104 Tasting Notes


I was really disappointed with this one.

This was another sample from the black tea sampler I bought from Vahdam last summer. This one has a date of picking as June, 2016.

The dried leaves are dark, with a few light tips (gold? silver? I couldn’t tell).

I steeped 9 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for four minutes. The color of the finished liquor was brownish-red—like a dark copper.

While brewing, the tea had a sour aroma—not appealing at all. There was also a very light muscatel aroma, which carried over into the flavor of the tea. The muscatel was barely noticeable; the flavors which stood out the most, though, were plum, peach, dry paper, and dried leaves.

Overall, I found this to be a disappointing, tired tea. The sour aroma which introduced the tea set the tone for the rest of the experience, which was underwhelming. I didn’t hate it, but I also certainly didn’t love it. I’m glad this was just a sample and not something I’ll have in stock to finish.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Muscatel, Paper, Peach, Plum, Sour

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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Drinking this “grandpa style” today. I looked at my To-Do list for the day and realized I just needed a tea to keep me going through the day, so I decided on this one. I loaded my glass tumbler with 9 grams of dried rolls of leaves and have been filling it with water as needed throughout the morning.

This is a very smooth and light tea, with a silky taste and mouthfeel. I haven’t been paying any attention for specific flavors today—just enjoying the tea. This is an oolong that I’d like to keep stocked in my collection, as it is one that I come back to fairly regularly.

9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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This Assam tea has recently become my standard breakfast tea most mornings, and for good reason!

The dried leaves are beautiful—mostly dark brown, with some golden tips. All machine rolled.

I brew 9 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for 4 minutes, but it would probably be okay with 3 minutes, depending on how strong you like your Assam. I prefer mine to kick me awake in the morning, hence the longer steep time.

The brewed liquor is dark brown with a reddish hue to it—a beautiful color. It has a very strong malty aroma while it is steeping.

The malt aroma carries over into the flavor of the tea as well. The malt flavor is accompanied by flavors of oats and barley. It is like a hot breakfast cereal in a teacup! As with most Assam teas, this one has some astringency to it as well, which you will notice immediately when drinking it. The tea ends with a very slight caramel flavor.

Overall, I am very happy with this tea, as it has earned a permanent place in my cupboard. I highly recommend this tea to any Assam fans out there!

Flavors: Astringent, Caramel, Malt, Oats, Roasted Barley

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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drank Uva Highlands by Harney & Sons
104 tasting notes

I realized I recommended this Ceylon tea to someone on Steepster without having ever posted an official review of it, so here we go!

I brewed 9 grams of dried leaves this morning in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for four minutes. The dried leaves themselves are small, broken pieces (not fannings, though), so I probably could’ve gone with a shorter steep time.

The brewed liquor comes out dark and quite full-bodied—like coffee. I didn’t pick up on any specific aromas from the liquor or the dried leaves.

The flavor is definitely unique—astringent almost to the point of bitterness (but some of that would definitely be relieved with a shorter steep time). I am picking up on what others have described as the wintergreen flavor in the tea, but it seems more menthol to me than wintergreen. After sipping and swallowing the tea, there is a lingering coolness in my mouth that is similar to menthol. This is definitely a unique tea experience for me—not unpleasant, but I don’t think I’d want to drink this every day.

Overall, it is a good tea that I’ll continue to enjoy having. It is an excellent replacement for the fullness of coffee, if that is what you’re looking for, but with a pleasant cool finish.

Flavors: Astringent, Menthol

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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My lunchtime tea today was one I received from Vahdam Teas last fall. It has turned into one of my favorite lighter-caffeinated teas on my shelf and find myself drinking it fairly regularly.

Since I am at work, I couldn’t measure this out precisely, but I used two well-rounded teaspoons of dried leaves for 16 ounces of near-boiling water.

The brewed liquor has a color like clover honey—light brown and fresh. The aroma reminds me of warm grass and has a slight bitterness to it.

The immediate flavor I get when drinking the tea is very similar to a second flush Darjeeling: a flavor I describe as close to wet rocks (in a good way!) but also like muscat grapes. There is also a hint of sweetness and apricot behind the muscatel flavor. The warm grass aroma carries over into the flavor of the liquor as well.

Overall, I do like this tea very much—it isn’t as fruity as a second flush Darjeeling, but similar enough that it could be mistaken as one. Like I mentioned earlier, this has become one of my regular afternoon teas.

Flavors: Apricot, Muscatel, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Kangra black teas are so odd. They’re so green, earthy, and vegetal. I’ve only had a few at this point, but they certainly are fascinating.

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Since I’ve been focusing so much on Ceylon teas recently, I decided to purchase this one from Harney & Sons last year in the hopes that it would become one of my regular teas. I was not disappointed with it at all!

The dried leaves are twisted, full leaves—not rolled or broken. Mostly dark brown/black, with some tips, which appear to be more silvery than gold.

I did my usual steeping of 9 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water. I went slightly longer at 4 1/2 minutes instead of my usual 4, since the instructions from H&S said to steep for 5 minutes. I am glad I didn’t go the full 5, though—4 would be enough, I think.

The brewed liquor came out very dark and full-bodied. This is what I think of when I think of black tea. The initial flavor I picked up was a creamy, smooth flavor of cocoa—slightly touched with a honey flavor but not the sweetness. It was very, very good.

As far as Ceylon teas go, I would love to have this regularly. At $15.00 for 4 ounces, though, the price reflects the quality and guarantees that this will be a tea I will turn to for those days when I want quality, not quantity. I highly recommend this one for an example of a good quality Ceylon.

Flavors: Cocoa, Creamy, Honey, Smooth

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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I diverged a bit from my regular Ceylon black teas I’ve been having recently to have a first flush Darjeeling this afternoon. This was a sample I received from Vahdam Teas, in their Black Tea Sampler package.

The dried leaves were broken and machine rolled, varying between light green and deep green.

I steeped 9 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for 4 minutes.

The color of the finished liquor was like a dark wheat color—not exactly yellow, but not exactly brown, either. The aroma of the liquor was quite vegetal—like cooked peas.

The aroma of cooked peas carried over into the flavor of the tea, along with dry grass or hay, slight muscatel grape and other fruity notes, and a floral flavor which started slight and intensified as the tea cooled. Maybe it is because it has been a few months since I had a first flush Darjeeling tea, but I was very impressed with this one. It was an excellent afternoon tea, complete with a low caffeine content.

Sample was marked with Date of Picking: 08 April 2017

Flavors: Dry Grass, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Muscatel, Peas

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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I have been enjoying a number of Ceylon teas lately (this year is the 150-year anniversary of teas from Ceylon/Sri Lanka), so I thought I’d add some of my favorites to my notes on Steepster. I will start with this tea.

The dried leaves are broken and machine-rolled; very black and consistent. The color of the brewed liquor is similar to that of a brown ale beer.

I steeped 9 grams of dried tea in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for 4 minutes. I attempted multiple steepings of the same leaves, but this tea does not work for multiple steeps.

The initial aroma came across as malty—bread-like, even. The initial flavor I picked up was that of oatmeal or even cooked barley, with a hint of malt to it. There was also some creamy and bread/toast-like flavors as well.

Overall, it was a very typical black Ceylon tea, and is one of my favorite teas sold by Simpson & Vail. I have come to appreciate these types of black teas as ones that have enough caffeine to move me through the day but not so much that I am up for long hours after drinking them. I appreciate the fact that I can drink this on an empty stomach and not feel ill from the tannins (unlike a malty Assam tea). This has become one of my regular teas and, given the inexpensive cost for the loose leaf variety, it doesn’t “break the bank” to have it frequently.

An enjoyable tea.

Flavors: Cream, Malt, Oats, Roasted Barley, Toast

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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drank Ceylon Orange Pekoe by Loyd
104 tasting notes

I received a box of this tea from one of my tea-drinking co-workers (thanks, Tatyana!). We have been sharing our favorite teas with each other. This is what she and her husband drink regularly.

The dried leaves are very long and thin—tightly-rolled; very dark—black. It reminds me of other Ceylon teas I’ve had and enjoyed.

I steeped 9 grams of tea in 20 ounces of boiling water for 5 minutes. I followed-up with a second steeping of the tea for 7:15.

The color of the liquor was a basic kind of brown you get with most black teas. Very clear—not cloudy at all. Definitely a hearty color!

The initial aroma was of honey, which also translated into the tea. It has a pure flavor—no astringency. It carried the flavor well and was not overpowering. The second steeping did not work at all—this is a one-time use tea only.

Overall, it was very good and I would be glad to have this on a regular basis. It would make an excellent tea to have for breakfast each morning. I am glad to have been introduced to it and will be sure to keep an eye out for it in the future.

Flavors: Honey

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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This tea was an all-around pleasure to drink.

The dried leaves were whole, mostly golden tips, and rolled well.

I steeped 4 grams of tea in 12 ounces of near-boiling water for 4 minutes.

The color of the liquor was like a wheat pilsner—very light, pale yellow.

The aroma was floral, but undefined further than that. The floral aroma translated also into the flavor, along with hay and a slight muscatel flavor.

Overall, it is an excellent 1st flush Darjeeling—one that I’d like to keep in stock on my shelves for days when I am in the mood for a 1st flush. Given the nature of the tea, though, I don’t think it would have a long shelf life. Plus, the price is a bit high for me to make this a regular brew.

NOTE: My tea had a date of picking of 08 April 2017

Flavors: Floral, Hay, Muscatel

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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Husband and father. Librarian. Soccer fan.

My tea habits generally depend on my mood and the season but, in general, my preferred teas are black teas, especially those grown in Sri Lanka and India. I will occasionally drink other types, though.

Unless noted in my review, I brew my tea western style and do not use additives (milk/cream, sugar, etc.).

I am definitely not an expert when it comes to tea, so I apologize if my reviews differ from the experiences you’ve had with any of the teas I have logged.

Please feel free to contact me and let me know if you have a favorite that I have to try! :)

My grading for tea:

100: Perfect.

90, 95: Excellent.

80, 85: Very good.

70, 75: Good.

60, 65: Okay.

50, 55: Meh.

40, 45: Not so good.

0-35: Awful.


Northwest Indiana, USA

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