drank Russian Country by Harney & Sons
613 tasting notes

This is quite a pleasant smoke blend. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m a plebe or what, but I’ve noticed most of the smoky blends I’ve tried since joining Steepster all please me (provided I’m in the mood for smokiness) in pretty much the same way, to roughly the same degree. It’s as if the smokiness takes care of any concerns about smoothness, astringency, bitterness, body, etc.; perhaps it’s just that the tea types used as the foundation to make smoky blends (lapsang souchong and keemun usually) tend to have qualities aside from that (medium-thick bodies, a sort of vanilla/chocolate-y thing underlining everything) that sit well with me. Whatever it is, anything more nuanced than the musty SMOKESMOKESMOKE one dimensional over-the-top feels-like-the-whole-tea-table-must-be-covered-in-soot lapsangs we drank at Crumpets years ago seems to get my approval. This is no exception. I have a big tin specially labeled for my “decent afternoon smoke break” teas—it’s got bits and bobs from lots of places: Upton Imports, Della Terra, New Mexico Tea Company, Harney and Sons, Lupicia, Samovar—and I like them all just about the same, where they’re interchangeable to me when that’s what I want. This will do nicely in that collection, one of the best of the lot, as compulsively drinkable as Upton’s Baker Street. It’s got that subtly sweet, choc-vanilla undercurrent I love and associate with keemuns, and the smoke is definitely present but it’s warm and gentle, not acrid or musty. The ashy quality of lapsang only comes out full strength in the aftertaste, and it’s kind of nice if you like that sort of thing because you’ve been primed by the sweet warmth at the front of the sip.

I keep saying it but I really appreciate Harney’s vast “strong black tea blends” collection and how impressively decent-to-great they are given there’s about a billion of them. They do a great job catering to legacy-style morning tea tastes but sourced and blended to be flavorful, smooth, balanced, and lovely.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
keychange

I am finding that I am falling in love with h and s teas as well. I am a fiend for strong breakfast blends, so I intend on trying several of them. My current affair is with the Queen herself, though.

ifjuly

sounds like we are on the same path! it’s been a delight trying so many and finding i like or at least appreciate just about all of them on some level. i’ve yet to find any as charming as the queen (hee) but eight at the fort and big red sun were especially nice too (big red sun seems perfect for when you’re eating a big greasy diner breakfast—sausage, eggs, biscuits, the whole shebang). high five to you my fellow strong-morning-black-blends fan! (:

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keychange

I am finding that I am falling in love with h and s teas as well. I am a fiend for strong breakfast blends, so I intend on trying several of them. My current affair is with the Queen herself, though.

ifjuly

sounds like we are on the same path! it’s been a delight trying so many and finding i like or at least appreciate just about all of them on some level. i’ve yet to find any as charming as the queen (hee) but eight at the fort and big red sun were especially nice too (big red sun seems perfect for when you’re eating a big greasy diner breakfast—sausage, eggs, biscuits, the whole shebang). high five to you my fellow strong-morning-black-blends fan! (:

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“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

black:
verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

oolong:
verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

green:
verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

white:
butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.

Location

Memphis, TN

Website

http://facebook.com/ifjuly

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