59 Tasting Notes

93

What a delicious start to the weekend! I received a nice sized sample of this tea from Upton a few months back, and it was the perfect “something different” in my first few cups this morning. A wonderful convergence of malt and sweetness, the long, dark leaves with their golden tips produced a deep amber cup with just a hint of chocolate as it lingers.

Steeped for 4:45 just short of a boil.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Sweet

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When you’re willing to try something again, the second time may turn out to be the charm. That was the case with this tea. Maybe my expectations were off, or perhaps it was the method, but whatever it was, I was not thrilled with my first tasting. Not so this time around! Our good friend ashmanra offered some tips, and I just enjoyed two perfectly steeped cups of a tea I had previously written off.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 45 sec
ashmanra

Hooray! Darjeeling tea is very particular, but worth it.

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After steeping these delicious leaves the second time, I pulled this tea up to tap out a quick review. The first thing I noticed is that ashmanra has a history of gifting Zhen Quo to friends, and I consider it an honor to be in that circle.

Full of golden tips , the big fluffy leaves yielded a golden brown liquor as sweet as it is beautiful. I had a similarly flavorful Yunnan Black from Silk Road Teas a while back, and I love them both!

ashmanra

So glad you enjoyed it! It is a real treat to me!

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85

My first of any Russian Caravan, so I can only compare it to itself. The Keemun is delightful and accented nicely by the gentle smokiness of the Lapsang. I wanted a second cup right away. Thanks to ashmanra for the generous sample.

Flavors: Astringent, Chocolate, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
ashmanra

They sell this at A Southern Season, and you will be in Chapel Hill soon…:)

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96

As a coffee drinker, I preferred single-origin, freshly roasted coffees. Not being a snobby purist in any way, I tried many, many coffees that didn’t fit that bill…that’s how I know my preference.

The same is happening with tea. I have discovered single-estate teas are my preference. There are blends I enjoy, and I have several teas with organic or herbal additives, but for the most part, I lean toward something more pure with a flavor I don’t have to hunt for.

After drinking several Assam blends and truly enjoying their unique bursts of flavor, a good friend (ashmanra) sent me a tin of this pure Assam from Grace Rare Teas and suggested I’d like it. She was right!

These leaves yield a beautiful copper cup with all the flavor you’d expect from an Assam tea, but somehow more mellow. While I typically add milk to Assam blends, it’s absolutely unnecessary with this tea.

If you’re an Irish Breakfast fan, try this! You might find out you’re really a fan of Assam tea. I did.

Flavors: Malt, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
ashmanra

Grace loved this one, and I thought it had Comm Guy written all over.

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81

I have to hide this one. When I observe the specified water/tea bag ratio, it’s really good. A great cup in the evening, and too many friends and family agree. I am under a self-imposed (though loosely regarded) buying freeze, and I need this to last a little while.

Chocolaty, minty, and deliciously creamy.

Flavors: Chocolate, Creamy, Mint

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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71

When I started the coffee-tea transition, I was not a flavored coffee fan, and was pretty sure the same would be true of tea. For my experience, the sweet, spicy and sometimes exotic aroma from various flavoring or additives don’t always translate in the cup.

That said, after dabbling with herbals and simple blends like Morocco Mint, I decided to try some flavored teas and tisanes during the Christmas season. My wife favors decaf options, and you can always offer something that smells awesome to a holiday guest.

With its base black tea, I tried Sip and Be Merry moments after opening the box. It smells fantastic and the bag infuses very quickly. It smells and tastes somewhat fruity; the second most notable flavor is the vanilla. I can see the black tea in the cup, but there’s no real evidence of it in the flavor. Not bad. My guests and co-workers love it. My wife can even drink it early in the day. That’s my positive review as I cleanse my palate with some Irish Breakfast Tea.

Flavors: Sweet, Vanilla

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50
drank Java BOP by Upton Tea Imports
59 tasting notes

This’ll make you pucker! Definitely malty, not much else to comment on.

Most companies send samples to make me want to buy, and I kinda wonder if Upton was trying to unload some tea that backfired with this sample. This is one of those teas I’m okay to finish but won’t even look up the price for. I love Indonesian coffees, but maybe tea just isn’t Java’s thing. Or, being as positive as possible, maybe it’s absolutely fantastic in blends!

Flavors: Astringent, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

You may like it more with a lower temp and shorter steep. Otherwise, try it iced or cold brewed to tame it!

Comm Guy

Fair enough. I still have some!

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86

I was looking for some herbal treats to share with my wife in the evening, and was happy to find some rooibos-based holiday flavors to add to my cart. Then in a true show of bipartisanship, I smiled, drifted to the OTHER side of the aisle, and found plenty of caffeinated options to agree with. Simpson & Vail’s “St. Nick’s Tea” is the first among them to make it to our cup.

Deliciously nutty with a strong sense of maple, this flavored black tea has just enough of a chocolate edge to make it seem decadent. While it was my first cup on this cold morning, it won’t replace my daily black tea any time soon. Great tea to share with family and friends – holiday or any day.

Flavors: Chocolate, Maple, Nutty

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85
drank Holiday Tea by Harney & Sons
59 tasting notes

What a tasty surprise!

Harney & Sons included a sample of this Holiday Tea in a recent order, and I love it. We have amassed quite a few samples, and sometimes I don’t feel like going through the effort to brew a pot (lazy, right?), so I’ll grab a sample tea bag. My wife doesn’t do caffeine after a certain time of the day, so when I held out the pre-Thanksgiving offerings, she snatched up an herbal, and I chose this from the remainder.

I’m not typically a fan of clove, but it’s so tastefully woven into the overall flavor of this tea that I was sad to see the bottom of the cup. The almond, cinnamon and citrus were just right to make this a great evening tea, and it would make a delicious dessert or conversation tea at any gathering.

Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove

ashmanra

You might be a fan of their White Christmas. HINT: go to Barnes and Noble. They carry Harney tea in the cafe. Ask for a large tea but tell NOT TO MAKE IT. They will give you two tea sachets in a brown paper bag. Take them home and make it properly. Each sachet makes twelve ounces at a time and resteeps. So you are getting 48ounces of tea to sample for under $2. They scald it in the store, you don’t get to resteep, and I can taste the paper cup. Bleh. So make it at home for a true sample!

Comm Guy

Good info…thanks!

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Profile

Bio

I’ve heard others refer to me as a Renaissance man. I’m more apt to describe myself in a sentence ending with “…and master of none.”

I play music. I design and build things. I love art and quirky stuff. And I have a really cool wife.

In an attempt at a more graceful aging, I entered the wonderful world of tea for its health benefits in 2017. A home roaster and seasoned coffee-ologist, I dove quickly in, gleaning knowledge from every source possible and tasting all I could afford to buy, beg or borrow. Hundreds of cups, pots, bags and blends into it, I still consider myself a neophyte Steepster.

I’ve discovered I am a huge fan of Pu-erh and Assam, and quickly warmed up to Oolong, Yunnan Blacks, Keemun, and Matcha.

I enjoy Tisanes, too. We buy herbs in bulk and blend for both benefits and taste. In that order.

Location

North Carolina

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