201 Tasting Notes

76

Here’s another Taylors tea that I picked up this weekend at the World Market store. To be honest, I purchased them because all of the Taylors selections were only $9.99 each for 4.4 ounces of tea. I can’t resist a good tea sale.

I tried out the Taylors Tea Room blend yesterday and I’m starting to see a pattern. The leaves are very finely ground. The packaging says the leaves are hand rolled in the traditional British way. I wonder if they are hand rolled and machine ground.

As I was saying, this tea had many of the same unbrewed characteristics as yesterday’s blend: metal container, short brown ground-up-looking leaves, and rich tea aroma.

I brewed the leaves at 212 degrees for five minutes. Taylors’ brewing instructions also seem to be standard for their teas.

The steeped color was a dark amber. The odor was faint with tea attributes only.

The flavor contained (again, like their Tea Room variety) only semi-robust tea characteristics. There was nothing more or less. This blend is said to contain two types of orange pekoe so maybe I shouldn’t have expected anything more exciting. I would have been willing to lower my expectations if this blend hadn’t also contained a bite of astringency.

So, to sum up my Taylors English Breakfast Leaf Tea experience:

o Ho-hum tea taste
o More than a hint of astringency
o Not horrible but booooriiiiing

Flavors: Tea

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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76

I saw a few Taylors tea selections this weekend at a very reasonable price at our World Market store. I had heard of Taylors but hadn’t sampled their wares.

When I removed the lid on the metal container of this one and snipped open the inner foil packaging, I was surprised by how ground up the tea leaves appeared. They were brown and extremely fine, almost like powder. I would expect this characteristic if I cut open a tea bag. The aroma was potent and rich, more like Chinese tea than an Indian and African blend.

As always, I followed the manufacturer’s brewing instructions on the initial launch. In this case, that meant 212 degrees for five minutes.

The brewed liquid color was dark, almost like black coffee, except for the golden highlights. The smell was nondescript.

The flavor was plain and simply, like tea. No undertones or harmonious or complementary taste attributes materialized. It just tasted like tea. If you were to ask me what kind of tea flavor appeared, I would say Darjeeling was the dominant flavor. The Rooibos was not shouting to me. At best, the blended African tea flavor was only knocking on the door.

The overall flavor power was good but it was offset by a twinge of astringency. This slight bitterness remained on my tongue and kept slapping around my taste buds.

I am not wild about this blend but I will probably drink all of it. I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either. I will most likely mix it with other livelier black teas. It’s just a little dull and featureless on its own.

Flavors: Tea

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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92
drank Earl Grey Extra by Dean & Deluca
201 tasting notes

I had tried and liked Dean & Deluca’s regular Earl Grey tea so I was excited when I saw this Earl Grey Extra blend at a very good price in their store. I regularly drink a lot of Earl Grey from several different companies. I don’t discriminate. If it’s good, I’ll drink it.

When I opened the trademark Dean & Deluca’s metal tin, the unbrewed dark tea leaves had a potent bergamot aroma. I also immediately saw the Blue Mallow flowers that were peppered generously throughout the leaves.

I followed the Dean & Deluca brewing instructions and steeped the leaves for three minutes at 212 degrees. The finished liquor was a rich gold color. I could smell the bergamot in my cup with something…wait for it…EXTRA!

The overwhelming flavor in this tea is bergamot, but, not in a bad way. The attribute is clear, smooth, and astringency free. I assume the “extra” flavor is from the Blue Mallow flowers since I would characterize this feature as flowery, but, again, not in a bad way. I’ve never been crazy about flowery-tasting teas. In this case, though, the flowery taste compliments the bergamot perfectly and is not overbearing.

I thoroughly enjoyed my entire morning pot of this tea. The aftertaste from four cups was amazingly light and airy. I have just one complaint about it: This product seems to be NO LONGER AVAILABLE!

Flavors: Bergamot, Flowers

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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70

Here’s a little gem I picked up at Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Golden Monkey is one of my favorite black tea varieties so I was excited to give this one a try when I spotted it at the store.

The unbrewed leaves of this tea are long and are both brown and golden brown. The aroma is earthy with standard black tea characteristics .

I steeped the tea for four minutes at 212 degrees. The color was dark amber gold.

The flavor was much like the unbrewed leaves smelled. It was earthy flavor with standard black tea attributes…and something else less pleasant. There was a faint taste behind the other flavors that reminded me of the smell of un-emptied ashtrays on the morning after the party. The sensation was weak but there just the same. It didn’t ruin the experience for me but it did subtract from the positive feelings.

I’m not ready to write this tea off yet since it does have some good features. I will try a lower brewing temperature next time to see if that reduces or eliminates the ashtray effect.

Flavors: Ash, Earth, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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90
drank Ancient Golden Yunnan by Rishi Tea
201 tasting notes

Another day above ground. Another tea to review. How can I complain?

I am very familiar with Rishi’s Earl Grey tea. It is both the strongest and most natural tasting earl grey that I have ever tried. I regularly buy it by the pound. So, with that track record, I was anxious to take their Ancient Golden Yunnan tea out for a spin.

The unbrewed tea leaves are both dark and light brown. Think of golden monkey tea if you are trying to envision this description. The aroma is rich, earthy, leathery, and recognizable for tea from this area of the world.

I followed Rishi’s brewing instructions and steeped the leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The finished product was dark amber in color and smelled sweet and chocolaty.

The taste was sweet and cordial with chocolate undertones The flavor was also robust which is important to me with my life-long sinus challenges. The aftertaste was light and gentle with no astringent annoyances.

This is an exceptional morning black tea that will fit the bill when I am looking for a reason to get out of bed. I also need to make room in my tea cabinet for a pound of this great blend.

Flavors: Chocolate, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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91

It looks like I will have more time to review teas for a while. My job was eliminated last Thursday. I am not going to rant, whine, or complain. This is the first time it has happened to me in a 40-year career, which makes me fortunate. The last thing I will say about it is if you know someone who is looking for a very experienced technical writer, online training developer, and jack of many computer trades, please let me know.

OK. Now to the fun stuff! I found this tea for a great price at our local Dean and Deluca store. Its round cardboard container intrigued me as it reminded me of the packaging for fireplace matches.

The very short and thin black tea leaves had a sweet malty smell. I brewed them for four minutes at 212 degrees as recommended on the container.

The steeped result was a dark molasses-colored liquid with a sweet aroma. The odor was almost like tea covered with healthy doses of milk and sugar, although I was drinking it straight.

The flavor of the tea was extremely pleasant with distinct sweet and malty accents. The specific black tea flavor was just a subscript to the other more clearly enunciated attributes. The entire cup went down exceptionally smoothly with no astringency detected by my palate.

I like this tea a lot! It is the perfect storm of flavor and smoothness. It will be a fantastic addition to my morning black tea rotation.

Flavors: Malt, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML
caile

Sorry to hear about your job!

Stoo

Thanks, Caile. I wonder if there are any open positions for a professional tea reviewer… :-)

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90

Ah. I’m taking another one of my birthday teas for a spin today. This one came in classy packaging: a fancy box, well-made tin with outer and inner lids, and a cool little brass handle fastened to the middle of the inner lid. When I navigated through this packaging and opened the inner lid, I was struck by a forceful sweet chocolate aroma.

The instructions said to brew this tea in “simmering” water for three minutes. I don’t know what temperature equals simmering, but I took that to mean 195 degrees.

The brewed odor also carried forth distinct sweet and chocolate characteristics. The color was a rich amber.

The flavor had sweet overtones with another hint of chocolate. The taste was also very smooth with no inkling of astringency.

I usually maximize the recommended brewing times and temperatures to pull the most flavor possible from my teas. In this instance, I followed the recommended stingy time and temperature to the letter and was pleasantly surprised by the potency of the taste.

The aftertaste was also just right. It lingered on my palate pleasantly and gently.

I like this tea a lot. Not only will I happily look forward to swilling the entire tin, but I will DEFINITELY put this selection on next year’s birthday wish list.

Flavors: Chocolate, Smooth, Sweet, Tea

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML
ashmanra

How did you fare in the hurricane, Stoo?

Stoo

Hi ashmanra! We didn’t have any problems since we are about three hours from the coast. We had some gusty wind and a full day of rain but we were fine. Thanks for asking! I hope all is well with you!

ashmanra

I thought you were in Charleston. Our city was one of the hardest hit by flooding and it followed right on the heels of flooding a week before, but my house never lost power, just water, then a week of boil advisory. Still lots of roads washed out. The flooding was brutal.

Stoo

Yes, I saw that. Sorry to hear that you got hit hard by flooding. Are things back to normal for you now? I’m in the upstate near Fort Mill.

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78

Hello again, great tea tasters across the fruity (and malty) plains. It’s been way too long since my last review. I’ll try to make this one brief.

I have had Mariage teas before. Although I respect their complex blended flavors, I am not big on fruity, liquor-laden, flowery, and chemical-like tastes. I’m more of a purist when it comes to my favorite teas, especially black teas, which I depend on to jump-start my brain during the work week.

When I saw Mariage’s French Breakfast Tea in the local Dean & DeLuca store, I hoped that it would have robust flavors but in a more conventional black tea way. My hope was dashed. This tea seems to have a taste that is very similar to their Bourbon Rouge and Marco Polo (can’t get that swimming pool commercial out of my head) blends.

The flavors are robust but have a chemical-like tang to them. I don’t want to call this astringency, but it’s borderline so. Also, this attribute stays on my palate way too long. Like their other teas that I’ve tried, my tongue detects a hodge-podge of liquor, flowers, and fruit.

I don’t hate this tea but it is not one that I would prefer to pry my eyes open in the morning. For that purpose, I will cling to the tried-and-true English and Chinese breakfast and Earl Grey varieties.

Flavors: Alcohol, Biting, Bitter, Floral, Fruity

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML
Super Starling!

I’m not sure ANYONE can get those swimming pool commercials out of their heads. ;) The best part is the llama.

Are you in America or Canada or somewhere else? I’m an American, and I keep hearing great things about this company, but never spot it anywhere.

Stoo

Hi Super Starling! Thanks for your comment! I am in the United States in South Carolina. Where are you?

Super Starling!

I’m in Pennsylvania. Like, that middle part with the cows. I’ll have to see if I can find a Dean & DeLuca next time I’m in a place with a concentration of humans. :)

Stoo

We were just in the Scranton area visiting my wife’s family two weeks ago. My favorite place up there is the Dunmore Candy Kitchen.

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70
drank Roasted Black Tea by Williams Sonoma
201 tasting notes

As Donald Trump would say, I’m not H-U-U-U-G-E on spicy and floral teas. So, it was with trepidation that I took this blend for a ride.

When I slit open the plastic bag of tea inside the metal tin, I was immediately slapped with a strong cinnamon aroma. I brewed the dark brown leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The finished product had a weak cinnamon smell. Nothing else stood out.

The taste of this tea was almost completely cinnamon. The flavor also contained leathery hints of pu-erh. With everything that is said to be going on in this tea, I was surprised that the taste was medium-strength at best without a lot of accents from the other ingredients.

This brew is also claimed to include mushrooms! I’m not sure how to discern mushrooms from other flavors, so I guess I failed that test. The aftertaste was all cinnamon and lingered on my palate for a good while.

I’m one of those folks that actually likes the full leathery taste of pu-erh. In my opinion this brew would have been better if the pu-erh characteristics were allowed to at least slightly make their presence known.

I didn’t hate this tea but it didn’t wow me either. I won’t write off Williams-Sonoma just yet.

Flavors: Cinnamon

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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77

I ran across this tea at a little welcome center while driving through Fort Lawn, South Carolina. I enjoy trying out the local teas because there is something very cool about having fine teas in my own backyard.

When I opened up the tin, a very strong bergamot aroma burst forth. I thought, “Now you’re talking.” Inside were long brownish black leaves with sprinkles of YELLOW blossoms which I guess must be the BLUE mallow blossoms.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes at 212 degrees. I now steep almost all black teas using those parameters. “Robust” is what I always strive to wring out of every tea.

After reaching critical brew, the tea had a fainter bergamot aroma than it did at pre-brewing. The color was a light brownish gold. The flavor at first taste was a hodgepodge of sensations, none of which were distinct.

The orange pekoe flavor was definitely waving to me. A slight bergamot-like taste also peeked through. Other than those two flavors, the rest were unrecognizable.

This isn’t a bad tea but I can’t call it an exciting one either. I will continue to drink it until the tin is empty but it won’t be the first one I reach for when I’m looking for a brew to exhilarate my morning.

Flavors: Bergamot, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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Bio

I ventured into the world of serious tea drinking in the Summer of 2011. I started out slowly and gently with bagged tea but climbed to the incredible flavorful heights of loose leaf teas in October of that year. Once you go leaf, you never go bag (except when you get free samples)!

Location

South Carolina, USA

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