Smoooooth black tea recommendation?

Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.

Smoooooth black tea recommendation?

Postby omegapd » Feb 7th, '08, 05:18

Hi All,

First post here but I've been lurking for a long time and reading up on all the old posts.

Not exactly a newbie to tea...I did what a lot of us did. Started in the grocery store, read up on green teas and tried them, got a mail order catalog from Stash and now have started trying new things on-line.

I'm back on black teas now and am trying to find something that is good quality and somewhat mild and smooth. A lot of the English Breakfast/Irish Breakfast/Assams, etc. have too much "bite" to them for me. Some call it pungent, I prefer the term bitter...

Right now, I've settled on a non-descript blend called simply China Black from an Ebay seller and I've found (surprisingly) that Lipton's loose leaf blend is much better than their bagged version and makes a very nice cup. That said, I still want to expand my horizons and try new things.

So, what do you say? Maybe a Darjeeling? Kenyan? plain ol' Ceylon? What's a good black tea without bitterness?

Thanks a lot,

Eric W.

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Postby Space Samurai » Feb 7th, '08, 10:49

Hi and welcome to the forum.

Some poeople describe darjeelings as astringent, so it may not be what you want. Ceylon is rather mild, too mild in my opinion, as it often suffers from a general lack of flavore--but there are some good ones out there. So they say.

My rec's: Adagio's Yunnan Gold (or any other yunnan black like it, but Adagio does have the best price). A yunnan black, also called dian hong, with a high percentage of khaki buds--the more buds, the more smooth-is wonderful, smooth, and unlike any other black tea.

I just had some of this last night, too, and I thought it was very smooth: Its a Japanese black tea.

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Postby Chip » Feb 7th, '08, 14:35

Chinese blacks will generally be smoother and less astringent than Indian blacks. I prefer Keemun.

Brewing Indian teas is more challenging. Darjeeling, though having an astringent bite, can be remarkable sweet, fruity, and nicely balanced.

But Keemuns and I am sure Yunnans are both easy brewers.

Welcome to TeaChat! Hope you stick around a long time and share many cups of tea with us. I would ecourage you to visit the TeaDay forum also located in the Teas section of TeaChat, share what is in your cup, see what everyone else is drinking, take the daily TeaPoll, and participate in the daily discussion.

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Postby Wesli » Feb 7th, '08, 14:46

For a smooth black tea, I prefer a Chinese Yunnan made with buds. The buds turn golden when oxidized, so their names are usually something like Yunnan Gold, Golden Yunnan, etc.

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Postby fightingdestiny » Feb 7th, '08, 17:07

I find Darjeeling to be the smoothest black tea. Ceylon is a bit harsh to me.
Adagio's Darjeeling #22 is very smooth, with a bit of a fruity taste and very little bitterness.

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Postby Thirsty Daruma » Feb 7th, '08, 17:54

Darjeelings are indeed bitter, but usually when oversteeped. They are incredibly unforgiving when it comes to their proper steeping time.

That said I must second (or third, or fourth) the Yunnan Gold, or Adagio's own Golden Monkey.

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Postby omegapd » Feb 8th, '08, 01:30

Thank you for all the replies so far. Looks like I was on the right track with Chinese Black I can branch out some and try some more...

I'll admit to being of the "old school" with steeping. Any black tea I drink gets at least 4 1/2 minutes of steeping. Maybe thats why I found some of the Assams so bitter tasting. Oh well, they were small samples and I'm done with them now... :wink:


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Postby LavenderPekoe » Feb 8th, '08, 09:18

My best advice is to drop your steep time down. I don't brew anything at more than 3 minutes. You may try a touch cooler water too. I don't like bitter teas either, but I like Assams and Darjeelings, just brewed shorter. For me, the only Chinese black teas I like are from the Fujian province. But, as with all tea, YMMV.

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Postby Space Samurai » Feb 8th, '08, 10:51

I second that sugestion. Usually I drink black tea in place of coffee, so I want it strong and sweet. But if I want to taste the tea and enjoy it by itself, I brew it 3, 3.5 minutes.

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Postby skywarrior » Feb 8th, '08, 12:53

A good assam is smooth. You may want to try it with less time. Try the Adagio version -- it's very nice.

Golden Monkey is very sweet and smooth as well.

I find ceylons unremarkable, which is why I drink a lot of flavored teas with it in. It doesn't get in the way of the flavors.

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Postby Alesh » Feb 8th, '08, 12:59

I can only recommend something that has been mentioned above...
For a smooth tasting black tea: some Yunnan (with lots of 'golden tips') brewed between 3 and 3.5 miuntes, without sugar or anything... mmmm :)

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Postby olivierco » Feb 11th, '08, 05:26

I use 5 minute brewing time for Yunnan golden tips. No astringency at all. If your Yunnan isn't top grade (i.e. not completely composed of long golden tips), you might have to reduce the brewing time..

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Postby Proinsias » Feb 13th, '08, 23:03

I'm a gong fu man so I don't really understand what 4mins is.

If you brew it at length then brew it very quick instead - if it tastes like water then extend the time. If it tastes bad after a long brew, a short brew and all in between then put it in the bin.

I would agree with the previous posts suggesting yunnan gold tea but I would add that black tea with a bite is also great.

If you're making assam or yunnan and it tastes bitter then you are either brewing it to heavily or the tea ain't too good.

I stopped drinking tea a few hours ago and switched to wine, as a consequence I demand that you get a gaiwan as it gives an insight into the tea and pokes holes in brewing techniques.

I still can't quite believe that Chip ain't got one.

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