1614 Tasting Notes
I went back and read my first tasting note of this tea, and wow I was impressed with this tea the first time around. Which is funny because although I remember really enjoying it, I didn’t remember being totally blown away, which is why I hadn’t gone back to it yet. But I was tasting a lot of new teas during that time period, including a lot of other incredible ones, so I guess it makes sense that I might lose track of how much I liked things. Anyway, the aroma of the dried leaves and of the steeping tea smells incredibly delicious, like tropical fruit and flowers.
It doesn’t take long to remind me why I found this one so entrancing in the first place. It is so my kind of tea (especially right now): intensely floral, a touch of fruitiness, a grounding tea base that isn’t completely overwhelmed. I love how mixed florals all taste a bit different based on what flowers are in the tea and what’s the dominant flavor, and it also means that I never feel like multiple floral teas duplicate what I already have. Which is one way of saying that this is going to have to be a cupboard staple.
After my cup of Rosy Earl Grey yesterday, I took the spent leaves and dropped them into my cold steeping cup along with enough new leaf to make up the balance of the 2 tbsp I put in usually. The last time I had Rosy I “cool steeped” the already steeped leaves and got a pretty tasty tea in only an hour. With an overnight steep, the flavors really came out. The jasmine green tea in this really comes to the forefront, but the bergamot will not be left behind; what you end up with is really more of a Jasmine Earl Grey than a rose one, but that’s just fine with me. I was surprised that after a night steeping the liquor wasn’t oranger, like it usually is with black teas. This one looked more like a cold steeped green than anything else. There wasn’t a distinct black tea flavor, but the Earl Grey flavor was definitely there. I really enjoyed this cold steep, and using the spent leaves saved me an extra cup of tea!
A chocolate tea this morning? I guess so. I wanted to have one of my Paris teas this morning, so I thought I’d give this one a try again. I steeped it a little longer this time just to see how the flavors would come out, and I think it smells a bit orangier this time. This tea stood up fine to a four minute steep time, with no hint of bitterness. It’s rich and choco-hazenutty, with the added fruity citrusy brightness (but not too bright) of the orange. It’s an excellent blend of flavors.
Another attempt to clean out some samples from my cupboard. I have less than a cup’s worth of leaf after this cup, but I already have ideas for that. This tea seems toastier than I remember every time I have it. Today the aroma of the brewed tea smells almost exactly like chocolate chips that have been slightly burned onto the cookie sheet. Or maybe even a caramelized sugar aroma, like a chocolate creme brulee. I can also smell the sweet cream in the background, adding to the creme brulee illusion.
For whatever reason this is probably the best cup of this sample I’ve had so far. The aftertaste is chocolatey, creamy, with that touch of caramelized sugar that really adds to the depth of it. It’s still a touch bitter at the base, though, and I wish the main part of the sip had a richer mouthfeel. Still, it’s a pretty decent chocolate tea, especially if you like them to air on the roasty toasty side of things.
It never fails, I always forget on Friday afternoons that the tea I put in the fridge to cold steep will be there for several days. Always! Last Friday I decided to cold steep this magnolia oolong, since I should be getting a full 2oz of it soon in replacement for the disappointing Lavender Earl Grey. I think that the 72 hour steep is more successful with black teas, but this one was pretty tasty just the same. It was intensely floral; just lifting the lid off my steeping cup resulted in a wash of sweet magnolia aroma. The liquor was fairly dark green. The lengthy steeping (I think) caused it to be a touch bitter, but only a little, and otherwise it was tasty. I’d definitely cold steep this one again, but I think I’d go for only one night next time.
Today was a Rosy Earl Grey kind of morning. The heat this past weekend made me finally break down and buy a window air conditioner for my tiny house, but even with that it was way to hot to think about tea. I still need to get a pitcher or something for home so I can cold steep tea occasionally. But now I’m back in the hyper-airconditioning of work, so hot tea is back on the table.
I’m definitely in love with this tea. After having my lovely Lavender Earl Grey taken away (since Tea District’s current blend is no longer the same), this one has stepped up into the floral Earl Grey spot. I just love Earl Grey mixed with Jasmine, and the rose is an added bonus.
I don’t usually have two cups of tea in an afternoon (unless it’s resteeping a jasmine pearl or nice oolong), but I wanted more chocolate tea, dammit, and I didn’t want reduced chocolate flavor from a resteep of Florence. At least this is healthier than diving into my chocolate candy stash here at work.
This will always be my first chocolate tea love, and my tin seems to be getting dangerously low. Nevertheless I brewed up a cup and immediately I was rewarded with a rich, sweet chocolate aroma. Florence is chocolatey, but it’s tempered by the hazelnut or something; for whatever reason, this one just seems even more chocolatey to me. It doesn’t even have chocolate chips like some chocolate teas, just cacao nibs. Anyway, yum!
Harney day? It wasn’t intentional, but I guess so. I thought I would want a floral tea this afternoon, but then this afternoon came and I really wanted chocolate. Enter Florence.
I really have very little to say today except that this afternoon Florence is serving it’s purpose to perk me up a bit and motivate me to get some work done!
Again! This time I finally cold brewed it. The tea got a really unexpectedly earthy quality, and was surprisingly subdued; I expected more fruity and honeyed notes, and they were there, but they mostly played background to the black tea. Thankfully this is a black tea base I enjoy! Still, I think I prefer this one hot. I did make it with a bit less leaf than I usually do because I had to use sachets, so perhaps that’s part of it. Now I’m curious to see how Paris would turn out cold steeped too.
I’m going to add this to this note as well, since it references this tea: I finally just asked Harney & Sons about the black tea blends and got this reply:
“The bases for those three teas are very similar.
Earl Grey: Keemun, Ceylon, Assam, Oolong
Paris: Keemun, Hunnan, Ceylon, Assam, Oolong
Tower of London: Keemun, Hunnan
I can’t give exact amounts but the Chinese black teas [Keemun and/or Hunnan] are the predominant teas in all three blends. The Oolong in the first two blends is a very small amount that we use to soften them up a little."
Intriguing! But I would guess the Keemun is not my problem since ToL is primarily Keemun. Maybe I need that Hunnan in there for it to be to my tastes!
There are a number of Harney teas I really love, but for some reason I’ve never been a fan of their Earl Greys. I pretty much ordered a sample of every EG they had when I put in my first order with them, and the only one that’s on my reorder list is the Winter White, actually. Nevertheless I want to love their Earl Greys, so I continue to try them. I picked up a sachet of this at the New York Coffee and Tea Festival ages ago (right before I joined Steepster!), and this morning I figured I’d give it another shot.
The sachet certainly smells lovely, with plenty of sharp bergamot aroma. In the brewed tea it’s more subdued, and I pick up more of the black tea base, which smells a bit malty and a bit bready.
Overall… too much black tea, not enough bergamot for me. Also it has that black tea base I’m not really a fan of. I’m starting to think it might be Keemun, actually, since I identify it as an “English Breakfast” flavor and I know many EB’s are 100% Keemun. I’m not sure what it is about it, but I have some kind of knee-jerk, gut negative reaction to it. I do not remember having that when I tried Keemun Mao Feng at the Soho store, which is part of what is confusing me. Then again, some EB’s are a blend of Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan leaves. I’m pretty sure I like Ceylon, and I don’t think I like Assam, but I’m pretty sure there’s not Assam in this tea. I can identify the smell and flavor of that black tea I don’t like, I just can’t figure out what exactly it is since I’ve only encountered it in undifferentiated blends. Anyway, someday I’ll figure it out.
Back to this tea. Besides the tea base that I don’t really care for, the bergamot is very bright and a touch astringent. It’s not floral, but more citrusy, including the slightly bitter citrus pith. I suppose it’s now confirmed: this one’s not really for me. I’m a fan of so many other Harney teas that I don’t really understand why the Earl Grey and I can’t be friends (especially since I like Earl Greys), but so it goes.
ETA: According to Harney, the makeup of the black tea base in this one is Keemun, Ceylon, Assam, Oolong, with Keemun being the primary ingredient. That is nearly identical to Paris, except Paris also contains Hunnan as another predominant base.