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Recent Tasting Notes

92

If memory serves, this was the second of the 2016 autumn flush Darjeeling black teas I finished and reviewed last month. Unfortunately, it is the last one to get a write-up on Steepster. I’m honestly not sure why that is. Most likely, I simply put it off and then forgot about it. Anyway, I did not expect much from this tea. Teabox’s description of it seemed to betray that it was not their favorite of the 2016 autumn flush teas, as it was simply described as being “for those who seek out lighter teas,” the sort of tea that you could get something out of “with a bit of coaxing.” I pasted their description into the tea information section when I added this tea to Steepster. Take a look at it. They sold that one super well, didn’t they? Nothing says we think this is a quality offering like more or less stating, “if you fiddle with it, you can get something out of it.” Naturally, I did not find that to be the case at all. Like most of the Gopaldhara teas I have tried, this was a high quality offering that was not finicky in the least. Honestly, it and the Jungpana Classic Autumn Black were my two favorites of the 2016 autumn flush teas I purchased from Teabox, and I do not feel that I am exaggerating in the least when I say that this one was just as good as the other.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. No additional infusions were attempted.

Prior to infusion, I picked up rather distant aromas of fruit, wood, and nuts from the dry leaf material. After infusion, I noted aromas of dried flowers, apricot, cherry, wood, and roasted nuts. In the mouth, the liquor expressed subtle, delicate, refined notes of wood, rose, dandelion, dried chrysanthemum, roasted almond, cherry, apricot, pear, elderberry, and blackberry with touches of watermelon rind, malt, nutmeg, and raisin lurking around the fringes. The finish was soft and relatively clean, offering pleasant, lingering impressions of almond, dried chrysanthemum, pear, and watermelon rind.

I can see why this was described as being appropriate for people who like lighter teas, but to me, this tea was less light and more subtle. Its smooth texture, lean body, and well-integrated aromas and flavors betrayed considerable depth and complexity for this type of black tea. Because of this, I think this is the sort of tea that would be more appropriate for seasoned drinkers of autumn flush black teas or those looking for a challenging tea that is never less than enjoyable.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Blackberry, Cherry, Dandelion, Floral, Fruity, Malt, Melon, Nutmeg, Pear, Raisins, Rose, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

Here we come to a blast from the past. I finished a sample pouch of this first flush Darjeeling black tea back on 10/19, took notes for a review, and apparently never got around to posting anything. Obviously, I am remedying that now. I tend to be a big fan of the teas produced by the Margaret’s Hope Estate, so it should come as no surprise that I liked this one quite a bit.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. No additional infusions were attempted.

Prior to infusion, I noted aromas of herbs, grass, and wood coming from the dry leaf material. After infusion, I found aromas of green pepper, wood, grass, and citrus. In the mouth, the liquor offered interesting notes of almond, grass, hay, green pepper, lemon, malt, violet, dandelion, and field greens. The finish was very smooth with lingering floral tones coupled with malty, vegetal notes. Oddly, I thought I caught hints of menthol, bay leaf, nutmeg, and something like galangal very briefly at this time. I know that Teabox’s tasting note mentioned notes of white flowers and ripe pumpkin, but I did not get any of that. Of course, I am also generally ambivalent towards pumpkin and have not eaten it recently enough to have an accurate recollection of what it smells or tastes like.

This was a very nice first flush Darjeeling black tea. While it was somewhat subtler and smoother than I anticipated, it was also spicier and more vegetal than any other Margaret’s Hope tea I have tried to this point. On that note, I had a first flush black tea from Margaret’s Hope last year, and of the two, I think I enjoyed that one a little more. Still, this was a very good tea. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quality first flush Darjeeling black tea for regular consumption.

Flavors: Almond, Dandelion, Grass, Green Pepper, Hay, Herbs, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Nutmeg, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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92

This was the third of the 2016 autumn flush Darjeelings I recently finished and I have to say that it was a tea I greatly enjoyed. This seemed to be the favorite of the folks at Teabox, and for me, it would come down to either this one or the tea from Gopaldhara if I had to pick a favorite. Truthfully, the teas from Gopaldhara, Jungpana, Goomtee, and Giddapahar were all so similar in terms of quality that I could probably make an argument for any of them being the best if I were to put my mind to it. What this one offered that was rather unique was a quirky, fascinating combination of aromas and flavors that highlighted a unique melon rind note.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. No additional infusions were attempted.

Prior to infusion, I noted aromas of wood, herbs, raisins, tobacco, and roasted nuts coming from the dry leaf material. After infusion, I picked out new aromas of earth, tree bark, and malt. In the mouth, I initially found pleasant floral notes that gave way to a combination of malt, roasted almond, raisin, earth, wood, tree bark, herb, tobacco, and plum flavors. I could also detect slight vegetal tones that were accompanied by subtle hints of spiced pear, red apple, and watermelon rind. The finish saw the vegetal notes take more shape. They began to remind me of cooked green beans. Simultaneously, notes of wood, malt, watermelon rind, and flowers lingered after the other notes began to fade.

This was an incredibly interesting and complex black tea, yet it was also approachable and easy to drink. It was somewhat more challenging than the other autumn flush teas I have recently tried. I definitely found it to be a quality tea that rewarded patient, focused sipping. If you are looking for a unique autumn flush Darjeeling black tea suitable for afternoon and/or evening consumption, this would certainly be a tea to try.

Flavors: Almond, Bark, Earth, Floral, Green Beans, Herbs, Malt, Melon, Pear, Plums, Raisins, Red Apple, Tobacco, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
tperez

Sounds good! I’m not a fan of FF Darjeeling, but I’ve been wanting to give autumn flush a try

eastkyteaguy

tperez, the autumn flush teas I am finding to be very different. The three major flushes seem to move from grassy and herbal to toasty, spicy, and fruity and then to smooth, mellow, and subtle. If you like digging for flavor components like I do, they can be a lot of fun. I ended up trying a bunch of these because Teabox had marked several of them down and I had been meaning to try more autumn flush teas anyway. The last time I checked all five of the teas I recently tried were still in stock.

Teatotaler

I am quite a fan of Autumn flush Darjeelings. Gopaldhara’s Autumn Thunder is one of my favorite teas. This one sounds superb as well – Love Jungpana! How is purchasing and shipping with Teabox? I am really tempted to order some of this.

eastkyteaguy

Teatotaler, in my rather limited experience with Teabox shipping, I have found them to be hit or miss. Their rates are reasonable, but the service can be spotty. The first time I ordered from them, shipping was a nightmare. The delivery address got screwed up, and even after I tried to work with the delivery partner to give them an alternative, it got screwed up two more times before I got my package. First, the delivery partner (DHL Express) claimed they couldn’t deliver to a P.O. box (fyi, I live in a rural area in which UPS and Fedex do not deliver to homes), even though I had shipped with them before and there had never been an issue. Then, when DHL Express turned the package over to USPS for delivery (my post office is literally next door to my house), they had failed to update the delivery address and USPS ended up handing my package back over to DHL Express. After I threw a fit on Teabox’s customer service, the package mysteriously showed up the same day. I placed a second order with them at a slightly later date and had it shipped to my work address with no problem. I think the issue with the first order was mostly on the delivery partner and not them.

Teatotaler

Thanks for the info, eastkyteaguy. I might just order some more Gopaldhara Autumn Thunder from What-Cha and play it safe. What-Cha’s shipping service is impeccable!

BigDaddy

Teabox is an annual order for me, so much to explore, the oolongs quite did me in.

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91

This was the final autumn Darjeeling sample I finished. I found this to be the softest and arguably cleanest tea of the bunch. It was a very mild, mellow tea with extremely subtle aromas and flavors. In some ways, it was similar to the tea from the Goomtee Estate that I recently reviewed, but simultaneously displayed greater complexity and a gentler, subtler nature.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, I was able to detect subtle woody, floral aromas from the dry leaf material. After infusion, I detected only slightly stronger impressions of flowers, wood, and malt on the nose. In the mouth, I noted delicate flavors of wood, malt, roasted almond, herbs, and some sort of flower (I could not identify it) on the entry that soon gave way to impressions of cream, raisins, grass, birch bark, Muscatel, and plums. The finish was gentle, offering vague, lingering notes of flowers, raisins, roasted almonds, and malt.

This was yet another really nice autumn flush Darjeeling. Like the others, it was subtle and easygoing, yet also had a lot to offer. I am definitely glad I tried this one.

Flavors: Almond, Bark, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbs, Malt, Muscatel, Plums, Raisins, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

Another of the autumn flush Darjeeling black teas from Teabox that I have been quickly sipping down, I found this to be am approachable and consistently likable autumn flush Darjeeling. Compared to the tea from the Oaks Estate that I reviewed a little earlier, it was more straightforward and did not have any notes that came off as awkward or off-putting. Compared to the Gopaldhara and Jungpana autumn flush teas I have tried, it was subtler and less overtly complex, but still satisfying and very flavorful.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. No additional infusions were attempted.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted woody, toasty, malty aromas with hints of fruit. After infusion, I noted an aroma resembling cooked green beans. In the mouth, the liquor initially displayed nice, mellow notes of malt, toast, raisins, and wood before more vegetal notes of cooked green beans and field greens came into play. I also began to note impressions of cashew, roasted almond, and red apple. The finish was clipped, briefly offering smooth nutty and vegetal notes.

This was not the most complex Darjeeling tea in the world, but it was very enjoyable nonetheless. Like the other teas from the Goomtee Estate I have tried, it was rather quirky, but never veered into weird territory. Teabox described it as an engaging tea, and I have to say that description is 100% accurate. I would even go so far as to add another descriptor: pleasant. This was just such an easy tea to drink. I would recommend it highly to anyone looking for an enjoyable introduction to autumn flush Darjeeling black teas or an autumn flush tea suitable for daily drinking.

Flavors: Almond, Green Beans, Malt, Nutty, Raisins, Red Apple, Toast, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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78

I totally forgot about the five autumn flush Darjeelings I tacked onto my last Teabox order. The 2016 autumn flush teas had been marked down and I had been meaning to try a few more, so I figured that would be the perfect opportunity to pick up a few. I ended up with teas from Oaks, Gopaldhara, Goomtee, Giddapahar, and Jungpana, all producers whose work I greatly enjoy. This tea from the Oaks Estate was the first one I tried. Surprisingly, it was the one I enjoyed the least.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. No additional infusions were attempted.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted interesting aromas of dried fruit, aged leather, and cured tobacco. After infusion, I picked up on aromas of wood, leather, tobacco, raisins, malt, and cooked greens. In the mouth, I found that the liquor opened with surprisingly prominent notes of aged leather, cured tobacco, and wood before giving way to subtler notes of brown toast, smoke, nutmeg, malt, violet, raisin, plum, and Muscatel. Notes of cooked greens gradually revealed themselves, becoming more powerful as the liquor lingered in the mouth. The finish was fairly short, emphasizing notes of malt, wood, raisin, and Muscatel, though a touch of cooked greens also remained.

After being impressed by a recent first flush tea from the Oaks Estate, I was expecting to enjoy this one equally, if not more. Sadly, that was not the case. While this tea was not bad, the way the cooked green notes built in the mouth made it seem awkward as they muddied some of the more enjoyable, nuanced notes the tea offered. Still, one trait that I found to be rather detrimental to the drinking experience did not ruin this offering for me. This was an enjoyable tea, just a rather odd and somewhat awkward one. While there are certainly more enjoyable autumn flush Darjeeling teas out there, this one was still worth a try.

Flavors: Brown Toast, Leather, Malt, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Plums, Raisins, Smoke, Tobacco, Vegetal, Violet, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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92

A strong masala chai featuring a heady spice blend of Bishop’s weed, black cardamom, green cardamom, black peppercorns, fennel, cloves, and dried ginger, this sounded like just the thing to get me going this morning. I have now tried this chai blend a couple different ways, and I have to say that I am impressed. While I was not wowed by the last Teabox chai I tried, this was more up my alley.

As with every chai blend I buy, I tried this blend once without any additives and once with additions of milk and sugar. For both preparations, I steeped about 3 grams of the chai blend in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I limited myself to a single infusion with each preparation.

The dry chai blend produced strong, pungent aromas of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and black peppercorn balanced by hints of clove, bay leaf, fennel, and malt. Though the blend did not contain bay leaf, Teabox really wasn’t kidding about such an aroma being present. I’m guessing it was contributed by the Bishop’s weed. After infusion, the spicy, herbal aromas were still very much dominant, though I could detect stronger scents of malt from the CTC Assam base. I also noted hints of caramel, cream, brown toast, wood, and citrus. In the mouth, the spices immediately packed a wallop. Black peppercorn, ginger, clove, fennel, cardamom, and cinnamon were all easily detectable. A bay leaf-like flavor popped up too. That had to be contributed by the Bishop’s weed. I was unable to determine how else it could have gotten in there. By mid-palate, softer notes of caramel, cream, malt, wood, orange, molasses, leather, and brown toast from the tea were more noticeable. The liquor was relatively astringent, but also very brisk. The finish was fairly smooth and soothing, offering something of a lingering astringency accompanying somewhat more delicate spice, cream, malt, brown toast, and wood notes. Though blends like this are not really meant to be consumed without additives, I could drink this plain with no real qualms.

Additions of milk and sugar tamed the astringency and spices considerably. The liquor became less prickly and peppery, allowing the ginger, cardamom, fennel, and cinnamon more room. Fewer tannic notes from the tea base were present, as smooth malt, cream, and toast flavors became more apparent. The finish was also smoother and softer with less astringency and less of a lingering spice kick.

Compared to the last chai blend from Teabox that I tried, this one was much spicier, livelier, and more complex. Since I like spicier masala chais, this very much appealed to me. Though it is doubtful that blends such as this will ever live up to a homemade masala chai, I could easily see myself keeping this one on hand. Definitely try it if you are the sort of person who likes your chai heavy on the spices.

Flavors: Astringent, Black Pepper, Brown Toast, Caramel, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Fennel, Ginger, Herbs, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Orange, Spicy, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Evol Ving Ness

A question—-why did you choose to steep this one at a lower temperature?

Also, it’s good to see you reviewing a different category of teas. I like your take on things.

CrowKettle

Oh, wow. You’re detailed note fills me with masala chai envy.

eastkyteaguy

Evol, I wish I had a good reason for going with the temperature I chose, but I do not. I ended up choosing 194 F because that was on the upper end of the range recommended by Teabox.

Evol Ving Ness

Interesting that Teabox suggested steeping at lower temperatures for this one. I’ve been under the impression that black tea-based chai blends are steeped at boiling to oomph up the spice content—based on the idea that traditionally masala chai is boiled in the pan with subsequent milk and sugar additions— but maybe now I will play a bit. Endlessly fascinating, this tea world of ours.

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92

You know, I took notes for a review of this tea nearly three weeks ago, but must have forgotten to post a review. Oh well, better late than never, I suppose. I know I have mentioned it before, but I am a big fan of the teas produced by the Castleton Estate, and not surprisingly, I greatly enjoyed this one.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any subsequent infusions.

Prior to infusion, I noted a mixture of hay, grass, nut, and herb aromas produced by the dry leaf material. After infusion, another sniff revealed green pepper, herb, nut, grass, wood, and malt scents. In the mouth, I found flavors of grass, hay, straw, green pepper, wood, malt, lemon, green apple, pear, roasted almond, and freshly cut flowers. The finish was smooth and pleasant, offering lingering notes of grass, hay, herbs, malt, and lemon. Unlike many Darjeelings, I did not get any Muscatel character at all. This tea was maltier, nuttier, and much more vegetal.

This was one of the most interesting first flush Darjeelings I have ever tried. I don’t really feel that it had all that much in common with some of the other teas from this region that I have been drinking lately. And as odd as the aroma and flavor components may have initially seemed, they worked together beautifully. I would definitely recommend this tea to fans of first flush Darjeelings, but I would do so with the caveat that if you are expecting an overtly fruity tea with any noteworthy amount of the telltale Darjeeling Muscatel character, you may be in for a shock.

Flavors: Almond, Flowers, Grass, Green Apple, Green Pepper, Hay, Herbs, Lemon, Malt, Pear, Straw

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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86

This unflavored black tea blend was included as a freebie with my most recent Teabox order. Normally, I do not drink a ton of breakfast teas, but after trying a number of single origin teas from Teabox, I was curious to see how one of their unflavored blends would compare. Well, I am happy to report that I found this to be a nice blend.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. No subsequent infusions were attempted.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of wood and malt. After infusion, I found new aromas of brown toast, molasses, orange, caramel, and dried fruit. In the mouth, there were fairly strong notes of orange, malt, cream, brown toast, wood, leather, molasses, roasted nuts (almond, chestnut, and walnut), raisins, dates, and nutmeg. The finish was smooth and malty with lingering nuttiness and woodiness plus hints of cream.

This was a flavorful breakfast blend. I greatly appreciated the integration and balance of its flavor components. Though this is still not the sort of thing I would want to consume regularly, I did enjoy it. I think fans of breakfast tea blends would be satisfied with this one.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Toast, Caramel, Chestnut, Cream, Dates, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Nutmeg, Orange, Raisins, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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87

Here’s a review I forgot to post last week. I finished a sample pouch of this tea about 6 days ago, but kept waffling on the numerical score and held off on posting it. I then, of course, forgot about it. Overall, I found this to be a very nice second flush Darjeeling, though it did not quite edge out some of my established favorites.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water. I did not attempt any subsequent infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of wood, toast, malt, caramel, and raisin. After infusion, I found aromas of wood, toast, malt, caramel, raisin, and Muscatel underscored by a hint of chocolate. In the mouth, I noted flavors of wood, brown toast, leather, and malt up front. These notes soon gave way to softer impressions of Muscatel, raisin, butter, caramel, black walnut, roasted almond, straw, anise, grass, rose, and chocolate. In a few places, I thought I caught a hint of black licorice too. The finish was pleasant, offering lingering notes of malt, Muscatel, raisin, caramel, and butter while hints of black licorice and anise popped up briefly at the very end.

Again, this was a very nice second flush Darjeeling. I had a second flush tea from Risheehat last year, but this one struck me as being more complex and perhaps just a touch more balanced. For fans of second flush Darjeelings, this would be a tea worth trying.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Brown Toast, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Grass, Leather, Licorice, Malt, Muscatel, Raisins, Rose, Straw, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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89

Time to make some more progress on the backlog. This was yet another sample from Teabox that I finished a little earlier in the month. Compared to some of the other Darjeelings I have tried, I found this one to be considerably more floral, yet also a little more overbearing in how it came across.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. No subsequent infusions were attempted.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of wood, flowers, raisins, and roasted nuts. After infusion, I found violet, rose, raisin, roasted nut, lemon, Muscatel, and herbal aromas. In the mouth, the liquor was very strong. At first, I detected notes of dandelion, violet, and rose backed by touches of malt, caramel, hay, straw, sandalwood, Muscatel, raisin, roasted almond, herbs, and lemon. Teabox stated that there was a strong aroma and flavor of frangipani, a.k.a. plumeria, to this tea. I didn’t get that, at least not at first, but the more I kept sipping this, the more it started to remind me of Nag Champa-a combination of plumeria and sandalwood. At that point, I had to concede that they were definitely not kidding about that component being there. The finish offered sandalwood, plumeria, lemon, malt, Muscatel, and caramel notes accompanied by some astringency.

I enjoyed how floral and complex this tea was, but at the same time, it was so finnicky to brew. I normally give Darjeelings a five minute steep time, but that brought out a little more astringency than I wanted, resulting in a finish that started off pleasant before puckering my mouth. I also tried a shorter infusion and the same thing happened. Another admittedly minor gripe I had with this tea was that the floral notes could be overwhelming in places and they could also turn a little pungent at times. Still, this was a more or less very good tea. I would not want to drink it regularly, but I would definitely be interested in trying it again at some point in the not so distant future.

Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Dandelion, Floral, Hay, Herbs, Lemon, Malt, Muscatel, Raisins, Rose, Straw, Violet, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Nag Champa—-some of us know exactly what you are talking about. Far clearer to me than plumeria.

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90

The third and final Kangra black tea offering from Teabox that I recently sampled, I found this to be the greenest and most vegetal of the lot. Oddly, I liked it somewhat more than the similar Raipur Classic Spring Black Tea. Perhaps my palate has adjusted to these unique black teas.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of fresh kale, spinach, and collard greens accompanied by subtler scents of hay, tree bark, fern fronds, and nuts. After infusion, I picked up a slightly stronger nut aroma as well as an emerging herbal aroma. In the mouth, I found surprisingly delicate, yet complex and well-layered notes of damp grass, cooked greens, hay, herbs, earth, wet stones, moss, tree bark, wood, and cucumber balanced by hints of minerals, malt, and roasted nuts. The finish was smooth, yet fleeting, briefly offering lingering impressions of herbs, cooked greens, and wood.

For me, this was like the greenest black tea ever, but I really liked it for whatever reason. I cannot explain why, but it was a very satisfying tea for me. That most likely had something to do with the fact that it was so oddly vegetal and woody that it stood apart from just about every other black tea I have tried to this point. While it had a few things in common with the Wah and Raipur Estate black teas I tried recently, I still would not mistake it for either of those two. This was just an exceptionally unique tea. If you, like me, do not mind the idea of a black tea being almost as vegetal as a green tea, then you may very well enjoy this one.

Flavors: Bark, Cucumber, Earth, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Kale, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Roasted nuts, Spinach, Vegetal, Wet Rocks, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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93

Here is yet another black tea from Arunachal Pradesh. Produced from clonal Panitola A plants, this unique tea displayed a number of interesting traits that would make it perfect for someone wanting to move beyond the more typical Indian black teas. It definitely was one of the best black teas from Teabox that I have tried to this point.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced subtly toasty, malty, woody aromas. After infusion, I picked up aromas of peppermint, wintergreen, lavender, malt, toast, wood, orange blossom, and caramel. In the mouth, the entry was dominated by strong notes of wintergreen oil, peppermint, and lavender before softer, subtler notes of sandalwood, cream, toast, vanilla, orange blossom, and roasted almond appeared. There was a hint of caramel just before the finish as well. The finish, itself, was mild and smooth, offering a nice mix of vanilla, cream, malt, and roasted almond impressions balanced by a touch of wintergreen oil.

Though this was not the most complex Indian black tea I have ever tried, the mix of aromas and flavors displayed by this tea was very unique, and more importantly, everything worked together harmoniously. At times, this tea reminded me a little of some of the quirkier Assams I have tried, yet it still managed to consistently stand apart from them. I would definitely recommend this tea to anyone looking for a flavorful, yet accessible black tea with a fresh combination of aromas and flavors.

Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Cream, Herbs, Lavender, Malt, Orange Blossom, Peppermint, Toast, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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79

I am still trying to get used to these Kangra black teas. They are just so green and vegetal compared to every other type of black tea I have ever tried. Compared to the last Kangra black tea I tried, this one was much greener. I found it to be an interesting tea, but perhaps not one I would want to drink regularly.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any subsequent infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted pleasantly earthy, woody, vegetal aromas. After infusion, I found aromas of cooked greens, wood, toast, malt, grass, and damp hay. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of cooked collard greens, kale, spinach, damp grass, damp hay, earth, malt, toast, spring honey, tree bark, peanut, herbs, and fresh, raw tree nuts (almond, walnut, and beechnut). The finish was initially vegetal and grassy, but soon gave way to smooth malt and nut notes.

An interesting and extremely unique black tea, this certainly provided me with a new drinking experience. Prior to trying this tea, I would never have imagined that any sort of orthodox black tea could be so vegetal on the nose and in the mouth. Even compared to some of the greener first flush Darjeelings on the market, this tea was unbelievably green and vegetal. While I would not make this a regular tea, I did enjoy it. It perplexed me, but ultimately, it was very rewarding. I think this tea would be great for those moments when something different is required, and I also think it would work well as a way of easing green tea drinkers into the joys of Indian black tea.

Flavors: Almond, Bark, Earth, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Kale, Malt, Nutty, Peanut, Spinach, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Perplexing is the perfect word to describe that twilight zone of black teas having green taste and characteristics.

eastkyteaguy

Yeah, definitely. I’ve tried three of these Kangra black teas so far, and they’ve all been weird. Good, but weird. When I opened the sample pouch of this tea, I first thought there had been some sort of mistake. I thought they had accidentally packed a green tea into it, but apparently, Kangra tea estates just produce super earthy, vegetal black teas. I’d be willing to bet the oxidation level on many of these is very low compared to other black teas.

Evol Ving Ness

I’ll keep that in mind. It is not often something that I am in the mood for.

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82

As anyone who reads my reviews likely knows, I am not the hugest fan of Nilgiri teas, yet I continue trying them anyway. I find that those rare teas that bring something new and/or different to the table always delight me, even though the more traditionally styled teas tend to bore me. This tea was a more traditional Nilgiri tea, perhaps slightly more vegetal than some, but a more traditionally styled tea nonetheless.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any further infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced vegetal, malty, woody aromas. After infusion, I found aromas of caramel, malt, wood, orange, herbs, and sorghum molasses. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of malt, cream, orange, toast, wood, sorghum molasses, caramel, and subtle hints of violet, rose, kale, lettuce, collard greens, and herbs. The finish was mild and smooth with lingering herbal, vegetal touches alongside traces of caramel, malt, cream, and flowers.

This was not a bad tea, but being a more traditionally styled winter flush Nilgiri black tea, it was not really my thing. Overall, the tea was flavorful and well-balanced. As stated earlier, it was more vegetal than anticipated. I could see fans of Nilgiri black teas being into this one.

Flavors: Caramel, Cream, Herbs, Kale, Lettuce, Malt, Molasses, Orange, Rose, Toast, Vegetal, Violet, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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83

Continuing the plow-through of Indian black teas, we come to this high-grown Assamica from Arunachal Pradesh. Teas from this state do not seem to be as widely known in the West as those from Assam, Darjeeling, and the Nilgiris, but the estates of Arunachal Pradesh are beginning to develop a reputation for producing some quality teas. This one I found to be interesting, though I think I would prefer a more orthodox Assamica in most instances.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced aromas of cream, malt, and wood. After infusion, I detected a potent blend of cream, malt, raisin, caramel, toast, wood, and molasses aromas. Teabox kept insisting there was a date-like scent in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. In the mouth, the liquor offered pronounced, vigorous notes of malt, cream, brown toast, wood, caramel, molasses, sweet orange, honey, date, and raisin that eventually revealed traces of hazelnut, vanilla, and roasted chestnut. The finish was moderately astringent and displayed lingering touches of malt, toast, and cream balanced by honey and nut flavors.

This was a very nice tea. I appreciated how flavorful it was, but at the same time, I also found its flavors to be a bit heavy-handed and overly exuberant, even for an Assamica. If nutty, malty teas or big, powerful aromas and flavors are your thing, then this tea will most likely be up your alley, but if you are the sort of person who enjoys a little more refinement, subtlety, and balance in your brews, then this may be just a tad much for you. I kind of fall somewhere between those two extremes, and personally, I enjoyed this tea, but ultimately felt that there were other Assamicas I would consistently reach for over this one.

Flavors: Astringent, Brown Toast, Caramel, Chestnut, Cream, Dates, Hazelnut, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Orange, Raisins, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

Longview Estate is situated at a lower elevation than many other Darjeeling tea estates and is generally known for producing orthodox black teas. Compared to many of the estates with which it competes directly, Longview Estate seems to be less renowned. Prior to trying this tea, I had tried a 2016 first flush black tea from Longview Estate and I found it to be pretty decent, but nothing truly exceptional. I was expecting the same of this tea, but instead was blown away. For a tea marketed at a lower price point than many other first flush Darjeelings, this was a total steal.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced grassy, vegetal, floral aromas. After infusion, I detected clearly defined aromas of grass, fennel, coriander, malt, Muscatel, apricot, and flowers (rose and marigold). In the mouth, I found flavors of grass, hay, coriander, fennel, and malt which gave way to slight notes of apricot, Muscatel, lemon zest, rose, dandelion, marigold, and toasted grain. The finish was short and mellow, offering lingering impressions of flowers, malt, lemon zest, and toasted grain.

Mild, mellow, and not as overtly flavorful or complex as some other first flush Darjeelings I have tried, I still ended up really liking this tea nonetheless. I had to dig to uncover its quirks and subtleties, but what I found was extremely pleasing. Even had I not opted to do what I always do and go overboard in my scent and flavor analyses, I would have still found just enough to sustain my interest. If you do not mind a somewhat grainier, more vegetal first flush tea, I would recommend this as an introduction to first flush Darjeelings and/or as a high quality daily drinker suitable for late morning or early afternoon sipping.

Flavors: Apricot, Coriander, Dandelion, Fennel, Floral, Grain, Grass, Hay, Lemon Zest, Malt, Muscatel, Rose

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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92

Not being familiar with many Kangra teas, I decided to go ahead and review this sample from the Wah Estate. I love exploring black teas from different estates in each of India’s tea producing regions, so I could not resist the urge to try this tea. I found it to be unique and somewhat earthier and a little more vegetal than expected. Apparently, the earthy and vegetal characteristics are trademarks of many Kangra black teas.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of earth and wood. After infusion, I picked up aromas of earth, malt, butter, toast, wood, and roasted almond. In the mouth, the liquor expressed a unique blend of roasted almond, toast, hay, earth, straw, malt, butter, and cream notes which quickly gave way to fleeting impressions of apple, yellow plum, golden raisin, lemon zest, lemongrass, violet, dandelion, and rose. The finish was very smooth and pleasant, featuring a nice mix of lingering roasted almond, hay, straw, and wood notes balanced by faint traces of butter, dandelion, yellow plum, and golden raisin.

Fortunately, this tea did not end up being super vegetal on the palate. The combination of fruit and flower notes made for an absolutely delightful surprise. Overall, this was a mostly earthy, nutty, malty, savory kind of black tea that offered very well-integrated, refined aromas and flavors. For me, it made an excellent introduction to Kangra black teas and made me want to try more in the very near future. I would recommend it highly to anyone looking for something exotic that is not too out there and/or an introduction to Kangra black teas.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Butter, Cream, Dandelion, Earth, Hay, Lemon Zest, Lemongrass, Malt, Plums, Raisins, Rose, Straw, Toast, Violet, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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94

Yet another sample from Teabox that I finished within the past couple of weeks and did not promptly review, this particular tea hails from the Lopchu Estate. Among the Darjeeling tea estates, Lopchu is one of the more consistently revered, producing teas that are generally known for their woodiness, smokiness, and unique fruity tones. Though this particular tea was not the highest grade among the Lopchu teas I have tried this year, it produced a truly exceptional cup.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced pronounced aromas of wood, earth, and cherry. After infusion, I found a mixture of dark wood, blackberry, black cherry, elderberry, brown toast, earth, damp hay, and malt aromas. In the mouth, I picked up a unique mix of herb, hay, brown toast, roasted chestnut, malt, black cherry, stewed apricot, Muscatel, raisin, brown sugar, blackberry, and elderberry notes balanced by touches of earth, smoke, and dark wood. The finish offered lingering black cherry, elderberry, and blackberry notes underscored by subtle malt, brown toast, smoke, roasted chestnut, and herbal impressions.

Even though I have not had a tremendous number of teas from the Lopchu Estate, I have never been disappointed by any of the Lopchu teas I have tried. Each has been very unique and complex, striking me as standing apart from virtually every other Darjeeling available. This tea was certainly no exception. I adored the dark fruit aromas and flavors it showcased. They blended beautifully with the other aromas and flavors displayed by this tea. Definitely check this one out if you are looking for a unique, sophisticated Darjeeling that entices and mesmerizes just as much as it challenges.

Flavors: Apricot, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Cherry, Chestnut, Dark Wood, Earth, Fruity, Hay, Herbs, Malt, Muscatel, Raisins, Smoke

Preparation
6 min, 30 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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92

I am still trying to clean out my backlog. I have consumed so many samples from Teabox over the past 2 1/2 weeks that it is ridiculous. I haven’t counted in a while, but I kind of doubt I am any closer to catching up on my reviews than I was a week ago. At some point in the very near future, I will probably just take a day and post reviews. Until then, I will be posting one or two new reviews each day. So, with that in mind, allow me to get started on that. I finished a sample of this tea a couple weeks ago. It greatly impressed me, and I’m not one who is easily impressed by Nilgiri teas.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced mild aromas of eucalyptus, wintergreen, wood, and flowers. After infusion, I caught scents of fresh flowers, white grape, cucumber, butter, wood, watermelon, and wintergreen. In the mouth, I found an interesting and surprisingly complex, harmonious mixture of thyme, eucalyptus, wintergreen, cucumber, wood, fresh flower (lily), honeydew, watermelon, sweet basil, malt, toast, cream, tree bark, and white grape notes. The finish was very smooth, offering lingering impressions of melon rind, lily, malt, cucumber, eucalyptus, and wintergreen.

This was an incredibly nice Nilgiri black tea. It was totally not what I normally expect of Nilgiri teas. Incredibly complex, smooth, and challenging in a good way, this would be a perfect tea for someone looking to move beyond the typical, widely available Nilgiri black teas. Prior to trying this tea, I was aware that the Glendale Estate had a great reputation among Nilgiri tea enthusiasts, and now I understand why. Definitely try this if you are at all interested in the black teas that are coming out of South India.

Flavors: Bark, Butter, Cream, Cucumber, Eucalyptus, Floral, Herbs, Honeydew, Malt, Melon, Thyme, Toast, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
S.G. Sanders

I’ve given up working through the backlog. I just try to get to what I drink within a week….If I fail at that, I tend to forget to do it. >.<

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95

A really wonderful oolong, one of my very favorites. The taste is complex and hard to pin down in just a few adjectives. I get notes of wood, clay, the slight bitterness of apple skins, the warm summer taste of dried hay… it’s all just rich and round and I love it a lot.

The steeped tea is a reddish amber, with scents of roasted nuts, fresh baked bread, autumn leaves, and sugar.

Flavors: Apple Skins, Clay, Hay, Wood

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80

A light, mild darjeeling, with the typical muscatel but no astringency of darjeelings. There’s a slight smoky flavor, like grilled bell peppers or grilled zucchini, that makes it a great tea for autumn afternoons.

The steeped tea is a reddish amber. Its scent is like an autumn leaf pile, with woody notes.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Green Bell Peppers, Grilled Food, Muscatel

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91

Here we have yet another sample from Teabox. Prior to trying this tea, I had never tried a second flush tea from the Goomtee Estate. I had one of their first flush teas earlier in the year and was not particularly wowed, but as I tend to like second flush Darjeelings a little more than first flush Darjeelings, I figured this tea may be more up my alley. As it turned out, I was right about that. This was a very nice second flush Darjeeling.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any subsequent infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced woody, toasty aromas with a hint of fruitiness. After infusion, I detected a mix burnt wood, plum, Muscatel, toast, herb, and rose aromas underscored by a hint of something like chocolate. In the mouth, the liquor produced flavors of roasted nuts (almond and chestnut), burnt wood, toast, malt, cream, chocolate, herbs, raisin, plum, Muscatel, dandelion, violet, and rose. The finish was light, pleasant, and smooth, offering lingering traces of malt, toast, cream, roasted nut, and Muscatel flavors backed by faint impressions of herbs and chocolate.

Although this second flush Darjeeling black tea was not quite as heavy on the Muscatel aromas and flavors as some others, it had a lot to offer. All of its aroma and flavor components worked well together, it had nice body and texture in the mouth, and fortunately, I did not find it to be all that astringent. Overall, this was a very elegant tea, and compared to some of Teabox’s other second flush offerings, it was very reasonably priced. Price point to value, it actually had more to offer than some of Teabox’s higher end second flush teas from the same region. All in all, I cannot find anything all that negative to say about this tea. I would recommend it highly to anyone with an interest in second flush Darjeelings or Indian black teas in general.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cream, Dandelion, Floral, Herbs, Malt, Muscatel, Plums, Raisins, Roasted nuts, Rose, Toast, Violet, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

A typical darjeeling. Has that pleasant deep rich flavor without the astringency of lesser black teas. There’s a slight bitterness, similar to some leafy greens like arugula or dandelion. A good tea for everyday drinking.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Escarole, Muscatel

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