552 Tasting Notes


1 sachet for 300mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds, drunk bare.

I’ve ordered this tea loose from Harney and Sons but have yet to receive a shipping notice… been almost a week since I ordered … a bit concerned.

Meantime, I found it in sachet form at a big-box bookstore. A Canadian-law-mandated bilingual instruction label covered up the side if the tin that would tell me WHERE the tea is from … I was pleading with the rainy sky this would be the same Keemun blend as is sold online. Peel … peel … peeeeeel … got the label off. “Ingredients: China black tea.”


The leaves in the sachet are tiny and wiry, with maybe one gold tip in the whole bunch. That’s fine. I am desperate for some Keemun, for some toasty Keemun, and so far, everything’s looking good.

The dry sachets give off a faint grapenuts scent, and a classic China black tea scent.

FINALLY steeped.

It’s got Keemun. Toasty gorgeous Keemun!

And as I was typing this note, I got the shipping notification for my Harney and Sons order. UPS says I’ll have my order Nov 12th. Hmm. We’ll see.

I’ve read this is a 100% Keemun blend. It certainly seems to be. Toasty and woody notes, a tiny bit of smoke — like a charred casket, not like a roaring fire — plus bread and flower notes. Lovely. Very comforting.

Michelle Butler Hallett

A sweet finish, too.


I never received a shipping notice in my last two orders, both of which were recent, so hopefully your tea is on the way and will arrive soon.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I got the shipping notice last night, almost a week after I placed the order. Is that normal for Harney & Sons?

Michelle Butler Hallett

Sorry, ashmanra, I misread you.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I find this morning I wish the tea was heavier and stronger. I might try brewing two sachets at once. It does give a lift.

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2tsp for 300mL water (very fluffy tea, guess-timating here), steeped four minutes 45 seconds, drunk bare.

I’ve deliberately not made this tea for a while, so I could experience it again like something new.

Liquor is honey-coloured. Lots of sweet potato notes in his cup, and a fuzzy tingling from the down on the leaves that gets into the liquor. Clean, sun-baked earth. A joy to drink.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Second infusion: steeped four minutes 30 seconds. Not as fuzzy this time, and less sweet potato, more Yunnan tea notes. A gentle black tea. Lots of honey still.


Sounds lovely!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Oh, it is. Worth every penny, and every day waited for shipping.


Hopefully they’ll be able to get more of this sometime.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @00C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

Copper-mahogany liquor. Creamy, smoky (very subtle smoke, like Keemun) black tea with no bitterness. Heavy body. Caffeine punch. Seriously dependable tea. One of my favourite blends, ever. Hats off, as usual, to Damn Fine.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, rinsed, steeped 45 seconds.

I admit it: I’ve never done the super-short steeps on oolongs before. Why? I am greedy. I want all the oolong RIGHT NOW. Sometimes that works for me.

Tonight, what’s working better is a quick steep on this amazing tieguanyin. I am getting much more orchid and fruit than I ever have before, on my greedy Western 4-minute steeps. And cream. Oh, my: this smells like a quangzhou milk oolong. Exquisite.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped five minutes, drunk bare.

Beautiful orange and papaya flavouring. Sweet finish. No acidic pucker. Refreshing.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.

La la love it. This tea always makes me smile.

The Yunnan base is a good choice. Lemon with Assam would be too astringent, and with Ceylon too metallic. Smooth. It tastes like real lemons — yay, lemon oil. I want to mix this with some Caravan, and later with some Kenyan Tinderet. On a real lemon kick; a 50gram bag of this treasure doesn’t last me a week.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds, drunk bare.

The dry CTC leaves, or, pellets, have no scent.

The liquor is a deep reddish brown, giving a classic black tea taste, quite tannic, with a sweetness in the scent and aftertaste like dark honey. This is a very robust black tea, with heft and malt. The maltiness had a dry finish, not the juiciness of an Assam. I did not expect to like this nearly as much as I do. Strong, assertive, and bright. I expect this could get bitter if steeped much longer.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped 4 minutes,

Okay, I can see I used water that was too hot. There’s green tea in here, diva-tastic green tea that’s gone all bitter and harsh. So I need to give this another go … but what a hard sell that will be, because this tea smells and tastes like an artificially-flavoured lemon candy that got tainted with curdled milk.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 5 minutes.

Ooops. Four minutes is my favourite for steeping black teas. I got distracted — what else is new? What I have here is stronger but not bitter. There’s more of an Indian-tea taste: not malt, but some other note you get in some Assams, and very rarely in a Darjeeling, almost a breadiness, with a hint of rose. The honey notes are stronger in the aftertaste. This one is crying out for milk, but I always regret it when I add milk to black tea. Stronger Yunnan-wood notes, too; I think these tea bushes were Yunnan clippings planted in Nepalese soil on the Jun Chiyabari estate. When I say wood notes, I mean ancient trees and clean air, not that woody-sour note some roobios has. A happy accident, steeping this too long.


Sounds nice, If you like teas from Yunnan cultivars grown in Darjeeling like conditions you should check out teas from Lopchu estate. The one I have always reminds me of ancient forests and clean air and spring for some reason as well.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL @ 100C, steeped six minutes.

Two big mistakes here. 1) I oversteeped. 2) I used way too much leaf.

This blend is incredibly potent, some sort of super-tea. Definitely follow the instructions. I knew better, too. I just forgot.

A thick body, lots of Ceylon I think, copper notes, with bergamot a cardamom, all so gentle … and all so packed with caffeine. The closest comparison to this blend would be Ahmad’s English Tea No1, and, while I like Ahmad’s English Tea No 1, it doesn’t come close to Persian Tradition. Excellent tea.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I watered my tea down.

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Writer and tea fiend. Author of DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE. New novel next spring called THIS MARLOWE.

I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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