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Recent Tasting Notes
I’m still plowing through the accumulation of samples from my recent purchases. For some reason, the folks at Harney & Sons always seem to send me samples of herbal teas when I order from them. Unfortunately, I don’t tend to drink too many herbal teas these days, so they tend to sit around for awhile.
I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped 1 sachet (again, I’m guessing that there is around a teaspoon inside) in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. Obviously, I did not attempt additional infusions.
After infusion, the liquor showed a dark amber in the cup. I detected fairly balanced aromas of spices and rooibos. In the mouth, I immediately noted a contest between the toasty, malty, herbal notes of rooibos and the intense spicy notes of cinnamon and clove. The aftertaste was both spicy and medicinal, with muddled traces of herbal, toasty rooibos on the back of the throat.
First things first-I tend to absolutely hate chai. I simply cannot stand it. Understand that this tea was going to be a tough sell for me from the start. Second, I really don’t like the layering of flavors here. The rooibos and the spices seem to fight one another, creating a muddiness in the mouth that is really unpleasant. Of course, I have also yet to mention the aftertaste, which was medicinal, as well as a bit bitter and harsh. I have no clue what the teamaker was thinking with this one. I’ll definitely avoid it in the future.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Herbs, Malt, Medicinal, Spicy, Toast
First impressions a little damped by the tea bits that escaped my infuser. This is a broken-leaf tea, so probably best in a sachet or fine mesh infuser. Lesson learned.
It was fine without cream or sugar, though a bit more bitter than finer whites I have tried. The added flavors are nice, though — delicate but not hidden — and suit the white tea flavor nicely.
I happened to like it better with sugar, and surprisingly, even better with cream. Yet there’s still a somewhat astringent aftertaste. I would say it’s nice but not perfect. Probably worth trying a weaker brew next time. (I brew everything stronger than recommended, but for some reason I brewed this especially strong today.)
I reviewed this tea on my YouTube channel over the weekend as it was a request from a fellow subscriber. I was told that this tea is very popular among the Harney and Sons brand and I had to give it a whirl. I was very pleasantly surprised when I did the blind tasting. I normally brew my teas at only 3 minutes instead of 5 to make it less bitter for me and I found the sweet spot for this one! No bitterness detected, but a smooth vanilla finish with notes of citrus and bergamot lingering on my tongue afterwards. I will definitely keep this one around and make it one of my to-go black teas.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Vanilla
This is another of the samples that I have been working my way through for the past week. I got what was supposed to be 1 sachet of this as a free sample with a Harney & Sons order a couple months ago, but upon opening the packet, I realized that 2 sachets of chamomile had been mistakenly packed inside. Rather than having one glass of chamomile tea before going to bed last night, I ended up having two.
I prepared this tisane using a one step Western infusion. I steeped each of the silken sachets (I’m guessing there was around 1-1.5 teaspoons in each) in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. No subsequent infusions were attempted.
After infusion, I noted that the aroma of chamomile flowers was very strong. I also picked up on scents of dust, cotton, straw, and green apple. In the mouth, I noted a wash of straw, chamomile, dust, cotton, and green apple with a lingering floral, fruity aftertaste.
Chamomile teas are always hit or miss for me. Sometimes I really enjoy them, other times I really cannot stand them. This one did not thrill me in the least. I found the aroma and flavor too dusty and drying for my tastes. I can see why some people may enjoy it, though I highly doubt I will ever willingly revisit it.
Flavors: Dust, Floral, Green Apple, Straw
It’s been a long time since I have actually posted a full review for a tisane, so I figured I should probably get around to doing one. I have been trying to cut down on my caffeine intake lately, and with my sinuses once again draining like crazy, I wanted something that would both help me sleep and soothe my aching throat. This was what I selected for the purposes outlined above. Though this eased the scratchiness in my throat and helped me sleep, I can’t say I really enjoyed the experience of drinking this stuff.
I prepared this in an extremely lazy fashion. Rather than carefully measuring the amount of linden I was using, I just used whatever felt right at the time. I managed to go through the better part of an ounce of this stuff in just under a week. I found that what worked best for me was to put as much of the leaf, stem, and flower material as possible in a large brew basket and steep it for 5 minutes in 8 ounces of 212 F water. The flavor of this stuff is very weak, so I found that I got more out of it when I used more per cup.
After infusion, the liquor showed a pale yellow in the cup. Very mild aromas take some time to express themselves on the nose. They were very hard to describe. They were kind of floral, but also kind of woodsy. I thought there was a straw-like scent there too. Honestly, the smell is pretty nice, which is a shock because as soon as the leaves come into contact with water, they emit a smell very reminiscent of fresh cat urine. So, with that in mind, I was expecting the scent of the infused liquor to be much more unpleasant. In the mouth, I noticed fleeting impressions of wood, dried flowers, grass, and straw underscored by subtle hints of cream and fresh pastries. The finish was very clipped and mild. I noticed traces of floral and straw-like flavors.
Normally, I rather enjoy wacky tisanes, but this one was not all that appealing to me. For what I was using it for, it worked, but I doubt I would purchase it again. I kind of feel that one would have to be really into some of the quirkier and/or more challenging herbal teas to really appreciate something like this.
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Grass, Pastries, Straw, Wood
So this tea tasted like weed to me. Don’t ask how I know what weed tastes like but I was instantly confused when I took a sip of this. In fact, I was so convinced that I must be wrong, I made my sister try it and she definitely felt the same. It reminded me of the time my sister brought a travel toothpaste on a trip with us and I told her it tasted like pickles and she looked at me like I was crazy only for me to later hear a giant OMG from the bathroom when she realized I was right.
So, I gotta say that I did not just stick with the Organic Assam this morning. Everyone needs a glass of tea right before they jump in their car to go to work, right? Okay, all jokes aside, I really just wanted to go ahead and finish the sample of this so I could write about it before the end of the day.
I used my usual preparation for this tea. I steeped the sachet (I guess it was about a teaspoon) in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt additional infusions.
After infusion, the liquor showed a delicate, slightly cloudy amber in the cup. The cinnamon aroma really hit me hard out of the gate, but there was other stuff there too. I thought I noted hints of toast, cream, cocoa, and orange peel. I did not pick up on the cloves. In the mouth, this tea was all about the spice. The cinnamon and clove notes really packed a wallop on the entry. Around mid-palate though, the spice notes softened and allowed flavors of cream, malt, toast, cocoa, and orange peel to peek through the murk. By the time the liquor slid down my throat, I was beginning to realize that while the spiciness remained, I was able to get a feel for the extremely light, smooth tea that capably served as a springboard for the spices and orange peel.
This tea did not provide the most refined drinking experience in the world, but it was very good. Keep in mind that assertion is coming from someone who is ambivalent toward cinnamon. This tea was clearly designed to be all about the cinnamon and it did a great job of showcasing the cinnamon aroma and flavor while displaying enough tea character to still be identifiable as tea. The additions of orange peel and clove were also not distracting in the slightest, as they complimented both the cinnamon and tea base wonderfully. In essence, I found this to be a fun and surprisingly good little blend.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Cocoa, Cream, Malt, Orange, Toast
Until last night, I had forgotten just how many samples of tea from Harney & Sons I had lying around the house. I knew that I had several, I just didn’t realize how many. I also somehow acquired more samples of this tea than any other. I made it my breakfast tea this morning.
I brewed this tea in sachet form. Again, I’m guessing that there was about one teaspoon of tea in there. I brewed this tea for 5 minutes in 8 ounces of 212 F water. I did not attempt additional infusions.
After infusion, the liquor showed a relatively dark amber in the cup. It was neither as dark nor as murky as some Assam teas I have tried in the past. On the nose, I picked up pleasant aromas of cream, roasted nuts, malt, leather, caramel, toffee, and molasses. In the mouth, I noted delicate notes of cream, roasted nuts, toast, leather, caramel, toffee, molasses, malt, and cocoa. The finish seemed to emphasize toast, cream, roasted nut, and caramel notes, though I also noted a slight astringency that became pronounced on the back of the throat.
I’m kind of surprised, but I really liked this Assam more than expected. It is a very basic tea, but it is also not nearly as harsh as some of the other Assam teas I have tried. For me, Assam is one of those things that I really enjoy, but I have to be in the mood for it. Sometimes it’s a little sharp and sometimes it’s a little bland. This tea falls between those two extremes. I find it very approachable.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Cream, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Roasted nuts, Toast, Toffee
Following the cleaning out of my sample hoard and the reorganization of my tea cabinets, I set about going through some of the many samples that I have accumulated in recent months. I ended up with a free sample of this tea in an order from Harney and Sons a couple months back, but was not all that excited to try it since I ended up with a tea bag rather than a sachet, and boy do I ever loathe tea bags.
I prepared this tea by steeping the bag (I’m guessing there was about a teaspoon in there) in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. That’s all there was to that. Naturally, I did not attempt additional infusions.
In the cup, the infused liquor was a surprisingly light, clear amber. On the nose, I picked up delicate scents of caramel, cream, vanilla, black currant, and bergamot. In the mouth, I mostly just detected notes of caramel, cream, vanilla, black currant, and bergamot. I also got a mild toastiness, but that was about it. I could only imagine how much more robust, complex, and lively this tea would have been in loose leaf or sachet form.
As far as bagged teas go, this could have been a lot worse. I did not get the usual grittiness or pronounced astringency I normally get from bagged teas. I could still tell, however, that this was likely a big step down from the other formats in which this tea is offered. I know that several individuals whose reviews I read fairly regularly and whose taste I trust are big on this tea, so I can’t wait to try this in a form that is more appealing to me. Until then, I can only say that this is semi-decent for a bagged tea, though I highly doubt I would try this tea in this form again.
Flavors: Bergamot, Black Currant, Caramel, Cream, Toast, Vanilla
So, I cleaned out a couple of my tea cabinets over the weekend and I made a pile of samples that I had either purchased or received free with various orders over the last 5-6 months. Yeah, I worked on finally cleaning out the hoard. Right now, I’m trying to work through 3-4 samples a day. I worked through two this morning prior to going to work. This was the second of the two and the one I liked best.
To prepare this tea, I steeped approximately 1 teaspoon of tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt additional infusions. Again, I normally do not do so with flavored, small leaf, and/or non-Chinese black teas unless specifically recommended by the vendor or I just get curious and want to experiment a bit.
The infused liquor showed a dark amber in the cup. The nose was heavy on the bergamot, though I could also pick up traces of caramel, toast, and malt. In the mouth, the tea veered between delicate notes of cream, malt, honey, toast, caramel, and cocoa and heavy, tart notes of bergamot. The finish really emphasized the bergamot flavor.In the end, all I can say about this tea is that this one is specifically intended for fans of Earl Grey. If you don’t at least kind of appreciate the Earl, then I highly doubt you will like this tea. It isn’t particularly deep or complex or refined. It is brash and forceful, offering a bergamot presence that one will likely love or loathe. Personally, I love Earl Grey. Harney & Sons tend to do this type of tea justice, and I feel that this is probably one of their best and most consistent takes on the style. I especially appreciate how this tea allows the bergamot to come through loud and clear. If you, like me, are an extreme Earl Grey lover, check this one out when you get the chance.
Flavors: Bergamot, Caramel, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Malt, Tart, Toast
Bought this tea at Indigo the other day because I have been eyeing it for a while now, and I am searching for a suitable replacement earl grey for my current stash of Teavana’s Earl Grey, which is way too astringent for me.
One thing I like about this tea is that it is very smooth: it has no astringency whatsoever, and even has a subtly sweet, vanilla-like texture to it. However, the bergamont flavouring is very subtle. It may be that I am used to more abrasive earl greys, but it’s actually a bit hard for me to pick out the bergamont in the flavour of the tea. The dry leaf aroma has more bergamont notes than the tea itself, I would say. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad aspect of the tea itself, but I myself prefer a much stronger in-your-face type earl grey blend that I can really enjoy the full range of flavours. However, I can see how this tea would appeal to some people who prefer a more toned-down and balanced blend.
Overall, it’s a very smooth and easy-going tea. I am really glad that the black tea base has no astringency, because that is one of my biggest issues with some of my other earl grey blends. I won’t mind drinking this until it’s finished, but I likely will no be re-purchasing. I will grab more of Paris instead!
Also, I am wondering if anyone has tried Citron Green from H&S? What are your thoughts about buying a tin of this tea as well?
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Flavors: Grapes, Muscatel
I am obsessed with Earl Grey. I have Pinterest board dedicated to it, wear Earl Grey and Cucumber perfume, use Bergamot essential oils all the time… So it’s no surprise that I’m on a search for the best Earl Grey in the world. My research only started recently, so I gladly welcome recommendations! As a longtime drinker of Harney & Sons tea, obviously, I had to purchase every Earl they sold. Supreme is definitely my favorite pure Earl thus far. I have been drinking it constantly since it arrived. Perfect solo, but even better with a couple lumps of raw sugar and a drop of lavender essential oil. I like mine with a dab of whole milk, too. The flavor is satisfying from beginning to end – starting with a fragrant, rich black tea experience to a wonderfully bright citrus note at the end. Not the slightest hint of bitterness, even when the leaves have been sitting in my pot too long.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Earl Grey, Rose
I was curious about this one, so it was a happy surprise to find a sample sachet in the box. It’s actually kind of weird though. Definitely tasting the vanilla and the white base, but somehow they don’t work together. I don’t taste or smell anything remotely like grapefruit or citrus. Not bad but not a keeper. Well, at least now I know.
Got a sample sachet of this in my latest order. For some reason the name and description of this tea made me think the bergamot would be very strong, but it’s quite the opposite — the bergamot is mild and the base is silky smooth. I can see why they say most of their customers don’t go back to regular earl grey after tasting this version. It’s mellow and refined, and honestly, growing on me with every sip. The fact that I have a plate of fresh snickerdoodles to go down with it isn’t hurting either :)
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Flavors: Black Currant, Flowers, Honey
Someone who works at Harney in NY sent me some of this and I have to say that it’s not what I thought… I was thinking cassia was the cousin of cinnamon and what not…
Anyways, I brewed this up at 7g and it was delightful. The strong sour fruit came through like a fresh plum with some roast to it. Clearly this is not your basic Wuyi oolong; as you can tell from the lighter roast that brings forward more roast to the nose and then the tail leaves this fruity aftertaste which last for a good minute.
This is something that I quite enjoyed and now I must find more like this for the autumn season before it’s full on roast time for winter.
This was from a sample kindly sent to me by another steepster to aid in my quest to find black teas that I wouldn’t need to add sweetener to.
This one was not at all astringent but the level of tannin still sent me to the sugar bowl. Still, the tea was delicious and got me going this morning!
Flavors: Malt, Tannin
I just purchased Harney and Sons Scottish Morn last week, and can’t rave about it enough.
First, I like a strong, bold tea in the morning. This tea delivers all that and more.
It brews a dark liquor after 5 minutes, and will help you wake up in the morning without making you twitch like a squirrel after more than a cup or 5.
It takes sugar and milk wonderfully and I intend to stock this regularly in my cupboard.
If you like strong tea, this is MUST!