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Recent Tasting Notes
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!
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…..
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!!! :) :) :)
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!
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 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.
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!!!
Glory be, it’s a SIPDOWN! Why am I excited? I wasn’t letting myself buy any more Keemun until I finished the ones I already have. I am pretty sure this is the last of my last one. The little pile of empty tins is growing. The list of what I can order now is, too!
This was the first tea served because I wanted something fairly neutral to go with our first treat at tea party time. It was Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream, home made. Oo, it is yummy. I just made the basic vanilla ice cream in the Cuisinart book and added a tablespoon of Penzey’s orange extract.
Now I want to search for the perfect crunchy bits to add to it, like chopped almonds or toffee bits. I think it will be good as a float this summer, too. Maybe I will put it in ginger ale or cream soda.
I wanted a good black tea to pair with….a spoonful of frosting. Yes, that is my shameful mid-morning snack. My youngest daughter just made birthday cake number two – with four kids in the family and my godson plus hubby and me, one birthday cake isn’t enough! She did a beautiful job, and now as the birthday person I get first choice on beaters and pans. I chose the frosting bowl! Heh heh. But I really only scraped out about two teaspoons worth or a tad more.
I am really trying to sip down some teas and I am trying VERY HARD not to order more, but I can’t say I have had much success with that part! I have even given away two big boxes of teas lately! And still we have way more tea than food in this house. And way more tea than money. LOL!
I have enough leaf left now for one more pot, and I won’t be replacing this one. I thought I would back when I first bought it. My daughter liked it and it was not bad, but I have had Keemun Mao Feng from Harney and Sons and Organic Superfine Fragrant Keemun Black Tea from Teavivre, and those are superior.
I don’t regret purchasing this. It has served us well and is pretty good, but I am glad to open up space on the shelf for some other, more treasured teas to come in. It was really good with my cream cheese frosting, though!
I needed a black tea for tea party today to go with homemade chocolate chip ice cream and this cake: http://thenonpareilbaker.blogspot.com/2011/09/chocolate-cake-with-cream-cheese.html?m=1
Paired with such sweet food, the tea seemed to become even more roasty, more chocolatey. Oddly, I felt like I tasted vanilla with the chocolatey flavor today, no doubt some function of the pairing. Great stuff. So glad I skipped lunch…
This was the first tea of tea party today. I broke with our usual attempt of having black, oolong, and green, or some other form of variety and just made two black teas and one flavored black because I was pairing it with something that I felt needed black tea to carry it.
You see, the lovely JacquelineM sent me a tiny little tea book with recipes in it a while back and today I tried one of them for tea time. The recipe is Pear, Walnut, Bleu Cheese sandwiches on Seven Grain bread, except we could only find twelve grain so we used that instead! LOL! The Bleu Cheese is mixed with cream cheese to spread it on the bread. It was very tasty and I don’t EVEN want to know how many calories were in each little triangle!
The sandwiches were very rich, so I wanted a good, strong black tea to stand up to the flavorful Bleu cheese and to contrast with the delicate pear. It was delicious! Thank you, Jacqueline!
I made this to be the first tea for our tea time today. We had White Chocolate Meyer Lemon Tart, thanks to gmathis describing Meyer lemons last year so enticingly that I had to try them and find recipes to use them! I wanted a good, strongish, unflavored black tea to accompany the tart and this was a delicious choice. This Hao Ya A is very mild compared to others I have tried but we enjoy it and it is especially good paired with food. It can definitely hold its own.
We had this with lunch today. With our food, it was rich and chocolate-y, but after the meal the remaining tea seemed to get a tad bitter. I was drinking it plain and youngest added milk and sugar. It could have been my imagination, or just being really sensitive to the change in taste once it was no longer paired with food. I have a hard time with this tea. Sometimes I really like it, sometimes I find it weak, sometimes it is too strong. It is one of the few teas that have that chameleon effect for me.
I made a pot of this for tea time with my girls today because I wanted to compare it to the Premium Keemun Hao Ya from Teavivre that we drank yesterday. This is weaker than Hao Ya A from Harney and Sons which, to be honest, is too strong for me. Maybe I need to make it differently.
This Keemun has less delicacy than Teavivre’s. I didn’t like it plain and added milk and sugar. Once we started our snacks I had a second cup with just a splash of milk. It is certainly chocolate-y and a little smokey, but for the price difference and the taste I think I prefer Teavivire’s. This one from SS is $4.75 an ounce. Teavivre’s works out to $3.20 an ounce, resteeps well, and tastes good without having to be tamed by additions, at least for me. If you love bold, brash keemuns, you might prefer this one, and Harney and Sons more so. I prefer Teavivre’s.
I had this one plain this morning and it was so…PLAIN! It had that classic tea smell but I didn’t get smoke or cocoa or any of the things I love about keemuns. I need to try it again with food and see if it improves – this is a good time to get out my new Thursday Next book and some Swiss cheese! If you like Keemun tea, stick with Harney and Sons!
I had a cup of this earlier today and thought it was a little bland. I added sugar to make it more interesting. A couple of hours later, the fresh buttermilk bread came out and I buttered a slice and added Smucker’s Red Plum Jam and had another cup without additions. This time the tea tasted richer and the little smokey edge came out to play. It is amazing what a food pairing does to a tea! We like to combine any good flavored tea with cheese cubes as it seems to make the tea so much sweeter.
This keemun has the classic keemun flavor you would expect – cocoa and a little smoke. But it tastes like a resteeping of leaves you had already enjoyed! A while back we tasted this one side by side with the Hao Ya A from Harney and Sons, and this is weak and pale by comparison. If you want full, powerful Hao Ya A flavor, get Harney. If cocoa notes and light smoke are a little much for you, this one should do nicely. My youngest daughter loves this tea and our tea party guest liked it very much as well.
Decided to do a side by side taste test at the tea party today. My youngest loves this Keemun but likes really mild tea for the most part. The Harney and Sons version was more aromatic, more robust, and darker. Although Harney says it is a little more astringent than some Keemuns it was not too astringent for me. I would give it a 1.5 of 5 for astringency! I do not care for astringent or bitter teas. The tea is mild to a fault in my opinion. If you want a good all around tea to serve to a group of non-tea-drinkers this might be your tea. But if you love good, strong, cocoa-y Keemuns, look elsewhere.
This is a wonderful tea from the fine tea wall at A Southern Season. It is very mild and smooth, and when I tasted it beside Premium Steap’s Emperor’s Red I realized it had more of a plant flavor while ER had that toasty nutty chocolate but oh so smooth thing going on. My youngest daughter loves it. I like it a lot, but I think I want something with a little more gumption.
Second attempt today on this one. This tea was so mild I thought perhaps I had measured my leaves incorrectly, or that my scant measure I usually use for my Beehouse teapot was not enough. I added an extra teaspoon of leaves. I detect no change in the amount of flavor. This tea is good, but it isn’t even close to being as strong as the Harney and Sons Hao Ya A. Even though I like it and it is a good keemun, it doesn’t have the character and body I find in even the English Breakfast tea by Harney and Sons, which is 100% Keemun, though it is not Hao Ya A. This would be a fabulous tea to serve to people who are new to tea. It is mild, smooth, not smoky, not bitter, not astringent. It didn’t hold my attention without sugar, although on this second pot I am leaving out milk, since I usually use milk to smooth a strong note, and this tea has none. Don’t misunderstand! I like it, it is just very different from the strength of Harney and Sons, and much milder than the aroma in the store led me to expect. Six months ago I would have rated this in the nineties, but now I have tasted Golden Monkey and Emperor’s Red, and that changes EVERYTHING….