39 Tasting Notes
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.