1851 Tasting Notes
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.
Picked this one up at a Pilot truck stop a while ago. I had quite disappointing experiences with the other sachets I picked up, so I wasn’t expecting much from this one, but such is cupboard cleaning: sometimes you drink teas you’re not the biggest fan of.
The dry sachet smelled very generically tropical; I could maybe pick out pinapple? But also worringly artificial. I’m starting get a bit skittish about some fruit tea blends since they can go so wrong so fast for me. Anyway, when I brewed it, it was better than I was expecting. That’s not saying much, but the aroma is decently pleasant and not too fake or sickly-sweet smelling. The green tea isn’t obliterated in the aroma or the taste, which is nice. It tastes fairly generically tropical, like it smells, but it’s decent enough. I was surprised to see that there is mint in this, since the combo of mint and tropical fruit sounds horrible and wrong to me, but while the mint flavor is definitely noticable, I don’t hate it. Overall, it’s not a terribly exciting tea, but not so bad that I won’t drink the whole cup.
This was a fantastic cold brew. It far exceeded my expectations (ETA: although I suppose it shouldn’t have, as I apparently did a quick cold resteep the last time I drank it and it turned out very well, but I’m forgetful). A lot of teas I have are very nicely tasty as cold brews, but sometimes a tea will surprise you! I find that a lot of times that if a tea has vanilla, when cold brewed the vanilla will come out and take everything else over. The vanilla on this one remained nice and light: definitely present, but not overwhelming. It played so well with the very floral orchid notes. I will definitely be cold steeping this one again, though I’m coming to enjoy this tea so much I worry about going through it too quick… it’s not available online, and since I bought it at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens on a vacation a while back, there’s always a chance it won’t be there the next time I go back. Well, I still have plenty now, so I can worry about that in the future!
Ok I really have no clue how long I steeped this tea. I had my timer set up for 4 minutes, and then I forgot to hit start. I’m hoping it was about 4 minutes anyway, but honestly I didn’t look at a clock or anything so who knows!
In any case, I think the steep time was relatively long, and it certainly brought out the chocolate. The Earl Grey is there, but fairly light, just providing a bright note overall. Is this my perfect ideal of a chocolate EG? No, but it’s pretty tasty anyway. I wish it was more bergamotty, which is my main issue. Those who prefer a lighter bergamot EG would find this to be a good blend, I think. I definitely prefer it with the longer steep time, which really brings out more of the flavors (but doesn’t make the tea get too bitter). And since chocolate Earl Greys aren’t exactly very numerous, I can see keeping this one around