Vahdam Teas

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Recent Tasting Notes


My lunchtime tea today was one I received from Vahdam Teas last fall. It has turned into one of my favorite lighter-caffeinated teas on my shelf and find myself drinking it fairly regularly.

Since I am at work, I couldn’t measure this out precisely, but I used two well-rounded teaspoons of dried leaves for 16 ounces of near-boiling water.

The brewed liquor has a color like clover honey—light brown and fresh. The aroma reminds me of warm grass and has a slight bitterness to it.

The immediate flavor I get when drinking the tea is very similar to a second flush Darjeeling: a flavor I describe as close to wet rocks (in a good way!) but also like muscat grapes. There is also a hint of sweetness and apricot behind the muscatel flavor. The warm grass aroma carries over into the flavor of the liquor as well.

Overall, I do like this tea very much—it isn’t as fruity as a second flush Darjeeling, but similar enough that it could be mistaken as one. Like I mentioned earlier, this has become one of my regular afternoon teas.

Flavors: Apricot, Muscatel, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Kangra black teas are so odd. They’re so green, earthy, and vegetal. I’ve only had a few at this point, but they certainly are fascinating.

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This tea is a lovely mid-range oolong with floral notes. It kept me contemplating the flavors throughout the entire pleasant cup. Long steep times are not a problem and I’m already looking forward to the next cup. Highly recommended.

6 min, 45 sec

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drank Hibiscus Rush by Vahdam Teas
115 tasting notes

This seemed like a festive thing to try today. I brewed it two ways: 1) gong fu (as ridiculous as that is!), and 2) as instructed – Western style, with sugar, chilled.

Even though the flavors were much sharper and more tart gong-fu style, I have to say that I preferred the kick as opposed to the Western style. Chilled and sweetened, it tasted like a sort of strawberry-lemonade mix that you would make from a powder. Not bad at all – tasty, in fact – but not really something I crave. Gong-fu style, the flavors had more of a tart whallop of citrus and fruit, which is more my style.

I have to say that, whatever your preference is, there are two things that I appreciate about this tea (it does have tea leaves, not just flowers and stuff). First, when you open the packet, you are greeted with big chunks of fruit and cardamom pods. Second, the addition of cardamom is genius. It arrives especially in the aftertaste, picking up just as the tartness dies down, and adds a wonderful savory, herbal sweetness to end on. This addition adds much more depth and complexity to the experience.

There you have it. I’m way outside of my experience and comfort zone here, but it was fun!
Dry leaf – orange balanced with sweetness of pomegranate and cranberry and floral of hibiscus. Some herbal hints of cardamom.

Smell – hibiscus, fruit of pomegranate and cranberry, citrus of orange. Very slight malty and nutty background notes from black tea.

Taste – rush of tart citrus and fruit flavors – cranberry, pomegranate, and orange prevalent. Finish becomes dry and slightly nut shell / husk-like. Cardamom herbal sweetness arrives in aftertaste.

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Overall, OK. There are some nice sweet notes of caramel and toasted marshmallow, but there is a fairly prevalent bitter nuttiness that is not particularly pleasant. Again, I brewed this gong fu style and did nothing in terms of milk or sugar. The bitterness would probably be welcome if you brew Western style and add something to it.

I did my best to adjust my leaf ratio, temps, and steep times, but I think what I have here is simply a good tea for Western brewing. Milk would cut down the bitterness and accentuate the nutty and sweet notes.

Dry leaf: grape leaf, sassafras, red currant, some nuttiness, hints of caramel. In preheated vessel: nuttiness and caramel more prevalent, tart fruitiness.

Smell: green nut, caramel, some red fruit, toasted marshmallow

Taste: green/bitter nut, black pepper, toasted marshmallow, finish of caramel, aftertaste of caramel and some red fruit

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This tea seems to be very susceptible to changes in brewing parameters. It is very easy to get unpleasant “green nut” bitterness if overleafed or oversteeped.

I only had a 10g sample split across two sessions. Overall, I wasn’t terribly impressed; the flavor was similar to an underwhelming Darjeeling black. The green nut-like bitterness was present in many of the brews – BUT, this could be my fault for attempting this gong fu style. The aftertaste, though, was rather pleasant.

My first session yielded more fruit flavors, including muscatel “grape leaf” flavors. My second session had more baking spice and caramel notes. So, I am sure this tea will change depending on your palate. Overall, I got vague nut flavors, particularly raw and slightly bitter nut notes. Nice aftertaste followed.

I would be interested to see what the oolong processing added to this tea – I would like to try it as a green or a black. The whole leaves I could find were all very small – about ¾ inch – not what I’m used to seeing as an oolong. It was processed with very light oxidation and there is no roast to speak of.
Dry leaf – grape leaf, some red fruit (red currant, freeze-dried strawberries), horehound, sassafras. Musty with a noticeable bite of bitter herb. In preheated vessel – nuttiness comes through, noticeable sour fruit notes.

Smell – nutty, grape leaf

Taste – green nut, roasted peanut, citrus-like tartness and sourness. Development has some baking spice and caramel as well as green-nut bitterness. Finish has caramel sweetness. Aftertaste of grape leaf, raw nut, caramel, hints of baking spice and fruit.

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Reviewing Dec. 2017, this tea is not currently listed on Vahdam’s site, but was available in their green tea sampler pack.

Overall, this is a mild, sweet and savory tea with a good body. Although I tend to prefer teas with more punch to them, the balance of grassy, sweet, and savory kept me coming back to it.

It’s fairly mild-mannered and soft-spoken, but still maintains a nice body and a complex development of flavors. It reminds me of a Mao Feng I had a while ago. There’s a bit more of an herbal edge to it, which I’ve come to expect from these Indian greens, but overall a nice combination of sweet and savory.
Dry leaf: dried green herb (parsley, cilantro, sassafras), dewy grass. In preheated vessel: roasted peanut, thick honey sweetness, edamame

Smell: light honey and cooked vegetables (edamame)

Taste: dewy grass, light honey, edamame. Honey and tart red fruit in finish. Hints of green herb/spice in aftertaste – mint, cilantro.

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This is a darjeeling that doesn’t taste like a darjeeling? It reminds me of a Chinese black, like a keemun. Rich and full-bodied, surprisingly chocolatey in the scent, malty and fruity in the flavour. An aftertaste that lingers. It’s good!

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML



I must have this Darjeeling!

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If you are a fan of scented teas, this should probably be at the top of your list. Personally, apart from standard Earl Grey tea bags, scented teas are not something I have experience with. While I still prefer tea leaves by themselves, with no added flavors, this really blew me away with the controlled development of powerful flavors.

First, I think it is worth noting that the tea itself is a green tea – which I think I could pick up on in the finish – hints of the fruity sweetness you would find in a Xinyang Mao Jian. Definitely a green tea with a nice body and sweet, fresh flavors. Although the tea played a behind-the-scenes role, the flavors were a good vehicle for the strong jasmine and bergamot flavors. Also worth noting that the tea leaf grade was FTGFOP1. Quality stuff.

Second, the jasmine and bergamot flavors were very nice – real stuff used, little bits of bergamot floating around… No fake, chemically flavors at all.

The experience starts with a rush of floral jasmine that blends in a measured development with citrusy bergamot. The citrus flavors finally give way to a sweet, candied orange peel flavor that finally transforms into a bubble-gum sweetness. Really an impressive development from start to finish.

An interesting combination, masterfully blended. Despite my doubts regarding scented teas, this really did impress me.
Dry leaf – bergamot, candied orange peel, jasmine

Smell – jasmine is first scent that is noticeable. Then, bergamot citrus sweetness. Bubble gum sweetness apparent. Cannot discern any noticeable green tea notes.

Taste – jasmine floral that softens and subsides into bergamot citrus. Citrus notes become softer and sweeter in development. Some brief sweet, grassy green tea notes in finish with bubble-gum sweetness aftertaste.

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Well, what a difference a flush makes! Still recognizable as a Darjeeling, with its muscatel notes, but having a more prominent nut flavor. It also has more caramel notes instead of the herbal notes of first flush teas.

First, full disclosure – I continue to gong fu brew these teas. This one was very finicky in this method. My first round I overleafed and the brew was extremely astringent. My second round I reduced the leaf ratio and flash brewed well into the 6th or 7th infusion.

The astringency comes from what I can only describe as a unripe/green nut sort of flavor that is woody, nutty, and bitter all at the same time. However, once you get your brews right, the bitterness is interesting and keeps you coming back, like a good cup of black coffee.

Beyond the nutty flavors, there are substantial grape leaf / muscatel notes, as well as some dark/slightly burnt caramel.

I’m sure the astringency and bitterness could be tamed by adding some milk and sugar – but with only 10g to drink from my sample, I wanted to really get to know the tea by itself.
Dry leaf – grape leaf, peanut shell. Secondary notes of sassafras, dried parsley, and chocolate. Hints of cherry cola. In preheated vessel – roasted nut, dark honey, tart and unripe raspberry, citrus.

Smell – roasted nut, grape leaf, unripe/green nut, dried date and fig, blackberry syrup

Taste – grape leaf, woody, unripe/green nut, astringent. Dark, slightly burnt caramel.
Occasional notes of woody spice – cinnamon stick, coriander seed. Tart red fruit and dried date in aftertaste.

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Another first-flush experience from Vahdam Teas. As others have noted, this one does not have a strong presence of muscatel grape to it, if any. The base of the tea is a woody, nutty body, from which there bounces some buttery, vegetal, and spice notes. The aftertaste maintains the woodiness and nuttiness, but there is substantial floral and fruity presence.

I don’t know how Darjeeling aficionados feel about the lack of the grape leaf/muscatel flavors, but frankly, I welcome it. It is nice to have an experience that is still easily identifiable as first-flush Darjeeling without being a cookie-cutter replica of the standard flavor profile.

This is the first tea I have had where the woodiness is complex, interesting, and tasty – like a good whiskey with good cask influence, or a nice oaky red wine.

A really nice, unique experience that has a great balance of savory and sweet.
Dry leaf – grapeleaf, sassafras, licorice, dried parsley, raw nut, peanut shell. In preheated vessel – roasted nut, wildflower honey, and stewed tart red fruit (red currant, raspberry)

Smell – raw nut, peanut shell, buttery vegetal (asparagus)

Taste – hardwood, raw nut, buttered green vegetables, buttered yeast roll, hints of cinnamon butter, fresh parsley, cilantro, sassafras. Aftertaste of orange flower, gummy fruit, red currant, dried date, and fruit leather.

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This is an interesting green tea. Frankly, it reminds me of a young raw Menghai-area pu’erh, on its sixth or seventh infusion. It has a mushroom broth body with dried and fresh herb notes. The finish is the fruity, gummy sweetness you would find in a Menghai pu’erh.

It does not go for many infusions (I gong-fu’ed it!), but that is fair considering that it is a green tea and that gong fu style is not the traditional method of preparation.

The experience was interesting and tasty, although there were only two infusions that were really nice. The others had a fairly flat arrival and development, although the gummy, fruity aftertaste was persistent.

Certainly an interesting experience for a green tea, although I would be much more likely to reach for a pu’erh, where I could get similar flavors with more of a kick.
Dry leaf – noticeable spice note in the bag (turmeric, ginger, coriander), dry cut grass, hints of popcorn, sassafras, and charred mesquite wood. In preheated vessel – sweet grass, some red-fruit notes.

Smell – mushroom broth, campfire log, hints of incense/sandalwood

Taste – arrival of mushroom broth, hints of charred mesquite wood. Development of sweet grass with hints of sassafras and dried parsley. Finish has herbal (fresh parsley and cilantro) and arrival of gummy sweetness. Aftertaste of gummy sweetness (pear, peach, mandarin orange combo) with lemongrass.

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I’m really enjoying my adventure through Indian teas. This is yet another first-flush Darjeeling that was offered in a black tea sampler by Vahdam. I started my journey with the most expensive FF Darjeeling in the sampler (Arya Diamond). Maybe I shouldn’t have done that, because it sort of warped my perception. Not really fair to compare everything to the absolute best.

Nevertheless, this one still had great nutty, fruity, and honey-sweet flavors all supported by the muscatel (I call it “grapeleaf”) flavors. It lacked the complexity of the Arya Diamond, but still was really tasty. Definitely still one of the top-tier offerings ($26 / 100g). This one was much more straightforward in its delivery, but had a wonderful syrupy aftertaste that lingers.

These first-flush Darjeelings are occupying the same place in my tea drinking habit as Taiwanese high-mountain oolongs. For me, they are a little too expensive to buy any significant amount of, but I will absolutely buy a few from time to time to treat myself. A really unique and quality experience.
Dry leaf – grapeleaf, raw peanut, hardwood, dried parsley. In preheated vessel – blackberry syrup sweetness prominent.

Smell – peanut, grapeleaf

Taste – arrival of peanut nuttiness. Development includes grapeleaf, dried parsley, sweet cooked vegetables like carrots and fresh greens, fresh parsley. Finish is syrupy sweet – wildflower honey and blackberry syrup.

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This is a wonderfully balanced and complex green. There is an incredible give-and-take on the palate between a thick honey sweetness and a vegetal corn savoriness. There is also a refreshing fruitiness that adds just enough tartness to keep things interesting.

Once again, another Darjeeling green that was a really fun tea to drink. While not on the same level as the Emerald Arya Darjeeling green tea, this is incredibly affordable ($12/100g) for what it delivers. I am between making Lu Shan Yun Wu or this as my go-to green tea to buy in bulk. Really a great tea.
Dry leaf – chocolate powder, carob, dried parsley and cilantro, hints of coriander seed. In preheated vessel – wildflower honey and stewed red fruit notes arrive.

Smell – sweet corn, cooked zucchini, clover honey, honeysuckle; hints of chocolate and citrus.

Taste – sweet corn, bean sprouts, sweet grass arrival. Honey notes consistently appear throughout development, finish, and aftertaste. Hint of chocolate. Cooked blackberry. Mint and fresh herb in aftertaste, coriander seed. Orange peel and tropical fruit appear well into the aftertaste.

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I diverged a bit from my regular Ceylon black teas I’ve been having recently to have a first flush Darjeeling this afternoon. This was a sample I received from Vahdam Teas, in their Black Tea Sampler package.

The dried leaves were broken and machine rolled, varying between light green and deep green.

I steeped 9 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for 4 minutes.

The color of the finished liquor was like a dark wheat color—not exactly yellow, but not exactly brown, either. The aroma of the liquor was quite vegetal—like cooked peas.

The aroma of cooked peas carried over into the flavor of the tea, along with dry grass or hay, slight muscatel grape and other fruity notes, and a floral flavor which started slight and intensified as the tea cooled. Maybe it is because it has been a few months since I had a first flush Darjeeling tea, but I was very impressed with this one. It was an excellent afternoon tea, complete with a low caffeine content.

Sample was marked with Date of Picking: 08 April 2017

Flavors: Dry Grass, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Muscatel, Peas

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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I’m continuing to trample through the tea fields of Darjeeling, and I like what I see. Taste. I like what I taste…

I greatly appreciate the herbal notes that cut through the more familiar black tea richness. I really like Chinese black teas, but they can definitely be a bit much whether with maltiness, nuttiness, or even fruitiness. The greenness of these FF Darjeelings are like a good aperitif – the sharper flavors stimulate your taste buds and create waves of flavor with the underlying richer flavors.

I should note that I am continuing to gong fu these teas. I really want to experience all the nuances with flavor. Maybe once I commit to purchasing something more than my 10g samples I will branch out and try some more traditional preparations.
Dry leaf – peanut shell, pistachio, hay, wheat bran, grape leaf, dried parsley, hints of sassafras, stewed tart berry. In preheated vessel – thick wildflower honey and pungent stewed red fruit notes arrive.

Smell – roasted nuts, grapeleaf, note of lightly toasted marshmallow

Taste – arrival of very nutty notes – peanut and pistachio, with grapeleaf and milky black tea. Development of light malt, marshmallow. Finish of dried parsley, red currant, and hint of milk chocolate. Aftertaste of mint and parsley with hint of chocolately sweetness with tangy red fruit.

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Well, I don’t think you’re going to get any better than this. This is easily the most complex green tea I’ve had, with layers and layers of flavor that were an absolute treat. It has the highlights of green tea, high-mountain oolong, and young sheng pu’erh all in one cup.

My notes for this tea are a total mess because this thing just kept transforming and becoming more nuanced literally with EVERY SIP. There were vegetal and herbal notes of green tea, spice and fruit notes of oolong, and complex sweetness and menthol of young sheng. This thing knocked me back in my chair as I sat realizing that I was in the presence of tea greatness.

At $28 for 100g, this is still more than what I (like to) spend on tea, but I am confident in saying that this tea is worth its price. It is an absolute treat, and would be a fantastic gift for any green-tea loving friends. Or really any tea-loving friends, for that matter.
Dry leaf: first apparent notes are of honey-lemon and bergamot. Afterwards, herbal notes appear – dried parsley, dill, and mint. Some green twig notes. In preheated vessel – thick honey syrupiness and continued bergamot notes.

Smell: complex. Fresh parsley, snow peas, coriander, and chestnut, with secondary notes of honey-lemon, bergamot, buttered yeast roll, and coconut.

Taste: fresh parsley, snow peas, chestnut, coriander. Notes of Mexican chocolate, black forest cake, and buttered yeast roll. Other notes of coriander seed, honey, tropical fruit (guava, coconut). Finish has mint and menthol with chocolately sweetness.


I gotta get me some of this.

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This marks my first steps in a venture through Indian teas. I’ll be exploring black, green, oolong, and chai teas. Thanks to Vahdam Tea’s sampler packs, I have a pretty diverse selection of quality teas.

So, I couldn’t bring myself to follow their brewing recommendations and brew Western style. WIth only 10g to work with, I had to go gong fu – once with about 6g in 150ml gaiwan, and another with 4g in a 60ml gaiwan. Yes – full on gong fu.

I have to say – this tea was made for gong fu brewing. Not only did both of my sessions yield substantially different results, but the heavily-leafed version (4g/60ml) was extraordinarily dynamic and revealed new facets with just the slightest changes in brewing parameters. It was simply a FUN tea to brew. (As a side note – the 6g/150ml version had more grape leaf flavors, while the 4g/60ml version had some almond, yeast roll, and pollen. Both had rich and syrupy finishes).

The flavors ranged from fruity to vegetal, from floral to sweet, with herbs, spices, and even baked goods making an appearance. Really fun, and on par with Taiwanese high-mountain oolongs. However, just like these oolongs, I can’t say that I would ever purchase anything more than a sample – at $38 for 100g, it is simply out of my budget for what I pay for tea. But, it is well worth adding a sample to my cart just to remind myself of the kinds of experiences that are available out there in the world of tea.
Dry leaf: primary grape leaf note. Secondary notes of light roasted nut, parsley, cilantro, and sassafras. Hints of anise. In preheated vessel – more nut flavors, buttery syrupiness.

Smell: sweet corn, light pecan, grape leaf, floral, yeast roll

Taste: arrival of grape leaf. Development of raw almond, yeast roll, pollen, and coriander seed. Finish is syrupy sweet. Aftertaste of sweet corn, parsley, and hints of sassafras.

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OK, folks. I’m going way off my beaten path with this one. I came across Vahdam Teas through Steepster, and I saw good things. Always excited to begin a new exploration, I decided to make them my point person for my journey through Indian teas. I snatched up NEARLY every sampler pack they had (all half price!), and waited for the goods. The only sampler I didn’t get was the one with herbal teas.

When the package arrived, I was happy to see a few extra packs of teas given as free samples. Lo and behold! three were herbal teas, and one was a scented green tea… I guess the good folks at Vahdam figured I still needed to expand my horizons!

So, here we are. I don’t drink scented teas, much less herbal tisanes, but I have to say that I am excited to go on this unexpected journey.

Alright, so diving in… The ingredients are turmeric, black pepper, cardamom, and clove. The flavors are bold and fresh – no artificial flavoring here! The turmeric is fresh and spicy, with a silkiness that is intriguing and pleasant. I was surprised at the creaminess of it – if I didn’t know better, I would swear it had milk in it. This creaminess helps deliver the spices in a restrained and sophisticated way.

The black pepper is fairly bold, but it is balanced, cutting through the heaviness of the turmeric. The cardamom adds a spicy sweetness to balance out the pepperiness, and cloves offer their sweet spiciness to add a complex finish.

That’s really all I can say. If you don’t like any of the ingredients above, you probably want to steer clear. This is an unapologetic spice experience, but it is delivered well, with quality ingredients and careful blending ratios.
Dry herb/spice: turmeric and black pepper are apparent from the outset. Sweetness of cardamom then arrives, with spiciness of cloves at the end.

Smell: creamy and savory. Creaminess helps put turmeric in check, clove and cardamom more easily noticeable.

Taste: turmeric and black pepper are readily apparent. Very creamy and milky body that help to round out edges of the spices. Sweetness of cardamom arrives in the development. Spiciness of clove lingers in aftertaste.

Evol Ving Ness

All the sampler packs! Yay you! A tea shopper after my heart.
Buy all the things.

Evol Ving Ness

This one sounds very good indeed.


At half price, I couldn’t resist! I picked up the black tea, green tea, oolong, and chai tea samplers. Lots of reviews to come… As for this one, I can’t say that it really converted me, but it was certainly a unique experience. The little nuggets of turmeric were intimidating, and the dry herb smell was super strong. But, I was surprised at how relatively smooth the actual flavor was.

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Here’s Hoping Teabox – Round Seven- Tea #37
Not as magical as the other Vahdam tea I had the other day, but since it’s a Darjeeling, the steeps were probably not perfect (my fault). But Darjeeling is the pickiest tea.

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This was a tea I was excited to try. Vahdam Teas gifted me a 10 gram sample of the 2017 production of this tea a little earlier in the year and I promised to review it in return. Going into this review, I was at least vaguely familiar with the Arya Estate’s line of offerings, but to be completely honest, I knew more about its reputation; the Arya Estate has developed a well-deserved reputation for producing truly exceptional teas. I was aware that their black and white teas, in particular, are considered to be some of the best on the market. So, all of that being said, I was looking forward to trying this tea and even made sure to set aside a large block of time to conduct a review session with minimal distractions. Unfortunately, I never quite came to grips with this tea.

I opted to gongfu this tea. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material (which was absolutely beautiful, by the way) emitted subtle aromas of hay, herbs, grass, and pine. After the rinse, I detected touches of malt and lemon. The first infusion brought out impressions of nuts. In the mouth, I found notes of pine, lemon, grass, hay, straw, malt, and nuts underscored by a hint of spinach. Subsequent infusions brought out the spinach on the nose and in the mouth. I also found impressions of lettuce, lime zest, seaweed, grain, and minerals. There was kind of a broth-like umami note that fully emerged as well. Brewing the way I did, the tea faded quite quickly. The later infusions that actually did have any amount of aroma or flavor mostly emphasized notes of minerals, grass, and spinach, though hints of corn husk arrived fashionably late and did what they could to liven things up a bit. Very distant notes of lettuce and malt could also be found on at least a couple of these infusions.

This struck me as being a very soft and clean tea. Having now taken the time to process my feelings about it, all I can say is that I can see why some people love it and I can see why it is so highly rated, but it was not for me. I like white teas that display more fruitiness and this tea did not offer enough to satisfy me. I could tell this was a quality tea produced from a quality picking in a good year, but again, it was not quite my thing. If you are a fan of more delicate, vegetal white teas with a strong umami note, I could see this being up your alley.

Flavors: Corn Husk, Grain, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Lettuce, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Nuts, Pine, Seaweed, Spinach, Straw, Umami

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

I tend to enjoy the heartier white teas myself these days, with a bit more malt to them. Rare finds, but delish! I know what you mean by saying it is high quality but not for you.

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Here’s Hoping Teabox – Round Seven- Tea #23
This is very tasty! One of those perfect Darjeelings. A very light sweet flavor that can only be the best of Darjeelings. So delicious. The Okayti are usually some of the best Darjeelings. This is the sort of tea you love to find in the teabox!
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a full mug// 13 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep

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This was a tea I had been looking forward to for some time. I received it as a free sample from Vahdam Teas back in the spring. At the time, I was glad they sent me a sample of this tea because I enjoy Darjeeling white teas and had been curious about the teas produced by the Avongrove Estate, but had yet to get around to trying any. Naturally, reviewing other teas took precedence and this ended up sitting sealed in one of my tea totes until last week when I finally got around to drinking it. Though I do not think the way I brewed it did it justice (compared to my usual gongfu method, a simple Western preparation was just as, if not slightly more effective), this was a wonderful white tea.

Obviously, for the purpose of writing a thorough review, I prepared this tea gongfu style. I know that I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of water after a flash rinse, but I do not recall what the water temperature was. For some reason, I simply did not write it down. I think it may have been either 180 F or 185 F. The first infusion lasted 5 seconds. It was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for those infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of lavender, sage, wood, and malt. After the rinse, I detected aromas of lemon zest, hay, lemongrass, and basil. The first infusion produced a pretty much identical set of aromas. In the mouth, I found delicate notes of lemon zest, basil, lavender, sage, lemongrass, hay, and malt underscored by faint impressions of Muscatel, wood, tangerine, and white peach. Subsequent infusions brought out more citrus on the nose and in the mouth while the floral aromas and flavors fully emerged. A unique mix of geranium, violet, chamomile, dandelion, and marigold was highlighted by many of these infusions. The notes of tangerine and lemon zest were also joined by a subtle orange zest impression. New notes of cream, butter, almond, and minerals appeared as well. The tea washed out quickly. I was steeping mostly for color and texture by about the 50 second mark. The last infusions were dominated by minerals, though I could pick up belatedly emerging notes of cucumber to compliment the lingering traces of cream, grass, and herbs.

While I do not feel like I got this one right in terms of preparation, I do have to reiterate that this was a fabulous white tea. The mix of aromas and flavors it displayed was so unique that I am not certain I can compare it to any other white tea I have tried within the past year or so. Should you have the opportunity to try it, definitely take it.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Dandelion, Floral, Geranium, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Lavender, Lemon Zest, Lemongrass, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange Zest, Peach, Sage, Violet, Wood

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

MMM that sounds good.

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Continuing to work my way through the many samples I have accumulated since last year, I came to this Darjeeling oolong. Prior to this, I had only tried one Indian oolong, but it was from the state of Bihar rather than West Bengal. With that in mind, I opted to go ahead and try this tea. It was a blend of oolong leaf material from a number of different Darjeeling tea estates and was advertised as possessing grapefruit and floral flavors. I found it to be a citrusy, floral, and astringent tea blend possessing more in common with a second flush Darjeeling black tea than any sort of traditional oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 190 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of flowers, citrus, malt, and Muscatel. After the rinse, I began to detect impressions of roasted almond and brown toast. The first infusion produced a near identical bouquet. In the mouth, I immediately detected a surge of citrus flavors. Vahdam described it as being grapefruit-like, but I found it to more resemble a mixture of lemon zest, lime zest, and bitter orange. The rush of citrus was chased by gentle malt and Muscatel, as well as a blend of flowers. I found rose to be the dominant note on the back end, but there were also traces of dandelion, daisy, and marigold. Subsequent infusions brought out notes of straw, bruised mango, pear, brown sugar, herbs, kumquats, and minerals. A note of roasted almond also began to appear in the mouth. The later infusions were dominated by minerals, tart citrus, roasted almond, malt, and distant floral impressions. As noted above, the tea liquor was astringent, brisk, and biting throughout the session making this tea blend seem more like an unorthodox second flush black tea than any sort of true oolong.

In the end, I guess I have to be the outlier and state that I did not find this blend to be bad, but it also did not do a ton for me. For one thing, the citrus and floral aromas and flavors almost completely drowned out everything else. I had to work so hard to find other aromas and flavors that drinking this was a somewhat tedious experience. Oh, and did I mention that this blend was astringent? Yeah, I did. I actually mentioned that a couple times in the paragraphs above. Again, this was not bad, but to me, it did seem unbalanced with too much emphasis on citrus on the entry and flowers on the finish. It did not seem like there was enough between those two extremes. In the end, I could see this blend going over well with those who like really explosive, powerful flavors, but unfortunately, I am not one of those people.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Citrus, Dandelion, Floral, Herbs, Lemon Zest, Lime, Malt, Mango, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange, Pear, Rose, Rose, Straw, Straw

190 °F / 87 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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For the 2017 harvest: Smooth, luxurious, pleasantly complex (not the sometimes harsh one-note flavor profile of many Assams), very distinctive honey note.

Flavors: Honey, Malt

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 360 ML

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