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drank Li Shan by Harney & Sons
39 tasting notes

The tea brews a translucent pale yellow-green and has a distinctive and inviting buttery floral scent. The leaves are rolled and need space to expand so using a strainer or pyramid is recommended over the common paper type filters. I use a kettle with a temperature gauge and set it to the front of the oolong range for this tea, which is just right. The taste of this tea I describe as savory and it coats the mouth with the buttery earthy flavor characteristic of some of the high mountain oolongs. I was able to get two steeps out of my first bag with the second being slightly more intense on the earthy side. For those that like floral or earthy oolongs this is a privilege to drink, and quite a welcome departure from firm leaf varieties like wuyi cassia or da hong pao, from which I need a short break.

Not for the faint of heart with respect to price – but because the rolled leaves expand to a great degree, just a few are needed for a perfect cup. I just re-upped and ordered another batch, as some family members also took a keen liking to this tea, which we sipped in the evening as a way to relax and put the day behind us.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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This tea has grown on me once I found the brewing parameters which bring out the best in it. I find that using a little more than a teaspoon at just under 4 minutes of steep time at just under boiling works best to bring out the delectable flavors hiding in this tea. Using these parameters reveals a subtle fruit tone enveloping a truly high quality classic black tea taste without the bitterness or sting associated with some oversteeped attempts. Brewed appropriately this tea will have me licking my lips after the first few sips. It will dent the wallet but I find the tea to be a rather refined and delicate cup that I simply must have in supply.

This tea is difficult to ice – I have not had much success, preferring other congous such as the panyang. Perhaps adjusting the iced steep parameters will bear better results, and if so I will post such. That said, after mastering the brewing settings this tea has moved into my top 5 and has become a daily enjoyment due to its incredibly smooth finish and heir of sophistication. Good over a book or contemplating non-stressful things.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 45 sec

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This was recommended in the absence of one of my favorite H&S teas, Golden Snail, which is not available for the time being. The leaves are large and resemble Golden Monkey leaves in both size and texture. I like to use a larger amount of leaves for larger or full leaf teas and steep for less time, as this allows for a second steeping of high quality. That said I left these in about 4 minutes to generate a darker tone and I was rewarded – there is a very pleasant honey cocoa aroma reminiscent of the golden monkey but this tea is a little lighter and less intense on the tongue. There is less of a bite – and I am pleased to describe how smooth the tea remains after a more intense steep. There is no smokiness or astringency.

This is a very enjoyable second cup of morning tea for me (I like to start the day with an Assam or Assam blend). It also works in early evenings when one has some time to contemplate. A very enjoyable, well-mannered tea.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Apple Cinnamon by Harney & Sons
79 tasting notes

I love this tea. It’s not overly fruity, which is something I’ve run into often when trying to find a good apple cinnamon tea. I run into ones pumped up with hibiscus or a crapload of cloying artificial flavoring. This tastes like TEA, and has a pleasant aftertaste and aroma of apple & cinnamon. With the addition of some raw butterbean honey it has knocked other contenders out of the way for my #1 breakfast tea spot. The honey really highlighted the apple, but did so gently. I brought it work in a thermos and it made my desk’s area smell delightful. :)

195 °F / 90 °C

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drank Tropical Green by Harney & Sons
71 tasting notes

yum. A nicely flavored green. Not too strong-the pineapple dominates, but I swear I taste & smell guava. Nice. The green tea flavor is present and really nice. Slightly sweet, as well.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Experience buying from Harney and Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-online-millerton-new-york

Age of leaf: Lot # 11193: puts ”production” at mid-July of 2011. I waited until today, Mid-January 2012, to open this tea (it was still in its vacuum sealed bag within the tin).

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: similar shape and size of a standard green tea: very dark green, curly leaves, which look almost brown. Yet, it has an aroma I have never encountered before (which I really like): surprisingly sweet, and spicy, and somewhat similar to a White Monkey green tea I had recently. It is very leafy in that 1.5oz fit very snugly in their standard 4 oz tin.

Brewing guidelines: leaves free to roam in my glass Bodum pot; stevia added.
……….1st: 165; 1’………. Incredible!
……….2nd: 170; 1.5’……About as good!
……….3rd: 180; 2’………Still good.
……….4th: 185; 2.5’……..Wow, still good.
……….5th: 189; 3.5’………Not much, but some!
……….6th: 193; 5’………….Amazing. Still some flavor!

Color and aroma of tea liquor: standard clear yellowish-green color which did not seem to change much over the steepings; very mild, but somewhat sweet, aroma.

Flavor of tea liquor: < see below >

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Impressive looking: although there were a number of stems (and a few pieces) it was mostly comprised of whole leaves and buds; they were similar in color to the leaves of a green tea, but they had some yellow—and one or two brown—splotches on some of the leaves (I suspect this discoloration is from the yellowing process). It was fun to watch them steep. They slowly progressed from ‘hanging out’ on top on the first steeping, to ‘hanging out’ on the bottom on the sixth. Aroma was odd, almost sour after one steeping, then later, after one of the last steepings, it was almost, malty? Weird.

Value: Awesome for what this tea delivers: $5 / 1.5oz tin.

Overall: First of all, silly as it sounds, I have to apologize to the tea: it sat, unused and unloved in a dark tin, on the back shelf of my tea cupboard for months before I even opened it. Sorry, tea!

Feeling a little better now, to business.

I have had only one other yellow tea (from Tea Trekker) and my wife and I both liked it. Yellow teas are hard to find; well, maybe it’s more accurate to say that they’re aren’t very many types of them (a tea retailer will usually one have one or two, if that). They can be on the pricy side, as there is an extra step in the processing, and I think the production is generally pretty limited. I view yellow teas as the ‘creme de la creme’ of the larger category of green teas (which they kind of fall within). So, I was expecting something good from this tea right from the get-go. And, not long after opening the sealed bag and smelling the leaves I was already starting to get excited about this tea. I could tell right away it was different (I went out to the H&S website to look at their recommendations on how to brew this tea, and I saw that they describe the aroma as being similar to a Darjeeling. No wonder I like the smell of the leaves so much!). So, that’s nice, it looks and smells good, but what about taste? Well, it didn’t disappoint here at all. It was very unusual: smooth, sweet, and fruity, somewhat like an Indian black tea, as good as or better then the Tea Trekker yellow tea, and I never tasted any astringency. My wife could even tell it tasted like a black tea, and she liked it so much she was quickly asking me to brew up the second pot! The staying power of the flavor over six steepings amazed me: it had about as much flavor on the sixth as a quality green has on the forth. All that to say, this is one of the best teas I have ever had, no matter what class it’s in!

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Well I have to thank JenW for the fact that I am going to have to place an order from Harney’s now… I feel like you are either going to love or hate this tea. It is just like red hots. Literally just like red hots! I like my teas to have a strong flavor if they are flavored so I love this tea, especially since it is snowing here and it looks so cold out and this tea just warms me right up. Now I am wondering if the decaf version of this is any good just because I would love to be able to drink this at night as a dessert tea! This tea is extremely dusty and the liquor is sort of foggy not the best looking but the taste says it all!

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

I was concerned about the decaf tea version……I am having an aversion to most decaf blacks anymore, even my Vanilla Comoro. It just tastes funny. :( I ended up buying the Herbal Hot Cinnamon. While I am not a huge fan of rooibos, the cinnamon totally overpowers it and makes it super good. I really drink it more often than the black.


hmmm good to know!

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drank SoHo Blend by Harney & Sons
78 tasting notes

Thanks so much to JenW for sending me a sample of this… It is so good… I think I may have found my ideal chocolate coconut tea. It smells great and is just really beautiful with the pretty little petals in it.

If you like coconut you must try this tea it is wonderful, the smell is a bit like hot chocolate with coconut. The taste taste is bit more coconut with a nice chocolate after taste, but you can still taste the tea at the end as well! Anyways this is a great tea and thanks again JenW for the tea! This is going on my shopping list and will be buying from them in a bit!

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

I always have to do a search for this on the website as it is not with the other flavored teas. If you wanted sachets, I think they will be back in stock in a few weeks. Otherwise, you have to order a pound….

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Tea of the evening…..
…..And a little experiment. I may be sorry for drinking a tea even with just a little caffeine this late, but it is the weekend. I am hoping my system can tolerate a jasmine pearl this late at night and not suffer insomnia from too much caffeine too late at night…..

I am really liking jasmine tea, lately. I have one that is a straight jasmine green and a few that are pearl jasmine like this one. I love the light floral notes in this type of tea as they are very relaxing. This example is very good. It definitely ranks up with the best I have tried (which really is only about three…..) I would consider purchasing when I cannot find a comparable tea on the market at a better price. This one comes out to about $5 an ounce. It resteeps very well. My second pot full (yes, I am incredibly hydrated after two 24 oz. pots of this!) was just as good as the first.

24 oz. teapot, just over 4 actual tsp tea, 175ish water, 3 minutes steep #1, 4 minutes steep #2. No additions.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I agree. The first Jasmine Black I tried from A Southern Season was so perfumey that I couldn’t drink it. I would y it every few months to see if my tastes had changed. Their dragon pearl jasmine was given away for the same reason. Then I got some good jasmine tea in a swap. YUM! And now the ones from Teavivre are becoming real favorites. Oddly, with all the Harney tea I have this is one of the few I haven’t tried from them. I may need to remedy that soon.


@ashmanra…. I only have a sample of this one…. I am pretty sure I will buy TeaVivre’s for price as it is very similar.


I have a sample of Teavivre’s and thought it was just aquatic up when the pearls began to unfurl. I plan on orienting theirs. Harney’s is rather expensive, I think, and I already know I love Teavivre’s! It is so soothing.


What? Crazy autocorrect! I thought it was just beautiful when the pearls unfurl. How that got changed as it did, I have no idea.


ashmanra- I read your sentence and thought you were like Shakespeare and pictured the pearls unfurling in water and rising to the top. Maybe there is something to this autocorrect :) :) :)


I agree with JacquelineM! By the second steep, the leaves were up to the top of my infuser. I have determined, that two pots is too much for the evening. We will try a mug with resteeps next time!


This is definitely my favorite jasmine pearl so far. I really enjoy the Teavivre pearls, but they’re not quite as perfect as these to me. And yeah, I always get especially over tea-ed with jasmine pearls because they keep giving such awesome flavor I never want to stop drinking them.

@ashmanra… that autocorrect was hilarious!


lol @ autocorrect!

This tea makes me really zingy – jittery almost if I have too many cups .. No way I could drink it at night ..

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OK, almost 40 mins for that last one, lets try again! … Well, then again, it turns out that this was not a good one to try to rush through!

Backlogging, and based almost entirely on my notes

Experience buying from Harney and Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-online-millerton-new-york

Age of leaf: Lot # 11203: puts ”production” at end of June of 2011 (although according to their website, all their Japanese tea is from previous years harvest). I brewed it about three weeks after receiving it.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: They say enough for 3-4 cups, but, although I don’t know how to measure this tea, as it is incredibly dense (lots of small, chopped bits), for many reasons I believe this was enough for a full pot of 6-7 cups (at least by my standards), so I believe this was at least a half an ounce, if not more. Very small cut pieces (as advertised), color and smell similar to Harney and Son’s Gyokuro, but not as dark, and not as sweet smelling.

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot, with metal infuser/plunger; stevia added.
Please see my profile if you are interested in my reasons why I steep the way I do
……….1st: 155; 1.5’…. Very strong grassy flavor (mostly like spinach).
……….2nd: 160; 1’…….More cloudy, more astringent, and not as sweet, but still lots of flavor.
……….3rd: 147; 45"…..Sweeter, and best taste yet!
……….4th: 152; 2.5’….Very dark and cloudy, good flavor.
……….5th: 162; ???’…Not as cloudy, and still flavor!

Color and aroma of tea liquor: bright lime green color (similar to Gyokuro); like any other quality Japanese tea, some of the smallest bits make it through the holes in my Bodum press to henceforth sit on the bottom of my pot (I guess they don’t like being held captive?). The nerve!

Flavor of tea liquor: I enjoyed it, but my wife did not like it’s spinach-like flavor. (Note: it became sweeter and more astringent when cooled).

Appearance of wet leaf: Like just about every quality Japanese tea I have had so far, it looked a lot like cut grass (I have cleaned many lawnmower and this looks a lot like the grass clippings! Upon second inspection, it is a lighter green color than the cut grass I remember). There are a few large pieces of stems mixed in with the “clippings.”

Value: For a sample, great, considering what I got for $2 (it is roughly $10/oz otherwise).

Overall: Per my notes, this was an adventure in brewing and tasting (probably the most fun time steeping a green tea I have ever had)! This tea stood up amazingly well to different times and temperatures all the while maintaining flavor throughout (with little astringency); having more experience with Japanese greens since then, this is very surprising, as my understanding is that you are lucky to get three good steepings out of one. I noted that I felt unusually calm and centered on the day I drank this (Because of lots of theanine? Who knows …). I even ate some of these leaves, and although I am not a fan of cooked spinach, I liked it! The more I read over my notes, and think back on my experience with this tea, the more I think I will have to revisit this tea sometime in the near future! Thank you Harney and Sons, Japan and the green tea industry over there for allowing me to experience this tea!

155 °F / 68 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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So on my second mug of this (using fresh new leaf—not a resteep), I used slightly less tea, lower temp and longer steeping time. Aroma of freshly baked pie crust! Taste is much sweeter and feels somehow “lighter”. Hints of caramel and molasses—with a dash of pepper. Less of that yummy malt, but still very pleasant and absolutely delicious!

195 °F / 90 °C 7 min, 45 sec

I have a sample of this I need to make!


That sounds delicious. It seems like Harney & Sons teas have been tempting me lately. Might need to make an order. Hmm.


Yep! I’m rediscovering Harney & Sons. They really do make some wonderful blends.

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Mostly, I detect the slightly sweet almost sandalwood-like flavor of good Keemun. Then a rich, malty, breadiness. There is a bit of peppery smoke rounding it all out. Super smooth yet substantial. It has a wonderful, satisfying flavor and “chewiness”.

I wish I knew exactly which types of tea are in this mixture (it says “a blend of three Chinese teas”)—there has to be Keemun, I’m sure of it. The breadiness must be Dian Hong (Yunnan). Then the smooth/smokiness of…..Lapsang? (no—not that, there’s no “campfire” notes)

I would swear there was Assam in this—with all its hearty, bready, malt. But, since Assam is Indian, what is the Chinese equivalent?

A yummy mystery, this tea is. :)

Overall, Queen Catherine is a beautiful, enigmatic blend!

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

I read somewhere that this is a blend of Keemun, Yunnan, and their Panyang Congou.


Mystery solved! :) Thank you!! I need to sample some Panyang Congou now.


And upon learning that (since I do adore Panyang Congou), my Harney & Sons order has inched closer.


Haven’t met a Panyang Congou I don’t like.

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Backlogging (so, based almost entirely on my notes)

Experience buying from @Ashley: I bought this tea from Ashley in the fall of 2011 when she was selling all of her tea. I received the tea quickly through the mail and my package was filled with many surprises. Thank you Ashley!

Date of steeping: I steeped this up not long after I got it.

Aroma of dry leaf: Smells good: vanilla.

Brewing guidelines: 1 tsp tea, 1 cup water. Ceramic eight-oz cup, tea in metallic basket strainer, stevia added.
……….1st: Near Boiling, semi-warmed cup; 2’…Wonderful!
……….2nd: Boiling, warmed cup; 3’……………….. Delicious!
……….3rd: Boiling, warmed cup; 4’…………………Less flavor, but still good.
……….4th: Boiling, hot cup; 6’………………………..Not much flavor.

Color and aroma of tea liquor: Dark brown color; smells like freshly made waffle cones!

Flavor of tea liquor: I love the taste: rich, delicious vanilla flavor, with a possible chocolate note hiding in there: it’s like eating a fresh waffle cone!

Overall: What I remember most about this tea (having brewed it up about two to three months ago) is the aroma that filled the kitchen when I brewed it up: it made me feel like I was in an ice cream shop smelling freshly made waffle cones! I guess the vanilla flavoring gives it this wonderful aroma? Anyway, I will have to try to remember to buy some of this tea the next time I order from H&S: it definitely ROCKS!

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

This is my favorite vanilla tea—even if it’s decaf. :)

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So this wasn’t my cuppa. Solid but nevertheless.

A quick video review for your viewing pleasure…



I subscribed :)

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

Aww thanks. I’ve listened to your radio shows too. :)

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drank Vanderpoel by Harney & Sons
5 tasting notes

This is a very pleasant black tea. No frills, really, just straight up chinese black tea. The only barrier for some folks might be that it’s only available from Harney in an 8oz. tin (no sample sizes). The price is reasonable, though. I recommend it.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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Quite a few years ago I remember not liking coconut very much, because my mom used to make coconut cake that was too sweet. Then I had macaroons at a Chinese buffet and loved them. Then I tried Thai food and loved the way coconut was a part of their delicious food. So now I, “Really digg coconut man!” Harney’s crafted this blend a few years ago, and I always wanted to try it…….so last year I bought a tin.

Surprisingly, I reecently found this and tried it today. I immediately smelled the coconut…it just hit me in the face! I inhaled the blend deeply and smelled lemongrass, and there was something else. What was it? The aroma was secondary to the other two but…SSNNIIFFFF….AHHHH, there it is—vanilla! Those were the three scents I detected, and I couldn’t detect any ginger. Amazing aroma, and I couldn’t wait to drink a cup. My mouth was watering!

In the wet leaf aroma I could actually smell the green tea now. This looked like a Bancha green and not a Sencha. Bancha is more mild than a Sencha, and it works really well in this blend. A yellow colored liqour greeted my eyes as I waited for the cup to cool.

At 3.5 minutes, the coconut, came through very well, and the lemongrass was quite noticeable and refreshing. What I really like is that the vanilla was well represented, but more of a background flavor. Sometimes vanilla can be overdone, but not here. I really like it when you can taste the TEA and the added flavors. The tea is really good bancha with no bitterness, but there is good flavor. A really good balance of the green tea, coconut, lemongrass & vanilla.

My second cup was steeped at 4.5 and around 200 degrees. Here the flavors come through well enough, and the longer steep made thee green tea pop, and made my mouth pucker. This was not bitterness at all. I enjoyed this cup too, but the green tea was more prominent than the flavors here. I think to achieve a good balance I would steep this blend at 3.5 minutes, but no more than four. I aso used more quantity “leaf” per cup, probably closer to 1 1/2 tsp.

This is one of my favorite blends and Bankok Blend would go perfect with Thai food. It is also a delicious dessert tea. I probably could drink this every day! It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. :)) I could see myself drinking this in the warmer months—this would make a great iced tea. Right now it is too cold here to drink anything iced though. In the Summer, when I ice this tea, I need to remember to buy some tiny umbrellas! :))

Cupped & Reviewed: Friday, January 13, 2012.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec

Love this review.
I can taste the coconut through my computer monitor! :)


yeah, if you like coconut, I think you’ll like this. Just enough coconut & other flavors to balance the tea.


I have a sample of this I have been meaning to try….. It needs to be today!


Yes it does! I’m gonna go have nore right now. :))


This sounds very nice. :)


crave crave crave crave crave crave


This is one of the first green teas that I liked!


diggin the coconut—I love it! :)

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Not the iced version the hot version – bagged
Pretty good :)

Green Tea, lemon/citrus, Gingko…nice!

Thanks! Kristin!!!!

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drank Paris by Harney & Sons
6770 tasting notes

Can you believe this is my first time EVER sipping on this tea? Special thanks to Kristin for the opportunity to do so!!!

Bagged Version

It smells like fruit and chocolate. It brews a darker-brown with a reddish-orange hue. It’s not an overly strong black tea base – probably a lighter medium in strength. The citrus is juicy and helps cut the bitter-tart of the currants. The currants are then more pleasant in this pairing because of it. The chocolate is subtle and I can pick up on that flavor more on the end of the sip and on to the aftertaste. It does seem to contribute a smoothness to it as well!

YAY! I’m so happy I finally got to try this! Thanks Kristin!!!

SMILES on this one!

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Tea of the afternoon…..

I am trying to switch out some of the black tea I drink for green and oolong these days. I have yet to try a roasted green, but I figure it is probably best to stick with the greener greens for the added health benefits. Is greener really better?

(O-kay…..I have to share a little first world funny here…..every time I type oolong, it gets flagged for misspelling. It list my choices as oblong, Woolongong (what is THIS, LOL…oh, it is a town in Australia! To those not in the know, like me 5 seconds ago, it sounds kind of humorous when you let your own mind decide what it might mean), overlong, longer, and long’s…time to add this one to my dictionary. Done!)

I really like this one. I think the pineapple flavor really complements green tea. I can drink it without adding anything, but I added the slightest bit of sweet just to see what it would do, and it did bring out the pineapple even more. Yum.

24oz. teapot, just over 4 tsp tea, about 180 water, 3 minutes.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

LOL about the Oolong! mine does the same, I just added it :P

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Day #7 of 24……

I received this sample from the ever gracious ashmanra. Thank you so much for sending me a huge pile of samples for Harney that I wouldn’t have gotten to as soon, if at all. I am actually enjoying this broadening of my tastes.

As a realtive noob to green teas, I really like this one. I even drank it straight up. And it is certainly going on my next Harney order. I get the light tropical flavor of pineapple with the light grassy (I am sure I am supposed to call this vegetal, but it is simply grassier tasting than the black tea I usually drink, and it is a pleasant grassy…..) Very easy to drink. And obviously a good place for me to start with greens. It is refreshing and light, which I can see getting used to very easily.

15 oz mug, 175 water, just over 2 tsp tea, 3 minutes. Straight up!

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

My oldest daughter doesn’t like tea but started drinking it for health reasons. I told her I would buy her whatever Harney tea she picked, and this is the one! Barnes and Noble was offering a BOGO on Harney tins so I picked it up for her tonight. Since she is making it at work, she wanted sachets. Glad you liked it!

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Experience buying from Harney & Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-online-millerton-new-york

Age of leaf: from memory: reasonably fresh lot #, bought in later summer 2011, brewed up a month or two after I got it.

Packaging: In a sealed silver bag inside one of their standard tins.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Similar in appearance to Teavana’s Three Kingdoms Mao Feng, but smaller leaves; standard green tea aroma with some other interesting smell I could not pin down.

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot with metal infuser/plunger. Stevia added.
……….1st: 173; 1’
……….2nd: 178; 1.5’
……….3rd: 182; 2’
……….4th: 185; 2.5’

Color and aroma of tea liquor: Golden yellow; mild sweet aroma.

Flavor of tea liquor: good, sweet flavor, with little to no astringency. Not much flavor on the third and forth steepings.

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Dark green, chopped leaves with a number of brown stems/twigs, but otherwise decent looking; fresh vegetal aroma.

Blends well with: I bet this tea would blend very well with just about any other green tea (it blended reasonably well with a few flavored greens I had).

Value: No longer on their website, but it was about $3/oz; not a great price for this tea, but not too bad, either.

Overall: I just finished the last of this today (to make room for all of the new tea I recently bought). I enjoyed this tea. Although I have never seen the likes of the brown twigs in the leaf, the flavor was good. It is definitely a solid green tea.

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Anji Baicha by Harney & Sons
171 tasting notes

Backlogging (so based almost entirely on my notes from late summer 2011; I think I previously had something written electronically and stored about this tea but it was accidentally deleted. Bummer.)

Experience buying from Harney & Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-online-millerton-new-york

Age of leaf: I don’t have it in my notes, but I remember that all of the samples from H&S I bought over the summer of 2011 had a relatively recent lot # on them.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Amazing. Looks like pine needles; the aroma was both very unusual and yet familiar, definitely fresh and good: possibly like pine needles?

Brewing guidelines: Loose in glass Bodum pot, Stevia added.
……….1st: 170; 1.5’
……….2nd: 172; 1.75’

Color and aroma of tea liquor: Light green, (and I don’t have it in my notes, but I think it had an aroma I really liked).

Flavor of tea liquor: Note after second steeping, “still incredible flavor, fresh, spring, incredible”

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: “looks fresh, smell eludes me: vegetal, but some other smell is beneath it, hiding from me!”

Value: VERY expensive ($20/oz), but definitely worth trying once as a sample (it was only $2, as all of their samples were, but now it’s either $3 or $4).

Overall: Based solely on memory, this was the most amazing green tea I have ever had. I have had nothing since to match it (although some of Verdant’s green teas come close). It was so amazing, when I originally sat down to write the review, sipping at it and taking in its amazing flavor, wrestling with how to describe it, I was moved to write this little piece (I had to really dig to find it, but thankfully I finally did. I think I made edits to a version of this that was lost. Again, bummer). I hope you will allow me to share it with you as a tribute to this incredible tea:
I imagine my wife and I, having wandered peacefully along a mountainous-forested path, discover ahead a clearing, and finally, a ridge. As we approach hand in hand we stop at the rim, and wonder at the beauty of the deeply forested mountain range that stretches away from us, quietly giving way in the distance to a hazy multicolored landscape as it meets the azure sky. Then, closing our eyes, we slowly and deeply take in the scent of pine, feeling the firm yet moist earth beneath our feet. And, upon hearing a beautiful song, we look out and into the windswept vista before us. Tiny movements catch our eye as we look skyward to witness the graceful song sparrow with her colorful mate, both spinning and weaving, freely trilling out their bliss at the wonder of the day as they soar up, up into the deep blue sky. And we, simple beings bereft of the gift of flight, allow ourselves to be transported with them, sharing in the simple joy of being alive.

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 30 sec



Thank you. : )

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drank Holiday Tea by Harney & Sons
18 tasting notes

The taste is a little weak, even with sweetener, but gets better if the teabag is left in. The smell is really nice, though – citrus and cinnamon; very Christmasy!

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drank Top Ti Quan Yin by Harney & Sons
57 tasting notes

This past week, I spent each day reviewing every single Ti Kuan Yin Oolong I currently own; taking pictures of each tea, writing down notes of aroma and taste, enjoying them in a calm setting. It was a fun experiment I did to compare and contrast each tea, then decide which one is my personal favorite. So after a delightful week of tasting, smelling, and writing about them, I decided to re-review this tea properly. When I first started reviewing my Ti Kuan Yin’s I did not have a standard review process or anything for that matter. Now, I will be reviewing this tea using the same guidelines I used for the other TKY’s I have. My current standard reviewing guideline is: Inspection of the dry leaves, 7 rinses or steeps (with taste profiles for each cup), inspection of the wet leaf, and a conclusion.

So let’s get started!

As stated in my previous review, I received this tea as a gift during the past holidays. My first try was a disappointment, my second one was very enjoyable. This time it was an eye opener.

I placed about a teaspoon of the dry leaves on a small white porcelain plate for inspection. The leaves had a mild floral aroma with a faint sweetness in the background. The leaves had a very beautiful rich dark jade color to them. This tea has perhaps the richest dark green color I’ve seen on a TKY.

As with my other TKY’s, I prepared this tea using a gaiwan and using the suggested brewing guidelines of 205F water and a 4-5 min steep time as stated on the Harney & Son’s website (they are nowhere to be found in the packaging of the tea).
The resulting brew was a clear green-yellow cup with an intense floral aroma. While the dry leaf isn’t as aromatic, the infusion produced the most fragrant orchid aroma I’ve smelled compared to my other TKY’s. It also had a very gentle sweet floral flavor. Light bodied and subtle, the first cup was all about the aroma. In the second cup, the intense aroma remains there, but the flavors of the tea begin to have noticeable subtle changes. The brew became sweeter, slightly creamy, and now with a clean refreshing floral aftertaste. After a few sips, the sweet fragrance would remain in my throat and mouth as a reminder of the tea I just had tasted. In the third cup, I noticed a less intense aroma, but the tea became smoother, buttery and creamy, with an even more intense aftertaste that lingered in the back of my throat. On the fourth and fifth cups, the tea remained with its floral fragrance, but now with a “green” hint. The aftertaste remained there, although not as intense, and each sip left me with a fresh mouth feel. On the sixth cup, the aroma was now really subtle, with only a hint of floral flavor. The tea became much smoother, slightly buttery, and with a hard to explain “juicy” sensation. In the seventh and final cup, the aroma was completely gone by now. The floral taste is still there but really faint. The tea itself now became mostly a sensation in the mouth, a very pleasant one, buttery textured with a “juicy” mouth feel. After some internet search looking for a word that best describes it, I feel the closest description for this cup is that it is rich in umami. Can this tea take more than seven infusions? I bet it can. But I decided to end it there and save the leaves for later.

The wet leaves were made up of mostly unbroken large leaves with some damage and some small pieces. I found only one stem in about a teaspoon of leaves.

I decided to re-review this tea at the same time as my other Ti Kuan Yin’s to give me a better perspective as to which one truly was my favorite. While my first impression of this tea was mostly fixated on how expensive it was and high hopes of an otherworldly experience, this time I decided to review it solely on its taste. Overall, as of today, I can safely say this is my favorite TKY I currently own. None of the others I’ve tasted during this past week have the mix of intense aroma and subtle complexities that this tea has to offer. Each cup was a unique and great experience, something that I really look for in this type of tea. You definitely have to drink this tea on its own, as food or other drinks might overpower the delicate flavors of this tea.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Very thorough and detailed review. Now I’m pretty interested in tasting this TKY and see if I can experience the same flavor sensations.

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