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Alex Zorach

RateTea Editor

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Member since Sep. 1st, 2009. Reviewed 1251 teas.

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Picture of Uva Highlands

Uva Highlands from Harney and Sons

Style: Ceylon Black Tea – Region: Uva, Sri Lanka

73 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 3/5 Value: 5/5 Overall: 6/10
Feb. 14th, 2016

A potent, robust tea with a distinct wintergreen aroma that comes out more some times than others. A bit sensitive to brewing conditions, and not for the faint-hearted, but good if you want something strong, especially if you drink tea with milk. I served this to a friend who likes strong Irish Breakfast tea, and she...

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Picture of Ginger Pu-erh

Ginger Pu-erh from Numi Organic Tea

Style: Flavored Pu-erh – Region: ?????

67 / 100 Aroma: 6/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 3/5 Overall: 7/10
Jan. 27th, 2016

I'm not a big fan of Shou Pu-erh, and I think Pu-erh tea bags usually tend to be terrible, but I thought this was a well-executed blend, and I think the ginger blends quite well with the base tea.

The aroma is distinctive. Because it's dried ginger, it reminds me a little more of gingerbread cookies than fresh ginge...

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Picture of Earl Grey Black Tea

Earl Grey Black Tea from Teavana

Style: Earl Grey Tea – Region: China

63 / 100 Aroma: 6/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 2/5 Overall: 7/10
Jan. 26th, 2016

This tea had a pleasant aroma, slightly fruity and slightly perfumey, with a good balance of the beas tea and flavoring. Piquant: bold and edgy, both in flavor and aroma, but pleasantly so. Quite bitter, and with a light astringency in the finish. Potent.

A typical Earl Grey of good (but not amazing) quality. Noth...

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Picture of Oprah Chai Herbal Blend

Oprah Chai Herbal Blend from Teavana

Style: Chai / Spiced Tea – Region: Blend

13 / 100 Aroma: 1/10 Flavor: 1/5 Value: 1/5 Overall: 1/10
Jan. 26th, 2016

This was the worst thing I've ever seen to come out of Starbucks and Teavana, and the worst thing I've seen associated with Oprah's name. It's an abomination, absolutely abhorrent.

The cup has an overwhelming aroma of fake cinnamon, like those fireball candies that I hated as a kid. If you like fireball candies (o...

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Picture of Gopaldhara Red Thunder Black Tea

Gopaldhara Red Thunder Black Tea from Udyan Tea

Style: Darjeeling Autumnal Flush – Region: Darjeeling, India

77 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 4/5 Overall: 7/10
Jan. 25th, 2016

I liked this tea, but I would not describe it as "thunder"; it's too mellow. Following the rumbling sound analogy, it would be more like "a natural-gas-powered bus goes by", but I guess that doesn't sound quite as sexy.

Dry leaf has a strong aroma, mostly nutty, suggesting sweetness. The aroma suggests warmth.

...

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Picture of Himalayan Oolong Tea

Himalayan Oolong Tea from Udyan Tea

Style: Oolong Tea – Region: Nepal

93 / 100 Aroma: 9/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5 Overall: 9/10
Jan. 25th, 2016

A singular tea! This was the first Nepal-grown Oolong that I've tried. I find oolongs from the Himalayan region (I've tried seven from Darjeeling) to be incredibly variable. This was probably my second-favorite and was among my favorite of all teas labeled as oolongs, although it bears little resemblance to oolongs o...

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Picture of Seeyok Autumnal Black Tea

Seeyok Autumnal Black Tea from Udyan Tea

Style: Darjeeling Autumnal Flush – Region: Darjeeling, India

83 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5 Overall: 7/10
Jan. 25th, 2016

This was a dark, rich, smooth, and naturally sweet tea with a mysterious pungent aroma, which changed its character a lot resteeping.

Dry leaf is a fairly uniform brown, and has a strong and intriguing aroma, malty and suggesting sweetness, but very fresh and light.

As I pour the water, immediately a strong fruit...

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Picture of Rose Green Tea

Rose Green Tea from Udyan Tea

Style: Rose Green Tea – Region: Nepal

97 / 100 Aroma: 10/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5 Overall: 9/10
Jan. 20th, 2016

A beautiful blend. I love rose green tea and I thought this one was exceptional. It's one of the best blended or flavored green teas I've had.

The dry leaf of this smells wonderful and balanced...I can actually smell the tea, usually rose overpowers base teas, especially green teas. The tea smells light and vegeta...

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Picture of Snowview Tippy Black Tea

Snowview Tippy Black Tea from Udyan Tea

Style: Darjeeling Second Flush – Region: Darjeeling, India

77 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 5/5 Overall: 7/10
Jan. 13th, 2016

Every now and then I encounter a Darjeeling that only seems to shine when paired with the right foods, and this was one. The first couple times I drank it, it was easy to overlook, but when I paired it with a spicy coconut curry soup I made, it seemed to take on a completely different character.

Dry leaf is brown a...

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Picture of Giddapahar AV2 Clonal Black Tea

Giddapahar AV2 Clonal Black Tea from Udyan Tea

Style: Darjeeling Second Flush – Region: Darjeeling, India

70 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 3/5 Value: 4/5 Overall: 7/10
Jan. 7th, 2016

This was a singular tea that was highly unlike any other teas I've tried. Minimalist in aesthetic, I can see this one appealing to people who like delicate white teas, and it tasted more like a white tea than other black teas. It's not my favorite sort of tea, but I found it intriguing with every sip, and drinking it...

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Picture of Castleton China Black Tea

Castleton China Black Tea from Udyan Tea

Style: Darjeeling Autumnal Flush – Region: Darjeeling, India

97 / 100 Aroma: 10/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5 Overall: 9/10
Jan. 3rd, 2016

Wow. Udyan tea recently sent me some samples, and they are of impressive quality. This is the first sample I'm reviewing, and only the second tea I've ever tried from Castleton estate. It got my attention immediately as a top-quality tea.

The dry leaf of this tea is explosively aromatic and the aroma is extraordin...

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Picture of Japanese Sencha (Sachets)

Japanese Sencha (Sachets) from Harney and Sons

Style: Sencha – Region: Shizuoka, Japan

77 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 3/5 Overall: 8/10
Dec. 20th, 2015

An exceptional sencha from a tea bag; without a doubt the best sencha I've ever tried from a tea bag, and better than a lot of examples of loose-leaf tea.

The dry tea bag has a very fresh and pleasing aroma, like loose-leaf sencha of very good quality, suggesting sweetness.

Brews a very light-colored cup with a b...

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Picture of Peppermint (Sachets)

Peppermint (Sachets) from Harney and Sons

Style: Peppermint Tea – Region: Oregon, United States

63 / 100 Aroma: 6/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 2/5 Overall: 6/10
Dec. 20th, 2015

Served in the Barnes & Noble Cafe in Newark, DE.

I am more partial to spearmint than peppermint, but I do enjoy peppermint from time to time. I picked this one mainly because it was one of the only two caffeine-free herbal options in the cafe, and I had already tried the other one.

This is a very good peppermint ...

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Picture of Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea from Dynasty

Style: Oolong Tea – Region: China

67 / 100 Aroma: 6/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 4/5 Overall: 6/10
Dec. 20th, 2015

I used to drink Dynasty's tea bags regularly, around 2002-2005, before I got into loose-leaf tea. They're pretty good, and they were my fall-back when I was unable to find Ten Ren's (my favorite oolong in a tea bag, but not widely available).

This tea is only mildly aromatic, and it has a smooth, well-balanced flav...

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Picture of Black King

Black King from Harney and Sons

Style: Black Tea – Region: Hunan, China

100 / 100 Aroma: 10/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5 Overall: 10/10
Dec. 13th, 2015

Wow, this is a truly exceptional tea.

The dry leaf looks and smells intricate and beautiful: the appearance is fine, wiry leaves with a dusty appearance, a mix of gold and rich brown, and the aroma is very intense, strongly malty, like rye malt, with hints of spice, and the suggestion of sweetness. There's a strong...

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Picture of TJ58: Japanese Oolong Organic

TJ58: Japanese Oolong Organic from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Oolong Tea – Region: Japan

53 / 100 Aroma: 6/10 Flavor: 3/5 Value: 2/5 Overall: 5/10
Dec. 9th, 2015

This is the first oolong tea I've ever tried from Japan, one of a few Japanese teas other than green teas that I've ever sampled. It has a classic oolong character, but I was disappointed, it just doesn't seem all that good.

The aroma of the dry leaf is pleasantly nutty, with light notes of roast. The dry leaf look...

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Green Chai from Wegmans

Style: Chai / Spiced Tea – Region: Blend

63 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 3/5 Value: 3/5 Overall: 6/10
Dec. 7th, 2015

Green chai is always a tricky one for me; I think of masala chai as being a blending tradition that is inextricably woven into the flavor profile of strong black teas. While traditional masala chai goes well with milk, I think of green tea as not going well with milk at all. I never know what to expect when I try a g...

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White Peony from Simply Good Tea

Style: White Peony Tea – Region: China

33 / 100 Aroma: 2/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 1/5 Overall: 3/10
Dec. 7th, 2015

This is a late review that I somehow forgot to post; the company is now closed, and the tea wasn't my favorite, but why not share?

Another dud, the second one in a batch of teas that I've otherwise thought offered solid quality and excellent value.

The dry leaf looks unusually wiry for a white peony or bai mu dan...

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Picture of Se Chung Special Oolong

Se Chung Special Oolong from Frontier

Style: Se Chung Oolong – Region: ?????

47 / 100 Aroma: 5/10 Flavor: 3/5 Value: 1/5 Overall: 5/10
Dec. 7th, 2015

A mediocre tea, disappointing among Se Chung oolongs, a fairly broad group of oolongs that I tend to enjoy a lot.

Dry leaf looks unusual for Se Chung oolongs, the leaves are mostly in long, twisted shapes like Wuyi oolongs, unlike the tightly-rolled shapes of Tie Guan Yin and other Anxi oolongs. The leaf is fairly ...

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Picture of Breakfast Blend (Morning Rise)

Breakfast Blend (Morning Rise) from Numi Organic Tea

Style: Black Tea – Region: Blend

67 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 2/5 Overall: 7/10
Dec. 7th, 2015

Wow. This might be the best breakfast tea I've ever tried from a tea bag. This was in a box of Numi tea bags that my friend Emily gave me, thank you so much!

Very aromatic once brewed: the aroma is very complex too: malty, spicy, and with notes of hot chocolate and a hint of roast like black coffee. The overall ch...

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Picture of TI69: Jolotigo Estate Orthodox Java BT

TI69: Jolotigo Estate Orthodox Java BT from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Black Tea – Region: Indonesia

83 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 5/5 Overall: 8/10
Dec. 7th, 2015

A very enjoyable tea for a very reasonable price. I agree with Upton that it is versatile, and I found it easy to enjoy (I shared it with two others and they both also liked it). This is the second excellent Indonesian tea I've sampled recently, and I think it ties for my two favorite teas from this region.

The dry...

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Picture of TA04: Season's Pick Assam GFOP

TA04: Season's Pick Assam GFOP from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Black Tea – Region: Assam, India

73 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 3/5 Overall: 8/10
Nov. 29th, 2015

I thought this a typical, middle-of-the-road Assam of good quality. but not mind-blowing. Good for people who value smoothness in a full-bodied tea.

Dry leaf has a mild fruity aroma. Brewed cup is very smooth, but rich and full-bodied. Aroma is predominately fruity, but also malty, with the fruitiness resembling ...

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Picture of TK20: Milima Estate Kenya OP

TK20: Milima Estate Kenya OP from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Black Tea – Region: Kenya

67 / 100 Aroma: 6/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 4/5 Overall: 6/10
Nov. 29th, 2015

A good black tea, but not among my favorites. This is now the fourth tea I've tried from Milima estate in Kenya. I've become a huge fan of teas from this garden: two of their teas are among my top-rated black teas of all time.

I thought this one was good, but I didn't like it quite as much as the examples I tried ...

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Picture of TB60: Russian Caravan

TB60: Russian Caravan from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Russian Caravan – Region: Blend

47 / 100 Aroma: 4/10 Flavor: 3/5 Value: 2/5 Overall: 5/10
Nov. 29th, 2015

A disappointing blend from a company that usually impresses me with their black teas. The one thing this tea had going for it though was that it was hearty and warming.

Dry leaf doesn't wow me, it has a mild, almost stale smell.

Upon brewing though, becomes much more pleasant. Aroma is oolong-like, like a dark,...

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Picture of China Black (Orange Pekoe) Organic

China Black (Orange Pekoe) Organic from Frontier

Style: Black Tea – Region: China

37 / 100 Aroma: 4/10 Flavor: 2/5 Value: 1/5 Overall: 4/10
Nov. 29th, 2015

I brewed this tea multiple times and it consistently disappointed me.

The dry leaf of this tea, which is quite broken, had a weak aroma that reminded me of a fresh loaf of rye bread at a mediocre deli.

When water hit the leaves, the aroma developed into an array of light smokiness, deep vegetal notes, and fruitin...

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