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Recent Tasting Notes
This morning, youngest and I took some time to enjoy a couple of tea samples from Harney and Sons 2015 offerings. She wanted to start with black tea since she had just gotten out of bed. We used a gong fu set and aroma cup set, but we were steeping just over a teaspoon of leaf for four minutes in boiling water. We made four steeps in all.
The package let out a burst of bready aroma as soon a it was opened. It was so fresh. The steeped tea had an amazing scent in the aroma cup – pure sweet potato complete with brown sugar and the barest hint of cinnamon. Maybe even a touch of butter.
The liquor is pale for a black tea. The flavor is not “pale.” I consider this to be a light bodied tea but the flavor is pure and sweet. I do not taste a lot of the classic “tea” flavor with bread and malt as the scent made me think I might. I believe it would be a terrible injustice to add sugar or especially milk to this tea. It doesn’t need it, and I think it would suffer for it, but since I don’t add anything to my tea anyway, perhaps other people would feel differently.
If you could give someone the essence of a holiday sweet potato dish in a cup, this is it. I would compare it to a fine Golden Monkey (and there is none finer than Harney’s) that has had the breadiness reduced and the malt removed.
After trying a cup of it on its own, I had it with one square of a Godiva strawberry truffle bar. The first sip after the chocolate as heavenly, so I know this is going to pair beautifully with sweets and tidbits at tea time!
Subsequent steeps are pale but flavorful.
Oh my gaaaammmmmm.
I was not expecting much, but I should’ve expected much considering how much I love Hot Cinnamon Spice. A packet of sweetener, and it tastes like fancy vanilla ice cream. Definitely recommended.
Flavors: Marshmallow, Red Apple, Sweet, Vanilla
I was actually surprised with how well this tea held up on its own without sugar or honey, and that it was able to have flavor with the pure organic ingredients only (I bought the organic version of this one). The coconut and lemon grass naturally go together and definitely reminds me of Thailand, and the green tea, which is probably a form of Dragonwell, is fairly buttery. I would maybe buy this again, but not for the price that I bought it in the first place.
Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Lemongrass, Spices
This is my third time brewing this tea. The first two times I tried it hot, and this time I made a flash-brewed iced tea in my Takeya pitcher.
I’m still not sure just what I think of this one. I do like that it’s not astringent, but I wish it were a little more heft. Perhaps that’s because most of the maltier teas I’ve had are much more robust than this one is, and I expect an explosion of oomph that doesn’t come. This just seems a bit mellow for a black tea.
I originally picked this tea because it was described as having a nutty undercurrent. I have yet to pick up a nutty flavor. Mostly I’m getting hay and malt. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s just not what I expected. The maltiness when it’s a tiny bit warm (before the ice cooled it fully) actually reminds me of the foam on a wheat ale (like Blue Moon), only gentler. I’m tasting less of that the cooler it gets.
I do like this tea, but it’s just not oomphy enough to become an everyday favorite, I don’t think.
This is my absolute favorite tea. I could go through a whole tin of this in one day with some willpower. And a lot of bathroom trips.
Sweetener: Not needed. Letting mine steep for five minutes brings out a bold slap of cinnamon – maybe too much for some people but it’s a flavor I absolutely love. No other tea gets to this level of cinnamon or spice in my opinion.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Spices
This tea definitely reminds me of a chai with it’s clove notes and sweet flavor. I definitely did not enjoy this tea alone, this just needs milk and sugar (and lots of it) though it honestly feels like a good breakfast tea or an afternoon pick-me-up. I would recommend trying different temperatures as well as different brewing times for this tea. At first following the directions made my tea taste terribly bitter and I had to try again with less time and less heat.
Flavors: Cherry, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cloves
I tried this one at a standard Barnes and Noble Starbucks, and I was pleasantly surprised with it. Other reviews of this one were not stellar, but I can say that compared to the Teavana and Tazo lines owned by Starbucks, this Oolong tea was way better than any of their other teas. This Oolong was definitely and An Xi variety. Green, nutty crispness dominated the cup over the pomegranate which for me, was a relief. The flavoring does add a slight sweet kick which is pretty nice, and the leaves aren’t too bad looking.
If I were limited to my choice of teas, this would be a descent go to for me since its a greener oolong. However, this one really loses out on oolong’s full complexity and I personally would save my money for something to savor. Considering that I was able to drink this at a Starbucks, I can say it was worth it for that slightly better drink. I would recommend this maybe to a friend, yet I wouldn’t try to sell them on it.
Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Green, Walnut
This is a decent chocolate mint tea. It’s pretty strong; both of the flavors. Reminds me of an Andes mint. Recently, if you have seen my other tasting notes, I’ve realized that I’m not a huge chocolate tea kind of person, which makes sense since I’m not really much of a chocolate person anyway. But I could see myself drinking this one every once in a while. Not bad, not my favorite though. But it’s a good tea, pleasant drink. If only it were fully herbal, then that would give me more reason to buy it…Not really sure what it is.
Just saying herbal/black tea on here. So yeah, I dunno. Anyway! Happy I got to try it, thanks for the sample The Cookie Lady!! I will enjoy the second tea bag of this you gave me later. (:
Flavors: Chocolate, Mint, Peppermint
Definitely had a very interesting experience with this tea. I could taste the nutty popcorn taste but mostly had a really strong seaweed taste. It just felt like I was eating something rather than drinking.
Flavors: Nuts, Popcorn, Seaweed
I’m rather liking this, which is a good thing, since I ordered the 8 oz. tin and they accidently shipped me a whole pound. This strikes me as a great choice for those days when I stand in front of my tea mountain and I can’t for the life of me figure out what kind of tea profile I want to revel in. On first sip I’m getting the malty Assam, but then it breaks away into the subtle smoky, chocolaty keemun. I understand from other posters that this can go bitter in a hurry if it’s not watched, so I stuck with four minutes for the steep, and I’m glad I didn’t go over that. My initial impression is that this is a good, sturdy start-to-the day tea without being overly malty. This morning I’m drinking it hot. This afternoon I might make some iced in my Takeya pitcher, and perhaps stick a mason jar of cold brew in the fridge. Might as well try it all kinds of ways. It’s not like I’ve got a shortage!
I picked up a sample of this with my most recent Harney order. I’ve only had a couple cups’ worth, but it has left a definite impression on me.
This tea steeps a nice dark brown. The aroma and taste are both loaded with cocoa. Very bold and very smooth.
This may replace Teavana’s Golden Monkey as my go-to tea! I will be ordering a tin and reporting back.
Not My Cup O’ Tea TTB
This is a nice, basic black tea blend. I found it to be smooth but flavorful and aromatic with notes of baked bread, honey, and stonefruits. Whoever placed this in the box included a note recommending a 3-minute steep instead of the 4-5 minutes prescribed on the bag and I agree…it was definitely strong enough after 3 minutes!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Honey, Stonefruits
I got this in a teabag sample from Midwest Tea Fest. I don’t drink much in the way of herbal blends these days, but as a preteen and kid I was all about them, so it’s a bit nostalgic for me.
This one smells lemony, as you’d expect with hints of holy basil (not sure if that is actually in here). The flavor is an interesting blend of grassy, reminding me of unsmoked yerba mate, juniper berry, reminding me of gin, and of course lemon. It’s not tart and the lemon flavor isn’t too strong. It blends well with the others.
This is not my typical cup of tea these days, but I didn’t mind it at all. Wouldn’t buy it, but enjoyed the cup I had. Thank you for the sample, Harney and Sons!
Flavors: Grass, Lemon, Pine
Well, I guess I need to make it official. I am now a Darjeeling drinker. It was practically the only type of tea I didn’t enjoy for a long time. Then I had a Margaret’s Hope 2nd flush that almost won me over. And now these two Harney and Sons offerings for 2015 that I have tried have done it.
I tried this alone a few days ago, and then served it tonight with supper. My husband really liked it and drank cup after cup, and he doesn’t like black tea plain and therefore doesn’t drink it anymore. But Darjeeling really isn’t like black tea, even though it is classified as such and I finally have that through my head.
This was a lovely tea, with a nice briskness that was not astringent or puckering, but very enjoyable. It went very well with food since it had enough gumption to be tasted even through the Korean sweet chili sauce chicken wrapped in lightly steamed cabbage leaves and served with fried rice. It was also nice for sipping on after the meal was over. It really was a much better pairing than a standard black tea would have been, in my opinion, and was as good with the pseudo-Asian cuisine as a green tea would have been.
Thank you, Harney and Son, for the opportunity to sample some of the new 2015 teas!
I had this one simply steeped a while back and it didn’t impress me. However, I am beginning to get into the “tea latte” thing and this as a latte, very yummy! I believe I am getting more vanilla out of this than I remember, it’s also the creamiest latte I’ve made yet.
I brewed 3 tsp in 1 cup of water while I had 2 cups or milk and some sugar warming on the stove. I put whatever amount of the milk fit in my mug after the tea and the final concoction is wonderful.
Ohhh….this tea. So delicate and lovely and confusing all at once. As others have mentioned, it looks like pine needles when dry. After steeping, it reminded me of cooked collards or spinach. The taste is also vegetal, but not overwhelmingly so. I also got some grassy hints in there, as well. There’s some butteriness in there, too, just to round things out. The finish was pleasantly, refreshingly sweet. I have just enough in my sample pack for one more go, so I think I’m going to steep at a lower temp next time round.
Flavors: Butter, Cut grass, Green, Vegetal
So this one is woody, with a hint of bread to it. Might be really woody because I over-steeped it a bit, but It wasn’t a long over-steep so I think that that note kinda already existed there. :/
So yeah, not really a fan. Think I’ll just list this one as a freebie on my sale list. xD It’s not that it’s a bad tea, I guess I’m just not in the mood to play around with it tons to make sure that it can’t be a really good tea that I fall in love with. :S
Flavors: Baked Bread, Wood
So I over-steeped this a wee bit today.
I’ve had this sample for a while now and I’m finally getting around to trying it. Figure I needed black tea in my system. Only got like two hours of sleep over all today and I’m feeling really stressed with having to move like everything in my room over to my gparents’ room so my dad’s worker can update my bathroom. Which I’m not super happy about for a few different reasons. :/
And valid ones at that!
The guy just came over and basically said this is gonna take a lot longer than a couple days, so not thrilled over that either. Oy. This isn’t my day.
On the bright side, other than this having that weird inky taste from over-steeping, it’s pretty malty. Which I love! Has a touch of bready notes which I also like. Definitely going to be trying this one again. I have a feeling that when I steep it right it will be an amazing black tea! :D
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt
I made and served this tea in relative darkness. Hubby and I had finished yoga and we’re going to have a quiet cup. I had the idea that I was making white tea, thus I was delighted with how much flavor It had. Then I turn on the lights and look it up and see that it is a green tea.
I am still delighted with it. Obviously, I couldn’t see the first steep in the dark, but the second is very pale, almost clear. The first steep was soooo creamy. Oh my goodness, it was good, with light notes of hay, lots of lip licking cream, and a far off vegetal flavor like baby spring peas. I don’t know what sweet white rind of watermelon would taste like, maybe this is it.
Bottom line – sweet, creamy, nice body, light vegetal notes, light hay. Definitely a contemplative, spa experience type of tea. Savor it.
Thank you, Harney and Sons, for the generous sample!