A Southern Season

Recent Tasting Notes

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.

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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!

Bonnie

Oh you bad girl, that sounds good! (I usually have a spice cookie with black tea)

K S

I think making space on the shelf more than makes up for the frosting. You should celebrate and buy more tea!

gmathis

Frosting has nutritional value. I’ll get back to you when I figure out what it is.

ashmanra

Well, it was cream cheese frosting. As a woman, I need lots of dairy to prevent osteoporosis. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Tea Sipper

oh yeah.. I had a spoon of frosting yesterday. I swear it isn’t every day!

Angrboda

Happy birthday. :)

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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…

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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!

Ysaurella

keemuns are so mellow, this is a black tea type I really like very much.
Regarding the recipe, bleu & pear are pairing very well, we often mix its in French recipe (or roquefort & pear)

Ysaurella

recipeS ;)

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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.

gmathis

Was that me? Regardless … now I’m craving lemon meringue pie. Or pie of any kind.

ashmanra

I thought you mentioned Meyer lemon about a year ago, but it may have been someone else. Then I saw a tea at Southern Season with Meyer lemon, then a mention elsewhere, and it snowballed. I really wanted to try them and couldn’t find them at first. The pie was very good…now I want to try making key lime pie.

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This is a decent, mid-grade Keemun tea with good chocolate notes. It is not very expensive, and I got it on sale, so it was a good buy, but the next time I order something like tis it will be from Teavivre. Their black teas are higher grade and more affordable. Youngest daughter loves this one.

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This was initially a nice cuppa, very chocolate-y and great with our food. A while later I reheated the remaining tea and found it had gone quite bitter. Bleh. Which is much worse than meh.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Preparation
Boiling
gmathis

Which Thursday Next? I’m behind … I think the next one for me in Mount To-Be-Read is “First Among Sequels.”

ashmanra

One of Our Thursdays is Missing. I think it is the newest. My middle daughter already finished and she has passed it on to me!

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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.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
JacquelineM

I was just watching some videos that Henrietta Lovell made for the Guardian and there is one about cheese and tea!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/video/2009/nov/27/tea-lady-cheese-buddhist-nun

ashmanra

Thank you for the link – I watched the video and so badly wanted to sniff the leaves with them when she was passing the tin! I thought that cheese with tea was common in Britain but based on what she said I guess it isn’t. It is a favorite here! We have cheese cubes and tea many days for “Hobbit Breakfast”, also called Second Breakfast here. First breakfast is one slice of whole wheat toast with chocolate milk!

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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.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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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.

Preparation
Boiling

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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.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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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….

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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I was looking for a tea exactly like Emperor’s Red. Do you know what tea is exactly like Emperor’s Red? Emperor’s Red. Sigh. It was wrong of me to ask a tea from Qimun to taste like a tea from Fujian.

This tea is not without merit, however. It is a very good breakfast tea, not as strong as I expected, with good body and flavor. The cocoa notes are not nearly as strong as ER but they are there. This was definitely a milk and sugar tea for me. Very good. This was the “fine tea of the month” at Southern Season, so it was a very good buy. I will enjoy the two ounces I purchased, and would definitely buy this again. Next time I will add a tad more leaves. I was careful with it since I thought it would be strong, and should have used to full recommended measure. Smooth, no bitterness, not astringent at all.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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Thanks to Ashmanra for this sample. This is a delightful tea- malty and not astringent. And of course, no milk and sugar needed. This almost seems like a high quality yunnan….

ashmanra

Lori, When I go back to Southern Season I will ask them the origin of this tea. I don’t know where it comes from, but it is without a doubt the fuzziest, softest, fluffiest golden tip tea I have ever seen. It reminds me a little bit of Golden Monkey in that aspect…

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Delicious and oh so warming, satisfying, and cobweb-clearing on (yet another!) rainy morning. Thank you ashmanra!! This one reminds me a lot of Golden Moon’s Irish Breakfast – full bodied and fruity. Excellent with some milk and sugar. I do believe I’ll make another cup :)

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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I am giving this an ambivalent rating because I am not actually sure if I like it. It doesn’t taste bad but I am not sad when I get to the bottom of my cup. It is a great red color and smells like cloves with a hint of orange and lemon. The taste is flat to me. There is a broad note of clove and hibiscus but I don’t get the licorice root or the citrus notes. I have tried it hot and cold but haven’t been truly impressed. I kind of want to mix it with fruit juice or sprite or something just to give it some pizzaz. Is that even legal?

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 45 sec
ashmanra

Sure! Some of the best tea I even had was when my godmother added a touch of 7Up or Sprite and mixed fruit juices to her iced tea. She just did it on whims, there was no recipe, and it was…..heavenly.

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Wanted an unflavored decaf for evenings. Tried Decaf Assam by Harney and Sons, but it was weak and watery. Alas! This one is just as weak and watery. I had heard that decaf Ceylon orange pekoes were the only unflavored decafs that tasted like real tea, and now I must agree. Both Harney and Sons Decaffeinated and Southern Season Decaf Orange Pekoe are great teas, so I guess Ceylons just hold up better to the process. Not buying this one again.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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Still working on my tea scheduling! I made a pot of this with breakfast this morning. I was trying to get too many things done at once, so I bypassed the measuring spoon and guessed how much to add to the pot, then I forgot to set the timer. By the end of the steep it was a very strong pot! Then, I raced through breakfast, bypassing the tea altogether. It has sat on the table all day. So then, with dinner, I decided the tea wasn’t great to start with so I might as well microwave it. To make it more palatable, I added soymilk and sugar, and by the time I had a few cups they struck me as a lot like coffee (the way I was introduced to it: with lots of milk and sugar)… except a strong tea flavored coffee instead. It ended up being a fun surprise, but not one I’d choose to duplicate. :)

gmathis

Isn’t it funny how one little extra body in the house becomes the source for one ZILLION daily schedule adjustments? :o) Hope family-hood is treating you kindly!

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Kicking off the day with this one… and I like it a lot more than the Carolina Breakfast Blend from the same blenders. It’s a standard breakfast blend, but was pretty inexpensive, so it’s a winner in my book! :)

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

I like this one a lot also! Just bought it since it was the monthly special. I had a whole 22 oz. pot for breakfast. Whew!

laurenpressley

I got it because of the monthly special also!! :)

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