256 Tasting Notes
This is the 2nd first flush darjeeling of my last order at Kent&Sussex. Oh boy, what a treat! More intense in taste, if you can say it this way for an elegant tea like a first flush darjeeling. Even the dry leaf looks very nice, green and more homogeneous in size, and it opens up nicely as well during the steeping process.
I tried to steep it a 2nd time, and then it definitely is worse, less forgiving as well concerning the bitterness, but it still is a good tea, although not as great as the first steep ;-) I guess I might try steeping it less at first, and then the 2nd steep is possibly better, but then again, the first one might not be so nice…loads of options here!
A bit of extra info from K&S :
Established in 1871, the Chamong Tea Estate takes its name from the local Lepcha people, who once called a vocal bird living nearby “Chamoo.” Tea covers 132 hectares (330 acres) of the garden, located at altitudes between 1,150 to 1,850 metres (3,770-6,070 feet) above sea level.
Flavors: Floral, Muscatel, Tea
In my last tea order at Kent&Sussex I included two 2021 first flush darjeelings. This Balasun Tea Estate one is the first one to try.
From K&S website :
Darjeeling First Flush Balasun 2021 is a Loose Leaf Black Tea from the Darjeeling District of West Bengal, India.
The Balasun Tea Estate was founded in 1871, its name deriving from the river that flows at the bottom ridge of the garden. It lies at altitudes between 1,600 and 4,600 feet above sea level, near the town of Sonada.
An estimated 100,000kg of Organic Darjeeling Tea is produced from 181.38 hectares (448.2 acres) of Tea-growing land annually. This particular Tea was plucked and processed in late March.
The Balasun Tea Garden has an excellent reputation for producing full-bodied infusions with grassy undertones.
Fortunately, these grassy undertones are quite subtle, at least in mouth as they are definitely there in nose (of dry tea leaves). The tea is indeed full-bodied, but I have the impression it´s slightly less complex than other first flush darjeelings. I steep it twice for 4 minutes each, with a similarly good result every time. Also it seems a forgiving tea, as I once forgot about it (and so it steeped for maybe 8 minutes) and the brew hadn´t turned bitter.
Flavors: Grassy, Muscatel, Tea
I found some individually wrapped teabags of this tea in a drawer, so why not use them now I´m more or less confined to heating up the water for the tea in the microwave? ;-)
I admit I needed to google the brandname, as I thought the name of the tea was “Cafédirect Hand-picked Tea”, the teabag doesn´t mention the everyday bit as the box of the loose teabags obviously does.
A mix of African origin tea tends to be strong and malty, but this isn´t what I notice when having it; no, a refreshing, citrusy taste comes through… different, not exactly my cuppa though.
What I do value : the mother company is obviously more into coffee, and offer interesting single origin coffees, and I long to check out their podcast as well…
Flavors: Citrusy, Tea
Just before Christmas, I went to Marks&Spencer´s and bought myself some nice tin lanterns in the shape of houses which can be lit by a small LED in the bottom. The bigger one contained a pack of shortbread biscuits, the smaller one a pack of this tea (just stating the name of the tea and containing 40 teabags, nothing else). When I was studying in UK almost 30 years ago, I would always have teabags in the house, very English and very easy to make oneself a cuppa, but I admit I now mostly buy loose leaf tea, so I needed to “force” myself to open the pack. As the fuse of my water kettle blew (and I still haven´t replaced it), I now have the occasion (heating the water in the microwave) to use the teabags ;-) .
First thing to notice is that the round teabags are fully packed with tea, so I guess they could be used for various steeps, which I won´t do but then again. The malty aroma is confirmed once steeped, but the tea when taken black (as I do) lacks complexity. It isn´t bad however, and it doesn´t seem to get bitter that soon when oversteeping it either, but I reckon this is primarily a great tea to have with milk.
Flavors: Malt, Tea
Not sure whether this is the real origin of the Assam tea I´m reviewing, as I bought it in an independent tea shop, and I was told that they often get DF produce in.
Then another remark : it´s one of those teas I buy, put aside and open much later, so I assume it was fresher when I bought it, and I should have had it before.
Finally, saying that I´m only writing the review when the tin (as I moved the tea to a clean tin, when I “discovered” it ;-) ) is almost empty, so I had plenty of time to drink and enjoy it…because, yes, it´s still enjoyable, especially as a morning cup which I want strong and malty! Less complex now than before, due to its age without any doubt. Other people might drink this kind of tea with milk, I don´t, so I´m pretty sure some people might not have noted the loss in complexity.
Flavors: Malt, Tea
How I love the sweet aroma of elderflower! And I was looking for that aroma in this tisane, when I decided to buy it. Although the tisane is nice enough, with lemongrass coming through in the first place besides lemon peel, it´s clear that the main fruit used is apple which sort of mutes what one can smell and taste here. Also, I see now in the list of ingredients that elderflower is not listed, elderberry is, and that makes a huge difference! I used to pick elderberries to make a syrop, but it´s difficult not to obtain a dense texture, so I stopped making it; what I still prepare is an elderflower cordial (great with gin tonic!!!), and when I´m in the middle of making this cordial, my kitchen always smells so lovely of elderflower and citrus fruit, a great combination. A shame. Over the Summer, I need to give this tisane a try when iced.
Flavors: Apple, Lemon Zest, Lemongrass
My first impression when opening this tea was a sigh, thinking it would be a Christmas tea- like blend (which all seem to be so very similar to me, and they tire me quite quickly), but then the fennel got through and I started to appreciate the spices used in this blend. Once steeped, the strong and spicy character is confirmed, which makes it not only an ideal after-lunch drink (as recommended by La Via del tè), but also a nice wake-up drink (as far as I am concerned).
BTW, I am very grateful for the cinnamon or cloves or ginger in this blend not to overwhelm the rest.
Flavors: Cardamom, Clove, Cookie, Fennel, Spicy, Tea
Since I had a wonderful Korean red tea (in a teabag even!) some years ago, after a very nice meal in a Korean restaurant (before the kimchi etc were “hot” here!), I´m always eager to try Korean teas. So, when I ordered from P&T and saw they offered a Korean tea, I just needed to include a pouch in my order.
From P&T´s website :
Kim Ki-duk’s vivid depiction of the eternal cycle of seasons, ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring’, could well have inspired this outstanding Korean black tea rarity. Plucked and processed entirely by hand in the stunning setting of the Hadong Mountains, this one-of-a-kind specialty yields an incredible five steeps – each as rich and full-bodied as the first. In order to achieve such aromatic longevity, the leaves undergo a prolonged, double oxidation kick-started by fresh, early-morning dew. A vigorous roasting rounds off its complex flavor with booming notes of hearty malt. Subtle whiffs of wild greens and vanilla and its soft cocoa finish make this black tea a delicacy to be savored time and time again.
Bizarre but true : while they do specify the 5 infusions – indicated in text above – on the pouch, online they only recommend 2 infusions of 2 minutes each. I followed the information on the pouch and I believe this tea can indeed be steeped five times each and every time resulting in a nice cup…of a very elegant tea. But the smoky umami flavours they also mention on the pouch seem a bit far fetched to me.
Dry, the loose leaves have delicate aroma´s where the malty heart dominates but is far from overwhelming. The “earthy” notes of cacao come through, in a subtle way though. Once steeped, the tea is lighter than expected, the malty backbone has made place for a wider spectrum of tastes, where the more bitter notes (from the cocoa) are well balanced with sweeter notes, but I wouldn´t associate these with caramel as it stays very light and subtle.
This being said, for me it´s a very nice afternoon tea; as I like my morning tea quite strong, I prefer other black teas. I might try the 2 steep method indicated online to see if the tea then shows its strong character.
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Smoke, Tea
As an Earl Grey tea fan, I was also curious to try this “interpretation”.
Again, in nose it´s a wonderful blend, where bergamot´s citrusy notes blend in perfectly with the white tea, in a softer version of P&T´s Golden Earl. And also again, when steeped, the tea leaves still show the bergamot, but the tea inself not so much, which is a shame! The white tea base seems very good quality, visually a treat, and the 2 infusions give a similar result, which is positive.
I don´t know, but I had expected more from this blend. Maybe I should drink the tea and sniff the tin with every sip ;-) ?
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Floral, Tea
As we tend to travel through Europe during the Christmas period, which is quite tiring (but fortunately, very gratifying), we usually book an “End of the Year” package in one of the hotels of a nice Spanish hotel chain ; we get pampered, and we don´t need to spend hours in the kitchen or eat leftovers for at least a week ;-)
In December 2021 we took up this habit again, and spent New Year in Galicia, the northwestern part of Spain. When we arrived, we found a surprise box in our room including a couple of bags of this infusion. Almost a month later, I finally remembered to try the infusion.
The paper bag contains a tea pyramid – 100% compostable – with 1.5g of infusion. Clearly hibiscus based (cinnamon and ginger coming through as well…lightly), which is not really my cuppa, but then again I think here the blend is balanced and natural. It´s a nice enough Christmas blend, and I appreciate it not being over the top (very easy to do with cinnamon or ginger). Bravo for the compostable packaging and ecological ingredients, but I needed to check online for steeping conditions, which is a shame.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Fruity, Ginger, Hibiscus