526 Tasting Notes


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

Bright and sparkly up front. I was expecting more of a Nepal-Darjeeling sort of taste profile, but this deepens into something stronger and a bit maltier. I’m guessing this has a lot of Nilgiri in it. I notice the steeping suggestion is three minutes; my four minutes have brought out a bitterness I am not enjoying. Next time, I’ll follow the instrictionsd.

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1 pyramid sachet for 300mL water @100C, steeped five minutes, drunk bare.

I got this as a sample with my Harney & Sons order some months ago and just found it while tidying my tea cupboard.

A juicy Assam, but light in body: no heft, and not very much malt. I thought the liquor looked pale as it steeped, so I went five minutes, which might have been a mistake: the tea is bitter. It’s okay. It’s not an Assam I’d go out of my way to order, though.

Flavors: Malt, Peat Moss

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped six minutes and fifteen seconds.

Honey, bread, roses, earth. No astringency. A soft and downy mouthfeel from those gorgeous leaves. Mineral sparkle on the finish. I love this tea.

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2tsp (fluffy tea, long leaves, hard to measure) for 300mL water @ 95C, steeped four minutes.

I got some of the early 2014 version of Imperial Breakfast (I think), which I notice is already sold out.

A bit lighter than last year, with the pu-erh perhaps less potent — fine with me. The white tea gets to dance, and the Yunnan gives a clean depth. I am learning to appreciate the pu-erh in this gorgeous blend. Nice caffeine lift, too.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Peat Moss

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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I can’t “like” anyone’s tea notes. This is irritating me. Whatever browser I use, I can’t “like” anything. GAH.

Back to tea …

1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, rinsed, steeped 3 minutes, then steeped 4 minutes.

Both infusions gave me an exquisite tieguanyin, with sharp florals, a touch of cream, faint vegetal notes, even, I thought, some faint and light musk, a light toastiness that just coaxes everything else out a little more, and so much oolong beauty that I have trouble writing about it. This tieguanyun needs, and will reward, your full attention.

Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Grass, Honeydew, Mineral, Orchids

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

I can like, but the heart is tiny and it doesn’t stay red. I sent them an email a little while ago begging them to have a look at it, because non-stick likes are really frustrating me. I heard of someone else who couldn’t like anything either, but I don’t know what they did to fix it.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I’ve been corresponding with Steepster on this and other issues, including recurrent e-mails asking me to finish a purchase I never started. It all seemed to start when I asked to be removed from the Steepster Select mailing list, as, being in Canada, I can’t take advantage of Steepster Select (they ship only to US addresses). Steepster can give me no clear answer on the “like” thing, nor on why I keep getting the “finish your purchase” notes. It’s such a small problem, in the scheme of things, but it’s all irritating.

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1.5 tsp (more or less, fluffy leaf) for 300mL water @100C, steeped 5 minutes. Second infusion.

These rich leaves give up a second 5-minute steep that is very like the first — perhaps not so downy, and a bit more mineral. Not only an excellent tea but an excellent value. Damn Fine does it again.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 6 minutes 15 seconds.

Honey and a bright sparkle (not astringency, though) from this glorious tea this morning. Dark copper liquor, and lots of toast and orchid notes, too. No smoke today. A delicate Keemun that shows complexity and strength when allowed to steep. No bitterness.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Earth, Honey, Orchids, Sweet Potatoes

Boiling 6 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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1.25 tsp for 250mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds.

Maybe I’m missing something in the information provided by Harney and Sons here, but what has this tea being from the “lapsing area” got to do with any smoky notes? Lapsang soughong is made smoky in the processing; it’s not smoky because of the soil the tea plant is grown in. Is it?

I only ordered a tiny sample packet of this tea, and I’m finishing it today. I’m getting much more of the fruit notes, fruit and honey and smooth black tea. I’m changing my mind on it being worth its price. I don’t think I’ll be ordering any soon, but I wish I could keep this on hand.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Dates, Grapes, Honey, Plums, Raisins, Stonefruits

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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

My local indie teashop, Britannia Teas and Gifts, no longer exists as a bricks-and-mortar store, though the owner does appear at popup markets. I asked her a while ago if she had any Keemun left, and she did: either in a few 50g bags, or in the great big 2 kilo vacuum-packed brick that came from her wholesaler.

I bought the 2 kg brick. Yeah, that’s how much I like Keemun.

There are grades of Keemun I prefer to Organic Panda # 1, but I am very pleased to have the Panda in my life This is a complex, fairly oaky Keemun, and it can, if you use too much leaf or steep it too long, get tarry. No tar at 5 minutes, though, just some rising smoke. Dark copper liquor. Lots of oak, as I said, and toast, some smoke and orchid, and even some plum-raisin notes in the finish. I’ve tried this Keemun with milk and sugar, and I don’t find either brings anything extra out, but that’s a personal preference. This is a dependable and unmistakable Keemun, taking on some winey notes now as it ages. Decent caffeine punch. It also cries out for blending, maybe with a creamy Assam. A favourite, and each time I drink it, I remember why.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Orchids, Plums, Raisins

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 6 minutes 30 seconds.

At a longer steep, this Keemun develops more of the classic Keemun oak and toast and distant smoke, even a faint scent like bergamot, while remaining delicate and sweet. Some cream and honey. Copper liquor. I think I prefer it as 5 minutes, but it’s good to know this one forgives a longer steep. A lovely tea. I’ve got a second tin on the way, and I shall be sorry when it’s gone.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Honey, Orchids, Sweet Potatoes

Boiling 6 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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

Oolongs and blacks are my favourites.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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