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78

Okay, I’m finally back with a new review. I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to be posting anything else here on Steepster since this place seems like it’s on life support and just barely hanging on, but I decided to go ahead and do so simply because I wanted to keep my backlog of reviews from growing any larger and also because I still like this place. For now, I’m unwilling to entirely give up on it. That being said, I am investigating some new forums for potential contributions to the tea world just in case Steepster goes belly-up. With all of that out of the way, I have some things to share. Those of you who get annoyed with personal updates in their tea reviews and have made it this far should get off this train now. This has been a hell of a week for me. It was a very heavy work week that started off with my credit card getting skimmed Monday. Then my debit card got hit Wednesday. Luckily, I was able to get assistance from my bank’s fraud protection department and was able to recoup the vast majority of my losses without interrupting my work schedule, but this experience led me to review my financial situation and also the extent of my online presence. I have known for some time that I spend way too much time on the internet and do way too much online shopping, so I took this opportunity to cut down on my online presence and expenses. Outside of Steepster, if it even really counts at all, I have done away with my social media presence and have been spending far less time online. I’ve been working on getting back in shape for the last month or so anyway, so my computer and phone time had been steadily tapering off, but I have reduced it even further. It was jarring at first, but cutting the cord felt wonderful. I’m a fairly grumpy, reserved, asocial person IRL. I tend to shy away from social gatherings and obligations and spend most of my time at home with my cats. Not having to deal with the flood of notifications and not feeling the constant urge to check my social media presence has been a breath of fresh air. I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I have in several years. I’m less stressed, pessimistic, and angry. I don’t feel burdened by relationships that had become a chore. I feel like I can spend more time authentically interacting with the people I like and respect and with whom I share interests. I’m finally starting to make concrete plans regarding my future, have been taking better care of myself, and have begun to pick some of my older hobbies and interests back up. Make no mistake, I’ll still be around, but there is a good chance that my little breaks from Steepster will eventually grow longer and longer.

Well, now that I have written a novella, let’s talk about this tea. I’m not normally a chai guy, but this blend wasn’t bad. I tend to prefer my chai very spicy and herbal in character, so this was a little mild for my tastes. I could not help thinking that it was missing some characteristics that would make it more memorable. Overall, though, this was not bad.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I started off by steeping approximately 3 grams of the loose chai blend in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. For my first encounter with this tea, I did not use any additives of any kind. After trying it unadorned, I decided to see how it worked with an addition of 2% milk, so I again steeped about 3 grams of the chai mix in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes and then added a healthy splash of milk to try to tame it.

Prior to infusion, the dry chai blend emitted aromas of cardamom, fennel, and ginger. After infusion, I picked up aromas of cream, malt, caramel, and cocoa underscored by slightly muted cardamom, fennel, and ginger aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cardamom, fennel, and ginger on the entry before revealing impressions of cream, malt, wood, caramel, cocoa, and brown toast that were chased by hints of molasses just before the swallow. Cocoa, caramel, malt, molasses, ginger, fennel, and cardamom impressions were evident on the finish, which brought out noticeable bitterness and astringency as well as hints of roasted walnut. Trying this blend with an addition of 2% milk eliminated the astringency and tamed the bitterness somewhat, though it also seriously muted the fennel, ginger, and cardamom, coming across as a CTC Assam with just a pinch of chai spices added.

As stated above, this was not a bad packaged chai, but it also was not all that special either. I know I have said it before, but commercial blends like this can rarely if ever equal or beat real homemade chai. In the end, I suppose this was pretty good for what it was. I have certainly tried worse chai blends, and I could see people who prefer their chai milder and mellower than I generally do being into it, but I just couldn’t fall in love with this one.

P.S. I’m lazy. I have been sitting on this review since January.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Brown Toast, Caramel, Cardamon, Cocoa, Cream, Fennel, Ginger, Malt, Molasses, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
8 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Roswell Strange

I’m sorry to hear about the fraud issues; that can be so scary but thankfully you caught it before too much damage was done! For the record, I’m happy to read your review; personal content included or not! As long as you keep writing, I’ll keep reading :)

ashmanra

I am glad you got that “breath of fresh air.” I need to cut back on screen time. One of my biggest problems is constantly just looking things up and reading to the point that I am stiff from sitting! I have been walking more, moving more, and it does feel good. Hope things get better and better for you!

Mastress Alita

I’ve dealt with online fraud too, and still don’t know how I got hit… but I do a lot of online shopping too, to be fair! Crazy how prevalent it is. My bank was also really on the ball with it, though! I’m also a very asocial person that stays off of social media… I think I would describe myself as a “power introvert”. Great that you feel more comfortable in your own skin!

mrmopar

I got skimmed a few years back as well. Hope you will hang around with us.

derk

Glad to see you posting as always. Sorry to hear about the fraud issues. I’ve had it happen once on my credit card after buying some model rockets online. Luckily the CC company was on it like me on tea but I never did notify the rocket company of the issue and that they need to update their checkout security.

As far as your other goings on, I think we all recognize how easy it is to get snared in the internet and social media. Happy to hear you’re finding ways to improve your life away from the computer. I went through the whole process of completely deleting my Facebook account maybe 8 years ago and have never once regretted it. I, too, value authenticity in interactions and have found that Steepster, even in the midst of its seeming admin abandonment, somehow fills that need. Can one fake a love for tea? That was supposed to be rhetorical and then I remembered the recent shill reviews popping up. What can you do.

All that said, I hope you don’t delete your invaluable reviews here if you choose to move on to other tea avenues. And keep up the self improvement. Best to you, guy.

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drank Caramel Spice Chai by Teabox
18 tasting notes

Everything you need to flavor a carrot cake. The balance is pretty good, an off flavor of ester comes off the vanilla essence or whatever they used, it’s not very noticeable. I should probably be adding sugar, but it’s doing good without it. I wonder if this would stand up to milk. It’s a CTC, but I’m worried on behalf of the caramel flavoring.

Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Vanilla

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 g 14 OZ / 400 ML

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This benefits a lot from not gongfuing it. I brewed it in my mug in conditions closer to the company specified ones. The wood has a proper presence and the overall experience is dry but full-flavored. Like many darjeeling summers, this tea functions best as a spice and a perfume that you could have after a meal to perk you up and give you a good taste in your mouth. Its grapey/lemony character is still very strong and feels fresh. Tannins are high, but caffeine is moderate. This is a great workhorse tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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I saved this tea listing before I was done, and now it won’t let me edit. i wanted to at least mention that this is the July 2018 picking. At 3/4ths of a year old, this is not the prescribed way to enjoy a darjeeling, but the qualities I want in a second flush are more durable.

Jungpana is known to have a pretty much textbook muscatel character. This tea, from the rinse/first steep, has an intense brightness that indeed mimics a white wine exactly. I even get the slightly curdled feeling in the back of the throat on drinking too much white wine. Use low mineral water to further intensify the brightness. Tea soup is very viscous and bubbly, a good surprise with an indian tea. Aroma is grapes in the empty cup, grape skin and grass from the soup. Tartness and astringency seize the whole mouth after drinking, then very slowly and grudgingly release a little sweetness. Longevity is some 5-6 steeps. That crisp tartness pretty much endures forever.

Like with any darjeeling, I don’t risk going above 85C and flash steeps, because the tannic and bitter factor is high. This is more refreshing than comforting, but it really does pick me up as nicely as a lemonade would.

Flavors: Wet Wood, White Grapes

Preparation
6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Tried this at work, but wasn’t paying much attention to it. I don’t recall it tasting anything like the descriptors that Teabox uses though (fresh veggies/wild berries). More of that “autumn leaf pile” kind of taste, and a profile a bit more directly comparable to an Autumnal Flush Darjeeling – just from what I remember. Nice though.

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60

This was the last of the Indian oolongs I consumed in 2018 and the second of two Assam oolongs I have tried to this point in my tea drinking life. This one gave me the impression that maybe they are just not for me. This tea struck me as being somewhat odd, though it was not nearly as challenging or as memorable as the Halmari Special Summer Oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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 produced aromas of cream, malt, wood, roasted almond, and brown sugar. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of straw, honeysuckle, and menthol. The first infusion did not seem to introduce any new aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, malt, wood, roasted almond, toasted cashew, honeysuckle, and menthol that were chased by hints of straw, brown sugar, grass, and watermelon rind. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of watermelon, lemon zest, coriander, and cucumber. Stronger and more upfront watermelon rind and grass notes appeared in the mouth along with impressions of minerals, cucumber, and lemon zest. There were also some stray hints of coriander here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, malt, lemon zest, and watermelon rind that were underscored by hints of cucumber, grass, cream, wood, and menthol.

Compared to the Halmari oolong, this was a much simpler and more straightforward tea, though it was also much shorter-lived and less memorable. It kind of just was. In the end, I could not muster much of a reaction to it. I guess it was okay for what it was. It was certainly less prickly and unpredictable than the other Assam oolong, but it was also less fun to drink and much plainer. If there were a numerical score that could be summed up with the description “not bad, but whatever,” it would probably be a 60. That’s all this tea was to me, and perhaps it could even be argued that I am being a tad generous.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Honeysuckle, Lemon Zest, Malt, Melon, Menthol, Mineral, Nutty, Straw, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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78

Before I properly begin this review, allow me to state that this tea pushed me into unknown territory. Prior to trying it, I was at least somewhat familiar with Indian oolongs and had tried several oolongs produced from assamica cultivars, but I had tried no oolongs of any kind from the state of Assam. I decided to give this one a shot simply because I had tried a few enjoyable black teas from Halmari and was aware that the teas produced by the estate enjoyed a great reputation internationally. Once I actually got around to trying it, however, I immediately knew that this tea was going to be difficult for me. In terms of look, the leaf material looked more like a black tea than any sort of oolong, and the smell let me know that this tea was going to be pungent and challenging. Ultimately, I enjoyed it, at least to an extent, but I also had and still have nothing with which to compare it.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material produced aromas of hay, malt, wood, honey, and molasses. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, toasted cashew, orange zest, and brown sugar. The first infusion introduced aromas of apricot, peach, eucalyptus, black pepper, and orange blossom. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, hay, wood, honey, orange zest, brown sugar, roasted almond, and toasted cashew that were balanced by hints of cream, orange blossom, butter, molasses, eucalyptus, and horehound. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of lemon zest, toast, wintergreen, cocoa, and roasted walnut. Apricot, peach, and black pepper notes belatedly appeared in the mouth alongside new impressions of minerals, roasted walnut, wintergreen, lemon zest, cocoa, marigold, and toast. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to present notes of minerals, toast, malt, brown sugar, and honey that were balanced by hints of lemon zest, eucalyptus, roasted almond, toasted cashew, cream, and wood.

This struck me as being a truly odd tea. In terms of aroma and flavor, it fell somewhere between a traditional Assam black tea and a Darjeeling or Nepalese oolong. A lot of the aroma and flavor components I found were unexpected and combined in interesting though not always comfortable ways. Part of me suspects that this tea was not all that well-suited to a gongfu brewing approach, but to be honest, the couple of Western infusions that I later tried did not really differ all that much. Overall, I did not dislike this tea, but I expected more and found that it did not move me much after a point. In this case, a score of 78 feels about right to me.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cocoa, Cream, Eucalyptus, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Peach, Toast, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I’ve had a hard time finishing the Assam Oolong I have. It’s a little too malty for me personally.

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73

Drank a pot of this – it was nice and smooth, and a lot less tannic/astringent than I typically think of Darjeeling as. I don’t generally drink a lot of Autumnal Darjeeling though, I suppose. A little bit malty, but mostly just nice and floral with some citrus peel sort of undertones.

Probably would be really nice as an iced tea.

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65

Sample Sipdown! (25)

So this was a random sample that I had left over from a long past Teabox order. It’s a green tea from Nilgiri, which is interesting. The dry leaf also looks quite unusual – it’s a mixture of rather small, straight leaves and little baby oolong-like pellets.

Woof, even at a 2-minute steep, this tea is verging on bitterness and is quite strong. It reminds me of a cross between a Darjeeling black tea and a Chinese green tea. There are definitely some similarities to gunpowder green tea as well.

It has the interesting floral and muscatel notes of a Darjeeling, along with the diva attitude toward steeping time. And the strong and somewhat smoky mineral notes are a dead ringer for gunpowder green. But at the end of the sip, there’s that soft and fuzzy apricot finish that I so often find with Chinese green teas, especially the robust ones like Chun Mei.

It’s definitely an unusual one, and I’m happy to have tried it. But generally I prefer more mellow green teas, so it’s not something I would purchase.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Floral, Mineral, Muscatel, Roasted, Smoke, Stonefruits

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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65

Work – 1:30 PM

So this is a sample that was in my drawer at work (along with a bunch of single wrapped sachets from Lupicia, Harney, and the like). It’s a green tea from Nilgiri, which should be interesting. The dry leaf is almost pellet-like and somewhat reminds me of CTC.

This reminds me quite a bit of a gunpowder green tea. It has the same strong earthy flavor with mineral and slight smoke notes. There are some roasted grain notes here as well though, similar to houjicha. I do get some bitterness and quite a lot of astringency after a 2.5 minute steep.

I do find some similarity in this to Indian black teas, it’s quite brisk and has a similar astringent aftertaste. Very interesting! It’s a bit too brisk for me for a green tea.

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Earth, Grain, Hay, Mineral, Roasted, Smoke

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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90

Alright, here is my last review for the day. I finished a sample pouch of this chai around the start of the month. Normally, I am not a huge fan of chai blends, but this one was pretty much excellent.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of the loose tea and spice blend in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I neither performed a rinse nor attempted any additional infusions. I also tried this blend with and without an addition of 2% milk.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaf and spice mix emitted aromas of ginger, cardamom, clove, and cinnamon that were underscored by hints of black pepper. After infusion, scents of malt, cream, and caramel emerged. In the mouth, the liquor was brisk, biting, and astringent, expressing wood, caramel, cream, malt, brown toast, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and black pepper notes before a spicy, peppery finish heavy on lingering cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and black pepper impressions. The addition of 2% milk tamed the astringency and briskness of this blend somewhat while allowing for greater integration of the aromas and flavors of the CTC black tea and the added spices.

To be totally honest, a preblended masala chai will likely never be able to top one that is homemade, but for what this was, it was more or less excellent. I could see it being good for those instances when one is craving chai, but does not have the time to prepare one from scratch. Overall, I have no real complaints with this blend. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quality masala chai.

Flavors: Astringent, Biting, Black Pepper, Brown Toast, Caramel, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Ginger, Malt, Wood

Preparation
3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Tabby

Your reviews are always such a good read. I hope I can learn to taste as thoroughly as you do one day, haha. :)

Mastress Alita

I think we all aspire to have eastkyteaguy’s God Tongue.

eastkyteaguy

Tabby, thank you. It just takes practice and patience. I’m still learning as I go.

eastkyteaguy

Mastress Alita, I can’t shoot fireballs or lightning bolts from my tongue, so it does not qualify as the God Tongue yet. I’m working on it, though.

derk

In the meantime, folks, say hello to the Steepster demigod. Don’t tremble in fear just yet.

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96

This was the last of the 2017 Donyi Polo tea samples I acquired from Teabox in the second half of last year. It ended up being my favorite of the group. I was especially impressed by this tea’s depth and complexity on the nose and in the mouth as well as the thick, silky mouthfeel of the tea liquor.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose leaf and bud mix in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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 and bud mix produced aromas of baked bread, honey, sugarcane, malt, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of molasses, caramel, marigold, eucalyptus, and cucumber. The first infusion brought out scents of rose, violet, and chocolate. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of sugarcane, baked bread, malt, honey, marigold and sweet potato that were chased by subtle rose, chocolate, and violet impressions. The following infusions introduced aromas of vanilla, lemon zest, tangerine, geranium, and wintergreen to accompany a suddenly amplified chocolate aroma. Stronger rose, chocolate, and violet notes appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging impressions of cucumber, caramel, molasses, and wintergreen. Impressions of minerals, vanilla, wintergreen, geranium, tangerine, watermelon, and lemon zest also appeared. By the end of the session, I was picking up dominant notes of minerals, malt, wintergreen, cucumber, watermelon, and lemon zest that were backed by hints of mixed flowers, eucalyptus, and sugarcane.

This was an absolutely gorgeous tea. Despite such an odd and complicated mix of aromas and flavors, everything present in this tea worked well together. There were no rough edges. The combination of depth and complexity on the nose and in the mouth and the rich, silky, thick mouthfeel of the tea liquor made for a truly decadent drinking experience. A true connoisseur’s tea, I recommend this one highly to anyone looking for a quality Indian oolong and/or a great tea from one of India’s less widely heralded locales.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Chocolate, Citrus, Cucumber, Eucalyptus, Floral, Geranium, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Melon, Molasses, Rose, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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70

This was one of the 2017 oolong samples I ordered from Teabox in the second half of last year. At the time, I was making a concerted effort to try teas from the Indian states/regions that were less widely acclaimed for their tea production. Basically, I was snapping up teas from places like Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Bihar. This particular tea was produced at one of Arunachal Pradesh’s more revered tea estates. Shortly before ordering this tea, I had tried a Donyi Polo black tea and loved it, so I was eager to see what one of the estate’s oolongs was like. I then put off trying it for no real reason, eventually working my way through it towards the end of last week. Honestly, I found it to be a mixed bag. I enjoyed the tea’s complexity, but found its texture unappealing while also being underwhelmed by its astringency and lack of longevity.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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 emitted aromas of wood, hay, coriander, toasted nuts, wheat, and cucumber. After the rinse, I found new aromas of lavender, lemon, grass, violet, and vanilla. The first infusion brought out malt, menthol, and fennel scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of wood, lavender, hay, wheat, grass, fennel, violet, and cucumber that were backed by impressions of toasted cashew, malt, and lemon. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas of mandarin orange, dandelion, marigold, and field greens. Stronger lemon and malt notes appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging impressions of vanilla, coriander, and menthol. Entirely new notes of minerals, apricot, mandarin orange, marigold, dandelion, and field greens also appeared. As I ended my session, the tea liquor was still yielding very subtle mineral, dandelion, mandarin orange, malt, wood, and lemon notes that were underscored by fleeting hints of apricot, lavender, and violet.

This was a quirky, complex, and challenging tea with a highly unique and very appealing mix of aroma and flavor components, but it also yielded a good deal of astringency and harsh texture while fading quickly. Again, this tea was a mixed bag. It displayed very clear strengths while also displaying very clear weaknesses. Fortunately, I did enjoy a lot of what it had to offer (and to be fair, this tea had a lot to offer), finding its strengths to somewhat outweigh its weaknesses. In the end, I would be willing to give it a somewhat cautious recommendation to those interested in some of the teas from India’s less widely known centers of tea production.

Flavors: Apricot, Coriander, Cucumber, Dandelion, Fennel, Floral, Grass, Hay, Lavender, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Nutty, Orange, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet, Wheat, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

This was the first of the Darjeeling oolongs I tried back at the start of the month. Of the bunch, this was the one I expected to like the least, since I have not always had a particularly high opinion of the teas produced by the Mim Estate. Oddly, this tea and the Jungpana Spring Oolong ended up being my favorites.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material produced aromas of toasted cashew, hay, vanilla, cream, white grape, and dandelion. After the rinse, I found a more intense white grape aroma as well as new scents of jasmine, rose, geranium, orange blossom, mango, and plum. The first infusion remained intensely floral and fruity on the nose, though I found no new aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor was smoothly floral and fruity, initially displaying geranium, dandelion, orange blossom, and rose notes that gave way to impressions of malt, cream, hay, wood, white grape, mango, plum, toasted cashew, and vanilla before the floral notes reasserted themselves, this time with a subtle hint of jasmine making an appearance. Subsequent infusions saw aromas of toast, lemon balm, and marigold appear. Notes of lemon balm, toast, marigold, spearmint, white peach, grass, tangerine zest, and green bell pepper appeared in the mouth. The final few infusions emphasized lingering mineral, rose, orange blossom, grass, cream, and tangerine zest notes that were balanced by subtler impressions of wood, dandelion, white grape, hay, vanilla, and toasted cashew before a slight astringency settled in.

This was a very busy and complex tea that had a ton to offer a Darjeeling tea enthusiast. Its complexity and liveliness, however, also marked it as a tea that would not be suitable for someone just making the jump into the world of Darjeeling oolongs. I loved it, but this would definitely not be the sort of tea that I would recommend someone try first. In the end, this was an excellent tea, but it was a bit overwhelming.

Flavors: Citrus, Cream, Dandelion, Geranium, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Jasmine, Malt, Mango, Mineral, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Peach, Plums, Rose, Spearmint, Toast, Vanilla, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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87

No notes yet. Add one?

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 6 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 200 OZ / 5914 ML

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83

This was yet another of the Darjeeling oolongs I finished during the first week of September. Of the bunch, I found this one to be more like a second flush black tea than the others. The folks at Teabox felt that this was not a tea suitable for beginners, but I disagree with that opinion to a certain extent. Since it was (I say was in this case because this tea does not seem to be currently available, and I do not recall a 2018 version being offered) a higher oxidized oolong displaying aromas and flavors similar to a number of second flush Darjeeling black teas, I could not help thinking that it would have made a suitable gateway tea for those looking to make the leap from Darjeeling black teas to Darjeeling oolongs.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of hay, straw, wood, dark chocolate, and roasted nuts. After the rinse, I detected a heavier wood presence and new aromas of Muscatel, malt, dandelion, and grass. The first infusion revealed rose and violet aromas as well as a subtle fennel presence. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of hay, straw, grass, malt, Muscatel, rose, violet, and wood underscored by hints of fennel. The following infusions revealed distinct roasted cashew and roasted almond scents as well as aromas reminiscent of marigold and wintergreen oil. Impressions of roasted almond, roasted cashew, dandelion, and dark chocolate belatedly appeared in the mouth along with an unexpected roasted walnut note and new mineral, pear, marigold, and wintergreen flavors. The last infusions offered mineral, dandelion, dark chocolate, hay, and wood notes that were balanced by impressions of wintergreen, violet, Muscatel, pear, and roasted nuts.

This was a complex and very likable tea, but I must admit that I found it to be very heavy both on the nose and in the mouth. It offered a lot, making it a tea that rewarded very patient, focused sniffing and sipping. I would definitely not want to have it regularly, though I found it to be a very good Darjeeling oolong. Overall, it was definitely an oolong that would not shock established drinkers of second flush Darjeeling black teas as it was almost as filling as some of the heartier, more aggressive teas of that type.

Flavors: Almond, Dandelion, Dark Chocolate, Fennel, Floral, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Nutty, Pear, Rose, Straw, Toast, Violet, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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80

This was another of the Darjeeling oolongs I finished during the first week of September. Honestly, I did not find it to be quite as appealing as the spring oolong from Jungpana, though it was a very appealing, likable tea overall. I appreciated its range of floral, fruity, and nutty aromas and flavors.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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 produced aromas of raisin, fruit leather, prune, and fig. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, wood, hay, straw, and citrus as well as a stronger fruit leather scent. The first infusion then introduced aromas of violet and dandelion. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted almond, dandelion, wood, raisin, and hay. There was also something of a sugary presence in the mouth. Subsequent infusions introduced stronger violet and dandelion aromas along with some rose-like scents. New impressions of roasted peanut, grass, green bell pepper, marigold, minerals, rose, and toasted cashew appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging flavors of violet, orange, prune, and fig. The later infusions offered lingering mineral, wood, roasted peanut, hay, and grass impressions along with subtle dandelion accents in places.

Like the other Goomtee Estate teas I have tried, this was a very quirky and often surprising tea. I could see it making a good entry point to the world of Darjeeling oolongs for fans of first flush Darjeeling black teas. My only real knocks on this tea were that it displayed a tendency to get a bit chalky and astringent in the mouth on some of the longer infusions, and some of its most appealing aromas and flavors faded a little too quickly for my liking. This was still a very nice tea, however, and though not previously mentioned, it worked tremendously well when brewed in the Western style. Overall, I would recommend that fans of Darjeeling teas give this one a shot.

Flavors: Almond, Dandelion, Dried Fruit, Fig, Floral, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Mineral, Nutty, Orange, Peanut, Raisins, Rose, Straw, Sugar, Violet, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Back around the start of September, I took a couple days to work my way through some Darjeeling oolong samples that I had purchased back in late summer and early autumn of 2017. This was one of them, and I have to say that I was impressed by it. Of course, it should also be noted that I am a huge fan of the teas produced by the Jungpana Estate. I particularly appreciated this tea’s depth and complexity.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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 emitted aromas of toasted cashew, hay, raisin, vanilla, malt, and wood. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of grass, straw, spinach, and roasted almond along with some hints of fennel. The first infusion offered a hint of green bell pepper on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of toasted cashew, wood, hay, malt, vanilla, and roasted almond that were backed by surprising notes of mango and tangerine before impressions of green bell pepper and grass popped up on the finish. Subsequent infusions saw aromas of mango, tangerine, jasmine, and spearmint appear. Notes of fennel, spinach, raisin, and straw belatedly appeared in the mouth alongside new notes of spearmint, minerals, sugar, orange, and jasmine. The later infusions offered some lingering mineral, tangerine, mango, and fennel notes that were backed by impressions of grass, roasted nuts, green bell pepper, and spinach.

This was a complex, challenging, and refined first flush Darjeeling oolong that managed to remain approachable throughout a lengthy drinking session and never turned sour, bitter, or astringent. Fans of Darjeeling teas would probably be very pleased with it. I would have no issue with recommending it to oolong fans looking for something new or fans of Darjeeling black teas who are looking for something a little more challenging.

Flavors: Almond, Citrus, Fennel, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Jasmine, Malt, Mango, Mineral, Nutty, Orange, Raisins, Spearmint, Spinach, Straw, Sugar, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Jungpana’s are one of my favorites, too.

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73

This is probably the first green tea from India for me. I got it from Skysamurai through the Discovery Teabox and it was actually sold by Yatra Tea, but I am pretty sure it’s the same tea and I don’t feel like creating another entry for it, especially considering that Yatra Tea don’t seem to sell it anymore.

Anyway, with regards to the tea, the dry leaf smells like strawberry plants and there are even more similar notes in the wet leaf smell — like thistles or blackberry plant. The smell has the hay like quality of young sheng in fact. Once the leaves cool down, I also get the smoky aroma.

The taste is also slightly akin to a young sheng, but less bitter and more woody and robust. Some notes that come up are conifer (maybe spruce?) twigs, rhubarb and thyme. Aftertaste is a little spicy and sweet. Overall, it’s a pleasant taste I would say, not quite what I would expect from a green tea though.

Flavors: Blackberry, Fruity, Hay, Plants, Rhubarb, Smoke, Spicy, Strawberry, Sweet, Thyme

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
derk

That sounds interesting and worth a try.

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62

Smells lovely, like classic English Breakfast tea. Unfortunately, the flavour is quite weak and this is designed to be drunk with milk and sugar to accompany food.

Brewed at 191˚F.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 15 sec

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65

Liquor aroma: Malted sugar, Red dates (Jujubes) not Medjool

Palate: Tastes more like Medjool dates. Pretty good on its own, starts with only the barest hint of astringency but the more you drink, the astringency builds up and I eventually had to add both milk and sugar.

Brewed at 189˚F for 4:00.

Flavors: Dates, Malt

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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65

Tea has aroma of juicy, rich dates.

Flavour is slightly astringent, not good to drink on its own. Tastes a bit better with milk, but even better with sugar.

Brewed at 191˚F for 4 minutes.

Flavors: Dates

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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75
drank Wayanad Cardamom Chai by Teabox
200 tasting notes

I quite like the focused effect of this chai, with only one spice in it. It’s not overwhelming or too spicy, just accented. Perfectly drinkable on its own, and adding milk doesn’t make it much better.

Flavors: Cardamon

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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86

Really gorgeous, punchy aroma of raisins and dates. Thick, full-bodied liquor that can be drunk plain with only minimum astringency and a lovely, satisfying mouthfeel.

This is currently out of stock at Teabox, but I’ll keep my eye out for the 2019 harvest!

Increasing my rating to 86.

Flavors: Dates, Raisins

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 45 sec 3 g 7 OZ / 207 ML

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