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Camellia Sinensis

Earl Grey Black from Camellia Sinensis

EarlGreyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Camellia Sinensis

Tea Description:

From Dooars, in northern India, this quality black tea is scented with a natural flavouring extracted from organic Italian bergamot, a highly aromatic citrus fruit. You’ll be spellbound after one sip of this English classic.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Recently I made an order with Camellia Sinensis for some teaware and they included several free teas such as this tea. Personally, I’ve never really sought to purchase an EG blend from Camellia Sinensis; I do enjoy Earl Grey but not enough to need more than one good kind on hand (and currently I’m loving the Liquid Proust’s Peach vs. Bergamot twist on the traditional Earl Grey) and when I’m ordering from Camellia Sinensis, which I frequently do, it’s more for the interesting and often unique straight/pure teas they carry or for the teaware.

That said, I’m grateful for the inclusion: I love the fact this Earl Grey is both organic and fair trade as those as aspects of tea I look to support as often as possible. This sample was a sachet style tea bag, and I ended up making it early in the morning before work. I have to say, I thought the dry leaf smelled fairly mild and quite floral and even as it was steeping up I was noticing more floral traits than anything overwhelmingly bergamot-heavy. However, the taste wasn’t bad! I enjoyed how smooth and clean the overall flavour was in addition to the light floral notes and medium concentration of bergamot flavour. There was also a very natural sweetness which I was fond of. That said, I wouldn’t have minded if the bergamot was a little stronger. For people who really LOVE Earl Grey and drink it on a more daily basis this could be perceived as a little light handed.

Overall, not a ‘stand out’ Earl Grey but a solid choice if you’re already placing a Camellia Sinensis order and want to do all your shopping in one place. And like I pointed out, the fact it’s Organic and Fair Trade (and still reasonably priced) makes it a tea easy to get behind.

Darjeeling 1st Flush Colonal Casleton DJ-13 Oolong from Camellia Sinensis

DarjeelingOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Camellia Sinensis (However it’s no longer listed)

Tea Description:

Here is an wulong composed of leaves varying in hue from light green to orange by way of delicate shades of silver which adorn its numerous buds. The light rolling typical of this type of clonal offers lovely large leaves which, once infused, release rich floral and herbaceous fragrances. The liquor, soft and of a substantial texture, is supported by fruity and spicy notes. Its long tangy finish evokes the lightness of spring.

Learn more about this tea on Steepster!

Taster’s Review:

This is definitely an interesting looking tea, one I probably wouldn’t have chosen for myself had Camellia Sinensis not included it as a bonus sample in one of several orders I’ve placed with them this year. Personally, I don’t have much experience with Darjeeling teas, and I’m almost certain that this is the first Darjeeling Oolong that I’ll have tried.

The dry leaf of this blend it fascinating to me; it definitely doesn’t look like a lot of oolong I’ve encountered. I know it’s definitely on the lower scale of oxidation, for sure – but it doesn’t even look like they even attempted to roll it which is definitely something I’m accustomed to with greener oolong. More so, it just kind of reminds me of Bai Mu Dan, but a little twisted up.

I brewed this one in one of my Gaiwans because it felt more right to be brewing it that way instead of in an infuser mug, though I did brew it Western style instead of Gong Fu. Normally I’m not one to resteep things, but I got three resteeps of this blend before I decided that was enough for the day.

The first infusion was very soft and delicate with such a lovely silky mouthfeel (which was definitely a consistent trait between all three infusions). The flavours were kind of in line with green teas and greener oolong; crisp and sweet sugar snap peas, lighter fruit notes like slightly under ripe honeydew, some floral notes, and a slight creaminess. However, the overwhelming gentleness of the brew reminds me a lot of white tea as well. I was looking forward to experiencing the “tang” like described by Camellia Sinensis, but I definitely didn’t taste anything close to that. Nor did I taste anything “spicy”.

The second infusion definitely brought about a change in flavour though; while the liquor was still very smooth and delicate and I still got some lovely snap pea notes there was also a touch of a herbaceous quality and the more floral notes were traded in for something quite a bit fruitier. More like over ripe honeydew than under ripe, and with an almost white wine like quality. I also experienced the “tangy finish” like described. I was definitely a little taken aback; the body dramatically and quickly shifted into this long, drawn out pleasantly sour finish that I wasn’t expecting. This was easily my favourite infusion of the three I did; it had a great balance between the flavours of the first and third infusions.

The third infusion was still delicate but that tangy note was even more vivid and instead of just being present in the finish it started to creep up into the body of the sip as well. In this infusion I definitely thought it was much more distinctly like white wine. In fact, I almost immediately was reminded of the few Reisling wines I’ve had (I’m not a huge wine person). It was super interesting, and still quite enjoyable but quite different from that first infusion. I can only imagine how much more interesting this would be Gong Fu brewed.

It’s a shame I can no longer find this on the Camellia Sinensis site; I want to learn more about this tea as it was very different from other oolongs I’ve tried, and quite memorable. I 100% recommend trying it, even if oolong isn’t your jam.

Happily Headless (Custom Blend) from Adagio Tea

happyheadlessTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black/Green

Where to Buy:  Adagio

Tea Description:

You’ll lose your head over your loyalty to this kingly brew!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

WARNING: POTENTIAL GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS

(But really this is season one so if you’re not aware of this you might be living under a rock…)

I have to say, I’m quite happy I watched enough GoT to understand the character reference here! I’ve really only seen the first two seasons and part of the third. I think the ingredients picked out by this blender are pretty well thought out too; though I do think there might just be a bit more “Fire” than “Ice” – although to be fair there certainly are a lot of very visable candy cane pieces in the dry leaf. Aun-Juli Riddle is a pretty good blender; in particular her Doctor Who blends tend to be pretty good and well thought out.

This is essentially a Chai, though an unconventional one, so I wasn’t the most excited about this blend because I’m not a Chai fan myself, but it came out pretty tasty! The clove is easily the strongest flavour here, and since that’s the one ‘conventional’ Chai spice that I personally feel you can never have too much of that works very well in my favor.

The rest of the flavour is pretty nice too; there’s an even dispersal of ginger, cardamom and cinnamon with just the faintest little touch of smoke from the Lapsang. It’s not enough smoke for people who are fearful of Lapsang to be worried about, though. The candy cane isn’t as strong as I expected given how much I could see in the leaf and the fact that this is inspired by Ned Stark which obviously ties into the whole “Winter Is Coming”/Ice thing. It is present, but subtly so and it’s more acting as a sweetener than really contributing any strong mint flavour. The finish is a little bit peppery, with maybe a touch too much cardamom.

Overall I think this is better than most Adagio fan blends though; they tend to get pretty muddled because blenders pick out ingredients that are either too similar so there’s no contrast or playing off one another or they pick ingredients that fit the ‘character’ but clash with one another/don’t compliment each flavour. This kind of avoids that for the most part, while still being fairly thoughtful.

I definitely wanted more “ice” – but maybe it’s poetic irony that the “fire” was the most dominant thing…

Choco Shou Pu-erh Tea from Camellia Sinensis

Choco_ShouTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Tea Description:

f you’re new to pu-erh, this is a great introductory tea. If you’re not new, you’ll still enjoy its vanilla chocolate goodness. This is slightly earthy and woody, as you might expect from an aged tea. The taste is smooth, rich (there’s mini chocolate chips in this afterall) with a lingering sweetness. Go ahead and try this hot with milk or even as an iced latte.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

As I’ve said on several occasions, I’m usually hesitant when it comes to sampling pu-erh.  I actually have enjoyed most of the pu-erh that I’ve tasted over the years but if I had to choose between pu-erh and most other tea types, I’d probably go with something else.  I’m not a big fan of the earthiness that seems to go along with most pu-erh and especially with shou pu-erh.  And as the name of the tea indicates, shou pu-erh is the base tea used for this Choco Shou Pu-erh Tea from Camellia Sinensis which is the last of the four teas that I’m sampling from this month’s Amoda Box.

And while I don’t usually like that earthy flavor of pu-erh, it works with this particular blend.  The earthiness actually enhances the flavor of the chocolate and gives it a deeper, richer flavor.  So while I may not be all excited about a shou pu-erh, I do get excited about a tea that complements the flavor of chocolate.

Yay chocolate!

So, yes, this is earthy.  But not so much that it knocks me upside the head with a flavor that makes me think that I steeped soil instead of tea.  This tastes much better than I would assume the steeped soil would taste – I’m going to go with that assumption because I’m not going to steep soil and drink it.  Just not gonna do it.

The chocolate flavor here tastes dark and decadent, like an expensive chocolate bar that says 70% cacao on it.  If you prefer your expensive chocolate bar to say “milk chocolate” on it, add a splash of milk to make a latte because this tea tastes amazing as a latte!

To steep:  I used my Kati Tumbler rather than my gaiwan to steep this tea because of the little chocolate chips in the blend.  I felt like the Kati was the better way to go.  I did rinse the tea for 15 seconds before infusing though – you’ll want to do this with any shou to help wash away some of those stronger earthy notes.  After the rinse, I infused the first cup for 2 1/2 minutes in 190°F.  I added 30 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.

I resteeped twice – creating three very flavorful cups of tea – with the first two much more chocolate-y than the third.  The third was still quite nice, just not as much chocolate flavor.

So smooth!  No bitterness (not even from the chocolate!) and no astringency.  Just a deep, mellow, luxuriously chocolate flavor that I would happily drink on a regular basis.  As I said before:  the chocolate flavor lasts through a couple of steeps – I got two very chocolate-y steeps out of the tea before the chocolate notes began to wane.

This tea gets a thumbs up from me.  Quite good!

Nilgiri Coonoor Black Tea from Camellia Sinensis

Nilgir_CoonoorTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Tea Description:

Grown in the hills of the Nilgiris district of Southern India, this is a highly aromatic and light black tea that is characteristic of the region. On the nose, you’ll smell stone fruits and flowers as this steeps. On the palate, you will taste a ton of character: it’s smooth, a little malty, fruity, spicy, floral and slightly green. 

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I fell in love at first sight with these leaves!  Oh my, they’re gorgeous!  Beautiful, whole leaves that have been rolled into long, curly, chocolate-y brown wires.  You can really see the quality of this Nilgiri Coonoor Black Tea from Camellia Sinensis – these leaves are exquisite!

And the flavor is just as exquisite as the leaves!

Nilgiri is one of my favorite black teas because it has some of that malty character that I love in an Assam tea but a Nilgiri is smoother.  There’s no bitterness and it’s not as astringent as an Assam can be.  It’s a little lighter in body/texture than a hearty Assam, but this is still a delightfully robust cuppa.

It’s smooth.  It’s fruity (I taste notes of stone fruit and raisin!)  There are some floral notes that offer a pleasant contrast to the sweet, fruity tastes.  I also taste a honeyed undertone that plays well to the floral notes.

The description above suggests a “green” taste to it and I get that too, it’s like a hint of vegetation to the background.  Nothing strong or intrusive to the ‘black’ flavors of this cup.  It’s more of another layer of flavor rather than something that distracts the palate.

About mid-cup, I start to notice a spice note to this as well.  Slightly peppery, evocative of a Yunnan.  Interesting!

Overall, a stunning Nilgiri, one of the most interesting Nilgiri teas I’ve yet to try.  All you black tea fans out there, this is one you should put on your must try list!