115 Tasting Notes

92
drank Keemun Yi Ji by TeaSource
115 tasting notes

I love a good Keemun tea. This usually means a high grade variety such as a Hao Ya “A” or “B” grade. A good Keemun has a flavor profile that I don’t find in any other tea that is unique enough I personally refer to it as the “Keemun” flavor. It’s a mix of dark chocolate, smokey, piney, oakey, and earthy notes as best I can describe it. I have found over the years that there are other Keemuns out there that have this flavoring (more or less) and are excellent Keemuns deserving of the name.

I’m a fan of the TeaSource.com which I have no connection with other than a happy customer. The owner shops for his teas personally and picks good ones most of the time. “Good” is subjective hence I say “most”. Their Keemuns are no exception. They carry several (when fully stocked), such as the best Hao Ya “B” I’ve ever tried. But this one is one of several Keemuns from there that are worth mentioning. Besides their Hao Ya “A” and “B” grades, I have tried their Grand Keemun and now this Yi Ji Keemun.

The tea leaf of this Yi Ji is nearly on a par with a Hao Ya A grade. I would say it’s the A grade quality without the price of it. It is small tight consistent black leaf that is very nice quality with a pleasing aroma with dark chocolate notes noted from the bag. I steeped it 3 minutes at near boiling. The brew is dark and bold. On a scale of 1-10 for having the “Keemun” flavor profile, I’d say it’s an 8 or maybe 9. It’s a great value Keemun, with the only thing lacking in this excellent Keemun is maybe a shade less of the light smokiness of a good Keemun. When I say “smokey” don’t think Lapsang Souchong or Russian Caravan. It’s a very pleasing hint of smokey with a oaky/piney flavor that is wonderful! So again, this tea has a shade less of that but it’s still a really great Keemun, well worth the price! This tea has a smooth flavor bold enough for milk but I take it black so as not to mask the Keemun flavor too much. I don’t detect any astringency even at 3 minutes and it’s a tea I love.

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

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91

This morning’s golden sunshine requires a golden Yunnan tea! So this is the one. It’s a robust yummy Yunnan with golden flavors that make your taste buds burst forth with life!!
Oh… ok I’ll calm down.

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

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82
drank White Dragon by The Tao of Tea
115 tasting notes

This is a great evening tea. It’s hardly oxidized so very low caffeine content. It’s leaf is from the tips of the plant and is a downy light weight leaf. I like to refer to these type of white teas as “fluffy” teas. I use a scales to weigh out the proper amount as using a spoon and the volume it fills doesn’t work so good with fluffy teas. The leaf of this one is light greenish brown and has a soft texture. I steeped 2 minutes at a reduced temp of 165 degrees F.

This tea steeps up a pale yellow. The brew being a white is subtle to begin with. I did not add anything to this brew wanting to enjoy the full flavor it offers. Its taste is slightly nutty with hints of smokiness and a little roasty, with some honey notes tossed in. It’s a great white tea. I was able to steep a second time with no problem, adding about another minute the second time. The leaf opened up even further the 2nd time. I find this one a great tea to wind down with after a long day.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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88

The last few times I have tried this tea have been excellent. Not sure what has changed from the first few tries I had from the same package. The flavor of this is bold but smooth, sweet with fruity notes and a nice maltiness that lingers on. It’s a very good cup today and I’m enjoying this very much. Therefore I have raised my rating on this tea. It’s a very good assam and has me wondering if I shouldn’t try to get some more of this same batch!

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

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45

This morning I’m drinking this tea. I’m not sure if I made it too strong or what but it’s tasting pretty poor to me. It’s strong and more astringent than what I noted before. It’s almost a sour/bitter aftertaste. I came close to tossing it out but hung in there. I may have to go get another mug to offset this unpleasant experience. Not really sure what happened given my previous tasting note. The rating is dropping as a result.

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

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90
drank Assam Reserve by Teas Etc
115 tasting notes

Based on an ad I saw here on this forum and the fact that one of my all-time favorite assams was called Assam Special Reserve from teasource.com (which is no longer available apparently) I opted to order this up. This is actually my third time to use this tea, the first two I must not have been careful in my prep as I rushed off to work as I wasn’t that impressed. So to give it a more fair tasting this time, I measured up the qty of both leaf and water, then steeped carefully for 2 minutes at boiling. I added sweetener but kept the tea black (no dairy.)

The leaf in my purchased bag was mostly black leaf not as tippy as the picture suggests. Initial impressions of the flavor this time around is with moderate boldness, not sure how well it would work diluting with dairy. Flavor has an initial slight astringency that fades as a moderate maltiness appears and then grows stronger as it lingers on in the aftertaste. This was a bit of a surprise for me. I now have a much more favorable opinion of this tea this time. This is very good. I look forward to my next cup.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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64
drank Jasmine Pearls by Golden Moon Tea
115 tasting notes

When it comes to Jasmine tea I don’t consider myself very expert. Other than Chinese restaurant teas I’m relatively new to them. After reading what others wrote here I sense that those who are into jasmine teas probably like them for various reasons. I’m not a big floral flavored tea fan. But jasmine is pretty nice in tea, if it’s light. I think that’s why I like this tea, not in a big way but it’s a nice evening tea to relax over.

I steeped it 2 minutes for my first steep and didn’t add anything else. This is not usual for me as I usually sweeten my teas. I think this one without sweetener is nice. The Jasmine flavoring doesn’t overpower the light green tea it’s based on. The tea leaf starts out in a tight ball and unfurls. it wasn’t quite unfurled all the way in 2 minutes so this clues me it’s got more steeps in it’s future. The brew is light colored and a pale mostly yellow color.

The second steep I did about 3 minutes, again no sweetener. It was just as flavorful as the first time. The leaf reveals a quality leaf that is skinny and long from fresh leaves of the plant. Again enjoyable. Obviously you Jasmine tea fans must have other sources you really enjoy for your own reasons. I’ll have to try some another time to compare. Feel free to share your faves and reasons why.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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92

It’s gray and peaceful outside but warm and comfy inside. I had the previous cup of malty assam and it left me wanting something more, something maltier and more great flavor. I reached for this tea. It’s an amazing cup that’s a blend no less. Not all blends work well but this one is a mix that has a “wow” factor for me. It’s got a sweet malty pow that stands out and not in a sharp astringent way at all. It’s a bold flavor that with some sweetener really hits the spot. This is a really fantastic tea and will remain on my restock list for likely a long time. If you find something better that has a similar description let me know. For now I will sit back and enjoy this wonderful cup of flavor.

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

Sounds fantastic. Does this tea come in any of the Golden Moon samplers?

Teaman

I have never gotten their sampler sets, however in viewing their page for them I would be highly surprised if the 31 tea sampler set didn’t have it. I got the sampler as a standalone, which is a dollar. Their sample sizes are small, about enough for 1 cup, so steep it right. I steep all my assams about 2 minutes, no more than 2 1/2. It is a fantastic tea. I have tasted tons of tea and this one is very good… if you like assams.

Eric Walter

I’ve had a little experience with assams… however I haven’t had your background so I’m still trying to gain a palette in that regard. Any suggestions?

Teaman

When I started out on loose teas I didn’t like Assams at all. They were always bitter for me. I figured I must not have found the right ones or they weren’t for me. That was part of the problem I found… but the main problem was steep time. In my opinion, for some reason Indian teas start turning bitter after about 2 minutes of steeping. Bitterness comes from the release of tannins in the tea leaf and those teas seem to release it quicker than most. I love most Chinese black teas and they don’t have this sensitivity I found. You can steep them 3-5 minutes and little impact but Indian teas, Assams in particular, it is much more sensitive. So, combining that with finally stumbling on some Assams that have a nice malty flavoring and I started really enjoying them.

I’m still very picky about my Assam picks. Some even claim to be malty but when I try them they aren’t that malty in my opinion. I have found some that are really good. It varies by the source and by the year even. I’ve had some one year that were very good and the next season they are not good. So each year I go through a sample and trial period trying various places till I find a few that are great and then order more. I have found some really good ones from teasource.com, a shop in MN that I stumbled on, however they are out of stock (OOS) on the ones I’ve found to be really good such as Special Reserve or Panatola. I have also found some from a Portland shop called taooftea.com such as their Golden Tips Assam. The Mokalbari Estate tea from SpecialTeas.com I’ve find is good however it too is OOS. They have had a Salonah in the past but it’s OOS. I’m sure there are others, just can’t keep ordering more and more tea, I already have too much.

Just thought of another consideration. 2009 was not a good year for Indian teas due to the drought. It has resulted in far less tea output hence higher prices. It has also had impact on the flavorings of the teas. Some are saying they are stronger flavors not necessarily in a good way. I haven’t determined if it’s related to the drought or to the randomness of the year and the source as already mentioned.

Try some assams from various sources (get samplers) and try steeping them for 2 minutes or 2 1/2 and see if you find a difference. Hope this helps.

takgoti

THANK YOU FOR THIS. Seriously, I was just lamenting to Auggy about how my black tea tends to go bitter on me a lot, and I do believe that this is why. It doesn’t happen with all Indian Blacks, and I think that some of them are simply beyond fixing, but I’ll be shortening my steep time down to 2 minutes on a lot of them to see if that helps. FANTASTIC.

Teaman

Takgoti! You crack me up… some (Indian Blacks) “…are simply beyond fixing” LOL! Yes I hope this helps you start to like some of the great Assams out there!

Teaman

Eric, I misspoke on that recommended tea from SpecialTeas.com. I stated Mokalbari Estate but I was going from memory (bad idea). I meant Majulaghur Estate Assam. I’m having another cup of it now and it’s really good. I recommend it and it’s for a great price on their site. BTW… I have no connection with any tea source… other than as a customer.

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74
drank Assam Malty FBOP by SpecialTeas
115 tasting notes

Had this tea again and my opinion was lowered this time. Maybe because in comparison to some other assams it’s not quite as good. I would not likely buy this one given the other great choices for assam tea I’ve found.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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88

This end of the work week after lunch tea is a rich brew tea with notes of chocolate and fruit. It’s a very smooth tea with a nice delicious aftertaste. This is a great tea and I highly recommend it.

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

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Profile

Bio

I love loose leaf tea! While I gravitate towards black teas, I’m getting more into oolongs, greens and whites. I’m always looking for great fresh new teas to try. This tends to lead to the problem of ordering more even though I already have way too much.

My collection of tea has kind of gotten out of hand. After taking over several kitchen cupboards, it has spilled into the back hallway now with containers of tea stacked up there. I think I need more hours in the day to drink it all.

I’m also a vegetarian who loves dark chocolate, photography, travel, computers, web programming, technology and cats.

Location

near Portland, Oregon

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