24 Tasting Notes

25

Bagged teas rarely are going to be as good as loose-leaf varieties, but Republic Chai was disappointingly weak by any standard. There was just no “there” there, if you know what I mean. If you’re hellbent on getting your tea from a bag, Celestial Seasonings (which I associate more with herbal teas than with quality real teas) actually has a pretty good chai that has the requisite spice and which can stand up to milk. If you want the real deal, however, go for the loose-leaf stuff, such as Rishi’s Masala Chai. Or, if you prefer something with a strong cinnamon flavor, rather than cardamon, try Porto Rico Importing’s Chai Tra Que.

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88

Among tea snobs, Assam teas often get a bad rap and are largely relegated to the category of mass-market teas, due to the fact that there are more than 3,000 tea estates in the Assam Region, many of which produce lower-quality teas that wind up in tea bags. By comparison, there are less than 100 Darjeeling tea gardens, enabling the Darjeeling growers to better protect their “brand.” That said, however, good Assam teas from the better estates are great teas and Rembeng is definitely in that category. This organic tea is everything a good Assam is supposed to be, malty, balanced and rich enough to hold up to milk, but smooth enough to drink straight. A four- or five-minute steep seems about right. One of the best teas for making iced teas, too. Available at Itoen and a slew of other online tea purveyors.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Teaman

Rob, what source did you get this tea from. It doesn’t say. SpecialTeas has it as Rembeng TGFOP Organic which is pretty close to what this one is called.

East Side Rob

I got mine from Ito En in New York — from the actual store, not the website. That said, Rembeng was the estate that grew and processed the tea. So the Rembeng that SpecialTeas has is going to be the same stuff.

Teaman

I understand what you’re saying about the same estate. However I wonder if some supply buyers don’t get higher grades than others from the same estate per a given harvest by paying a different price. Hence I like to know the consumer source so I know where to order if from if I want to experience what others who bought from the same consumer source have found.

East Side Rob

To my chagrin, Ito En doesn’t list the Pekoe grade on the Rembeng they sell, which is particularly annoying since Indian teas always come with a pekoe grade. That said, however, Ito En is selling their Rembeng for about $3 an once. And the TGFOP grade you refer to that SpecialTeas sells is a fairly high grade.

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85

A decent tea, but not nearly as good as this estate’s first flush from last year, a sentiment shared by another tea drinker I mentioned this to. (That’s the risk you take when you buy a single-estate tea, instead of a blended darjeeling. The good years are great and the other years are just O.K.) The tea goes tannic on you quickly, so keep the steeping time to no more than three minutes. If I’m disappointed in this tea, it’s only because last year’s harvest from this estate was perhaps the best darjeeling I ever had. This year’s isn’t nearly as good, but not a bad tea. But not inexpensive either.

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95
drank Golden Yunnan by Rishi Tea
24 tasting notes

A nice tea. Deliciously malty and nicely balanced. Not as strong of a caramel finish as some other Golden Yunnans, such as Itoen’s, but it’s organic (not a small consideration given Chinese farmers penchant for pesticide spray) and fair trade. And there is something really cool about having wild-harvested tea from 1,300-year-old tea trees.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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Bio

East Side Rob is head of marketing communications for a large philanthropy, where he spends a lot of time working late, contemplating a saner life, and drinking lots of — you guessed it — tea.

Location

New York

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