A Southern Season

Recent Tasting Notes

88

The Towkak Tea garden is situated on the banks of river Towkak, which also acts as a natural boundary for the garden on its western side. Towkok in Tai language means “dancing tortoise.” In those days it was heard that Towkok river was full of dancing tortoises when the first tea plantation in the area was established on its banks in the year 1885.

I have had a variety of Towkok teas over the years and was really impressed when I picked up a few ounces of loose FTGFOP tea this week from A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, NC. The price is very reasonable, regular price of $4.25 and ounce, on special now at $3.00 an ounce.

Brews up a beautiful color and aroma typical of orthodox Assam teas. Bold, hearty and with biscuity notes that make this a great morning start to the day.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Caramel

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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52

Super old sample sipdown!

Didn’t particularly care for this. First, the age… And it’s a bit bitter and reminded me of a far less superior version of H&S’s Florence, minus the chocolate.

I’m not really getting pecans out of my cup, I added milk but sugar probably would’ve helped this tea.

One more down! :)

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Backlogging from Thursday night: One of the men who attends our writers’ group came in with a gift bag. He said it was something from his wife to me. His wife is Japanese and knows how much I love tea even though we have only met once, and briefly then.

The bag contained a rainbow wood scoop (so cute!) and this tea. Naturally I steeped up some of it for the group to try. :) I ended up making four pots because everyone loved it.

The ginger isn’t too biting in this one as ginger can sometimes be, at least to me. The peach is very nice but sniffing the dry leaves AND the tea we really picked up lots of citrus, and I realized it was a very strong lime aroma. The lime as there in the taste also, and I think it was really the green base that was carrying it. Perhaps the sourgrass nature of the base (did everyone else grow up chewing on sourgrass in the summertime?) mixed with the peach flavoring combined to make lime.

It was very favorably received by all the green tea drinkers in the room, and at the rate they were drinking it, I have a feeling this pouch won’t last long. It was a lovely surprise!

gmathis

Your writers sound like an appealing and gracious bunch of people! Fiction? Non-fiction? Would you adopt a freelance curriculum writer who’s perpetually behind deadline if she could manage the 13-hour commute on Thursday nights? ;)

ashmanra

We would love to have you! We actually have one young writer in college who Skypes in when he can’t make it in person. He writes devotional poetry, essays, and sci-fi. My girls write sci-fi/fantasy. The older man writes autobiography and fiction based on his life. He was a wartime soldier who married a Japanese woman and he has based a novel on their life, on her family disowning her, and his conversion. We also have a playwright and fiction writer, another poet, and one who writes articles for emagazines! We drink a lot of tea. A lot. Of tea. LOL!

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80

Pleasant, fruit dry smell. Somehow found it to be very relaxing. Soft hints of all the flavors are present and combine well for a great tea.

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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75

Sipdown!! (199!)

Thank you Josie Jade for sending this my way. After the lack of vanilla flavoring in my matcha, this cup is really quite delicious. Filled with a creamy vanilla flavor, I am happily sipping away at the cup as I watch the Big Bang Theory.

Flavors: Cream, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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75

Thank you Josie Jade for sharing this with me. It smells amazing! Both in smell and taste it is reminiscent of Vanilla Comoro and Cafe Vanilla. However, I do think this is a touch weaker than those other two and for that reason I won’t seek out more. That doesn’t mean I am not thoroughly enjoying this cup though.

In other news, I just finished Lost and now need to find a new show to waste time with :P.

Flavors: Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
__Morgana__

Yay for finishing Lost!

Roswell Strange

Are you emotional wreck? Also, Tre and I started watching Two Broke Girls last night and spent the whole evening enraptured with the fact that the main character (the not formerly rich one) is scarily like me personality wise. I’m still seeking a new show on Netflix, though.

VariaTEA

Haha. I watch that too. Also Max is pretty awesome.

Roswell Strange

Apparently living with Max would be identical to living with me – down to the cupcakes, snark, and everything else. Although, we are only like six episodes in…

VariaTEA

So I think our living together would actually work then :P. If you were like Caroline, I would not be cool with that.

Roswell Strange

Caroline, based on what we’ve seen, is way too prissy/girly to come close to being me. I’m definitely more like Max. And we’ve decided Tre is a combination of Caroline/the really sexually uncomfortable cook guy. He’s sorta proud of that, but I told him he shouldn’t be.

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I bought this to tide me over until my Harney order arrives. It is more astringent than Harney’s but for the price it isn’t bad at all, and went well with my bagel. It smells absolutely awesome when I open my tin. With food, the astringency is subdued and not at all unpleasant, but I do prefer the Harney and Nina’s versions to this one. It is a great value, though.

keychange

Ah, see I’m still on the hunt for a really good, strong vanilla black tea. I had high hopes for vanilla Comoro, but it just doesn’t seem to be working out so far.

ashmanra

Have you tried their Vanilla Black? Vanilla Comoro is decaf. Also Vanille des Îles by Marriage Freres is pretty good, but I think Nina’s Je T’Aime is better.

ashmanra

Maybe you could even add your own vanilla beans or vanilla caviar? The stuff from Olive Nation can’t be beat, IMO. I use it to make my vanilla extract and it is the best and most economical I have found.

keychange

Oh yes, both vanilla black and je t’aime are on my to try list.

Rosehips

Agreed on Je t’aime! very good vanilla tea. I am always questing for vanilla, as its my favorite. I’ll look up Vanille des Iles as well.

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My son and godson agreed to do a tea pickup at A Southern Season for me today. I got just two ounces of this for $3 to tide us over until out next Harney order as my youngest loves their Vanilla Black and Vanilla Comoro and we are out of both.

I guess I under leafed this. I steeped for four minutes at 203F and when I poured the tea it looked like a decaf resteep! I am drinking it plain and it is fine, not great, not bad. The tea is a little weak, the vanilla flavor is pretty good. I think with hotter water, longer steep, or more leaf, this could be very good. It isn’t Nina’s Je T’Aime by any stretch of the imagination, but should get us by until I place a big Harney order for my daughter.

I am most excited that Wild Forest Oolong was back in stock by the ounce! I will be having some later this weekend. The bad news is that it has gone up to $14.95 an ounce so I only got the one ounce.

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79
drank Plum Oolong by A Southern Season
4889 tasting notes

Sipdown! i like this one quite a bit. it’s plumy with a bit of spiciness to it but not overly so. Theres a sweetness to this and a bit of tartness at the same time. I am digging this one!

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I kept this from the Here’s Hoping Traveling Tea Box, originally as a present for Tony, because he really enjoys Plum Oolong. It sat on his table for a couple of weeks, waiting…

So I’m drank it with dinner. His teas are my teas, so there!
Sipdown!

Sil

i liked this one a bunch

Terri HarpLady

It was tasty!

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From the HHTTB

This is actually very nice, especially with a pinch of stevia added. Tony adores plum oolong, & there are only a few cups left, so I’m keeping this one!

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drank Plum Oolong by A Southern Season
1817 tasting notes

I wish I had more information on this tea, because I really think it must have some hibiscus in it. The first steep was very red/purple. The second steep was very pale. I added 2 1/2 tablespoons of German rock sugar to the pitcher, poured in the hot tea, stirred, and set a timer for about thirty minutes. After letting it cool on the counter I put it in the refrigerator. We drank this as the last tea of tea party today.

It was good and certainly has a nice fruity taste that isn’t soapy as flavored tea can sometimes be, especially iced, but at the same time, it didn’t rock my world. I enjoyed it, but I am not lamenting that I am down to about one teaspoon of it, nor am I planning to rush to buy more. If it goes on sale again, I might.

Hubby didn’t care for it, but there is yet to be an iced tea that he does like, except for the traditional super syrupy sweet Southern Style plain black tea.

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drank Plum Oolong by A Southern Season
1817 tasting notes

My friend wanted to try more oolongs as she mostly drinks black tea and puerh. This is the one she chose from my stash.

The plum is very strong in this, and is reminding me of black currant flavor. We liked it pretty well, but drinking it hot, it really is all about the tart fruity flavor and not about the oolong base. I thought it was just pleading to be iced, so I added a teaspoon of sugar, stirred, and poured the rest into a glass over ice. A-ha! Now it has found its raison d’être! This is how I will be enjoying the rest of this tea!

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This is a sip down, and the end of my very first Puerh purchase ever. I remember smelling the Puerh at A Southern Season and giggling with Sandy over the smell. When I finally bought some we were both a little apprehensive about tasting it, but in spite of the fishiness, we liked it! And I definitely recognized almost immediately the beneficial effects Puerh tea had on my digestive system, relieving the miserable overstuffed feeling after having pizza with crusts dipped in garlic butter.

I ended up buying all three types of puerh sold there, and got another friend really hooked on shu puerh. Now that this has aired out a bit, it is much more pleasant. It makes a really black cup of tea, but I do enjoy my puerh that way so I often steep it for at least three minutes.

Now I have found so many other puerhs that I like much better than this one. I am decupboarding it, and I do not intend to buy it again. When I want more mini Tuocha they will come from Teavivre or Mandala Tea. I am grateful to this little Tuocha for introducing me to puerh, though!

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I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this before, but when I searched this tea there was no listing.

This has been in my cupboard for about two years. When I bought it, it was my first Pu-erh and I didn’t know that a little air circulation benefits them, so I kept it in its tightly closed foil bag. When I opened it for the first time in about year, there was a very fishy smell. I took the last three tuo cha out and set them on the shelf for about a week or so. The fishy aroma is greatly decreased, but I wondered if I went too far and the flavor was also gone.

I made this for my son, his girlfriend, and myself to drink after our pizza lunch today. They loved the Teavivre puerh, didn’t care for the Rishi loose Classic Puerh, and liked this one somewhere in between. (They wouldn’t even take a second 2 ounce cup of the Rishi.)

The first steep had the barest hint of fishy aroma, so slight it may have been my imagination. The taste was just good, earthy puerh, though. I gave it about two minutes after the initial rinse, and the color was dark orange. The next steep was darker. By the fourth steep i saw a definitely lightening of the color, but the flavor was little diminished. We took this to six steeps and the last one was getting weak, but was still pretty good. For the price, this is an inexpensive shu with enough flavor to be interesting. I still prefer Teavivre for shu puerh mini tuo cha, but this one is very similar.

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I gave this one a revisit today and used Kashyap’s steeping parameters, which called for a lower water temp and a shorter steep than I would give most black teas. To be fair, this tea is probably over a year old. All I got was a cup of tingle, as in astringency, not excitement! I believe this is one that teaequalsbliss reviewed and said it was wonderful, but after it had aged a bit, was awful! I really am not getting anything good out of this cup, so I am tossing the last teaspoon without guilt! Perhaps if the leaves were fresh it would have been good, and I will try this method of making Indian teas like they were all darjeelings and see if it improves my opinion of them. It could be that Indian tea is just not my thing! In the past, I have noticed that most assamica varietals give me a tummy ache or at least lots of rumbles.

Kashyap

I would be happy to send you a few samples of Assams, Darjeelings, Nilgiris, or Threshrans from India if your still having debates about the value or importance of Indian teas..I actually just got a few samples from the first 1st flushes from Assam Satrupa Estate as well as second, in just about every grade and would be happy to share them. I also noted your ‘star wars’ comment on another tea…(its a secret) but my company has been working with Thinkgeek and came up with Vader’s Blend (coffee) and one of my first duties was to develop a ’Yoda’s blend’ Tea…I will let you know and send you some if this project gets accepted by Lucas Arts.

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Many many thanks to ashmanra for sending me some of this very precious tea to try!

This is one of the most interesting teas I’ve ever tasted! I think it’s called “wild forest” because it tastes a bit like those fresh pine needles that I had in that pine tisane! That piney/menthol/lemonyness… but fine delicious tea too! It’s a great combination and addictive! My taste buds are curious and keep nudging me to take another sip because they can’t quite place these flavors…together!

I’m looking forward to many many steeps today, and will post a comment later on how they evolved!

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

Supposedly, it is called Wild Forest because the old tea masters go out into the forests where they alone know the locations of wild, uncultivated tea trees and gather the leaves to make this tea! I think a lot of these stories are romantic marketing and for our benefit, but fun nevertheless! :)

JacquelineM

I am on my second steep and I can’t believe how SWEET it is!! What a prize, whatever the hows and whys :) :) :) Mmmmmm! I was going to have some Royal Wedding this afternoon, but I think this one is going to delight me the entire day!

JacquelineM

I’m going on my 6th steep and it’s still vibrant and extremely naturally sweet. I’m still getting piney – maybe sage/thyme or even ginko – but an overwhelming sweetness after you take a sip. This is the most unique tea experience I’ve had in quite awhile!

ashmanra

That lingering sweetness is amazing! Every time I inhale my head fills with flowers again…

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drank Noel by A Southern Season
1817 tasting notes

I was a bad girl. I drank decaf with supper so the caffeine wouldn’t keep me awake, but when I sat down to read I really wanted some flavored tea and I really wanted something Christmas-y since we went out of town and bought my Christmas season Southern Supreme “More Nuts than Fruit” Fruitcake that I serve up until Christmas! So here I sit downing non-decaf tea…

Now, I don’t really LIKE most Christmas teas that much, but I love to smell them. Noel is so pretty I would love to display it in a glass container. There are almond bits, dried apple pieces, orange peel, flower petals….and it tastes pretty good! It is smooth, not bitter, with nice orange flavor. Unless someone tells me that it is really awful (and what Harney tea has ever been?) I am going to Barnes and Noble tomorrow to buy that special pack of their Holiday Tea with the white tea since I just got a coupon for an extra 25% off!
It is a great buy at $15.95 for the two together, and with the discounts it will be even less.

I noticed that Dammann Freres and Mariages Freres have Christmas teas and if they are anything like the other flavored French teas I have tried, I will HAVE to get some! Anyone who has tried them, let me know…..

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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A very serviceable Yunnan! Less sweet yet gutsy than the other classic Yunnan I’ve tried (HS), but still quite pleasurable to drink, and resteep! I like the second steep even more than the first – it starts veering into “golden bud” sort of territory. Thank you ashmanra for another lovely cuppa!!! :) :) :)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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The leaves are very interesting – they are almost…puffy! like chamomile blossoms. Lots of light leaves – very unique looking!

I steeped my first cup conservatively – 3 minutes, 200 degree water – and I think I could have taken it to 4 minutes. No bitterness or astringency, and that wonderful tangy flavor I love from certain Chinese black teas – but a little different. I don’t want to say it reminds me of soy sauce but it has a sort of sweet fermented quality like soy sauce. Really, really good. I can see this tea being excellent with food (I am picturing a rice bowl with salmon and some sort of green – mmmmm!).

The second steep, at 4 minutes, is just as interesting and delicious. What a great, one of a kind tea! Thank you thank you thank you ashmanra!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

So glad you liked it! This one reminds me a LITTLE of Harney and Sons Golden Monkey, but I guess it is just the sweetness of it. I don’t add anything to Zhen Quo although I think a little honey might be good in it. I would love a plate of pepper steak to have with it right now….

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drank tippy yunnan by A Southern Season
1817 tasting notes

I have spent a bit of time lately digging through my many stashes and caches of tea and trying to finish some that are nearly gone. Most of them I don’t review, but this one I will because it shows how much my tastes have changed.

This is old, three years old or more. It still has plenty of heft. When I bought it, I could not have taken it plain. One of my first notes mentions it being peppery. Now, I mostly get gutsy black tea flavor. This is not a sophisticated Yunnan like Teavivre’s. This is a tea that will grab you by the chest hairs and pull you out of bed.

>DISCLAIMER: I am female and do not possess chest hairs but if I had them this tea would have yanked me out of bed by them. In the absence of chest hairs, it gave me a nice, swift kick on the patootie."<

I am really enjoying this tea plain this morning. It isn’t quite a SIPDOWN but the next pot will be. It is ever so slightly drying, has that scraping feel I get that reminds me of unsweetened cocoa, though I don’t get chocolate notes from this, and is a bit malty if I understand correctly what malty means. It is rather full bodied.

Our die hard Assam drinkers would probably consider this a pretty tame tea (hi, gmathis!) but it is strong enough for me!

Preparation
3 tsp 20 OZ / 591 ML
boychik

so funny;-)

__Morgana__

It would be something if it pulled you out of bed by the chest hairs you don’t have!

Hello.Kiki

That is too funny. I’m starting to branch out into more black tea, but sometimes I feel like I just might grow a beard if I drink certain ones on a regular basis ;)

gmathis

Bonus points for using patootie!

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drank tippy yunnan by A Southern Season
1817 tasting notes

I had this one quite a while back. The friend drinking tea with me was a former coffee lover turned to tea, and takes all tea without additions. This one was a bit too peppery for me.

But JacquelineM suggested steeping for a much shorter time and at a lower temperature, and guess what? It really does improve this yunnan! I know she was using the Harney version which is probably a higher quality tea, but I want to finish this little tin! I didn’t get to try resteeps, no time today because of a writers’ group meeting, but this weekend I hope to try it.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C

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drank Ruby #18 by A Southern Season
1112 tasting notes

These leaves are GORGEOUS. Long and tinged with red! This is “Taiwan’s Only Black Tea” but it tastes VERY oolong-ish to me. I daresay a little Dragon Ball-ish! It has that sweet lovely pastry quality as it cools. Absolutely delicious!!! The other thing I love about it is that it’s quite the resteeper! The second infusion is sweet and pastry-ish too, and I am going to save my third steep for my noodle bowl lunch! I think this tea will be fantastic with food.

I didn’t expect to taste Dragon Ball qualities in this tea, so it was such a great surprise! I thought that I wouldn’t get to taste it for months and months – so this is like an extra bonus fantastic happy delight!

Once again, this is me being utterly spoiled by ashmanra!! Thank you!!!

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

I am glad you like it! I have always believed this tea is very oolong-ish because it is made by people who speicalize in oolongs. I have resteeped up to five times, though four is usually my limit.

JacquelineM

I’m having more right now with my lunch – sooooooo gooooooood!!!! I think I’m going to go for 4 because I have more hot water in my kettle and I love it!

JacquelineM

Also – to go on a little more about Miss Read – OMG they have handkerchief drills! You have no idea how that tickled me as a staunch handkerchief carrier! How I wish I could say “Class! Hankies out!”

ashmanra

Don’t you love it? I want to go live there.

mstar

who is currently selling this where I can mail order it?

teatime traveler

that was my question, from where can I mail order? JUST heard about it on The Splendid Table with Lynn’s guest Bill Waddington, who said it was its first time in the West, so I figured someone online would already have tasted it! Googled and found this group. Jacqueline, this may not be news to you but it tastes Oolongish because it IS. It’s a blend of Assam which, though from India, was favored by the Japanese who didn’t have enough room in their country to grow so they started growing it in their then colony of Taiwan. A guy in Taiwan started hybridizing the plants 48 years ago, in 1962. Forgot his name but Bill tells the story toward the end of the show at http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/ (Jan 8). I have a feeling that Waddington’s store would send it by mail. http://www.teasource.com/ Click on New Teas & Products. Yes, it’s there if you scroll down!! Whoever reads this, please let me know if anyone else offers it mail order. I am so excited to have found this group. And pardon my ignorance but is “A Southern Season” a store or someone’s sign on?

teatime traveler

oh, this is me again….looked up “A Southern Season” in quotes on google and it’s a store, should have looked before asking. will see if they mail-order, too.

ashmanra

This tea is also called Sun Moon Lake tea. I think the Southern Season price is about $5.95 per ounce? It resteeps beautifully. According to Southern Season, this does qualify as a black tea because of the oxidation level, but it looks like oolong, acts like oolong, tastes like…..a cross between blac and oolong! It is one of my favorites. Doesn’t need milk or sugar!

ashmanra

To order from Southern Season, call 800-253-3663. I have steeped their Ruby #18 for ten minutes or more without a hint of bitterness. Wonderful stuff! And the liquor can be quite pale, so it is rather startling to taste such complexity and richness! Another UNBELIEVABLE tea to experience from them is Wild Forest Oolong. It is expensive, but really really worth it. It was sold out for quite a while, but hopefully they have it back in. I give it to people just to watch their face after they swallow. The final note longers a long, long time. Really lovely. Costs about $11.95 an ounce. So worth it.

teatime traveler

Yes, I found out about their mail order at asouthernseason.com but must wait till Feb, times are tight. On the other hand, their price is MUCH better than that of the guy I heard on the radio; his is off the charts. I’ll also try to order the Wild Forest Oolong from A Southern Season, thanks for the tip, Ashmanra!

ashmanra

teatime traveler – Click follow on my page so you can send me your address in a private email and I will be happy to send you a sample of my Ruby #18.

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