90

I’ve been SO EXCITED to get this order in.

The recommendations have been so glowing around here that it has been hard not to be curious. What held me back for so long, you ask? Not my overflowing tea cupboard (I will let it take over my counter, and don’t care in the least), but my lack of a check book. By the time I finally wrote Eva Lee to inquire as to whether or not her company could take a debit card (they can!), she was sold clean out of the Makai Black in the Assamica varietal, which is (she told me) the tea that all of you lovely steepsterites have been giving such high marks of late. They won’t be harvesting more of that until the fall.

She informed me that she did have the Sinensis varietal on hand, however, and could send it out immediately. How could I not take her up on that? I ordered a few bags of that and one of the Mauka Oolong to try, and spent the last week buzzing around wishing my tea could be teleported here instantly.

The leaves are unusual. They’re long, but not quite as wide as the ones in the picture (to be expected, given the difference in the size of the leaves between the varietals) and much more…squiggly. I have no other word for it. The liquor produced is much lighter (at three minutes)…but because the leaves are so…squiggly…and because I have no scale, I hesitate to say that this is absolute fact, since my estimates could have been off on the quantity of leaf.

How should I describe what I’m tasting? It’s difficult to sort out. I don’t know that I can recall what barley on its own is like, which may be an obstacle to writing a proper review. The comparison to roasted sweet potatoes is instantly identifiable, but there’s something in the aroma that is…more than that. I thought about it for a long time before deciding that it reminds me a little of the smell of miso soup…

Or maybe it’s soba…

Or maybe it’s both.

My second steep — something I don’t usually try with blacks save for the first time I have them, just to see if it works — the leaves literally inflated to fill my little wire basket infuser (because, yes, I broke my glass one, sadface). They fattened up, saturated, unfolded to fill every last bit of space like they had pretensions toward being oolong leaves. I have to think that a longer steep time than 3 minutes for the first infusion would produce a different cup than the one I had, therefore, and am eager to try it…or upping the leaf quantity, one or the other, though I’m not sure where I would expect them to fit had I added any more.

This cup is darker than the first. I’m not sure on my steep time, because I was too fascinated by the leaf expansion to pay proper attention, but it smells delicious. The ‘roasted’ part of ‘roasted sweet potatoes’ is much more prevalent now.

Anybody who has the assam varietal who feels like parting with some of it in exchange for some of mine, lemme know. I’m eager to try more of what they have to offer!

Rating is soft for now, cos I left this review sitting all day after getting distracted by other things.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Lori

Ok- I will give this one a try… I have been meaning to order as well so I am glad they take a debit card…Such a pain mailing a check and fall will be here before we know it..

Auggy

Interesting about the two different varietals! Any idea if there is an easy way to know the difference between the two? I’m sooooo tempted to order some of this – I’ve gone through my previous order so quickly I’m going to need to hide the last bag for a bit so it will last! :)

sophistre

I don’t. I didn’t realize that there was an actual distinction between the two until she mentioned it. From what I’ve read, the difference between the Assamica varietal and the Sinensis varietal is that the Assamica leaves cultivated in India have grown to be significantly larger in size/shape, and that the Sinensis leaves are smaller. Technically, of course, this makes the Assamica leaves an ‘offshoot’ of the Sinensis. It’s all technically, scientifically, still Sinensis, but one is Sinensis Sinensis and one is Sinensis Assamica. I learn something new every day!

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Lori

Ok- I will give this one a try… I have been meaning to order as well so I am glad they take a debit card…Such a pain mailing a check and fall will be here before we know it..

Auggy

Interesting about the two different varietals! Any idea if there is an easy way to know the difference between the two? I’m sooooo tempted to order some of this – I’ve gone through my previous order so quickly I’m going to need to hide the last bag for a bit so it will last! :)

sophistre

I don’t. I didn’t realize that there was an actual distinction between the two until she mentioned it. From what I’ve read, the difference between the Assamica varietal and the Sinensis varietal is that the Assamica leaves cultivated in India have grown to be significantly larger in size/shape, and that the Sinensis leaves are smaller. Technically, of course, this makes the Assamica leaves an ‘offshoot’ of the Sinensis. It’s all technically, scientifically, still Sinensis, but one is Sinensis Sinensis and one is Sinensis Assamica. I learn something new every day!

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Ohhh, I dunno. I like tea but I’m kind of a tea newbie. At this point I can say with authority that I may never be anything else, no matter how many teas I try…there is always something new out there.

I write a lot.

I also play way too many video games.


Ratings! (Bout time, wot?) This is a new arrangement, so…subject to change!

1-10: Not potable. First-sip disasters.

11-30: Intensely unpleasant…won’t catch me finishing the cup.

31-50: I really don’t like it…but maybe somebody else out there would.

51-70: Drinkable, but probably not the first thing I’m going to reach for.

71-90: Pretty good tea, and stuff that there’s a good chance I’ll have on-hand. Will do in a pinch at the low end, all the way up to regular visitors to my infuser on the high end.

91-100: Teas I really do not want to be without.

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Boston/Cambridge

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http://sophistre.tumblr.com/

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