If there’s darjeeling in here, as the Kusmi site appears to suggest, it’s a very dark one. The dry leaves in the sample tin have no green-ness to them. If I try really hard, I can get a bit of a darjeeling sharpness in the smell of the dry leaf, but it isn’t overly obvious. Mostly it smells like a peppery black tea. Hmm. I got pepper in the Earl Grey too.

The aroma is mild with a tiny bit of the pepper I smelled in the dry leaf. Otherwise it has a generic black tea smell. It’s a medium-dark amber with a little red in it.

The flavor has a cleanness and a perkiness to it that could well be from darjeeling. It’s a little brisk, and fairly smooth except for a small, barely noticeable peppery kick. I can see why this is billed as an evening tea. It isn’t thick or malty or hearty or eye-openingly strong, or any of the other qualities I’ve come to associate with breakfast blends.

It’s sort of like the Earl Grey, except without the pretext of being Earl Grey and so lacking a little bitterness injected by the bergamot, and though it has a peppery reminder, it’s not nearly as peppery as the Earl Grey is to my palate. Which makes it, actually, more pleasant to my mind than the Earl Grey. There’s a mild, slightly sweet aftertaste.

Though I like some of the other Kusmis better, this isn’t bad. It’s probably on the low end of the good black tea huddle I have going that I’m going to have to pare down eventually, but only because it doesn’t have the depth and character I enjoy in really fine black teas.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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