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30
drank Mon Secret by Nina's Paris
2221 tasting notes

Thanks to Laurent at Nina’s Paris for this sample!

I didn’t see any recommended brewing parameters for this tea either, so went with my standard boiling/3 minute infusion… or at least, I planned to, until I sniffed the tea while it was a minute in, and I was already smelling… astringency. Yes, I realize that astringency is a sensation, but I imagine you guys can figure out what I mean… it’s kind of a sharp, pungent aroma that gets my tastebuds going like astringency does (not in a good way). So I took the infuser basket out at 2 minutes instead, because I only have one chance at this tea, and you can always put the basket back in, but you can’t reverse an oversteeped tea!

The aroma is quite nondescript, and smells like a plain black to me. Perhaps a plain flavoured black, as it’s that sort of base that I associate with… cheap flavoured blacks? :/ Although I see that it’s Keemun and not Ceylon, as I probably would have guessed (not that I really would know, though).

Flavourwise, unfortunately, this one isn’t doing it for me. I can tell that it’s a flavoured black (it has a vague plasticky flavour to it), and that’s about it. I’m not even sure that I would be able to say that it’s fruity… the flavouring is quite vague. Luckily there doesn’t actually seem to be quite the astringency that I was worried about (though there is some, and I am drinking this tea cool, which sometimes I find reduces the sensation of astringency).

I’m pretty picky about flavoured blacks, and this one unfortunately wouldn’t be a tea I’d drink again. Perhaps it has lost some flavour during transit or something (I don’t think that my short infusion affected the flavour; usually that only affects strength of flavour), but I can’t say I’m a big fan of this one.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Mercuryhime

I can totally smell when a tea will be astringent. And thanks for the warning! I have yet to try my sample of this. :)

Indigobloom

glad I didn’t pick this. can’t stand keemum! :/

Kittenna

It seems like all the Nina’s blacks have bold bases that verge on astringent. Not good for an astringency wimp like me, but probably good for others who are sick of baseless teas! I have to say, though, that it certainly wasn’t astringent like cheap blacks I’ve had, more of a bold, brisk sort of astringency.

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Mercuryhime

I can totally smell when a tea will be astringent. And thanks for the warning! I have yet to try my sample of this. :)

Indigobloom

glad I didn’t pick this. can’t stand keemum! :/

Kittenna

It seems like all the Nina’s blacks have bold bases that verge on astringent. Not good for an astringency wimp like me, but probably good for others who are sick of baseless teas! I have to say, though, that it certainly wasn’t astringent like cheap blacks I’ve had, more of a bold, brisk sort of astringency.

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Bio

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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