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Recent Tasting Notes
I haven’t had a lot of chocolate teas but this is one of my favorites so far. I can definitely taste the chocolate in it, and it’s good with milk, making it a possible candidate for frequent drinking (there are some teas I drink without milk, such as oolongs, but I find that just a little milk with my tea helps stabilise my blood sugar, which is important for me because otherwise I tend to crash between meals). I steeped it for barely over five minutes and it’s not bitter at all. I’ll log this tea in the “evidence in favor of ordering from Harney” column. Thanks JK7ray for sharing! :)
Sipdown 18 of 2016. Purchased 1/2016 – Finished 2/2016.
I really really really wanted to like this tea but I just couldn’t. The mint flavor in this tea was fantastic, but there was nothing to support it. There was not a strong tea flavor, and there was not really even a hint of chocolate in my opinion. At first I thought well maybe I just didn’t use enough leaf, but for my second pot of this I almost doubled the amount of tea and still it provided a really weak base. I am glad I got to try this one, but I am still on the hunt for a minty cocoa treat.
Well, after the whole car door falling off today, I had waited a few hours to hear from Volkswagen about getting my Golf today, rather than on Saturday, so I can go back to work tomorrow. They said it’ll be “topped off with oil and gas, and cleaned up for a 6 o’clock pick up.”
That’s something good to hear!
Anyway, this tea is magical. I bought the sample of this tea, and truly wish that I picked up more. That’s the benefit and downfall to samples: You like them so much you want more, and can’t have more. Or, you just don’t like them, and were happy to get a sample.
Overall, I think I bought a pretty great selection from H&S this time around. I don’t think that I tried anything that I hadn’t liked. It’s all good. I have a few more samples to finish, then I’ll probably buy more. My goal is to buy something every month from them. And when I get to it, I’m buying this in bulk. That way I can keep it close at all times, and never share with anyone! Muhhaha! Or, I’ll share it so often that my friends will assume that there’ll be a party every weekend, and that THIS will be the tea I MUST serve them! I’ll also have to buy some for work because elementary students expect you to have so much (an unnatural amount) energy, you need something to keep you going.
Well, my fellow tea connoisseurs, give this a try if you haven’t yet. And if you LOVE a solid black tea, this really is a great one! I love, love, love, love it!
Happy tea drinking,
P.S. I gave this tea a few re-steeps. Yum! I like it the second, third, and fourth time much more! Who’d’ve thought this couldn’t get better than the first time! Superb tea, Harney & Sons. Great job! And thank you!
P.P.S. I got a total of 5 steeps out of this. The second and third were the best. However, I was happy with this tea.
I bought a sample of this tea to give it a try. It smelled like butterscotch, with a hint of a fruit. However, once you add the water, the apricot aroma comes out of the tea a little more. The tea is like a dessert tea, though. It’s sweet, fruity, and does have a butterscotch-esq flavor.I asked my students to give it a whiff, and one student said, “It smells like candy.” I agree. It’s is a nice tea to have when cutting out sweets, and overall good to have with or without sugar. However, mine was without.
(Side Note: I might purchase some more for my wife. She likes flavored teas more than I do, and this would be nice for her to have in the mornings.)
Flavors: Apricot, Butterscotch
Found a tin on clearance on at Marshalls, so score! When I made a Harney & Sons order three years ago, I regretted not picking this up, and was quite surprised I didn’t since I love chocolate mint.
This is a middle-of-the-road chocolate mint black. Nothing special but not bad. This is probably because, in my opinion, Harney’s chocolate note in itself is middle-of-the-road. It’s not waxy or artificial but yet it’s not prominent and rich enough. The peppermint is fresh, and there a whisper of sweetness in the background but ultimately, there isn’t enough oomph. The base is so light, I can barely taste it when I add milk.
For the record, Della Terra made my favourite chocolate mint black teas, while Zen carries my favourite rooibos blend, with Zen’s possibly being my all-time favourite chocolate mint blend regardless of the base.
I saw this at the store and wanted to buy some Japanese green tea to hold me over until I buy more gyokuro. The instructions call for a 3 minute steep, but I was a little skeptical, since I usually find that 1.5-2 minutes is sufficient for green teas. However, my first steep of 1.5 minutes was definitely on the weak side. I hit the target on the second steep…2.5 minutes, just like you guys recommend…never doubt Steepster. :P
The popcorn/roasted brown rice flavor dominates, but there’s a good grassy flavor that isn’t masked too much by the roasted brown rice. This is my fourth genmaicha, and it probably ranks as the best in the group.
If I were to introduce someone to Pu-erh tea, I would probably suggest this one to them. It’s very sweet, light, earthy, slightly nutty, and it has a fruity aftertaste. I resteeped this one about four times today, and I like it more with every resteep. It’s a good “starter” Pu-erh, and it’s inexpensive for a quality Pu-erh.
I’ve been on a H&S kick, so I thought, “Well, I like a Pu-erh, and I’m sure this will be nice.” It is nice. However, as a Pu-erh snob, I’ve personally grown into other types/ages of Pu-erh, but this one is a nice balance in between those flavors. It’s like trying Pu-erh for the first time! Although, my first cup of Pu-erh was not as nice as this could’ve made it.
I might offer a cup to my Dad tonight, who avoids Pu-erhs. I think he will like this one, though. It has the right amount of Pu-erh for an avid drinker of this tea, but it also has a bunch of other stuff going on with it (as I’ve mentioned, it is nutty and fruity). I will probably bring out the right hardware to make the tea with (a gaiwan). I think when making Pu-erh tea, there has to be a proper way of serving it to guests. Plus, it’s a fun way of preparing tea!
(Side Note: The first steep was approximately 45 seconds; the second was 60 seconds; the third 90 seconds; and the fourth was 120 seconds. Also, the temperature of the water was just under boiling.)
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Nutty, Smooth
Heavens to Betsy! This tea is really yummy! After Darjeeling, Ceylon teas are my favorite. Lover’s Leap is a good example of why I adore Ceylons so much.
As I first inhaled the scent of the dry leaves I was rewarded with a Darjeelingesque aroma. As the tea was steeping the aroma became reminiscent of Tie Guan Yin oolong. Interesting.
After a three and a half minute steep at 205F, the light amber liquor yielded a light bodied, but very flavorful tea. To my palate this tea could be Darjeeling’s Sri Lankan cousin. The flavor is brisk, bright and floral, with a bit of mild, citrus astringency. I even caught a fleeting glimpse of muscatel! I totally agree with another reviewer who described the floral note as resembling jasmine. Enchanting herbal and forest notes were present too. I would not dream of any additions to this tea – Although, perhaps, a drop of orange blossom honey might compliment things nicely.
Lover’s Leap Ceylon was full of pleasant little aroma and flavor surprises. Another wonderful Ceylon! Another forever tea!
Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Floral, Forest Floor, Herbs, Jasmine, Muscatel
Found a tin of this at Winners. I didn’t bother reading the label and assumed that this was literally just green tea with coconut and nothing more. Upon bringing this home, I read the description, realizing that this also has lemongrass, vanilla, and ginger. Sounds good to most, I’m sure, but I groaned. Isn’t this basically Bangkok, then? That’s what I’m groaning about. I know a lot of people enjoy that one but for me, there’s something about the combination of lemongrass and coconut (and a touch of ginger) that reminds me of Thai coconut curry, which is fabulously delicious, but I’m not too crazy over drinking a tea that tastes like it. It’s just a little wrong for me.
So cold brewed, this is lemongrass and ginger followed by a puff of coconut. I probably would have preferred this without the coconut, or only the green base with coconut. One or the other.
Since Bangkok got a 71 from me a few years ago, this will too since I swear they’re basically the same tea. Do I regret it? Not really. At least I got a cute pink tin, and since I use at least two bags at a time when I cold brew, I could easily polish this off.
I must say that this is a good tea. I’ve been needing a good tea to take to work. The kids are getting excited about the weekend, so they’ve been celebrating too hard, I think. And I figured, there MUST be a cure for this madness (my madness). And there is: Queen Catherine by Harney & Sons.
It’s very earthy, the way I like a black tea. But it’s smooth going down. At first, I thought, “This is average.” And then I took several sips before realizing that it was purely great. It gave me a jolt of energy, but it wasn’t the shaky kind of jolt that you get with a cup of coffee. I’m definitely going to buy more the next time, rather than the sample. It’ll help on the days when I need an extra kick to get through the day.
(Side Note: You don’t need to add anything to the tea. It’s a solid tea by itself.)
I wanted to try something different with this last purchase of Harney & Sons. I was in the mood for a chai tea, but I figured that a chai tea wasn’t what I really wanted. Luckily, the Holiday Tea was on sale. I read the list of flavors, and thought, “Well, I like clove, vanilla, and almond.” So, I bought a 4 oz tin.
I must say, the aroma is very Christmasy. Just the smell reminded me of the times when my family would visit my great aunts in Tennessee over Thanksgiving breaks. My one aunt loved making hard tack. She especially loved clove hard tack.The aroma took me back to those times. I closed my eyes while smelling this tea, and I just pictured my Aunt Gerry cracking the hard tack candy and giving me a piece. I literally had tears build up in my eyes while smelling this tea. Nobody can say that the smell of tea made them cry!
Anyway, I love the flavor. It’s rich, spicy, Christmasy, and it has a nice clove kick. I had my first cup with the tea on its own, and it’s a solid tea. The second cup, I added sugar, which was still good. The third, I added cream, but it wasn’t necessary; the cream overpowered the tea. All in all, I think I’ll buy more while there’s still a chance. It’s good to have a lot of a great tea when it’s unavailable throughout the majority of the year.
Flavors: Almond, Clove, Spicy, Vanilla
Another thank you Nicole sample.
Interestingly, when I inhaled the dry leaf aroma, it reminded me of… beer(!?) in that malty, yeasty way. Not overpowering bad but a tickling of the nose which awoke the memory sensors in my brain that are linked to that smell. Odd enough. But it wasn’t off putting. More intriguing.
The liquor brews up a deep golden honeycomb color. The flavor on the tongue is beer. Haha jk. It is more of a malty goodness naturally kissed by honey… with something else. A bready depth to it. I like it. Very sippable with no bitterness whatsoever.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Yeast
I must say, for not being a fan of Japanese greens, I enjoy this one. It’s liquor is light in color, but the taste is very smooth and buttery. I like the quality of the tea. I’ve noticed that Harney & Sons bagged selections have a tendency to have higher standards than most other teas. They have fuller leaves in the bags, rather than the “bits” and dust that come in a “normal” and/or basic tea bag.
(Side Note: I’ve been trying to hold off on having heavy meals throughout the day. So, I “snack” more often, and have healthier food choices in my diet. I must say that this tea pairs well with veggie stir fry. It’s light, buttery, and smooth.)
Tower of London reminded me of the Paris tea, but with less vanilla, and more of a fruity base. It’s sweet, smooth, flavorful, and refreshing (?); which is surprising for being a black tea.
(Side Note: I truly enjoyed this tea, and regret buying the sample. However, I just went onto the site and ordered more. My wife wanted to get a few fruity teas, but I wanted to get the free shipping, so I figured, “Why not get more of this?” I did. Plus, I got other samples to try. I’m pretty pumped to get the opportunity to drink this again. Now that it’s going to be getting cold again, I’d like a great tea to have to warm me up in the morning commute to work.)
Flavors: Bergamot, Fruity, Honey, Vanilla
This Tea is now Harney & Sons CHAI. It makes for a wonderful afternoon pick me up & my favorite offering when friends visit, they LOVE it! For years I made my own from a Recipe that a Tibetan Lama (Teacher) gave me (w/Lipton Black Tea from local NYC Indian Shop; ground fresh Cardamon pods; sugar & a tip of Vanilla). This blend has just the right touch of added Cloves that other brands seem to go too heavy on. It truly is a perfect blend & since discovering it, I no longer do the homemade one. The brewing itself is special as you gather lots of “generosity intention” during the 4 minute stir & simmer. :) I can’t think of any better Tea to serve on a cold, winter Day. * Someone mentioned trying the Bag Form without Milk! ? It requires the Milk to offset the acidic strength & render a creamy, sweet Tea. Recipe is 1 pint (2 cups) Milk + 1 cup Water + 3 level Teaspoons Tea
I was so captivated by the delightful aroma of my first cup that it had cooled to merely warm by the time I finally took a sip.
As others have said, the taste paled in comparison to the scent. The sweet, spiced, and bright notes seemingly disappeared. Yes, the spice is still there, but in a form that my tastebuds experienced as almost bitter. Maybe I taste a hint of orange, or maybe I am reaching. The sweetness in the aroma, perhaps a combination of the almond and orange, is eluding me.
After steeps at 4 and 5 min, I brewed one more cup to try it with sweetener (simple syrup, in this case). Big improvement: the addition quieted the bitter-ish notes and brought forward the bright orange flavor in a nice balance with the sweetness. Quite drinkable now. It is my biased belief that a tea like this should be enjoyable straight, but that said, I haven’t loved chai straight either.
The aroma, though: just wonderful.
I’ve now tried a bunch of Harney’s chocolate flavored teas and found them all quite enjoyable. They’ve also been a favorite of the many redditors to whom I’ve sent some in trades and beginner tea samplers. It seems a key is to realize that you’re about to sip a chocolate flavored tea — not a thick, rich hot chocolate — and you’re set for a good experience.
Chocolate Mint is no exception. For science, I took a few sips straight first (totally drinkable), but if I’m drinking a dessert tea I like to do it up. Today, cream and simple syrup help bring out the flavors in this delicious cup.
I would say that the chocolate is more subtle here than in, say, the straight Chocolate (of course) or the SoHo (which is chocolate with coconut and vanilla). Here it’s more about the mint, which lends a refreshing aroma and taste. Although the chocolate may not be super chocolately, it is still an effective base that gives the tea a depth and richness — there’s no mistaking this tea for straight mint tea, for example.
I steeped this tea three times, starting with 4 min and increasing 1 min each time.
Rarely do I rave about a flavored tea; I generally find the description more enticing than the brewed cup, and rarely would I consider ordering more after trying a sample. This tea is an exception for sure. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
This sample was part of my Earl Grey exploration, which has included Harney’s Earl Grey Supreme, a lavender EG, an EG cream, Harney’s Viennese EG (a Darjeeling base), and this tea (Chinese Mutan White with bergamot).
This tasted almost like a lemony-flavored white, but there was still a light bitterness from the bergamot. Very floral without becoming perfumey. A nice roundness to the body. Rather smooth, especially considering that I find bergamot somewhat harsh. Next time I would try 160°F with the intention of pushing back the bergamot, though this definitely works for me at 176°F also.
By the third cup the bright lemon-like tasted faded, allowing more of the bitterness of the bergamot to come through; but the full body and buttery texture were still wonderfully enjoyable. To quiet the bitterness, I added some sugar to my last couple steeps, and sure, it was good, though the lesson I took from it was that although I found lots to enjoy in this cup, bergamot is just not so appealing to me at the moment.
As I wrote in my note about Viennese EG, these two teas surprised me in the same two ways: by being surprisingly successful in their blends and by teaching me that I am currently not much of a fan of bergamot. Softened with some milk or cream, sure. But I just don’t see adding milk to Darjeeling or white tea. And there is plenty to appreciate just as they are. I must applaud Harney’s blenders, since the many, many Harney flavored teas I’ve tried have all — yes, I think I can say all — have struck me as rather well done.
Earl Grey was the first tea that wowed me. Until then, and for another couple years after, I drank tea only occasionally, and thought of it as something warm to drink that was hopefully pleasant tasting as well. I wasn’t a coffee drinker, so tea was sometimes just the default.
I remember my mom’s boxes of Constant Comment, stored conveniently above the microwave for easy access after zapping the water in her mug. Or at least that was the plan: discovering her mug in the microwave hours later or the next morning was a not infrequent occurrence. It was a hectic life.
In more recent years she became downright extravagant: cabinet stocked with a selection of flavored tea impulse buys from TJ Maxx, plus some Turkish mystery tea my sister brought over. She’d even fire up the stove to heat water in the kettle. At least when I’d take her up on her offer of tea. It still breaks my heart that if I declined, she’d skip it too. (Next time I visit, I’m bringing her a little electric kettle and some great teas to share.)
So, Earl Grey. Having tried a somewhat regular Earl Grey (Harney’s Earl Grey Supreme) and the two common variations (a lavender and a cream), I was still curious to try more. Hence this sample of Viennese Earl Grey (a Darjeeling base) and Winter White Earl Grey (Chinese Mutan White with bergamot).
These two teas surprised me in the same two ways: by being surprisingly successful in their blends and by teaching me that I am currently not much of a fan of bergamot. Softened with some milk or cream, sure. But I just don’t see adding milk to white tea or Darjeeling. And there is plenty to appreciate just as they are. I must applaud Harney’s blenders, since the many, many Harney flavored teas I’ve tried have all — yes, I think I can say all — have struck me as rather well done.
Smooth is not a characteristic I would generally apply to Earl Greys when taken straight. But smooth this is, even though the bergamot is prominent, and very well balanced so that the Darjeeling reveals itself also. I did reduce the steep time to 3 min, rather than Harney’s recommended 4-5, and then reduced it further to 2 min, but that is just my preference, to soften the bergamot and since I tend to like my black teas on the lighter side.
don’t oversteep this tea! I’m one of those people who often leaves a teabag floating around in their tea so that they can resteep throughout the day. with this tea, unless you like to be overwhelmed with spiciness, I would not recommend doing that. Overall, not my favorite, as I think even when steeped properly the cinnamon overpowers the more subtle notes of the blend (though yes I am aware it is called hot cinnamon sunset, I still think the balance could be improved upon)