drank Assam Gold Rain by Teavana
171 tasting notes

Experience buying from Teavana online http://steepster.com/places/2822-teavana-online-atlanta-georgia

Date of Purchase: Purchased at their 2011 end-of-year sale at a discount, and brewed up my first cup right away.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Pretty,: a few light-caramel-colored leaves mixed in with mostly dark chocolate-brown leaves; a little sweet, and like any standard Indian black tea, not too aromatic, and definitely not as yummy as it tastes.

Brewing guidelines: Ceramic cup and lid, tea in metal basket strainer; stevia added.
……….1st: Off boiling, mildly warmed cup; 2’ …Awesome!
……….2nd: Near boiling, warmed cup; 3’…….Still Awesome!
……….3rd: Boiling, warmed cup; 4’…………….Great!
……….4th: Boiling, very warmed cup; 7’………Still good flavor!
……….5th: Spot on Boiling, hot cup; 10’ ……..Oh, well, just mild flavor.

Aroma of tea liquor: < later >

Flavor of tea liquor: I really liked the flavor of this Assam. I am still new to the unflavored black arena, but this tea reminds me of a good Yunnan in that it was sweet and carmel-y; I think full bodied applies here, too. Oh, and I just remembered the malty question (“How do you describe what malty tastes like?”) I asked on Steepster a while back; I remember LiberTEAS (and others) trying to help me to understand what malty truly tastes like (like the wort of pre-fermented beer, OR bread-y, yeast-y; these all helped), and I remember someone suggesting to try a good Assam. Well, here it is, but I’m not certain I am any wiser. Next time I brew this up (I am writing this up a day after drinking it), I need to sit down and really take in the flavor of this Assam and pay attention to what comes up for me. Next time.

Appearance of wet leaf: Looks like mid-grade Indian leaf to me, although it says, FTGFOP-1. Really? It doesn’t look much better than the leaf in a Java OP I have. I guess I don’t know much about the grading system of Indian black teas, either. Which begs the question, what do I know, anyway? : p

Value: This tea is less than $1/oz at 75% off the original price (I am estimating it was about $3/oz.). I think full price isn’t even that far off the mark, considering the flavor.

Overall: This is what I consider to be my first Assam (although I have very likely had one before, and I didn’t know it at the time). A minor note: It gave the inside of my white ceramic cup a light chocolate colored stain that I don’t think any of the other black teas have done (but I guess I normally steep black tea in my traditional ceramic teapot, so doing it in a cup is kinda new for me, and said tea did sit for a while during at least one steeping). I admit I wasn’t expecting much out of this tea, as I get the impression the Assam’s are the run-of-the-mill Indian black teas. Well, either I am dead wrong (happens often enough) or this is an exceptional Assam, for, this … tea … ROCKS! I love the sweetness, and the caramel flavor. I am impressed that it yielded four good steepings. I look forward to brewing this up again (and I wish I had bought more, now that it’s sold out!).

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.


Midwest, USA

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