580 Tasting Notes


1 heaping TB for 500mL water, drunk bare (no milk or sweetener).

Left the leaves steeping merrily in the travel mug in this morning, as I needed to do the morning driving …

The faint peppery scent of mad hot Yunnan wafting up from a travel cup as I naviagte traffic on a rainsoaked morning — now THAT is a blessing to count. It got strong, of course, but not bitter, just very, very rich. One caveat: I wouldn’t dare drink it this strong on an empty stomach. Same goes for super-steeped Assam.

Rich and mysterious, like dark silk in winter: you wouldn’t think something normally so delicate and fine could keep you warm, but it does. The peppery notes seem to mute as the steeps past 6 minutes, but they fight back on the aftertaste. The honey and, well, Yunnan tea notes deepen. Gets a tiny bit smoky when it’s this strong, too.

A super-steep gives this normally light (not thin) bodied tea more of a medium body that drenches the taste buds.


This makes me want to bust out a yunnan RIGHT NOW!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Yunnan rocks. It’s an expensive little habit, though. (rolls eyes at self)

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3 bags for a 1L pot, drunk bare (no milk of sweetener).

A really smooth and deliciously gingery black tea blend. Very resilient, too; today’s cup was re-heated in the microwave but still tasted fresh. Three bags is a little light for the volume of water, but my mom-in-law and I leave the bags in. This tea does not get bitter, even when the bags are left in overnight and the tea heated up again in the morning. Wish it came loose.

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1 TB for 500mL water, drunk bare.

Second go with the Earl. Another lousy working day; the Earl gives solace. Whispers to me of sunny citrus groves in Italy while outside fog coalesces into a sparkling wall. Smooth black tea base, really, really fruit bergamot — none of that dish-soap garbage happening here.

Tonight I steeped for 6 minutes instead of the recommended 5. (Started slurpting at 4 min, though.) The tea did not turn bitter. Not sure how much further I want to push a steep of this, as I don’t want to waste any. Overall flavour has deepened, become more complex: is that a bit of Indian tea I taste in the blend? Just a bit?

Has surpassed Stash as my second-favorite EG ever. Only Numi’s Aged Earl Grey stands in the way. Wish I could Numi and Damn Fine side-by-side and make a final decision.

A cheering tea.

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1 heaping TB for 500mL water, no milk, no sweetener.

Ya know, you could simmer this chai blend on the stove for potpourri. The citrus and clove oils are strong and sharp and rich. This morning’s brew tastes almost mulled — very festive. No woodiness from the red rooibos, either. And its sooooo good for you, especially in a stressful time of year. Pleasant heat but nothing to burn the mouth off ya.

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1 TB for 500mL water, half a packet of stevia (equivalent to 1 tsp sugar)

Love Electric Lemon when it’s bone-rotting cold and damp outside. I’ve commented on the deliicous sharp heat below. If you don’t like ginger or lemon, you will not like this tea. It’s straight ahead, REAL ginger. No icing or sweet little men with gumdrop buttons here.

I sweetened the brew a bit today, and I’m surprised to find the stevia mellows the heat. I guess it’s because it takes the tart edge off the lemon. Slightly sweetened, Electric Lemon tastes less medicinal, but I definitely prefer it naked. Ahem. This tea, I mean. The stevia also mutes the green tea base.

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1 TB for 500mL water, no milk or sweetener.

I am not an Earl Grey fan. Sometimes I really want it. Most days I ignore it. Very much a mood thing with me. But when I do drink Earl Grey, I am horribly picky. So far, only two EGs, Numi Aged Earl Grey and Stash’s Earl Grey, have ever wowed me. Many, including Twinings, make me gag.

I ordered Series 3 — an Earl Grey, a Caravan, and a Jasmine Green — from Andrews & Dunham solely on the strenth of their Captain Assam’s High Seas Elixir and their really funny copywriting. And the labels. I freakin LOVE the labels.

I figured the Earl Grey would be one I’d give away as a Christmas gift. But nooooo, this evening, after an exhausting and almost fruitless workday (now entering hour 11 of same), I want Earl Grey. Hot. Diplomatic solution to Klingons off the port bow, the whole bit. Damn Fine, eh? Let’s check the mettle of your dilithum, then.

Warp core breach! In the best possible way. Smoooooooth black tea base, and a bergamot flavour the proves that bergamot is, in fact, a citrus fruit and not paint stripper. No bitterness, which is a lovely suprise; too many EGs used a crappy tea base that gets really bitter on its own and then further sours under the bergamot. Body is light — very pleasingly so — and but not weak. Liquor is about halfway between brass and copper. Fragrance is distinctive and delightful. Clean finish: the tea taste vanishes, but the bergamot haunts.

If you don’t already like Earl Grey, I doubt this will convert you, as it’s the Earl Grey-iest I’ve drunk in a long time. If you like Earl Grey, you really should try this one.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Its sad, but a lot of Earl Grey tea is awful. So when you find a good one it really knocks your socks off.

Michelle Butler Hallett

You’re right. And it doesn’t have to be awful. People keep trying to hide poor tea with enough bergamot flavouring to choke a horse. You can’t skimp on Earl Grey, or you end up with sour socks in dish soap.

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2 bags for a 500mL teapot, no milk or sweetener.

A very pleasant aroma of rum, nutmeg and, faintly, ginger, but the overall brew is weak and thin. Faintly spiced rum aftertaste but with an oily mouthfeel. No tea taste whatsoever. I remember Holiday Chai being much, much better. Rats.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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1 scant TB for 500mL water, nothing added.

I love jasmine tea. It can be tricky to brew, and I learned recently, thanks to this very site, that for years I’ve been using water that’s too hot. Water that’s too hot can scald tea leaves and blossoms and make the overall tea bitter.

Today, I followed instructions … at least, as best I could without a thermometer or fancy adjustable kettle.

Dry leaves are medium to long and twisted. Liquor is pale straw. Scent is heady and heavy with jasmine … with REAL jasmine. No fakery here. Assertive and pleasant finish. Clean mouth-feel, which I really like and generally only find in white teas.

The green tea, as another Steepsterite has noted, is not especially strong and is almost as delicate as white tea. Almost, but not quite: there’s a slight bit of vegetal and (ooh, look at me with my new word!) mineral tastes from the green tea. The mineral taste may come from my tap water, either; my city’s water supply comes from a lake. In winter, when the city lowers the chlorine levels, you can catch bits of reed and rocks in the water, very refreshing.

But back to the tea. The jasmine mouth-feel is fairly heavy; someone else compared it to soap. I wouldn’t go that far, but this is a serious jasmine tea. The scent alone intoxicates, in a good way; can’t wait for the jasmine “hit” from this brew. AHHHHH, there it is … laughter and smiles and peace. Any word on whether jasmine flowers are narcotic at all? ;)

Final note: aftertaste goes from clean to slightly powdery.

I slightly prefer the Dragon Pearls I got from my local teashop, but Andrews and Dunham’s Jasmine Green is also excellent. I’ll be sorry to finish this little tin, but I won’t be hoarding it, either.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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1TB, 500mL water, no milk or sugar

Oh, MY! I steeped this in a little 500mL teapot set on a desktop mug-warmer … and then FORGOT about it. Half an hour later, I found it. I thought, oh well, let’s see how bad this got.

Guess what?

It’s amazing.

Dark liquor, yes, but clear, no murk or sediment. No bitterness! A simply divine scent of some mysterious fruit brandy — beyond raisin — then the taste of really, really good deep Assam. An astringent finish, but I like that with Assam. The brandy-like scent translates to a heavy-wine mouthfeel, something like what you get with a good Keemun, only heftier.

Kopili Estate, I salute you.

Boiling 8 min or more

This is, I think, my absolute favorite basic, no-nonsense breakfast tea. (Well, one of them.)

Michelle Butler Hallett

It’s utterly dependable. An excellent tea.

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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.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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