973 Tasting Notes
Second tea of the morning…..
And I made a whole pot worth. I think it is time for me to come clean. I am well on my way to becoming a serious tea snob. I am reaching a point where the only teas I want to keep in my stash are the more expensive ones. I do have a few bargain loves, but my tastes are evolving into something pricey. Luckily, my husband is a craft beer drinker…..that means my expensive tea is still likely less expensive than his beer. Except that he does not have a stash……
I am pretty sure this tea was my first tea splurge. I bought my first tin a little over a year ago, and I thought I was nuts spending $24 for 4 oz. of tea. Now, it costs even more ($20 for 2 oz) and I am so thankful I did, and someone bought me a spare tin of this for a gift before the price change. I love this one, but I always forget it is back in the back of the cupboard. Notes of dark chocolate, the slightest bit of smoke for complexity, and just oh so smooth. My first true love in a black tea.
Usual teapot method.
I think part of my problem with my stash is that I am always trying to find less expensive versions of tea that I love. Maybe that is not such a great pursuit. By just enjoying the more expensive one, I will have better turnover. By seeking out the bargain, I have a half a tin of expensive tea, and another half a tin of inexpensive tea sitting in my cupboard…. In reality, that sounds like a funny kind of math for cost and space. Yep, I am still learning.
Tea of the morning……
I spent part of the weekend making a spreadsheet of my teas in more than sample amounts (over 1 ounce). What a rude awakening. I do seriously have a tea shopping problem. This was one I found buried in the recesses. Now, with the spreadsheet, I have a better idea of what I am replacing and what needs to be consumed to make more space. Such a handy tool.
This is good, but sweet. It was very fun blending my own tea as I got to put in all of the things I thought I would like together. I may blend my own again someday, but for now it is on the exit list.
Usual teapot method with a three minute steep.
Tisane of the evening……
I need to get back to curtailing my evening snacking. Somehow, Frank’s honeybush blends always make it easier as they are the best out there. This one is very good. Light chocolate, something creamy, and of course mint. The honeybush base just adds sweetness with a slight woodsy flavor. I definitely prefer honeybush over rooibos.
Teapot method with an 8 minute steep. Yum!
Tea of the afternoon……
For some reason this one tastes really good today. I would not call it my favorite Earl Grey because I think it leans slightly too perfumy for me, but it is still good. Even though the price is pretty reasonable by the pound compared to my two other favorites, this is one type of tea where a splurge is worth it to me. Not sure this will make the rebuy list, but it does make an awesome iced tea.
Usual teapot method.
Tea of the morning……
I think I would call this more of a Purposeful Combination. I have been wishing for a good jasmine black tea ever since sampling the Jasmine Golden Yunnan at thepuriTea. Kind of like Rosy Earl Grey from Teas Etc. without the rosy or Earl. I tried getting some at Harney, but they are out of stock with no immediate prospects because the recent offerings were not up to Michael Harney’s standard. I would order some from thepuriTea, but the thought of spending $16 for 4 ounces of tea and then another $7.50 for flat rate shipping is a little pricey for me when I know there will be a shipping sale sometime this year. (I did break down and order 100 grams from Dragon Tea House on ebay for about $12 shipped. I have ordered teaware from them before, but it just takes so long to get here….economy shipping from China.) Then I remembered that I likely had something close in my own cupboard.
Jen’s Jasmine Black
I started to prepare a mug (12ish oz.) of Zhi Gong Fu Black (Bailin Gong Fu from TeaVivre is a great sub if you have it), but I also added a scant tsp. of jasmine pearls. This time I used the ones from the Asian Market, but I am guessing any sweet jasmine tea would do. Then I steeped by my usual method for my mug, but at a slightly cooler temp than boiling. The result is very good! It is not as heavily jasmine flavored as the tea from thepuriTea, but it is still very enjoyable. I could probably add a full teaspoon of the jasmine pearls next time. This will be a habit. In a way, I almost like it better than the Jasmine Golden Yunnan, because I could pick my most chocolatey tasting unflavored tea and run with it. Yes, I do get more chocolate and lighter jasmine, but still reminiscent of Cadbury’s Mini-Eggs. I am also thinking the JGY will be taken off the shopping list….. I am so excited that I have three teas for the price of two, and the Frugal Fanny (tm JacquelineM) in me is loving this.
Usual mug method just a little cooler than boiling. Lightly sweetened.
Tea of the afternoon……
I bought this one without sampling from TeaVivre in my last order. I love black pearl teas. They are so fun. This one is very similar to my Red Dragon Pearl from thepuriTea, but at a much more reasonable price. If you are buying a pound, they are close, but if you want smaller amounts, thepuriTea charges quite a bit more per ounce and their price per ounce decreases siginificantly with the increase in amount purchased. Also, TeaVivre makes it much easier to get to the level of free shipping which is always a bonus, and usually means I will order more often. It might take a little longer to get a package from China than California for me, but I can usually wait.
The tea is great. I used 6 pearls in my ForLife Tall Tea mug and it came out perfect. The liquid is a dark amber, there are notes of chocolate and malt, and this is just begging for a resteep. Very good, and I am very happy that I just ordered 100 grams, rather than sampling first.
(I did sample a few others, and just to let you know what the packaging looks like….since the samples for sale on the website are 10 grams, they came in 2 small pouches that are well labelled but not resealable. The small pouches are similar to the size of their other samples that come in 5 gram amounts, but the packaging is silver with the TeaVivre logo on it, rather than the individual packs from the tea packer. I also got a free sample of Da Hong Pao.)
Tea of the morning…. (and my daily hard core black)
I picked up some of this on my recent order to Mountain Rose Herbs. The price was very good for an organic and fair trade tea at $4.50 for 4 ounces I was really wanting it for smoking up my Franken Breakfast Blend a little. (And the Assam at a similar price will be used to kick it up a notch….by the time I am done blending, I will be smokin’ and jittery.) I needed to try it on its own, though, just to see how the flavors would blend.
I have to say I was a little apprehensive on trying this as I am not super knowledgeable when it comes to this kind of tea. I have only tried a few varieties. It is not Hu Kwa, but it is very good. Definitely a campfire smell, but the tea itself is smooth and very easy to drink, like Keemun on overdrive. I am not sure a Lapsang noob like me would need anything fancier than this. It has me rethinking my planned purchase of Lapsang Souchong Black Dragon from Upton in the Fall. Yes, when I sweeten this, I get toasted marshmallows….or maybe I should edit that to read the burned torch-like marshmallows that you blow out before you eat them. Is that more accurate, Cheryl? ;)
The packaging is interesting. It is a cute cubical box with some kind of flip top arrangement. Then inside the box is a cello bag with a long free end that is rolled up and secured with tape. I am pretty sure by half way into this, the tape won’t hold much from resticking. I think I will end up transferring to a tin.
The only thing that really bugs me about this company is the price of shipping. It makes it so I can only shop there about once a year. They are in OR and I am in OH. Shipping starts at around $10 and goes up from there. I do like their stance and business practices. I do recommend having your order well thought out before your submit. I have seen online reviews of issues with returns and they do not allow you to change your order once it is submitted.
Usual mug method.
Tea of the afternoon….. (SRP #19)
I don’t know why I have been waiting to try this one. I knew it was a special purchase for myself last holiday season, but I decided today was the day. The beauty of a fabulous tea is that it can turn any average day into a special day. I washed up my ceramic mug prior to this steep and made sure to dump out the once boiled water in the bottom of my kettle to start fresh. I don’t have enough of it to make a steeping mistake. My thanks to Harney for making this available as a sample. I love to try teas that I might possibly never be able to buy except in sample form.
Right off the bat, I am thinking I should have added more leaf. I do smell kind of a slight Yunnan type maltiness, but I can’t actually taste it. I definitely get honey. This is incredibly smooth. I also get something that is hard to describe. It is kind of like an energy surge. Really, I think it is just that I love this. It has a heavier mouthfeel than most black teas of this sort that I drink. Since I have a chemical backgound, I kind of feel like it is what heavy water would feel like. Liquid with substance. I am excited for the follow up cup with a bit more leaf.
I think there will be enough for a few cups in this sample, but I just had to try it. It is one of the more expensive samples at $4, but the tea itself sells for $50 for a 2 ounce tin, or $360 for a pound. I am guessing the price on this one went up for this year’s harvest since ashmanra noted that this and Golden Monkey were similarly priced. That is not really the case at this point in time (April 26, 2012). Golden Monkey is currently $96 a pound.
I can’t even imagine trying to keep up with similar quality from year to year with weather variations. Tea is organic (different from organically grown). Environment plays such a huge role in the end product. I know how strange the weather has been over the last few years where I live, and I can’t imagine what those variations must do to products that are so heavily reliant on growing conditions. I appreciate the Harney stance that if this year’s version of a tea is not up to standards, they wait until they can get some that is, even if it means a long period of time where a product is not available. Unfortunately, for us die hard tea fans, that means buying it when you can (mostly for teas with a long shelf life), because it may not be available at a later time. (Oh how I wish there was some Black Jasmine on site, but current offerings have not met with Michael Harney’s standards. I think Golden Snail suffers a similar fate.) Then, my next bit of advice…savor that tea when you have it, but still drink it in a reasonable amount of time! Tea is meant to be enjoyed.
Usual mug method. There are resteeps in the plans, probably with an increase in the leaf. Stay tuned.
Second tea of the morning…. (SRP #19)
I picked up a few individual bags of this with my Market Spice order a while ago. I think I was anticipating a future order from there since their signature tea held quite a bit of promise for me, so this was a way to sample this tea without ordering the 4 oz minimum. I know I would shop at Market Spice if it was someplace close that I could visit, but the amount of the shipping with the fact that I was not truly taken with the teas I ordered means it was probably my last order with them. Their service is great, though. I did have an order mistake that was promptly corrected, and they do respond to email very quickly. It may be a great place for others to order, but I need a little more than great service to keep me coming back and, like I mentioned before, the tea I ordered just did not wow me.
This tea is a great one for the fruity and sweet tea lovers out there. I honestly get Welch’s Grape Soda from this. How fun this would be for kids! I still taste tea, but the grape-ish flavor is pretty strong. I am certain if I had encountered this tea in the beginning of my tea journey, it would have been a favorite. The tea base is smooth with not a hint of bitterness, and it is tasty. I do have to give them props for this. What a fun tea!
Bag in a mug method….yep, just 8 oz. boiling water for 4 minutes. Lightly sweetened.
Tea of the morning….. (SRP #18)
This tea comes from Amanda. And of course, I had it as an inaugural cuppa in my daughter’s new Kati cup. (I know, kind of weird, but I asked her if I could use it to compare to my mug…)
This is lovely. This is my favorite Vanilla tea to date. The Harney Vanilla Black is a close second to this, but it oh so much more affordable, and much easier for me to obtain. I love Vanilla Comoro, but I can still taste the remnants of the decaffienation process, even though it is the best decaf vanilla tea out there, and I do score it a little higher than I normally would because I can drink it at night. I also have to say this is one of the first Mariage Freres teas I have really liked…well this one and The Au Tibet. I have tried a few other popular ones, but they just did not appeal. I am not sure it will make the shopping list due to there being only a few places in the US that carry this tea. I see a cup of Vanilla Black from Harney in my near future just to see if this would be worth the effort to get it.
All that nonsense aside, I am so grateful to Amanda for sharing this with me. It is really good! Thank you!
Usual mug method.