Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
ashmanra’s Sipdown Challenge – “A breakfast tea”
I don’t have a lot of breakfast blend-style teas in my cupboard (though I do have a couple of teas with “breakfast” in the name), so I figured this was a good time to pull out this tea from Andrews & Dunham that I bought at the end of last year and hadn’t yet tried.
I have to say, I think this is my least favorite of the teas I’ve tried from them. Not that it’s bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it does taste a bit like a generic Sri Lankan tea to me. It’s actually not Sri Lankan, it’s from Iyerpadi Estate in Nilgiri. It does have a bit more depth to it than a Lipton-style tea, but is still quite metallic with hints of bread and hay and a somewhat astringent finish.
So not a favorite for me, but still happy to have it because of the gorgeously graphic tin. Eventually I might try drinking through this one with milk and sugar in the cooler months.
Flavors: Acidic, Apricot, Astringent, Bread, Hay, Metallic, Musty, Tannic, Tea
Had a bit of dragonwell this morning but need a kick in the pants. Picked this one at random. The dry smell has been ruined a bit but the wet leaf aroma represents all that is good about Assam teas. slightly malty, woodsy, bread pudding, old oak chest. The flavor is a good kick in the pants. The perfect amount of astringency to wake you up but not to make you go “whoa too much”. A bit of resin and varnish but overall very woodsy and glorious. Malty and smooth mouth feel.
Another swap from Cameron and I loved this one! Cameron, if you’re reading this you have amazing taste! I normally go for ctc assams but this was delightful, I’d love to add it to my collection when it’s back in stock.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Wet Wood
Thank you, Shae, for this sample. Not sure what the octopus legs are about in the picture. I don’t sense any marine attributes. The wet leaf has some gentle woodsy attributes that are very nice though. Old cabin in the woods, mossy wet logs deep in the forest, and cedar. This is a light black. Not brisk but it does contain a good tap of astringency if you go over the steeping parameters. The flavor is very woody. A slight hint of malt and malt o meal. Old, dry, decaying wood. A bit of resin and varnish in the aftertaste. You could add milk but I don’t think this one is quite strong enough.
Thank you, Shae, for the sample. This is a decent blend. The dry aroma makes it smell a bit artificial. Candy lemon drops. Lemon tart. The wet leaf aroma brings in a bit of woody notes along with bread pudding. The flavor isn’t quite what I was expecting though. The bergamot is subdued. Even the woody tones of the tea itself are somewhat muted. It tastes more medicinal than anticipated. But with candied undertones?
Okay. Round two. Still not impressed, unfortunately. The bergamot is just too subdued for pleasantries. It is fine to drink on its own but would not work for a London Fog.
So a couple of weeks ago, I somehow found myself on the Andrews & Dunham website. I don’t recall how, maybe I saw something on Steepster that made me curious to see what teas they had in stock. Regardless, I found this tea in stock and promptly ordered a tin. I have four of their other teas and they’re always enjoyable, if slightly neglected in my cupboard. I then promptly forgot about the purchase.
So fast forward to two days ago, this tea showed up at my doorstep and ooh, what a lovely surprise gift from my (slightly) past self! XD
I admit, I was slightly nervous when I smelled the dry leaf, as the smoke dominates the aroma. I don’t dislike smoked teas, in fact I often quite enjoy them, but it’s not something I drink often, and sometimes I do find them a bit too smoky. But I needn’t have worried, this is very well-balanced. The smokiness is obvious, but it’s not the only thing I taste, and it has a lovely savory meaty flavor as opposed to a charred or ashy one. Underneath is a lovely sweetness, an earthy woodiness, and also a satisfyingly chewy bread note. Perhaps a touch of dark dried fruit as well?
Very yummy, and I certainly don’t regret ordering it on a whim. I haven’t been disappointed by A&D yet! :)
Flavors: Bread, Charcoal, Dried Fruit, Earthy, Malt, Meat, Savory, Smoke, Smoked, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Wood
This seemed like a good choice for the frigid temperatures we’re experiencing. I know it’s much colder further north, but goodness I’m not used to temperatures in the teens. Currently sitting under my heated blanket with a cup of this tea. I remember when I first tried this one, I was disappointed that it wasn’t smokier than it is. Today, it’s delicious. Th smoke is there, but it doesn’t overpower the tea. I’m going to finish this cup, shut my laptop, and go right to bed for a nap. It’s the perfect weekend for hunkering down. Stay warm, friends!
Flavors: Smoke, Tannic
I’ll be honest, I had such high hopes for this one that my first cup was pretty underwhelming. The description says things like bigger, bolder, strong, smoky, store at your own risk, not responsible for any damage to other teas in your cupboard. I was expecting the smoky aroma to hit me square in the face as soon as I opened the tin. It didn’t. The steeped cup was even more disappointing. Not only was it only very lightly smoked, but the tea itself didn’t seem to have much flavor. It wasn’t bold or strong at all. It tasted a bit watered down even. I’m going to hold my rating on this for now because I can’t help but think I must have steeped it wrong.
My first Andrews & Dunham tea ever! It’s as good as promised. I steeped according to the directions on the tin. With one teaspoon, I thought it might be a little light. It wasn’t. The tea was just strong enough, and I could taste the caramel notes I’d read about. Very good morning cuppa.
This one is really good! Lots of depth and hints of maltiness and syrup. I’m so happy I don’t get any smoke, because I was a bit worried hah. There’s also no astringency, which is a delight.
Thrilled to have had the opportunity to try this one. Thanks Cameron!
Samurai TTB #10
For some reason, based on the name, I was expecting this to be a flavored blend. But it’s actually just a really nice, well-rounded black tea blend. Notes of malt, smoke, and a little bit of fruitiness. Not sure it exactly matches the name (it brewed up DARK for a tea called “sunshine!”) but tasty!
From the Samurai TTB
I brewed this up strong and it doesn’t disappoint. The first steep was a bit more complex with malty and peppery notes, as well as a tart berry aftertaste. A good example of what a black Yunnan tea should be. The second steep is approaching bitterness, and has lost some of its complexity, but is still drinkable.
A very nice cup indeed.
Sipdown! (49 | 396)
My tea of the morning for the past couple of weeks. A lot of times with these Andrews & Dunham teas, I have a tendency to not want to sip them down because the stock is so inconsistent. But this one wasn’t my favorite so I figured I would go ahead and sip through it, as it was one of my oldest teas.
This is a mix of multiple Yunnan black teas, one is a smaller, wirier dark leaf with a bit of gold, and the other is a large, fuzzy, golden bud. Mostly it’s the smaller leaf, with a few buds mixed in. It steeps up a deep, dark, chocolaty brown, almost like a shou puerh. The flavor is very woody with some mineral earthiness underneath, along with a hint of smoke. There’s a touch of malt as well. It brings to mind an ancient forest, with massive tangled trees covered in a layer of moss.
Anyway, as I said not a favorite for me. I feel like it lacks a bit of dimension and I tend to prefer Yunnan teas with more bready and sweet potato-y notes to them. Not a bad tea by any stretch of the imagination, just a bit underwhelming given the beautiful tin.
(this tea, Checkered Flag, and Caravan Resurrected happen to be available at the moment, by the way!)
Flavors: Earth, Forest Floor, Malt, Mineral, Smoke, Smooth, Soil, Thick, Wet wood, Wood
I was reminded that I had purchased this tea and never tried it when I saw a note from amandastory516. I’ve enjoyed all the teas I’ve had from Andrews & Dunham, so I’m not sure why this one got left out in the cold! Poor little thing.
It looks to be a mix of darker, smaller leaf and larger, golden-tipped Yunnan teas. Dry scent is very earthy. I saw the recommendation to steep in boiling water for 5 minutes and promptly ignored it for my own preferred parameters, because I’m arrogant like that. :P Maybe I’ll try their parameters in the future, just to compare.
I find this tea to be pleasant enough, but unremarkable. And really, in my experience with A&D, they do generally make very reliable, daily-drinking sort of teas. But in this tea’s case, I think it has a slight disadvantage, as I have tried many Yunnan teas in the past.
The dominant note here is a very mineral, earthy flavor, with a hint of smokiness behind it. I get a bit of wood and tobacco as well, which are nice complements to the main flavor. There’s perhaps a hint of dried fruit, like raisin or date, in the aftertaste.
I tend to love bready and sweet potato-y Yunnan teas, and I’m not really getting either of those notes here. For darker Chinese blacks, I prefer Fujian varieties. So this one just misses the mark for me a little as it’s fairly one-note without a ton of depth to it.
Ah well, it’s not bad! Just also not great in my opinion, especially compared to other Yunnan teas I enjoy.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Earth, Mineral, Raisins, Smoke, Tobacco, Wood
The black tea in this blend is a little harsh for me. I also feel like the bergamot could have been stronger. It was all right, but one of the less good EGs I’ve had. I do appreciate the share though, tea-sipper! I drank the last of my cup and the resteep cold, and I’d say this tea definitely shines more as a cold latte. It’s much smoother that way.
additional notes: Steeping up a cup or two of this in honor of a wonderful short story collection I just finished reading: ’I’m Fine, but you Appear to Be Sinking’ by Leyna Krow. I love underappreciated treasure box short story collections. There are plenty of squid in this book. Am I just now realizing the big sickle shaped yunnan leaves here have probably inspired the tentacles in the photo? I think this tea is growing on me… or my aging black teas are mostly faded at this point, so maybe the Aging Better teas are raising in my estimation? I can almost pick apart the flavors of the different type leaves in this one.