81 Tasting Notes
This was an excellent black tea which would be good any time of the day.
The dried leaves are attractive—small and curled well. They are dark—darker than most Assam teas I’ve had, but not as dark as the Kenilworth Ceylon that I have been enjoying recently. And this is what I was expecting the tea to be—something more like the Kenilworth Ceylon, with its dark liquor and strong flavors.
I brewed 9 grams of this tea for four minutes using 20 ounces of nearly boiling water. When the four minutes were done, I was worried because the liquor was much lighter than I expected it to be. It had the color of clover honey—goldish-brown but not nearly as dark as I expected. I was worried I didn’t use enough dried leaves.
The first flavors I noticed are honey and toast, with the honey flavor definitely being the strongest. There is a slight maltiness to it, but it is more toasty than malty. There is no astringency to it at all. The honey ends with a slightly different caramel or sugary flavor. It isn’t a heavy tea, like many of the Assam teas I normally have in the morning, but that would make this tea very good for any time of the day. This is definitely not similar to a breakfast blend or a pure Assam.
Overall, I am very happy with this tea and will add it to my regular rotation, I think. The caffeine level makes it good to start the day and the flavors are appealing. I might add another gram or two when I make it in the morning, but 9 grams for 20 ounces of water is a good amount for later in the day, since that ensures it isn’t too heavy.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Honey, Malt, Toast
Today was a sipdown of this one, sadly. It has become one of my favorites in the past few weeks.
I knew I was getting low but I saved just one final serving until I thought I was going to have something similar on my shelf. I saw that my order of a similar tea had shipped and was finally in my state, so I decided to have the last of this tea this morning.
After I finished the tea and got to work, though, I checked the status of my order and saw that it now says that the package needs to clear Customs before being released for delivery. Damn. They always say, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch…” :(
I had a sample of this this evening and loved it! I ordered a full shipment of the tea to brew again and see if I enjoy it as much a second time as I do now, but I really like it so far! I will have a tasting note with more details after I try another steeping (I don’t like doing tasting notes after only one attempt), but I hope my next shipment gives me more clarity. But, so far, it is an excellent second flush Darjeeling that I hope will be my “go-to” tea this summer.
More to come after a new steeping.
Went with a double steeping of this tea today—one for breakfast and one for my afternoon.
The dried leaves are very pretty: Whole, orthodox, rolled leaves with lots of gold tips.
I brewed 10 grams of tea in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for 4 minutes (first steeping) and 4 minutes, 30 seconds (second steeping). The brewed liquor came out to be a lovely red-brown hue.
As this is a black Assam tea, it had the expected malty aroma and flavor—not overpowering but good. There was also a flavor of toasted bread—not unexpected for an Assam. Very little astringency to it. Finally, with both steepings I noticed a very slight spicy flavor to it—very hard to pin down what spice, exactly, but I came to the conclusion that it was similar to nutmeg. I wasn’t expecting this at all, but it was very good!
Overall, this tea was very good. I am sad that this was only a sample so I have none left to try again later, but enjoyed this one immensely today.
Flavors: Malt, Nutmeg, Spices, Toast
I decided to stick with Simpson & Vail teas this week and went with this blend for breakfast today.
The dried leaves were very dark, almost to the point of being black. Some stems, but mostly broken and a few whole leaves. Almost no fannings. Some golden tips.
I steeped 13 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of boiling water for 4 minutes. I went with the larger amount of leaves because of my experience with a similar tea from S&V earlier this week (East Frisian Blend).
The tea brews into a dark brown liquor. The flavor has a bit of malt and a bit of hay together. Slightly astringent, but that could also be related to the amount of dried leaves I used when brewing (a bit more than usual).
Overall, it was good, but not one of my favorites. I expected more flavors, I think. I prefer some of the other S&V blends over this one.
Flavors: Astringent, Hay, Malt
I really, really want to like this tea enough to call it a favorite. I’m not there yet, though.
On paper, this has everything I generally look for in a black tea: Strong, with a malty flavor. But, it hasn’t yet broken into my list of favorites.
It doesn’t help that it took me a few tries before I found the right amount to brew for my strength preferences: 13 grams for 20 ounces of boiling water for 4 minutes. And, one steeping only—repeated steepings of the leaves does not work with this one.
The length of steeping time is different than what was recommended by the vendor but, when I tried the vendor’s recommendations, my tea seemed weak.
The dried leaves themselves are very pretty: dark to the point of almost being black, with some golden tips mixed in. There is a hint of berry to the aroma of the dried leaves.
When brewed, the liquor has a copper color, much like the vendor’s description states. The liquor has a malty flavor which is slightly astringent, but not nearly as malty as I expected. Since this is a blend, I know it won’t be as malty as a straight Assam tea—maybe a blend of Ceylon and/or Kenyan teas…? Just a guess. The hint of berries in the aroma of the dried leaves also translates into the flavor.
Overall, I like it, but it isn’t the strong breakfast tea I expected. It is one to enjoy throughout the day, and might even be very good with ice. I’ll have to try that as the hot summer weather moves in.
Flavors: Astringent, Berries, Malt
Last day of this tea, as this steeping is finally the sipdown. While my feelings about this tea did slightly improve since my first review of it, the tea still isn’t near to being one of my favorites and I won’t be purchasing more for my cupboard. Overall, a good enough tea for most mornings, but nothing outstanding. :/
I drank this one last night before bed. Didn’t feel like getting up to type in my notes on the desktop computer (an example of a time I really wish Steepster had a mobile version/app), so I had to wait until today. Anyway…
I had a rooibos tisane years ago that I loved and have been searching for one similar to that ever since. I have never been able to find it…until now. I loved this one!
The dried leaves were cut to the point of being fannings—just what I’d expect from a quality rooibos where you want as much leaf interaction with the water as possible when brewing.
The liquor brewed into a nice amber color. It had the familiar scent of a rooibos tisane—hard to describe, but recognizable. Besides the familiar rooibos flavor, there was an undertone of buckwheat. The flavor also had notes of plums and raisins. Overall, an excellent rooibos tisane that I will certainly add to my regular collection. It’s an excellent quality tisane which captures the essence of rooibos perfectly.
I brewed 6 grams of dried leaves in 12 ounces of boiling water for 5 minutes.
Flavors: Plums, Raisins
A sample from the Black Tea Sampler I purchased from Vahdam Teas. I’ve been drinking a lot of these samples lately, many of which are so similar to each other (single-estate Darjeelings) that I was having a hard time remembering which was which. I decided to go with something that I thought would be different enough from the other samples to be memorable.
Looking at the dried leaves, I found that they were mostly orthodox, whole leaves. There were quite a few gold tips in the sample—more than I expected from a breakfast blend.
I steeped 6 grams of tea in 12 ounces of near-boiling water for 4 minutes.
The liquor came out bronze or dark amber—very similar to the color of brandy. Very pretty.
The liquor didn’t have much of an aroma to it. What aromas it did have, though, were not anything specific—just like a generic black tea would normally have.
Tasting the tea, I found it had the wet rock taste I would expect from a second flush darjeeling—not the muscatel flavor of a second flush, but the wet rock flavor was there. This was confusing to me since, according to the package, this was picked in November. There was a very slight astringency to it, but not much. Other than that, I didn’t find any other outstanding flavors; I saw that other reviewers noted a malty flavor to it but I did not find that.
Overall, it wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great—it was good. It wasn’t what I expected at all from a breakfast blend—much lighter than how that type of tea blend usually comes. I expect a breakfast blend to hit me on the taste buds with a hammer and a shout and a caffeine rush arriving like a bullet train. This one was far too delicate for that kind of action—it was more of brushing the taste buds and squeaking out, “umm, hello?” And, rather than the bullet train of caffeine it was more like the speed of the Chicago Metra—slow moving, but eventually getting there.
NOTE: The sample I used was marked with a date of picking of November, 2016
Flavors: Astringent, Wet Rocks