71 Tasting Notes
This is the second time I’ve tried this tea, and it is revealing a little more character than what I found on first try, especially on its second steeping. My aunt thought she detected a citrusy note, I thought it tasted a bit spicy, as if I could taste a hint of cinnamon in it. So I’d amend my first impression that this is no more than a basic black tea.
This has the typical malty Assam taste, a bit tart, and I think the description of “berry-ish” is apt. At the same time, I didn’t find this matched in enjoyment my memory of other Assams I’ve tried. (Gingia Estate from TeaSource and the Meleng Estate “Assam Melody” from Adagio.) Those were just somehow… smoother, more mellow as best I can remember. My aunt thought this one a “nice” tea, and even asked for more. But I didn’t feel inclined to brew up pots more of it like I did with the Selim Hill Darjeeling a couple of days ago.
Edit: I tried the last of my Adagio Assam Melody (Meleng Estate) today, and it confirms my memory that it’s better—more of a “self-drinker” that works even without a drenching of milk.
The TeaSource site described it this way: “Dooars is a tea growing region between Assam and Darjeeling, so this black tea has the heartiness of an Assam black tea, with nuanced flavor notes reminiscent of Darjeeling black tea, and a dark almost cocooay note.” On first taste I couldn’t find much Darjeeling in this—it seemed much more reminiscent of Assam, bold and malty and yes, I’d say I could taste a rather chocolate-like note. There is a crispness, an astringency going down with a lingering aftertaste I’d describe as rather bitter. Maybe that’s why my aunt disliked it—and she’s a big fan of Assam and Darjeeling both—I can’t recall her ever saying before this she didn’t like a black tea. She might have been spoiled by the Selim Hill Darjeeling yesterday—our favorite tea, simply delicious with a very sweet, honey-like aftertaste. Still, not I think a tea we’ll reorder.
The description on the site calls this Summer flush Darjeeling, “full-flavored” and “bold” and I would say that’s the case compared to the Spring Flush Darjeeling we had yesterday. So far I’d say I prefer the summer flushes to the oolong-like spring flush I tried. However, I wouldn’t say this tops my memory of the two other summer flushes I’ve tried, a Sungma from Adagio and a Selim Hill from TeaSource. My aunt said something interesting—that this tea reminded her of “cake.” Certainly some descriptions of Summer Flush Darjeelings from Thurbo suggest it’s “raisin-y,” “chocolate-like,” and like “ripe apples” and I think there’s enough truth in those descriptions I could see why someone might be reminded of a freshly baked cake. This has a lingering honey taste and truly is a delicious tea I could easily see drinking every day. I’ll have to see when I try my new packet of Selim Hill if the Thurbo is the ultimate winner among Darjeelings I’ll be reordering.
The description on the TeaSource site describes this as “very fragrant with sweet, slightly crisp notes” that “has a sort of honey-oolong nuance with a sweet lingering finish.” I didn’t find it oolong-ish at all on the first infusion. Nor did I find it reminiscent of a Green Tea, which is how I’ve heard a lot of Darjeeling First Flushes described. It has neither the vegetal note of Green Teas nor the mineral-like note of Oolongs I’ve tried. If anything, it reminded me most of the Ceylon tea I tried yesterday—tasting like a very basic black tea. A bit mellower than the Ceylon perhaps, and a bit more astringent than the Summer Flush Darjeelings I’ve tried. This is a nice tea—my aunt liked it very much—but I prefer the Summer flushes I’ve tried to this one. This isn’t the favorite those were. On the second infusion for whatever reason it did seem more reminiscent of an oolong to me. I’d still give the Summer flushes I’ve had the edge.
This is the tea version of that little black dress. Very basic, and can go anywhere. My first sip made me think this was a very Tea, tea, most akin to a generic black such as you get from Tetley or Lipton—much, much better mind you, but the kind of tea you can drink alone with just a bit of sweetener, or add milk and it’ll stand up to it, or add ice and makes a very nice cold iced tea. It’s a tea that wears well, that I could imagine enjoying every day, yet I don’t quite put up there with the teas I consider a standout in taste or a treat such as White Peony, some Oolongs, Darjeelings and Assams.
The description on the TeaSource site described the tea as “thick, complex, velvety, with a little hint of a spicy/cocoa note at the end.” Some compare this to pu-erh, even describe Dian Hong as a kind of pu-erh, more “black” than “red.” This steeped up darker than any tea I’ve tried. Whites like Silver Needle barely color the water, while the Dian Hong is almost coffee-like—even cocoa-like in color. And strong, very strong in taste. If white teas are wimps that cower at milk, this one would lay milk on the ground with one punch.
It might improve for me on more acquaintance. Assam did—and this reminds me of Assam. Very malty, very complex. There’s something about the taste I don’t know how to describe. Earthy maybe? Not quite what I’d describe as smokey, but earthy might cover it. I can taste the promised peppery note—reminiscent of licorice. My aunt, by now practically a connoisseur of black teas, called it “different, very different” and though she liked it better than the “dirty water tea” aka Silver Peony, the white tea we tried a couple of days ago, wasn’t sure on first acquaintance what to make of it. She wants us to brew it again tomorrow, because she thinks she needs a chance to get used to it. I’ll reserve judgement—maybe it’ll grow on us, and even though TeaSource gives a minimum of 4 minutes of steeping maybe next time I’ll try 3 minutes and that’ll help.
I’m not sure what to make of this tea. I wasn’t crazy about it on first steeping. The TeaSource site describes this as a “greener” oolong. I’m fairly new to fine loose-leaf teas and particularly to oolongs, and it was quite a bit greener than the Iron Goddess of Mercy or Big Red Robe in my repertoire thus far. With a slight vegetal note it reminded me of Sencha, which I didn’t like, as well as having that rather astringent, mineral note I’ve found in oolongs. I didn’t think this was a tea that I was destined to like.
Yet I loved, loved it on second infusion! I’ve heard the character of oolongs can change a lot from infusion to infusion but this was quite different from the change I found in the other oolongs on second steepings. The vegetal and astringent notes were completely gone and I could now taste the silky, floral notes promised in the description. (Described by some as “honeysuckle” or “orchid.”) I’d rate this tea much higher if I could get this effect from the first infusion. I have heard suggestions that oolongs should be rinsed with cold water before steeping. Maybe that (or a longer steeping on first infusion) might help. Because it’s as if having two different teas here.
My introduction to fine and loose-leaf came several months ago in a box of teas from a friend that included a White Tea Sampler from Adagio. My aunt and I did like the White Symphony, it was described as a version of White Peony (Bai Mu Dan), but with more buds included. We found we liked it just a tiny bit more than TeaSource’s White Peony—although the difference was subtle. So I ordered TeaSource’s Silver Peony next, described as a cross between Silver Needle and White Peony, hoping it would be analogous to Adagio’s White Symphony.
I can’t say I cared for TeaSource’s Silver Peony. It was more reminiscent of Silver Needle than White Peony. Silver Needle is more expensive and more highly prized by tea connoisseurs it seems than White Peony, but my aunt and I found it hard to distinguish from a cup of hot water. Unfortunately, we feel the same about Silver Peony. I wouldn’t order this again. It’s drinkable, light, sweet, and I’m sure just chock full of antioxidant goodness—but just not enough taste for me.
Edit: I did like this more on second steeping. Maybe I just need to infuse this longer on first steeping than the suggested minimum of 1.5 minutes.
I’m new to loose-leaf teas, having gotten hooked after a friend gifted me with a variety of teas. She wasn’t a fan of Oolong however, so I was on my own when I decided to order a couple. I choose Iron Goddess of Mercy and Big Red Robe because they’re popular varieties of Oolong, both names among the “Ten Famous Teas of China.” I liked Iron Goddess of Mercy, which tasted a bit astringent and metallic to me, but I loved Big Red Robe. My aunt loved this one very much right off from the first taste—and even asked for another cup which she rarely does. Described as “smooth” with “undertones of molasses” on the site and I think that’s an apt description.