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Archive for Tea Review

Tea Review

Early Spring Yunnan ‘Bao Hong’ Dragon Well

Yunnan Sourcing. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Impression: flattened leaves, typical of Lung Ching prep technique, see photo. Dry tea scent of baked biscuits. Brewed tea scent is brothy, fruity, slightly vegetal. Taste: very mild, nearly tasteless, hints of fruit and rubber or plastic. Not astringent.
 
Rating: ★
 
Not a successful tea. Pre-Ching Ming teas tend to be lighter and more subtle than later pickings, but this one is so light it barely exists. I tried a larger amount of leaves, still didn’t work.
Tea Review

Pure Ceylon English Breakfast, Select Blend

Upton TB18. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: dark BOP size bits, see photo. Dry tea scent: hints of mint and cedar. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, malty. Taste: Mild, brackish, woody. Moderately astringent.

Most ‘English Breakfast’ blends include some Assam for maltiness. This does not, and suffers a little for it.

Tea Review

Christmas Tea, blended in Germany

Upton TE90. 2.5 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 212℉. Impression: BOP-size tea with lighter bits of other material, see photo. Dry tea scent of lemon, clove, cardamom, potpourri-like. Brewed tea scent is dominated by clove, but there are hints of roses and perhaps cardamom? Taste: clove-y. Mildly astringent.

I am not a huge fan of flavored teas, but this one is okay. Sweetening and milk might improve it, if you drink tea that way, which I usually don’t. The ingredients list includes black tea, citrus peels, rose petals, chopped almonds, cloves, vanilla bits, cardamom, ‘artificial flavor.’

Tea Review

Idulgashinna Black Tea OP Organic, Ceylon Premium Tea

Upton TC60. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: long, dark twisted whole leaves, see photo. Dry tea scent resinous, floral, sweet, slightly grassy. Brewed tea scent is yeasty. Taste: malty, yeasty, like old leather, hint of spice. Very astringent.

A pretty tea, both in the dramatic appearance of the dry tea and the deep, clear amber of the brew. Unusual scents when dry for a black tea.

Tea Review

Uva Special BOP

(Ceylon) Upton TC51. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Dry tea scent: resin, fallen tree leaves. Taste: harsh, brackish, with notes of rotted wood. Moderately astringent. Unusual taste for black tea. Not for me.

Tea Review

Golden Kenya, Black Tea GFBOP

Upton TK25. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: BOP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells of citrus. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, spicy, brothy. Taste: Clear and bright, no brackishness, hints of peaches, mushrooms and toast. Mildly astringent.

I had never had an African tea before, but Kenya was recommended to me. This is a very pleasant tea, with some unique flavors I haven’t come across before in black tea. A nice switch from my usual round of Ceylons and Assams.

Tea Review

Pettiagalla OP1, Thé noir de Ceylon

Mariage Freres T302. 2.5 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: OP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells like roses and apricots. Brewed tea scent yeasty, malty. Taste: woody, brackish, briary, hints of tobacco. Not much finish. Strongly astringent.

A solid Ceylon, without any unpleasant notes. Similar to blends often called ‘Scottish breakfast tea,’ though this is a varietal, not a blend.

Tea Review

Delmar Estate FBOP, Ceylon Premium Tea

 Upton TC31. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: Broken orange pekoe-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells floral. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, malty. Taste: floral, stone fruit, old paper, tobacco, oregano, weeds, pond muck. Moderately astringent.

Ceylon black teas are quite variable in taste. Some are lovely; some have tastes that are jut not right for me. This is one of the latter.

Tea Review

Twinnings English Breakfast Tea

2.1 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: bag tea, see photo. Brewed tea scent is faintly spicy and yeasty. Taste: flat, thin, brackish. Slight maltiness, mainly in the finish. Moderately astringent.

I wanted tea to take to Readercon, without the bother of bagging my own bulk tea, so I bought a Twinnings Black Tea Variety Pack. It contains English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Lady Grey, and Irish Breakfast. The English Breakfast was disappointing. Twinnings is loved by many, but not, apparently, me. I suspect I’ve been spoiled by the bulk teas of good by-mail suppliers, like Upton and Yunnan. The package says this tea is a blend of Kenyan and Assam. I’ve never had Kenyan, though it was recommended to me recently. I will try a different source for Kenyan at some time.

Tea Review

Seasons Pick Gunpowder, China Green Tea

Upton ZG04. 2.2 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 200℉. Impression: dark pellets, see photo. Dry tea smells smells grassy, hay-like. Brewed tea scent is woody, vegetal, savory. Taste: woody, not much depth, bland, little finish. Not astringent.

Upton products marked ‘Season’s Pick’ are inexpensive teas sold to institutional markets in multi-kilogram quantities. Upton also packages them in smaller packages, usually of 200 g, for sale to consumers at modest prices. My experience with these has been positive; this tea was the least impressive of the bunch, though. Not a bad tea, but not a very interesting one.