers mix with fresh green grapes and a bit of raw rice blend with a subtle honey sweetness.
I decided to be a weirdo and brew this tea pseudo gongfu style and use my clay pot dedicated to first flush Darjeeling since the poor thing was gathering dust. After steeping, wow, the leaves really woke up! Very sweet scuppernong and honey aroma blend with a bit of arugula and nasturtium flowers giving it a peppery zing. The liquid has sweet scuppernongs and delicate distant nasturtiums with a bit of lettuce and coriander, blending green and sweet fairly well.
The first steep starts sweet, but has a slight briskness to it that keeps the sweetness from becoming too cloying and thick. The first note that popped up was sweet white grapes, they have a bit of tanginess making them more like table grapes than my beloved scuppernongs. Next is a blend of coriander, lemon blossom, and a crisp lettuce note. For the finish it is herbaceous coriander and a touch of sweet starchiness and distant flowers that linger into the aftertaste.
The second steep is much lighter in both aroma and taste, the aroma being mostly distant lettuce and sweet grapes. The taste is so sweet, no briskness to be found, just dense honey thick grape juice with a hint of lettuce at the finish. This is definitely the type of Darjeeling I would recommend to someone who likes their tea sweet, or is new to the fine world of first flush, it needs a little bit of a gentle hand with temperature, but will result in a wonderfully sweet steeping session.
What a pleasant surprise…Lavender Spell Tea from TeaBox! Of course the aroma of Lavender Spell Tea from TeaBox is that of lavender and that is only ‘helped’ by the secondary aroma of sweet greens. When it comes to taste the lavender is first and foremost followed by a bit of menthol minty-ness. The best part of this tea is the combo of ingredients which is black tea, lavender, and cornflower. The cornflower – I feel – is mostly for show – but – could could possible add a bit of floral flavor to it as well.
This is one of many first flushes I ordered from Teabox. I’ve been impressed by their customer service and the quality of the tea.
This tea had a lovely fresh quality. I agree with the notes on the tea from the vendor: white flowers, green, toasted almond in the scent. The green isn’t the green of edibles, but perhaps wormwood or another garden plant.
The taste is also consistent with the vendor notes: citrus blossom, dried fig and tree fruits. But I think those words give the impression that the tea is lush and it isn’t. I also taste something like how wormwood smells.
It’s not a bad thing, but I don’t think first flush teas have lush qualities typically. Even if the scent makes you think it will be. Especially in the non-clonal types.
There’s something slightly dry and in the front of the nose that it’s unique to FF Darjeeling. Hard to describe. It is almost resinous and herbal.
All in all, a pleasing light tea.
Per the company’s description, there’s a decidedly grape and parsley scent to the tea; can’t say I picked up on any blueberry though. And when consumed, the flavor somehow morphs into more of a rose with a hint of plum, though muddled with a host of other indiscernable elements. Nice. The directions on the package say to give it 5 minutes of steeping, but I found that made the tea WAY too bitter. Taking it down to 3 minutes produced a much more palatable experience.
Flavors: Plums, Rose
Very berry and tasting every bit of a summer Darjeeling. A tad on the bitter side, despite my fairly light touch with the temperature and time. It’s a nice tea. I’d prefer a 1st flush to the summer varieties, any day, but it’s still quite pleasant.
So, recently a patch came out for Ark on the xbone, and I just downloaded it today and played for a bit. The last patch was supposed to fix the pretty obnoxious and game breaking crash glitch and it didn’t fix the problem at all, so I was pretty disheartened. Luckily for me the glitch was fixed, so I was able to play for a bit…granted there are still other problems, but none of them make the game unplayable so I am fine with that!
Today I am looking at Jasmine Jade Tea from Teabox, an Indian green tea blended with jasmine flowers and I believe scented as well, though I am unclear on that point. This is not a tea for the faint of heart, seriously, if you are not a massive fan of jasmine walk away now before you get sucked into a walled garden ruled by the heady flower. This is the tea where the jasmine is in control, from the moment you open the bag, jasmine is there with its vaguely hypnotic potency. Have I made it clear that this jasmine is super strong? It is not perfume-like and cloying, it smells like full on blooming jasmine with a hint of fresh grapes and a tiny bit of vegetal green.
I waffled about how to brew this tea for a few, on the one hand it is a tea from India and they (not always) tend to prefer western style steepings, but on the other hand I have had some great luck with greens gongfu style, so gaiwan time it is! I was expecting a small jasmine thing explosion to go off in my tea area, but it was pleasantly balanced with vegetal spinach and a touch of distant grapes. The liquid is light and sweet, with obvious notes of jasmine, but also notes of spinach and a touch of faint smoke, which was surprising.
The first steep was intense, it starts with scuppernong sweetness and honey and then explodes, I think a jasmine plant just bloomed in my mouth. It is really kinda fascinating, it manages to be intense and heady, but it does not overstay its welcome and also does not overwhelm. This is my biggest problem with a lot of jasmine teas, I want to taste the jasmine but not be smothered by it. This tea is like jasmine nectar and I might have transformed into a hummingbird for this steep.
Next steep is a bit different, the jasmine has bloomed and all that is left is its ghost, and a nice dose of green! It is fresh like spring green plants and vegetal like spinach and a touch of asparagus. There is a tiny bit of smoke and honey. It is sweet and the aftertaste holds the ghost of jasmine blossoms nicely. I admit to not being the biggest fan of jasmine, but this one works for me!
Today is the day of the Derelict Reaper, my favorite plot mission in Mass Effect 2, I mean how could I not love it? It is crawling with reaper themed enemies (still want to paint a zombie to look like a Husk to live on my desk) and all the references to space Cthulhu make me happy. I really do love the Reapers, they might be one of my favorite things about this series and the reason why I picked Scourge as my army in Dropzone Commander. Though the inside of the sleeping god did spark debate between Ben and myself as to whether or not the interior design was at all creepy. He thinks the designers found organic (it is very Giger) things to be creepy but the ‘grimdark organic cathedral’ fails at being at all creepy, and is not a big fan. I find the design to be all sorts of awesome, but not at all scary…in fact other than the dangling wires I find it a bit cozy.
For today’s tea I am taking a look at Teabox’s blend Mountain Rose, a blend of roses, black tea, jasmine, rose hips, and cardamon…ah roses and cardamon, two of my favorite ingredients in a tea blend. As I have stated many times how rose in tea reminds me of rose milk or Persian and Indian desserts, add in cardamon and you more or less have kulfi, which is delicious. The aroma of the tea is wonderfully sweet, strong notes of rose and jasmine with underlying notes of malt and cardamon, a tiny touch of saffron and tangy rose hips tie it off at the finish. It is a very dessert like tea, the floral notes compliment the black tea base and spices quite well.
Steeping this tea was quite lovely, the aroma of rose and cardamon wafted out of my steeping apparatus and coated the area in a heady fog. There are also notes of jasmine and malt, with a touch of saffron and woodiness. Luckily for me the jasmine is gentle and not at all overpowering. The liquid is nectar sweet, with strong notes of cardamon and rose and a gentle jasmine note that dances with heavy malt and a touch of saffron.
What a smooth and sweet tea! Mellow notes of jasmine and malt at the front that very quickly give way to heady rose and sweet cardamon and honey. Towards the end of the tea is slight tanginess that is a blend of rose hips and also a bit of cherries, with a lingering rose finish. This tea is wonderful hot, but it is also pretty spectacular cold steeped as well, with the notes of cardamon and rose becoming stronger and the jasmine really taking the back seat. Even Ben, who is usually not a huge fan of rose flavored things (more for me!) liked this tea, it is well balanced and the cardamon mellows out the floral notes keeping them from being overpowering.
I have a lot of love for fresh first flush Darjeeling (Nepal) teas. The season came around, and I had to scoop a bunch up. This is the first of many. I open the package and take a soft inhale. I am surrounded by a sweet squash flower scent with dark heavy wood and sap flowers. I can note a light spice of anise and peppercorn that lingers in the background. I warmed up my tetsubin and scoop the delicate vibrant leaves in. I filled the pot up and grabbed my cast iron cup and prepared for relaxation and sippin’. The taste was spot on. My first word on my notepad is simply “perfect”. The body was thick and sweet with a slight tang in the aftertaste. The liquor flows smoothly and calmly over the palette with a heavy floral note and roasted green base. A can pin point a bright hyacinth note that blossoms out of the brew. The aftertaste is thick and lasting with a candied sweetness. The brew continues in this manner and progresses with a slight astringency that keeps the brew interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I always love what Namring brings to the table.
Flavors: Anise, Candy, Floral, Green, Peppercorn, Squash Blossom, Sweet
Ben and I are, after many years, replaying Mass Effect, the whole series. It was my favorite game series ever, well until the infamous ending of Mass Effect 3, which in all honesty burned me out on fiction and games with an RPG element for a while, but I might have taken it too seriously (I do that) With the talks of Mass Effect Andromeda in my future, and having finally gotten over the ending, it was time to revisit my favorite series, but problem is we both wanted to play again. Joint playthrough time! It feels good, very nostalgic, so much so I had to bring my Dropzone Desolator…which just looks like a Reaper…to live on my desk once more.
When one is busily playing video games and snacking on Haldiram’s Kaju Mix snacks, one needs a robust Masala Chai to provide sustenance. Today I am looking at Teabox’s Assam Masala Chai, a blend of CTC Assam, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper corns. I love Masala Chai blends that include lots of pepper and cardamon, so this blend makes me happy. You can really smell the cardamon and ginger too, the pepper is not faint, and the other spices are robust but less so. A lot of Masala Chai blends tend to go heavy on the cinnamon and cloves, both of which I like, but to me they say Christmas rather than tea, so I am happy for those two being on the milder side. The Assam adds a sweet and robust malty quality that is not totally overpowered by the spices, which is most excellent.
Into a pot of milk and a bit of water the tea goes for a simmer, my kitchen smells great now, strong cardamon and ginger, pepper and cinnamon, and of course a bit of cloves and rich malty tea fill the entire room. Making Masala Chai smells great, and I love how it just inundates the entire area like a spicy potpourri.
I decided to sweeten the Masala Chai with a sugar stick, because I never get the chance to use them, Masala Chai and Ostfriesen Tea are the only time I ever sweeten my tea anymore, or use creamy additives for that matter. This is a wonderful Masala Chai, but I am a sucker for a Masala Chai with an Assam base, it gives the tea a richness and a briskness that I love. The spice blend was quite well balanced, with more focus being put on the cardamon and ginger, with a more gentle accompaniment of pepper and cinnamon, with a bit of cloves. I actually wish the spices would have been a bit stronger, I can always go with more pepper or more cardamon, but for people who like a milder and well balanced chai with a wonderfully tasty base tea I highly recommend it.
I don’t do flavored teas, do to the overwhelming amount of straight teas to choose from, so I really needed to twist my own arm to try this free sample. I’m glad I did. The aroma as I opened the bag was in your face bergamot, but when I took my time to appreciate it instead of backing away I was floored with the nuance of the aromas. Yes bergamot leads the way but it is really not that overpowering and in a way fronts for the subtle notes of floral tones that I can best describe as a potpourri my mom used in my bedroom as a kid and I was a stinky kid at that.
The infusion also has the same aroma profile leading down the road to happy thoughts. Never gave aroma therapy much thought being a western ICU RN, but this really has calming effects. The flavor is exactly as the company says, “gardenia, white rose and sweet lime”, well rosy as I don’t think I could distinguish between white, red or pink roses. The bergamot is so well blended in with this white tea that you cannot discern it as an additive as much as part of the tea leaves. I have sampled some of Teabox white teas and they are pretty good and this base tea is one of them, unfortunately they do not list the variety they used.
Wow, that was a mouthful for me. Teabox is definitely one of my favorite companies, and as a rule the more pricey an item is the better the quality, but here they have really exceptional quality for all their teas no matter the price.
Got a sample of this in a recent order from Teabox.
The leaf is a lovely mix of blackish green through olive to silvery green leaves and buds. Dry, it has a hay and citrus aroma. The liquor is golden in colour with a citrusy and floral aroma. It tastes of mango, citrus and something floral. Basically, it’s a tropical mix that is not as sweet as some Darjeelings I have had, but is really light and refreshing despite the heavy flavours. Two thumbs up for this blend.
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Hay, Mango
I got a sample of this with my recent order to Teabox. I would not normally buy breakfast blends, or any other blend really, but the weather has put me in the mood for something more autumnal than the Darjeelings that I have been stuffing my face with recently.
My misgivings about breakfast blends aside, this is pretty good for what it is. The dry leaf has an earthy, malty aroma. The aroma of the liquor is plum and Christmas pudding. It tastes malty and fruity with a bit of sweetness, but also a sharp edge on the side of the tongue. The malt character remains in the aftertaste too. Not bad. It does not rank up with my favourite teas, but then it is a fraction of the price, and taking that into consideration, it is pretty good.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Malt, Plums
Very fluffy twisted and clean looking leaves in a dark and white array, very visually appealing as I’ve come to expect from Teabox. The smell of the leaves is already quite sweet, with a floral fragrance.
The brewed liquor is an orange gold, very fragrant aroma of lilies and sugar and some other flower. The taste is as sweet as the smell, with a piney pepper touch to it when hot and a juicy berry-like finish that gets stronger as it cools. The aroma lingers after swallowing and leaves a moderately dry feeling to the tongue.
A nice, mindless tea to sip and enjoy since the flavors are light despite being very prominent, although something about this particular kind of sweet is offputting to me (in my opinion, it almost tastes like artificial sweetener like splenda) and although the initial taste is strong with that sweet flavor, something, somewhere, inbetween makes this taste almost thin to me.
Flavors: Berry, Floral, Pine, Spices, Sweet
Too busy enjoying this one to write a proper note right now. Suffice to say that the warm grassy aroma of the dry leaf, the honey and citrus aroma of the liquor and the sweet, slightly nutty taste is just what I wanted on a sunny bank holiday afternoon. Teas like this are the reason why Darjeelings are my favourite black teas. Now, I must get back to working or there will be no new berserkjaknowledge being spread around.
Flavors: Citrus, Hay, Honey, Nutty, Sweet
It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in Cobh and I have survived a trip into Cork. Ye gods, but the train was packed. It’s not that packed during the week when I commute into work! And the streets here are swarming with tourists come for that authentic Titanic experience. So, I am trapped in my flat for the afternoon now, unless I want to dodge people wandering aimlessly, looking everywhere but where they are going. Ah well, at least I have two consolations: 1. the view from my flat is excellent; 2. I have just made a cup of this tea. Combining the two leaves me feeling very relaxed. Better not get too relaxed though or I’ll get no work done …
So, the tea. It’s the 2016 first flush. The dry leaf has the sweet smell of fresh hay. The leaves are a mix of silver, green and brown. The liquor is a golden, champagne colour and smells sweet and floral with malty notes. It has a really silky, smooth, almost glassy mouthfeel. The floral sweetness extends into the tasting, ending in a sparkling astringency in the aftertaste that lasts for some time. It’s really light and refreshing and there is an element of that relaxing chi that I find in some puerhs. I am really enjoying it, so it is a shame that it does not really resteep at all. Nevertheless, two thumbs up; I do like a good Darjeeling and this is definitely good.
Flavors: Floral, Hay, Malt, Sweet
This tea was enjoyable, but not my favorite. I have fallen in love with Keemuns, and may have lost the taste I previously acquired for Darjeelings, as the astringency and muscatel flavor were more pronounced to me than usual. I will have to mix my Darjeelings and Keemuns to see what happens, as recommended previously.