92 Tasting Notes


Sample box 15/18

Tightly coiled pearls with a distinct, not-too-perfumey jasmine scent. The pearls unfurl during brewing to fill up the sachet, which fortunately does leave enough room for them. The tea brews out to be very smooth, light and a tad sweet, not very vegetal, and definitely more forgiving toward longer steep times than some other greens I’ve encountered. The jasmine fragrance is pleasant, fresh, and not overwhelming. Overall a very nice jasmine tea that is definitely above average.

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Sample cube 14/18
(13/18 was logged but not reviewed)

This is my second time trying this blend, and it’s turned out much better. The original issue I had with the tea—that it seemed overly panned and oily—did not occur this time. It’s a very light, refreshing cup, the pomegranate being present in just the right level to compliment and not mask the very fresh and green Tie Guan Yin. A difficult fruit blend to pull off, but great once done correctly.

(Increased rating)

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drank Mint Tilleul by Harney & Sons
92 tasting notes

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Sample cube 12/18

This one definitely smells like an autumn drink—loaded with cinnamon and spice, and a whiff of orange. There were plenty of orange peel pieces in the sachet as well. The flavor of this tea is in-your-face cinnamon. There’s definitely a spicy kick, and most of all a surprising, intense sweetness that was like cinnamon candies had been dissolved in it. The presence of the black tea itself is fairly weak, probably deliberately chosen to not overwhelm the other flavors, and the brew is a lighter color than the typical black tea. Overall, this is a tea that makes it feel like it’s October or November already. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea (haha) due to the spice and sweetness. I’m glad I saved this one for a cloudy morning…

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drank Sencha by Harney & Sons
92 tasting notes

Sample cube 11/18

Trying to put a little more substance to these notes, otherwise they’re getting shorter and shorter…

Lunchtime brew. The dry leaf smells very vegetal and savory, and once brewed up, those qualities remain very strong. The liquor is a light spring green—much greener than the average non-sencha green tea. And while the brewed tea retains a vegetal aroma (I’ve never found much appeal in picking out whether it reminds me of individual vegetables, haha), the taste also has notes of dried seaweed, a distinct quality that I can’t describe better than “typical sencha flavor”, and a light astringency. It’s a very substantial green tea, and a good accompaniment to a meal. If not for this sample, I’m not sure when I would have next voluntarily reached for a sencha, but I’m quite glad I tried it.

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Sample cube 10/18

This was a decent, fairly average breakfast tea. It was malty, had that typical black tea fragrance, and a slightly dusty (not crisp) mouthfeel.

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Sample cube 9/18

Bedtime brew…this smelled lovely and tasted like, well, not much. Nothing more to add…

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Sample cube 8/18

Admittedly I haven’t had much experience with Darjeelings in the past, so I don’t have much to compare this to. The dry sachet had a very woodsy aroma with a hint of something coffee-like. The tea brews out to a deep red-orange color. First steep was, for some reason, quite bitter in spite of being fragrant. Not just astringent, not one of the other natural flavors in tea that might be mistaken for bitterness, but literally bitter. Second steep, however, was much smoother, with no bitterness, a light muscatel note, a hint of woodsy smokiness, and a crisp, slightly astringent profile that definitely says black tea, but is not as in-your-face as some other English-styled black tea blends can be. I’m rating this based on the second infusion since I may have let the first sit for a little too long.

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drank Rooibos Chai by Harney & Sons
92 tasting notes

Sample cube 7/18

I usually don’t like rooibos and don’t care about chai, but this was surprisingly enjoyable. I think it has to do with the blend of spices being just right—the cinnamon isn’t overwhelming, and the cardamom is quite nicely present. Overall it’s a very soft chai, and makes for a nice cup on a cooler evening like this.

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Sample cube 6/18

This is what an Earl Grey should be like. The bergamot in this one is very fragrant and fresh-seeming, without being too sharp as it can be in some blends. The tea itself is nicely robust and quite smooth. The packaging indicates “four types of black tea and silver tips”, which seems a little extravagant for a blend where most of the nuances will be lost in the bergamot anyway, but the tea base really is quite good. So far I’m finding that Harney and Sons does traditional English-styled teas very well, with more mixed results on “creative” blends. There are still a lot of samples to go through…

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Biologist, aspiring writer, and a cat that learned to type.

A former, or rather reformed, purist.

I grew up in a very Asian family of academics with more teapots than friends (and they weren’t lacking in friends). For the first part of my life my experience with tea was limited to traditional Chinese styles, and while it made me appreciate tea as a part of daily life, there were many other styles and varieties of tea I didn’t know anything about. (And I admit I didn’t understand everything my family was saying about tea either…) Since then I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons and explore teas unusual or unfamiliar to me. But a good oolong is still the surest way to make for a perfect afternoon.

I usually won’t log teas I’ve reviewed before unless I have something to add, have changed the preparation, or if it’s a sipdown.

90-100: definite repurchase if possible, recommended
80-90: enjoyed, might repurchase
70-80: fair to good, wouldn’t mind a cup now and then
60-70: not great, won’t actively warn people away from it
50-60: there’s still a chance I’d take this if it were free
under 50: didn’t like it


Southern California

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