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Alex Zorach

RateTea Editor

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Member since Sep. 1st, 2009. Reviewed 1366 teas.

Reviews of Pure Tea (Camellia sinensis)

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Picture of Green Tea (Ato-bi process)

Green Tea (Ato-bi process) from ITO EN

Style: Green Tea – Region: Japan

79 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 5/5
May. 23rd, 2018

This was quite a discovery. I purchased this at a Chinese market in Edison, NJ. I was surprised to see a Japanese tea for sale, but I grabbed it because I saw D. Gray had reviewed it and was eager to try it. I wasn't disappointed!

The dry leaf is a rich, yellow-green color, and pleasantly aromatic, smelling sweet an...

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Picture of Ramanugger Estate FTGFOP1 Organic

Ramanugger Estate FTGFOP1 Organic from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Assam – Region: Karbi Anglong, Assam, India

74 / 100 Aroma: 9/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 5/5
May. 21st, 2018

I specifically sought this tea out because it was from a region of Assam that is a little higher-altitude, and from where I hadn't previously tried any teas. Interestingly, it did taste a little more like a Darjeeling and other high-grown Himalayan region teas. Although I thought it was a very good tea, I liked it less...

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Picture of Season's Pick Colombian Leafy Black Tea Organic

Season's Pick Colombian Leafy Black Tea Organic from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Black Tea – Region: Colombia

95 / 100 Aroma: 10/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 3/5
May. 17th, 2018

Another exquisite tea from the Bitaco estate in Columbia! This was a smooth black tea that tasted top-quality, but was a bit weak on the resteep. Tastes better when brewed strongly. I served this tea to two different people as well and they both loved it.

I've been trying different grades and batches or variants of ...

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Picture of Nandi Royal GFBOP Black Tea

Nandi Royal GFBOP Black Tea from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Black Tea – Region: Nandi, Kenya

86 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
May. 13th, 2018

Probably the strongest tea I have had in a long time. I loved this one. It's not for the faint of heart, though!

Upton's humble "Nandi Royal OP" really blew me away, so I was eager to try this. Compared to that one, this is a higher-grade broken-leaf tea, more tippy, but more broken. The price on this is slightly hi...

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Picture of Nepal Guranse Estate Organic Oolong Tea

Nepal Guranse Estate Organic Oolong Tea from Simpson & Vail

Style: Oolong Tea – Region: Nepal

84 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 4/5
May. 3rd, 2018

A good tea that resembled Darjeeling first flush teas and probably would have convinced me it was a "black" tea if it had not been labeled as an oolong. It's more like a Himalayan black tea that had something different or unusual about it. Not what I expected; it was nothing like Chinese oolongs, nor like Darjeeling oo...

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Picture of British Blend - Premium Black Tea

British Blend - Premium Black Tea from Tetley Tea

Style: Black Tea – Region: Blend

24 / 100 Aroma: 2/10 Flavor: 2/5 Value: 1/5
Apr. 22nd, 2018

I was not impressed with this. I think I prefer Lipton even, and that says a lot because I am not exactly a fan of Lipton or any of these mass-produced, low-quality tea bags.

Thank you to my friend Sarah for letting me try this!

Weak aroma, only slightly malty, but there's a hint of a sort of unpleasant, fishy ar...

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Picture of Assam Nokhroy Estate Black Tea (STGSOP1)

Assam Nokhroy Estate Black Tea (STGSOP1) from Simpson & Vail

Style: Assam – Region: Tinsukia, Assam, India

91 / 100 Aroma: 9/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 5/5
Apr. 17th, 2018

This was a wonderfully smooth-flavored Assam, yet with good strength and complexity, and a great price. Thank you to Simpson & Vail for this sample!

Dry leaf, which is fine, curly, and has a moderate amount of golden tip, has an interesting aroma, initially there's a slight burned quality, suggestive of candle wax, ...

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Picture of Rukeri Estate Rwanda BOP Organic

Rukeri Estate Rwanda BOP Organic from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Black Tea – Region: Rwanda

96 / 100 Aroma: 9/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Apr. 16th, 2018

This was a remarkably good tea for a low price: a strong black tea that was still quite smooth and had great aromatic complexity and depth. One of the best broken-leaf teas I've ever tried.

The dry leaf smells amazing! It's a sort of sweet bready smell with toasty notes and a hint of wintergreen. It made me excited...

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Picture of China Special Snow Dragon Green Tea

China Special Snow Dragon Green Tea from Simpson & Vail

Style: Green Tea – Region: Fuding, Fujian, China

76 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 3/5
Apr. 14th, 2018

A pleasant green tea with a smooth, mild flavor that tasted a lot better when brewed more strongly. Easy to drink and I'd imagine this would appeal to a broad audience, with perhaps an exception for people who think green tea is bland or weak, because this was on the milder side.

Thank you to Simpson & Vail for the ...

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Picture of Marangi Estate TGFOP1

Marangi Estate TGFOP1 from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Assam – Region: Golaghat, Assam, India

75 / 100 Aroma: 6/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 3/5
Apr. 12th, 2018

A subdued but rather strange Assam tea, muted in flavor and with a few off qualities.

This tea was kind of fascinating to review because I just tried a tea of a higher grade, from the same estate, from a different company, Simpson & Vail. I was surprised at how different the teas were. The difference of adding that ...

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Picture of China Cangyuan Yunnan Organic Black Tea

China Cangyuan Yunnan Organic Black Tea from Simpson & Vail

Style: Yunnan Gold – Region: Cangyuan, Yunnan, China

99 / 100 Aroma: 10/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 4/5
Apr. 11th, 2018

This was an exceptional tea and one of my favorite that I've sampled in a very long time. It was somewhat like other Yunnan teas but had unique lemony notes. Thank you to Simpson & Vail for the sample! I'm excited because this one sparked me adding a new sub-region to RateTea, it's the first tea we've listed from Cang...

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Picture of Assam Marangi Estate Black Tea (FTGFOP1)

Assam Marangi Estate Black Tea (FTGFOP1) from Simpson & Vail

Style: Assam – Region: Golaghat, Assam, India

88 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 3/5
Mar. 27th, 2018

This tea had a sublime combination of smoothness and depth characteristic of top-quality teas. The flavor was exceptional but the aroma a little weak and less interesting. Thank you to Simpson & Vail for the sample!

Very curly-looking leaf, beautiful, with a very large portion of orange tips (more than in the compa...

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Picture of Organic Tippy Colombian Black Tea (T2)

Organic Tippy Colombian Black Tea (T2) from Simpson & Vail

Style: Black Tea – Region: Colombia

97 / 100 Aroma: 9/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Mar. 26th, 2018

This was a light tea with a strong savory flavor, that tasted distinctly like lobster!

Another sample from Simpson & Vail, thank you! I've been loving all the black teas I've tried from the Bitaco estate in Colombia, and this is another one. They are all excellent! I'm glad to see this garden and its teas taking o...

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Picture of Vietnam Ha Giang Black

Vietnam Ha Giang Black from Simpson & Vail

Style: Black Tea – Region: Ha Giang

85 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Mar. 22nd, 2018

A very pleasant tea that was easy to steep and easy to appreciate. Like a good Yunnan tea but a little smoother.

Thank you to Simpson & Vail for the sample!

Dry leaf smells really beautiful and kind of fascinating: malty but with strong vegetal notes. It looks and smells a lot like a Yunnan tea, which makes sense...

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Picture of Doomni Estate TGBOP

Doomni Estate TGBOP from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Assam – Region: Baksa, Assam, India

92 / 100 Aroma: 9/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Mar. 19th, 2018

This is my type of Assam. An intensely strong tea with a brisk, refreshing character and a satisfying depth. Requires care in brewing though; this tea can become unpleasantly bitter and sour if steeped too long.

Dry leaf, broken but with ample golden tips, is lightly aromatic, malty, and pleasant.

Upon brewing t...

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Picture of Donyi Polo Estate SFTGFOP Tippy Cl.

Donyi Polo Estate SFTGFOP Tippy Cl. from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Black Tea – Region: Arunachal Pradesh, India

71 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 2/5
Mar. 19th, 2018

This tea threw me off because it was so radically different from what I was expecting. It's only my second tea ever from Arunachal, and I didn't know what to expect, but based on the location, I was expecting a darker, Assam-like tea, and it was instead, a light, Darjeeling-like tea. I think Upton's description is poor...

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Picture of Kingly Assam Summer Natural Traditional Black

Kingly Assam Summer Natural Traditional Black from TEAORB

Style: Assam – Region: Darrang, Assam, India

91 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Mar. 16th, 2018

A singular tea, very different from other black teas I've tried: very bold in flavor, yet with a deeper, darker character a bit like ripened Pu-erh.

This tea stood out from TEAORB's other samples. Thanks again to Bahniman and TEAORB for the sample! It was a broken-leaf orthodox tea, the only one sold by the compan...

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Picture of Doomni Estate TGFOP1 Cl.

Doomni Estate TGFOP1 Cl. from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Assam – Region: Baksa, Assam, India

90 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Mar. 15th, 2018

This was a very pleasant Assam, with a slightly more bready character, but otherwise what I expect from an Assam. A good, strong breakfast tea with a smoother than average flavor and some aromatic complexity.

Dry leaf smells pleasant, soft, slightly bready. Unlike some of the other teas, this one looks exactly like...

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Picture of Nandi Royal OP

Nandi Royal OP from Upton Tea Imports

Style: Black Tea – Region: Nandi, Kenya

87 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Mar. 13th, 2018

An outstanding tea for a great price, but does not resteep well.

This tea surprised me; a truly artisanal tea at an amazingly low price, with the only downside being that it does not resteep well. It also resembled a Darjeeling more than any other African-sourced tea I've ever tried. Kenya keeps producing remarkab...

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Picture of Sibya Arunachal Summer Organic Factory Black Tea

Sibya Arunachal Summer Organic Factory Black Tea from TEAORB

Style: Black Tea – Region: Arunachal Pradesh, India

94 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Mar. 12th, 2018

This was one of the most interesting teas I've tried in a long time; I am struggling to describe it in words. It was called a "black tea" but it tasted more like aged sheng (raw) Pu-erh, especially on the later steeps, and it resteeped much better than a black tea usually does. I recommend this especially to people wh...

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Picture of Pure Ceylon Tea (FBOPF

Pure Ceylon Tea (FBOPF "SP") from Alghazaleen Tea (Do Ghazal)

Style: Ceylon Black Tea – Region: Sri Lanka / Ceylon

89 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Mar. 7th, 2018

Wow, this tea offers the most exceptional value of any tea I've ever tried. It was $6.50 for a pound, yet was better than many artisan teas I've had for over 6 times the price. Similar to Ahmad Tea's Ceylon (one of my favorites), but a smidge cheaper and I think I slightly prefer this one.

The leaf consists of fai...

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Picture of Hojicha

Hojicha from Harney and Sons

Style: Hojicha – Region: Kyoto, Japan

89 / 100 Aroma: 8/10 Flavor: 5/5 Value: 5/5
Feb. 26th, 2018

An excellent roasted twig tea, crisp flavor and complex aroma! Probably my favorite roasted twig tea (i.e. not roasted leaf tea) that I have ever had.

I tend to always like hojicha, but this was one of the more interesting batches I've tried in a while.

This one is a roasted kukicha (twig tea) and the roast look...

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Picture of Wuyi Da Hong Pao

Wuyi Da Hong Pao from Harney and Sons

Style: Da Hong Pao – Region: Wuyi, Fujian, China

74 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 2/5
Feb. 16th, 2018

This tea was good, but it just didn't wow me the way I would need a tea in this price range to do in order to want to buy it.

The dry leaf smells exquisite, multifaceted, and hard to describe. Although the color is dark, the smell resembles green teas in some ways. Softly toasty and bready, hinting at floral and s...

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Picture of Jsd Assam Summer Organic Artisanal Green Tea

Jsd Assam Summer Organic Artisanal Green Tea from TEAORB

Style: Assam Green – Region: Udalguri, Assam, India

49 / 100 Aroma: 4/10 Flavor: 3/5 Value: 1/5
Feb. 12th, 2018

Another summer Assam green that I was not a fan of and found difficult to appreciate. Thank you TEAORB for the sample!

Dry leaf has a strong aroma of wood resin, like pine, and lightly smoky, almost a little rubbery. The leaf smell is a bit harsh in the way raw Pu-erh that has not been aged can be, and I'm not sur...

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Picture of Colombian Green Tea

Colombian Green Tea from Simpson & Vail

Style: Green Tea – Region: Colombia

77 / 100 Aroma: 7/10 Flavor: 4/5 Value: 4/5
Jan. 31st, 2018

Another lost review, apologies for the delay in posting. Thank you to Simpson & Vail for providing me with this one!

The dry leaf is wonderfully fragrant and also has a beautiful visual appearance, with long, narrow, fully intact leaves. The smell is suggestive of a number of high-grade Chinese teas, and made me e...

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