636 Tasting Notes

93

1 bag for 250mL water @ 95C. Steeped 4 minutes.

From the moment the water hit the leaves,I knew i had a better (to me) Darjeeling on the way than th DavidsTea Darjeeling I just callously tossed down the drain. The first scent is a high but earthy spiciness. Even in the bag, the leaves look tippy, with lots og green bits. This is a second flush, so the liquor and body are medium rather than light. No woodiness. No bitterness. LOTS of muscatel, and a sweet finish. An excellent Darjeeling, especially for a bagged tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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71

1.5 tsp for 250mL water @ 95C. Steeped 4 minutes. Drunk bare.

A bit dark for a Darjeeling, which tells me there’s likely second and even third flush leaves in this blend. Earthy, though not pu-ehr earthy. Not as much muscatel as I like. Threatens bitterness at a 4-minute steep. Not my favourite Darjeeling. I’d take Stash’s Darjeeling Summer over this one.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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94

1.5 tsp for 250mL water @ 95C. Steeped 4 minutes. Drunk bare.

My travel mug got ignored this morning as I picked up a (gasp) cappuccino on the way to work and drank that while it was still warm. My tea has cooled to almost room temperature – and that brings out more creaminess from the oolong and a more potent and penetrating taste of peaches. I wonder what this one would be like iced.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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97

1.5 tsp for 250mL water. 95C, 4-minute steep. Drunk bare.

Russian Caravan was the first ‘fancy’ tea I fell in love with, but my torrid affair with Darjeelings soon eclipsed that. Stash used to carry a very, very good Darjeeling, especially good for a bagged tea, just called ‘Darjeeling.’ It’s long been discontinued. Wah. Good muscatel and a sweet finish; I could drink 5 or 6 cups of it in rapid succession.

I could do that with Seeyok, too. I don’t know if it’s first or second flush, or a blend of both — I generally prefer second flush Darjeeling — but it’s got an agreeable astringency that never threatens to go sour, some earthiness from good soil (though certainly not pu-ehr earthiness), and that addictive muscatel note that makes me a bit weak in the knees, and in the head. I’ve made this cup strong on purpose to test for bitterness, but no: what develops in a strong cup is a wineyness. Nutty notes in the scent. The usual ratio of 1 tsp to the cup would better show off Seeyok’s charms.

I used 95C water (205/96 is closest I can get on the drag bar below) because I’ve found Darjeelings to be a bit delicate; too-hot water can bring out sharp bitterness.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

FABULOUS aftertaste. Muscatel dances!

Michelle Butler Hallett

On the water temp — I made Seeyok Darjeeling with 100C/rolling boil water, and a lot of bitterness and some unpleasant astrigency came out. This Darjeeling needs a little coddling. Burnt, it takes a tantrum.

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81

1 sachet for 250 mL water, steeped 8 minutes, drunk bare.

Serious mint. Some sharpness that remind me of spearmint, but the only ingredient is organic nana mint. Well, Nana is welcome to come visit anytime. While, like man herbals, this needs a goodly long steep, it’s bold like peppermint, though not as dominating, with a slighly sharp, slightly herbal and mineral finish that positively sparkles. I find this one refreshing, and especially good after eating a lot.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Michelle Butler Hallett

‘man herbals’ = ‘many herbals’

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87

1 rounded tsp per 250mL cup, steeped 5 minutes.

I got this as a gift, a great big half-pound box of it, and man, am I happy about that. A bright Ceylon, tasting of sunshine. No copper notes, as you’d get from the Lover’s Leap estate, but then this is a blend. A really, really good blend. Light in body but complex in flavour. Some heft, some classic Ceylon tea taste, a a very slight mineral note in the finish, that ‘clean’ taste. Refreshing.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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Made for me at a DavidsTea location.

Reasonably well-balanced, but steep it too long (a very subjective measurement) and the mint will dominate. The ooloing undertones are lovely, but I’m not crazy about the lemongrass and mint together.

Rating: 70

Amanda Earl

hi Michelle!,
do you have a favourite mint tea? my husband loves mint tea; he enjoys this one quite a bit, but i think it could be mintier. i’m not a huge mint tea fan myself.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Hi, Amanda. I love a good straight peppermint or spearmint. I’m also a big fan of Stash’s Wintermint blend. I find I’ve got to be in the mood for mint — and when I am, it’s gotta be strong.

Amanda Earl

ah Stash. don’t see that much around here. i’ll keep it in mind though.

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1 bag for 250mL boiling water. Bare. Sampled at 5 minutes and then at 8 minutes.

Every now and then I still buy bagged tea at the supermarket. It’s usually a disappointment, but the Just Us tea intrigued me. Just Us is a small coffee roaster and tea importing co-operative in Nova Scotia. The Just Us coffees are pretty good, and I was low on a basic black tea blend, and, after some time outside in the fog, right in the mood for a proper cup of TEA. Just Us Maritime Breakfast one says it’s all India black tea — yay — from TPI. I like Kenya and China and Ceylon blacks, but sometimes only Indian black tea will do.

The Maritime Breakfast is a fairly small teabag filled with fannings. I felt a letdown when I saw that. But the scent — there’s a nice pinch of Darjeeling in this blend, the muscatel sharpness unmistakable.

So I steeped it, one little teabag to strictly 250mL/8oz of boiling water, for 5 minutes.

Maritime Breakfast brews up dark and fast, like Tetley, but the comparison ends there. The Just Us blend smells earthy (Assam?) and a bit sharp (Darjeeling?). There’s some maltiness and heft and an astringent finish that, if you steep it to 8 minutes (like i did when I got distacted) is really pronounced. The finish is mineral and sweet — oh, that’s gottabe Darjeeling, even if a low quality — with some wood notes. At 8 minutes, the liquor is very dark, almost coffee-like, and opaque. Strong without being bitter. For a black tea blend in general, quite nice if you like India tea. For a supermarket baggie blend stuffed with fannings, it’s great. It’s also fairly cheap. It also reminds me a lot of what ‘regular tea’ tasted like when I was a kid, before many manufacturers seemed to switch more to Kenya and Ceylon in their blends. Or maybe I’m just imagining that.

If you like a strong cuppa, I wouldn’t steep a bag in a big mug; it really is a fairly stingy serving of tea.

Rating: 85.

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1.5 tsp for 400mL water @ 82C, steeped two minues.

This blend smelled so seductive.

And it’s not fair that I am trying this one after a really good gyokuro.

I want to like this one. It sounds so damn healthy.

But sweet adorable citrus pith, this is BITTER. Bitter, bitter, pill-dissolved-in-your-mouth bitter. And unpredicatably so: some sips are just slightly bitter, others make me scowl. I rarely sweeten teas or tisanes, but I’m gonna have to here.

I am guessing the dandelion root and orange peel are riding roughshod.

Can’t rate this fairly til I try it sweetened.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Half a packet of stevia (- to 1 tsp of sugar) has dulled some of the bitter edge, but I am not enjoying this one. Buuut … I am feeling a bit of a lift. Maybe next time I’ve hard a hard night I’ll try this blend again.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Okay, much shorter steep time that DT recommends — 2 minutes. A beautiful blend now, with a good balance of green tea and orange zest. I could really get into this one.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Sorry — make that a 1-minute steep.

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Made for me at a DavidsTea store.

Swoon.

Normally after I swoon, I write ‘THUD’, but you can’t thud into layers of buttery greens. Exquisitely good. I’ve only had oolongs so buttery. And the green tasting notes: like brussells sprouts before you pick up the bitterness. I was expecting it to be good, but it was fabulous. And best of all, the water wasn’t too hot (which has been a problem at my local DT).

Rating: 100.

TeaBrat

gyokuro is awesome. :)

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Bio

Writer and tea fiend. Author of CONSTANT NOBODY, THIS MARLOWE, DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE.

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.

Location

St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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