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Recent Tasting Notes
I found a never-before-opened tin of this that I somehow I missed logging in my cupboard.
I am adding Darjeelings to the list of teas I’m puzzled to have so many of. Like Lapsang, Chai and white tea, I honestly don’t think I need more than a couple of Darjeelings — perhaps one or two first flushes and one or two second flushes. I like it fine; I definitely like it better than most white teas (because I don’t get much flavor out of most white teas) and I probably like it better than Lapsang or at least I find it to have more versatile drinkability. It’s easier to drink than Chai, because it’s a straight steep rather than a recipe, and I have to be in the mood for Chai so there’s that.
But though I like it, it’s not my favorite black tea. I prefer Chinese black teas. or at least blends with them in it. So how did I end up with a gazillion Darjeelings?
OK, that was rhetorical. I know how I ended up with them. I bought them during the impulse-driven acquisitional phase that I’m still sipping down. I thought I was making some headway there until I found another tin I had to add into the cupboard. Ugh.
Sorry I’m being so loquacious this morning. I slept a really long time, comparatively, and still work up tired. I’m in one of those periods where the shit just keeps piling up. There’s tax day coming, my scanner stopped working for no good reason last night, and yesterday I walked out of work to the parking lot to find a crack in my windshield. I’m expecting one more thing to break because breaking things usually come in 3s, I have found. I’m also expecting something else to go wildly wrong because I’ve had a spate of things go wrong other than the breaking things.
No wonder I slept a long time. I’m stressed.
Anyway, I love the color of this tea’s dry leaves. They’re greener than most and they smell earthy.
The tea’s aroma has a sweet note to it that I find both unusual and pleasant. I don’t think I would have identified pineapple, but I do smell something fruity (I too got plum), and also something a tad bready, like a soft roll. The liquor is light colored, almost a peachy color.
The flavor is pretty smooth, which I’ve come to expect from first flush Darjeelings. But it has some bitterness in the finish that I don’t love and though it doesn’t waterlog me, it’s not highly flavorful either. The flavor it does have isn’t bad, but it doesn’t bowl me over.
I think of Margaret’s Hope second flush as the quintessential second flush Darjeeling. I haven’t had enough first flush Darjeelings to identify one as an examplar.
But what blows my mind is how different the two are from each other. This first flush is so mellow and gentle. Nothing sharp about it. The description says it has a balanced pungency, but I don’t find it pungent — or at least so far less pungent than some other Darjeelings that I wouldn’t think of that word to describe it.
I steeped according to the package directions, which is hotter than I’ve read is the temperature for first flush. This yielded a light honey-colored clear tea that smells like peach to me. The flavor is pleasantly nutty, grapey, and and stone fruity as well. I don’t really taste lime zest to the point where I could have identified it had I not read the description, but I think I know what the description is getting at. There’s a slight bitterness, not enough to be unpleasant, but reminiscent of citrus skin.
The tea is light bodied and it does produce in me a bit of that waterlogged feeling I get from first flush Darjeelings.
Flavors: Grapes, Nuts, Peach, Stonefruits
This is supposed to be one of the Nepal teas that should be similar to Darjeelings but without all the associated price premium. The tea is very light and floral. It has a winning brisk fragrance of grasses, spring flowers (tulips?) and some citrus peel zestiness.
The leaf is very much green and, while it is sold as SFTGFOP, it consists mostly of broken leaves with a fair amount of stems, while the tips are quite few and between. Truth in advertising, anyone?
With all that in mind, the taste is well-defined and not bad at all. Herbal, grassy, notes of dry white wine with bracing zest and pleasant bitterness. You need to be careful with it as it requires some steeping time to show the complexity but let it sit a bit longer and the bitterness will overwhelm everything. Despite being a South Asian tea it lends itself much better to the gong fu style preparation with its greater control over steeping times. I was content with 15-20 seconds infusions. Young sheng fans with a higher tolerance of bitterness can go longer than that since longer times definitely result in more fragrance and taste complexity. The aftertaste is long and, again, reminiscent of young raw puers but with the addition of floral notes.
In the end, this tea comes off as a lower grade offering from a good tea estate and, while not quite displaying a complex flavor of Darjeeling’s, still has an interesting aroma and a well-defined memorable taste. It is a solid buy for its price. Unfortunately, I tend to prefer more subtle and mellow tasting profile of Chinese teas and, while recognizing all the objectively good qualities of Himalayan Bliss, only very rarely feel the mood to drink it.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Floral, Herbaceous, White Wine
Brewed in my black Korean infuser cup, so I remain largely ignorant of the liquor’s appearance.
New car smell with some floral and dusty sugar notes.
Rich and potent (albeit somewhat generic) flavor, suggesting baking chocolate with hints of banana leaf and river stones in the finish. Vaguely malty. Low vegetal/camp-fire notes in the aftertaste along with a gentle astringency if not briskness if the infusion is pushed.
Medium-thick mouth-feel, but not oily.
A solid, robust, almost “muscular” Kandy offering – while I don’t favor most Ceylons as breakfast teas, I think this one would stand up to a drop of cream.
Sipdown no. 51 of 2018 (no. 407 total). Sample tin.
Given my lukewarm reception to this yesterday, I decided to go cold with it. (See what I did there?) Just enough in the tin to make a full pitcher (with a tad of River Shannon Breakfast Blend to round out the last spoon).
It’s steeping away in the fridge right now. We’ll see what that does — tomorrow.
P.S. Took the kids to see Ready Player One over the weekend. Enjoyed it. VERY different from the book.
This is the last of the sample tins of the darjeeling sampler. Its leaves are small, almost fine, and a big contrast to the makaibari of yesterday which had huge balled leaves that looked almost like an oolong and expanded to even more huge after steeping. They smell a little nutty, and a little like sweet grapes.
The liquor is very light in color. I’d call it golden, with a peach tinge. It’s clear and also has a sweet, fruity (apples? grapes) smell. There is only the tiniest hint of sharpness.
And while there’s no sharpness in the taste, there’s a bitterness that doesn’t send me. Its mostly in the end of the sip, and leaves its mark in the aftertaste. Not very pleasant in my view. It makes me want to have this with food.
That said, it doesn’t make me feel bloated or waterlogged the way other first flush darjeelings do, which is a plus.
It’s my least favorite of the samples in the sampler, though. Rating accordingly.
Flavors: Apple, Bitter, Grapes, Nuts, Sweet
In the tin this smells a little more like what I expect from a second flush darjeeling than the Jungpana of yesterday. It doesn’t have a strong winey sharpness, but it’s there. There’s a woody smell, but it’s more cedar than oak, and some earthiness as well.
The tea is a light amber color and clear. It smells similar to its dry leaves, except with a sweetness to it. I’m reminded of brown sugar.
The flavor isn’t as sharp as the aroma, and carries through the sweetness of the aroma. There’s a nuttiness that reminds me a bit of almonds.
It’s quite lovely.
Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Cedar, Muscatel, White Wine
This tea is fascinating in the best possible way.
I’ve never had a tea from this estate before. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of this estate before. I’m baffled as to why because if all of its harvests are like this one, I’d think it would have tons of fans.
In the tin, it looks and smells different than other second flush Darjeelings. It doesn’t have that very sharp, high note, that I associate with second flush Darjeelings. It’s smoother than others. The same is true of the steeped tea’s aroma. No sharp notes, a smooth, mouth watering smell. It does have some grapey-winey notes but with the edges filed off. There is also a touch of honey, and wood bark.
The flavor is very much like the aroma. The tea is pretty astringent, and leaves a fresh, soft feel in the mouth.
It strikes me as more like a first flush in its smoothness, but without the water logged feeling I sometimes get after drinking first flush Darjeelings.
I’m not a Darjeeling connoisseur but for me, this is really the best of all worlds.
Flavors: Bark, Grapes, Honey, White Wine, Wood
Scents and tasting notes that bring to mind bubblegum, fresh jasmine, and a nice tea base. Everything is well balanced and great, it has this refreshing quality that uplifts my mood. I was careful to match the temperature recommended on the label. We got a bag of this some time ago and I kept forgetting to review it until I made a cup tonight. The only negative is it is kind of pricier than I generally prefer, but this is superb. I’ve had other Jasmine teas, and taste-wise this is about as good as it gets.
Both my bleary eyes and taste buds needed a different waker-upper this morning, so I stuck my hand all the way to the bottom of my neglected sample basket and pulled out a still-sealed sample of plain old Orange Pekoe.
This isn’t bad—most of us relegate OP to the bottom of the barrel (literally and figuratively), but this is perky, sharp, and coppery. Would take milk well, or be a great base on ice with a lime wedge.
This tastes like a wu yi / big red robe oolong to me. The flavor and scent notes that come to mind are roastyness, hot spring water rock/mineral, and wood. This has a decent price on it right now, and is actually quite a bit better than some more expensive oolongs I have sitting around. I’d get this again. I’m drinking the cup down pretty fast, thats always a sign of an enjoyable tea.
I am not a big fan of Assams but my supplies of Chinese teas are getting dangerously low and I want to wait for the 2018 harvest for reordering. So, I am resorting to drinking long forgotten and neglected samples from the bottom of my tea cupboard.
This particular Assam is actually not that bad. The taste is not complex by any means – your typical Assam here- but pleasant and if you do the short infusions the bitterness is avoided. It has a pleasant floral smell too. The taste is floral with some pine notes plus a bit of sweet potato. A solid if unspectacular tea.
Given that I could not finish about a half of Assam samples that I had tried it probably means that it would be a good budget choice for someone who actually enjoys drinking Assams.
Flavors: Floral, Pine, Sweet Potatoes
Smells like fruit preserves in the bag. Smells like honey and hot spring water in while steeping. Taste is the same, with some toasty notes that come through as it cools. Surprisingly mild, but I steeped at kind of a low temperature. Easy drinking, no weird aftertastes. Iced and sugared it gets kind of caramel tasting….I prefer it that way by far.
Nose: Scents that remind me of Indian teas, but there is also a smell that reminds me of that caramel and cinammon roll scent that one smells in mall coming from the cinnamon bun place.
Taste: Has a classic tea taste, but richer. Caramel and Honey-esque notes. Maybe a bit spicy, like cloves? Kind of lingers in the mouth after drinking. Great iced. I forgot to take some sips of it hot before adding ice, will try to update this when I do.
This is good. I just put in an order with Upton for some Indian tea, and I wish I would have waited before trying this sample…I would have ordered some more of this.
Buttery and leaf smell. Sweet.
mild buttery smooth flavor with hint of green/vegitation more then floral to me. Milder then I expected with scent even though I over brewed (at work).
Smooth, buttery/ light creamy coconut comes out more then the green/vegitation as it cools. This is a very gentle tea, not harsh at all. I’m especially impressed since the water was hotter and it brewed longer then recommended.
This seems to be a very good and forgiving tea. I’m looking forward to how the second brew comes out.
I forgot how much I missed a good Oolong.
Second brew, a bit more hollow and green/vegetation but with a buttery after taste with a very slight floral more along the jasmine line then other floral. I didn’t over brew this time but the first over brew may have affected it.
Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Floral, Vegetal
Smells spicy, sweet, and rich in the bag. Scents that remind me of earth, minerals, and gravevine while steeping. The scents of earthy minerals come through on my tasting notes as well…it kind of reminds me of dark oolongs in a way, except maybe a bit more mild? I’m not the biggest fan of other Darjeeling teas I’ve tried in the past for some reason, they often have this bizarre champagne like flavor to them, but this one is pretty good. Pretty easy drinking.
Smells like a high quality, rich honey while brewing.
Taste: wow, quite unique in a good way. Different from the batch of other Assams I got recently. I’m not sure how to describe it, kind of flowery tasting? Maybe faint hints of something that almost tastes like amaretto? It reminds me very slightly of a Darjeeling. Gets kind of fruity tasting when sugared. Interesting tea.
Smells rich in the bag. There seems to be two flavor profiles I personally usually experience with assam teas: one is a classic tea taste, like is found in most iced teas, and the second flavor profile has these subtle notes that remind me slightly of black olives and fresh linens, with a smooth velvety mouthfeel. Hot, this makes me think of the latter. Good tea iced or hot.
Iced and sugared changes things up and brings out rich, honey-esque notes that are relatively smooth and very pleasing to drink. It even makes me think of bourbon a little bit. The price is decent too, I’d keep this and the different TA20 around in the future for regular drinking, to compliment each other with their different notes.
Smells very honey like. It almost smells like theres some spice notes in there, like cloves. Taste is malty and kind of earthy/mineral-esque. Medium bodied I’d say. Price is pretty good, would get again. Good hot or iced. Speaking of iced, when I sugared and iced it I’m getting faint notes that almost remind me of something like mint. Quite refreshing, good for hot weather or drinking after a workout.
Got this as a sample from Upton. Before steeping smelled bold and a bit earthy to me. Smells very organic brewing- kinda like a forest with a lot of earth after the rain. The sent starts strong and a bit offensive to me but as it brews, it becomes gentler. Flavor is also earthy to me. Initial taste with a bitter quality. I did brew the full duration recommended. May try it next time a bit shorter. After taste is gentler.
So I’m drinking this at work. I’ve got to say, the scent is relaxing walking back to it after leaving the room. As it cools a bit, the initial bite is still strong but the aftertaste is satisfying. I really want to try this with a shorter steep next time. It’s a bit bold for me but holds a lot of promise.
Edit: as it cools, it becomes better. This would likely make a really good iced tea.
Edit 2: I routinely do a second brew on all leaf since I love seeing if it works, even if I expect it won’t. This one worked better then I expected. Ever so slightly softer but surprisingly similar to the first brew. Perhaps a bit more fig like.
Smells robust and spicy in the bag. Taste is quite smooth and what i’d expect from a good assam, it is hard to describe as anything other than “good tea.” Great velvety mouthfeel. The description on the website says it has a “woody” character which I’d agree with. Not too strong, not too mild, just right. I’ve been drinking a ton of sweet iced tea the past couple years, and I think I actually prefer this hot with nothing added.
Smell before steeping surprisingly reminds me of Chinese Dian Hong/Yunnan type teas, with scents that make me think of fig cookies and molasses. When steeped it reminds me of a mix between Keemun and Yunnan varieties of tea. There are also hints that remind me of hot spring mineral water. Nice lingering aftertaste. Quite good. I tried it iced and sugared also, and it took on a nice flower-esque taste. This is the first Columbian tea I have tried, and it is a winner. This came in a sample; If they keep the price down I’d buy more in the future.