37 Tasting Notes

77

Malty, but a bit weaker than other Assams I have tried. Leaving it to steep too long makes it very tannic, and even with milk and sugar it was bitter when overstepped. But when brewed at the Tea Haus’ recommended 3 minutes, I found it to be a little on the weak side. So I’d recommend 4 minutes for best results. Bought this at Plum Market in West Bloomfield, Michigan, where it is sold as one of Tea Haus’ bulk teas.

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72
drank Assam Banaspaty by DAVIDsTEA
37 tasting notes

Tough to get it to brew strongly enough. That’s my short review of this one. I expected robust, malty, and typically Assam, but this tea fell a bit short on the robust side of things. The leaves are not as large as some other “full leaf” assams I have tried, so it surprised me a bit that this one did not brew up as richly as I expected from an assam variety. That said, it has a smooth maltiness to it and is better than David’s Tea’s English Breakfast, which I found to be quite weak. Maybe this is indicative of many of the mega-chain tea stores that have popped up — I thought the same thing with the Teavana brand English Breakfast. For me, I would have liked a darker, richer brew… and I guess for the money I spent on this loose leaf tea, I would rather buy a couple of boxes of bagged Punjana or Barry’s Irish Tea.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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72
drank Assam Banaspaty by DAVIDsTEA
37 tasting notes

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56
drank Iced Tea Blend by Tetley
37 tasting notes

For an iced tea, it’s better than Lipton or Luzianne or the store brands. The bags are huge… almost tempting to try brewing one of these and drinking it without icing it, just to see how it brews for a single cup. My guess is that it would be very tannic. When I’ve had this iced tea, I usually make a gallon of it and add Splenda to taste (quite a bit of it for a gallon) and sometimes some lemon juice to add a little tang to the mix, and then refrigerate it with ice cubes in the pitcher to cool it down faster. Good on a hot day, but not a replacement for a hot tea by any means.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C

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65

Not half bad, for a decaf tea. I’ve had this at night before, and it does seem to have less caffeine than the ‘regular’ caffeinated black teas. It has a classically mossy smell when you first get the bag wet with boiling water from the kettle, and it holds up well with creamer and sweetener, or is just fine black. Wouldn’t ever be my first choice during the day, but at night as I’m getting ready for bed, or even if I wake up shortly after dozing off, it’s decent. On the comparison scale of teas I have tried, I would actually rate this higher than either the fully-caffeinated Stash or Bigelow English Breakfast teas, but not as high as most of the others with caffeine. (In other words, given a choice between one of these or a cup of the Bigelow, I’d take the Tetley every time even without the caffeine.) My one complaint is that the amount of tea inside the “perf flo” bag doesn’t seem to be substantial enough, so I often use two or even three bags for a mug of tea… which means a box of 40 bags doesn’t last very long. Luckily, my local Kroger sells that box for about $3.50.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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62
drank African Rooibos by Twinings
37 tasting notes

For a “tea” that’s not really a tea at all, it wasn’t half bad. That said, I can’t honestly say that it was half good either :) Kind of unremarkable and not particularly noteworthy. It did have an absolutely beautiful color, but I personally think that’s it’s most endearing characteristic. I tried it first without any sweetener, then added 1 Splenda to a mug and decided one was not enough — so I added a second Splenda, and this made it almost too sweet and syrupy. (It is just a tiny bit sweet even without any sweetener added.) I can definitely taste that earthiness and woodiness that people talk about with Rooibos. Which is not really a surprise, given that it’s made from a bush.

Anyway, once I over-sweetened it, I experimented a bit to see if I could make it more palatable. I added milk to some of it, and found that it was decent with milk but again, not particularly remarkable. Then I added a single Tetley British Blend Decaf teabag to the remaining cup, and found that (for me anyway) that added some true tea flavor to the cup, and gave it a little bit of tannin that I think I had been missing with just the straight Rooibos. So maybe that will be my occasional evening blend — a bag of Rooibos + a bag of Tetley decaf plus one or two Splenda (no milk).

On the other hand, I honestly think if I’m looking to cut down on evening caffeine that I might prefer a Twining’s decaf of some sort, or even a Tetley British Blend Decaf, even though that tea is not especially remarkable, either. But at least the Tetley decaf is actually a tea, as opposed to an “herbal tea” like the Rooibos.

I have had a couple of samples of Rooibos from other sources in the past, and I thought this one was pretty decent. Very surprised by the reviews that some people have written, though, claiming that this tea is “100 points” or “the best bagged tea out there.” Hardly. It’s not really a tea anyway, as I mentioned in the first line of this review, and it just doesn’t stand out as anything all that spectacular. I guess if I had to sum it up in a couple of words, I’d say “serviceable, and caffeine free. But not noteworthy.”

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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86
drank Irish Breakfast by Barry's Tea
37 tasting notes

Have been drinking this regularly lately — and decided to rate it more highly than I have in the past, although still not up to the Punjana rating that I consider my #1 for irish breakfast teas. Very malty, and pleasant even when steeped longer than 4-5 minutes. I can drink this either weak or strong, and it seems to be just as good. I will say that it’s best when piping hot — if I let it cool a bit, the astringency seems to rise a bit and it’s not as good as if I drank it closer to right off the boil.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 45 sec

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75
drank Earl Grey by Dammann Freres
37 tasting notes

Had this in a restaurant at a Hilton (in Houston, TX) and enjoyed it black, without any sweetener or milk. I steeped it for about 4.5 minutes, and it developed a nice deep amber/auburn liquor and a pleasantly mild bergamot aroma. A bit tannic in the mouth but overall very drinkable. I used to drink Earl Grey quite a bit when I was younger, and have switched in general to Irish Breakfast or English Breakfast (or Twining’s Lady Grey) but may try more Earl Greys straight now, just to have a point of comparison. I’ve heard some people like their Earl Grey with milk, but others are firmly opposed to adding milk to it. For me, the jury is still out on this… would love to hear other’s opinions. All in all, a nice Earl Grey tea that I would gladly drink again. Might edit this review once I have some comparison points with other Earl Grey teas. For now, I’d rate it about a 75.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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70

Apparently not to be confused with the gold/black tinned “English Breakfast” tea from Harney and Sons, this one is in a silver tin and is labeled as “HT Blend” on both the tin and their web site and is different from the gold/black tin which is 100% Keemun. The silver HT tin says it is a blend of Ceylon and African teas.

Steeped this for quite a long time – 5 minutes or more – after which it became more tannic. However, even at 4-5 minutes the tea is not as strong as some other English Breakfast teas I have tried. It’s quite good, though, and I love the nice tin it comes in and the high-quality pyramid sachets. However, I have now seen this on the web for between $5-$6 (US), but I bought it at a Biggby Coffee shop for $9.99… clearly marked up more than it might be at a grocery store or online shop. I would say that I prefer Twining’s English Breakfast Tea over this tea, but I like my tea relatively strong with milk/creamer and sugar/Splenda.

Overall on my scale of common English Breakfast Teas I have tried, I would rank this somewhere between Republic of Tea and Stash at the bottom end of the scale, and Twining’s at the upper end of the scale.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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35

Kept hearing about Pu-erh tea, so thought I would give it a try. Opened the package and smelled a bit of a musty smell. At first I wrote it off to the smell of the box. Then I opened the individual sachet and poured hot water into my mug, and stepped away. After a minute or two, while walking around the kitchen, I smelled something that made me think that my dog had had an accident (#2) in his crate — seriously. (EDIT: Now I can’t think of anything but calling it “poo-echh” tea. Because that was very nearly my first reaction.) Then I realized that the odor was coming from the tea! Smelling the tea in the mug more closely, I detected an odor that smelled like a cross between wet rawhide/wet leather and horse manure/hay bales. It really does smell like a horse barn. As for the taste, it also has a bit of a musky taste, but not nearly as strong as the odor. Can’t say that the taste is totally unpleasant, but I really can’t imagine having a craving for this tea. Tried to add some milk and sugar to it, and yes, it did stand up to the additions, but I can’t say that it really improved the flavor, and certainly didn’t improve the odor. The flavor reminds me of wet earth and moss, or at least how I imagine wet earth and moss would taste. Is it terrible? No. Drinkable? Yes, but not particularly pleasing to the nose or palate. Frankly, not sure why people rave about this stuff, but then, I didn’t like Lapsang Souchong either. Just wish I had spent my $5 on a different black tea, perhaps an Assam or English Breakfast tea.

Probably going to willingly swap this tea to anyone who likes Pu-erh tea or wants to try it. I know, I’ve done a marvelous job of selling it, haven’t I? :)

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 45 sec
shotwell

Tried a second cup, just to see if the first was a fluke. Still tastes/smells like horse. Seriously. Horse.

Emilie

Did you try rinsing it first? I’ve had pu-erh that was crawfish flavored unless you rinsed it in hot water for 15 seconds or so before steeping

shotwell

@Emilie: No, didn’t try rinsing it first — it’s a bagged tea in a sealed packet, so didn’t even consider that as an option, frankly. (Maybe I’ll try that before I give it all away. Worth a shot, although I generally feel like if I buy a bagged tea, I ought to be able to go directly from bag to cup without a rinse or other prep.) Will give it a try and report back!

Emilie

Ah, I have no clue how it works with bagged tea but good luck!

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