321 Tasting Notes

drank Holiday Tea by Harney & Sons
320 tasting notes

This is my first venture with Harney & Sons! I got a buy-one-get-one coupon for the H&S tins at Barnes & Noble, so after taking myself to the movies today, I made a little stop on the way home.

This was an absolute blind date. I hadn’t read any reviews on this tea, didn’t have a sample to smell/taste, had no idea what I was getting into. When I opened the tin, I went, “Oh.” I wasn’t expecting sachets. But they’re the good kind of sachets, so that’s OK. And the tea smells AMAZING, the cinnamon and clove really stand out. Not to mention it’s striking in appearance; black tea leaves with fiery red flecks.

I actually kind of like that they’re sachets; it’s a relief not to have to deal with the infuser, pouring out the right amount, pouring the water into the pot and letting it steep then pouring it out. I can just drop the little sachet right into the cup and boom! I can let it steep while I practice two-chord jams on my bass (can I just say, Eb minor is a REALLY pretty key?) OMG the aroma of this tea is to DIE for. It’s a warmer, more cinnamon-y version of the dry leaf aroma. The taste, on the other hand, is slightly less impressive. There’s a lot more spicy, a lot less cinnamon, and a bit of just… “I am drinking a hot liquid that has a flavor and there is an aftertaste.” I’m just going to inhale every time I sip.

Argh! It smells SO FREAKING GOOD and it looks so pretty, and then it just falls short of all expectations! Honestly, I’m going to have to give it at least another couple of gos for the smell alone. If nothing else, it’s a nice easy cup of tea that smells like the Ghost of a Christmas Past That Never Was. Or something like that.


have you tried steeping at a lower temp for a bit longer? just a thought.


This one didn’t thrill me, either, and I am a huge Harney fan.

Holly Faye

James, I might try that. I’m not sure how much more flavor I’ll get out of it; it just seemed like it had flavoring that was much weaker on the tongue than in the nose, if that makes any sense. But I’m not giving up on this one!

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It’s been a bit since I’ve had this one! (Mostly because I couldn’t find it, and when I did, I put it in a tin then forgotten I’d put it in the tin.) This is my breakfast tea while watching Family Ties on Netflix (ahh so good!!!) As I think I say every time I drink a dian hong, I have to remember to drink this slowly to get the flavor progression. Otherwise there’s still the tasteful rose flavoring. I feel like I’m just repeating what I’ve already said about this one. But it’s the kind of tea that we get obsessed with tea for. Definitely restocking on my impending tea splurge…

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I have a Saturday off!!!! WHAT WHAT WHAT!!!!!! AND I have Sunday off too! I have a real weekend?!? WHAT IS THIS??

ahem Sorry. Working retail does things to me.

I think I had this tea exactly ONCE, then never bothered to try it again. It was more smoky than I liked or something. This time around it’s quite enjoyable. I think it’s a tea you need a longer steep time for; I tried like a 3 min steep (Western style, of course) and it was pretty underwhelming. It’s a dark, smooth kind of smoky, like you’d get from a good lapsang. I didn’t really pick up on the sweet potato until I read it in the item descrip; I get a hint of it if I know to look for it. Then again, I’ve never been good with the subtleties.

Don’t know if it’s distinctive enough for me to restock, but clearly a quality tea. Pretty in dry leaf form, too.


I work shift work too, so I totally get it. My team is usually pretty good with scheduling though and balances out weekends with weekdays! I know what it’s like though, working retail is tough because it completely contradicts everyone elses lifestyle for hours.

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drank Earl Grey Cream by Zen Tea
320 tasting notes

I really don’t know why I’m in such a crappy mood this morning (headache? not enough sleep? just general ebb and flow of positivity and negativity?), but it’s Friday and I have a real weekend for the first time since September, so I should by all rights be in a really good mood. This is my wake-up cup before work today, and it does what it’s supposed to do. I’m getting a lot of the bergamot this morning, which is fitting, seeing as it’s grey and rainy outside and that’s what bergamot always makes me think of.

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Sipdown! I’m glad I have tea in my life for those mornings I’m feeling a little off. Like this one. (Stupid anxiety dreams.) I’ve gotten attached to the hay-ish flavor in this one. Don’t know if it’s necessarily my favorite tea, but it’s getting up there. Very possible restock.

Sorry my notes aren’t particularly eloquent this round.

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Gunpowder & Mate by Teapots & Treasures

Backlog from this afternoon. This is one I got on a curiosity-whim back when I visited this store in July while I was staying with my friend in Indy, and because I always want black tea, I haven’t done anything with it until this afternoon. Since I was feeling sleepy and wanted to simultaneously tidy up my room a bit and watch Back to the Future: Part 2, I decided to give it a shot.

I think it’s self-explanatory; it’s gunpowder green tea mixed with yerba mate. I have no experience with either, so I have no basis to go on for this tea. I was afraid I was going to roast it; the instructions said “almost boiling (180 degrees).” To me, 180 doesn’t count as “almost boiling,” and that kettle was definitely “almost boiling,” but I poured the water, let it steep a comparatively short time (1-2 minutes?), and hoped for the best.

It’s decent. Since it’s a backlog, not a whole lot to say, but it was quite smoky. Not really in a bad way. A twinge of grassiness, maybe a hint of spiciness but I can’t remember? The yerba mate definitely did its job, though; I was nice and awake for the rest of the afternoon! … Although there was, admittedly, more movie-watching than room cleaning.

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drank Vanilla black tea by Zen Tea
320 tasting notes

Sipdown! This was my post-tornado-warning, get-through-the-rest-of-the-evening tea. It’s been surprisingly enjoyable. It’s not at the top of my list for a restock, but I wouldn’t mind having it again.

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drank Earl Grey Black by Teavana
320 tasting notes

So last night I went to a midnight screening of Back to the Future, which I, unlike most of my generation or the one before, had never seen. Had a blast, got back around 3 in the morning, and got to bed a little after 4. Well, my body no longer understands the concept of “sleeping in.” So in the mist of a rainy Sunday morning, four hours of sleep, Huey Lewis and the News stuck in my head for the next two weeks, and a ridiculous new crush on Michael J. Fox, I wanted something brisk.

I swear I’m only in the mood for this tea once every three or four months, but it seemed right today. I still think it tastes like chilly autumn weather. It’s not necessarily the greatest EG in the history of existence, but that’s okay. I’ve got enough of it left that, at the rate I drink it, it’ll probably last me a while. :D

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Sipdown! Today’s cup is gonna be interesting. I wound up with a rather small amount of the genmaicha for a cup, so I threw in some of the plain Laoshan black since it’s used as the base…

Of course it tastes fine, since both teas involved are delicious. I wish I’d picked a smaller mug today so that I could really enjoy the genmaicha without having to throw more base in, since the base flavor kind of masks it in greater proportion. Ah well.

It also just occurred to me that I get paid on Black Friday.

…This could be dangerous.

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drank Yunnan Gold by Adagio Teas
320 tasting notes

What the heck, Adagio?!? You have to leaf the everliving heck out of this to get any flavor! And then it’s still pretty subtle. Leaves are golden and pretty, though. And the aroma is amazing; it reminds me exactly of black dragon pearls. The flavor, though… it’s hard to pinpoint. There’s a bit of cocoa-ness there, but it’s more dark fruit-y. Maybe a mite bit peppery, too.

I don’t really know how I feel about this one. Good, but not one of the better ones out there. It has hints of greatness but it’s just too light.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

Ha! That’s how they get you to use it up fast, and then they cross their fingers that you’ll replenish the stock.

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The name’s Holly, and I’ve been a tea drinker since spring of 2013. Tea is my happy place – it picks me up, it calms me down, it helps me focus, it helps me loosen my grip, it’s a little bit of positivity in each day. I do not drink alcohol, so tea is my recreational beverage. I love learning everything there is to know about it and sharing my experiences.

When I’m not drinking or writing about tea, I’m working at a music store and pursuing a Master’s degree in professional writing. You may also find me reading, writing, trying to learn French, cycling on the weekends, being a klutz, or making horrible puns and Star Trek references. Likely all at the same time.

My Tea Blog: http://steepinclined.wordpress.com/


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