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

Date of Purchase/Age of Leaf/Amount of Leaf/Date of Steeping: Bought a sample (I am guessing it is a little less than half an ounce) in late 2011, lot # 11298, brewed up late March 2012.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: Standard Darjeeling appearance; See Overall for aroma.

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot, leaf free to roam; stevia added; their website said to brew it at 175F. Really? So I checked the other Darjeelings to see what they said. They were all different, but none were as low as 175. Well, OK, maybe that’s what they meant, but I’m not going that low. I shot for 185F, and hit 190F:
……….1st: 190F, 2’
……….2nd: just under 190⁰F, 3.5’
……….3rd: just over 190⁰F; 5’

Color and Aroma of tea liquor: Pretty standard for a Darjeeling.

Flavor of tea liquor: Fruity and complex, with that characteristic Muscatel flavor; still had some flavor on the third (I did a forth and, although it was mild, it still had flavor).

Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: A little better quality leaf than I have seen in other Darjeelings, with a malty aroma that was almost acidic (That’s what came to me, anyway).

Value: $2 for a sample, and not bad for the tin @$15 for 3 OZ.

Overall:
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, knowledgeable of what exactly to expect from a Darjeeling, as I have had only three others, and I don’t drink those very often. Still, in a desire to broaden my knowledge of them I bought this sample with my last H&S order. I’ll get to the aroma of the dry leaf in a moment, but in general this Darjeeling looked like any other I’ve seen, and the tea liquor had a pleasant distinctive taste, good color, and a nice aroma. I can’t remember if my wife has had any of the other Darjeelings I own, but she liked this one, so now I am hopeful I will have someone to drink the others with (other than on special occasions when I have brought them to a guest’s house to brew up).

What really stood out about this Tea was the aroma of the dry leaf. Never, since I have started really sticking my nose in the dry leaf (and I mean, really stick it in there, as in, when I breath in and out I imagine I am practically doing a mini-steeping with all of that moist, hot air that I seem to have lots of), have I got three very distinctive aromas. I usually take a few sniffs to make certain I am giving myself (and the Tea) enough of a chance to take it all in; in this case, on the third ‘sniff’, I got a completely different smell. So, of course, I had to have another go. And then I got another completely different smell (different than either the first or second aroma). THAT BLEW ME AWAY! Three different aromas?! Seriously!? This is the sad part: I can’t even begin to describe what they were (At the time I was thinking of how many of you are so good at describing aromas and flavors, and here I am with THREE distinctive ones in ONE tea and I can’t begin to describe them? Cooooooooome ooooon! It’s embarrassing). Well, the closest description of one of the aromas I could come up with (after racking my brain) was that it was almost like a very fresh green tea (but to me that doesn’t make sense to get that from a Darjeeling), and another one may have been oak-y?

Honestly, I simply wanted to drink the tea, I didn’t want to stand in my kitchen with my nose buried in this black and gold H&S sample zip-lock bag filled with loose tea, muttering between sniffs in my perplexity, for 10 or 20 or whatever minutes trying to figure out the aromas. I just want to DRINK SOME TEA! So, I brewed it up, and have been enjoying it ever since (still with the nagging realization that I could not put words to those aromas; maybe it will haunt me forever, eh?).

So all that to say, although the taste doesn’t particularly stand out in my mind, I will NEVER forget the dry leaf of this second flush Darjeeling. All hail the dry leaf!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Scatterbrain

I want to try a darjeeling soon, a golden yunnan is high on my list too. Anyway, I just want to say I really enjoyed how in-depth your review is, it was a pleasure to read.

SimpliciTEA

Although I was frustrated with my inability to put what I smelled to words, it was enjoyable to write. And, admittedly, it is wonderful to have those kind of Tea moments, even if I can’t accurately describe the details of the experience to others. It turns out the forth steeping had some flavor, too (I composted them after that). This is definitely a tea I will consider buying again.

I like both golden Yunnan and Darjeelings, and before this experience I would have said I prefer golden Yunnans, but now, I don’t know. If you want to try them, I invite you to look into samples. Harney and Sons is a great place to buy samples. Amazingly, after reading your comment, I just remembered the other sample I have from them is Golden Monkey (a Golden Yunnan)! Here are the links to both H&S Darjeeling page and Chinese red/black teas page (it looks like all of the Yunnans have samples):
http://www.harney.com/results.cfm?secondary=866
http://www.harney.com/results.cfm?secondary=867

I’ve also had a good Yunnan from Teavivre, and Angel may send you samples if you ask her (you should be able to contact her through her website: www.Teavivre.com ).

Good luck in your search for both of those Teas!

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Comments

Scatterbrain

I want to try a darjeeling soon, a golden yunnan is high on my list too. Anyway, I just want to say I really enjoyed how in-depth your review is, it was a pleasure to read.

SimpliciTEA

Although I was frustrated with my inability to put what I smelled to words, it was enjoyable to write. And, admittedly, it is wonderful to have those kind of Tea moments, even if I can’t accurately describe the details of the experience to others. It turns out the forth steeping had some flavor, too (I composted them after that). This is definitely a tea I will consider buying again.

I like both golden Yunnan and Darjeelings, and before this experience I would have said I prefer golden Yunnans, but now, I don’t know. If you want to try them, I invite you to look into samples. Harney and Sons is a great place to buy samples. Amazingly, after reading your comment, I just remembered the other sample I have from them is Golden Monkey (a Golden Yunnan)! Here are the links to both H&S Darjeeling page and Chinese red/black teas page (it looks like all of the Yunnans have samples):
http://www.harney.com/results.cfm?secondary=866
http://www.harney.com/results.cfm?secondary=867

I’ve also had a good Yunnan from Teavivre, and Angel may send you samples if you ask her (you should be able to contact her through her website: www.Teavivre.com ).

Good luck in your search for both of those Teas!

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Bio

(Updated 3-23-2014)

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 11 OZ Yixing:
First I do a 15 – 20 second rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia to my 8 OZ clear-glass teacup (thus, typically not added to the teapot).
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
……….4th: Boiling~(poured usually right after the previous steeping, so the teapot and water are as hot as possible)~, 2’ (if it’s the final steeping, then sometimes longer)
……….If 5th and/or more: Boiling, < If I do more than 4 steepings, I basically add 0.5’ for each. >

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf green tea, although I enjoy Chinese red (or Indian black) and white tea somewhat regularly (during the summer, iced ). Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have five teapots: a simple six-cup and four-cup ceramic (red/black/herbal teas), a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and a Yixing (Pu-erh only).

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.

Location

Midwest, USA

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