635 Tasting Notes
1 bag for 300mL water @100C, steeped 3 minutes.
I found a box of these in the English imports section of my supermarket. The PG Tips normally sold here in Canada is a flat and dull Ceylon blend. This blend, while not quite what I remember from my last UK box — damn it, I was SURE there was Keemun in this once — is decent. Lots of heft from Assams and Kenyans, with an astringency I don’t normally seek out in tea but don’t really mind — the Kenyan tea, I think, that dry pucker. I’m sick as a poisoned dog here this morning, and a cup of tea like this is absolutely medicinal.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, rinsed, then steeped three minutes and drunk bare. Second infusion: steeped four minutes.
A very serviceable tie kwan yin. I’ve had far better from Verdant Tea, but this one from DavidsTea is lovely. Floral, sometimes a bit sharp. The second infusion can get very green-tasting, a bit too vegetal for me. (The better ones from Verdant are good for many infusions.) It’s also an example of what’s becoming a rarity at DavidsTea: a decent straight tea.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @ 85C, steeped seven minute, drunk bare.
Heavy body after a long steep, slightly creamy mouthfeel. Nothing creamy in the taste, which is vegetal, a birth earthy, and sweet. Slight bit of earth and smoke in the aftertaste. Serious stimulant lift. Like yerba mate, though — and unlike coffee — I find it does not interfere with sleep once the initial buzz wears off. A most pleasant hot drink.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped 6 minutes, drunk bare.
This blend has been tweaked since I last drank it, and I think it’s better. You get a sweet and smooth coffee-flavoured tisane with notes of white chocolate in the aftertaste. Watch the water temp — anything higher than 85 will probably scald things and bring out bitterness. Mate gives a nice lift. Because this tisane is very like dessert, a coffe-tinged dessert, I wouldn’t be drinking it all throughout the day.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped 3 minutes 30 seconds, drunk bare.
Mmmm, lemon and ginger … one of those winning combinations. if you’re not fond of lemon and ginger, you won’t like this tisane.
Liquor is pale yellow and quite cloudy, and it leaves a rim on the cup. I figure that’s the matcha and guarana powder. Aroma is very strong on the lemon, and you can smell both lemon oil and lemongrass, which are very similar yet subtly different. I don’t taste any apple in this. I think I’m picking up some quince, but its very distant. The little bit of liquorice reminds me of some of Stash Teas more adventurous herbal blends. Yeah, lemon and ginger do dominate here. So what you’ve got is a decent stimulant wrapped up in lemon and ginger, and the ginger’s got a little bite and heat. I imagine this tisane would be helpful for fighting off the foggy stuffed head of a cold. Either way, this one should wake you up. Don’t drink this within a few hours of bedtime, for sure. Oh, and ginger — did I mention the lemon and ginger?
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.
It’s guauysa. delicious, earthy, sweet, green guayusa. Liquor is golden green and slightly cloudy. Aroma and taste are the same: sweet, vegetal, with some wet earth. Refreshing. Packs a nice lift.
I got this in a collection box from DavidsTea; I also get a little tin of Jumpy Monkey (an old favourite) and The Buzz. Fun.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, stepped 3 minutes, drunk bare.
I could not find a single tea leaf in this beautiful mix. Plenty of ginger and dried fruit, but not a speck of tea.
The ginger is not hot. The pear is a bit fake. The quince flavouring, though, is a delight. I am a bit irked at how little white tea appears to be in this blend, as it’s quite expensive.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.
An old favourite. With so many of DavidsTea’s offerings declining in quality - no more Keemun, the milk oolong now being milk-flavoured. the David’s Breakfast blend changing every few months - it’s good to find one basic blended tea that’s not not gone to pot. The Yunnan base is sweet and mellow enough to play with the lemon oil versus fighting with it, as a brisker Indian black tea might. Refreshing.
1.5 tsp for 250mL water @85C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare. (I prefer many oolongs at 90C, but I followed the packet instructions)
I am greedy with oolong and steep it Western style. I don’t often rinse it, either.
So the only place left in my little city for tea is DavidsTea, and I notice both their tea quality seems to be going down over the last year. For example, they’ve gone to a flavoured oolong for their Quangzhou Oolong, adding milk flavour to oolong leaves instead of using the real thing (and you can totally tell), and heaping the artificial flavours into the Long Life Oolong (what once smelled f peaches now smells of apple cider vinegar, just NASTY). Their tieguanyin, or Tie Kwan Yin as they transliterate it, surely, I thought, must still be okay.
It is. Okay. An acceptable tieguanyin but nothing special.
“Oolong tea from Nantou, Taiwan,” reads the package, At least there’s no “natural” flavours added.
The tea clerk corrected my pronunciation of tieguanyin when I asked for some. Even if I was wrong, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t, I’m not sure that saying “Oh, you mean the tye-kwaahn-yeen?” is the best way to handle the question.