R/Tea’s Explorer’s Club Cicada Black Teas

R/Tea’s Explorer’s Club Cicada Black Teas and Aged Darjeeling
Source: M05H1 

Origin: Shi Family’s Farm in Yuchi Taiwan
Harvest: January 2015

Dry Leaves: Unfortunately like all the Cicada black teas there is not much an aroma to the dry leaves, I suspect due to the ziplock bags. These leaves are the most broken up of the three samples, but they are the most delicate so I am not surprised.

Temperature: 200oF (+ five degrees each subsequent infusion)
Brewing Time: Three Minutes (+ one minute each subsequent infusion)
Aroma: Cinnamon
Flavor: Muscatel, Cinnamon and Mint
Tasting Notes: This is a very aromatic tea, I already mentioned that I am fairly inexperienced with black teas, but I have had a couple Taiwanese black teas in the last couple months and none a strong aroma like this. Regardless I rather enjoyed the muscatel taste as well as the cinnamon. There was a slight mint aftertaste that was very refreshing, but I do not think mint and cinnamon goes together that well although it did not ruin the tea for me.

While I did enjoy this tea it was probably my least favorite of the three, although it had the nicest aroma and mouthfeel. It has quite a lot of sweetness and I see why M05H1compared it to an Oriental Beauty, but I do think that it is much easier to brew than an Oriental Beauty. I do not think Oriental Beauties are particularly hard to brew, but this is pretty much idiot proof.

Origin: Shi Family’s Farm in Yuchi Taiwan
Harvest: March 2015

Dry Leaves: Again not much of an aroma and they are shaped pretty similar to 18, perhaps a little thicker & flatter, but not as delicate.

Temperature: 200oF (+ five degrees each subsequent infusion)
Brewing Time: Three Minutes (+ one minute each subsequent infusion)
Aroma: Orange and Cinnamon
Flavor: Orange, Cocoa and Honey
Tasting Notes: Again very aromatic. This was rather interesting like the 18 it was a cross between two different varietals. 18 was a cross between Taiwanese wild mountain trees with Burmese Assam trees and it did not really taste like an tea made from an Assam plant, it felt very much like what I am coming to understand is Taiwanese black teas. While 21 is a cross between a Keemun and an Indian Kyang tree and this feels much more like an Indian black than either the 18 or the Wild.

Like 18 this is another tea that has been bitten by Green Leaf Cicada, and the leaves do not look that bitten when completely unfurled. (You can check out M05H1’s imgur gallery for better pitctures). I was actually surprised by how much I enjoy this tea since it feels very much like an Indian tea and I am not that fond of Indian teas.

Origin: Shi Family’s Farm in Yuchi Taiwan
Harvest: December 2015

Dry Leaves: The leaves are mostly long and curled, slightly twisted, while the tips have a slight corkscrew shape. For the most part my sample was mostly intake although I did notice a small amount of crushed tea towards the bottom of my sample which probably happened because my packaged arrived with quite a few dings.

Temperature: 200oF (+ five degrees each subsequent infusion)
Brewing Time: Three Minutes (+ one minute each subsequent infusion)
Aroma: Stonefruits
Flavor: Apricot, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Cocoa
Tasting Notes:  I decided to list this one last because it is something of a strange duck. The other two teas were quite easy to brew and I doubt even I someone fairly inexperienced with black teas could not mess up; not to say this tea is hard to brew or temperamental, but it definitely feels very different depending on how you brew it. I regret buying such a small sample of this. Regardless it was my favorite of the three teas. It has a fruity aroma that is more on the peach/nectarine side of the spectrum. And the individual flavors are quite nice; I know I have compared Taiwanese black teas to “desert” teas although lacking those fillers that attract new people to tea. I rather enjoyed the brown sugar notes more than anything else. The cinnamon notes were a little lackluster especially when compared to the other two teas.

While this Wild tea was not as aromatic as either the 18 or 21 and did not have as nice of mouthfeel as the others it definitely is the one I prefer. The other two teas did not feel like they needed a splash of milk, but I was tempted to use just a bit, while the wild felt perfect on it’s on.  But I must admit I was a little disappointed with how many steepings I got out of the Wild. I know these teas are meant to for one long infusion, but I did get at least four infusions out of the 18 and 21, but I only got two out of the Wild. Nevertheless I still liked it best, but like the 18 and 21 it had no astringency and a nice body.


Origin: Darjeeling
Aged in Ireland from around 1985

I’ve had this tea for a little over two months and I’ve been meaning to write a little something on it, but I was not sure if it was worth its own post. I am not saying it is not an interesting tea, because it absolutely is, but I do not have much to say about it.  

Dry Leaves: The leaves are quite broken up I am not sure if it is because of the age, I doubt it was because of shipping since the package arrived in perfect shape, or if that is just what the tea is meant to look like. Regardless there is not much of an aroma to the dry leaves although I could distinguish a woodsy smell.

Temperature: Boiling
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: N/A
Flavor: Fruity and Hay
Tasting Notes: I thought about saying I could not tell it apart from a fresh Darjeeling, but I do not feel like getting any hate mail for a cheap joke. But it does feel very much like an Indian tea even though it is around a quarter of a century old. There was no aroma I could pick up on, but there was still a bit of flavor. A little fruity and something like hay, definitely on the weaker side, but much stronger than what I was expecting. I have had teas of a similar aged stored in less than ideal conditions before (ie forgotten in that corner of cupboard that you never use) and this definitely is better.

Overall I was very impressed with what I got, although my expectations were pretty low and it was a free sample. Regardless I did try this with milk afterwards and I prefer it without.


Just a guy who likes tea.