512 Tasting Notes
Somewhat confusingly, Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset appears to be the same tea as Hot Cinnamon Spice. Since my tin reads “Sunset”, I’ll place my tasting note here.
To my palate and nose, this vibrant black-tea blend is basically indistinguishable from the original Good Earth. I was unable to confirm my impression this afternoon, as my bags of Good Earth are no longer any good—must be the cinnamon oil which turned rancid. What I can say is that Hot Cinnamon Sunset evokes all sorts of memories from my afternoons drinking many glasses of this tea at the Good Earth restaurant in Boulder, Colorado. That was a long time ago, and since then the restaurant has changed names a few times and may no longer even exist for all I know.
The key word here is cinnamon, and the key ingredient can only be cinnamon oil. That’s what you get when you squeeze cinnamon until it cannot be squeezed anymore, and it is by far the strongest source of pure cinnamon flavor. The blend also contains orange rind and cloves, but cinnamon definitely dominates, making this tea a cinnamon-lovers dream come true!
One reason why I always liked the original Good Earth was because it is naturally sweet. It is really very sweet, and I cannot imagine adding any sugar to it. Along with Constant Comment (and, now, Harney & Sons Holiday Blend), this is one of the few dark black teas which I prefer to imbibe au naturel. I always drink darjeelings that way, but with very strong Chinese blacks and Assam-style teas, I usually take cream, which compromises the caffeine benefit a bit because milk seems to have a soporific effect upon me. I am not lactose-intolerant (at least I don’t think that I am), but milk products aside from butter and cheese make me sleepy.
Though the steep-off was aborted, Hot Cinnamon Sunset was a good choice for this afternoon as there is no cream around and it was too cold to go out, plus I was too tired anyway. Now I’m feeling the zing of both the caffeine and the cinnamon.
Not a subtle tea, but an effective one!
I consumed many gallons of the original Good Earth tea back in Boulder, Colorado, where I went to college. Way back then, there was even a restaurant by the same name which served this tea and offered free refills. Naturally, I took advantage of the policy…
I found an old box of Good Earth filterbags in my cupboard while moving and was looking forward to a steep-off with Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice, because it smells EXACTLY like my memory of Good Earth. Alas, the steep-off will have to wait, as my bags have turned stale and I had to toss the brew…
I obviously made this pot of Thé Santé Bancha Shizuoka on the strong side, as the liquor is more golden than pale yellow, though the steep was short—less than two minutes, I believe. It tastes really wonderful, so I seem to be coming over to the “more tea, shorter steep” school of proper tea preparation. Every pot I’ve made this way this week has been excellent.
I have not even been measuring the tea, just throwing a fair amount of the dried leaves in the bottom of the huge basket and then watching with amazement how the volume grows through the infusion process. I had no idea how much bancha expands! The dried leaves look so thin and frail, yet they end up as nice-sized leaves. They are chopped a bit, but still rather large—though nothing like oolong, of course…
It’s been a while now since I’ve had any Long Jing, and today’s big tetsubin of Tealux’s top grade is tasting mighty fine. I did not measure the temperature (still have not figured out where my tea paraphernalia is after the move—no doubt in the bottom of a box in the back corner of a storage space), but using the largest tetsubin automatically diminished the heat apparently the appropriate amount, because this tastes very good. Now I’m wondering: perhaps I should dispense with the thermometer and brew loose green tea only in this large tetsubin?
I feel compelled after today’s positive experience to increase my rating of this tea.
In an attempt to warm up my heat-less house yesterday, I whipped up a big batch of pumpkin-rice-coconut milk pudding, which requires baking for an hour or so. It also tastes delicious. I add a liberal amount of pumpkin pie spice and extra ground ginger, in addition to brown sugar. This time I used palm sugar from Thailand because I could not find my molasses brown sugar.
The perfect tea accompaniment to my pumpkin comfort food is … drum roll … Harney & Sons Green Tea with Thai Flavors. Who am I kidding? This tea is the perfect accompaniment to nearly anything, provided only that one enjoys the rich flavor of coconut, which I obviously do! Coconut ranks way up there with salmon, eggs, and bananas, among the rare foods which ALWAYS elevate my mood. I wonder what the explanation of that is?
It appears that Adagio may have changed its recipe for the Zodiac series Gemini blend, as my tin (purchased a few months ago) does not list green tea among the ingredients. At this point in history (2014), Gemini is a fruit-essence-infused white tea blend. The fruits in question are apricot, peach, and apples, but I taste mainly apricot. The tea also brews up an apricot-color which is lovely to behold.
Following my post-ultramarathon move plan, during which I am attempting to recuperate from an extraordinarily grueling two months, I prepared a large tetsubin of this tea using a very generous-sized infusion basket. One nice thing about using a tetsubin is that on a cold day like today (my new landlord appears already to have turned off the heat in anticipation of summer, though the temperature dipped down to 32F last night!), even just-boiled water is immediately cooled by ten or more degrees. Of course, the temperature is not as crucial for white as for green tea anyway, but it simplifies matters on the preparation front.
I like Gemini as a hot fruity tea with more fruity than tea taste and aroma. I generally find that white tea becomes the tofu of teas when combined with other elements, since its flavor is far more delicate than just about anything else. The fruit does taste natural and not overwhelmingly strong, as is often the case with artificially flavored blends.
In retrospect, with the benefit of hindsight, I recognize that it was marginally insane of me to spend two whole days organizing my tea in preparation for my historic move of 2014. I must say, however, that it paid off in this case. I found my Harney stash and will be drinking my old faves in the days to come. Tonight’s selection is the straight-up chamomile in sachets from the Palace Gardens tin. Just what I needed!
It’s official: I survived the historic move of 2014. God (or reasonable facsimile), what a nightmare! I lived in a three-bedroom apartment for ten years and just moved into a loft split into two smaller rooms, with shared living space, kitchen, and bathroom, all on the second floor (below my private) space. This necessitated a major purge of massive amounts of furniture and accumulated nonsense. So now my remaining possessions are in total disarray—some here, some in storage, a lot sold or donated.
The first pot in this new chapter of my life is … drum roll … Adagio Leo. I made a large pot, using my “family-sized” tetsubin, because I have no energy, so I figured that I’d use the pot with the deepest and widest infusion basket, and then I’d have tea for the afternoon and be ready for a dinner-time caffeine-free infusion later.
I really like this tea, and looking at the fully unfurled leaves mingling together with the plumped-up chamomile buds definitely enhanced the experience. The oolong leaves expand so impressively! The best part about this blend for me, a person with severe oolong sensitivity, is that it represents a rare exception to the rule: an oolong which I truly enjoy!
The many elements of this blend together to produce a rich orange-gold liquor while still being identifiable as individual flavors. My tin was faulty (the lid came apart into two pieces), so I transferred the remaining dried tea into a small glass clamp jar, and now I’m thinking that I should do the same with the other Adagio Zodiac blends in my cupboard, as they are all visually appealing—more so than the decorated tins! I realize that exposure to light can degrade the tea, but I’ll keep them in the dark except when I’m about to brew a pot.
This large tetsubin is perfect for oolong. The wet leaves are so big that they fill the entire basket, but unlike smaller infusion baskets (which I do not use because they seem so oppressive and cramped), this one allows the leaves to achieve their full potential while also making clean-up a lot easier.
I cannot find my thermometer—perhaps I packed it with the postal scale? who knows… Is it in storage or amidst all of this chaos? Who knows…