This is admittedly not going to be so much a specific tasting note as an exclamation about this whole deal and my surprise at it.

sunshine5150 helpfully mentioned Teabox (formerly darjeelingteaxpress) was having a half off sale on most of their big sampler kits about a week ago. I was really not in the mood to order more tea given my Black Friday sales hangover (har) but I looove me some darjeeling, this is the time of year I crave it most, and when I saw what the darj kit entailed my eyes figuratively popped out of my sockets—over 70 (75 actually, as they threw in 3 extra freebie samples) 10g samples, with a bajillion different estates and styles and seasons represented (I did a breakdown and you get the survey experience of first, second, and/or autumn flushes—and sometimes extra grades of each—for a number of estates/regions, among them Jungpana, Giddahapar, Goomtee, Thurbo, Margaret’s Hope, Avongrove, Sourenee, and Himalayan, along with stuff from Namring, Castleton, Puttabong, Arya, etc., some unusual twists on darjeeling in the form of green teas, whites, oolongs, blends represenative of each flush period, and unusual extra grades or especially muscatel stuff), for $56 with shipping included. Ain’t a pittance granted, but for what you get, the size and scope of the thing, if you’re a darjeeling lover it’s pretty irresistable (I worked it out and it’s like less than 15 cents a cup and less than $2.16 per ounce, which for samples as opposed to bulk ordering is very good).

I had trepidation thinking maybe the reason it was such a good deal is the teas, especially first flush ones, are old/stale, and maybe they skimp on quality and packaging, but no. Arrived in well under a week via FedEx and I am very impressed with the sample packaging—the bags block light completely, not just on one side, are resealable, and include lots of info individually labeled about steep time, date, source, etc. All of the teas I’ve tried so far at random (3 or 4 today) have been from 2013. And I realize I’m some kind of underleafer sometimes (it never feels like it though…I use an accurate measuring teaspoon and round the top of it to start) but I’m getting 4 solid cups (sometimes with a bit leftover even) of tea every time. Awesome!

With SO MANY darjs to try with similar but not quite exactly the same details (I’ve done this kind of “by estate and season survey” sample thing before with other spots, Upton comes to mind, manually) it gets really overwhelming, and since it’s constantly changing a while back I just decided to roll with it and enjoy darj samples each year without worrying too much about specifics, you know, a sort of “just going along for the ride” attitude. That said, so far these Teabox samples are much, much better than Upton’s were—better packaging, fresher, better tasting. And cheaper, man! Steepster makes my life better all the time, I tell ya.

BTW, I painstakingly added all 75 Teabox teas from this package to the DB this afternoon (yes I am that OCD), but I can’t for the life of me find URLs for the tea images that play nice with Steepster’s pic grabber. If anyone knows how to add those pics, let me know or feel free of course to add the images…sad without pictures!

Preparation
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JustJames

wow! well the new ones will keep you busy!

Dexter

Wow that sounds like a great deal. Have fun trying and comparing all those darjs.

Dexter

Sunshine added a picture for this one. Not sure how she got the four way split photo. I can get the single images to load by using the photo URLs…

Anna

What a great purchase, ifjuly… and I love that you added all the teas. My OCD would like to offer your OCD its compliments.

NofarS

Thanks for the tip!

keychange

You’re awesome! so jealous over here.

caile

Wow, that’s great!

greenteafairy

This sounds awesome! Definitely adding Teabox to my list of vendors to order from in the future.

ifjuly

hahaha Anna, a tip of the hat from my OCD to yours. :b

y’all so nice. It’s going to be a lot of fun to spend all of this winter visiting all of darjeeling through time and space in teacups. If you love darjeeling but are still not a crazy expert and want to survey it thoroughly, I recommend! And thanks guys for your nice comments.

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Comments

JustJames

wow! well the new ones will keep you busy!

Dexter

Wow that sounds like a great deal. Have fun trying and comparing all those darjs.

Dexter

Sunshine added a picture for this one. Not sure how she got the four way split photo. I can get the single images to load by using the photo URLs…

Anna

What a great purchase, ifjuly… and I love that you added all the teas. My OCD would like to offer your OCD its compliments.

NofarS

Thanks for the tip!

keychange

You’re awesome! so jealous over here.

caile

Wow, that’s great!

greenteafairy

This sounds awesome! Definitely adding Teabox to my list of vendors to order from in the future.

ifjuly

hahaha Anna, a tip of the hat from my OCD to yours. :b

y’all so nice. It’s going to be a lot of fun to spend all of this winter visiting all of darjeeling through time and space in teacups. If you love darjeeling but are still not a crazy expert and want to survey it thoroughly, I recommend! And thanks guys for your nice comments.

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Bio

“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

black:
verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

oolong:
verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

green:
verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

white:
butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.

Location

Memphis, TN

Website

http://facebook.com/ifjuly

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