104 Tasting Notes
When I originally purchased this tea, it was known as Dharamsala Mann Premium Kangra First Flush, and it was excellent (see my previous reviews). Vahdam then changed their marketing on this to call it Western Himalayan Kangra — and with that change came a decrease in quality, I thought. It just wasn’t as good. I even contacted the company to see if they changed their supplier to someone else, because I was so disappointed.
Anyway, since I was so happy with the product under its former name, I had purchased a large quantity under its new name, only to find out the quality wasn’t as good. I was disappointed and left it alone on the shelf for over a year.
I recently found it on the shelf and decided to give it another try. It actually improved over that time! It had the same flavors I remember it having when I first had it under its former name! I am so happy to be able to dip back into my supply of this tea and start drinking it again. I’m no tea specialist, so maybe it is just that I prefer this tea after it has aged awhile (and maybe even gotten old and tired) — I don’t know. But I am happy to have this old friend back and look forward to enjoying it over summer.
Flavors: Petrichor, Vegetal, Wet Rocks
I am not a fan of white tea — never have been. I can’t figure out how to work it into my daily routine — is it a morning tea, an afternoon tea, or an evening tea? All in all, though, this one was pretty good. It wasn’t too heavy and had a unique, indescribable, vegetal flavor to it. It ended up being an afternoon tea for me, as the caffeine was just enough to be keep me going but not enough to help start the day.
A pleasant tisane to have in the evening during summer. I love the sweet, citrusy flavors that seem to be the foundation of the tea. There’s also a sweet flavor behind it, which ensures it doesn’t come across as bitter. Overall, a light, refreshing drink for warm summer months.
Flavors: Citrus, Citrus Fruits, Fruity, Grapefruit, Sweet
Darjeeling teas are generally my tea of choice, but the cost for a quality Darjeeling makes it one that I don’t have on a regular basis. I am always looking out for a reasonably-priced Darjeeling that still maintains the flavors that make Darjeeling tea appealing to me, so I was excited to find this one on the Vahdam website when I was doing some shopping recently. The reviews on the website (and older reviews here on Steepster) all seemed to say that this tea maintained the fruity, muscatel flavors of a Darjeeling while also being reasonably-priced, so I thought I had found what I was looking for.
The 2018 version of this tea, though, doesn’t appear to be as good as previous years. There is just a very slight hint of Darjeeling fruitiness to the tea, and no petrichor or wet rock flavor that I find in my favorite Darjeelings. The only flavor I could really identify in it is more of a cocoa/chocolate flavor—something I don’t really want in a Darjeeling. The liquor brews up to a dull brown and seems tired.
Since this had such better reviews in past years, I am guessing the reason this 2018 version is so underwhelming is due to the bad political situation in the Darjeeling area in 2017 which caused so many estates to lose their second flush and autumnal harvests. It’s possible that any affordable Darjeeling tea sold in 2018 will be made up of older harvests left over from previous years or even lower-quality teas. That could explain what happened here.
Overall, it’s meh. I’ll finish it, but I won’t be buying this one again—at least not this year. My search for an affordable daily Darjeeling will continue.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa
This is an excellent lapsang souchong black tea that I received from a friend who was visiting Paris last fall. Her hotel served this each day as a breakfast tea. She enjoyed it each morning and decided to bring some home for herself, but wanted to share with me as well.
It has the strong, smoky flavor you’d expect from a lapsang souchong tea, but it isn’t overpowering. It’s milder than I expected, which makes it more appealing to me. After the first few times I tried making it at my usual amounts for black teas, I decided to add a gram extra (7 grams in 16 ounces of water) and steep it a minute longer, which seemed perfect for my tastes.
This is a sipdown that makes me sad, but I will be sure to look for this again in the future. Thanks, Tatyana!
Flavors: Smoke, Smoked
This is an interesting tea. This has a thick and velvety mouthfeel, almost like a broth. I think that contributes to the umami character I pick up with it. It isn’t salty, but it reminds me of drinking a warm, salty broth. There are general vegetal notes to it as well—nothing specific, but just a general vegetal flavor.
Overall, I enjoy it but am not overwhelmed by the flavor. It’s the type of tea that I would have to be in the mood for in order to have again, but I can see it being very appealing for those times when I am in the mood for its unique character.
Flavors: Broth, Umami, Vegetal
It’s a malty CTC Assam—enough said! :)
In all honesty, though, this is an excellent tea—perfect for mornings when I need a larger-than-usual push into the day. I brewed this with extra water and for less time (3:15) than I would do with orthodox Assam teas since I didn’t want it to be overpowering and it worked perfectly. I can naturally taste the maltiness and the astringency, but there are also notes of wood and even a hint of raisins in the background. Unlike the orthodox version of this tea from Halmari, it’s not toasty or bread-like, but that doesn’t diminish from its quality. I’ll appreciate having this for the busy weeks ahead!
Flavors: Astringent, Malt, Raisins, Wood
Another sample I received in the black tea sampler from Vahdam last year. I got up early today to watch my favorite soccer team (heja BVB!) play in Matchday 29 of the Bundesliga and wanted something to wake me up. I figured that, with a name like “Red Thunder,” this tea would do it!
The sample size was only 7 grams, so I used the whole sample in my 16 oz. teapot, but brewed it for three minutes instead of my usual four. Besides, I enjoy my tea on the stronger side, anyway. I followed with a second steeping for four minutes.
The brewed liquor comes out a nice reddish-brown color, with more red than brown. The scent is fruity—particularly muscatel grape, as expected for an autumn flush Darjeeling.
The fruity/muscatel aroma carries over into the flavor of the tea, which also has a bit of spice behind it. There is also some astringency to the tea, but it could be from the extra leaves I used when brewing it (I normally only use six grams in my 16-ounce teapot). This is a hearty tea—flavorful and strong, with enough caffeine to wake me up.
Overall, this was an excellent tea that I would love to try again. Unfortunately, I see that the vendor’s site shows this is currently sold out, so I’ll have to wait to try it again some other time.
NOTE: my sample shows a date of picking as October, 2016
Flavors: Astringent, Fruity, Muscatel, Spicy