82
drank French Vanilla Assam by 52teas
2276 tasting notes

After two resounding busts from earlier this morning, this tea had better be good! Or I might cry :(

Dry tea smells sweet and perhaps of vanilla. A good start. Steeped, I’m getting a sweet, dark, malty smell. Not what I was expecting, but still good so far…

Hmmm, it’s kind of weak. I used a slightly heaping tsp, but maybe didn’t steep it long enough. Tea ball is back in for a minute or so…

Oook. I’m not getting vanilla, really… I’m almost getting a bit of a soapy flavour, actually. The black tea is ok, a touch astringent at the end of the sip, but nothing worrisome. I really can’t see why people like this one…. Nothing special at all. Boo for another tea bust… (What am I doing wrong, people?!)

ETA: Oops, forgot to thank Amanda for this one!!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 15 sec
Azzrian

All I can think of is either it just isn’t good OR maybe its how you steep. Do you happen to have a mesh strainer of any kind? Like for straining veggies or something? Not those big plastic ones but the small hand held metal kind? Maybe let the tea leaves loose in your cup, pot, etc and strain them after the steep? Just an idea – don’t know if it will work.

Bonnie

I agree…most loose tea’s really need room. A tea ball is so confined that you are not going to get the most out of your tea steep. Just my opinion but I’ve been trying to follow my wiser steepsters in learning how to brew different tea’s and my learning curve is improving from the days when I just plunked some tea in a pot of boiling water and let it sit 10 minutes until it was a bitter mass. Yuk!

TeaBrat

I’ve found teaballs don’t work out well for me either

Missy

I tried a tea ball and found it tiresome to operate. I have one of those infuser things that sits in my cup. It’s much easier to deal with. Of course I have a really big tea mug now so I needed a bigger infuser. Perhaps it’s the water. How are you heating your water up? I’m no tea guru, but I’ve been stalking the forums for a while now and water seems to be a big factor in good tea.

LiberTEAS

Assam needs a full boil to achieve a well-rounded flavor. Also, I don’t recommend steeping it too long as it will become bitter. This is actually one of my favorite teas from 52Teas. I also do not recommend a tea ball … they just don’t do a tea justice, in my opinion.

Kittenna

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! The tea ball in question is a mesh one like the ones DavidsTea offers; it’s reasonably large and I thought it would be ok, as it usually is for everything except oolongs (and it’s just fine for my beloved Banana Oolong, even though it’s crammed full when the leaves expand), but perhaps I should give these teas a shot in my steeping basket at home, where the leaves have more room.

LiberTEAS – If you say assam needs to be steeped in boiling water, I think water temperature would be my biggest problem here! You probably noticed I went with a nice low temperature thanks for my many recent over-steeps, and I guess I did it with a tea I shouldn’t have! I didn’t oversteep it this time though :D (But if the trade-off is lack of flavour, I’m not sure that’s so great…!) So it looks like this tea will be yet another added to the ‘needs second attempt, different parameters’ list :)

Bonnie

What helps me…I have 3 yes three little charts that list brewing temps and times for different types of tea on the back of my tea cupboard. I refer to them all the time. I have memory problems so I have to do this. No way could I just brew tea! Might be good to go online and print a chart from The Art of Tea or just google tea brewing charts.

Kittenna

Thanks Bonnie! That might be useful :) I know the general parameters for each type of tea, but some seem to be more flexible than others. I’ll take a look.

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Comments

Azzrian

All I can think of is either it just isn’t good OR maybe its how you steep. Do you happen to have a mesh strainer of any kind? Like for straining veggies or something? Not those big plastic ones but the small hand held metal kind? Maybe let the tea leaves loose in your cup, pot, etc and strain them after the steep? Just an idea – don’t know if it will work.

Bonnie

I agree…most loose tea’s really need room. A tea ball is so confined that you are not going to get the most out of your tea steep. Just my opinion but I’ve been trying to follow my wiser steepsters in learning how to brew different tea’s and my learning curve is improving from the days when I just plunked some tea in a pot of boiling water and let it sit 10 minutes until it was a bitter mass. Yuk!

TeaBrat

I’ve found teaballs don’t work out well for me either

Missy

I tried a tea ball and found it tiresome to operate. I have one of those infuser things that sits in my cup. It’s much easier to deal with. Of course I have a really big tea mug now so I needed a bigger infuser. Perhaps it’s the water. How are you heating your water up? I’m no tea guru, but I’ve been stalking the forums for a while now and water seems to be a big factor in good tea.

LiberTEAS

Assam needs a full boil to achieve a well-rounded flavor. Also, I don’t recommend steeping it too long as it will become bitter. This is actually one of my favorite teas from 52Teas. I also do not recommend a tea ball … they just don’t do a tea justice, in my opinion.

Kittenna

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! The tea ball in question is a mesh one like the ones DavidsTea offers; it’s reasonably large and I thought it would be ok, as it usually is for everything except oolongs (and it’s just fine for my beloved Banana Oolong, even though it’s crammed full when the leaves expand), but perhaps I should give these teas a shot in my steeping basket at home, where the leaves have more room.

LiberTEAS – If you say assam needs to be steeped in boiling water, I think water temperature would be my biggest problem here! You probably noticed I went with a nice low temperature thanks for my many recent over-steeps, and I guess I did it with a tea I shouldn’t have! I didn’t oversteep it this time though :D (But if the trade-off is lack of flavour, I’m not sure that’s so great…!) So it looks like this tea will be yet another added to the ‘needs second attempt, different parameters’ list :)

Bonnie

What helps me…I have 3 yes three little charts that list brewing temps and times for different types of tea on the back of my tea cupboard. I refer to them all the time. I have memory problems so I have to do this. No way could I just brew tea! Might be good to go online and print a chart from The Art of Tea or just google tea brewing charts.

Kittenna

Thanks Bonnie! That might be useful :) I know the general parameters for each type of tea, but some seem to be more flexible than others. I’ll take a look.

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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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