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Prior to really getting into tea, I used to assume that all tea was equal and therefore brewed at about boiling, and you could leave the leaves/teabags in forever, etc. etc. So this led to many instances of me drinking said teas and tasting some goodness, along with (often) significant amounts of tannins and other undesirable flavours. But I just assumed that was how it was.

A year and a half ago, I learned about different temperature requirements for different teas, and a friend gave me a bit of a primer to this effect, so I used his suggestions as to steeping temperatures for the teas I had, which improved them a bit.

Fast-forward to now, when I have a MUCH better idea of things to do and not to do with teas, and I’ve re-discovered my ziploc bag of all these tea samplers. I can’t say I stored them marvellously (some are opened and clipped shut), and some I’d had for a few years, but I decided to look them up on the company website and give brewing them properly a shot!

So I’ve clearly drank this one before, as the bag was opened, and there really wasn’t very much leaf left. Maybe about a teaspoon. So I only filled my little tea-strainer thing halfway with water to account for that, so about 4oz water, maybe?? I have no idea what I thought when I first drank this tea, so this is essentially an entirely new experience :D

First steeping: 95C/~20s
The liquor is a clear reddish-brown, with only a slight scent to it. There isn’t a lot of flavour to this first steep, although I’m getting a definite sweetness and finish of that lovely oolong flavour I mentioned yesterday in regards to DT’s Quanzhou Milk Oolong. Ok, actually there’s enough flavour for me to enjoy this one, it’s just not initially evident.

Second steeping: ~93C/~20s
Wow, there’s definitely more sweetness coming out here. I’m not used to this, but I really am enjoying it! I need to expand my vocabulary more so I can really describe what I’m tasting. Maybe… it’s like sweet grass? No grassy taste, but kind of an almost vegetal-y sweetness. Mild and pleasant. The aftertaste is again the oolong-y taste

Third steeping: ~95C/~25s
Hmm, I feel like we’re losing flavour now. It tastes much like the previous cup with less flavour. Maybe a touch more of a roasty taste, but that’s it. Still good though.

Fourth steeping: ~93C/~25s
This one mostly tastes to me like toasted rice, with a hint of oolong aftertaste.

So the most intriguing sip is definitely the second cup, where the maximum sweetness is noticeable. I’ll definitely have to try this one again, once I get some more of it! Fun experience!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Bonnie

Great story simular to many of us who were blind as to what to do with tea at one time and cooked the soul out of it! Good for your Aunt and glad you kept the tea. It shows how much she meant to you in those memories!

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Bonnie

Great story simular to many of us who were blind as to what to do with tea at one time and cooked the soul out of it! Good for your Aunt and glad you kept the tea. It shows how much she meant to you in those memories!

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I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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