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Recent Tasting Notes

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 looking for 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 the other 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 this tea 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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79

This was different. A first flush Darjeeling made from low grown Assamica bushes is not something you see every day. Knowing how atypical this tea was for the region, I knew I could not expect it to be exactly like many of the other Darjeelings I enjoy so much. Unfortunately, there was not really anything to which I could compare it. I guess I can only say that I found this tea enjoyable, but I think I favor the classic first flush Darjeelings over it.

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

Prior to infusion, I detected aromas of grass and nuts coming from the dry leaf material. After infusion, I picked up on a mixture of grass, malt, wood, roasted nuts, herbs, and malt. In the mouth, I found notes of grass, lightly roasted almond, wood, malt, hay, cream, wintergreen, menthol, dandelion, marigold, and rose with some subtle Muscatel character in the background. The finish was nutty, malty, and for me, surprisingly dry. Beneath the lingering malt and roasted almond notes I could still find traces of wintergreen, menthol, grass, and hay.

This was not a bad first flush tea, but I do have to concede that I have had better. The fact that it diverged so much from the traits of many classic first flush Darjeelings worked both to its benefit and detriment. On the one hand, it was a unique tea and it was certainly memorable, but on the other, it lacked the appealing fruitiness and extremely pronounced floral character of other first flush teas from the region. For me, this tea was something for which I would have to be in the mood. It definitely would not be an everyday tea. In the end, I found this tea to be rock solid and worth a try, but unless you are the sort of person who goes looking for mostly nutty, malty, grassy, and herbal first flush Darjeelings, I kind of doubt this will be one of your favorites.

Flavors: Almond, Cream, Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Hay, Malt, Menthol, Muscatel, Rose, Wood

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

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90

Yet another of the black tea samples I recently finished, this was another very nice second flush Darjeeling. Teas like this remind me that I tend to like second flush Darjeelings with a heavier Muscatel component more than some of the others which tend toward nuttier, maltier, woodier, and/or more herbal aromas and flavors. Though this tea was slightly simpler than a few of the other second flush Darjeelings I have tried this year, it was very nicely balanced and displayed a superbly integrated set of aromas and flavors.

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 predominantly nutty, woody aromas. After infusion, I began to catch a prominent Muscatel aroma coupled with touches of malt and ripe plums. The bouquet was simplistic, but appealing. In the mouth, I found well-balanced notes of wood, malt, cream, roasted grain, roasted nuts, brown sugar, raisin, moist earth, and Muscatel underscored by grass, herb, and peach notes. Teabox’s tasting note suggested that there were date notes present in this tea, but what I found was more like peach. The finish was slightly astringent, but offered nice lingering touches of earth, wood, Muscatel, raisin, herbs, and roasted grain.

A truly nice second flush black tea that offered pretty much all of the aromas and flavors one would expect of a tea of this style, I could see this being the sort of tea that would satisfy new and experienced Darjeeling drinkers alike. I really liked how balanced this tea came across as being. There wasn’t anything that seemed out of place or out of focus. I would recommend this tea highly to anyone looking for a quality second flush Darjeeling with a clearly defined Muscatel presence.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cream, Earth, Grain, Grass, Herbs, Malt, Muscatel, Peach, Plums, Raisins, Roasted nuts, Toast, Wood

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

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81

Another of the Teabox second flush Darjeeling samples I recently finished, I found this one to be rather unique. It struck me as being woodier and more vegetal than many other second flush Darjeelings I have tried. As a matter of fact, I found it difficult to rate because of how different it was.

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 wood, earth, and roasted grain. After infusion, I picked up emerging scents of cream, roasted nuts, and malt. The scent of the liquor was almost totally devoid of any sort of fruitiness, which was very odd for a second flush Darjeeling. I could pick up a subtle plum-like fragrance, but otherwise, this was grainy, woody, malty, and earthy all the way. In the mouth, I picked up an interesting combination of moist earth, wood, raisin, caramel, green bean, roasted grain, grass, plum, herb, and field green notes balanced by touches of Muscatel, violet, dandelion, rose, roasted nuts (mostly black walnut with a touch of almond), and leather. The finish was subtly astringent and somewhat thin, leaving fleeting impressions of grass, caramel, green beans, malt, toast, field greens, herbs, plums, and flowers.

This was a very complex tea, but it also diverged from the classic traits of the style to the point that it was difficult for me to evaluate. Overall, it was very well made, thoughtfully processed from a high quality picking. I just kind of wished the finish had displayed greater longevity and the body had been a bit fuller in order to better support the barrage of flavors the tea offered.

Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Cream, Dandelion, Earth, Grain, Grass, Green Beans, Herbs, Leather, Malt, Muscatel, Plums, Raisins, Rose, Vegetal, Violet, Walnut, Wood

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

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91

You know you have a lot of work to do when you look into your tea notebook and realize that you have 20+ unposted reviews. I do not recall drinking that much tea recently, but I was mowing down sample pouches at a ridiculous rate there for a while. For the most part, I found the samples I received from Teabox to be very hit or miss overall, though I must concede that I had more hits than misses. This was one of the teas I tried that I adored.

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.

The dry leaf material emitted herbal, fruity aromas. After infusion, I detected aromas of peach, malt, toast, wood, and of course, the trademark Castleton Muscatel. On the palate, I noted robust, expressive flavors of Muscatel, raisin, herbs, peach, toast, plum, pear, malt, wood, straw, and flowers (dandelion, marigold, viola). I also noted traces of roasted nuts (almond and walnut) and orange zest lurking in the background. The finish was somewhat astringent, offering lingering touches of Muscatel, straw, malt, herbs, wood, flowers, and roasted nuts.

Compared to the two other Teabox second flush Darjeelings I recently reviewed, this was more what I think of when I think of this type of tea. It should come as no surprise that I enjoyed it more than the other two and found it more memorable overall (I should also note that I am a huge fan of the teas produced by the Castleton Estate). If you like second flush Darjeelings with a very clearly defined Muscatel character, then this would likely be a tea for you.

Flavors: Almond, Dandelion, Floral, Herbs, Malt, Muscatel, Orange Zest, Peach, Pear, Plums, Raisins, Straw, Toast, Walnut, Wood

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

I do like heavy muscatel, might have to try this one.

eastkyteaguy

Rasseru, I would say it’s less heavy than just pronounced within the context of the other notes the tea offers. I think it’s a very good second flush Darjeeling, maybe even the best I’ve had so far this season.

Rasseru

How malty or woodsy is it? That’s the only thing puts me off too much 2nd flush.

eastkyteaguy

I thought it was decently malty and woodsy, but I found it to lean much more toward the fruity side of things.

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54

Before I begin digging into this chai, allow me to state that, for the record, I have never been the hugest fan of chai blends. I used to actively hate the stuff, but an Indian restaurant in my hometown and exposure to a few solid blends changed that last year. I’m still not the hugest fan, however, and it is not something I aspire to drink often. I guess I’m still trying to find that one blend that gets everything right for me. Unfortunately, this one was not it.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of this chai blend in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I attempted no additional infusions. I first tried the infused liquor neat and then with additions of milk and honey.

Prior to infusion, this blend emitted strong aromas of malt, cardamom, ginger, and saffron underscored by touches of nutmeg. The infused liquor displayed all of the above plus touches of wood, brown toast, caramel, and molasses. In the mouth, this blend was biting, astringent, and quick to turn bitter. Notes of malt, cream, brown toast, wood, roasted walnut, caramel, and molasses from the CTC Assam base gave way to strident notes of cardamom, ginger, and saffron underscored by a somewhat gentler nutmeg presence. The finish was similarly biting and astringent with lingering maltiness, nuttiness, and touches of molasses balancing a more integrated spice attack. Typical of chai blends, this was definitely not meant for drinking neat.

With milk, this blend was a rather different beast. The astringency was tamed. Cream, malt, caramel, and roasted walnut rose to the fore while the saffron somewhat faded to offer a greater opportunity for the nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom to shine. I generally take my chai with milk and a touch of honey, but this was not bad with only milk. Still, I felt like the spice aromas and flavors were a little too toned down (to be clear, it was not like I added a ton of milk) and that the blend had lost a little too much of its previously ferocious bite.

With both milk and a touch of honey, I felt that this blend lost all focus. It became a bit too sweet, the saffron and ginger once again popped just a little too much, and the finish turned muddy. Of the three preparations, this one was perhaps my least favorite.

In the end, I was not really sure about this chai. No matter how much I played around with it, I could not quite get it to where I wanted it to be. To be fair though, it was a pretty simplistic blend, so I’m not surprised that it was hard for me to dial it in with additives. Perhaps an additional spice or two would have allowed for the retention of greater depth and complexity once additivies came into play. I think something like cinnamon, black pepper, and/or bay leaf could have worked wonders in this blend. As it stands, I’m glad I tried this chai, but I doubt I would order it again.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Brown Toast, Caramel, Cardamon, Cream, Ginger, Malt, Molasses, Nutmeg, Roasted nuts, Saffron, Wood

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

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70

Oh man, my backlog has grown exponentially since I received my order from Teabox. I have been mowing down Darjeeling samples at an unbelievable rate ever since. Naturally, I am now making an effort to start catching back up on my reviews. I think this was one of the free samples I received with my order. I’ve never been huge on teas from the Mim Estate since they always strike me as being a little too vegetal, but then again, I had only tried one prior to this one. Unfortunately, it did not change my opinion.

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

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas that were somewhat floral, herbal, and vegetal. After infusion, I detected aromas of mango, wood, grass, hay, fennel, and Muscatel. In the mouth, there were notes of malt, toast, grass, hay, lemongrass, fennel, kale, and collard greens balanced by notes of fresh flowers, wood, mango, apricot, peach, Muscatel, and smoke. The finish was clean and vegetal, offering lingering flavors of grass, hay, greens, wood, smoke, and malt.

This tea started off in an interesting manner, but quickly became a little too vegetal for my liking. It wasn’t bad, but I did not find it all that appealing. I have no doubt that some people may really like this tea. I just do not think that I am one of them. To me, this was just pretty good and nothing more.

Flavors: Apricot, Fennel, Flowers, Grass, Green, Hay, Kale, Lemongrass, Malt, Mango, Muscatel, Peach, Smoke, Toast, Vegetal

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

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61

Yet another of the black tea samples from Teabox that I recently finished, this was listed as being a basic second flush Darjeeling suitable for beginners. I ended up buying it solely because I was impressed with the 2016 Turzum First Flush Darjeeling offered by Harney & Sons and because I wondered how a second flush tea from this estate would stack up to some of the others I have tried. I found it to be somewhat more complex than advertised, but honestly, it was a little too mellow for my taste.

As usual, I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped somewhere in the neighborhood of 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 revealed subtle aromas of malt, wood, and herbs. After infusion, I picked up a mix of wood, herbs, Muscatel, malt, cream, straw and orange blossom on the nose. I had to dig a bit, but I was ultimately able to come up with a relatively pleasant blend of toast, malt, wood, cream, smoke, roasted almond, orange blossom, butter, straw, herbs, and nutmeg in the mouth. The finish highlighted lingering notes of straw, roasted almond, wood, and herbs. I was also able to find very subtle hints of black cherry and candied ginger in the background. Oddly enough, I could not detect any definite Muscatel flavor in the mouth despite picking up the scent on the nose.

I have to say that I agree with Teabox’s assessment of this as a beginner’s tea, at least for the most part. I got substantially more out of it than they did, but I think the reason this is best viewed as a beginner’s tea is the lack of a Muscatel presence in the mouth. It may be the aroma and flavor component most synonymous with Darjeeling teas, but I have heard of many people who find it off-putting. Without that component, this just comes off as a mellow, gentle black tea. I didn’t really dislike it, and I think that it would work as an introduction to second flush Darjeelings, but to me, it was missing what makes these teas so unique and appealing.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cherry, Cream, Ginger, Herbs, Malt, Nutmeg, Orange Blossom, Smoke, Straw, Toast, Wood

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

It’s interesting because I have had turzum ‘muscatel dream’ and it was a really good second flush with strong obvious muscat grape aroma & nice balance. This was about 4-5 years ago and not seen it since.

Darjeeling name changes every year confuses me

eastkyteaguy

Rasseru, it seems that a lot of Darjeeling estates either give pickings different names from year to year or give different teas produced during the same flush different names each season. I have also noticed that certain estates tend to specialize in specific flushes or are perceived as producing better teas during certain flushes. I do not often see second flush Turzum teas-I have been operating under the assumption that their first flush teas are more highly regarded.

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