160 Tasting Notes

87
drank Vanilla Black by Harney & Sons
160 tasting notes

This was one of the few Mondays that I looked forward to! Thank you ashmanra, for sending me this Harney & Sons sample to taste!

When I opened the sample packet, a light vanilla aroma was noticeable. I steeped the very black short leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The brewed color was a dark amber.

The flavor of the first sip was smooth and breakfast-tea-like with mild vanilla undertones. As I drank more and more of this selection, the vanilla taste became more obvious.

I did detect a slight twinge of something additional with the vanilla flavor. I am not quite sure what it was. It wasn’t bitter and it wasn’t astringent but it did seem to be pointing in that direction. I noticed a similar attribute in another vanilla tea I tried a while back. Maybe it is just the chemical reaction of the vanilla bean when boiled in tea.

In any event, this was a pleasant enough tea with sufficient vanilla flavor to keep me from craving more. It became even more satisfying with a couple of English tea biscuits!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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100
drank Chocolate Mint by Harney & Sons
160 tasting notes

Since I love chocolate, mint, and anything sweet, this has been the most highly anticipated item on my list of teas to try since I first heard about it. Many thanks to ashmanra for sharing her stash with me!

The unbrewed chocolate mint aroma of this tea was so strong that I could smell it through the double wrap of the sample’s packaging. Instead of tea, the aroma was more like an imported fine candy bar.

I brewed the greenish leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The result was a golden brown liquid.

I could smell the mint with a hint of chocolate as I began to sip it. The taste was smooth and minty with the chocolate flavor in the background, but still quite recognizable, much like the blend of chocolate mint ice cream. The balance of mint and chocolate was perfect.

I have tried other mint teas before. What sets this one apart from the rest is that this tea has a nice refreshing quality. It reminds me a bit of the mint juleps that were once so popular here in the South.

As I guzzled more and more of this tea, I enjoyed the aftertaste almost as much as the actual experience. The chocolate mint flavor echoed on my palate minutes later with zero bitterness.

This is a phenomenal tea that more than lived up to my expectations. I am currently enjoying it in the morning but I can also see it in my future as a fantastic late afternoon and Summer tea. It will also be wonderful to bring this selection out for those special occasions with friends and family. I am greatly looking forward to sampling other Harney & Sons blends!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
CupofTree

This sounds amazing!

Stoo

It is absolutely wonderful!

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99

If you’ve kept up with my tasting notes, you know that I am a huge fan of Teavivre Teas. I have yet to be disappointed by any of their products.

If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Teavivre’s fabulous Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea. That tea is nothing short of incredibly fantastic, albeit a little pricey. This time, I thought I would save some money and hope that their Grade 1 Keemun selection was good enough to satisfy my Keemun itch.

I love the aroma of the short unbrewed tea leaves. It is a rich, sweet, and earthy smell that seems to belong only to Teavivre’s Keemun.

I steeped the tea at 205 degrees for three minutes as instructed on the packet. The color of the brewed liquor was golden brown.

As I brought the cup to my lips, I could already smell the savory Keemun. The first sip was absolutely delicious. The taste was sweet, earthy, full-bodied, and very smooth. There was no bitterness to be found. Subsequent sips…and cups…were at least equally delightful.

In my opinion, this Grade 1 Keemun is every bit as delicious and satisfying as Teavivre’s Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea. If you are on a budget (as I am), and you love Keemun, take advantage of the great taste and very reasonable price (currently – 10/24/2012 – Teavivre is also offering 20% off!) of the Grade 1 Keemun tea. I am very glad that I did! By the way, if your budget is even more restricted than mine, Teavivre has a Grade 2 Keemun black tea at even greater savings (and also currently – 10/24/2012 – 20% off)!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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89
drank Irish Breakfast by Adagio Teas
160 tasting notes

I found this item at a reduced price at our local Earth Fare market yesterday. This is my first foray into Irish Breakfast tea and my second venture into Adagio Teas.

Even if you don’t like Adagio Teas, you have to award them a high score for innovative packaging. They give you a fairly large and strong round tin with a solid tension-clipped plastic lid for tight resealing. In addition to the lid being clear so you get a good view of the tea leaves inside before purchasing, Adagio claims that the lid blocks ultraviolet rays to preserve the quality of the tea. Very cool!

When I sprang open the lid of the tea, the aroma that burst forth was like a spicy pipe tobacco. The unmistakable smell of Ceylon tea was also present.

I steeped the tea at 212 degrees for five minutes as prescribed by Adagio. The brewed liquid was a dark amber color.

The first sip contained fruity and standard black tea flavors. A tad of sweetness was also peeking in. I did notice a slight bitterness to the aftertaste. This may have been due to an extra spoonful of leaves that I might have tossed in when I lost count. The astringency dissipated with subsequent sips and complexities in the flavor began to appear.

My tastebuds are not experienced enough yet to immediately recognize all of the various types and growing locations of black teas. However, in this tea, I can tell that there is more than one variety involved. And, it so happens that this selection is a blend of Assam and Ceylon teas. It is a tasty combination with just a hint of sugar and spice.

I found this tea to be enjoyable and bold enough to start my always challenging Monday morning. It also seems to be a little more flavor-inclusive than some of the English Breakfast teas that I have tried. I am sure I will reach for this one again to help crank up my day and week.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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87
drank Earl Grey by Harney & Sons
160 tasting notes

One of my teeth broke in half yesterday, probably caused by many years of chewing pens while working. I always rationalized that it was a safer habit than smoking cigarettes. Apparently the pen chewing addiction has its own repercussions (besides accidentally swallowed pen caps and the occasional mouthful of exploded ink).

Anyhow, I am anxiously, without access to pain pills, awaiting my high noon dentist appointment today to get my broken tooth fixed. However, my dedication to tea tasting (when I have new teas to taste) is greater than the pain in my mouth at the moment. So, I took one for the Steepster Team and prepared this Harney & Sons tea for testing.

When I opened the tin, a strong bergamot scent became instantly recognized. The tea inside was short and brown, like particles from a damp pile of raked Fall leaves.

I brewed the tea for five minutes at 212 degrees as recommended. I was struck by the absence of bergamot aroma in the brewed beverage. The color was a dark golden brown.

When I took my first sip, the next thing that was obvious (besides the stabbing pain in my damaged tooth), was the extreme understatement of bergamot flavor in this selection. The flavor is nice, smooth, and like that of an English Breakfast tea. However, the Earl Grey component is well hidden. In fact, I detected more bergamot in the aftertaste than in each cautiously directed sip (to the opposite side of my mouth from the screaming tooth).

All in all, this is a smooth and tasty tea with no bitterness. If you can take or leave Earl Grey, or you like the fruity flavor of bergamot in small doses, this tea may be quite satisfying. But, if you like bergamot to be the overpowering ingredient in this variety, you may feel short-changed.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Wow, you had NERVE drinking anything hot or cold with a broken tooth! Yikes!

ashmanra

I think their Earl Grey Supreme is far superior to this one, this one I could take it or leave it, and I left it.

ashmanra

Have you tried their Diamond Jubilee, Royal Weddjng, and Wedding Tea? If not, I think I may know some good things to send you! PM your address!

Stoo

NERVE is the operative…and painful…word there, Bonnie! I regret that I have but one tooth to give to Steepster!

Stoo

Thanks, ashmanra! I saw the Earl Grey Supreme on-line and wondered if it was their premium blend. Maybe this basic version was made for people who don’t want bergamot overload. I personally like it strong. Stash makes a very strong double bergamot Earl Grey. My favorite so far is by Rishi. I will send you my address. Thanks again!

Kittenna

Ahhhhhhhhhh, my teeth hurt in sympathy! I hope it gets fixed quickly!

Stoo

Thanks, Kittena! The dentist put a temporary crown on it today and I’m already much better. Tomorrow I should be able to drink tea with my usual vim and vigor. :-)

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90
drank English Breakfast by Harney & Sons
160 tasting notes

Aaaah. This is my kind of Monday! I’ve finally got a new tea to taste and review. I’ve been so busy getting married and keeping up with work tasks that I’ve had to push new teas down on my priority (and financial) list. It’s been a while since my last tasting note so my typing fingers and brain are a little rusty. But, here we go anyhow…

I’ve wanted to try Harney & Sons teas for quite some time. I’ve heard and read great things about their products. But, until this weekend, we didn’t have a local outlet from which to purchase them. I thought their on-line shipping charges were a little steep (no pun intended) so I didn’t buy any from their website either. Now, thanks to our local Fresh Market, we can purchase Harney & Sons English Breakfast and Earl Grey teas at discount prices.

When I opened the big black tin, the aroma that burst forth was like that of pipe tobacco in a tobacco shop. It was sweet and rich.

I steeped the short black leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees as recommended on the tin. I didn’t notice any particular smells wafting from the teapot during this process. The color of the liquor was a bright golden amber.

At first sip, the flavor was sweet and a tad earthy. The taste intensity was medium. The flavor remained mostly consistent after subsequent sips, but I did notice slight twinges of malt and the tell-tale woody and leathery flavors of keemun later on. There was no bitterness present in this brew.

Although this tea does not have bold flavors, it is, nevertheless, a smooth and pleasant beverage for those mornings when you don’t need something shouting at you to wake you up. There is still plenty of good flavor to get your morning off on the right foot.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

Congratulations on your recent nuptials! I wanted to drink this tea today, but my water is turned off while hubby moves our washing machine and that means no tea! Please look at my cupboard and see if there are any Harney teas you would like to try. It can be my wedding gift to you! I think I have forty or fifty on shelf right now,

Stoo

Wow! Thanks, ashmanra! That is extremely kind of you! I will check out your cupboard! I hope you get your water and tea operation back up and running again soon!

Stoo

Bonnie

Happy Wedding Stoo, I didn’t know that’s why you disappeared. I thought WE were going to elope…oh well. I’ll just have to keep looking!

Stoo

Thanks, Bonnie! I guess I never got the memo about you and I eloping. :-) I hope you find a great one like I did!

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90

I have come to my last sample in this round of Teavivre’s latest offerings. Let’s see if Teavivre has batted 1,000 again like they have with samples in previous rounds…

When I opened the sample packet, a very strong grassy aroma escaped into the air. It was not unpleasant. It was like the smell of a freshly mowed putting green after a Summer sun shower.

I steeped the long green leaves for two minutes at 195 degrees. A pale green liquid emerged at the end of the brewing cycle.

The taste of this tea was light, fresh, and grassy. There also was a slight hint of sweetness beneath the leafy flavor. There was no bitterness to the taste and a light and fresh aftertaste lingered on my palate.

Like the several other Teavivre green teas that I have tasted, one word best describes the flavor of this selection: FRESH. All of Teavivre’s green tea offerings have a just picked taste that makes you think the leaves were harvested this morning.

This is yet another exceptional tea from Teavivre. I can’t wait to see (and taste) what they come up with next!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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89

My only chance to sample more new tea today is in the morning. Green tea doesn’t give me the caffeine burst that I need to kick my brain into motion, but I will go ahead and take one for the team anyway.

When I first opened the sample package of Organic Tian Mu Mao Feng Green Tea (I’m glad I only have to type it and not say it), the strongest pre-brewed smell that I ever experienced launched from within. I’m not sure how to identify it. Fresh cut asparagus on steroids is the best descripion that my sputtering brain can come up with (without my morning cups of turbocharged black tea).

I brewed the long thin black leaves for two minutes at 195 degrees. A greenish gold liquid became the final product.

The flavor of this tea is very light. There are twinges of sweetness and grassy or vegetable attributes, but nothing that takes charge. That is not to say this is a weak tea, because it is not. The flavor is full but not overbearing. I found it very easy to guzzle down four cups of this brew. I also enjoyed the light sweet aftertaste after each sip.

Teavivre has created another tasty and distinct tea with characteristics all its own. This would be a terrific selection to enjoy in the afternoon, at dinner, or for dessert.

I wish my favorite local Chinese buffet restaurant would offer this product. I would gladly switch back from their water to hot tea to wash down the mass quantities of peking duck and sushi!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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90

Jasmine tea is not a selection that I pursue. Many of the different brands that I tried were like drinking a bottle of perfume. However, Teavivre surprised me with their last jasmine offering. I actually enjoyed it. So, I wasn’t filled with dread this time.

Immediately upon opening the sample package, a strong jasmine smell flooded my nostrils. Uh-oh, I thought. But, I remained positive and kept reminding myself that I did like Teavivre’s other jasmine tea.

I steeped the little green pellets at 175 degrees for two minutes. A gold colored liquid was the result.

The brewed version of this tea also had a powerful jasmine odor. I still trudged on and took my first sip. Yes, I could taste the jasmine, but the flavor was light and sweet. I was able to swallow it very easily. After several more swigs, a very nice honey-like aftertaste lingered on my palate.

I have to admit, Teavivre has done it again! This is another jasmine tea that I like!

It is a very sweet, light, and pleasant blend. I still won’t run out and stock the house with jasmine tea, but I will enjoy using up this entire sample. And, if someone were to offer me another cup of this selection in the future, I won’t turn it down!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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90

My allergies have been particularly rough during the last several days. This morning I planned ahead. I steamed out my sinuses in the shower so I’d be ready to accurately review this tea from Teavivre without any blockages.

When I first opened the sample package of this tea, the aroma that burst forth from the fine dry leaves was almost a little pungent. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the brewed version if this aroma carried into the flavor.

I steeped the tea for three minutes at 195 degrees as recommended (actually, 194 degrees was recommended, but what’s one degree between friends?). The brew that resulted can be best described as a muddy honey color.

I was happy to learn that there was no pungent aroma to the brewed tea. The smell was light and rather nondescript.

I was pleased to find that the taste was sweet and amiable. There also was a flavor attribute present similar to oatmeal. Bitterness did not exist.

I enjoyed two cups of this tea very much. It is a tasty black brew with a full sweet but gentle flavor.

Shame on me for doubting Teavivre EVEN for one second! This selection is another winner in Teavivre’s constantly growing array of fine teas.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I ventured into the world of serious tea drinking in the Summer of 2011. I started out slowly and gently with bagged tea but climbed to the incredible flavorful heights of loose leaf teas in October of that year. Once you go leaf, you never go bag (except when you get free samples)!

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South Carolina, USA

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