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39 Tasting Notes
An exquisite rooibos offering, and now my go to evening cup of rooibos.
4-5 minutes, just shy of boiling brings out a robust amber color characteristic of rooibos, but with a plus – the mouth watering delicious scent of red fruits enveloping your palate.
Recommended for any rooibos drinker or for those who like a zap of pizzazz in their cup. Also I will note that Le Palais des Thes does a great job at packing the very freshest looking teas I’ve seen in some time!
A subtle yet enjoyable green tea that does not offend the sensitive palate. The dry leaves are a pale green with streaks of off white running through them, like a forest in the mist. The leaves are pressed flat and rather unique in appearance, almost as though they were chipped off of a larger unity. The scent of the leaves is light and unassuming, and the brewed nose is just the right amount of sweet and nutty. There is a very mild earth tone as well. This is what I’d consider a neutral tea, it should not offend those who shy away from earth or nutty notes, and is sweet enough to provide a good flavor for those who demand it.
This tea has the familiar scent of an earl grey, layered onto what can be described as a handsome marriage vanilla and other citrus flavors. In contrast to some of the other reviews it was the alluring scent of the dry leaves that piqued my interest in this tea. And of course, the mystique of the blend – shrouded in secrecy wakes the imagination and leaves one comfortable in thought over the superposition of possible ingredients, just enough uncertainty to bring forth contemplation of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the HUP. This tea should take one on a journey, and pleasant one at that.
Just received the new 2012 batch this week and it is sublime.
This is tea for the purist. An absolutely delicious aroma, classic assam color, perhaps slightly on the darker side. The taste provides just enough sweetness, just enough honey notes, and there is very little astringency. This is quite simply how I like my tea – unaided by external forces, so no sugar, no milk (or in my case almond or coconut milk). It is full of body yet smooth and soothing that you just want to keep it in your mouth and savor it just a while longer.
This is what a cup of black tea should taste like. Next up is the full leaf assam, and I’ll provide a comparison in that tasting note.
I purchased this on a quest for a daily yet versatile cup of black.
The aroma of the dry leaves is somewhat smokier than I had expected, yet the more I inhaled I sensed a bit of sweetness as well. The aroma is about as full bodied as the tea, and complex enough to make you consider exactly what’s going on there.
The cup brews fairly dark and like the dry leaves has a somewhat smoky scent. Oddly enough, I don’t really taste the smokiness, which came as a surprise. Instead I sipped a round, rather full bodied cup of black in which the assam and keemun flavors battled one another for dominance.
It’s a solid tea, enjoyable at that. Better after a meal than on its own.
This tea has been in the cupboard for a few months and I finally got around to brewing a cup while riding out the storm in NYC watching weather coverage. What I can say about this tea – It’s not bad.
There is a bit of an odd battle between the fruit component and the herb component which I initially didn’t mind but the more sips I took the less I enjoyed the rivalry. However this is a rare tea in that the green component can be isolated on the pallet from the black, or at least I was able to perceive such. I think this is because, for whatever reason the overall boldness of the tisane components is lower than one would expect (but yet still present enough).
There is a lot going on here, and it’s, well, not bad.
Another stunning offering from Spices and Tease. This white blend has a robust citrus bent to it, creating near immunity to bitterness. The aroma of the dry tea is mesmerizing (they tell me some customers use it as potpourri!). The leaves appear slightly darker than some typical whites, and with the fruit the tea brews a delicate sunny color that is just as pleasant to smell as the dry leaves.
I tend to enjoy this tea with dessert or at night time as part of a routine to reduce stress and ‘meditate’ awake, as it were. The flavors are citrus, but reflecting upon your sip you can make out hints of rose and marigold, that add a nice touch so as not to overpower the tea with strong citrus flavors. The result is a very solid white blend that Spices and Tease has perfected.
Absolutely Stupendous. From a French company that has planted a flag in New York City comes a majestic blend of black, sencha, and citrus that is a fully satisfying beverage experience. One only need to enjoy grapefruit, citrus, or bergamot flavors to relish this tea. The blend looks deliciously fresh, so much so one is almost tempted to eat it instead. This is an incredibly versatile tea, excellent hot and even better iced. No review or description I could write does this blend justice, it is a full on favorite in the blended category and I will not be without some backup of this tea in my cupboard(s).
The appearance is gorgeous, as can be seen in the image. Tiny pieces of grapefruit and papaya swim in black and green teas and among the safflower. The brewed color resembles a lighter black tea but the aroma is unmistakable and attentively inviting. The taste is just right. They really nailed this one. So if one has a proclivity towards citrus flavors this is sure to take up space in your lineup.
While the namesake bears the iconic Assam, the tea itself stands apart in body and flavor from traditional Assam teas. The flavor is mild in comparison but savory and elegant at the same time. The dominant note is honey, and without doubt even the most indiscriminate tea sipper would notice this unmistakeable sweetness on the tongue. The leaves are robust and have a pleasant appearance typical of many tippy tea and an aroma that strongly suggests a comforting sweetness. The brew is less intense than most assam offerings so don’t expect a jolt from this cup. Instead it is a smooth and more subtle experience and I find myself coming back to this cup almost as much as my go to Top Chingwo Congou. As with other high quality teas this is an expensive delicacy, and that facet may not appeal to the bulk of consumers. Nonetheless this is a stellar tippy tea.
I tend to prefer 2nd flush darjeeling teas with a more robust body and this tea delivers on that front. Sungma has a sweet aroma and darker leaves than other 2nd flush varieties such as Margaret’s Hope, which ranks as my personal favorite. This cup brews strong and dark, so those looking for a hefty sip are in for a treat. It is truly complex. Full bodied, robust, these leaves extract every unit of flavor possible – a maximally flavored darjeeling (coated in caramel for good measure). While I the prefer middle ground Margaret’s Hope offers, those who want to take no prisoners should opt for this variety.
To give one a sense of where this falls in terms of body it is a consideration I put on par with Golden Monkey. Both are full of flavor. Oddly enough, however, the flavor seems heavily bent towards the first cup and does not like to stick around for a second wind.
Intriguing alternative to Yerba, which tends to get bitter if you aren’t scientific about your brewing parameters.
The small dry leaves have a firm earthy aroma which reminds one of a pure lush green forest. The plain brew is also not so different from Yerba, perhaps slightly more amber colored. The taste is definitely more delicate than Yerba, sweeter, without the bitterness.
I personally like to blend these leaves with peppermint, producing and Ecuadorian Mint tea that is most enjoyable – in fact over the last 6 weeks it has become my afternoon tea of choice, especially after a midday meal. This is a tisane worth venturing out for – if Yerba doesn’t do it for you give Guayusa a shot.
A slightly more oxidized Tikuanyin, so the color of the dry leaves similar to some first flush darjeelings, but in the classic rolled Tikuanyin oolong style. Absolutely delicious aroma – when I opened the bag I knew it was going to be a special oolong. Slightly earthy, just enough punch. The color of the brewed tea is lighter than expected given the leaf color, and the aroma transforms into something lighter than that of the leaves. Just buttery enough, just green enough, just floral enough. Very solid Tikuanyin.
Since this is a ubiquitous species of tea I’ll just note that the H&S version is a solid, go to Moroccan Mint, but I have noticed the blend to vary from batch to batch (at least those that I’ve purchased). Not a bad thing, per say. The mint flavor and aroma in my current tin are somewhat subtle but discernible. This is a nice tea after a meal. I will say however that I do prefer Mary’s version at Chaiwalla Tea House in Salisbury, CT.
This tea is a rarer version of da hong pao, and the price reflects both this fact and the exquisite quality of the tea.
The scent of the dry leaves differs subtly from Harney’s less expensive option, foretelling of a sweeter flavor when brewed. The scent itself is anything but subtle, so one should inhale the dry leaves before making a decision to purchase this tea. The olfactory characteristics are reminiscent of what a combination of a Fenghuang Shuixian oolong and da hong pao may taste like (I may try this and compare and revert).
I tend to steep my oolongs longer than what is typically suggested but for this review I went with 175 degrees for 2 minutes, which was plenty sufficient to generate a robust light rust colored brew, again with an unmistakable aroma that suggests a hint of sweetness. The taste delivers – it is more complex and refined than the less expensive version, and somewhat sweeter, and it is this ‘dark fruit’ sweetness that I believes rounds out the cup rather elegantly. Downright sophisticated and close to parfait.
Very solid Tikuanyin. I especially like the scent of the dried rolled leaves – it is clear that the brewed cup will be dense with flavor, and sure enough, it is. The brewed scent is on a floral/vegetal boundary that is rather pleasant.
The complex color of the brew is less green than others of this variety that I’ve tried, perhaps the leaves are oxidized a bit more.
The taste is what one might expect from the scent but less buttery than the greener versions. It’s floral and sweet, a very soothing mixture that is best enjoyed as one reflects and relaxes.
I do not often like to stray from ‘pure’ teas into the realm cross-bred or sweetened teas, but my reward circuit lights up when I read the word grapefruit – such a satisfying flavor in teas.
This is simply a majestic tea. I find it wholly unbelievable that any Earl Grey aficionado would not applaud this blend – the grapefruit addition makes it delectable. Steep it as any EG and you are all set to enjoy a good to the last drop treat.
Fortunately, this is available now in loose leaf, and I picked up 1/4 pound at H&S Soho location. Since this is a great tea to share, I wonder how much of that amount I’ll actually consume…
A resoundingly fresh Japanese green evidenced the moment the foil bag within the signature H&S tin is opened. This tea has an unmistakable scent of concentrated spinach and greens, and is supremely vegetal, perhaps one of the most I’ve tasted. Given the pricing of this premium tea, one should be judicious with their cups and savor the flavors.
I use 170 degree water for steeping with a metal mesh top strainer so the leaves could expand freely rather than being constrained in the t-sac bags I often use. I let it go for about 3 minutes. H&S recommends 155 degrees but the extra heat seems to bring out more of the sweetness in the tea, and I prefer just a hint of sweetness. The taste is more mild than the scent of the dry leaves but is wholly vegetal and rich.
I do not think this is a tea for beginners, but rather those who appreciate the spectrum of green teas and understand the difference between Japanese and Chinese green teas.
While not an inexpensive earl grey, the white silver tips provide the cup with a majesty that is well worth savoring and paying up for. I have yet to find a comparable earl grey product that provides the satisfaction provided by this near perfected blended tea. The aroma of the leaves is just ‘that’ much better than other EG’s.
It is not necessary to steep for an extended time, so about 3.5 minutes in ~boiling does the trick. Given the sweetspot of MarieBelle it seems as though this tea was made to eat with tea cookies. Sublime.
I simply do not often reach for this tea, not because it is a particularly bad offering, but rather of the other options available that I’d rather enjoy. The leaves are a mix of brown and dark green, characteristic of a typical first flush darjeeling. The nose of the dry tea is actually very pleasant, however the tea brews relatively light and I have yet to experience something noteworthy when sipping this tea. I think this can be equated to a reasonable first flush offering, commendable but not noteworthy.
After hearing of the legend of the Harney & Sons Golden Snail tea that disappeared from stock, perhaps ne’er to return, I searched far and wide for another of this type of tea.
The tea leaves themselves have a unique appearance, curled with golden tips and black leaves, a rather neat aesthetic. I learned quickly that a teaspoon of this tea is actually too much for a single cup as the leaves expand significantly beyond the initial dry volume. The tea darkens quickly and so a steep of ~3 minutes is adequate to produce a robust dark amber colored brew. The tea has both a strong nose and strong flavor, the notes of cocoa cannot be mistaken. It is full bodied and very satisfying, at least to my tastes. There is a hint of smokiness, more so the longer the steep. I rather like this tea.
I picked up a tin of this tea at a relatively new tea store on Lexington Ave in Manhattan and was thinking DARK and FULL BODIED, perhaps a great winter tea, or fatigue fighter. That is not what brewed. Instead the brew is actually rather light and not as intense as the label suggests. The taste is more delicate than brute, and in fact is quite pleasant and neatly fragrant. I’ve been using lately as an iced tea and rather enjoy it this way.
This tea was being offered for tasting at the Soho location, otherwise I doubt I would have selected it on my own. Nonetheless I was pleasantly surprised.
The leaves are drier and more needle-like than most Japanese greens, keeping with the motif of many Chinese greens. The brew is lighter than I expected, and tints yellow, with a pleasant and soothing aroma reminiscent of yellow teas. In fact, the aroma is rather more complex (and subtle) than most other green teas I have tried.
The taste is smooth, an oasis between a sweet white like the Ceylong Silver Tips and the highly vegetal Heavenly Gyokuro. The flavor has doppelganger properties – when you think vegetal it is apparent; when you think light sweetness, it is apparent. Hence there is something here for fruit and vegetable lovers.
Steeping time: 3.5 minutes
Temperature: 176 degrees F
After a field day testing out some new teas at the Soho location, I ended up picking up a tin of this and Heavenly Gyokuro. I wanted a strong cup so I let this brew about 6 minutes and the risk paid off – the tea brewed up dark and strong, and as noted elsewhere had hints of Golden Monkey flavor. But it is just a tad spicier/smokier, giving it an intriguing and unique aftertaste which I rather enjoyed right off. I have tested different brewing parameters and suggest the full 5 minutes or more – at this point it grants a hint of assam to your palette. The aroma also fills your inhale and generates the commensurate desire for the tea. The extra brewing time also provides the creeping complexity I found lacking with a shorter steep.