39 Tasting Notes
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.
A sublime white tea that doesn’t become bitter if you ‘forget’ to remove the leaves and oversteep for a minute or two. In fact the flavor becomes stronger – I discovered this by indeed steeping it longer than intended. The color becomes quite a bit darker after about 3 or 3.5 minutes compared to the 2 minute steep. The buds have a sublime texture and the tactile sensory feedback is very pleasant, much like the softness of a purring persian doll faced feline. The taste – equally sublime with a gentle aroma and exceptionally smooth with a fruit tinged sweetness uncharacteristic of other whites. This tea is a delicacy and a tour de force in the realm of white teas.
This is a no doubter, I don’t see how one is complete without the Monkey in the cupboard. If I had to take only a few things with me on a trip, this would be one of them.
This is a full flavored, absolutely delicious tea. It is the tea you remember clearly and look forward to savoring. The leaves are fluffy and elegant, with golden bud strands running through the large dark leaves, best brewed around 205 degrees for around 3.75-4.00 minutes. The aroma is almost instantaneous and unmistakeable – a high entropy laden mixture of chocolate honey flavor that brews strong and dark, and tastes much like a pastry in the morning, or dessert in the evening. Despite the declarative nature of this tea, it is soft and pleasantly round in the mouth, something noticed frequently with Fujian teas. Why anyone would put a milk or sugar of any type is beyond comprehension, this is a self-drinking tea (ok, ok, to each his/her own) with a delicate sweetness and aftertaste. While not a low cost tea, this is perhaps most worth the premium price – it is truly a premium tea
Simply delightful and closer than they suggest to the Satisphur Broken Assam. This is a bold tea with a slightly more astringent flavor than the Nahorhabi 2010, so I suggest to go a minute shorter on steeping, around 3.5 minutes at boiling. Excellent honey flavor, full body – when I want a cup of TEA (capitals intended) I reach for either this or the Nahorhabi. Great for afternoon motivation. Requires not a drop of milk or honey, though if that is your bent I’d suggest simply honey to make a sincerely round cup. This tea is more complex and sweeter smelling than many other Assams, including Mangalam varieties, which I find somewhat weak (though I very much enjoy the Mangalams with honey). There is a subtle aftertaste, but nothing like a Keemun. This one will have you licking your lips down to the last sip.
This is a very aromatic tea both dry and wet. The rose and bergamot combine to form a rather unique and fruitful partnership, something I had considered to be a potential issue when I was introduced to this blend. One does not need a heaping scoop to get the full flavor and strength from this tea, and as such my supply has lasted quite some time. I find this to be a very refreshing iced tea in the summer, needing nothing else than ice and a pitcher. I am not fond of adding sugar to this tea, as it distorts the intriguing flavor combination.
This is certainly a strong tea – I’d recommend it as a few times a week treat, surrounded by something of lighter body.
This is a good, not great, Ti Quan Yin. The leaves are rolled in traditional oolong style and the aroma is somewhat more mild than others of the same ilk. The brewed cup is a yellow-green and taste is relatively smooth and buttery with a light earthy undertone. Unfortunately I must factor the pricing into this review – it is just too much of a ‘Really?’ to ignore. For this price or even less one can get a Top Ti Quan Yin which is immediately and noticeably richer and more savory with a sweeter floral accent and brighter aroma. That said this tea does feel full and soothing on the tongue and I find it better suited to evening consumption 30 minutes or so after a light meal, paired with some biscotti (almond and chocolate hazelnut IMO).
I believe my Ti Quan Yin purchases will be elsewhere based upon what you get for the price here.
This tea uses what appears to be CTC assam in the blend (maybe with others) which results in a deep red brew, only held back in darkness by the few darjeeling leaves. The tea is both fragrant and vibrant, though not as full of body as I expected. Nonetheless this is a solid cup of tea that does not require significant steeping time and will satisfy those who are rather strict in their like for a classic tasting moderate to full black tea. I find that I cannot consume a significant amount of this tea like I can for most congous, as it brings to mind the comparison of rich chocolate satin cake, for which one is satiated after a few bites and must wait some time before the desire returns.
This blend also makes a good, dark iced tea which is excellent with fresh orange slices.