580 Tasting Notes
1.5 Tablespoons per 450mL water. (David’sTea recommends 2 teaspoons for 250mL water. I brew my tea pretty strong. This tisane needs the extra amount, too,)
A beautiful tisane just to look at. I’ve given serious thought to buying some just to have out in a bowl as potpourri, or in a clear jar for display.
Lovely chunks of apple and extremely fresh and fragrant cinnamon stick. A few peppercorns and four gorgeous green pods — caradmom? I brewed this completely loose, no bag or filter, as I wanted to watch it steep.
At 5 min, most of the tisane is still floating. Liquor is cloudy and pale. The aroma, my mother-in-law assures me, IS baked apples. Just like her mother made on cold days, with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts and raisins. This tisane has, in fact, scented the entire top floor of my house and beats even my good Pumpkin Spice Colonial Candle.
The taste? Red apples. You can even taste the peel. Red apples and sweet spices. (And no hibiscus! Yay!) Delicious. A very special tisane.
If you opt not to use a filter, you will have to sip around/through the ingredients floating on top. Just so ya know. The frugal amongst us may even scoop out the steeped tisane to mix into oatmeal later.
Drunk bare — no milk or sweetener.
I did not think this tea would live up to the hype. I adore a good smokey tea, but too often, the smoke dominates.
So, I was wrong.
Caravan gives off a very strong smoke scent, but the steeped tea is almost sweet. The smoke is an accent, not a bully. There’s a wine-iness too, as you find in some Keemuns. (Keemun in blend?) Also something savoury, almost salty, that excites the sides of the tongue. Finishes clean, though smoke lingers in the mouth.
Drunk without milk or sugar — ‘bare tea,’ in Newfoundland English.
My heart deeply wounded by the absence — rather, by my never getting to try — Thomas Sampson (though he did send me a lovely note), I thought to ring up the Captain, who, surely, cannot be as harsh and hard as he’d like everyone to think. After all, he seeks a mermaid.
I’m sorry. I just love the writing round the teas from A&D.
Received my order in the storm of a very bad day. Couldn’t even properly welcome the Captain, just showed him his berth.
This morning: dry long leaves with plenty of golden tips, smelling raisin-y, as others have noted. Sweet. Brewed for 6 minutes by mistake, 1 TB for 500mL of boiling water.
First those high sweet notes of a really good Assam. Then strength and heft. A heavier mouthfeel to this one, but it’s lovely - creamy, silky. A bit malty on the sides of the tongue, a slight bit of astringency in the aftertaste- but I did overbrew by two minutes; A&D recommend a four-minute steep. But these are characteristics of Assam that I love and desire. A clean finish, but you know you’re drinking TEA. ‘Proper tea’, as my English war-bride grandmother would call it, that will get you through a storm and help you recover afterwards. The sort of tea George Orwell meant when discussing the virtues of Indian tea: ‘First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ’a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.’ (_Evening Standard, 12 Jan 1946).
Not at all a harsh Assam. But a very strong one. Ideal.
And Captain Assam’s High Seas Elixir is, of course, a limited edition. I don’t know whether to hoard or binge. Probably binge. Then it won’t go stale.
(For the record, I do not despise China black tea; in fact, sometimes nothing else will do. But I do agree with Orwell that it doesn’t pack the same punch as India black yea.)
Received a free sample of David’s Orange Pekoe in a recent order.
Dry leaves: zero scent, but they look intriguing. Unassuming, perhaps, like that quiet guy who excels in art class in high school and hides behind his hair.
4-minute steep, boiling water, 1TB for 500mL, no milk or sweetener … classic ‘normal tea’ taste. Some depth and sweetness from the Assam, brightness from the Ceylon … very good. No bitterness. Yet still finishes a bit hollow, like it lacks something … more punch from the Assam, maybe? I find myself bracing for a malty pucker, some astringency on the back of the tongue, but it doesn’t arrive.
I’d confidently serve this at a big dinner or a tea party as ‘normal’ tea offering, but I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to get it for myself, not when David’sTea alone offers so much more. And my old fave, the fair trade English Breakfast from my local teashop, Britannia, leaves this eating yesterday’s dust. Perhaps I’m being a snob.
Sipping a big 500mL mug of this at Starbucks this morning … last time I tried Joy, Tazo was stiull using those little teabags with fannings. Now Tazo is all about full-leaf, and while I deplore the petroleum-based bags, the full leaf, of course, makes a huge difference.
How to steep a blend of black (including delicate Darjeelings), green and oolong? The hot water at Starbucks is just below boiling, as far as I can tell, and a 4-minute steep of one bag (they’re big bags, packed) in a 500mL cup yielded to me a toasty, slightly nutty and green, sweet and incredibly floral oolong bouquet. I would not steep this blend any longer than 4 minutes, and I would definitely use water below boiling. Don’t worry, the black teas will make themselves known. Might be soe Yunnan in here, too; definitely getting a peppery bite. I really like the 2010 Joy blend and would happily give it as a gift.
I was surprised at the flatness of the batch of Black Needles I got. Flat taste, I mean. I got some of the pepper but only a teasing hint of musk, and then a stale-wininess. Has a sharp scent, almost of sweat. If this had been my first ever black needle Yunnan, I might have liked it better, but my local teashop and Stash Teas both supply better versions.
A decent tea, but not an excellent black needle Yunnan.