Ambessa (by Harney & Sons)

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Recent Tasting Notes


Harney describes this tea as smokey, rich and fragrant and it certainly is! Chef Marcus Samuelsson stated that his homeland of Ethiopia was the inspiration for this tea and I can understand that. This tea, like Ethiopia, is complex and mysterious – an exotic brew that I could easily imagine being imbibed by the late emperor himself! The name though, I think, was chosen as a tribute to Harlem in the golden age of jazz. That makes sense because the Earl of Harlem is one jazzy tea!

It’s smokey for sure but not overly so. Along with bergamot, other citrus flavors of lemon, lime and grapefruit emerge. Notes of bittersweet chocolate also come into play as you sip. There is subtle but definite jasmine flavor too that helps to soften and sweeten things up a bit.

Earl of Harlem actually reminds me of a smokey, floral version of Kusmi’s Anastasia. I think that this tea could easily pass for a Russian style blend. With Kusmi taste and Harney money I believe that I have found an affordable and amazingly delicious alternative!

This is a hearty brew that worked beautifully with my Mexican food this evening. Four and a half minutes brewing time yielded a nice, strong mug of tea. I expect that this bold and complex tea could work quite well with breakfast/brunch too, jazzing things up a bit. It can handle milk and sugar if that’s your preference. A dollop of orange blossom honey compliments this tea exquisitely – Oh, yes!

Earl of Harlem is going to be one of my forever teas for sure.

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Dark Chocolate, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Lime, Smoke

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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Got a sample of this from the lovely The Cookie Lady!! Love trying more H&S teas, and she gave me a LOT in the last swap. I’ve always wondered how this one would be.
But like I’ve said, before, I’m not into chocolate flavored teas. This one was more nutty than chocolate, so that was kinda surprising. Almost reminded me of a chocolate flavored peanut. Not any other nut that I like-but a peanut. I really don’t like peanuts all that much anymore. They’re in everything it feels like! Especially with chocolate. Peanuts are life ruiners. D: Unless they are in their shells and salted, then they’re good. well the shells are…okay, I’ll stop talking about peanuts now, sorry. xD

Flavors: Chocolate, Nuts, Nutty, Peanut

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As another reviewer pointed out, the smokiness intensifies as it cools, which I find a good thing. There is still too much floral happening here for me; reminds me of perfume as I sip. I know that’s appropriate for an Earl Grey— years ago double bergamot EG was my favorite— but every time I revisit it just doesn’t work for me anymore.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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This is from The Cookie Lady’s Christmas card. Thank you!!

I wish the website would specify where the leaves came from, but this tastes very Kenyan/Tanzanian. Of course, I drank this plain. The liquor has a lovely burnt orange color – sunrise! Full-bodied, smooth, bold, malty, a hint of honey. It was also somewhat bitter for my taste, but that’s most likely from steeping a bit too long (3 minutes would have sufficed). Absolutely perfect for the morning, as your first cuppa of the day.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cameron B.

Yeah, I really hate it that most websites don’t tell you what kind of tea it is… :(


Maybe a lot of people aren’t quite at the level as we are as tea enthusiasts.

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I’ve been wanting to try this for a while and I snagged a bag from the last TTB that came through. It’s good. It’s darker than a traditional Earl Grey, the bergamot is more subtle and works really well with the dark – almost smoky – flavor of the tea. YUM. I wish this was available loose.

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Delightful, mmm. Glad I bought this. I can sense chocolate, caramel, vanilla, raisins and a nutty taste and aroma. A tsp of brown sugar and a splash of almond milk really brings out the flavour. Another fine Harney’s tea, hope I can find it in a larger size (I got the tagalong with 5 pyramid sachets). A nice alternative to a sweet treat any time you feel peckish. Went well with my mini matcha kit-kat.

Flavors: Apricot, Caramel, Chocolate, Nutty, Raisins, Vanilla

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Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox Round #3 – Tea #26
I feel like I rate teas like high school grades- under 55 is definitely failing. 75 is okay. 80s are exceptional and 97-100 you are acing the class!
A Harney black tea in a teabag… I’ll give it a try! This one is perfect for breakfast. Robust while not being CTC. The wet leaves really fill up the teabag. Malty, bready, a bit of a bite. A very solid black tea.. almost hints toward the tomato flavor but thankfully the tomato doesn’t fully make an appearance!
Steep #1 // just boiled // 3 min
Steep #2 // half mug // just boiled // 4 min

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From the Round 3 Here’s Hoping TTB

Tea of the morning. This is a tea to wake you up! Robust and full bodied, it has a steel cut oats flavor that I enjoyed. This could easily take milk and sugar, but it’s really good plain. No astringency or bitterness. Just a simple dark tea to give you a kick in the pants and send you on your way.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

Mmm! There’s a grocery store (Whole Foods clone) within occasional driving distance that carries several Ambessa varieties. Wonder if this is one of them…


This sounds good.


Gmathis- I wish I had a store near me that sold it. All of the tea shops around here are going out of business. :(

Cheri – It’s very nice, and it comes in a tea bag which can be helpful on those mornings when I’m running behind.


The store I’m referring to is about an hour south; probably a good thing because it’s too far for me to blow my grocery budget on nothing but tea. Locally, the tea selection is expanding a little (can actually find a few Harney & Sons basics at our Target) but still isn’t as elegant and eclectic as I’d like it to be.


Veronica The Fresh Market has this.

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Thanks to Liberteas for adding this to a box at my request.

I am a big Marcus Samuelsson fan, so I was intrigued when I saw his teas at The Fresh Market. Of the four, this was the only one they didn’t have, and the one I wanted to try the most. Go figure.

I love Earl Grey teas. I realize that they aren’t necessary popular here, but they are what set me off on this tea journey. I like the Earl part of this, but the smoky taste is a bit of a turn off. I am enjoying the sips for the most part, but as the cup sits here under my nose, I am not enjoying the aroma, which reminds me of an ash tray.

To be fair, I don’t really like ash or smoke in any form – not burnt marshmallows, not cigarettes, and not the smell your hair gets after going to a smoky bar (and I don’t anymore). So I’m not going to rate this since that’s a personal preference for me.


I love good EG


Same here!

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