Vahdam Teas

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Recent Tasting Notes

70

216/365

This one also came as a free sample with my first Vahdam order. I’m not usually a massive oolong fan, although there are some that really like. They tend to be in the minority, though. This one is quite nice – it’s a dark/roasted oolong, with some mild milk chocolate notes and a touch of caramelised sugar. Pretty sweet, on the whole, with just the tiniest hint of metallic in the aftertaste. After a few sips, I can detect a light nuttiness in the mid-sip – I’d call it hazelnut, if I had to pin it down, but it’s not super strong.

I like a nice chocolatey oolong, so this one’s close to being a winner with me. I’m not sure I’d buy a large bag, simply because oolong isn’t something I turn to all that often, but I’d certainly pick up the occasional sample.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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So, I bought a whole bunch of samples of Nilgiri teas from Vahdam what was probably ages ago because I wanted to do some region exploration since this was a region during my Sommelier training that we definitely looked at but that we didn’t go nearly as in depth with compared to Assam or Darjeeling…

From what I remember, most of the Nilgiri teas we sampled in class seemed very full bodied and brisk to me, with some of the same malty elements of an Assam but with less overall sweetness and more of a citrus sort of element.

Drinking this one recently, I was surprised about how much of my recollections seemed to ring true still; I’d 100% describe this as a full bodied profile with the main notes leaning very heavily towards both malt and slightly pithy lemon. It’s not a bitter tasting tea, but it does have light astringency, especially on the forefront of the tongue. The rest of the profile is sort of autumnal leaning, with notes of white bread, raisin, and crunchy autumn leaves. The way they smell, not taste – I’ve never eaten an autumn leaf. It’s got some underlying sweetness to it overall, also.

I enjoyed it a lot; and I’m excited to try the other Nilgiri samples I picked up.

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50
drank Daily Darjeeling by Vahdam Teas
80 tasting notes

Darjeeling teas are generally my tea of choice, but the cost for a quality Darjeeling makes it one that I don’t have on a regular basis. I am always looking out for a reasonably-priced Darjeeling that still maintains the flavors that make Darjeeling tea appealing to me, so I was excited to find this one on the Vahdam website when I was doing some shopping recently. The reviews on the website (and older reviews here on Steepster) all seemed to say that this tea maintained the fruity, muscatel flavors of a Darjeeling while also being reasonably-priced, so I thought I had found what I was looking for.

The 2018 version of this tea, though, doesn’t appear to be as good as previous years. There is just a very slight hint of Darjeeling fruitiness to the tea, and no petrichor or wet rock flavor that I find in my favorite Darjeelings. The only flavor I could really identify in it is more of a cocoa/chocolate flavor—something I don’t really want in a Darjeeling. The liquor brews up to a dull brown and seems tired.

Since this had such better reviews in past years, I am guessing the reason this 2018 version is so underwhelming is due to the bad political situation in the Darjeeling area in 2017 which caused so many estates to lose their second flush and autumnal harvests. It’s possible that any affordable Darjeeling tea sold in 2018 will be made up of older harvests left over from previous years or even lower-quality teas. That could explain what happened here.

Overall, it’s meh. I’ll finish it, but I won’t be buying this one again—at least not this year. My search for an affordable daily Darjeeling will continue.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 6 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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80
drank Himalayan Breakfast by Vahdam Teas
27 tasting notes

Surprisingly smooth breakfast tea. Not strong at all. It has a very faint malty taste, but not too much. A very nice breakfast tea for day-to-day use. It is however a shame that the leaves nor the tea seem to have an aromatic smell.

Flavors: Malt

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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75

203/365

This came as a free sample with my first order from Vahdam Teas. I say first order, but I have shopped with them previously when they were still Golden Tips Tea. That was many moons ago! What I’d forgotten is that their shipping is so fast! It struck me as rather ironic that an order from India arrived faster than an order from inside the UK, but there you go. Can’t fault their customer service, so far.

I like the level of information on their packaging, which includes all the usual things (name, ingredients, brewing guidelines), but also the month of picking (in this case, October 2017), and the grade of tea (FTGFOP1). I feel like they’re things I rarely come across, but I like knowing. I think it adds a little something to the experience.

As EG goes, this one is pretty good. It’s not too heavy on the bergamot, which is a bonus, just delicately citrussy. It’s sweeter than I’m used to finding; smooth and mellow rather than harsh and biting. The black tea is the real star here, though, being sweetly malty with the tiniest background hint of spice. This could be a good EG for EG haters, I think!

Today’s cup was straight and black, but I really want to try this as a London Fog. On the list of things to try it goes!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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So, I won about a kilogram of this tea from Vahdam on instagram a while ago. I feel bad because it’s taken me a LONG time to check it out but to be fair I did give away a lot of that kilogram to friends and coworkers because, lets be real, a kilogram of tea is a lot of tea. And I have too much tea already as it is…

I didn’t take great notes for this one when I was drinking it, but I’m not overly worried because of the 300g(ish) that I have left of this one I know I’m going to have many more cups to come. At least it came vacuum sealed in smaller weight increments.

Mostly I thought this one was surprisingly bright and fruity; but I didn’t really make note of the specific fruit notes I was tasting other than to call them ‘Darjeeling like’. Knowing myself and my thoughts on Darjeeling, though, I’m going to take my cryptic jot notes to meant that I found it rather sweet and raisin-y in terms of flavour. I also recall there being a little bit of a smoke element, but a very soft one and mostly in the top of the sip.

More notes, I’m sure, with future infusions.

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60

This tea is nice sized whole leaves, unusual for an Assam. I underleafed a bit because the smokey smell from the bag was a bit overpowering. Even with that, it is all smoke and not much malt or other flavor. Might underleaf even more and add some regular Assam to it and that might make it more palatable. Not great but I’m still going to work through this.

Preparation
2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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71

I’m not a huge fan of Earl Grey, but this is a very enjoyable tea once in a while for me. There’s plenty of black tea flavor and a nice amount of bergamot to compliment it but not over power it. Nice and refreshing, I may not buy more but I wouldn’t complain about getting it in a sampler again.

Preparation
2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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76
drank Daily Assam by Vahdam Teas
40 tasting notes

This is a good basic black tea. Nice malty notes to it. Nothing fancy but it makes a good daily drinker.

Preparation
2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

Another sample I received in the black tea sampler from Vahdam last year. I got up early today to watch my favorite soccer team (heja BVB!) play in Matchday 29 of the Bundesliga and wanted something to wake me up. I figured that, with a name like “Red Thunder,” this tea would do it!

The sample size was only 7 grams, so I used the whole sample in my 16 oz. teapot, but brewed it for three minutes instead of my usual four. Besides, I enjoy my tea on the stronger side, anyway. I followed with a second steeping for four minutes.

The brewed liquor comes out a nice reddish-brown color, with more red than brown. The scent is fruity—particularly muscatel grape, as expected for an autumn flush Darjeeling.

The fruity/muscatel aroma carries over into the flavor of the tea, which also has a bit of spice behind it. There is also some astringency to the tea, but it could be from the extra leaves I used when brewing it (I normally only use six grams in my 16-ounce teapot). This is a hearty tea—flavorful and strong, with enough caffeine to wake me up.

Overall, this was an excellent tea that I would love to try again. Unfortunately, I see that the vendor’s site shows this is currently sold out, so I’ll have to wait to try it again some other time.

NOTE: my sample shows a date of picking as October, 2016

Flavors: Astringent, Fruity, Muscatel, Spicy

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 7 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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95

Another from the Vahdam Tea Company black tea sampler in the quest for a tea to have as my daily drinker. Of the teas I’ve tried thus far from both Upton and Vadham I like this one the best so far. Rich maltiness and a nice thick mouth feel. Definite notes of caramel and cocoa. With a little milk it becomes a wholly satisfying morning tea for me. Definitely at the right price point for a daily drinker too. $5.50 per 100 g, or $0.055 per g.

First brewed with 3g of tea in 300 ml at just under boiling for five minutes. Also did a cup with 4 g too. The extra gram added a bit of astringency.

Flavors: Cacao, Creamy, Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 45 sec

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90

Another from the black tea sampler from Vahdam Teas. This is a second flush picked in July 2017. Grade SFTGFOP1. Retail price is $20.00/100g. That’s $0.20 gram. Compared to their Daily Assam at $8.00/100g at $0.08/g this is a bit more pricey.

4/6/2018: Two cups. Both 3g of tea in 300 ml water at 211 degrees. First cup without milk and the second with 2.5 ml evaporated milk. Comparing this to Vadham’s Daily Assam. This one is immediately nicer than the Daily. This tea has more rich and malty creaminess. Like the Daily Assam this tea is very nice without milk, but a bit better with it. At this price though maybe it’s not fit for being a daily drinker. Maybe more of a nice weekend treat.

Flavors: Creamy, Dates, Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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80

I’m going through a lot of orthodox black teas to find my perfect black tea or black blend.
This tea retails for $8.00 per 100g. Or $0.08 per gram. An affordable tea.

04/03/2018 1430: First tasting done with 3 g tea in 300 ml of water at 211 degrees steeped for four minutes. No milk. There was a nice grapey aroma to the freshly brewed leaf. Less astringent to the Vadham Daily Assam that I tasted just before this one. Less astringent, but more brightness. Tasting notes of plum and muscatel. Some gaining astringency closer to the bottom of the cup.

Flavors: Grapes, Muscatel, Plums

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 300 OZ / 8872 ML

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85

I’m going through a lot of samples looking for a daily Assam tea or blended ‘breakfast’ style tea. This came in the Vadham black tea sampler. This is a nice little tea.

4/3/2018: First tasting was 3 g of tea steeped in 211 degree water for 4 minutes. No milk in first tasting. Mildly astringent with a pleasant maltyness. Some notes of almond and caramel.

4/6/2018: Second tasting with same parameters as above. Two cups this morning; one without milk and one with. Again left with an impression that this is a serviceable tea. I liked it better with milk. I used 2.5 ml of evaporated milk. Rich, malty and creamy.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Caramel, Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML

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78

A very soft and delicate first flush Darjeeling. Flavours are of Muscatel and Grass (which isn’t a bad thing). The flavours are faint and smooth; the tea is not overpowering and leaves no aftertaste.

Flavors: Grass, Muscatel

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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82

I’m surprised to actually find a Darjeeling tea that ik really like. This one is it! It has a very smooth mouthfeel and very distinct flavours of apricot and wood. The flavours don’t linger too much and there is only a very slight bitterness, almost no astringency.

Admittedly, it’s still not my favorite type of tea on account of the not so pronounced flavour profile, but it is without a doubt the best Darjeeling i’ve ever had.

Flavors: Apricot, Muscatel, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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49

I really love most Vahdam Teas, but this one doesn’t cut it for me. This tea is very strong and quick to overbrew. The tea is also extremely bitter and has almost no flavours to balance that out. You can faintly taste some of the usual Assam maltyness and sweetness, but you have to close your eyes in order to find it.

The fact that i didn’t even finish the cup is indication enough: This CTC gets no applause from me.

Flavors: Bitter

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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74
drank Daily Darjeeling by Vahdam Teas
27 tasting notes

As I said before, i’m not the biggest of fans of Darjeeling teas. This one is a nice and delicate black tea with hints of grapes and muscatel flavour. Ideal for people who like a smooth cup of black darjeeling. It has a nice faint hint of bitterness to acompany the smoothness. Good Darjeeling for daily drinking.

Flavors: Bitter, Grapes, Muscatel

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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82

Once again a very nice Assam from Vahdam. The usual malty and honey-like sweet notes are there. The tea has almost no bitterness and close to zero astringency. I would say this is a very smooth Assam where the flavours are less pronounced, so that’s a great thing if you like tea that doesn’t punch you in the face with its flavours.

Not the best Assam ever, but a very nice tea for sure.

Flavors: Honey, Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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79
drank Fennel Masala Chai by Vahdam Teas
27 tasting notes

It’s a Chai tea that’s on par with the Original Chai from Vahdam, but with fennel added to the mix. I personally don’t like the addition of the fennel seeds. You can smell the fennel very strongly, and you have a hint of fennel when tasting. Somehow for me, the fennel interferes with the otherwise fine Masala Chai taste.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good Chai, but it’s not as good as the regular one Vahdam makes.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Cardamon, Cloves, Fennel

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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78

The leaves are extremely black when dry, and this colour is transferred to the tea itself. Very nice, dark oak wood-esque appearance.

This tea has a very interesting flavour profile. You can taste the usual maltiness and hint of honey-like sweetness of an Assam tea, but it is counteracted by a nice wood-like taste. The tea has a very slight bitterness and also mild astingency. The flavours are not as pronounced, making it a somewhat smooth and soft tea, especially for Assam tea.

Not my everyday tea per se, but a tea worth drinking.

Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Malt, Oak wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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75

A nice Assam tea that has a less pronounced sweetness than some of the other Vahdam Assams (like Daily Assam). It also has a relatively high astringency, but isn’t bitter. It’s a good tea wit the malty tones you can expect from an Assam tea.

I think that the price is too steep for the taste however.

Flavors: Astringent, Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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68

The Darjeeling second flush has a less pronounced flavour than some other black teas used in Chai, meaning that the spices are “in control of the flavour” with this tea. You can clearly taste the spices which are not counteracted (much) by the flavour of the black tea itself.

That isn’t necessarily a good thing, since it means that this Chai is just a little bit out of balance. Especially the taste of the cloves is too pronounced, and the kick of black pepper is almost abcent. Quite a good Chai, but not one of my favorites.

Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cloves

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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