1279 Tasting Notes
John Harney Appreciation Tea #25
My latest H&S order arrived yesterday, and in it was included a sample filter bag of Pomegranate Oolong Iced. It was huge and filled with beautiful whole-leaf TQY scented with pomegranate. I have been toying with the hypothesis that I have some sort of allergy to oolong, but I’ve resolved to find out whether or not this is true by testing several oolongs before hanging my oolong pot out to dry.
In some ways, it makes no sense really: all tea is camellia sinensis, so why would have I have issues with oolong, but not with black, green, white, or yellow teas? Is oolong prepared with the addition of some other ingredient? Or could the concentrations of something in tea be higher in oolong than in other forms of tea? It’s all a big mystery to me.
Anyway, I tried this tea in the sachet version brewed hot a while back with unclear results (my feeling of slight queasiness may have had another source…), so I decided to begin my oolong inquiry with a big batch of this tea cold brewed. I am drinking it right now, and all that I can really say is that it tastes like oolong! The liquor is bright yellow, and I was so impressed at the heft of the infused filter bag that I briefly considered reinfusing it. But I am trying to give oolong a fair shake, so I tossed it instead. So far, so good. I do not feel ill. Only time will tell whether that weird headachey feeling will return to me after consuming all of this tea.
A propos: I do not actually taste much pomegranate in this brew. I taste oolong, oolong, oolong! I believe that I could acquire a taste for oolong, but first I must determine whether or not we are compatible… I should be able to answer that question by the time I’ve tested the six different oolong samples which also arrived in the H&S package. This was the first time that I ever order samples from H&S. They come in attractive black matte envelopes with gold accents, and the size is generous, predictably enough. Their prices are so reasonable, that I usually just order a whole tin of any tea I’m curious about. Not oolong, though. I did not want to have pounds of it on hand, just in case we were never meant to be. We shall see.
In closing this 25 tea tribute, I would like to reiterate how grateful I am to John Harney for all that he did for the world by sharing with us his abundant love of tea.
May he rest in peace.
John Harney Appreciation Tea[tisane] #24
I haven’t brewed up any Ginger & Liquorice for a while, but I vaguely recalled that it makes a great cold infusion, plus I ate a very complicated meal for dinner—pasta with a sauce made of braised fennel, sauteed garlic, chopped tomatoes, sardines, raisins, white wine, etc—so I figured why not prepare a preemptive dose of ginger?
Who am I kidding? This combination needs no functional pretext to justify its existence. It just tastes very good—provided that one loves both ginger and licorice, which I do.
Very much looking forward to the reinfused batch over ice tomorrow, as the weather forecast says that we’re headed for the 90s…
Flavors: Ginger, Licorice
John Harney Appreciation Tea #23
I know that I have written a tasting note before for Organic Bangkok, so I must have stowed it under the Green Tea with Thai Flavors profile, since the two are very similar. With one notable exception: these sachets are certified organic, which is not true of the HT tin version or the loose-leaf Bangkok.
Anyway, it’s delicious as usual. I’m generally not inclined to like flavored green teas, but Organic Bangkok (and Green Tea with Thai Flavors) is an exception to the rule. Usually I find one of two problems with flavored greens. Either the base tea is seriously mediocre, or the base tea is good but shrouded by mediocre flavors.
Neither problem obtains in this case. The bancha base is good, but so are the flavors with which it is laced! This version seems a bit less sweet and coconuty than the HT tin version, but I’d have to do a side-by-side comparison to be sure…
John Harney Appreciation Tea #22
I was happy to read that John Harney drank sencha every day. That must be why they offer such a nice one. After a lunch of sauteed mizuna with eggs on pita bread and served with sliced fresh tomatoes (all veggies from the local farmers’ market), I realized that only sencha would do. In addition to my supply of filter bags, I had located a couple of errant sachets of this Japanese Sencha from Harney & Sons, which turned out to be the perfect post-meal brew! Dark roasted spinach-scented dried leaves; citrine-peridot, slightly cloudy liquor with just a touch of saltiness, making it the perfect savory meal tea.
I believe that I obtained a handful of these sachets in the red linen wrapped display box. Now that the sencha sachet envelopes from that set are depleted, I’ll probably replenish this tea in the looseleaf form. It’s very good, and that’s coming from someone who has tried many varieties of sencha.
Of course, if you dislike sencha, then you won’t like this. But serious sencha aficionados are bound to like this classic selection.
John Harney Appreciation Tea #21
The first time I brewed Winter White Earl Grey, I oversteeped and the result was less than felicitous. Today, I kept the steep time short, and the result is very pleasing. On reflection, that principle (mutatis mutandis) may hold for ever decent tea on the planet: it all turns on the preparation parameters. Get them right, and you’ll be satisfied. Get them wrong, and you’re likely to cry foul, when in fact you are at fault!
I have already been noticing that white tea serves as an excellent canvas for flavors. In this case, Winter White Earl Grey lets the imbiber really get in touch with the essence of bergamot: lemony goodness with no sharpness whatsoever. I know, it sounds impossible, but here it is!
I also taste the white tea in this blend. In hot weather such as today’s, I prefer not to have a heavy cream-doused earl grey. This one was just right.
John Harney Appreciation Tea #20
I bought a tin of this Lover’s Leap a few months ago but somehow it got lost in my cupboard. It’s easy to succumb to temptation at the H&S website because their teas are so reasonably priced!
Happy to report that this light-amber liquoring tea is very smooth and refreshing brewed hot on a warm day! It almost has a lemon accent built into it, and so tasted great au naturel (I have already finished my large glass…). The color is gorgeous: yellowish amber, and the infused leaves are torn into pieces and rather green. This is a high altitude Ceylon tea, but I find overlaps with darjeeling as well. Think: darjeeling without the grass and with a dash of lemon added. The dried leaves, too, reminded me a bit of darjeeling, which is why I kept the steep time shorter than I would for a darker black tea.
I would not think to adulterate Lover’s Leap. Its smoothness and fine flavor make this a stand-alone for me.
John Harney Appreciation Tea #18
I found a few of these wrapped sachets of Organic English Breakfast tea from H&S (I believe that they came in the beautiful red linen covered gift box), and just noticed that the tea is actually completely different from the HT tin English Breakfast. In this case, the tea is straight organic Keemun. In the HT tins, the English Breakfast is a multi-origin blend.
Well, I prefer this one (although the other one tastes more like my “concept” of English Breakfast). I am drinking this orange liquor au naturel, and the flavor is really nice—as good as some of the haute single origin black teas I’ve tasted recently. But of course that’s what this is: Organic China Keemun!
I wonder why the ratings are lower for this than the standard H&S English Breakfast? Perhaps because this tea tastes less like the English Breakfast we’re all so used to, from Twinings, et al…