649 Tasting Notes

85

2.5 tsp for a 500mL pot, water at 90C, steeped 4 min 30 seconds, drunk bare.

WOW.

Dark copper liquor, almost red, definitely India tea in the base as well as China, maybe some Ceylon heft and smoothness? This blend’s got bergamot oil, orange oil, and, unusually, mandarin oil, which really lifts this blend into something special. The citrus notes dance; the tea base soothes and fortifies.

This is my favourite yet from Kusmi … and it was only available in refill bags instead of a tin, so I’m worried it might be on the chopping block. I’d happily serve this at a holiday gathering, and I’d also happily drink it every day. And I’d most certainly offer it to an EG lover who’s just come in from the cold.

(Please, Kusmi, don’t lose this one.)

ashmanra

I love this, but I thought it was discontinued. If it isn’t, I have a last minute addition to my Christmas list!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Yay! I can get it through Kusmi Tea Canada and ten mail it to you
if you run into any trouble.

ashmanra

Found it! I guess it was out of stock for a very long time when we last looked for it. It looks like you have to order a 100 gram bag, but that doesn’t scare me. Ha ha!

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90

1 sachet steeped 4 minutes in 90C water, drunk bare.

And now, the last new-to-me sachet from my Kusmi Earl Grey sampler …

Oh. Oh, my. Well now.

An amazingly well-balanced blend. A light-coloured and light-bodied liquor serves up a bright and mineral … I want to say Ceylon-led-blend? Not sure. Bergamot is soft and subtle and charming, definitely on the light side, and that’s just fine here. The vanilla flavour is very subtle, thank goodness, and only announces itself in a whisper after you’ve gotten bergamot and orange, at least. I also caught some grapefruit notes. A very gently warming spice taste at the end: cinnamon maybe?

Wow. An utterly lovely blend, and, in my experience, unique. I look forward to trying this one made with loose tea.

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1 sachet for 300mL water @ 90C steeped 4 min 30 seconds, drunk bare.

My second-last new-to-me from my Kusmi Earl Grey sampler …

I expected to dislike this one, truth told. Once we start adding berry flavour or scent to a tea, it’s either fakey-fake sweet-almond from cheap 1970s hand lotions or tear-your-tastebuds-a-new-one hibiscus. I avoid hibiscus. Sure, it adds authentic colour and tartness, but it also dominates.

So there’s no hibiscus in this one, but I do get that fake-almond thing from the berry, vanilla, and caramel flavours. The bergamot cuts into them in the finish. That finish is sweet and a bit cloying, like a cookie that’s crumbled in your mouth and you can’t quite swallow yet.

I’d serve this to someone who said they liked a “cream” Earl Grey, but I won’t go our of my way on this one for myself. That’s no comment on the quality of the tea. It’s just a subjective thing.

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86

1 sachet for 300mL water @90C, steeped five minutes.

I’ve been utterly ruined for Earl Grey by TeaBox’s Earl Grey Citrus, which remains the most fragrant and delicious EG I’ve ever had — probably because it’s so very fresh. Stash comes second, especially with their double bergamot EG.

So I admit, I was expecting the bergamot here to light may fire.

Well, it blows on the embers nicely. I would hardly call this an “intense” EG, more of a medium-to-strong EG. The tea base is quite good, which can make or break an EG, no matter how much or how little bergamot is used.

It’s delicious. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a lovely, sparkling bright Earl Grey with a good tea base, and a very smooth finish. I would happily serve this to someone I know likes a good EG, and I would buy it again.I could drink this all day. For intensity, though, TeaBox and Stash are way ahead.

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82

1 sachet (full leaf within) to 300mL water @90C steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

Definitely not getting the soapy thing that many others have. Then again, the floral scent here, ylang-ylang, is in just about everything from soap to body wash to lotion to shampoo …

The citrus gently cuts the floral, and the black tea base is, once again, decent-to-good, as it should be for the price.

I love floral teas, so this totally works for me, The contrasts blend into one delightful and very smooth yet complex tea.

I’ve kept the bag in … at 5 minutes, the tea really starts to take over.

ashmanra

This sounds delightful!

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84

1 sachet (full leaf within) to 300mL water steeped 4 minutes at 90C, drunk bare.

I’ve got a sampler! I love samplers! And it’s an Earl Grey sampler from Kusmi, so it’s bergamot forever here at my house today.

After s subtle and gentle start with Kusmi’s basic Earl Grey, it’s up several notches of brightness with a good Ceylon and China base, bergamot oil, lemon and lime oils, and orange blossom flavour! The first sip is very citrus, but not rudely so, and the orange blossom gives it all a soft finish that I could get really get charmed by. This blend is supposedly named after Anastasia Nikolovna Romanova, the youngest daughter of the last tsar and tsarina, and she was impish and playful, very bright and loving.

I’d call this a soft-to-medium EG. The orange blossom flavour really mellows things out at the end. I’d drink this any day. No bitterness — I expect using 90C water helps there.

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81

1 bag steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds in 90C water. Drink bare.

Kusmi is new to me, and I’m a student of Russian history, so how can I resist?

I’ve come to enjoy black teas, especially Darjeelings, brewed at 90C instead of 95C. It’s often makes for a smoother tea.

I’m also on an Earl Grey kick — can’t get enough bergamot. TeaBox’s Earl Grey Citrus might be the best I’ve ever had, so fresh and vibrant — it scents my whole study — with Indian teas in the base. Andrews and Dunham Damn Fine Tea Mount Grey is also excellent. So is Stash’s regular (yum) Double Bergamot (oh mah GAWD) Earl Grey. That said, it’s actually hard to find an Earl Grey that uses a decent tea base and doesn’t just cover up poor quality tea with bergamot perfume (Twining’s, I’m looking at you — and don’t get me started on supermarket’s own brand EG teas.)

So I’m a bit picky about Earl Grey.

I’m hitting a Kusmi Earl Grey sampler today, everything from their basic Earl Grey to the spicy and vanilla Earl Grey they call Prince Vladimir. I love samplers — always a great excuse to make MOAR TEA. One at a time, though, one at a time.

Kusmi’s Earl Grey is a gentle soul. Liquor is a beautiful copper, and the mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth — a bit odd for a citrus tea, but I like it. The bergamot is subtle, which adds to the smoothness, and the tea base has some Ceylon, I think, so the tea base is decent.

It’s a competent and delicious Earl Grey, if a very smooth and subtle one. I doubt I’d go out of my way to buy it again, and perhaps Kusmi’s Earl Grey Intense will suit me better. If you’re introducing someone to Earl Grey tea, maybe try this one, but in my experience, those who love EG love it a lot and want more bergamot, not less.

One complaint: the tea comes in those plasticky sachets instead of muslin or paper. Not impressed there.

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95

3 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped 5 minutes, drunk bare. Leaves are wiry and take up a lot of space in a scoop, so you might need more than usual.

Yay! Tea for a Christmas present!

TeaBox hasn’t steered me wrong yet, and I love their business model. I’ve wanted to try a Nilgiri winter frost tea for years. This batch was picked on 10 March of this year.

Nilgiri teas have an unfair reputation as the dull cousins to Darjeelings and Assams, best left to being part of a blend. I disagree. Nilgiris have their own character, and while, yes, they can round out a blend nicely, they also deserve respect on their own.

Dry leaf: long and wiry leaves, mostly dark brown with some tan. Aroma: faint earth, wood, and fruit.

Wet leaf: light brown, tan, and a fair bit of green, as one might see in wet Darjeeling leaves. Aroma: some of that woody-earthy-spiciness I find in Darjeeling, especially form the Seeyok gardens, and something floral, very faint. The packet promises yellow lily, cantaloupe, and a hint of winter green leaves.

Liquor: light copper, no cloudiness. Aroma: wood, earth, spice, florals, sweetness.

WOW. Very like a robust Darjeeling, quite brisk, with sweet floral notes (yes, like cantaloupe) in the finish — yet deeper, more grounded. I find TeaBox’s tasting notes are quite accurate — never been let down yet. Medium body. Would likely stand up to a splash of milk, but I’m not going to try. Might also task a bit of lemon well.

If you’re a fan of second or autumn flush Darjeelings, give this one a try. It’s very aromatic, and each sip now is a little bit different. Follow the guidance on water temp, which for this tea is 85-90C, a bit cool for a black tea but worth it. Absolutely no bitterness. Gorgeous.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I should add: this tea is a little pricey, but I promise, it’s worth it.

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80

2tsp for 250mL water @90C, steeped 5 minutes, drunk bare.

Dry leaf: CTC black Assam and Dooars tea, visible bits of ginger and other herbs.

Dry leaf aroma: deliciously warm spices with some heft from the licorice.

Wet leaf: black CTC pellets, bits of ginger and other herbs. Aroma is very spicy.

Liquor: medium brown and a bit cloudy.

Oooooh, yeah. Assertive black tea (hello, CTC Assam and Dooars) dances with warming spices. Ginger dominates there, with clove and licorice chiming in afterwards. It would stand up well to milk and sugar I think. Must go try that.

This is very warming once it hits the belly, and very soothing. Neither spice nor tea dominate.

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90

3tsp for 180mL water @ 90C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

Picking date: 29 April 2021.

Dry leaf: pale and jade green, some white, long and twisted, very fluffy.

Dry leaf aroma: citrus and earth.

Wet leaf: light green with vegetal and citrus aromas.

Liquor: lightest bronze, almost gold. Strong Darjeeling and some citrus aroma, almost like bergamot.

Taste: much more vegetal than I expected with citron playing with muscatel. Much closer to a green than a black tea, as one expects with first flush Darjeelings. I didn’t like the first sip, but it really growing on me. A delicate but hardly weak or frail Darjeeling, definitely tending to the citrus end with a nice muscatel/spicy finish. Dances on the tongue.

Another delight in the Teabox Darjeeling sampler pack.

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Bio

Writer and tea fiend. Author of CONSTANT NOBODY, 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

Website

https://michellebutlerhallett...

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