Featured & New Tasting Notes

89
drank Wuyi Dark Roast by Samovar
1112 tasting notes

I am having a very enjoyable day sipping this oolong! After a quick rinse, I enjoyed many delicious steeps! It went from dark and roasty and almost tarry, to more nut buttery. I expect to get a few more steeps before the day is through!

That being said, I have lowered the rating a little. I prefer the roasty flavors of Silk Road Tea’s Imperial Red or Premium Steap’s Emperor’s Red. I know they are technically a different kind of tea preparation (black vs. oolong) but I am comparing them by the roasty flavor profile.

The Imperial Red and Emperor’s Red are both are smoother, sweeter, and have that tangy flavor I love along with the roasty flavors. I will gladly finish the three or so teaspoons of leaves I have left of the Wuyi Dark Roast (thanks Takogoti!) but will not restock now that I’m familiar with the IR and ER!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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70
drank Himalayan Apple Spice by Yogi Tea
902 tasting notes

I’m not a fan of Yogi Teas in general. Yes, I know tea is healthy, but I drink it for the taste and not the health benefits. Most of the samples I’ve tried of their teas have been, to put it nicely, unpalatable. It’s like you can taste the fact that it’s marketed to be a supplement.

I saw this tea at a holistic foods store in South Carolina. It sounded so good that I had to get and try it, despite my past history with Yogi.

To my surprise, it’s really good. Yes, it still has a slight “supplement” taste, but there’s definitely apple in there, and spices that remind me of Aztec hot chocolate. This is my last bag, sadly. If I see it again, I’ll probably buy more.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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84

105 degrees (the air temp, not the water!). Made up a 24 oz tumbler of this for pouring over ice. Brewed it a bit longer than I normally would, about 4 minutes, to get a little extra dark. Poured hot over ice and immediately strained over fresh ice in a glass. Wow! nice clean and crisp flavor with a bit of astringincy. The tannins reminded me of a heavily oaked Chardonnay…kind of woody, clean and sharp. Tried with both a touch of lemon and plain…not much difference either way. I think this one would take well to making sweet tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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98
drank Strawberry Matcha by 52teas
382 tasting notes

I have been, not to put too fine a point on it, staggeringly jealous of the people who got to try the 52teas mandarin and strawberry matchas. And now I get to try it myself. First of all, it smells amazing exactly like strawberries and not at all like strawberry flavoring – as we all know, I’m sure, there’s a difference.

For my first try, I decided to just go straight. The matcha dissolved easily and was much darker in color than I’m used. I think someone else mentioned olive? That sounds right. This stuff seems a little more concentrated than my ceremonial DoMatcha – I had to add a bit more water than I normally did before the taste wasn’t overwhelming. The taste itself is, I’d say, mostly strawberry, kind of moderated by the matcha flavor, creating a well-rounded, although largely strawberry dominated, whole. The whole, however, at least in my case is better suited to being mixed with stuff (smoooooothiiiiiiiiieeeeeees) than in being drunk straight. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the amazing smoothness that is DoMatcha. Mind you, I don’t drink very much straight matcha unless I am really sleep deprived in the morning so I don’t really feel like this is a disadvantage. I would probably venture to say that this will be MOAR fun to mix with stuff than the DoMatcha was – if only so that I will no longer feel the guilt of mixing something labeled “ceremonial” with all manner of stuff.

So, from this tasting, I am mostly sensing potential. Delicious smoothie potential! Delicious lemonade potential! Delicious latte potential! So….gonna hold off on rating for the moment, since I want to have a clear idea of the full range of this matcha’s potential, because I think if I rated it now, I’d go lower than I’ll end up at eventually.

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74
drank Clara's Tea by Talbott Teas
6770 tasting notes

A Lovely Concept Tea – I guess you could call it or NovelTEA would be a better term to use here…it gets points for that! The contents scared me a little because of the Hibiscus! BUT…with the rose, strawberry, and vanilla – it seemed to defeat the hibiscus! I’m not saying that the hibiscus still isn’t noticeable – just not as much as I thought it was going to be! I really assumed it was going to be ALL hibiscus! Thankfully there is much more to this tisane!

I tried this HOT – plain. Pretty good…pretty tart but the strawberry is more tart than the hibiscus. COLD is better for this one – plain. I guess COLD or ICED I can appreciate the tartiness a little better.

This says to add sugar and milk to it. I might be daring and add Rice Milk just because I have it on hand but I don’t have any sugar at the moment. Might try and play with it later.

This is alright…a fun tea but since I am not a girlie-girl and am not a Hibiscus fan it won’t make my top percentile. BUT…I’m sure glad I got to try this!!!

TeaEqualsBliss

ick! NOTE TO SELF…Rice Milk was NOT a good idea here…but…this is coming from someone who NEVER puts milk into her tea/tisane…to be fair…I thought I would mention that…oh well, at least I tried, eh!?

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54

As with the other Mighty Leaf teabags I’ve tried out, you can see big leaves and chunks of fruit through the fabric. It’s got a very strong tropical fruit scent, along the lines of pineangouava, if such a fruit existed. After three minutes of steeping time, the liquor is somewhere between green and oolong tea in color, a light brown with a slight hint of green. The tea smells nice, but not nearly as strongly as the dried leaf.

The flavor isn’t as rich as I expected; if I didn’t know it, I’d say there was no tea in it at all, but rather that it was a tisane. It’s got a light, fruity flavor but very little body – I’m getting very little of the green tea base. Might be worth trying again with a slightly longer steep time, but in general I’m underwhelmed.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85
drank Apple Sencha by Den's Tea
280 tasting notes

I have to thank Coftea for the suggestion to try this according to high quality Sencha parameters.

The apple flavor seemed a bit more subdued, but the natural sweetness of the sencha came through in such a good way, that it almost seemed to have a stronger apple flavor than when boiling water is used!
Besides, the sencha base has such a nice flavor anyway, you hardly need to have the apple for it to be enjoyable… though, the mix of the two together is what this tea is all about.

I’m glad Den’s uses high quality sencha as the base; it makes a big difference!

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Cofftea

You’re welcome!

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85
drank Zealong Dark by Chicago Tea Garden
54 tasting notes

4g tea
about 5 oz water
Zealong’s website suggests about 5g per 5oz, so thats why the low amount of water.

Aroma is strong and nutty and finishes with a lingering sweetness.

The color is a light pale yellow. The leaves were rather large and dark, they have not unfurled completely.

This is a very smooth tea, the flavor does not come across nearly as strong as the aroma. There is no bitterness, no astringency. The subtle flavors may be overwhelmed by the stronger iced Assam i just finished prior. Will have to see if the re-steeps alleviate that and maybe adjust the rating higher.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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36

I grabbed this tea bag on the way out the door this morning, throwing it into my thermos with some just boiled hot water.
An hour later, I could finally sit down and wake up with the cup.

hmmm. This is a strange tea. It definitely smells like licorice, and something else that reminds me of a flea collar. (eep!)

The taste is sweet and somewhat licorice-like. Perhaps there is some cinnamon heat. But otherwise I do not get any of the other flavours.

This is a random teabag in the cupboard and I will not be buying it, but for this one time, I’ll certainly finish the cup!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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74

The liquor brews to a dark brown. New Vithanakanda describes it as a russet color, and after comparing the two, I have to agree. The steeped aroma from the spent leaves and from the liquor itself are remarkably similar to the dry leaf aroma with overtones of honey and only the faintest heat notes.

When drinking this tea, the light astringency sets in and excites the palate. The honeyed overtones remain, but accompanied by the astringency creates an interesting contrast.

This tea is good for two or three steepings with good flavor, but it does fade quickly after the first brew. Each new set of leaves provides a remarkably consistent flavor profile though and I’ve found I can count on this tea to give me the same experience nearly every time.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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82
drank Red Dragon Pearl by thepuriTea
411 tasting notes

Got a new shipment of tea last night from the puriTea. Wow – that was a lot for not very much money.

This tea is neat and yummy. I need to play with it a little more to learn more about it, so I’m going to hold off on rating right now, but get dark cocoa from it and wow… very yummy.

Only problem I’ve found so far – the label direction say 5-7 minutes while the on-line say 3-5. That could cause issues.

thepuriTea

Sorry! We need to update the labels. Please use the online recommended steeping.

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79

Seeing the Canton Tea Co special offer today inspired me to have some pu-erh this morning. This time I gave the tuocha a quick rinse in hot water first, which puffs it up and helps it start to give off an aroma – the dry cake is almost odorless.

First steep at 90 seconds, and I’ve got myself a powerful cup! It is dark and soupy and full of earth and dry leaves. A bit of bitterness at the back end, but not unpleasant. It tastes like the tea has challenged me to a wrestling match, just to see what I’ve got. Bring it on, I say!

Second steep at 90 seconds is much mellower; the bitterness has vanished and now the flavor is wonderfully redolent of a walk in the woods in the middle of autumn. Very, very nice.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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72
drank Kamiya Papaya Oolong by Teavana
56 tasting notes

I found the flavors in this oolong the ones I like the least (i.e., cinnamon, pineapple.) I mixed the few teaspoons I had left with a few teaspoons I had of Sweet Fruit Garden, an herbal blend. I was hoping to cut down on the flavors I don’t like so much and increase the ones I like more such as berries. And this is a recommended blend by the company. But now it just tastes like Christmas in my mouth. Would be spectacular after some wassailing but not exactly what I’m looking for on a morning in August.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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89
drank Jasmine #12 by Adagio Teas
132 tasting notes

So I had this last night since I had just had Teavana’s Jasmine Pearls the night before (my taste buds and memory were still fresh)! I know I really should just do a side by side comparison, but I think I am just too lazy…or perhaps I simply don’t have the patience to do so? Eh, either way it hasn’t happened yet so this is the best I can do LOL. Now, the first time when I had this it had been a while since I made a cup of Teavana’s Jasmine Pearls and I think I may just been yearning for a strong jasmine flavor to it. Well, after last night I must say that this jasmine is a bit too perfumey for me and just didn’t have the same spunk and balance as Teavana’s Jasmine Pearls… it just did not compare! So for this reason and for the noticeable perfumey taste I will have to knock my rating down; I think the first time I tried them I was just in a jasmine pearl withdrawal and any pearl would have just knocked my socks off!

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91
drank Golden Spring by Adagio Teas
158 tasting notes

Sadness today. My leaves are well over a year old at this point, and I think it’s time to admit that I ought to restock with fresher stuff. I suppose I ought to make a blend with what’s left. It’s still very good, but some of the richness has tapered back, and the honey in it is no longer so prominent. It’s much more ‘basic tea’ than it used to be — unless my allergies are just acting up without my noticing again, which is possible. How congestion in the head but not the actual nose manages to impact my taste buds I suppose I shall never know, but there it is.

At least it’s still quite easy to drink. My cup was gone in no time!

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76

Stumbled across this tea at my local Coop and bought enough for a pot or two. While I was scooping some out of the container the aroma was very strong. But, it smelled of real peach, not an artificial peach smell I’ve encountered with some other teas.

The peach flavor very well balanced. It is not strictly sweet—it has a little bite to it, which rounds things out nicely. The white tea doesn’t seem to contribute too much, which isn’t too surprising since it doesn’t take much to overwhelm a white tea.

I think I’ll be buying more.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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83
drank Yunnan Noir by Adagio Teas
382 tasting notes

Resteep from last night because I am lazy.

A much more malty flavor has come out with this with a very very light hint of smoke in the aftertaste. Sadly, the astringency has also heightened, no doubt due to the longer steeping time I inflicted on it. Still tasty, but doesn’t really do it for me as a morning tea. I think it will work out much better as a nice smooth afternoon tea.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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89
drank Vanilla Tea by Whittard of Chelsea
1317 tasting notes

Back at last from my holiday! I’m not even going to contemplate attempting to catch up with 10ish days worth of posts, so I’m just going to jump back into the dashboard from this post forward. If anybody posted anything that you would like me to see while I was away, please drop me a comment.

One of three teas I bought while in England. In York I was taken to a Whittard of Chelsea shop and they had this 3 for 2 deal, so I picked some. I hadn’t planned for anything in advance, I was just taken there and uh… left more or less to my own devices for a few minutes, sorta.

I’m not sure how the brand sits on the quality scale, but I think it should be something above supermarket brands. (Lipton, Pickwick… I’m looking at you!) Not sure if we’re as high up as, say, Kusmi and such. But okay. It’s loose. They have a real shop as opposed to a supermarket shelf. That’s good for something

The tea itself has bits of vanilla pods in it and it does smell like vanilla. It’s not an overwhelming aroma, more like an added sweetness that definitely isn’t sugar. If I didn’t know it was vanilla, I can’t say for certain that I would be able to identify it as such, but then again, I don’t go around sniffing a lot of vanilla, so I’m afraid my idea of ‘vanilla aroma’ is a bit out of proportions with reality. Real vanilla aroma is not, after all, as strong as in vanilla essence…

So, yes. It smells like vanilla, and it tastes like it too. It actually has a surprisingly nice flavour of vanilla. Not too much but not too little. It’s easily identifiable with the aroma, so if you can recognise that as vanilla, then you’re good to go. (This is beginning to sound a little backwards and complicated, isn’t it?)

I’m not sure though if it lives up to the vanilla tea standards of for example JacquelineM, though. You seem to be the resident expert on how this particular flavour is best done, but until someone shows me otherwise, this is good enough for me. Good enough, anyway, that when I run out of this one, I’ll give Kusmi’s vanilla black a go. I’ve been eyeing that one for a while and wondering if I might like that, since I like their caramel so much.

Or a combination perhaps. I seem to recall having successfully tried something like that before. We shall see, we shall see…

But anyway, back to the tea at hand. The base blend is Ceylon and Keemun, which at first taste seemed to be a bit heavy for the flavour, but after I’d got a little further down in the cup I decided that it wasn’t really. Had the base been more delicate, I think the vanilla would either have completely overpowered it, or the whole thing would have flown away in a flavourless gust of wind.

I liked this. I can see myself getting very fond of it, actually.

Jillian

See? I knew you were going to come back with more tea. ;)

Angrboda

I should learn to pay better attention, obviously. :p (although I wouldn’t have if not taken into that shop)

JacquelineM

Mmmmm that sure sounds good! It gets the JacquelineM Seal of Vanilla Approval. I think the pods and the “just right” vanilla flavor sounds excellent!

Angrboda

I suspect it’s the fact that you go into it expecting it to be vanilla-essence vanilla and then find you’re glad you didn’t get that that does it, isn’t it? It makes it feel more authentic.

Auggy

Welcome back!

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69

Okay…dry this smells JUST LIKE
BIG LEAGUE CHEW, seriously!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_League_Chew

and oddly enough this TASTES like…
the powder-dry gum in the Topps Trading Cards back in the 70s and 80s!

Where I find this to be very nostalgic – it’s very different from what I was thinking it would be. It’s not really fruity or tropical…it doesn’t really remind me of tropical punch.

This is a strange tea but ok, I suppose. My favorite part of the cup was flashbacks to trendy GUMs! LOL

Angela

haha I haven’t seen the words “Big League Chew” since… um… wow I don’t even know. This amuses me highly.

TeaEqualsBliss

LOL – like I said…VERY throw-back! :)

Caitlin

I am glad I am not the only one who found this tea to taste like bubble gum – haha

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88
drank Bohea by The Tao of Tea
911 tasting notes

Thanks to sophistre, I get a chance to try a new Bohea. Yay! I just had Teas Etc’s Bohea this morning, so I can’t help but make comparisons. If I didn’t know better, I would swear they aren’t the same type of tea. This one is much milder (in color, smell and taste) than the Teas Etc Bohea. The smoky flavor – which is rich and thick in the TE version – is mild here, somewhat of an afterthought. The first descriptor that crossed my mind with this one, both when smelling and tasting, was ‘sweet’. Because it is. It’s sweet, soft, gentle and has a hint of smoke in the aftertaste that kind of poofs up my sinuses after a sip.

But that makes it sound like, compared to TE’s Bohea, ToT’s version is lacking. It isn’t. It’s just totally different. TE’s version reminds me of lapsang with the edges smoothed out and no tar. ToT’s version reminds me of TeaSpring’s Tan Yang Te Ji with less oomph and MPD-esque complexity. I have to be in a smoky tea mood to drink TE’s Bohea. This one, being milder, wouldn’t require a smoky mood.

So even though they are the same type of tea, they really are totally different. I could see keeping both in my pantry without feeling I was duplicating teas. I could also see using this one as a tea to ease a newbie into smoky teas. It’s really quite tasty.

The second steep (5min) is a little milder than I hoped for (still tasty though) so I think next time I’ll extend that steep a bit for a touch more flavor.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
sophistre

Woo! I’ve been waiting all day to see what you’d pick first. ^^

Auggy

There were so many good choices for first pick! Sadly, I had given myself the jitters from caffeine before I got your package so I’m having to pace myself! :)

Jenn-cha

I love this one so much. Glad to hear you like it :)

Auggy

I can see why you’d love it – it’s really pretty and ‘pretty’ isn’t something I normally say for a smoky tea but this deserves it.

Thomas Smith

I love your review, but I thought I ought to toss an fyi your way about Bohea.
Bohea (pron. Boo-ee) is the English corruption of WuYi, the origin of the first fully oxidized teas which wound up going for export shortly after their invention. Tan Yang Te Ji was the first high quality hongcha and Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (Lapsang) wasn’t too far behind. The Bohea from Teas Etc is actually a Lapsang, (which ought to have a balanced smoky aroma with a longan fruit flavor note, unlike the tarry junk that floods the market) while Tao of Tea’s Bohea may be a totally different WuYi hongcha. Interesting thing is ToT’s Bohea is listed as coming from near Xingcun, the birthplace of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. You probably have two teas that were processed in different ways from the same general area. Imperial Red – Da Hong Pao Hongcha – is another Bohea.

sophistre

So what is it that makes a tea be called Bohea vs. any number of other equally appropriate names? Is it a lingering designation from a time when the teas were primarily English exports, or…?

Auggy

Ditto to what sophistre said. Why can ToT and TE both call their teas Bohea when they are processed differently (which would make me feel they are different types of tea then)?

Thomas Smith

Well, they can call it whatever they like (I’ve seen a teas sold as “China Black” and “Wu Long”), but really it’s just a place name dragged from antiquity and can be applied accurately enough to any WuYi red. Incidentally, the same is true for Keemun… There are a good number of different reds produced around Qi Men – market trends and historically spread small-leaf varietal leads us westerners to accepting it all as the same. It’s being used as a market name like a company would use “Darjeeling” to evoke refinement (even if it’s CTC or fannings from the area rather than full leaf) – in the case of Bohea, the companies want to evoke posterity or connections to the name’s appearance in literature. Nothing really wrong with it, but it can get confusing since multiple teas fit the bill. I agree that it’s better to specify a style name from within a region; however, this is probably the location with the best case for shying away from that. Most folks have a justified aversion to one of the oldest and most widely produced Boheas, Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, and the companies may want to avoid pointing out the tea falls under the same name but may taste different.

Localities tend to have a limited range of varietals they grow and local processing methods may vary but have similarities within a region so you can expect different WuYi reds to have different flavors and leaf appearances but share a sort of similar mineral and fruit like characteristics due to terroir and cultivar and be slightly smoky since many producers finish-fire using pine. Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong – Lapsang – has really been corrupted to overly-smoky versions, though. Its smoky rep now has many producers over-smoking it or adding “liquid smoke” to it to produce the aroma, though these tend to have a chemical/ethanol or a creosol-like taint in the flavor as well.

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82
drank Rooibos Tropica by Teavana
83 tasting notes

The citrus fruits come are very subtle in this one. It seems to be a very relaxing drink with no overwhelming flavors. Just a gentle rooibos with strawberry and peach being the most prodominate flavors in this cup. Not that any specific flavor dominates this tea. It is just a nice blend. I made enough for two cups so we will see if I still feel the same in a bit.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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81

The dry leaves are dark, and uncharacteristically long and full based on my previous experience with pu-erh teas. They give off a strong, sweet odor of fresh earth. After two minutes of hot water I had a very dark, coffee colored liquor with an enticing aroma. I got the earth scent for sure, but also something slightly spicy. The flavor had some of the typical hallmarks of pu-erh, but with some extras thrown in for good measure as well. There is a definite natural sweetness to the flavor, and a tiny bit of tartness in the aftertaste without being fishy or rotten tasting. I also get just a little bit of spiciness which is really nice – a general mix of cinnamon, clove, and ginger which is in both the aroma and the taste.

The second steep, at 3 minutes, didn’t seem to bring any additional surprises. In summary a nice pu-erh, which I think I’ll try with a little milk and sugar next time to see how it goes. Sacrilege, I know!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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91

I went into a new store they opened in the area, and decided to get some samples. I love being able to try new teas and not pay shipping!

The brewed leaf smelled like some kind of delicious fruit aroma. It really surprised me because I was expecting a more roasted-like smell (I hadn’t read the description of the tea that they have on their website; the store just had the name and the price).
BUT, it tasted like strawberries! This could be called “Strawberry Oolong” (in my opinion) though, there are of course no flavorings. Because of this, it seemed like a really high quality tea, but that wouldn’t matter if it didn’t taste good. Well, it was very good. :-)

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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80

Oh!, I said, after I poured the water on the leaves, and was sniffing the cup on the way back to my desk. Flowers!

What kind of flowers, you ask? A legitimate question, without an adequate answer from me. I can still get the smell of them as I sit here waiting for the cup to cool…but it’s definitely floral. Like standing in a florist’s, and outside they’ve just freshly cut the grass.

As it cools some, that scent is darkening down to something more patently Darjeeling in aroma — a bit floral, a bit honey, a bit grapes on a vine.

The taste is much more pronounced in the honey department than the smell, which makes me happy. I am a big fan of honey (though I never really add it to my tea, unless I’m making chai…because milk and honey are made to go together, of course).

This is quite nice. I’m used to the Darjeelings I’ve tried leaning toward being thin and grapeskin-tart when they’re still very hot, and mellowing and filling out as they cool; this tea is currently just on the comfortable-to-drink side of hot, and it’s mostly honey-sweet, smooth, a bit savory — probably from the full mouthfeel. I keep sipping and looking for new flavors, but it’s remaining pretty consistent, nothing new from one sip to the next. This is alright, though, because each sip is pretty pleasant, surprisingly cozy for a Darjeeling. There’s a very subtle hint of the tartness at the very back of my tongue the longer I sip, but it’s not showing up for the main event.

I don’t drink a slew of Darjeelings, but of those I’ve had, this one is pretty tasty!

I’ll get around to noting steep 2 in a little bit.

(Holy cow, my rating system is a mess. It really needs some janitorial work!)

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec
sophistre

Oh no!

Steep 2 disaster. :( I got so caught up in making http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/reviews/Belize-Style-Sweet-Potato-Pudding-352370 that I forgot I was steeping tea. :( The second steep is surprisingly drinkable despite being abandoned in the cup for probably just shy of ten minutes (yikes) — I thought it was going to be a bitter mess. It’s not, but it’s flat and one-dimensional. Oops. Next time!

Thomas Smith

Oh noes! Sorry to hear about the missteep.
I rarely drink autumnal flushes because I haven’t found one that contends a 2nd flush nor holds well to successive infusions, usually falling flat. Makaibari produces one of my favorite 2nd flush Darjeelings alongside Margaret’s Hope.

sophistre

I have yet to really sit down with any significant variety of Darjeeling to drink it sequentially, and until I do that I don’t feel very familiar with what’s out there. I’ll certainly make a point to try those when I start (though I think it was probably inevitable, as they seem to be the most widely-discussed single-estate producers of the tea — or is that not so? I see them both mentioned everywhere).

Thomas Smith

Dunno if that’s the case or not – I just know they’re yummy

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