Harney & Sons
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Recent Tasting Notes
I bought a tin of Harney and Sons Early Grey and Earl Grey Imperial on the same day, and I just finished the regular Earl Grey, having loved every cup. When I cracked the seal on this tin I wondered how much better it could possibly be than the regular Earl Grey. What I loved about the regular Earl Grey was its simplicity. They just take damn good tea leaves, add a hint of bergamot, and that’s it (and for the record, that’s all an Earl Grey should ever be). The Earl Grey Imperial has the same formula, but it’s even better. The quality of the tea leaves in this blend is amazing. Every flavor in the cup is perfectly balanced. No single flavor overpowers any other, which makes every sip an absolute delight. This is the best Earl Grey I’ve tasted yet, and I look forward to many more cups of this tea in the future.
The fig smell is strong, with a hint of vanilla, but I don’t really smell lemon at all. Buying a fig flavored tea was a streach for me since I’m not a big fan of actual fans (the texture throws me off). I added a bit of sugar to mine to bring out the figgy sweetness and it is wonderful. I find that with a little bit of sugar I can taste the vanilla more strongly. As for the base of the tea it is wonderfully strong without being bitter, which I find to be a similarity across the flavored h&s teas.
Flavors: Fig, Honey, Vanilla
This is literally the THIRD Saturday I’ve had off since early August. And this is the first one of them I haven’t been traveling. I don’t know what to do with myself! (Oh, wait… yes I do. Homework.)
Normally, I shy away from this kind of tea; I have to be in the right mood for something “minty” like the packaging describes. Today, I wanted to try something different, and this fit the bill.
The leaves are small and dark brown. The aroma is pretty faint, but a little odd… it’s not quite smoky, it’s more rubbery.
The water wasn’t quite boiling when I took it off the stove, but I steeped for about four minutes. It might be partly my fault, but this tea is quite brisk. I can see where they get “mint,” but it’s more of a vaguely “cool” note than true “mint.” Not really a flavor I enjoy, but definitely a good pick-up.
I may have to try this on a shorter steep time before I pass my final judgment, but my first impression: not bad. Nothing to write home about, unlike some of the other teas in H&S’s same sample pack, but not bad.
EDIT: Almost forgot – I have a tea blog! http://steepinclined.wordpress.com/
This is my first blog, so I’m still learning a lot of the ropes. It’s a beginner’s guide to loose-leaf tea, and while it’s basic at this point, it will eventually become a “tea guide” so that if you’re curious about something particular about tea – say, Earl Greys, Da Hong Paos, variable-temperature kettles, or shopping for matcha ware – it’ll give you a starting point.
The dry leaves smell strongly of ginger and tea, but oddly enough I thought I smelled coffee notes when it was brewed up. The aroma is mostly ginger, but the tea smell is also very strong. The coffee aroma went away once the tea cooled down a bit, which was kind of wierd to me. I don’t have alot of experience with oolongs, but to me this tastes like a milder black tea, with absolutly no bitterness whatsoever, which I love. I’m a ginger fanatic and the smell of ginger is not as strong as the taste, so the next time I brew this up I think I will toss a couple slices of fresh ginger in the water first to kick it up a notch. Overall tasty and well balanced, with both the tea and ginger coming through roughly equally, but personally I would prefer a stronger, spicier flavor.
Flavors: Ginger, Tea
Got a sample of this in my last H&S order.
This tea smells incredible! It’s so sweet and pineapple-y! It really did get my hopes up…all just to dash them xD
The sweetness and pineapple flavors were almost all gone in the actual tea-totally overruled by the green tea base. D: It’s so disappointing!
If they had made the flavors stronger this could have been an amazing tea!
So sad about this one :(
Flavors: Bitter, Grass, Pineapple, Sweet
Love this tea and sad to say its my last cup, I’ve decided to switch it up and restock with the florence to get my chocolate fix. The aroma of this tea is very clearly chocolate mint, but what I enjoyed was the minty, cooling flavor of the tea. I didn’t get too much of a chocolate flavor, mostly because the mint was so strong. I’ve enjoyed this both hot and iced, and felt that it was slighltly better hot. One thing I wanted to try with this but didn’t get around to would be to make a tea mocha by adding in some hot cocoa mix, def on the list of things to try when I get it next.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mint
Thanks so much to carol who for her generous sample of this tea! I was really looking forward to tasting this one (I’ve been curious about Harney & Sons teas in general). Unfortunately, the first time I tried it, I must have overstepped my cup, because it was pretty dry—and I couldn’t seem to taste the vanilla. This time, I steeped it for three minutes instead of four, and WOW. This is absolutely heavenly! To me, it smells exactly like a toasted marshmallow, all creamy and sugary and delicious.
And it tastes delicious too! No dryness this time, just nice smooth black tea (with a subtle fruit note, maybe berry?) and cozy vanilla sweetness. Now I know why everyone raves about this one! I’m definitely going to have to order more. And it’s decaf, which just makes it that much better. Thanks again to carol who for giving me the chance to sample it!
So…I think if I liked cranberries I’d really enjoy this tea. Because it’s not overly cranberry, and it’s not overly almond. It’s like half and half. Which I can appreciate. Usually it’s one or the other it seems, but it’s a well-rounded tea.
It’s strong and smooth, but I’m really not a fan of cranberries. So this one isn’t for me.
Glad I got to try it though. Thank you to Rosehips for this one!
Flavors: Almond, Cranberry, Smooth
Thanks to whatshesaid for generously sending me a sample of this tea! I had no real idea what to expect, except that reading that it’s a blend of 3 Chinese teas makes me guess that I’ll like it. Which, as it turns out, is correct. It’s a little chocolatey, a little hay-y, a lot malty, and wonderfully smooth. The finish turns a slight bit fruity, but otherwise I’m not really picking up any fruity flavours. Overall, I’m pretty impressed. The smooth yet strong character of this tea would make this a great breakfast blend for me (if I wasn’t in the mood for something overly chocolatey, roasty, or fruity), because it definitely requires no additions to make it palatable to a hungry, astringency-averse morning tummy. Yum.
ETA: I swear I did not read the “flavours” list before listing off the flavours I picked up here. Score for my tastebuds! :P
Was hoping that this would be more flavorful since their Vanilla Comoro is amazing!
But, I am kinda disappointed with this one.
Definitely smells and tastes like vanilla, but it’s really not all that strong and full at all. So that’s a bummer. Don’t understand how they can have such a creamy and rich vanilla tea-and a DECAF one at that. But then they have this one that isn’t strong at all, and is just your basic, lame, vanilla tea. xD
So yeah…disappointed with this one! :(
Everybody in the club!
How is your tea journey? I just discovered a great tea class from Adagio (http://www.teaclass.com/) that has been helping me get perspective and insight into how tea is made and what differentiates different types of tea. I’ve also been taking notes, so if you don’t want to go through all the lessons you can take a look at my cheat sheet – www.bit.ly/1ESq0yP
I’ve reinforced how important water quality is, and I’m looking forward to expanding my palette/training my smell and taste. I’ll need a cupping set at some point as those seem pretty nifty. Very happy with the Breville, however, it’s sometimes hard to finish 500mL in a sitting each time. What say you, fellow Steepsterites? Any experience with more formal tea tasting?
Lapsang Suochong is a black tea originating from the Wuyi region of China’s Fujian province. After frying and rolling, the tea is placed into bamboo baskets hanging over smoking pine fires. It’s really amazing how so much of that smoky flavor is absorbed into the leaves themselves and are capable of being transferred back to the boiling water that we use in our homes halfway around the world.
If you’ve never tried a Lapsang Souchong, I do encourage picking up a sample, but be warned. They are not a typical tea. It really is more of a smoked bacon beverage.
And again, check out my notes @ www.bit.ly/1ESq0yP
Flavors: Pine, Smoked, Tobacco
Got a sample of this one with my last H&S order!
Was hoping it would be more Christmas-y. But the dry leaf and steeping smell are hardly anything at all. I have allergies, which means I don’t have the best smelling ability, but usually I can at least smell something. But there was like nothing, which is weird….
Definitely is light and smooth like a white tea should be. Also, the leaves are fluffy and cute, which is also good. xD
The flavor though…
It’s slightly citrus-y, with maybe a hint of vanilla? It really doesn’t taste strong at all…
It’s kinda a pathetic tea. Even silver needle tastes like more! Least that just tastes like sweet hay!
This I just…I don’t know.
I really don’t. xD
It’s just hardly any flavor at all. :/
So I’m gonna give it a low rating until I can find a way to actually make it taste more.
Maybe if I just use all of the sample next time. xD But then it might be bitter….I’ll have to experiment with this one later >>
Flavors: Citrus, Vanilla
Hey there, Steepster! It’s been a while. I picked this one up on a whim after spotting it at my local Whole Foods. It is very cold and snowy here in Bend and a nice spicy cinnamon tea sounded like the perfect cup to warm me up a bit. I have had Harney’s loose leaf “Hot Cinnamon Spice” tea quite a few times before and always enjoyed it. I notice that this one is called “Hot Cinnamon Sunset” and find myself wondering if it is a different tea, or if it was just given a name that is a bit more appealing since it is for retail distribution.
Well, after sipping it a bit, it seems to be the same blend as Hot Cinnamon Sunset…and that’s a good thing. I don’t usually go for flavored teas, but this one is just so pleasant and simple. A mild, smooth black tea base with strong cinnamon flavor, light clove undertones, and a nice orange flavor to add brightness and round out the relatively intense spiciness. Very enjoyable.
Thank you so much TeaTiff for the sample swap! This doesn’t seem to be on Harney’s site anymore. Too bad because it is the perfect assam! This is what I think of when I think of an assam. I also thought this would taste like tomato soup like my new tastebuds seem to do to assams… it has hints of tomato soup but doesn’t quite get there. There is a lots of gold in these leaves which seems surprising to me for an assam. The flavor has the perfect amount of punch while still being very sweet and malty. Very dried grassy and chewy bread. The second steep didn’t have the perfect flavor that the first steep had.. a little weak. Such a great assam, a pity it’s not available any more.
Steep #1 // 1 tsp // couple min after boiling // 4 min steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 min