1161 Tasting Notes
Iced with Splenda for the monkey. Its like 68 outside and started pouring. I’m soaked and cold but not complaining because this tastes good.
Last time I mentioned this tea I was overwhelmed by homework and watching videos (at Starbucks) for my class. Yesterday the prof singled me out in class as having some real skills. He has even been showing me little things that he hasn’t mentioned to the rest of the group because I am further along than most. I guess old dogs can learn new tricks if they have enough tea in them.
I have no idea if this is good chai. I rarely drink it. I don’t hate chai. I just don’t get it. That being said, the leaf is interesting to look at. The dry leaf is clove and pepper scented. Hot and no additives this tasted like spicy apple cider to me. I like that. As the cup cooled I added a splash of milk and now it tastes like chai.
Not a very good review but you got to work with what you got. I loved the earl grey and the black tea so I assume the quality level is the same.
Thank you Justea for the sample. By now you all know of their campaign to build a processing kitchen in Kenya. If somehow you missed it check them out on Facebook.
I love Earl Grey and I have some very definite ideas of how it should taste. I have a rule about it when reviewing – if it is anything but tea and bergamot you better call it something else or I will complain. If you change the name I will cut you some slack and judge it on its own merits. This tea passes on both ends of my rule. It is Earl Grey but the name change suggests to me there is something different about it. Thank you Justea for this subtle but important attention to detail.
My normal everyday earl is Ceylon based, which I believe to be the standard. I like my bergamot front and center. I don’t want to have to search for it but don’t overwhelm me. I do demand balance. I want to taste the tea as well. Some tea companies call their tea earl grey and overemphasize the base or the bergamot. Justea once again pays attention to the details and balances this blend nicely.
This particular blend using the Kenyan base is malty and smooth, yet slightly drying. It does not have the throat grabbing bite of the Ceylon standard. This is why I appreciate the name Kathryne, it suggests a softer, more gentle approach to my beloved tea.
The bergamot is very well suited to the base. By my standard it is not overpowering. The flavor is balanced between floral and fruit but I would say leaning towards floral. It is not perfumey or fake tasting. Nicely done.
After sipping this hot, I iced it down and found it to be very refreshing. This takes sweetener well. I greatly enjoyed this one. Thank you Justea.
For those who may have missed it – Justea is a non-profit organization attempting to break the cycle of poverty that too many tea farmers face by teaching them to process their own leaves and selling direct.
Using the last of this one. Maybe its a year and a half old. The scent of grapes still pours out of the bag when opened. I used my clear glass press for this as I love the way the leaf moves in the water. The dance is an important part of my preparation experience, as is admiring the dry and wet leaf and the accompanying aromas through the process. During the dance most of the leaf hangs from the surface like a canopy. Other leaves pirouette downward in glorious freedom. I let this one go longer than normal just to watch. The liquor is a bright yellow/honey. The taste is as fresh as the day this arrived. A beautiful tea.
I have learned more from sipping teas from Teavivre than any other company. Just one of the lessons learned is I really love properly processed jasmine tea. Premium Dragon Pearls is my favorite. This Silver Needle is a very close second.
The brew in the picture looks orange. In my cup it was more of a beautiful ruby red. I was completely surprised by this tea. After reading that 95% of bagged black tea is Kenyan tea, I was expecting this to taste like, well tea. You know like the grocery store stuff. Nope not even close! This is wonderfully malty. Silky smooth with no rough edges. Not bitter. Slightly drying. Nice depth.
Even if this were not part of a great non-profit effort to break the cycle of poverty in Kenya, I would still recommend this. It is really good.
More in depth review here: http://theeverdayteablog.blogspot.com/2013/09/justea-kenyan-black-tea.html
After getting all over confident with my first experience with a gaiwan, I have to humbly admit I burned the pudding out of my fingers steeping this one. Gungfu (with skill) not so much. I tried using the traditional method of pouring by grasping the rim edges and the lid. Ouch and double ouch. My novice approach of fingers under the saucer and thumb on the lid was much less painful. I switched back but the damage was done. Nothing serious. I’ll be over it by morning.
Second point I used a lot of leaf this time. I wanted the true gungfu experience. Normally I would use about 2 g. Today I used something like 8. This filled up the gaiwan after a couple steeps. That seems to be what others shoot for. Personally, I thought it added little from my perspective. Your mileage may vary.
1st steep at 20 sec was lightly smoky which I have never caught before.
3rd steep was the most fragrant. Wonderfully white tea aromatic.
5th was similar to third and woodsy as it cooled.
2, 4, 6-8 I poured into a mug so I could feed the Splenda monkey. I’m trying but golly the monkey thought it was much more flavorful this way.
I picked this for a test run of the wonderful little gaiwan I received from Teavivre today. So this is not a review exactly of the leaf as much as the experience. 90 ml looks so tiny by western tea drinking standards (3 oz). First I washed and heated the gaiwan and added 1 tsp of leaf – about 2.5 g. Not exactly sure how much I should use. I boiled my water, filled the gaiwan, covered, and steeped 10-15 sec each time for several steeps.
The fun part was pouring into a cup. Surprisingly much easier than I expected. Fingers under saucer, thumb on top of lid, I gently squeezed and slightly pulled the lid to allow the liquor to pour. I found it very natural. I never lost a drop! The last steep for today was about 30 sec and I noticed the lid became a little hot but not so much that I was afraid of losing my grip.
As you probably know I am a Splenda junkie. Well, unless I pour several steeps together, adding a packet would not work, so I had to go all natural with this one. That is another reason I chose it as I noted earlier with western style adding sweetener did nothing for the flavor.
I noticed the flavors were more subtle than with a long steep. What I detected as mint sensation with western style I now sense as mineral. The leather is noticeable but less intense. Early on this seemed kind of lightly nutty that became more woodsy in later steeps. The flavors popped more when I allowed the cup to cool. That is almost always true for me. I don’t like my tea really hot. The gaiwan actually helps with this as 3 oz cools a lot quicker than 12.
My final observation is on the color. Longer western steeps produce nearly inky dark cups. The gaiwan produced cups ranging from amber to deep reddish orange.
This was a lot of fun. I look forward to many more long sessions.
As I opened my eyes this morning, I declared this a me day. My wife went grocery shopping and my son went to a friends. I got out my acoustic guitar and played hard and long. Now I am sipping on this most beautiful green. I think this is my favorite green tea – or at least it is at this moment in time on me day. Its buttery, sweet, grain, beans? and a spiciness that leads into a pleasant bite before the lingering aftertaste kicks in.
It may be time to break out the electric guitar and crank the distortion to 11. Hope the neighbors are in a good mood.