What-Cha

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Recent Tasting Notes

81

This is a queued tasting note.

Gong Fu/Stream of Consciousness style review:

5 sec rinse and rest…

5 sec
- Slight astringency + thick mouthfeel
- Thick malt top notes
- Body/finish = Rye, raisin, cocoa

7 sec
- Much the same as previous steep
- Perhaps more sweetness and more overall cocoa

10 sec
- Definitely feels more well rounded
- Malt/cocoa/honey/red fruits
- Lingering sweet finish

12 sec
- Top notes of honey and red fruits
- Raisin/malt slowly creep in
- Sweetness has a clean finish
- Malt lingers

15 sec
- Clean, sweet, fruity top notes
- Intro. of cane sugar notes??
- Otherwise pretty much the same as previous infusion

18 sec
- Malt, raisin, cocoa, red fruit, cane sugar, honey, caramel
- Feels quite well rounded and sweet now

25 sec
- Yes! Well rounded, clean profile
- Flavour of malt/raisin/cocoa is diminishing
- Which leaves stronger feeling, lovely fruit notes

I felt like this was both the decrescendo of the session as well as the sweet spot, but like often seems to happen I looked at the clock and realized that I had to stop the session to start getting ready for work. I would have loved to see this one through to completion though. It was an otherwise A+ session though, despite a bit of a harsher start.

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Rinse at 100C, let it rest, flash steep at 95C.

So I was going to rinse this one twice, but decided to sip the second rinse. Glad I did! A lighter amber in color, this liquor tastes of a distinct blend of citrus and tamari, with a sweetness that builds in the mouth and at the back of the throat.

The second flash steep has an intense, super-rich condensed milk custard aroma, and tastes of honey and lemon stirred into hot water, with a slight umami kick that rolls into a savory and sour shoyu finish with a lingering sweetness. The aroma that clings to the empty cup is mouth-watering and fruity.

Third steep has more sour stone fruit coming through, and in the fourth steep, I’m starting to almost taste that condensed milkiness, and all of this carries on into the next couple of steeps. Once the flavor started to weaken, I hit it with boiling water from height and left it for a longer steep, and that revived it for a few more rounds.

This was very unique and I quite liked it. I could see myself stocking up this.

Flavors: Citrus, Custard, Lemon, Pleasantly Sour, Soy sauce, Stonefruits, Sweet, Umami

Preparation
5 g

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89

Perfectly described on the website – ‘…smooth sweet clean taste coupled with light fruitiness and a gentle lingering bitterness’

Thats basically it in a nutshell – I found this easy to drink, the vege-bitter was never overpowering, slight cooling menthol-aroma also part of that aspect. Sweetness, decent longevity – i’m still drinking it well over 10 steeps. Also nice price being a tenner for 100g, and UK-based, so good value for me.

tanluwils

Haven’t placed an order from Tea Urchin yet for the same reasons. $20, no thank you.

Nattie

I had no idea What-Cha was UK based! This is not going to be good for my hoarding…

Rasseru

Oh nattie… what-cha is my impulse tea buy go-to :) order it midweek to get here by the weekend

Rasseru

Tanluwils, maybe mention it on the forum, and others might want to order at the same time and you can group buy to save on shipping :)

tanluwils

Not a bad idea!

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90

Time for my first tea review! I got my sampler set from what-cha.com and decided to review all the teas in it.

This tea is excellent. It tastes surprisingly sweet for an unsweetened tea. The flavour reminds me of honeysuckle, and it’s very light and… spring…y?

I’d recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of lighter green teas, or anyone who’s stuck in the midst of gloomy weather and wants a little taste of spring.

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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89

The backlog will once again be cleared after I finish typing this review. I received an approximately 4 gram mini sample of this with a What-Cha order in the second half of 2016, and as usual, it was tossed into the sample pile and promptly forgotten. I had the urge to start Saturday with a gongfu session, however, and wanted to try something unique. As I dug through the sample hoard, I came to this one and put it aside as an option. It ultimately came down to this or What-Cha’s Vietnam Gui Fei and I ended up deciding on this one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style, but managed to totally misinterpret one of the more important parts of What-Cha’s brewing parameters-the water temperature. What-Cha recommends a water temperature of 167 F for this one. I am so used to brewing oolong between 185 and 208 F that I accidentally set my electric kettle on 195 F. By the time I realized my mistake, I had already rinsed the tea and decided that I may as well carry on. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped the 4 ounces of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off pleasant, though subtle aromas of hay, cream, butter, Muscat grape, osmanthus, and apricot. After the rinse, the floral and fruity aromas intensified somewhat. The first infusion produced a similar, though noticeably more floral aroma with hints of rose and violet. In the mouth, I picked up fairly balanced notes of cream, butter, hay, apricot, osmanthus, violet, and rose underscored by a hint of Muscat grape on the finish. Subsequent infusions were much more floral and fruity. The aromas of osmanthus, Muscat, violet, and rose intensified. In the mouth, much more pronounced notes of fresh flowers, apricot, and grape rose to the fore, balanced by a smattering of smooth creamy, buttery notes, an emerging bready quality, and a lingering hint of hay. The later infusions were predictably smooth and mild. Cream, butter, hay, bread, and grape remained both on the nose and in the mouth. I could also detect a faint trace of minerals on the finish.

The only previous reviewer to this point noted that the low water temperature perhaps kept the leaf balls from unfurling completely. Considering that I brewed this tea with a water temperature 28 degrees higher than the vendor’s recommended brewing temperature, I did not have that problem. What was most surprising to me was that my blunder regarding the water temperature did not completely sink this one. Brewing at a higher temperature produced a very direct, robust tea with completely over-the-top floral and fruity aromas and flavors. I’m willing to bet that had I used a lower temperature closer to the vendor’s recommended water temperature, this would have been a much more mellow and subtle tea. Regardless of whether or not that is the case, I still liked this tea quite a bit. It was not particularly subtle or deep, but it was still very good. The aromas and flavors of rose and violet in the early and middle infusions were absolutely amazing.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Mineral, Muscatel, Osmanthus, Rose, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

http://steepster.com/teas/what-cha/50704-nepal-monsoon-flush-2014-pearl-oolong-tea I think it is the same, but different season. Grandpa style was good from the season I had.

eastkyteaguy

Daylon, the one I had was actually the 2015 Monsoon Flush. I double checked that myself.

Daylon R Thomas

Cool. Violet is a floral that I’ve seen people use more often. I guess I have to try some again myself to remember what it is like.

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Mmm, I do love me some Gui Fei.

In fact, I just ordered 50g more of it from Camellia Sinensis and at that point I hadn’t even tried the 50g package of this sitting on my shelf! So, I rectified that this afternoon and during a more mentally clear point in the day I steeped up a mug of it.

This was pretty nice Western steeped! Much like your typical/generic Gui Fei profile this had a lovely honeyed sweetness to the profile. I’d call it sort of light to medium bodied overall with a very soft, gentle toasty roasted flavour as the key/main background and supporting flavour throughout the sip. Otherwise, notes of honey, lemon water, and wood were present. Really smooth, and easy to sip. In fact, before I knew it the entire mug was already gone!

I want to clarify the lemon water note a bit better though. When I say lemon water that isn’t to say that it was a weak or watery lemon flavour but rather the smooth, crisp and refreshing lemon quality that lemon infused water has without any of the tartness/sourness or acidity. It was actually a really pleasant and enjoyable fruity note in this particular Gui Fei.

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Thank you again hawkband1! Yet another one I was curious yet hesitant about, but the notes pretty much describe it. This was a slightly drying, floral, grape-y tea with a darker malt background. It actually reminded me of eating Satay Chicken with peanut and cucumber sauces.

If I were to taste it blind, I would think it was either a Darjeeling white or first flush young black. Again, drying, sweet, floral, citrusy, and a little bit bitter. Tannin is a good way to describe it, which is also why it made me think of a black. Then again, some Darjeelings and Nepalese are closer in oxidation to oolongs than average blacks. It was similar to the Nepalese pearl that I had from What-Cha, but again, I would not be able to tell this was a oolong. Nepal needs some more love though.

I really liked this one, but I’m not sure I’d want to own an amount of it. I still prefer the blacks more than the oolongs from this region, but this was still an excellent tea because of its first flush like qualities in a lighter body.

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91

This black tea is one of a number of unique African teas What-Cha sources from the Satemwa Tea & Coffee Estate in the Shire Highlands of Malawi. This particular tea is produced exclusively from leaves Satemwa buys from Yamba, one of the local tea farmers. I found it to be a smooth, malty black tea ideal for early morning or afternoon consumption.

I brewed this tea Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 203 F water for 4 minutes. I did not attempt additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted a leafy, malty aroma. After infusion, I easily detected aromas of malt, toast, cream, caramel, sorghum molasses, and orange. In the mouth, I picked up distinct notes of orange, toast, caramel, cream, malt, and sorghum molasses balanced by traces of leather, black cherry, and wood. What-Cha advertised this tea as possessing a distinct impression of honey, but I failed to get that out of it.

Many of the African black teas I have tried have been very hit or miss for me, but this one I greatly enjoyed. I found it to be a smooth, rich, malty tea with considerably more depth and complexity than expected. I think fans of maltier black teas like Assam would find quite a bit to like about this one.

Flavors: Caramel, Cherry, Cream, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Orange, Toast, Wood

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Evol Ving Ness

This one is very very tempting. (But the last few months have been killers on my tea budget. Killers.)

Teatotaler

Oh yes! I’m about to place a What-Cha order and I ’m very tempted to add this one as well.

eastkyteaguy

Teatotaler, I think one’s enjoyment of this tea will depend largely on how one feels about black teas on the maltier end of the spectrum. I think that if you enjoy orthodox Assams or African black teas, then you will likely enjoy this one.

Teatotaler

I adore malty orthodox Assams and African black teas. Thank you, eastkyteaguy. I always enjoy your reviews!

eastkyteaguy

Thank you, Teatotaler. I appreciate the kind words. If you end up trying this one, please let me know what you think.

Teatotaler

I will most gladly do that, eastkyteaguy.

Evol Ving Ness

I adore malty orthodox Assams and African black teas. Thank you, eastkyteaguy. I always enjoy your reviews!

Yes, exactly that. On all counts. I like to settle into your reviews with a nice cup of tea, not the one you are writing about though, to luxuriate in the tea you are on about.

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82

Since I have already reviewed three Georgian black teas offered by What-Cha, I may as well go ahead and post a review of a fourth. This was the tea I unwound with after work today. What-Cha described it as having a somewhat different character compared to the other Georgian black teas offered. I have to say that I found that description to be accurate.

I prepared this tea Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. Again, I did not attempt additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, I noted that a whiff of the dry tea leaves did not reveal aromas of dried fruit, mild spice, or nuts. Like the other teas, there was a pronounced malty scent, but it was more of a dark malt scent. There was also a subtle dried leaf scent coupled with a mellow woody aroma. After infusion, I picked up strong aromas of malt, cream, wood, and toast. Again, there was a slightly leafy quality on the nose. In the mouth, a rich malt note took center stage, balanced by notes of cream, wood, toast, orange, and raisin. The finish was rich and smooth. It was heavy on the malt and cream, though there was enough of a raisin presence to provide some balance.

While the other Georgian black teas were consistent in their demonstration of light malt and golden raisin notes, this tea was full of cream, dark malt, and darker raisin flavors. The persistent maltiness coupled with the tea’s leafy and woody characteristics reminded me more than a bit of some of the high-end Assams I have consumed in recent years. Though I did not enjoy this one quite as much as What-Cha’s other Georgian black teas, I think fans of maltier black teas would be pleased with it.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cream, Malt, Orange, Raisins, Toast, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

Today I continued to plow through the sample packets of What-Cha’s Georgian black teas that I managed to acquire over the course of the past year. I started on this one last night and finished it up this afternoon. Compared to the Natela’s Gold Standard and Mr. Ramiz’s Hand-Made Black Tea, this one displayed a simpler character in the mouth with a pronounced toasty, fruity finish.

I prepared this tea Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted strong aromas of raisin and prune underscored by a hint of malt. After infusion, the dried fruit aromas were balanced by aromas of malt, toast, cream, and a hint of mild spice. In the mouth, I picked up smoothly integrated notes of malt, cream, and toast underscored by touches of raisin, cherry, fig, almond, and nutmeg. Oddly, the expected prune note was missing. The finish was long and mellow, presenting a lovely and harmonious blend of fig, raisin, toast, cream, and malt.

Lighter in flavor than the previous two Georgian black teas I have reviewed, yet with an unexpectedly strong, integrated finish that more than made up for the tea’s initial timidity, this tea shared more than enough strengths with the other two to justify a similarly high rating. I just could not find much to fault with this one. If you were a fan of either of the other two Georgian black teas mentioned above, there is a very good chance that you will also enjoy this one.

Flavors: Almond, Cherry, Cream, Fig, Malt, Nutmeg, Raisins, Toast

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Got this to see how we like it, as we love the one from YS but it’s out of stock on US site. Threw the whole sample into the gaiwan, which includes a 2g piece of bitter melon. Interesting, the aroma kind of reminds me of the bug bitten oolongs we’ve had. Did a quick wash to get rid of some of the fannings and dust.

The flavor also reminds me of some of those oolongs, and it has a distinctly roasted flavor. I like it more than I’ve liked some other heavy roasted oolongs, which are not usually my thing. Has a thick sweet aroma that clings to the cup once emptied. Definitely getting some plummy notes. The longer I steep this, it starts to become a bit reminiscent of some of the heicha I’ve had.

Third steep I think was done too cool at 90C, but had a returning, syrupy sweetness. The longer I drink this, the more I realize that its age is increasingly apparent to me and that along with the heavy roast certainly set it apart from what I’m more accustomed to.

A couple more steeps, really start to get that fruity sweet and sourness really starts to come through and the liquor gets thick and viscous. I do feel like I can feel this tea coursing through my body in a sense.

Got a good few steeps out of this one but the flavor died down pretty quickly. This was good. I would drink it again, for sure, but it probably wouldn’t be my number one go to.

Flavors: Pleasantly Sour, Plums, Roasted, Sweet, Thick

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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90

Another of the Georgian teas I acquired from What-Cha during the second half of 2016, I finished off the last of my sample pouch this afternoon. I got so used to the recommended steeping process for Natela’s Gold Standard that I ended up using 203 F water instead of 194 F water the first time I brewed a cup of this tea. It turns out that nine degree difference in temperature really makes a difference with this tea. Brewing it again at the recommended temperature resulted in a much more flavorful cup.

I brewed this tea Western style. Rather than attempt multiple infusions, I favored a simple one step infusion process. Note that in this review I am specifically referring to the latter brewing method referred to above-3 grams of loose tea leaves steeped in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted a malty, slightly fruity scent. After infusion, I picked up pronounced aromas of cream, malt, raisin, almond, and nutmeg. In the mouth, I detected dominant notes of cream, malt, and toast balanced by gentle, subtle notes of apricot, golden raisin, and yellow plum. Notes of nutmeg and almond were also detectable, becoming more noticeable on the smooth, malty, and subtly fruity finish.

Overall, I really liked this tea. It came across as being smoother and more balanced than Natela’s Gold Standard, though it also lacked the pronounced fruitiness I so admired in that tea. Still, I found it to be very good. I think it would be a perfect tea for whenever one is just looking for a balanced, supremely drinkable cup.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Cream, Malt, Nutmeg, Plums, Raisins, Toast

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Nattie

Oh this sounds good!

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78

This is another free sample I received with a fairly recent What-Cha order. Apparently, this was meant to replace the previous English breakfast blend. A blend of African and Asian black teas, this particular blend is comprised of 30% Yunnan Black Gold, 30% Vietnam Wild Boar, 30% Kenya FOP, and 10% Rwanda FOP.

I prepared this tea Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, I noted that the dry leaves emitted malty, woody, and slightly chocolaty aromas. After infusion, the copper tea liquor produced more clearly defined scents of chocolate, malt, wood, brown sugar, and sorghum molasses. In the mouth, I detected a smooth blend of wood, brown sugar, chocolate, sorghum molasses, earth, leather, toast, roasted nut, malt, and mild spice notes. The finish was particularly smooth, pleasant, and expressive, offering a lingering malty sweetness coupled with a hint of astringency.

Truth be told, this was an enjoyable and surprisingly refined English breakfast blend. Unfortunately, I am at a point where I tend to associate English breakfast teas with earthier, woodier, more leathery flavors and more pronounced bitterness and astringency. As a matter of fact, I associate English breakfast teas with these qualities so much that I now actively look for them. With that in mind, I found this blend to be tasty, but I also found it to be a bit tame. Still, I think those who are looking for a smooth, flavorful breakfast tea could do far worse than checking out this one.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Earth, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Roasted nuts, Spices, Toast, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I got it for the terroirs he used. I used to like English Breakfast with cream and sugar, but my health nut tendencies have pushed me towards pure tea. It turned out nicely anyway. Whenever I make it, I always hope to replicate the way I had it in Egypt for the memories. I was at the Mena House Hotel looking at the Great Pyramid of Khufu through glass and wooden bead curtains. I think it was the scenery and the brown sugar cubes that made the tea taste so good.

Daylon R Thomas

I’m totally showing off at this point, but here’s what I’m talking about:
https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/05/c8/fb/14/mena-house-hotel.jpg

Evol Ving Ness

The Mena House is awesome. And tea, very Egyptian.

Daylon R Thomas

Ever heard of it or been there, Evol?

Evol Ving Ness

Yes, I used to live Alexandria.

Daylon R Thomas

Sweet. I was an anthropology major before I decided to switch to Social Studies/History teacher and wanted to be an Egyptian Archaeologist. What brought you to Alexandria?

Evol Ving Ness

Work and life. As an aside, on the way to Abu Simbel, I met a fascinating group Egyptian Archaeologists from one of the universities in Chicago. A stroke of luck to be able to eavesdrop on them and converse about their studies in that particular context.

Daylon R Thomas

University of Chicago? I actually applied there for their programs. Got rejected, but went to MSU which I’m finishing up for senior year.

Evol Ving Ness

Possibly. I don’t recall. And yay you! Are you enjoying your studies?

Daylon R Thomas

For the most part :) Micro-econ and the history of Michigan were okay, but my social studies ed. focused class was a lot more enjoyable.

Evol Ving Ness

social studies ed. focused class

What themes were involved here?

Daylon R Thomas

This one is designed for the profession of teaching. Emphasis on teaching critical thinking above all else and making the content accessible to a diverse body of students, namely student with IEP’s and English Language Learners. The rest of it dialed on what the class as a whole was interested in for professional development and different styles of teaching. Some people excelled with lectures, other document based activities. I preferred the latter, though I don’t mind lectures too much.

Daylon R Thomas

The other portion was on teaching the cannon of history and social studies in an approachable way.

Evol Ving Ness

That sounds like a brilliant course. I’d like to take it myself. So, how does one teach critical thinking to a class, which includes students with various challenges, linguistic, cultural, cognitive, or otherwise ? Professional development is a fascinating topic as well. How many styles of teaching are there, and what are they? When you say document-based activities, is that to say research essays and such?

It is your intention to teach American high school students, right? Or am I dreaming this up?

Daylon R Thomas

Having an entire conversation on eastkyteaguy’s note lol.

I do want to teach American high school and middle school students, but my long term future goal is to be a community college professor. I’m up to teaching abroad if the opportunity arises and compensates well with my diabetes, but I think there is a larger need in this country.

Styles of teaching were more focused on in strategies of classroom management (think Jone’s Model) and our individual personalities in the class. We really focused more on the baselines of the best teacher, one that has fully developed senses of logos, ethos, and pathos. As in: a teacher who know’s their shit, is ethical, and has a quality that makes them human and connectable (i.e. personability). My professor totally appropriated them from Aristotle and we go back and forth nudging that fact in class. We mentioned “oh, he’s totally a lecturer” but did not categorize said teachers. We just started with personalities at work using the DISC test and the Big Five traits psyche test. DISC is Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Dominance is taking control of situations, arguments, etc, Influence is sociability, Steadiness is akin to harmony, and Conscientiousness perfectionism, logic, rules, facts, and so on. I ranked highest with Conscientiousness and Steadiness,a healthy fourth belonging to dominance, and a minimum to influence. I was not really a huge fan of the test because it was to binary. The categories at least had nuance. The Big Five, I think you might have heard of. Here’s my blog which gives you a good idea about the class. There’s a few things I need to clean up, but here it is. https://daylonthomas.edublogs.org/

Our class did not connect critical thinking with students with challenges explicitly (more implicit), but rather we were provided examples of how we would modify a curriculum or lesson for such a student. I’ve had the same question myself, and as a class we are still trying to answer it into this semester. I think that’s the question for a true teacher, really.

As for what we did do, lesson differentiation, or differentiating lessons enough to address different styles of learning was emphasized, and as for students with linguistic and some cognitive challenges, we were taught to simplify and not cookie cutter our lessons. We were encouraged to use concise and direct language with English Language Learners, and to use multiple forms of media outside of lecture and reading. I thought it was kinda ironic how often a lot of us referred back to primary source document reading, essay writing, debate, and lecture most of all for teaching, but we have another semester and a whole internship to go. Media literacy was a huge topic especially with the election ever present in our heads and in our classrooms-we approached by comparing and contrasting Eisenhower’s “I like Ike” to “Make America Great Again”, for example. It is also a primary source lesson, technically. No essay required. It was concocted by my class mate, but it was a stellar conversation.

The rest of the course was more focused on dealing with social studies and history content itself. The course assumes that if you teach history and the other social studies properly, then you will provide an intellectual environment to foster critical thinking. By encouraging your students to realize the limits of time, record, sourcing, and perspective, they should understand that history is a reconstructed story told with a purpose, a specific paradigm, and an intended audience. The same goes for maps which portray specific ideas, political campaigns, advertisements, legal arguments, etc.

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40

Backlog. Got this from Liquid Proust’s regional group buy.

I have to say I didn’t enjoy this tea at all. I used the whole sample over several brews to see if it was just one bad try but nope.

Tannic, unpleasant undertone. I wrote NO on the package when I had it the first time and I still agree with myself.

Flavors: Tannic

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81

This was the other Russian black tea I ended up with a couple months ago. I received a free 10 gram sample of it with an order from What-Cha. I’m assuming Alistair chose to include this tea because my order was comprised exclusively of black teas from Georgia, Russia, and Azerbaijan. The tea was described as being a Russian approximation of a traditional Chinese Keemun.

I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion process. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in just shy of 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. At one point, I attempted a second infusion of 7 minutes, but was not thrilled with the results. I think it may have been necessary to start with either a 3-4 minute infusion in order to get a more flavorful second infusion out of this tea.

Prior to infusion, I noted that the dry tea leaves produced a mild smoky, malty aroma. After infusion, I noted gentle aromas of smoke, toast, malt, dark chocolate, and raisin emanating from the cup. In the mouth, dominant notes of smoke, toast, dark chocolate, malt, and cream were underscored by notes of honey, raisin, date, and fig. I was expecting more of a plum note from this tea (I tend to get plum aroma and/or flavor out of most Keemuns), but I did not pick it up in this tea.

This was not bad at all. I think it is probably best to approach this tea as a unique approximation of a Keemun rather than comparing it directly to traditional, authentic Chinese Keemuns. For the most part, this tea does a good job of approximating the smoky, fruity, chocolaty, and malty character of Keemun, though I felt that it failed to fully capture the depth of a truly exceptional Keemun. I think a lot of that is probably owing to differences in terroir. In the end, I would probably not choose this tea over an authentic Keemun, but I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a solid Russian black tea.

Flavors: Cream, Dark Chocolate, Dates, Fig, Honey, Malt, Raisins, Smoke, Toast

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I was pretty impressed with the Russian selection I got the last time I ordered them from What-Cha. I can’t remember exactly which ones, but they had the same kinda cocoa notes I associate with the Chinese blacks. I was surprised with how thick they were in texture too. I do confess that I prefer the teas like the Golden Buds Alistair offers, though.

Daylon R Thomas

Keemum’s are also hit or miss for me, so I tend not to buy them as often even though they are Chinese.

eastkyteaguy

Daylon, I have only had the two Russian black teas that I have reviewed, but I have to admit that I definitely prefer What-Cha’s Chinese, Azerbaijani, and Georgian blacks over them. With regard to Keemuns, I tend to like them, but do not make a point of drinking them all that often. When it comes to Chinese blacks, I tend to gravitate more toward Laoshan, Wuyi, and Yunnan black teas, so I drink those far more frequently.

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70

The idea of Russian tea has intrigued me ever since I discovered some of the popular Russian blends on the market. I suppose it could even be said that I have become a budding Russophile at some point within the past couple of years. While I was well aware that there were quite a few Russian inspired blends out there, imagine my surprise when I discovered that a few tea estates exist in contemporary Russia! This particular tea comes from the Matsesta Tea Estate in Krasnodar Krai near Sochi. It is composed of stems and a few stray leaf pieces.

I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion process. In the past, I have tried a two step infusion process, but I found the results to only be passable. For this session, I steeped 3 grams of loose material in 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes.

The dry stems and leaf material did not give off much of an aroma. After infusion, I picked up scents of straw and autumn leaf piles. In the mouth, there were leaf and straw notes up front. These flavors were chased by notes of wood, malt, cream, toast, date, and raisin before a brief, yet smooth finish.

This was a simple, refreshing tea, and quite frankly, I am struggling to say much about it. Overall, I found it to be decent for what it was, but it was not exactly the kind of thing to which I would be in a rush to return. I would say check this one out if you are looking for a simple tea that does not require much analysis.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cream, Dates, Malt, Raisins, Straw, Toast

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Steeped a full 10g sample of this in my largest gaiwan, and it’s proving to be the perfect treat to the palate after something that wasn’t quite to our liking.

This one has a fairly delicate aroma, and the first steep comes out a nice, reddish gold. It’s smooth and has just the right amount of sweetness. Really enjoying this one. Sweet honey and creaminess for a good few steeps. I’d like to have gotten more steeps out of it, but it was good while it lasted.

Flavors: Creamy, Honey, Sweet

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Gongfu’d this jjm the other day, and while I had no idea what to expect, I got a great combination of flavors to enjoy.

Very fine-looking leaves with a strong aroma that is a blend of cocoa and tobacco. This tea was malty and dark chocolate with a hint of dried fruit, and had a very strong, concentrated flavor until I accidentally oversteeped it. After that, it got weak pretty quickly.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Thick on the tongue, with a blend of subdued earthiness, malt, and semi-sweet cocoa. The cocoa lasts quite long in the finish, which is smooth and very slightly chalky in texture. Simultaneously rich and mellow, this tea is a unique one that I found enjoyable.

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90

I have finally done it. Here is the review/tasting note for tea #200. As I eclipsed the 150 mark, I began to wonder if I could manage to find the time to try 200 teas this year. I then challenged myself to do so. Though I am cutting it close, this review marks #200 for me.

I prepared this tea Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I have tried multi-step infusions for this tea in the past, but I have not liked the results quite as much as those obtained from a single extended infusion.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted gentle, pleasant aromas of toffee and raisin. After infusion, the scents of toffee and raisin were joined by malt and cream. In the mouth, gentle, superbly integrated notes of golden raisin, toffee, malt, cinnamon, nutmeg, pistachio, and roasted almond washed across the palate. The finish emphasized a lingering balance of the flavors described above plus a note of steamed milk. Overall, the flavor reminded me a lot of kheer, the Indian rice pudding.

This was a very sweet, mellow, resilient tea that seemed to adapt easily to a number of different brewing styles. There was absolutely no tannic bite nor any astringency whatsoever. One thing I’m beginning to notice about a lot of these Georgian black teas is that their mild, balanced flavor and smooth texture give way to an extremely robust, flavorful, and long-lasting finish. With this tea, I was continually impressed by how much flavor lingered in my mouth after the swallow and how wonderfully soothing the afterglow was. Due to this tea’s lack of bite, astringency, and immediate caffeine jolt, I would not recommend it as a breakfast tea or as a tea to be paired with heavier foods. I would, however, strongly recommend it as an afternoon or evening tea to be consumed on its own or paired with lighter, sweeter fare.

Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Cream, Malt, Milk, Nutmeg, Nutty, Raisins, Toffee

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Nattie

Wow, congrats!! That’s a lot of tea

eastkyteaguy

Thank you. It keeps me from drinking soda and other sugary beverages.

Evol Ving Ness

Woohooo! Congratulations!

Evol Ving Ness

And kheer, oh. sighs

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91

I’m continuing to clean out the backlog with this one. This was yet another of the samples from What-Cha that I had accumulated since the summer. I cracked it open this past weekend and finished it last night. Overall, I found it to be a nice Darjeeling with intriguing aroma and flavor profiles.

Since I only had a 10 gram sample packet of this tea, I made a point to get as many sessions out of it as I could. For the first session, I performed a two step Western infusion by steeping 3 grams of loose tea leaves in just shy of 8 ounces of 203 F water for 3 minutes, and then followed that up with a second infusion of 5 minutes. For the second session, I again performed a two step Western infusion. This time I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in just shy of 8 ounces of 205 F water for 2 minutes, and then followed that up with a 3 minute infusion. The third and final session was a familiar one step Western infusion. I steeped 4 grams of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. Of the bunch, this final method was the one I preferred. I feel like it provided the best results overall.

The first method detailed above initially produced a liquor with a strongly fruity, herbal aroma. In the mouth, I detected notes of toast, Muscat grape, lemon balm, honey, butter, peach, apricot, and straw. The second infusion produced a mildly toasty, fruity liquor with something of a mineral tinge in the mouth. The second preparation method produced a milder liquor all around with pronounced butter, toast, and mineral notes throughout. The final preparation produced a rich tea liquor with pronounced aromas of Muscat grape, apricot, butter, lemon balm, honey, and toast. In the mouth, I noted flavors of Muscat grape, golden raisin, apricot, honey, peach, lemon balm, butter, toast, and straw with a fleeting mineral note on the finish.

This was a very nice and very unique Darjeeling. I feel that most of the brewing methods I attempted did not really do it justice, but I could still detect enough to realize that this was a quality tea. I hope to acquire more of it in the future.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Honey, Mineral, Muscatel, Peach, Raisins, Straw, Toast

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I love me some Gopaldhara Darjeeling myself. The Rohini was also pretty nice, though it might not be as complex.

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90

Another of the What-Cha samples I am just now getting around to reviewing, this Nilgiri was advertised as deriving a unique fruity character from exposure to winter frosts. So, this tea was not supposed to be your typical floral Nilgiri. Well, score one for truthfulness in advertising because it was not.

To prepare this tea, I steeped approximately 3-4 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 4 minutes. Honestly, I was preparing this tea in a rush and easily could have used up to 5 grams in the cup. I did not have time to attempt any additional infusions, but considering that I rarely reinfuse teas of this type, I do not see that as being all that big of a deal.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves gave off a wonderfully fruity scent. After infusion, I picked up wonderfully pronounced apricot and nectarine aromas. In the mouth, this tea was very smooth and mild, offering pleasant notes of apricot, golden raisin, nectarine, toast, butter, and malt. I also detected faint undertones of straw, dried flowers, mango, and papaya. The finish was exceptionally smooth, rich, and fruity, emphasizing a swell of honey, apricot, and nectarine underscored by a subtle malt presence.

This was a very nice Nilgiri. Not only did it smell and taste great, but it had a nice body with wonderful texture in the mouth. I can only imagine how much better this would have been had I not ever so slightly underleafed it, but at least I was still able to enjoy this tea and get enough out of it to provide a detailed review. With any luck, What-Cha will be able to bring this one back in the near future. I would love to be able to spend more time playing around with this one.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Flowers, Fruity, Malt, Mango, Raisins, Straw, Toast

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Steeped this up yesterday alongside the Vietnam Light Roast Jin Xuan High Mountain Oolong Tea. They’re both about 20% oxidized or so, so I thought I would be fun to taste two high mountain jin xuans from different countries.

These dry leaves are rolled—though not as tightly as the Vietnamese jin xuan—and green, and have a mild sweet fragrance that becomes more vegetal and floral after a quick wash. The liquor of this one started out a clear yellow that became deeper and more golden over subsequent steeps.

It starts out smooth, floral and vegetal, with a thick and creamy mouthfeel. It takes a while for the creaminess to really become prominent in this one, but the floral flavor eventually gives way to a taste that is creamy overall, with the texture becoming even thicker and more viscous throughout the session.

I feel like this one stands up to resteeping quite well, and offers an interesting and enjoyable session. It definitely has distinct differences from Taiwanese, Chinese and Vietnamese oolongs that I have tried thus far.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Steeped this up yesterday alongside the Thailand #12 Jin Xuan High Mountain Oolong Tea. They’re both about 20% oxidized or so, so I thought I would be fun to taste two high mountain jin xuans from different countries.

These fairly green leaves are tightly rolled and have a very sweet fragrance that evolves into a more roasted aroma after a quick wash. It steeps out to a very clear yellow liquor with a smooth texture and a sweet taste with hints of roasted nuts. I can tell the roast helps bring out the sweetness early in this one, and with subsequent steeps, the texture becomes thicker and the flavor more vegetal.

Got many good steeps out of this one before the flavor started fading, and the profile remained enjoyable throughout the entire session. Definitely has the potential to be a good daily drinker.

Flavors: Roasted nuts, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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