229 Tasting Notes

drank Bai Lin Kung Fu by Shang Tea
229 tasting notes

It has a nice sweet caramel, fruit, and tea fragrance and the leaves are of a nice size. It’s not the long twisted leaves of Dawn, but still very nice. The liquor is a deep ruby color. It has a slight bitterness but no astringency. There is an additional taste that I cannot identify along with the tea taste. It is an acceptable tea but not stellar.

Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

Wow.. those got there fast!


One of the nice things about living in Memphis is that it is a transportation and logistics hub for a number of companies. It looks like Shang Tea ships out of Kansas City, MO and I think that Saint Louis, MO is also a transportation hub, so it’s almost a hub-to-hub trip which makes it pretty fast. There are a number of companies based in California or New England that use warehouses and logistic services in Memphis to get their goods to customers in the South and Midwest more efficiently. Being in Memphis means that I get much of what I order very, very fast.

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drank Choco*Latte by American Tea Room
229 tasting notes

Kristin said, “You rooibos haters stay with me. I didn’t taste any rooibos in this tea.” And that was the reason I chose to try it. She was talking to me. I’m the total rooibos hater.

Wow! I’m so glad I put aside my pre-judgement and tried this. It is chocolate and absolutely delicious! Full chocolate taste with no unpleasantness. No bitterness. Little astringency. Not even that awful dusty taste that rooibos often has. Even the aftertaste is yummy. The smell is pure hot cocoa. I will be ordering more of this. Thanks to Kristen’s great review I’ve found a new favorite for the no-caffeine part of my day. Mmmmm!

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Palm Court by Harney & Sons
229 tasting notes

Slight smoky, malty fragrance coming from a ruby black liquor. There is a powerful yeasty taste and a fair amount of bitterness. I’m really not tasting the oolong in this but it does have a nice complexity to the middle-taste (that taste you get immediately after swallowing as the liquid evaporates from your tongue but before the after-taste).

It’s an ok tea.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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I’ve not had a good night’s sleep in almost a week. Each night I wake at 3 am and obsess about stressful matters at work and then don’t get back to sleep until 5:30 am. Since I must rise for the day at 6 am, this is completely inadequate. As a result of this lack of sleep my husband told me this morning that I look like a particularly ill raccoon.

I pulled this tea from my collection of samples because it looks like it can work caffeinated magic on my sleepy soul before a critical vendor contract meeting this morning. Straight from the envelope it smells strong and bracing. The malt rises to my nose and slaps me around a bit as if to say, “Wake up, Sleepyhead!” Once in water the flowery fragrances of Darjeeling mingle with a musky tea aroma. It smells appealing.

It brews up into a dark burgundy liquor with a nice no-nonsense sharp malty flavor with very little bitter and no astringency. I can feel it filling my veins with liquid power enabling me to negotiate well.

It is not a Dawn substitute since I wouldn’t want it strong musky malt every morning, but it’s great for mornings like today when things must get done and I lack the strength pre-tea to do them. This is truly a sturdy cup of tea.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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drank Florence by Harney & Sons
229 tasting notes

The Search for a New Dawn continues today: One of the first things I did after bemoaning the evil fate that had befallen one of my two favorite breakfast companions (Dawn tea) was to check on Steepster for a set of teas to try to replace my favorite morning cup. I quickly came upon this one which looked promising. I love chocolate and hoped this would be a good Dawn replacement. Since it received rave reviews here, I ordered it and a few other Harney tea possibilities.

It smells more of hazelnuts than of chocolate in the envelope but once I brew it the fragrance changes to a more complex meld of scents that include nuts, chocolate, sweet tea, and some undefineable sweet note. Chocolate is among the fragrances but it is a softer chocolate than what I think of when I think of chocolate. (I like the darkest of chocolates so that is my benchmark.) The smell is pleasant.

The taste is better. There is a slight bitter edge that adds to the rich feel of chocolate in the tea and it combines nicely with the nuttiness and tea. It is more of an afternoon tea in my opinion since the flavors are a bit too rich and demanding for the morning and would do best with time to sip and a bit of bread or croissant to have along with the tea, but I’m happy with it today since today is the one day we don’t go for our run in the morning. I can’t really see quaffing this tea to get my pre-run caffeine and then haring off. However, it would work marvelously as a post-run treat after one of our long weekend runs, especially in the fall and winter or as a treat prior to going to the theater.

Will I buy it and add it to my unmanageably huge supply of flavored teas? Yes. I will.

Update: Out of curiosity I added a scant bit of creamed cinnamon honey made by a local woman to the tea. I just had the feeling it would work well and it does. It transforms the tea from a delightful chocolate treat to a wonderfully complex dessert. Now if I only had a croissant to go with the tea.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Vanilla Comoro by Harney & Sons
229 tasting notes

It smells delightful in the package, like some sort of sweet maple cream candy. Once drenched in hot water the smell begins to include the typical tea fragrance. It darkens very fast, turning a coffee-black so I remove it from the water before the three minutes are up. There is a slight astringency to the taste but no bitterness. Mostly it tastes of warm, cozy vanilla or like marshmallows with a bit of tea. I like it. I’ll probably be ordering some since it is a very nice, undemanding decaffeinated tea I can have anytime in the evening to calm after a difficult work day.

It is, of course, not a Dawn replacement since it’s decaf, but I like to try a company’s decaf tea in hopes of finding the perfect tea for night drinking and this one is definitely worth spending more time with.

Update: Now that I’ve spent more time with it (have almost finished the cup) I find that I need to upgrade the rating a bit. It really is comfort in a cup. All the emotional pain of the week has been bandaged up and kissed away with this tea. I will need to order more, but not until I finish the rest of my Harney & Son’s samples. At least waiting would be the responsible thing to do….

Boiling 2 min, 15 sec

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Welcome to the first day of Seeking a New Dawn: Carolyn’s quixotic search for the tea that probably doesn’t exist any more. I’ve ordered several batches of trial black teas from various companies: from inexpensive to pricey. In truth I really don’t care how much the tea costs as long as it fills that Dawn-shaped hole in my morning.

Today we start with an inexpensive Yunnan. The leaves are somewhat pretty with little golden bits. It has a classic tea fragrance with something light and fruity in the offing. It darkened up reasonably fast in the cup so I removed it. I’ve had a enough of over-steeped bitter tea after yesterday’s shenanigans in which no less than 3 cups of tea were ruined by my over-anxious boss’ sudden demands, which caused me to ignore the tea until it had reached the toxic stage.

There is a slight astringency but not so much as to be offensive. I’m not getting any bitterness but I suspect that it would not stand up to much more time steeping before the bitter set in. There is a very slight raisin after-taste. Overall it is an average tea. I would’t toss it, but it is not the Holy Grail of teas. I’ll finish my sample today (hoping it gives me strength for what has been a very difficult week) and move on tomorrow. It’s not a re-buy tea.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Slightly smoky fragrance with a leather undertone. The first cup was bitter so I dumped it and poured a second which had a leather taste but not much more. (Puerh improves with re-steeps.) Third cup still has a strong leather component and a slight bitterness but is developing something fruity in the fragrance. Third cup the fruitiness is gone replaced by a sober, rich flavor and fragrance as if apricots had dried without their classic sweetness.

Throughout this tea has a nice calming quality to it with just a little of the puerh buzz, that sense that one can be both meditatively alert and drunk on summer flowers at the same moment.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

Carolyn! We haven’t seen tasting notes, comments, or discussions from you in months and some of us were pretty worried. Welcome back, you were missed. <3


Welcome back, Carolyn! It’s great to see you on my Dashboard again. :) I have you to thank for introducing me to Panyang Bohea Select, which in turn led me to Panyang Bohea Supreme, now one of my all-time favorite teas!


@Cofftea: No need to worry, everything was just really busy and I settled into drinking The Simple Leaf’s Dawn tea everyday (and therefore had nothing to say and no time to write). Unfortunately I went to order more Dawn and they’ve closed up their shop. Obviously this means I must find a substitute for Dawn and Steepster is a good place to work things out. I’m still busy, but I clearly can’t deal with life without tea, so I’m back.

@LadyLondonderry: I love the Panyang Bohea Select. I’ll have to try the Panyang Bohea Supreme. Thanks for the comment.


Yeah we’ve been talking about SL’s closing for a while. No one can find out what’s going on. I still think of you every time I drink or comment on a pu erh tasting note:)

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I’m a suddenly enthusiastic tea aficionado. I had no idea how varied and delicious teas could be. Also I’m a dairy-free vegetarian, so if you see me say “cream” or “milk” it means soy milk or soy cream.



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