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Recent Tasting Notes
Since I have a fraught relationship with teapots at the moment (a newly purchased and expensive one cracked and I can’t replace it), I’m steeping Western style for a while. (My little porcelain teapot is in fine working order; I’m just bitter that my dream teapot isn’t.) It’s annoying how few teas I own that can be steeped Western, and most of them are Darjeelings. Western kind of seems like a waste for nicer teas anyway.
I steeped 4 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 7 minutes.
The dry aroma is of sweet muscatel, orange blossoms, chocolate, and green plants. The first steep has notes of heady muscatel, plums, stonefruit, orange blossoms, sap, faint cocoa, and tannins. Maybe five minutes was too long for this tea, as it’s a bit drying. Those tannins and the sweet muscatel fight with each other in the aftertaste. Honey and apricot become apparent as the tea cools. I made the second steep at 190F to try and reduce the tannin punch, with limited success. The fruitiness is still very much there, but so is the assertive black tea backbone of tannins, minerality, malt, and wood.
This is an excellent Darjeeling that would have been even better if the tannins had been toned down. I’ll keep changing the brewing parameters to see if it will help, but for now, it’s an 87.
Flavors: Apricot, Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Plums, Sap, Stonefruits, Tannin, Wood
Thanks to Lochan Tea for including this sample in my order. I had previously tasted an autumn flush from this producer and thought it was quirky and quite good, so was eager to try their interpretation of a second flush. I steeped 4 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 8 minutes.
The dry aroma is of apricots, muscatel, smoke, and malt. The first steep has heady top notes of apricot, muscatel, and orange zest, balanced by malt, baked bread, tannins, subtle smoke, and wood. The apricot note is quite distinctive and is something I haven’t seen in a second flush Darjeeling. There’s some astringency and the aftertaste is smoky and a bit metallic. The second steep still has lingering apricot notes, but also tannin, wood, minerals, roasted almond, and grass.
While these smoked teas will never be daily drinkers for me, I liked this second flush’s interesting balance of fruity and heavy flavours. The apricot was especially nice. However, if you’re not frugal (a.k.a. cheap) like me, you should forego the second steep.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Grass, Malt, Metallic, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange Zest, Smoke, Tannin, Wood
I bought a bunch of second flush Darjeelings from this company a while ago, plus a couple first flushes. But by the time I could dig in to them, I got two back-to-back colds. Finally, my sinuses have more or less returned to normal and I can start reviewing tea again (yay!). I steeped about 4 g of this fluffy leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 8 minutes, respectively.
The first steep is really green, with notes of orange blossom, other flowers, citrus, herbs (thyme?), roasted almonds, cream, green pepper, and grass. The body is thick and there’s little astringency. The second steep is more vegetal and herbaceous.
This is a nice, complex, greener first flush that deserves the attention I can finally give it. The flavours are well integrated, although I tend to prefer more fruity offerings (hence the focus on second flushes).
Flavors: Almond, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green Pepper, Herbaceous, Orange Blossom, Thyme, Vegetal
My cupboard cleanout continues. This is a second flush Assam from 2015. I steeped about 4 g of leaf Western style in a 355 ml mug at 200F for 3, 5, and 8 minutes.
This has all the usual suspects for Assam: malt, raisins, prunes, dark wood, and hay. Either due to its age or because it was a high-quality tea, the liquor is smooth and has little astringency, although it’s unmistakably an Assam.
This didn’t wow me, but it was good and has aged well. Solidly average.
Flavors: Dark Wood, Hay, Malt, Raisins, Smooth, Tannin
Last Sunday, a power outage ate my elaborate review of this tea, so I’m going on my fuzzy recollections. Always, always save your work, even if it’s just a tea review!
I never know how to brew white teas from the Indian subcontinent, so I used brewing instructions from the Camellia Sinensis website. I steeped 6 g of tea in a 120 ml teapot at 175F for 30, 20, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus a couple long, uncounted steeps.
The dry leaves smelled like flowers, oats, and grass. The first couple steeps had notes of autumn leaf pile, apricot, hay, oats, wildflowers, and grass, with a hint of smoke. The second steep had hints of smoked salmon, which thankfully disappeared as the session progressed. Later steeps lost the fruit and tended toward grass, oats, hay, and linen. There was also quite a bit of astringency.
Today, I steeped my remaining 3 g Western using 355 ml of water at 175F for 3, 5, 8, and 10 minutes. I don’t think I used enough leaf, as the flavours were pretty muddled. I got flowers, oats, grass, and something fruity that I couldn’t have identified as apricot if not for the gongfu session. If I’d just drank it this way, my rating would be lower.
This was a solid white tea with some interesting flavours, some good and some not so much. I’m glad to have tried it, but not sad to say goodbye.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Cut grass, Fishy, Floral, Hay, Oats, Smoke, Tangy
Maybe because of my recent Camellia Sinensis order or maybe because it’s winter, I’ve gotten back into Darjeelings. I plumbed the depths of my stash to find some teas from Lochan, which are unfortunately now two years old. (Why did I need so much tea again?) I steeped about 1.5 teaspoons of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 200F for 3.5 and 5 minutes.
This was an interesting one! Possibly because of the name, I got notes of autumn leaf pile, malt, muscatel, prunes, and hay. I also suspected that the tea was lightly smoked, which is highly unusual for a Darjeeling. This led me to Geoffrey Norman’s post on Steep Stories that states that gently smoking their teas is Niroula’s signature; incidentally, it also provides an interesting history of the tea garden. The second cup was less fruity but still good, and the smoke remained gentle and unobtrusive.
While this wouldn’t jump immediately to mind when I think of Darjeeling, I’m glad I added it to my already overblown tea stash and will have no trouble finishing it.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Hay, Malt, Muscatel, Smoke
This is another one from the tea archives. I used to dismiss Assams as a combination of malt and paint thinner, but the ones from Lochan Tea made my opinion a bit more nuanced. I steeped about 4.5 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 2:30, 4:00, and 6:00 minutes.
While the dominant note is malt, the first steep also has notes of honey, raisin, wood, hay, pencil shavings, pleasant sourness, and pine sap. Although some astringency is present, it isn’t overwhelming, and the liquor is pretty smooth. The flavours decrease in complexity over subsequent steepings and if I allow the tea to cool.
While I don’t think Assam teas will ever be my first choice, this one is surprisingly smooth and complex while also waking me up. Not bad for a tea from 2015!
Flavors: Hay, Honey, Malt, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins, Resin, Smooth, Wood
Technically, I got this tea from The Pleasures of Tea. (My tea dealer) but it is from the Doke Estate in India. Lochan is the name of the family who runs the estate. This tea is great. Leaves are brownish in color and expanded greatly with each infusion. I do not separate infusions. I infuse, put it in a pot, infuse again until the coloring looks light to me. The liquor is dark amber in color when brewed, It has a bit of an astringent, musky taste. There aren’t many floral notes like a typical oolong. Sweet tasting kind of like a Formosa. Yum.
Flavors: Astringent, Sweet
A lovely, well-defined flavor. I find that the Indian Silver Needle teas tend to have a stronger flavor than the Silver Needle teas from China.
Sweet, refreshing. Soothing. Notes of melon and peach with a dewy freshness. As I mentioned in my full-length review of this tea: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/08/10/doke-silver-needle-from-lochan-tea-limited/ – I had difficulty putting my finger on the precise fruit flavor that I was experiencing until I read the description for this tea “Dried Apricot” and yes, that’s it. It has that sugary sort of flavor that you might experience from biting into a dried apricot. Sweet, sweet, sweet!
The dry leaves have a range of colors from light green to reddish brown to black. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. The leaves are rolled. There are a few silver tips in the mix. The aroma is quite sweet, with scents of muscat grapes, cocoa, and roses.
The infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden color with an orange tint, clear and transparent. There were some fine particles. The aroma had scents of muscat grapes, roses, and light wood. The body is medium, with a lively and clean texture, and an uplifting energy. The taste had notes of muscat grapes, roses, light wood, and light spice. The aftertaste is floral, and a flowery essence is left on the breath.
Flavors: Cherry Wood, Muscatel, Rose, Spices
I just noticed that this says 2012 … I don’t think that this is a 2012 though. But the other stuff – the estate and the FTGFOP stuff … that’s correct.
I’ve been pretty impressed with the Darjeeling teas that I’ve tried from Lochan. I generally prefer a second flush to a first, but, this is a mighty fine first flush.
Sweet, crisp, with a clean taste. Notes of flower and woodsy tones. Refreshing. This might be a tad more astringent than some of the Darjeeling teas I’ve had, but it’s still quite good.
here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/03/29/dooteriah-sftgfop-1-first-flush-darjeeling-tea-lochan-tea-limited/
I got a good helping of this stuff from Lochan Tea to play with. And play with it, I did. I gongfu’d it, I boiled it, I did a green tea-ish approach with it. Basically, I’ve been rolling in this particular tea for the better part of a week.
But what I hadn’t done was observe the brewing recommendations from another vendor selling the stuff. I looked at the Butiki Teas page, and they recommended a four-minute steep at 170 degrees. That seemed light, but I gave it a shot.
So much going on with this oolong. It’s slightly malty – like an Assam. There’s a grapiness to it – like a Darjeeling. And, oddly enough, there’s a bit of pekoe-ish-ness – like a Nilgiri. On top of that, a bit of white tea character also shines through. It’s like an amalgamation of many different teas and traditions.
For this, the lighter approach is the best approach. So much nuance.
Oh yeah, I also did a guest blog for Lochan Tea about Indian oolongs in general. Go looky, if you wanna: http://lochantea.com/index.php?route=pavblog/blog&id=21
Dry leaf has scents of dried herbs, dried fruits.
Wet Leaf has some really tiny buds that almost look like rosemary needles. It has a leafy woodsy scent. Leaves are brownish-green color and some are chopped.
Liquor is golden color with a light scent of pineapple.
Flavor has a rich mouthfeel but not super rich in flavor. It is a light fruit flavor with some spice and herb to it. I like this.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dried Fruit, Herbs, Malt, Pineapple
Water: 1000ml at 175°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 1 minute 30 seconds
Dry Leaf Smell: slight vegetal, slight roasty
Steeped Tea Smell: floral, roasty
Flavor: seaweed, salty
Aftertaste: malty and slightly astringent
Liquor: translucent light orange brown
1000ml at 175°F for 2 minutes
Light at first, but as it sat it darkened, interesting
grassy, astringent, metallic, tingly
I re-sell this product.
I cut back the time for this one and it’s so good. It has a really strong dried apple ring flavor. The mouth feel of this tea is kind of dry but I think that’s what gives it that apple ring feel to it. I like this tea a lot more now that I discovered a better steeping time.
Guys… I just slept for 13 hours :\ Not what I planned at all. But I decided to sample this from the Traveling Teabox B. I didn’t really know what it was so I just brewed it like a white tea. It turned out nice. It’s very mellow. It has a sweetness to it that reminds me of apples and peaches. The flavors are very delicate but I still like it. I feel like it’s a good fall tea because it’s smooth but crisp with light apple\peach flavor.
I determined that for the rest of today, I would drink nothing but infusions of this tea, and see how far it got me. The aroma of the leaves is very light, as one would expect from a bai mu dan, and somewhat vegetal. I’m also getting some notes of cucumber and perhaps some pear, although to me it is not as sweet as a pear. Perhaps an underripe pear.
I did the first steep longer than I ought to, because sometimes you just have to pick up and cuddle the fussy baby. (I have a confession, fellow Steepsters: I do not typically use a timer for tea. I should, but I don’t. I am sure one day I will pick up a timer at a Dollar General or something and henceforth never be parted from it, but that day, alas, has not come.) ANYWAY. The brew was a medium peridot kind of color, and the aroma was again predominantly cucumber. The taste was very fresh, like sprouts coming out of the ground in the morning, covered in last night’s dew. I could taste the cucumber as well, very watery and juicy.
The second steep was less cucumber-y, but it was still there. The third steep brought the onset of something almost metallic, almost mint-like in it’s aftertaste. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I decided then that three steeps was enough. If my husband was here, he’d probably have steeped it a few more times, but alack, he is not. :(
Anyway, I don’t think I would buy this one, but I’m glad I got to try it. :)
Another from TeaboxB. I honestly had no idea if this was a black, green or white tea. It looks like a green or white but the description calls it a Darjeeling. I thought Darjeeling was black? A search for ‘Okayti’ on Steepster brings up all sorts of teas. Anyway, I let the water cool a while and steeped for three minutes. The cup color looks like a white tea. The flavor is very light with a hint of apple that shows up more as it cools. It’s a very delicate flavor otherwise, that may be too subtle for my palate. It’s decent though! I think this is a white tea, just based on the fuzziness of the leaves. I really don’t like the fuzzy white teas anyway, since this one left a ton of tiny fuzzies floating around in my cup and sitting on my throat. There really isn’t anything Darjeeling about it anyway. Oh well. There is plenty of this in the teabox for everyone else to try to decipher!
Another from Momo’s teabox B! To be honest, if I hadn’t opened up this unopened foil package (and then put the leaves in a sealable baggie) I could swear that these were already steeped leaves! But I guess that is just what Bai mu dan looks like. I cooled the water a while and steeped for 2-3 minutes. The flavor is light but lovely. The steep color is a pale yellow. The flavor seems like a light and sweet pineapple or pear. When the water gets cold it almost tastes like something nutty – pistachios? Very nice! I might take a bit of this one out for later.
As a side note, I have no idea how these Lochan teas from the teabox weren’t already in the Steepster system since they are so good!
Additional notes: This one is still a delicious darj. I really wanted to place a smaller Lochan order, but I just can’t right now. I have so much tea at the moment, even if I have one teaspoon left of everything (I don’t) it’s still a lot of tea. I just counted and there are at least 62 teas that will next be sipdowns (I have a sipdown list.) So I’m on tea buying hiatus (though I usually try to be all the time) except for an eventual purchase of teas from Ost. Even though I wanted to buy a few favorites from Tealux, Zen, Steep City (though they seem to be MIA)… I’m trying not to think of any others!
ETA: And Justea! It’s so sad that so many of my favorite tea shops on my favorites list are gone now. Many of them folded this year. :/ Not a good year for tea I guess?
A TeaBoxB tea! I woke up thinking I wanted a Darjeeling — definitely not usually my favorite tea, but luckily somehow the teabox has a few to try! This one has that classic Darjeeling flavor, very smooth and very sweet. The cup color looks like a light amber. Probably the nicest Darjeeling I’ve had (not many!) It was perfect for my Darjeeling craving, and I think I’ll save a bit of this one in case of any more Darjeeling cravings (there is a lot in the box!)