123 Tasting Notes

drank Je t'Aime by Nina's Paris
123 tasting notes

Sample package: 2” x 2” clear plastic zip-lock – 2 level tsp
Label: “JE T’AIME” (No ingredients listed. No brewing instructions.)

Per http://www.ninasparis.com/en/pro_tea0.html:
“Le celèbre thé JE T’AIME
Vanilla, caramel
A voluptuous tea with the sweet taste of vanilla and all the tenderness of caramel. A blend that will envelop you in gentleness and warmth.”

Thanks to Laurent at Nina’s Paris Tea Store USA
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ninas-Paris-Tea-Store-USA/569332199761362
for the recommended brewing instructions: 1 rounded tsp / 195*F / 6oz / 2.5 min.

Technique:
Water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 23 ppm
Heated to 212*F and allowed to cool to 195*F – verified with DAVIDsTEA digital thermometer
Steeped the entire tea sample in 12-oz for 2.5 minutes, then poured two six ounce servings.

This tea has a potent caramel vanilla fragrance.

2.5-min Infusion: The aroma followed the caramel vanilla fragrance. Similarly, the flavor followed both the fragrance & the aroma. The caramel vanilla flavor was so dominate that I cannot easily comment on the character of the base tea other than to say that it was not at all bitter or astringent and had a clean finish. Perhaps a longer infusion time may have allowed the base tea to more fully develop. Since the tea was very sweet, I wasn’t inclined to steep it longer.

Impression: A smooth, very sweet desert tea.

Suggestions: Perhaps Nina’s Paris might consider recommending a longer infusion time or a little less flavoring to allow more of the merits of the tea to shine through.

Thanks to Nina’s Paris for providing this free sample.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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drank Earl Grey by Nina's Paris
123 tasting notes

Sample package: 2” x 2” clear plastic zip-lock – 2 level tsp
Label: “Earl Grey.” (No ingredients listed. No brewing instructions.)

Per http://www.ninasparis.com/en/pro_tea0.html:
“Le Royal EARL GREY
Bergamot from Sicily
The smoothness of Keemun together with the freshness of bergamot. An ancient recipe that was handed down by a high dignitary of China to Earl Charles Grey. A classic that definitely shouldn’t be missed.”

Thanks to Laurent at Nina’s Paris Tea Store USA
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ninas-Paris-Tea-Store-USA/569332199761362
for the recommended brewing instructions:
1 rounded tsp / 195*F / 6oz / 2.5 min.

Technique:
6-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 22 ppm
Heated to 212*F and allowed to cool to 195*F – verified with DAVIDsTEA digital thermometer
1 rounded teaspoon
Stepped for 2.5 mins.

Introduction: Most EG teas come from Shi Lanka formerly known as Ceylon. Having a Keemun base (a favorite tea of mine), was a significant reason for wanting to sample this tea. Our current EG has a Ceylon base and I can’t get past the astringency. Other primary reason: My wife loves EG.
This tea has a lemony Earl Grey fragrance that’s slightly stronger than the Keemun base.

Amber hue

2.5-min Infusion: My wife noted an initial peppery/thyme-like aroma. I noted that the aroma of the tea was stronger than the light oil of bergamot lemon sent. Some Keemun teas have a smokey aroma. Perhaps this characteristic was competing with the lemon aroma?

Similarly, the taste followed the aroma. The Keemun stands out above the light oil of bergamot lemon flavor. This Earl Grey was very smooth, not at all bitter or astringent with a clean finish.

Impression: A very smooth muted Earl Grey tea.

Suggestions: Perhaps Nina’s Paris might consider adding more of the wonderful Sicilian Bergomot to this very smooth Keemun. Another possibility might be to select a less aromatic Keemun or a Yunnan Dian Hong style black tea instead.

Thanks to Nina’s Paris for providing this free sample.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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drank Golden Monkey by Teas Etc
123 tasting notes

Sample package label:
“USDA Organic
*Heat water to boil
*use 1 level teaspoon of leaves per 8 oz.
*pour water over leaves, brew 4-5 mins.
Ingredients: Organic Chinese Black Tea (Golden Monkey)”

6-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 18 ppm, boiled, allowed to cool to ~200*F
(After yesterday’s experience with Nilgiri tea from Teas Etc., and given the cost of this tea ($81./lb.), I didn’t want to risk using this sample to find out that 8 oz. of water is too much.)

1 level Tevanna teaspoon, without sweeteners, milk, or cream.
This tea has a wonderful fragrance that reminds me of fine pipe tobacco.
Amber hue
3-min Infusion Initial Impression: The taste is light-bodied and creamy smooth. It’s not at all bitter or astringent. (I then let it steep for an additional minute.)
4-min: It’s a creamy smooth medium-bodied tea with a caramel-like natural sweet flavor and a finish that leaves you with a wonderful full mouth feel that lingers long on the tongue. (I’m glad I chose to use only 6 oz. of water.)

2nd Infusion: 212*F, allowed to cool briefly until steaming hot
5-min: It’s a creamy smooth medium-bodied tea with a caramel-like natural sweet flavor and a finish that leaves you with a wonderful full mouth feel that lingers long on the tongue. – Yes, the 2nd steep was as good as the first!

3rd Infusion: 212*F, allowed to cool briefly until steaming hot
5-min: Noticeably lighter but still enjoyable. (I then let it steep for an additional minute.)
6-min: Somewhat light, but still enjoyable.

Impression: This is my first Golden Monkey black tea and a wonderful first-impression and one that should not be missed! – Excellent!

Thanks to Teas Etc. for providing this free sample.
http://www.teasetc.com/details.asp?prodid=0140

2/2/14 Update:
Teas Etc. now offers “Golden Monkey Superior”, which is not USDA organic certified but is EU compliant.

Flavors: Caramel

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
Rachel J

I really enjoy your thorough tasting notes!

looseTman

Thank you for your very kind comment. I’ve also enjoyed following your enthusiastic tea journey on Steepster and its given me some helpful information for mine. Kudos! Congrats also on your young son!

Rachel J

Thanks so much! :)

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drank Nilgiri by Teas Etc
123 tasting notes

Sample package label:
“USDA Organic
*Heat water to boil
*use 1 level teaspoon of leaves per 8 oz.
*pour water over leaves, brew 4-5 mins.
Ingredients: Organic Indian Black Tea”

8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 22 ppm, boiled
1 level Tevanna teaspoon

This tea has a light grassy fragrance.

Amber hue

4-min Infusion Initial Impression: The taste is light-bodied, smooth, not bitter or astringent with a clean finish. (I then let it steep for an additional minute.)
5-min Infusion: It has a smooth light- to medium-bodied flavor that’s not at all bitter or astringent with a clean finish. (I then let it steep for an additional minute.)
6-min Infusion: It has a nearly medium-bodied flavor with an initial bitterness that has faded as it has cooled. It’s not astringent and has a clean finish. A five minute infusion is probably best.

Given how my experience didn’t match this tea’s description, I tried again:

2nd Cup: 212*F, 6 oz., 1 level tsp.
5-min Infusion: It has a smooth nearly full-bodied flavor that’s not at all bitter or astringent with a clean finish – Much improved versus 8 oz. of water. However, it doesn’t provide a full mouth feel or a rich/creamy flavor.

Impression: This is my first straight Nilgiri black tea. For a breakfast tea, I typically prefer a fuller-bodied rich black tea. As such, I would welcome an opportunity to taste an Assam and a Keemun from Teas Etc. I also have an unopened sample of Golden Monkey from Teas Etc. that’s much more likely to be “my cup of tea”.

Thanks to Teas Etc. for providing this free sample.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Organic Earl Grey by Teas Etc
123 tasting notes

Sample package label:
“USDA Organic
*Heat water to boil
*use 1 level teaspoon of leaves per 8 oz.
*pour water over leaves, brew 4-5 mins.
Ingredients: Organic Black Tea, and natural Bergamot essential oil.”

8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 17 ppm, boiled
1 level Tevanna teaspoon

Introduction: I understand Organic Earl Grey from Teas Etc. is a blend of organic Nilgiri teas. Most EG teas come from Shi Lanka formerly known as Ceylon. Having a different base tea, was a significant reason for wanting to sample this tea. Our current EG has a Ceylon base and I can’t get past the astringency. Other primary reasons: My wife loves EG and prefers organic teas.

Fragrance: This tea has a very potent classic lemon Earl Grey fragrance that will wake up your senses all by itself!

Amber hue

4-min Infusion Initial Impression: A strong lemon aroma. The taste is smooth, not bitter or astringent with a clean finish. (I then let it steep for an additional minute.)

5-min Infusion: It has a strong lemon aroma and a smooth medium-bodied EG flavor that’s not at all bitter or astringent – Excellent! A pleasing tart lemon flavor lingers long on the tongue.

2nd 5-min Infusion: A lighter-bodied & less lemony version of the first infusion that’s still very pleasing.

Impression: An excellent classic Earl Grey tea with a potent lemon fragrance, a strong lemon aroma and a lemon flavor that that stands out above the organic Nilgiri base. Clearly the best “lemon forward” Earl Grey I’ve tasted.

Additional thoughts: I would like to encourage Teas Etc. to also develop a well-balanced organic EG Cream or Vanilla Earl Grey.

Per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergamot_orange):
“Citrus bergamia is a small tree which blossoms during the winter. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. The distinctive aroma of bergamot is most commonly known for its use in Earl Grey tea.8

The tartness of citrus bergamia is a common characteristic of most Earl Grey tea. Adding a creamy vanilla should smooth out the natural tartness of the oil of Bergamot while adding a full mouth feel. Other tea companies have tried this approach. Many of them are not organic, and at least one uses artificial flavoring. Only a few have discovered a pleasing balance of among all the ingredients.

Thanks to Teas Etc. for providing this free sample.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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Sample package label:
“Golden tips evoke the hot sun of the early June Second Flush Harvest. One of finest producers in region delivers a beautiful example of what is possible under the right conditions. Slightly heartier and creamier than some whole leaf Assams, this selection picks up deep malty notes of cocoa and subtle fruit.

Preparation: (1 cup) 1 heaping teaspoon, 95*C (203*F), 3 min.”

6-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 19 ppm, boiled, left to stand so only steaming hot. (I do not have a quick-reading (tea) thermometer with this level of precision.)

1 heaping Tevanna teaspoon, without sweeteners, milk or cream.

The fragrance of this tea reminds me of fine pipe tobacco.

Amber brown hue

First 3-min Infusion:
There is a VERY ROBUST, full-bodied, creamy smooth morning tea with a light woody/earthy fragrance and without any bitterness or astringency.
2nd 3-min Infusion:
A little less robust, but just as enjoyable as the first cup.
3rd 3-min Infusion:
Definitely, not as robust. However, on my second cup of this Assam, I tried a 4-min 3rd infusion and found much more pleasing results.

Impression: An excellent, VERY ROBUST, full-bodied, creamy smooth morning tea without any bitterness or astringency that will go the distance. Well Done!

Thanks to Zen Tea Life for providing this free sample.

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec

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drank Earl Grey Cream by Zen Tea
123 tasting notes

Sample package label:
“If you are a fan of Earl Grey and had not tried this, you are in for a treat. Cream Earl Grey has a taste that is smooth with vanilla overtones which stand out above the premium bergamot flavor the signature taste of Earl Grey. Our Earl Grey mellowed with a delicious creamy taste.

Ingredients: Ceylon Tea (Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, Uva), cornflower petals, natural flavor.
Preparation: (1 cup) {6 or 8 oz.?} 1 heaping teaspoon, 95*C (203*F), 4 min.”

6-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 19 ppm, boiled, left to stand so only steaming hot. (I do not have a quick-reading (tea) thermometer with level of precision.)
1 heaping Tevanna teaspoon:

This tea Earl Grey has a strong vanilla fragrance.

Vibrant reddish hue

First 4-min Infusion:
There is an equally balanced lemon & vanilla aroma, followed by a very smooth, medium-bodied lemon taste without tartness. The overall aroma (bergamot, vanilla, & Ceylon blend) has notes of toasted marshmallows according to my wife’s keen sense of smell. There’s just enough creamy vanilla to smooth out the oil of bergamot tartness, but not so much as to obscure the classic EG flavor. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency from this blend of Ceylon teas. The taste of lemon lingers on the tongue.

2nd 4-min Infusion:
I was surprised that a mild lemon flavoring was still present – quite enjoyable.

Impression: An excellent, much smoother Earl Grey tea that’s very well-balanced preserving the Classic EG flavor – Quite an accomplishment!

Thanks to Zen Tea Life for providing this free sample.

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec

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Silky Earl Grey

Sample package label:
“Contents: Whole leaf black Tea, w/Bergamot oil and natural flavors”
“Brewing: 1 teaspoon for 3 minutes 8-oz water @ 212*F”

8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 25 ppm, boiled

Introduction: Teajo Teas Earl Grey is made with an Assam base. Most EG teas come from Shi Lanka formerly known as Ceylon. Having a different base tea, was a significant reason for wanting to sample this tea. Our current EG cream has a Ceylon base and I can’t get past the astringency. Also, my wife loves EG teas.

This tea has another fragrance that I can’t identify, which is at least as strong as the oil of bergamot fragrance.

Amber hue

3-min Infusion: A mild lemon taste with another equally strong enjoyable flavor that I can’t identify. I guess it’s the safflower as listed on their website: http://www.teajo.com/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=47
In my experience:
– The tartness of citrus bergamia is a common characteristic of most Earl Grey tea.
– Most EG tea is mild- to medium-bodied.

Impression: A full-bodied EG without astringency, bitterness or tartness – Quite an accomplishment!

2nd 3-min Infusion: Nearly identical to the original infusion.

Suggestion: For those like my wife who love the classic EG aroma & flavor, Teajo Teas may also wish to develop another version of their Silky Earl Grey where the other natural ingredients are not as strong as the oil of bergamot – a Silky Classic Earl Grey.

Thanks to Teajo Teas for providing this most generous 10-cup free sample. I will definitely enjoy the rest of it – and that’s not something I thought I would say! Well done!

Based on this very positive first impression of Teajo teas, I would also be interested in tasting their Black Manas and Tropical Mango teas.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Sample package label:
Ingredients: Organic Vietnamese Black Tea, Fair-Trade Certified, USDA Organic
1 “generous” teaspoon – steep 212*F, 3 – 5 minutes.

8-oz* water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 24 ppm, boiled

This tea has a grassy cinnamon fragrance.
Vibrant reddish hue
First Infusion:
3-min: Initial taste – Very soft, smooth, & pleasing. I then steeped it an additional 2-min.
5-min: Very soft, smooth, with a strong note of cinnamon. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency.

2nd Infusion (6-oz, 6-min): Enjoyable & slightly lighter than the first cup.

Impression: This is a very soft, smooth, medium-bodied, somewhat malty, slightly sweet, black tea with a strong note of cinnamon, and without any bitterness or astringency – a surprising taste experience for a “Vietnamese Assam.” This is a great choice for an afternoon or evening tea.

Arbor Teas 4 Organic Black Tea Sample Series Conclusion:
Of the four organic Arbor Teas I’ve tasted: Earl Grey, Assam TGFOP, Golden Yunnan, Vietnam Nam Lanh, the Assam TGFOP was my favorite breakfast tea and the Golden Yunnan was my favorite choice for afternoon or evening.

Thanks once again to Arbor Teas for providing these generous size free samples.

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Sample package label:
Ingredients: Organic Chinese Black Tea, Fair-Trade Certified, USDA Organic
Steep 212*F, 3 – 5 minutes.
8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 23 ppm, boiled
1 level Tevanna teaspoon, no sweeteners, milk or cream

This tea has a subtle earthy fragrance.
Dark reddish hue
First Infusion:
3-min: Initial taste – Very smooth. I then steeped it an additional 2-min.
5-min: Very smooth & rich, with a wonderful cream-like mouthfeel. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency.
2nd Infusion (5-min): Very close to the first cup.
3rd Infusion (6-min): Similar to the 2nd cup, but with lighter body

Impression: This is my first Golden Yunnan and it’s excellent! I enjoyed the first cup even more than the Arbor Teas Assam I drank yesterday. It has a soft mouth-feel that I didn’t experience with yesterday’s Assam. It also has a subtle wine-like taste similar to Keemun tea and a light natural sweetness – no sweetener needed.

Plan on re-steeping – your teacup will be empty before you know it and it’s too good to waste after only a single infusion.

Thanks to Arbor Teas for providing this generous size free sample.

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Bio

I am passionate about teas that are full-bodied, rich, & smooth. I joined Steepster to explore Multiple Infusion Teas (MITs) such as Pu-erh.

Currently, my focus is on un-flavored orthodox black & pu-erh teas. Cost-effective organic teas or teas that meet the EU Food Safety Commission Pesticide Maximum Residue Limit EUROFINS are also of interest. Many people drink tea for the anti-oxidant health benefits. So why would health conscious tea lovers drink tea that contains pesticide residues?

I especially enjoy teas with a natural rich chocolate flavor profile as opposed to natural bittersweet cocoa.

Complete steeping instructions on the bag are greatly appreciated:
tsp. (g) / oz. / temp. / rinse? / min. for both Western & Gongfu brewing.

Incomplete, non-specific, or cutesy instructions such as: “Just add water and enjoy.” significantly reduces the possibility that I will purchase that particular tea.

Having to discover the optimum brewing parameters through “trial & error” is too time-inefficient, wastes valuable tea and impairs the progress and joy of tea exploration.

The best tea suppliers evaluate each crop / batch of tea each year to determine the optimum brewing parameters. This insures the best possible first impression of their tea, greatly increases customer satisfaction, and thus increases word-of-mouth advertising – the best form of advertising that money can’t buy. You never have a 2nd chance to make an Outstanding First Impression.

My wife is an Earl Grey Fan. We enjoyed Twinings for many years – mostly Earl Grey, also English/Irish Breakfast, & Prince of Wales. Several years ago, TEG no longer tasted as good.

Rishi EG & China Breakfast then became our regular teas. However, after winning Tea Expo awards, the prices kept rising.

Our recent orders have been from: Tao Tea Leaf, Whispering Pines, Yezi, TeaVivre, What-Cha, Mandala, Zen Tea Life, and Verdant. Kudos to: Tao, Brenden, Boris, Angel Chen, Alistair Rea, Garret Sorensen, Kenneth Son, & David Duckler who have all been extremely helpful.

My cupboard doesn’t include the many greatly appreciated samples generously provided by Steepsters’s favorite tea suppliers and by several very kind Steepster members.

High quality water is essential for excellent tasting tea.
Our 450’ well provides hard water. For details see: http://steepster.com/looseTman/posts/176233#comments.

Solutions:
#1. Rainsoft water softener with
Q2 computerized control valve

#2. Abundant Flow Water
Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System with re-mineralization filter
Model: Zeta RO: https://www.afwfilters.com/drinking-ro-systems/6-stage-alkaline-zoi-zeta-reverse-osmosis-system-16.html
Includes:
- Dow Filmtec TFC R.O. membrane
- Omnipure Inline Post filter
- Puregen Aptera Alkaline Filter: http://www.puregen.com/products_detail.php?id=301&lang=en

Options:
- Aquatec ERP-500 & ASV 2000
- 3/8" Output
- HM Digital DM-1: http://www.tdsmeter.com/products/dm1.html

My profile picture is a Red-Breasted Nuthatch, a winter visitor to our woodpecker feeder.

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Mid-Atlantic, USA

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