636 Tasting Notes


1.5 tsp for 325mL water @85C. First steep 4 minutes. Second steep 7 minutes.

Yes, I am steeping these leaves to death. I am making tea by the cup and not by the pot today, and I keep getting distracted.

The second steep really interests me today. Most of the Quangzhou creaminess is gone, soaking out in the first steep. I am left with a liquor almost as sweet and delicate as a Dung Ti but with the creamy scent of a Quangzhou: a lovely surprise after cheating on the first steep and getting extra creaminess.

Much longer a steep and I’d get that bitter leafiness an abused oolong gives up. Second steep liquor is greenish gold. I shouldn’t play like this with such a precious and expensive oolong, but how else do you find out things?

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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2tsp for 325 mL water @ 98C. Steeped 5 minutes.

I need strong tea today. Chronic illness and a thoroughly unproductive writing session last night shoved me into a dim little cave. I slept poorly, and then overslept. Weh weh weh.

And what will improve my outlook? Tea will definitely help.

This Monkey Picked Golden Hunan lives up to the packet copy. I should point out that I made it strong and steeped it long, yet it’s not bitter. Oddly, the scent does have bitter notes: oak and a very faint smoke. It’s nowhere near as smoky as a Keemun. The flavour is assertive, but the body is light. The liquor is a murky brown. The leaves remind me of a tippy Yunnan, being long and needle-shaped, a bit fluffy, and morphing from brown to bronze. It’s got more of a caffeine punch than I’ve come to expect from Chinese black tea, and the finish is sweet. Some agreeable leathery notes with a cup this strong. Make me long for some good Yunnan, which I haven’t had in several months.

This tea is on the more expensive side — $13.50 for 50 grams — but is worth it, if you like Chinese black tea.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Glad you nurtured yourself a little. Sincerely yours, a fellow cave woman.


I second that… Also a fellow cave woman.

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Scant 1 tsp for 250mL water @93C, with 1/2 tsp Dung Ti Oolong added. Steeped 4 minutes. Drunk bare.

Perils of the sipdown. I didn’t have enough of this left to make a cup, so I made up the slack with some Dung Ti Oolong.

I find David’s Organic Breakfast to be very batch specific. I had some last winter that was brilliantly complex, while the next packet was bitter and harsh. This batch was quite acceptable, though not as interesting as the first one I ever tried — less good Yunnan, I think.

I thought last night of adding a small bit of Quangzhou Milk Oolong to some Assam Gingia, which I’ll try this evening. At work I only (hahaha) had Dung Ti. The sweetness took the edge off the David’s Organic Breakfast and made it richer. I will totally try this again.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Backlogging …

Mde for me at a DavidsTea location. Steeped 4 minutes. Some agave nectar added, because I’d never tried agave,

I love guayusa and how sweet it is — sweet without getting sickly. That said, Jungle Ju Ju can develop an earthy, herbal bitterness, so I thought I’d try to offset that with agave nectar. The agave blends really well with Jungle Ju Ju; I forgot I’d sweetened the tisane. It’s easy to forget this blend is a stimulant as you enjoy the fruitiness. Good and potent, but I do find mate better when I need a boost.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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1.25 tsp for 250mL water @ 98 C. Loooooong steep; I left the bag in while drinking. Mate can do that. Drunk bare.

Sipdown, and some air got into the packet, so this blend is neither as fresh-tasting nor as fragrnt as it was .. but manohmanohman, is ever potent. Lots of roasted mate notes but very little chocolate or raspberry when this gets stale. However, I feel like I am ready to take off — without the edgy jitters that can come from coffee. Remembering now why I liked mate so much; gonna get me some Jumpy Monkey later today. Vroom vroom.

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more

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1.5 tsp for 250mL water @ 100C. Steeped 8 minutes. Sweetened with 2tsp white sugar.

I really, really like this tisane with a bit of sweetening. Make no mistake: chicory is bitt-errrr, but it’s not sour. Bitterness can be dealt with. Even with 2tsp of sugar, there’s some bitterness in the aftertaste, but I find that adds to the overall richness of the drink. It’s an herbal, earthy bitterness. Sweetened, the liquor develops a heavy body and a winey taste. In appearance, it’s a dead ringer for black coffee. Not something I drink every day, but I always enjoy it when I do.

Boiling 8 min or more

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1.25 tsp for 250mL water @ 98C. Steeped 5 minutes. Drunk bare.


A very acceptable Assam. Tippy leaves. A leathery note if steeped too long. Some distant rose and bread notes. Not as malty as some. A sweet finish, something cheaper Assams lack. (I avoid Twinings Assam for that reason.) Liquor is reddish brown and a bit murky. No real depth or complexity, though. I won’t be buying this one again, not when I can have Kopili or Gingia instead.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 45 sec

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1.5 tsp for 250mL water @ 98C. (Slightly obsessed with making black tea just off the boil lately.) Steeped four minutes. Drunk bare.

I love a good Assam. I also love a good Darjeeling and a good milk oolong and a good caravan and a good jasmine green … because these teas are unmistakable.

I’ve said before that I favour the Kopili and Gingia estates for Assams. Damn Fine’s Captain Assam also blissed me out, and I am dying to try their new Tiger Assam. George Orwell in his famous essay ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’ talks about Indian black tea in particular making you feel stronger and braver. He must have meant Assam.

Gingia doesn’t have the raisin notes that some Assams do, but it does remind me a bit of bread and roses, as I’ve nattered about before. The liquor is dark but clear. Agreeably malty — could get assertively so is steeped over 5 minutes — with some molasses notes in the aroma. It finishes sweet, with a bit of Assam pucker. Medium to heavy body, with a creaminess in the mouthfeel that makes for a pretty damn sumptuous cup of tea. I rarely add milk to tea, but this Assam would handily stand up to milk. Dependable and superb.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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1.5 tsp for 250mL water @93C. Steeped five minutes.

Because this blend contains green tea and jasmine, I decided to go a little gentler with the water than the recommended 98C.

Not sure what the “artificial flavouring” is, but this blend has a definite peachy taste to it. I don’t catch much jasmine, but I can smell roses, especially at the tea cools. Tea liquor looks like one from a dark green tea. A bitterness lurks at the edges; I think this one might get soapy is steeped too long. The blend of black and green teas in the base gives a slightly creamy mouthfeel. I’d hoped for more jasmine — and less peach — but this blend is quite agreeable

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

It reminds me a lot of Tazo’s Joy — the creaminess, the faint peach, and how it plays well at a lower temp.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Tried this again today at a lower temp again — guesstimating 88C (kettle at work with one setting: ON) and it’s even sweeter. It still gets a bit bitter. I’m thinking it needs to be treated like a green tea, even though DavidsTea labels it as a black tea.

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Made for me at a DavidsTea store. 3-minute steep.

I really need to stop trying flavoured teas. The older and grumpier I get, the more I want straight tea. And yet, I tell myself, somewhere that perfect blend awaits …

Well, this one’s fine and dandy, as flavoured teas dominated by their flavours go. Pleasant apple taste without being too sour. But, as usual with many of DavidsTea flavoured teas, I don’t taste any tea. Not enough white tea, at least. You can taste white tea in the DT Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, for example. Really, there’s nothing wrong with Big Apple, except that I want to taste tea when I drink tea.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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