583 Tasting Notes

97

1.25 tsp for 250mL water @95C, steeped four minutes.

I’ve hardly drunk any tea at all for weeks. What the hell is the matter with me?

Harney’s Russian Country is one of my favourite blends. The whiffs of smoke and toast, the tickle of peach, the heft of what’s either some Indian or Ceylon tea … delicious. And potent. I find this one has quite the caffeine boost. I also find the peach notes from the oolong come out better with water at 95C. Anything cooler and the black teas don’t open up right.

Sometimes drinking this feels like being hit with a tea brick, but it’s worth it. I imagine this would stand up quite well to sugar or honey. I It might also take a bit of lemon well — must try that.

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97

2.5 tsp for 500mL water @90C, steeped five minutes.

I go with 90C water out of respect for the formosa oolong in this blend, and I find the cooler water coaxes out the slight stonefruit flavuor that formosa oolong can bring.

Not a smoky tea — the smoke is more of a whisper. Chewy and rich, thanks to the Assam and Ceylon in the blend, with a lovely bit of toast from the Keemun. Forgives a long steep and does not get bitter at this temperature. I find this tea potent for caffeine … and it’s irreplaceable. Nothing else out there quite like Harney’s Russian Country blend.

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1 sachet for 250mL water @100C, steeped five minutes.

My experience with President’s Choice teas and tisanes has been anything from “Meh” to "Oh, God, no!’ I bought this one on w whim today, on a 2-for sale with some Kenyan tea sachets.

It’s , uh … safe. Not too much bergamot, and not too much rooibos. I detect no rose flavour or scent at all. The rooibos base is woody and a bit stale, so there’s not much rooibos sweetness. That said, it’s not a loss. It’s just … meh. Safe. I’ll drink it, but I won’t go our of my way to get it again.

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97

1.25 tsp (scant) for 300nL water @ 95C, steeped four minutes.

I discovered this in a large tin, tucked away, in my tea cupboard, and now, after a long tryst with floral oolongs I’m back to Darjeelings. (Also: I really need to clean out my tea cupboard. It looks like a small warehouse.)

Dry leaf: long and twisted, mostly dark brown with some green, as is usual with Darjeelings. A few twigs.

Wet leaf: lighter brown and darker green, giving heady scents of muscatel, nuts, honey, and turned earth.

Liquor: light to medium copper with plenty of down.

Scent: a bit flat. Not to worry, as the flavour takes over. Assertive for a Darjeeling — I’d guess there’s little to no first flush here. The muscatel matures to a more winey finish, which might have something to do with the age of these tea leaves — at least five years old. Astringent finish with mineral notes that make me think of cool mist and welcome rain: clean running water.

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95

1.25tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped four minutes.

Clearing out my tea cupboard and re-discovered this beauty. Fragrant and flavourful Darjeeling, though it does benefit from slightly cooler water; Ill make the next batch with water closer to 95C. Boiling water bring out plenty of muscatel and body but risks scalding the green tippy bits. An excellent Darjeeling and a real bargain on price.

Tea Campaign sells only Darjeelings and works hard to ensure good conditions for tea workers. You can buy in bulk. The rice per 50g on the 2014 Second Flush works out to $2.90 CAD. (Shipping extra.) This is an exceptional price.

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1 packet (4g) to 300mL water @90C, steeped three minutes twenty seconds.

Dry leaf: darkest green and tight-rolled.Complex aroma: barley, florals, grass, apple.

First infusion. Wet leaf is dark green Some leaves are open; others are still tightly rolled. Pale yellow liquor. Notes of barley, pineapple (?), florals, honey, and something cooling … I want to say camphor, but I;m not sure if that’s right. A balanced and, to me, slightly starting tieguanyin. Lots going on here. I love it.

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2 tsp (roughly, tea is fluffy) for 500 mL water @95C, steeped four minutes.

Gorgeous.

Dry leaf is golden, long, and downy. Wet leaf is medium brown and remains tight after the first steep. Liquor is tan with gold.

I adore dian hong. This one is a touch sweet — though it can get bitter if left too long to steep, as I found out yesterday — with notes of cream, malt, and a slight leathery finish. None of the peppery bite I like so much in some dian hong. Some slight astringence. Smooth and soothing. Re-steeps well; I got three infusions yesterday and expect the same today.

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2.25 tsp for 200mL water @93C, steeped six minutes.

Dry leaf: an exceptionally pretty tisane, with apple pieces and various flower petals. Fruity scents with some peppermint, cola nut, and what smelled like a fruit flavouring.

Wet leaf: much the same.

Liquor: yellow-bronze. Fruity scent with not much from the peppermint. The cola nut does not dominate as in Rise N Shine. I didn’t taste the lemongrass, though I pick up on honeybush. I wish the mysterious “flavouring” were identified and perhaps turned down, because something fruity and slightly artificial dominates the finish. Still, pleasant and easy to drink. A subtle energy lift, not as potent as Rise N Shine.

Citizen Tea really shine on their blends.

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2.25 tsp for 500mL water @90C, Western style, steeped three minutes.

I received a sample of this tea from the 2017 Toronto Tea Fesitival’s oolong tasting box.

The instructions on the packet are alarming: boiling water, 100C. What?

I decided to ignore that and use 90C water. And I’m glad I did.

Dry leaf: twisted and dark strip-style oolong. Scents are sweet, toasty, anfd a bit musty.

Wet leaf: long and glossy dark brown, with some dark green. Scents of toast and molasses.

First infusion

Liquor is light copper, no down. Sweet and toasty with some dark fruit notes and a strong mineral finish. In fact, it’s very sweet, almost like a pale honey. A heavier body than I was expecting. I’ve made a 500mL beaker here, so it might be a while before I try a second infusion.

Sweet, toasty, fruity, and mineral. Lovely.

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1 tsp for 250mLwater @90C, steeped three minutes.

Dry leaf: artificial butter-cream scent. Tightly-rolled bright green leaves. Twigs.

Wet leaf: unfurled green leaves, many twigs.

Liquor: pale yellow, some gold tones. Taste is flat — it’s scented hot water. And the scent is not very appealing; it seems fake and heavy to me.

A disappointment.

Evol Ving Ness

Too bad. There’s nothing like a nice milk oolong when you are in the mood for one. The jury seems to still be out on how much butter/cream is best. Personally, the creamier, the better. Though in the tea world, I may be a neanderthal.

Indigobloom

Out of curiousity, what is the best Milk Oolong you’ve tried? So far the best I’ve heard about is Tao Tea Leaf and Teavivre, other than the now closed Majesteas

Indigobloom

I’ve had Tao’s. It is pretty good. Nothing to blow my socks off, but a solid option. Oh and I think YS has a good one, or so I am told

Michelle Butler Hallett

I;ve only had four. My favourite came from a now-defunct indie tea shop; I’;m not sure where they got it from. That milk oolong semmeld and tasted like heavy cream with a slight floral note, and nothing seemed heavy or artificial. No mention of “flavouring” on the packets. My next-favourite was from DavidsTea, when it was still milk oolong with a long explanation about the effects of cool springs on the leaves in question. Then they switched a few years ago to “milk-flavouring.” That really didn’t agree with me; it tasted fake, and the tea itself seemed bitter and flat. I liked Tao Tea’s, but I wondered if there was added flavouring, as things got very buttery, almost microwave popcorn levels. Citizen Tea’s just face-planted for me.

Indigobloom

Totally with you on the fake teas. The DT one I have tried as well, but didn’t enjoy. Maybe I’ll find one at the tea festival

Indigobloom

@Evol not a neanderthal, to each his own with preferences I say. Those flavourings can be be cloying for me at times

Evol Ving Ness

Agreed. They can be cloying, but when heavy but not cloying, they are glorious.

Indigobloom

Yes, so true! to be honest, what I dislike in Milk Oolongs most is when they have a floral intensity to them. For some reason I find the two flavours don’t mix well at all

Evol Ving Ness

Agreed. Most of the time.

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Bio

Writer and tea fiend. Author of THIS MARLOWE, DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE.

I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.

Location

St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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