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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve been super busy lately and haven’t had as much time as I’d like to do gongfu tea reviews, though I’ve had plenty of lazy gongfu sessions to sip down old teas. Western steeping seems to be a good compromise. Thanks to Teakruthi for the sample, and sorry for taking so long to get this review posted! I steeped around 4.5 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 190F for 4.5, 6, and 10 minutes.
Wow! These white tea leaves are huge! I’m a bit concerned that I didn’t get a proper balance between the white and black teas in the blend because the black tea collects at the bottom of the bag, but we’ll see. The first steep is a smooth combination of malt, honey, flowers, grass, and autumn leaf pile. There’s a lot of sweetness from the white tea and not much astringency from the black. The second steep is grassier, but still smooth and sweet; the flavour falls off in the third.
This tea lives up to its name and harmonizes the white and black teas nicely. I found it to be a pleasant evening cup and agree with Roswell Strange on the rating.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Grass, Honey, Malt, Sweet
I was thinking about Harney’s cinnamon tea when I picked this one, so I was surprised by how mild this is. The black tea is very nice with no bitterness, and the cinnamon is rather muted. This is one you wouldn’t want milk with because it would overwhelm the flavors. It’s definitely not a spicy chai. It’s just a mild black tea with light cinnamon. Not bad.
Finally gave this tea a go – it was the last of my batch of free samples from teakruthi that I’d yet to try out. I made it up as a larger Western style of mug to drink while just lounging around and catching up on some comics so it wasn’t something I was giving my undivided attention to. More of just a casual cup.
I liked the flavour a fair amount – lightly sweet and nutty but mostly just a little bit malty. However, as nice as the taste was I found it a bit boring overall and really simple/lacking nuance. It was also just a smidge flat/weak. The thing I was craving most of all from the profile by the time I’d finished the mug was just more body in general – that would have gone a long way. I could probably at least partially achieve that through longer steep time or maybe just more leaf in general. I’ll have enough left for some more experimentation if I remember though…
Thanks again for the samples, Teakruthi! The fruit here almost looks fresh in the blend — and so many great fruits here – strawberry, pineapple, mango and peach! Wow. I can’t ask for a better combination than that. There even seems to be more fruit than green tea, but the fruit is so very tasty. Since Gunpowder Green is stronger, the lesser amount of green tea to the fruit balances it out anyway. The flavor is fantastic — creamy yet full of fruit, with that amazing hint of fresh green tea. And it is quite the tightrope walk balance of tasty fruit to green tea flavors. This is a must-try blend — I’ve tried plenty of fruit green teas in my time, but this one is unique. You will know it when you you’re parceling out some leaves in the teaspoon. I will definitely be ordering this one. I could drink it by the gallon.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 35 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Brewed at quite a low temperature to make sure I wouldn’t get bitterness, but then the fruity flavor didn’t infuse too intensely. The main flavor is the gentle green tea. There’s a little bit of what seems like pineapple in the background. It needed extra sugar because I’m not too huge a fan of green tea flavor. But I’m sure this would be great for someone who is who wants just a hint of fruitiness. The more I drank it, the more I ended up enjoying the freshness of the brew.
Thanks so much for the samples, Teakruthi! This chai is intriguing, as it focuses mostly on cardamom. I’ve never seen a chai blend with only cardamom and really, there aren’t many teas with cardamom at all. There are plenty of cardamom pods here, cut in half, with the lovely Ceylon black tea base. The Ceylon is medium bodied and lets the flavor of the cardamom be prominent while itself being sweet and smooth. The fragrance and flavor of cardamom is definitely present and strong. The second steep, just as much cardamom to the flavor. It’s very calming, sweet, creamy, mellow. It’s a nice change for the taste buds once in a while, instead of the “all the spices” sort of chai all the time.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Not the boldest earl grey I’ve had, but it’s flavorful enough that you can enjoy it without milk. I liked the addition of the delicious vanilla because it adds some complexity that sets it apart from other EGs. I finished my sample in no time at all. It’s heavier on the creamy vanilla than on the bergamot, but I didn’t mind.
Thank you very much to teakruthi for providing this sample! I decided to try it Gongfu as that’s how I would normally prepare any silver needle/bud style white tea for myself. It was a solid session, but I do feel I’d have gotten a stronger impression of the overall flavours present were I just drinking it Western style, so I will keep that in mind for when I revisit this tea.
Here’s my write up from instagram:
Gongfu at work this morning; complete with kiwi berries to snack on! Sipped away at one of the samples provided by teakruthi – Ceylon Gold. Full bodied and dark for a bud composed white tea – notes of malt, buckwheat honey, watered down molasses, and cocobolo. The fruit didn’t really work with the tea, so I just brewed out the leaf and then ate my morning snack instead of having them together…
I actually brewed out this tea during the session – ok like for this style; around eight or nine ok steeps, and one pretty crappy one right at the end, which is when I decided to call the session.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Znnm744Tiwc
I made this as both plain and a latte because it is pouring rain in London (or it was) and chai just seemed like the right fit.
The plain cup has a nice cinnamon flavor. Smooth and a bit woody. I like this type of cinnamon because to me it is more natural/high quality vs. the cinnamon used by other tea companies that tends to be overly sweet or tastes like red hots.
The latte was a bit thin but in fairness I steeped the tea and then forgot to set a timer so it could have been understeeped. However it was creamy and had a hint of cinnamon that served its purpose and made for a warming cuppa on a rainy day.
The first sampler from Teakruthi that I’ve tried and reviewed. It’s simple – black tea with dried ginger and peaches.
Dry, it smells of juicy sweet concentrated (but not artificial) peaches and honeyed ginger. The brown sugar and baked bread aromas make the honeyed ginger smell just like sticky dark ginger cake loaf.
Wet, the aroma is much more fiery and spicy from the ginger with a touch of earthiness and cinnamon. The ginger cake has morphed into sticky toffee pudding. I’m drooling just writing this tasting note although it’s been days since I actually drank this.
The flavour isn’t quite as good as the aroma – the ginger is very strong. I can handle it because it tastes closer to fresh ginger than dried ginger. It sticks in your throat. Once acclimatised to the ginger, I found the tea to be quite mellow and light-bodied with sweet and fruity notes.
The texture is thick and syrupy.
If I finish this sample before the end of Autumn I will definitely restock. I’m pulling out some of the dried ginger pieces when I brew it again so there’s a little less fire.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Cake, Ginger, Honey, Peach, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet, Toffee
My review from their website: As far as mint teas go, this is top notch. It smells so strongly of spearmint in the leaf that I was surprised when I drank the tea just how much the tea flavor comes through. Mint and tea are both distinct and yet balanced and harmonious. This can be a bit sharp for some which makes the tea come off a little metallic at first but if you get past the initial strength of both the mint and tea, it is really quite smooth and relaxing.
Thank you for sharing teakruthi
Thanks very much to teakruthi for sending such a generous number of samples! I was drawn to this one first, and it was pretty delicious! The tea tastes high quality. It’s flavorful, not at all bitter. The lemon doesn’t overpower it at all. It’s just a tasty hint. The resteep tastes only of the black tea, but it’s still good. I don’t drink teas with this much caffeine often, and I could really feel it when I finished my cup, so this could be a good morning brew for those who are looking for that kind of thing.
I like Teakruthi’s minimalist approach to their flavoured teas. Where many vendors would have a whole grocery list of ingredients, this company has only black tea and lemon. I steeped 2 teaspoons of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 190F for 4, 6, and 10 minutes.
When I opened the bag, a strong lemon scent wafted out, which made me worry that the tea would taste like drain cleaner. Fortunately, the first steep is mild, with a nice balance of natural lemon and malty, slightly drying black tea. Unlike the few other lemon teas I’ve had, the flavours don’t seem to be competing with each other as to which will be the stronger. Subsequent steeps retain this good balance, but are weaker in taste with a greater amount of dryness. There are also huge lemon pieces among the spent leaves.
This is a pleasant, unfussy brew that I enjoyed. I found that the lemon distracted me from paying attention to the base tea, but this just shows how well integrated it is. I probably won’t purchase it because I don’t tend to go for lemon teas, but I recommend it highly for those who do.
Flavors: Drying, Lemon, Malt
Not my favorite from the teakruthi samples. The first timed I brewed this I used their instructions and it was a bit weak. The second time I added more leaf and it was still weak, though a bit better than the first time. I don’t taste copper or bitterness, it’s a rather blah cup of tea. Maybe some hints of copper in an aftertaste, but this is not a tea that I would reach for in the morning for a wake me up cup. Now I’m gonna go sip some Assam and get going for the day.
This was my most recent sipdown as I finished what I had of this tea earlier in the afternoon. You know it’s funny that the opportunity to try this tea and some other Ceylonese offerings came along when it did because I’d been getting steadily more curious about Ceylonese tea over the course of the year, and then Lasith at teakruthi came along and offered the opportunity to try some free samples in exchange for Steepster reviews. Naturally, I jumped at this opportunity. I was going to be setting aside some money to purchase some new Ceylonese teas in the fall months, but I figured if I could get some free Ceylonese tea instead, then I may as well do that and use the money I was going to be setting aside to make a few other tea purchases instead. More tea, especially more free tea, is never a bad thing, and quite frankly, I’d been getting a bit bored of Chinese black teas and needed something new and exciting to keep me going during the season’s long, grueling work days. This tea certainly fit the bill.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose leaf material in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 3 minutes. I did not rinse the leaf material prior to steeping, but I did follow up the aforementioned 3 minute infusion with a 5 minute infusion and a 7 minute infusion.
Prior to the first infusion, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of honey, malt, pine, straw, orange zest, and chocolate. I noted new aromas of cream, steamed milk, and toast afterwards. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of pine, straw, toast, cream, honey, malt, orange zest, chocolate, caramel, prune, steamed milk, and roasted almond that were accompanied by faint hints of apricot and slightly stronger hints of beeswax, minerals, earth, and leather. Each swallow yielded menthol, black pepper, and tobacco notes that imparted a combination of prickly and cooling sensations on the tongue and back of the throat. I could also pick up the expected coppery tang that seems to be so common to Kandy black teas.
The second infusion saw the tea’s bouquet greatly soften. Roasted almond scents emerged alongside stronger aromas of cream, malt, and steamed milk. A slightly amplified earthiness came out in the mouth alongside stronger notes of malt, steamed milk, roasted almond, and cream. New notes of sweet potato emerged, and I also was still able to discern some lingering honey and caramel notes as well as slightly muted black pepper, menthol, and tobacco impressions after each swallow. Interestingly, I picked up far less of a coppery note in the liquor, though I could still make it out to a limited extent.
The third and final infusion saw the liquor lose virtually all of its bouquet. On the palate, the liquor was soft and subtly malty and creamy. The previously subtle minerality was greatly amplified at this point, and much of the liquor’s other notes had either completely disappeared or were so muted as to be just barely perceptible at most times.
This tea was a pleasant surprise for me. It was deeper and more complex than I was expecting, and it also displayed more longevity than I’m used to getting out of many Ceylonese black teas. I could easily tell that this was a Kandy black tea due to it frequently emphasizing body and texture over individual flavor components and the fact that it displayed that unmistakable coppery note. This being a flowery fannings grade tea, I was not expecting much, but this tea delivered on all fronts. Though I would have liked to see greater separation between some of the flavor components at several points, this was still an incredibly likable offering that would probably be especially enjoyable for drinkers who look for a good deal of body and texture in their brews but who also appreciate strong aromas and flavors. Essentially what I’m getting at here is this struck me as a very well-rounded Ceylonese black tea that had a bit of everything to offer. It would be well worth a try for those who are looking for a great value black tea suitable for afternoon consumption.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Black Pepper, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Dried Fruit, Earth, Honey, Leather, Malt, Menthol, Metallic, Milk, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pine, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Tobacco
I was really excited to try an oolong from a region that’s not known for producing them. My tastes run to greener oolongs from China and Taiwan, and it’s nice to get some variety. Thanks to Teakruthi for the sample. I steeped around 5 grams of this tea in a 355 ml mug at 185F for 3, 4, and 6 minutes.
The first steep has notes of decayed autumn leaves, grass, metal, and flowers. I’m not sure if it’s due to the processing, but this tea seems unfinished, kind of like I’d imagine raw tea leaves (or any steeped plant) would taste. If anything, this tastes like a grassy green tea. The next two steeps are much the same.
While this oolong is definitely green, it has none of the flavours or nuances I look for in these teas. Based on this sample, I don’t think Sri Lanka is ready for prime time as an oolong producer, though it’s great that they’re exploring different tea types. Maybe like Nepal a few years ago, Sri Lanka needs some time to refine their oolong-making technique, or maybe this tea just isn’t for me.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Grass, Metallic, Plants
When I saw that this tea was from 135-year-old bushes, I couldn’t pass up the chance to try it. (I guess all you puerh drinkers are making me value old tea trees.) It’s from the Dimbula region of Sri Lanka, which makes it a high-grown tea. Thanks to Teakruthi for the sample.
I steeped slightly over 2 teaspoons of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 190F for 4.5 and 6 minutes. In a previous session, I used the same parameters and started steeping at 3.5 minutes, but the tea turned out too light to detect much flavour.
The aroma of the large twisted leaves is of malt and muscatel. The first steep is a nice combination of muscatel, wood, and malt with a grassy aftertaste. I also get floral and sappy notes, as well as a hint of smoke, though fortunately for me, this is easy to miss. The tea is very light and has almost no astringency. The second steep still has lots of flavour, with the malt and wood predominating.
This is an elegant, non-abrasive tea with some nice but understated flavours. Even though I used slightly more leaf than the instructions recommended, it was very light and I had trouble picking it apart. This seems to be the more laid-back cousin of Divine Highlands and would make for a nice afternoon tea.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Malt, Muscatel, Sap, Smoke, Wood
Thanks again to teakruthi for sending me these tea samples to try out!
I brewed this one up during the week, just hot and straight, to get a sense of it. I find myself inclined to agree with Michelle that it’s basically just ‘fine’. Nothing really unpleasant about it, and I think it’s a nice and drinkable tea – but it’s also really not incredibly nuanced or flavourful and it doesn’t stand out to me in any way.
I thought it had a nice amount of tannin, and the bitterness/astringency levels were ok. Both noticeably there, maybe a little bit more than what I’d say is really pleasant but neither of them off putting. The taste is a bit of a coppery/metallic kind of malted barley profile – a little one dimensional, and reminds me a touch of licking a penny?? There’s also a pithy citrus rind note, which is maybe feeding into the bitterness I observed.
And overall fine tea – but I’d definitely reach for the other straight blacks I’ve tried from teakruthi over this one.
Another of my samples from teakruthi and, in my opinion, another winner as well!
The leaf style of this black tea is really beautiful; and I was excited to see a tea from Rahuna in my selected samples – in general Sri Lankan teas from Rahuna/Kandy do often tend to be my favourites. This steeps up very lovely; it’s got a sweet and malty liquor aroma that’s immediately nostalgic and inviting for me. I like a great range of tea – and even within black tea specifically the different types I enjoy are super diverse. However, whenever I picture the “perfect” cup of black tea in my head it’s almost always full bodied and so, so malty!
This tastes incredible rich and malty, but has a lovely baked bread note to it too – like a loaf of whole wheat bread right out of the oven! Add to that subtle notes of raisin and buckwheat honey and this is pretty close to my perfect black tea profile; it’s just missing a little chocolate and stonefruit in the cup. But even still – damn smooth, enticing and easily drinkable!
Teakruthi sent me an awesome box of samples. I hadn’t heard of them before! They are sustainable with a ‘Just-In-Time’ sourcing model, single origin tea leaves and 100% Ceylon with no artificial additives or preservatives. Plus, free shipping at the low level of $18! They seem to be offering some uniqueness that other tea shops just don’t have. I’m excited to try some teas that I certainly can’t find anywhere else.
The leaves here look half rolled up like an oolong. The scent of the leaves is creamed corn with a hint of spice. That spice translates to a flavor that reminds me of the spices that might be in a BBQ sauce. I notice this flavor occasionally in a green tea. It’s rare though, so when it is in the mug, I can’t help but notice it taking over the mug.
Steep #1 // 1 1/3 teaspoons for a full mug // 29 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 32 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
I wanted to try it again with the suggested one teaspoon to see if I could get the bite out of the flavor. I think that was accomplished, but it also lost much of that BBQ sauce flavor. It’s surprising it’s like a different tea with just 1/3 less of a teaspoon. Now there was hints of smoke. It tastes like savory vegetables. There is a slight lingering creamy quality while also being thirst quenching. I don’t see this flavor combination in green teas very often! At the same time, it isn’t the flavor combination that I reach for or crave in a green tea.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a full mug // 30 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
This tea is just ok, not a bad cup, but not very complex either. The wet leaf smells a bit like cinnamon, and it brews up to a nice coppery color. The first steeping was smooth with a bit of a metal tang, but overall, I’m not getting spice or other tastes. It’s like the tea has been smoothed of all it’s rough edges, including copper or astringency. Although it’s quite drinkable, I’m not sure I’d reach for it in the morning, maybe for an afternoon pick me up? I did use a bit more leaf than suggested, and I got some sweeter notes on the second steep, maybe a bit of that cinnamon taste is coming through. The third steep has faint echoes of both metallic tang and slight sweetness.