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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown for National Compliment Day!
It’s National Compliment Day, and I’m giving this beautiful tea a huge shout out. It embodies so many of the things that I adore from the teas from Nepal. There is a muscatal note along with sweet hay. It’s light and clean with the slightest hint of mineral at the end of the sip. I’m a big fan of muscadine notes in tea. I know Darjeeling teas are best known for that flavor, but I feel like so many teas from Nepal showcase it beautifully. This tea is no exception. In fact, it does it to near perfection. The muscatal note is present without having an artificial grape flavor or a wine-y taste. This is a total win in my book.
I would love to pick up more of this at some point. Unfortunately Upton only sells this in 100g or larger quantities, and while I truly love this tea I’m just not in the market for 100+ grams of any tea. * sigh *
Work tea #2
This is from yesterday. I picked up a sample when I placed a small Upton order a few months ago. On a whim I took it to work with me, and I regretted my decision. This is so good. I wanted to sit and enjoy it, but we had a full day of patients waiting to be seen. What I can say about this tea is that it has a silky mouth feel. There are muscatal and apricot notes followed by a mineral finish. It reminded me of why I love so many teas from Nepal.
I think I’ll go to work tomorrow and get the rest of the sample so that I can enjoy it over the holiday weekend. Or maybe I’ll sleep in and stay in my pj’s all day. Who knows?
I brewed this nice and strong this morning, it’s an almost sipdown, I think I have about a tsp left. This does make a bold cup of Assam, coppery, astringent, and just a hint of a bitter aftertaste. It’s not very complex or malty, but it is a fair example of an Assam. Don’t think I need any more of this, but it was ok while sipping down.
Flavors: Astringent, Metallic
Took two teaspoons for my 300 ml cup. Steeped for 5 minutes.
Baked bread notes were first notes I have noted. Then malty, dried fruits. Woody in the end. All together quite works well, enjoyable. Mild, even the steep was quite long.
I liked it, as it was quite strong and brisk. Woody aftertaste wasn’t a troublesome, instead it was like somehow expected flavour. Again, I haven’t noticed any soy sauce in this.
I still have something left, I think it will be around 1 tsp, which I may try gong-fu (where is my new gaiwan!?) I think it is bit behind the What-cha offer, but still pretty great, especially for the age.
Thank you derk and White Antlers.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Dried Fruit, Malt, Wood
Another tea I received from derk, but it is from White Antlers. Thank you both!
I was confused about the aroma of this tea. I have exppected some pu-erh chocolatey notes, but it is indeed rather on tobacco side as derk said. It is even bit cinnamony and raisins, which is indeed weird while it contains only black tea and cocoa.
While brewed, I had it actually pretty much same as previous rater. Yep, aiming for 4 minutes, but actually 6.
The tate was pretty much medicore bold black tea while sipping quite hot, but as it cools down, the flavours started to be interesting.
At first, I wasn’t sure if it is cocoa as it was quite raisin and maybe cherries. But as I said, it was cooling donw and when it was lukewarm I get the cocoa notes! I have expected some stronger notes and mostly I imagined it will be bit more like hot chocolate, but it isn’t that sweet and cloying hot chocolate. Maybe you think I think it is dismal for me, but actually it isn’t. I am glad it is not like that, as bar of chocolate isn’t always dominantly chocolate but good chocolate is having different flavours too. Even that cherry seems good for me.
Seems bit pricey though!
Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Raisins, Tobacco
The dry tea smells so berry-vanilla(?) syrupy sweet and medicinal that it frightened me. Delay no more, I brewed it up last night and again this morning. The steam smells the same with a metallic iron addition from the hibiscus. The taste is very tart with hibiscus, some iron. Berry tastes swirl around in the magenta brew, notably the concentrated syrupy taste of elderberries with some blueberry and also strawberry, which is not in the tea but maybe as a flavoring? I do not taste grapes, which are in the blend and noted by Martin. The berry notes linger after the swallow. I feel like it’s a bit cooling with a throat-opening quality beyond the hibiscus bite. Good for one steep, maybe 2 if you shorten the initial steep time but the second brew comes out very pale and much weaker tasting in comparison.
This is definitely not for those with a distaste for hibiscus. I find it enjoyable, though, and am happy that it passed from White Antlers’ cupboard to mine. It’s one of the better berry-hibiscus brews I’ve had.
Flavors: Berries, Biting, Blueberry, Hibiscus, Medicinal, Metallic, Strawberry, Tart, Vanilla
Uh oh, this is tart. In aroma of loose pieces. I notice mostly hibiscus, and never noticed it that much as in this one. Mastress Alita, something for you maybe? Let’s see.
It brews, after 8 minutes steep, dark red colour. It brings memories of cheap and fruit teas from my childhood, on summer camps, at my grandma’s flat, even at home back (now) and then.
Back to the tea. Aroma is as well tart. Much less luckily and I note grapes. Surpringly sips aren’t tart, it is rather quite juicy and enjoyable. It’s quite simple drink, I believe making it iced would be great.
Good one… for evenings. Bit too tart for my taste.
Managed to write few more pages on the thesis. Mostly I managed to make one page with images with subcaptions! Happy with the progress today.
Tasting note 800? How?
Flavors: Grapes, Tart
This must be a revamp of an earlier reviewed tea as this one clearly includes natural flavors and not artificial ones. Needless to say I really enjoyed this tea. I was first struck by the luxurious smell of tropical fruit amongst the chai spices. A gander at the contents of the sample revealed nice long pieces of coconut amongst an almost potpourri of a chai - just what I like in a good chai.
One taste of the tea confirmed two things to me: I’d
1. I probably under-dosed the steeping basket (my husband had heard me puttering around the kitchen and asked if he could cadge a cup along with me- I quickly added more chai and water to the teapot). It could be stronger but that’s probably my fault and not the teas. Upton’s so good about giving exact directions/suggestions for steeping. Oh well, try again I guess.
2. I knew I wanted to order a full bag of this stuff. Even under-steeped I knew this was a really nice chai - a really nice departure from the usual chais. Our go-to chai, is the Bollywood Chai from Reluctant Traders (a tea I have yet to review here —my bad-) which I’d purchased because of raves and because RT does such powerful work sourcing direct from growers and working towards equity and real fair trade). It’s just a solid classical chai. But it’s nice to have a few chais to reach for and a tropical chai with fruit is the tea I didn’t know I needed (or wanted).
Flavors: Butterscotch, Caramel, Cinnamon, Coconut
Got this as a sample from Upton Tea Imports. Made for a nice stiff cup of tea in the morning. Just what I was looking for. Managed to get a second steeping. Very fine with a little cream and honey. Now I just have to rustle up a good scone to go with it the next time. And yes, I will definitely be ordering this from them again.
Flavors: Malt, Molasses
Plowing through the teas from White Antlers. This order was ‘Processed on 11/2015’ so it’s at least 5 years old.
The dry leaf is aromatic and smells of orchid and burnt, roasted peach. Prepared close to the directions on the bag which called for 1+tsp, 212F, 4-5min. One+ teaspoon for me ended up being 3g, so I went for my usual 1g:100mL and brewed the tea in 300mL of water off the boil for 4min.
Wow, that is strong! I can’t imagine brewing 1+ tsp for a standard 6oz cup for 5 minutes. Wow, bitter and tannic! Let it cool for a bit. Strong aroma of orchid, malt, complex dried fruitiness like cherry-peach-muscatel; wood, soy sauce, soft cinnamon. The taste is bitter, brisk, biting and tangy with malt, rosewood, oak wood, walnut skin, autumn leaf, mild earth. Finishes a touch umami with complex… long-lingering… slightly perfumey… aromatic tastes of orchid and bitter lavender, muscatel and buttery dried orchard fruits — blackberry, cherry, peach and apple; a hint of soft cinnamon. Second steep is much lighter and lemony!
I recently had a sample of What-Cha’s summer 2019 Benifuuki black tea from Martin Bednar. In comparison, this one hasn’t lost a step in it’s 5+ years of existence. It’s just as strong in presentation and a very unique tea, though too much for me. That said, I wouldn’t search this out but I do recommend it to experienced people who are comfortable with bitterness and playing with brewing parameters. I have another ~3g left and don’t know if I can be fussed to bring this closer to perfection.
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Biting, Bitter, Blackberry, Burnt, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Lavender, Lemon, Malt, Muscatel, Oak wood, Orchid, Peach, Perfume, Roasted, Rose, Soy sauce, Stonefruits, Tangy, Tannic, Umami, Walnut, Wood
Organic Colombian black tea with cacao husks and nibs brought to my tea table by White Antlers. My first knowing taste of Colombian tea! All I drank in Colombia was coffee… very good coffee.
Dry, the blend smells of cocoa butter and raisin-tobacco. The steeping time range given by Upton says 4-6 minutes; I was aiming for 4 but ended up at 6. The liquor is a dark amber-red color with a chocolate aroma filled out by a complex fruity midtone.
The liquor is very full-bodied, very fruity taste almost like cherry-orange-raisin and tobacco with some rose. The influence of the cacao isn’t so evident but I feel it provides some grounding to the fruity brightness and a unique sweetness to the tea. In general, the flavors beyond the fruitiness are subtle and in a good way. The same fruit taste lingers with wood in the aftertaste.
There is some neat, seamless texture transition going on. It starts like a thick ball on the sip to midmouth where it turns brisk, finally leaving the palate clean and tingly with oily lubrication.
One thing that threw me was sometimes a soapy taste. It could have been the result of the oils in the cacao going rancid but I think this is a relatively fresh tea. Or maybe the temperature was too high and steep time too long. Regardless, I wish I didn’t save only a sample of this approachable tea for myself before dispersing the rest of the bag across the world.
Song pairing: Queens of the Stone Age — Mosquito Song
This was a perfectly serviceable tea that I bought a small sample of. It tasted fine, but did not make any sort of strong impression on me, aside from noting that it smelled rather “dark” in my mind. It was strong enough to brew three cups from the leaves and have the third cup only taste slightly week, but overall, I didn’t find it particularly chocolatey or otherwise noteworthy.
Way past time for me to try my little unopened sample packet. When I originally added it to the shopping cart, I reasoned that although fannings are “what they sweep up off the floor,” fannings from a really quality congou would have to be better than brand name grocery store tea bags.
I was right. (I don’t get to say that very often.) Even after 2+ years of storage, these make a decent morning cuppa with some faint aftertaste hints of toast and cocoa.
Of course, now I can’t find them on the Upton website … that’s what I get for hoarding.
Cocoa aroma. Toasty cocoa taste and honeysuckle-sweet with notes of steamed milk, earth and grass. It was thick and flavorful though bizarrely unbalanced for the first few steeps. It promptly waltzed right off the cliff with the third infusion. What a tragedy. Don’t be tempted to look.
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Grass, Honeysuckle, Milk, Toasted
I was delighted to share this with my grandmother today. She is a very picky British (has never actually lived in England) woman who is particular about which teas she likes. She almost always drinks straight black teas. She read something about teabags containing harmful micro plastics and now she doesn’t want to drink any tea bags. The problem is that she is not computer savvy and doesn’t like to buy anything online, but is trying not to be in stores right now.
I can say this blend has passed the “picky grandmother” test! She liked it so much she actually let me give her the rest of my sample pouch (I believe this is from a previous TTB). Norm,ally she will not let me leave until I agree to take every bit of food I brought with me + all of the leftovers and a bunch of things from her pantry that she thinks I will like. xD She expresses love be feeding us. Anyway, she seems happy to be able to drink this for a while since she has been a bit limited in her black tea options. I don’t drink a lot of breakfast teas, but it fills me with love that I could share this one with her.
We steeped it quite strong (2 tsp for ~8 minutes, boiling water, ~400 mL teapot) and it was a bit too strong for me plain so I added some soy milk (she took hers with milk, as usual). It is strong/lots of tannin (steeps a deep orange colour), rich, thick. Delicious. If you like strong teas, this one is a good choice for you.
Flavors: Tannin, Thick