Anhui Keemun by Adagio Teas

Dry leaf aroma: Cocoa and malt, with subtle dark fruit notes. 
Wet leaf aroma: Slightly smoky. 
Preparation: Brewed western style in a ceramic infuser mug.

First/only steeping: 5 minutes at 210 degrees. 
Such a delightful mixtures of aromas – cocoa, malt, dark fruit, and a subtle smoky undertone. At first the smokiness scared me after my previous smoky Keemun experience, but this is a sweeter, more subtle smokiness, not a raw in-your-face smoky. The taste is just as complex as the aroma with notes of cocoa, malt, smokiness, prunes, and something I can only identify as a biting spiciness (pepper?). The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a lingering tartness. After the cup has cooled I notice a breadiness to the flavor and the smokiness is weaker.

It is somewhat odd to me that this tea hasn’t been reviewed in 3 years on Steepster. C’est la vie! I did a second stepping but was so stuffed up after my husband mowed the lawn that I don’t trust my nose or taste buds to accurately post notes about it. It was good though! I keep calling this tea sultry, it seems to fit.

I am still amazed at how much the same general style of tea can vary. I think this is part of my attraction and I certainly enjoy the discovery of each variation!

Flavors: Bitter, Cocoa, Fruity, Malt, Pepper, Smoke

Black Tea Merlot by Vintage TeaWorks

Dry leaf aroma: Black currants with notes of plum and a delicate floral undertone. 
Wet leaf aroma: Very much like the dry leaf aroma – black currants and floral. 
Preparation: Brewed western style in a glass infuser mug.

First/only steeping: 4 minutes at 195 degrees. 
The freshly brewed liquor has a delicate floral aroma. While the cup is hot the dominate flavor is black currants, with hints of licorice, plum and a mild floral note. As the cup cools the floral note disappears and there is a tart aftertaste.

Flavors: Black Currant, Floral, Licorice, Plums

Soula Assam 2014 SFTGFOP1 Second Flush Single Estate by Golden Tips Tea

Dry leaf aroma: Malt and hay with a hint of cocoa. 
Wet leaf aroma: Damp hay. 
Preparation: Brewed western style in a ceramic infuser mug.

First/only steeping: 4 minutes at 210 degrees. 
Brisk malty flavor with suggestions of fresh-baked bread and a pleasant brisk aftertaste. As the cup cools the bread-like notes are more prominent.

This was my first experience with the Soula estate in India and I quite enjoyed this Assam.

Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Malt

Keemun Black by Floating Leaves

Dry leaf aroma: Pure cocoa. 
Wet leaf aroma: Smoky with a hint of damp hay. 
Preparation: Brewed western style in an all glass infuser mug.

First steeping: 3 minutes 30 seconds at 205 degrees. 
Smoky aroma with notes of earth and hay. While the cup is hot I taste strong smoke and malt flavors, with a hint of bitterness. As I let the cup cool the bitterness is more pronounced.

Second steeping: 4 minutes at 205 degrees. 
Almost identical to the first steeping.

I was hoping the second steeping would bring out more flavor but I think I just personally perceive this tea as a very smoky Keemun. I’m not sure I will finish the sample package, though I’ve considered using it in a custom breakfast blend.

Flavors: Earth, Hay, Smoke

Imperial Gold Bud Dian Hong by Whispering Pines Tea Company

Dry leaf aroma: Malty with a hint of yeasty sweetness. 
Wet leaf aroma: Malt and bread with a delicate earthy essence. 
Preparation: Brewed western style in a ceramic infuser mug.

First steeping: 3 minutes at 205 degrees.
This tea is as much a pleasure to smell as it is to sip with its malty bread aroma. The liquor is velvety smooth with a strong freshly baked bread flavor and a subtle buttery mouth-feel. As the cup cools I detect a bit of sweetness and the aftertaste is bread with a buttery note that lingers pleasantly.

Second steeping: 5 minutes at 205 degrees. 
Very much like the first infusion. The buttery notes are more prominent and the mouth-feel is creamy with a yeasty aftertaste.

I wish I had time to do further steepings, as this is a tea worthy of taking your time to savor.

One thing to note, the key for me with Dian Hong is to underleaf slightly or it comes out a bit bitter. I think that has more to do with my taste buds being quirky rather than being an issue with the tea or my water. Regardless, this is an awesome tea. Lovely to look at, intoxicating to smell, and heavenly to sip!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Sweet, Yeasty

Angel Falls Mist by Good Life Tea

Dry leaf aroma: Fruit and hibiscus with the faintest hint of cream. 
Preparation: Brewed western style in a ceramic infuser mug.

First/only steeping: 5 minutes at 210 degrees. 
This tisane has a strong fruit and hibiscus aroma and brews a pinkish red liquor. The predominate flavor is tart fruit, with a very subtle note of cream at the end of the sip. While I cannot isolate the individual fruits, the infusion is neither too generic nor overly tart. However, the cream note throws me off and I am wondering if the Cream of Earl Grey sample packaged in the same mailing envelope contaminated this flavor profile.

I received this tea as a free sample, and I want to thank Good Life Tea for the opportunity to taste this.

Flavors: Fruity, Hibiscus, Tart