Backlogging and based on my memory and a few notes

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

I bought four ounces of this back in the spring of 2011, and I have been brewing it off-and-on since then with temperatures a little lower than the ones I normally use for any other black tea.

I have had at least four Darjeelings to date. The first time I had this I thought it was harsh, but since then I have some to appreciate that distinctive muscatel flavor that seems to be characteristic of Darjeelings. Here is an interesting note about this tea: “I liked it better at room temperature.” I think the last time I brewed this one up I noticed a degradation in it’s flavor, so I hope to finish it up soon. It’s hard to say if I will buy any of these from Tea Trekker again; I may instead try a few samples from Upton or order a Darjeeling from H&S that my wife and I both enjoyed a sample of.

At this point I don’t feel I have to have a SF Darjeeling in my cupboard (I hope your not reading this, Excelsior) for a number of reasons (one being that I would rather stick to Chinese red teas). I have noticed that Darjeelings do not seem to do very well with multiple steepings, beyond say, two or three (I have been able to get five good steepings out of a number of quality Chinese red teas). This is my first SF Darjeeling, so I’m leaving off the rating.

(I still have some of this, so I may update this review at a later time).

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

I agree. I can only get two steeps from the Darjeelings I have, and the there is a considerable loss of flavor on that second steep. So for large groups or if I want to drink a large amount of tea, I usually go with the Oolongs I still have from Taiwan. I can get 15+ steeps, and the 15-16th steep will still have flavor. I also like how the flavor changes during multiple steeps.

As for not having any SF Darjeelings, I take no offense. I have friends that are not too keen on Darjeelings and I cringe when they ask for milk and comment on how I should make the brew stronger. So for them, I have a nice tin of Cha Tai that goes very well with milk and sugar.

SimpliciTEA

Wow 15+ steeps on the Taiwan oolongs? I bet you have some of the really good stuff, though. Slowly, I am starting to get into the Taiwan High Mountain oolongs.

It’s great that you chose to comment on this tasting note (I didn’t know if you were reading them or not). I like hearing that you find that you can’t get many steepings out of a Darjeeling, either (so I know it’s not just me).

I still like Darjeelings, and plan to continue to explore them, but they are not as high priority as other teas are to me at this time (it doesn’t help that they are so expensive). Which reminds me, I have been keeping my eye on this online retailer https://www.assamteacompany.com/home.php because they have some reasonably priced Darjeelings, and when I order from them I feel I am ordering from a retailer that is ‘at the source, so-to-speak. I hope to order from them sometime (as they are have some Darjeelings that are ’green’—as in non-oxidized), possibly next year.

Excelsior

The 15+ steepings amounted to 5 liters of tea. We emptied my parents 4 liter electric water heater, added another liter and ended up draining that as well. I’ll try to post my review of the 2012 FF Ambootia over the weekend. For an oxidized Darjeeling, the taste was as green as it gets.

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Comments

Excelsior

I agree. I can only get two steeps from the Darjeelings I have, and the there is a considerable loss of flavor on that second steep. So for large groups or if I want to drink a large amount of tea, I usually go with the Oolongs I still have from Taiwan. I can get 15+ steeps, and the 15-16th steep will still have flavor. I also like how the flavor changes during multiple steeps.

As for not having any SF Darjeelings, I take no offense. I have friends that are not too keen on Darjeelings and I cringe when they ask for milk and comment on how I should make the brew stronger. So for them, I have a nice tin of Cha Tai that goes very well with milk and sugar.

SimpliciTEA

Wow 15+ steeps on the Taiwan oolongs? I bet you have some of the really good stuff, though. Slowly, I am starting to get into the Taiwan High Mountain oolongs.

It’s great that you chose to comment on this tasting note (I didn’t know if you were reading them or not). I like hearing that you find that you can’t get many steepings out of a Darjeeling, either (so I know it’s not just me).

I still like Darjeelings, and plan to continue to explore them, but they are not as high priority as other teas are to me at this time (it doesn’t help that they are so expensive). Which reminds me, I have been keeping my eye on this online retailer https://www.assamteacompany.com/home.php because they have some reasonably priced Darjeelings, and when I order from them I feel I am ordering from a retailer that is ‘at the source, so-to-speak. I hope to order from them sometime (as they are have some Darjeelings that are ’green’—as in non-oxidized), possibly next year.

Excelsior

The 15+ steepings amounted to 5 liters of tea. We emptied my parents 4 liter electric water heater, added another liter and ended up draining that as well. I’ll try to post my review of the 2012 FF Ambootia over the weekend. For an oxidized Darjeeling, the taste was as green as it gets.

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Bio

(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.

Location

Midwest, USA

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