85 Tasting Notes

90

Another tea I forgot I had, but found once again while re-arranging my tea cupboard this week.

Definitely taste the muscatel and apricot in this — apricot is particularly strong as an aftertaste. Initial flavor is slightly floral. Also slightly astringent overall, but in a good way — not bitter.

As far as Darjeeling teas go, I prefer second flushes to first flushes. This tea is a perfect example of why — much more flavor and body. I’m glad I have enough of this one to last for the rest of summer!

Date of picking on label: 12 June 2017

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Floral, Muscatel

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec 6 g 18 OZ / 532 ML

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90

When I originally purchased this tea, it was known as Dharamsala Mann Premium Kangra First Flush, and it was excellent (see my previous reviews). Vahdam then changed their marketing on this to call it Western Himalayan Kangra — and with that change came a decrease in quality, I thought. It just wasn’t as good. I even contacted the company to see if they changed their supplier to someone else, because I was so disappointed.

Anyway, since I was so happy with the product under its former name, I had purchased a large quantity under its new name, only to find out the quality wasn’t as good. I was disappointed and left it alone on the shelf for over a year.

I recently found it on the shelf and decided to give it another try. It actually improved over that time! It had the same flavors I remember it having when I first had it under its former name! I am so happy to be able to dip back into my supply of this tea and start drinking it again. I’m no tea specialist, so maybe it is just that I prefer this tea after it has aged awhile (and maybe even gotten old and tired) — I don’t know. But I am happy to have this old friend back and look forward to enjoying it over summer.

Flavors: petrichor, Vegetal, Wet Rocks

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec 6 g 18 OZ / 532 ML

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50
drank Daily Darjeeling by Vahdam Teas
85 tasting notes

This tea is still not good. I’ve learned to appreciate it more as an iced tea, but that is the only way I’ll finish it off. Hard pass on this one.

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80

I am not a fan of white tea — never have been. I can’t figure out how to work it into my daily routine — is it a morning tea, an afternoon tea, or an evening tea? All in all, though, this one was pretty good. It wasn’t too heavy and had a unique, indescribable, vegetal flavor to it. It ended up being an afternoon tea for me, as the caffeine was just enough to be keep me going but not enough to help start the day.

Flavors: Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 15 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML
Mastress Alita

I really like white teas as cold brews (and it is definitely the weather for it!) I can sip on them throughout the day in a thermos and feel refreshed and energized but there isn’t enough caffeine that if I keep sipping my water bottle into the evening that it ruins my night routine.

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85

A pleasant tisane to have in the evening during summer. I love the sweet, citrusy flavors that seem to be the foundation of the tea. There’s also a sweet flavor behind it, which ensures it doesn’t come across as bitter. Overall, a light, refreshing drink for warm summer months.

Flavors: Citrus, Citrus Fruits, Fruity, Grapefruit, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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50
drank Daily Darjeeling by Vahdam Teas
85 tasting notes

Darjeeling teas are generally my tea of choice, but the cost for a quality Darjeeling makes it one that I don’t have on a regular basis. I am always looking out for a reasonably-priced Darjeeling that still maintains the flavors that make Darjeeling tea appealing to me, so I was excited to find this one on the Vahdam website when I was doing some shopping recently. The reviews on the website (and older reviews here on Steepster) all seemed to say that this tea maintained the fruity, muscatel flavors of a Darjeeling while also being reasonably-priced, so I thought I had found what I was looking for.

The 2018 version of this tea, though, doesn’t appear to be as good as previous years. There is just a very slight hint of Darjeeling fruitiness to the tea, and no petrichor or wet rock flavor that I find in my favorite Darjeelings. The only flavor I could really identify in it is more of a cocoa/chocolate flavor—something I don’t really want in a Darjeeling. The liquor brews up to a dull brown and seems tired.

Since this had such better reviews in past years, I am guessing the reason this 2018 version is so underwhelming is due to the bad political situation in the Darjeeling area in 2017 which caused so many estates to lose their second flush and autumnal harvests. It’s possible that any affordable Darjeeling tea sold in 2018 will be made up of older harvests left over from previous years or even lower-quality teas. That could explain what happened here.

Overall, it’s meh. I’ll finish it, but I won’t be buying this one again—at least not this year. My search for an affordable daily Darjeeling will continue.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 6 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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80

This is an excellent lapsang souchong black tea that I received from a friend who was visiting Paris last fall. Her hotel served this each day as a breakfast tea. She enjoyed it each morning and decided to bring some home for herself, but wanted to share with me as well.

It has the strong, smoky flavor you’d expect from a lapsang souchong tea, but it isn’t overpowering. It’s milder than I expected, which makes it more appealing to me. After the first few times I tried making it at my usual amounts for black teas, I decided to add a gram extra (7 grams in 16 ounces of water) and steep it a minute longer, which seemed perfect for my tastes.

This is a sipdown that makes me sad, but I will be sure to look for this again in the future. Thanks, Tatyana!

Flavors: Smoke, Smoked

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 7 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I am at a library conference this week and brought packages of this tea along for the breaks. I’m so glad I did—the teas offered were nothing I was interested in. This has made it much more enjoyable being away from home and my usual tea collection.

Mastress Alita

The tea at library conferences is the same bagged drivel found in restaurants, and I bring my own tea when I go out to eat, too. Steven Smith Teamaker is great though, nice full loose leaf in sachet, I wish it were more accessible in my area… I’ve only found two varieties in my local grocery (the green tea Fez and herbal tea Meadow). I often will stuff my own fillable teabags with tea in my collection and stash them in my purse before going to a conference or restaurant where I know the only option available will be LQ bagged teas. On vacation, I actually pack along my kettle to make tea properly in the room!

teepland

I agree! That was one reason I took the Steven Smith sachets with me this year—I remember the bad bagged teas which were offered last year. If I’m going to be sitting in sessions all day related to database management, I’d better have good tea to make it worthwhile! And I do the same thing with my electric kettle when traveling for pleasure—my wife makes fun of me that my “tea luggage” is bigger than my clothing luggage! :)

eastkyteaguy

I do the same thing when I go out of town. I pack a gaiwan, cups, paper towels, an electric kettle, a thermos, and enough tea for each day.

teepland

@eastkyteaguy: I’m not yet accustomed to using a gaiwan regularly (I brew western style most of the time) but I hope to be someday. When that happens, I’m sure I’ll bring one as well! But yes, I do also always pack my travel mug in my suitcase—even when traveling for work. :)

Mastress Alita

Ah, I feel so much better now about all the space I use up in my luggage on tea paraphernalia now!

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75

This is an interesting tea. This has a thick and velvety mouthfeel, almost like a broth. I think that contributes to the umami character I pick up with it. It isn’t salty, but it reminds me of drinking a warm, salty broth. There are general vegetal notes to it as well—nothing specific, but just a general vegetal flavor.

Overall, I enjoy it but am not overwhelmed by the flavor. It’s the type of tea that I would have to be in the mood for in order to have again, but I can see it being very appealing for those times when I am in the mood for its unique character.

Flavors: Broth, Umami, Vegetal

Mastress Alita

This actually sounds like the kind of tea I’d like as broth for my ramen noodles.

teepland

Ooh, I hadn’t thought about that, but I bet you’re right! My son eats ramen by the case, so I’ll have to take one of his packs and try it. I could see the two working well together—thanks!

Mastress Alita

I can’t use the included flavor packets because MSG is one of my migraine triggers, so I just use tea for the broth instead! Oddly enough there are a lot of very “savory” sorts of teas that work very well for it!

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80

It’s a malty CTC Assam—enough said! :)

In all honesty, though, this is an excellent tea—perfect for mornings when I need a larger-than-usual push into the day. I brewed this with extra water and for less time (3:15) than I would do with orthodox Assam teas since I didn’t want it to be overpowering and it worked perfectly. I can naturally taste the maltiness and the astringency, but there are also notes of wood and even a hint of raisins in the background. Unlike the orthodox version of this tea from Halmari, it’s not toasty or bread-like, but that doesn’t diminish from its quality. I’ll appreciate having this for the busy weeks ahead!

Flavors: Astringent, Malt, Raisins, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec 9 g 25 OZ / 739 ML

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Profile

Bio

Husband and father. Professional librarian; amateur genealogist, historian, and numismatist. Soccer fan.

My tea habits generally depend on my mood and the season but, in general, my preferred teas are black teas (especially those grown in Sri Lanka and India) and Chinese green teas. Unless noted in my review, I brew my tea western style and do not use additives (milk/cream, sugar, etc.).

I am definitely not an expert when it comes to tea, so I apologize if my reviews differ from the experiences you’ve had with any of the teas I have logged.

Please feel free to contact me and let me know if you have a favorite that I have to try! :)

My grading for tea:

100: Perfect.

90, 95: Excellent.

80, 85: Very good.

70, 75: Good.

60, 65: Okay.

50, 55: Meh.

40, 45: Not so good.

0-35: Awful.

Location

Northwest Indiana, USA

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