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Richard Kilgore

Un-Flavored Black Teas - India, China, Ceylon....

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Chris, the Dian Hong Imperial from Norbu Tea is an exceptional black tea and I always have some of it on hand. Greg Glancy at Norbu also carries some other very good Chinese black teas, and you may also want to try some high quality Indian Assam teas. I continue to get mine from Kyle Stewart at The Cultured Cup and Bill Waddington at Tea Source - both of them have sourced excellent teas. The lower quality Assam teas that most people in the West drink are harsh and very astringent by comparison. There are also some high quality Chinese black teas that Sebastien and Jing carry at jingteashop.com.

Hope that helps.

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Here's a link to the Assam Sree Sibari Estate, SFTGFOP1 at teasource.com. And here's the Tea Tasting & Discussion that featured this tea. I also like the Assam Konghea Estate, Golden Bud I got from Tea Source, but it looks like it is currently out of stock.

From The Cultured Cup, I have enjoyed the Assam Napuk and and several others. It's best to call them, because they have many teas that are not on their site and it's better to call them than to email. If you tell them what you like, I am sure they will have a few to recommend. You may also like the Nepal Chiyabari Estate they carry - not an Assam, but great stuff.

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I need to add a new favorite: 2009 Winter Black Ruby from Norbu.

I got a free sample of this with my last order from Norbu, and tonight, when my tongue was overdone with tasting several puerhs together, I tried just a pinch of it as a change of pace. I prepared it with probably about half a gram of tea to 2 oz boiling water (it was late, and I didn’t want to be up all night), and after about 2 minutes steep the liquor was deep orange red, and delicious. Fruity, sweet, no astringency at all (not that I expected any, really, given the dilution I started with), and a second infusion was equally delightful. Not sure about the wine-like aspect Greg mentions in his notes, but this was a quick & dirty sipping, so I’ll have to try it again, more carefully, and take better notes to see if I can identify that.

I will certainly get a little more of this tea for a change of pace, and I suspect it will make a nice alternative to my golden Yunnans for take-a-thermos-to-work days.

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Unflavored black teas are pretty much the only thing I drink. Right now, I am having Jamirah Estate Assam (2nd flush) that I picked up from the Cultured Cup a few weeks ago.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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After reading all of these wonderful descriptions and tastings, I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I haven't tried 90% of the teas on here. Most of the tea I get comes from the local asian market, and I buy one or two different kinds each time I go, to see if I like them or not. Most of them haven't stood out, or merited a second trip. I'm going to have to order from some of these sites and see if there's something out there that just blows me away.

I'm really excited to try some different high-quality Ceylon teas. If anyone has a good recommendation for a relative novice to order, please let me know.


"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Some of my favorite Ceylons from TeaSource (.com):

Lumbini Estate, FBOP

New Vithanakanda Estate, Ex. Special

If you like scented teas as well, their Currant Event and Moon over Madagascar are delicious, too.

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Are you mostly buying little tins of cheap tea? Or does your market sell loose tea in bulk?


Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)

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Are you mostly buying little tins of cheap tea? Or does your market sell loose tea in bulk?

I went looking for the thai tea powder mentioned in another thread today, and noticed that my little market has quite a few more loose leaf teas than I realised. They are all in tins though, nothing in bulk, and a good portion of the teas are labeled with names like colon cleanse green tea, cures all ailments black tea, etc. There are some regular teas that seem to be good, though most of the names are Chinese to me.

Baroness and Richard, the Vithanakanda Estate looks to be more my cup of tea, pardon the pun. I'll be ordering some to try soon. Thank you!


"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Well, I loaded up at Tea Source: Ceylon Vithanakanda Estate, Assam Sree Sibbari estate SFTGFOP, and Keemun Yi Ji, a toasty, forest-floor cup that I really, really like a lot.

Have you had a chance to try the other two, Chris?

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You got me curious, so I tried some of my Dian Hong Imperial Yunnan black tea from Norbu, which is at least a year or so old. Not sure I'd agree, as the woodsy quality I like so much in it is a bit more muted, I think. Hard to say.

Speaking of which, if i'm a big fan of that tea, what other Chinese blacks should I try out?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Key word: "some". Key phrase: "year or two". Black teas vary in terms of when they are at their peak, when past it and when going down the opposite slope. If I recall about the time you got this tea, it would be about two years old now. It's probably at it's peak closer to a year. On the other hand some smoky black teas need at least a year to air out. You can always ask any tea merchant about how long you can store a black tea (or any tea, of course).

You could try gently re-roasting the Dian Hong Imperial in the oven at as low heat as you can for about 10 minutes on a half-sheet pan. I have not done it with a black tea, but if you are not enjoying it now, you don't have much to lose. If you have a lot of it, you could do a small test batch. And if you do, please let us know whether or not it helps.

You may enjoy exploring some Chinese red (black) teas from jingteashop.com. Their descriptions often indicate whether it should be consumed now or stored medium or long range. In particular I would suggest these two--

Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong

Gift Grade Keemun Gong Fu

Also keep an eye on Norbu Tea and Tea Source, since they frequently add new Chinese red (black) teas.

Anyone else have any Chinese red (black) tea suggestions for Chris?

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Chris, I should also mention the Yunnan Golden Tips from theculturedcup.com. I think this one would fit your tastes well. If it's not on their website, call rather than email. Don't know why, but email communication is not always reliable.

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You got me curious, so I tried some of my Dian Hong Imperial Yunnan black tea from Norbu, which is at least a year or so old. Not sure I'd agree, as the woodsy quality I like so much in it is a bit more muted, I think. Hard to say.

I have been experimenting with some of my Dian Hong Imperial that is as old as yours, Chris. Increasing the amount of leaf and infusion time helps pump up the flavor. Don't know what parameters you have been using, but 3.0 - 3.5 g for 6 - 8 ounces with a 4 minute first infusion and a 6 minute second works pretty well for me. YMMV, as usual.

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I picked up an Anhui Keemun 2010 from my local last week. Now that the weather's turned cool, it's time for red teas!

I like the light smoky finish at the end, but I'm wondering how many infusions I should be getting out of my leaves?

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You got me curious, so I tried some of my Dian Hong Imperial Yunnan black tea from Norbu, which is at least a year or so old. Not sure I'd agree, as the woodsy quality I like so much in it is a bit more muted, I think. Hard to say.

I have been experimenting with some of my Dian Hong Imperial that is as old as yours, Chris. Increasing the amount of leaf and infusion time helps pump up the flavor. Don't know what parameters you have been using, but 3.0 - 3.5 g for 6 - 8 ounces with a 4 minute first infusion and a 6 minute second works pretty well for me. YMMV, as usual.

That's about what I have been doing, too. Unfortunately I don't have my microscale here these days. I'll try to remember to grab it from home so I can be more precise.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I picked up an Anhui Keemun 2010 from my local last week. Now that the weather's turned cool, it's time for red teas!

I like the light smoky finish at the end, but I'm wondering how many infusions I should be getting out of my leaves?

I like Keemuns, too!

If you are brewing it at a ratio of 2.0g/6 ounces with a first infusion of 2 - 3 minutes, you should get at least 2 - 3 infusions. If you are brewing it gongfu cha at a ratio of 1.5/1 ounce with a first infusion of 10 - 20 seconds, you should get at least 9 - 10.

Let us know how it goes.

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I'm increasingly convinced that I have a serious jones for Yunnan black teas. That Yi Mei Ren is in my regular rotation now, and the spring 2011 bag from Norbu is excellent. However, I jumped online to report that a sample from Greg has knocked my socks off: it's the Hong Mao Feng Yunnan, spring 2011. Deep, rich, earthy and soft, it's like a velvet fist to the kisser in the morning. The closest comparison I can make is toAberlour a'bunadh cask strength scotch, which I'm also silly about these days.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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