642 Tasting Notes

95

3 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped 5 minutes, drunk bare. Leaves are wiry and take up a lot of space in a scoop, so you might need more than usual.

Yay! Tea for a Christmas present!

TeaBox hasn’t steered me wrong yet, and I love their business model. I’ve wanted to try a Nilgiri winter frost tea for years. This batch was picked on 10 March of this year.

Nilgiri teas have an unfair reputation as the dull cousins to Darjeelings and Assams, best left to being part of a blend. I disagree. Nilgiris have their own character, and while, yes, they can round out a blend nicely, they also deserve respect on their own.

Dry leaf: long and wiry leaves, mostly dark brown with some tan. Aroma: faint earth, wood, and fruit.

Wet leaf: light brown, tan, and a fair bit of green, as one might see in wet Darjeeling leaves. Aroma: some of that woody-earthy-spiciness I find in Darjeeling, especially form the Seeyok gardens, and something floral, very faint. The packet promises yellow lily, cantaloupe, and a hint of winter green leaves.

Liquor: light copper, no cloudiness. Aroma: wood, earth, spice, florals, sweetness.

WOW. Very like a robust Darjeeling, quite brisk, with sweet floral notes (yes, like cantaloupe) in the finish — yet deeper, more grounded. I find TeaBox’s tasting notes are quite accurate — never been let down yet. Medium body. Would likely stand up to a splash of milk, but I’m not going to try. Might also task a bit of lemon well.

If you’re a fan of second or autumn flush Darjeelings, give this one a try. It’s very aromatic, and each sip now is a little bit different. Follow the guidance on water temp, which for this tea is 85-90C, a bit cool for a black tea but worth it. Absolutely no bitterness. Gorgeous.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I should add: this tea is a little pricey, but I promise, it’s worth it.

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80

2tsp for 250mL water @90C, steeped 5 minutes, drunk bare.

Dry leaf: CTC black Assam and Dooars tea, visible bits of ginger and other herbs.

Dry leaf aroma: deliciously warm spices with some heft from the licorice.

Wet leaf: black CTC pellets, bits of ginger and other herbs. Aroma is very spicy.

Liquor: medium brown and a bit cloudy.

Oooooh, yeah. Assertive black tea (hello, CTC Assam and Dooars) dances with warming spices. Ginger dominates there, with clove and licorice chiming in afterwards. It would stand up well to milk and sugar I think. Must go try that.

This is very warming once it hits the belly, and very soothing. Neither spice nor tea dominate.

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90

3tsp for 180mL water @ 90C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

Picking date: 29 April 2021.

Dry leaf: pale and jade green, some white, long and twisted, very fluffy.

Dry leaf aroma: citrus and earth.

Wet leaf: light green with vegetal and citrus aromas.

Liquor: lightest bronze, almost gold. Strong Darjeeling and some citrus aroma, almost like bergamot.

Taste: much more vegetal than I expected with citron playing with muscatel. Much closer to a green than a black tea, as one expects with first flush Darjeelings. I didn’t like the first sip, but it really growing on me. A delicate but hardly weak or frail Darjeeling, definitely tending to the citrus end with a nice muscatel/spicy finish. Dances on the tongue.

Another delight in the Teabox Darjeeling sampler pack.

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90

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped 5 minutes, drunk bare.

Picking date: 16 July 2021.

Another glorious inclusion in the Teabox Darjeeling sampler. The packet promises mirabelle plum, apricot, and grapefruit notes in the aroma with a “tangy-sweet, mellow, woody” palate. This tea keeps those promises. A bright and happy Darjeeling with a bit of heft yet still very fresh.

Teabox often recommend lower temps than I expect for their black teas, and I encourage you to try it their way. Darjeelings and even Assams with 90C water instead of 95C or boiling brew up a bit sweeter and with gorgeous dances of flavour.

I have many, many different samples to try yet, and I’m thrilled about it.

If you can get the Darjeeling sampler pack on sale, do it. Even at regular price, it’s well worth it.

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95

While the 2021 flush is available, I’ve got the Nov 2020 picking as part of a Teabox Darjeeling sampler that I got for half price. (I’m a very happy Darjeeling fan right now.)

1.5 tsp for 300mL water at 90C, steeped 5 minutes, drunk bare.

Dry leaf: tight twisted brown and amber leaves. Aroma of earthiness and faint fruit.

Wet leaf: tab, dark olive green, brown. Lively aromas of earth, spice, fruit, and, well, that lovely scent that comes only from a Darjeeling.

Liquor: medium copper.

The packet promises a medium-bodied, tart-fruity, well-rounded Darjeeling with asomtas of nectarines, light florals, and red berries. It’s all that and more. This is a delightful, in-your-face-HI-I’M-DARJEELING-AND-NOTHING-ELSE tea, bright, lively, dancing, and punching above its weight with that almost spicy earthiness. Everything I’ve ever loved about Darjeeling teas is happening here. If you prefer delicacy, stick to a first or even second flush. This gorgeous autumn flush, though, will take very good care of you.

PS. I’m quite content to follow Teabox’s suggestions for water temps. I’ve brewed their various Assams at 90C and not been disappointed. Very little bitterness yet plenty of flavour from a black tea at 90C.

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100

Picking date: 4 May 2020.

2tsp for 250mL @90C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

Dry leaf: small narrow leaves, tan and brown. Aroma: the packet says “mandarin, cantaloupe, and green peas,” but all I get is a lovely earthiness and, of all things, cocoa and malt. My hay fever must be worse than I thought this year.

Wet leaf: lots of bright green and tan. Almost a toasty, good quality Keemun note to the aroma, followed by a promise of muscatel.

Liquor: golden bronze.

WOW. This is a spring flush, so I expected a light and airy, almost green tea flavour. It’s brisk, medium-bodied, and just sparkles with muscatel, and yes, cantaloupe and mandarin notes. (I loathe green peas, so I can’t make an informed comment on that note, beyond a sweet earthiness.) This is a complex but not, I would say, delicate Darjeeling. Utterly delicious. Even more muscatel finish as it cools. This somewhat jaded Darjeeling fan is all a-twitter.

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90

2tsp for 250mL water @90C, steeped 5 minutes, drunk bare.

Wow!

The description intrigued me: “toasted cereals, firewood, hint caramelized” — which sounds like a good Keemun, but this is grown in Darjeeling.

Cross a good and subtle Keemun with a lively Darjeeling and you get Lopchu.

It is absolutely delicious. It even has some buttery and mineral notes in the finish. It’s not smoky, not like lower grade Keemuns or a full-on lapsang, but there’s definitely a toasted grains/ Grape Nuts thing happening. It’s a tiny bit drying on the tongue. Some floral notes as it cools.

Complex and fascinating.

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85

2tsp for 250mL water @90C, steeped 4 minutes 15 seconds.

Dry leaf: wiry and long, ranging from cream to dark green in colour. Scent is very floral, a heady jasmine.

Wet leaf: large light green leaves and a fair bit of stem, but the stem has opened up nicely.
Serious jasmine scent. Glorious.

Liquor: pale, pale gold. Scent is creamy jasmine with just a hint of something sharper, something else floral. Beautiful delicate whit tea mouthfeel and genuine-tasting jasmine versus perfumed-soap jasmine.

I adore jasmine teas. I’ve not had one for ages. I generally prefer white tea to green, so this one’s a real treat.

No soapiness or bitterness so far in the taste; there might be if I’d steeped it much longer.

One of the better offerings from DavidsTea.

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85

I’ve used my entire sample of this gorgeous creamy Assam in a pot, half Chota Tingrai, picking date 22 May 2019, and half second flush Darjeeling, picking date 2018, from the gardens Chamling, Chongtong, Monteviot, Moondakotee, Mullootar, Nagri, and Nurbong. This 2nd flush Darjeeling came via TeaCampaign Canada.

The Chota Tingrai is a creamy Assam. Nice medium to heavy body, so lots of heft to balance out the Darjeeling. Not an assertive Assam, though it is slightly bitter in the aftertaste, probably case I used water at 95C instead of the recommenced 90C.

It plays very well with the muscatel-rich and sparkling Darjeeling. I wish I’d had enough i the sample pack to try the Chota Tingrai on its own, but I was really craving a blended pot today.

I’ll buy it again, for sure.

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Bio

Writer and tea fiend. Author of CONSTANT NOBODY, THIS MARLOWE, DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE.

I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.

Location

St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

Website

https://michellebutlerhallett...

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