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I still have a hard time rating Darjeelings, and preparing them for that matter. I have pretty good luck treating them as oolongs, using more leaf and less time; prepared that way I find them more drinkable and less bitter (than steeping them like black teas).

This one is really pretty though, the dry leaves are all multicolored – a black base, with lots of rusty brown and occasional golden and green bits. I’m definitely getting the fruit/spicy flavor that I think is muscatel, and this is smooth enough to drink plain. I do like this better than the two Darjeelings I’ve had from Adagio, but I’m not sure I’d pick it over a well-liked black or oolong :( The second steep was a little weak, so for a third I think I’ll leave it for 5 minutes and just add milk if it’s too bitter.

ETA: And, I really like that last steep with milk. It doesn’t taste like black tea, but it’s not too weird, either. Sweeter, creamy, makes a good afternoon pick-me-up.

1.25g, 3.5oz water, steeps 1:30, 2:30

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.

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