2229 Tasting Notes

I have a friend who I have known for about fifteen years, but we don’t see each other often. She had two children when we met – a boy and a girl – and went on to have four more little girls. They live a storybook life in a storybook house. She decorates beautifully, the children love old Roy Rogers movies, she homeschools, and they use Spode every day. The oldest daughter sews the most amazing dresses and makes precious felted animals and dolls for her etsy shop.

I wondered if all those little girls might not get tired of being with ALL those little girls all the time! I suggested that my friend choose one of the four young ones to send over for a grown up tea time with me. She picked her middle daughter, ten years old, to be the first to come over. I made S’Mores sandwiches and I had asked her in advance what kind of tea she liked. She said she liked English Breakfast and Earl Grey.

I picked this one as our first tea to cut through the sweetness of the sandwiches. She added milk and sugar, I took mine plain. They call this their number three level “strong” tea but I found it milder than their number two strength. I steeped it at 203F for three minutes and it felt just right for me. This is loose leaf but definitely not whole leaf – more like particles, which is why I keep the steep short.

My oldest daughter had just sent a message from Ireland to ask if I needed for her to pick up some more M&S tea, but I told her they have brought so much I can’t finish it all before it gets stale. She also told me that she purchased an assortment of teas from Covent Garden and Whittard when she was in London, but I can only have part of it now as the rest is for Christmas. I do, however, have a key to her apartment…


What a nice gesture to make for the girls. My mother has a friend who has been having teas once a year for the girls at her church for the last 6 years. It has turned into a wonderful tradition with the oldest girl now being 16 and still looking forward to attending. Could be you are starting a tradition. :)


That is lovely! Those girls will remember that all their lives, and hopefully it will help shape them into the kind of women who support and encourage each other! The eight year old has requested the next tea time!


I always enjoy your tea party stories!


I always enjoy your stories as well!


Yes, the tea party stories are wonderful! I wish I could come to one!


I wish all of you could comeI :)


S’mores sandwiches? Please explain.


LOL! My daughter saw them on a menu for a local deli but they didn’t have any so I looked at the ingredients and gave it a try. They are delicious. Butter two pieces of bread like you are going to make a grilled cheese. Spread one piece on the unbuttered side with Nutella. Crush a graham cracker sheet in your hand and sprinkle the bits on the Nutella. On the other piece of bread, spread marshmallow creme or “Fluff”, although I think regular marshmallows would probably work, too. Then I put it in my panini press but I don’t let it squish all the way, I set it to stay open just a bit. It is yummy! I cut the sandwiches in four triangles. The little girl’s mom finished off the plate of leftover ones while watching my dog run through his tricks and said she would have done tricks like Sam to get them!


oh wow! Those sound amazing, as I love everything S’mores.

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How is it that I have no tasting note for this? I could have sworn I had it before! This is a free sample provided by Teavivre for review.

We haven’t been out for Asian buffet take out in a few weeks and decided to go tonight. We like to drink a nice green or oolong tea with our meal and this one caught my eye. I put the entire sample packet into my 24 ounce pot, heated the water to 175F, and steeped for just barely over one minute. The tea was so fragrant already! I immediately poured that steep into a tetsubin and resteeped those leaves, again for just a few seconds over one minute.

There is a lovely, light chocolate-y aroma here, as if I had eaten a candy bar and a little chocolate melted on my fingers and I can smell that faint scent. This tea has a lot of body, a vegetal taste, and just enough strength to make it taste super mellow with your food and still really good even without food. It doesn’t get astringent or bitter making it this way. I am rarely a fan of astringency. As I was eating, I noticed that the tea sometimes seemed creamy, without tasting buttery. Lots of body here!

This is a tea of high pedigree, and I would gladly recommend it to the friend who wants to start drinking greens but until last week had never found one she liked. This is a very enjoyable dragonwell!

Thank you, Teavivre, for the marvelous and generous sample!

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This morning I experimented with making a homemade chai with just my favorite things in it. I am not a huge fan of turmeric in chai but my Indian acquaintances here put a lot of it, as well as black pepper. Now, it may be sacrilege that I didn’t put any pepper, and maybe I can’t legitimately call this chai, but it was really good.

I add 1/2 tsp. of whole cardamom, a few whole allspice, and a bit of Ceylon cinnamon to two teaspoons of Assam. I simmered this in two cups of water for almost twenty minutes. I strained it into a teapot and added sugar, gave it a good stir, and added some hot milk. It. Was. YUMMY.

For all you chai lovers who like the black pepper and turmeric, I apologize for offending your sensibilities. I will happily call this just “spiced tea” and keep on drinking it. My only regret was that I hadn’t made a larger portion!


Sounds delicious to me!

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drank Boston Blend by Harney & Sons
2229 tasting notes

Okay all, I am getting ready to preach!

Three years ago this week I went for a mammogram. I was about a year late because I was too busy to get one and since I was the poster child for low risk factor I really didn’t need to go, did I now? There was no lump, no changes. But it came back abnormal.

A second one was ordered, then a biopsy, and finally on December 21st I received the official diagnosis. I had cancer. The cancer it was impossible for me to have because I had four kids, I breastfed them, and there was no family history of it.

How does this apply to tea?

This is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Panera Bread sells a special bagel in the shape of a ribbon. It is cherry vanilla flavored and I miss it when they quit making them.

Today I ground some wheat and made my usual buttermilk bread loaf, but this time I added some vanilla, Craisins, and chopped walnuts to try to recreate the taste of the bagel I love but can only buy one month out of the year. This loaf of bread is already history. Writer’s Group finished all that was left after tea time today! I also made a homemade version of Panera’s Cheesecake Spread, which is just cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon. (I left out the crushed graham crackers.)

What would be more perfect to pair with it than Mike Harney’s masterful Boston Blend? Everyone went so nuts over this tea that I made three large pots just for group, and one at tea time earlier. One group member who is crazy about green teas and jasmine teas said it was her most favorite tea of all the ones she has ever had at my house…and she isn’t even a huge black tea fan!

This is an intimate, cozy up tea. A quiet steady friend tea. A comfort tea.

Now, if you are female, make sure you have had your mammogram. If you are male, pester the women in your life to get one. My husband prodded me to go, “just to be sure.” I am thankful.


in my opinion everyone EVERYONE needs to read this review and hit hit the like button. it’s important.

ashmanra, i am very glad you are okay. my mother is also a survivor.


Congratulations to your mom, JustJames! When I was diagnosed, my dear hubby was so rattled that when we went off he introduced me as “this is my wife who just got diagnosed with breast cancer!” At the car dealership, the receptionist called two other women to her desk and introduced them to me, saying they had all had cancer and were all survivors, and that I was going to be one, too. It was so encouraging.


isn’t it strange and remarkable the places where people pull together when we need them? complete strangers, that share wisdom and become friends and supporters. these are the people that we didn’t know but that we never forget. i have a few of those too. xo


In Denmark we have a huge screening program for cervical cancer. All women are supposed to receive a letter encouraging them to have a smear test done when they are between I think 23 and 50-something. Recently it was discovered that due to a computer glitch at some point thousands of people had fallen out of the program and had been invited for many years. Quite a scandal over here. Last I heard there were 11 women who had applied for compensation. There’s a public screening program for breast cancer as well, but I can’t remember at what age that starts. I think around 40 or something.


What an incredible story. I am so relieved that it had a happy ending, and ama lso relieved that your husband prodded you to go. The realization that I could lose a loved one in an instant is never far from my mind (as gruesome as that sounds), and I’m glad that people are taking their health seriously.


Good for you, happy you are healthy now! And great job encouraging others!


Wonderful review and so happy to hear of the happy ending!


Thank you for sharing your story!


Thank you, all! It is so easy to get checked, and so important. Because mine was caught early, it greatly reduced the impact it had on my life. Please get checked out! :) maybe a bunch of female relatives should make it a yearly party! LOL! Get squished and then have a good time!



Also, for women under 30, they don’t advise mammograms because of the radiation, but definitely keep on top of self-exams and have an ultrasound if there is cause for concern (I actually just had one – it’s benign, fortunately.) I’ve known grad students who have been diagnosed and gone through chemo.


Thank you for that reminder, self checks are vital and need to start early as well. If you have breasts, check them. A friend of mine who is a P.A. Had a clean mammo and five months later found a large lump – a fast growing, aggressive cancer. She is fine now, because she did her self checks. A student’s young grandmother told me she found a lump and wouldn’t go at first, and when she finally went she had stage four cancer. Check! Go! Do it!


True, I have a friend who got tested every year as her family has that gene focused on the French Canadian population that predisposes them to breast cancer. Her mother’s side of the family have lost a frightenly large number of women to it. Despite all this loss, her grandmother remains one of the singly most positive people I’ve met.

Terri HarpLady

Thanks for this post! My mom is also a survivor.
I like the ‘get squished party’ idea, as none of us enjoy these exams.


i scheduled my first one some weeks ago. Going on Monday


Great! and it really isn’t so bad, especially if you get the digital machines. The only one I really hated was two weeks after my first surgery they did one. OWOWOWOWOW! LOL! ,a inky because the plate was shoved into the incision under my arm. But other than that it has been fine. For the first few after the surgeries, and they do them more frequently then, I took ibuprofen before going and it really was no biggie.


Thank you for sharing you story. i really admire your positive attitude.

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drank Blueberry Green by Harney & Sons
2229 tasting notes

After drinking lots of puerh, my friend wanted to try a green tea. She said she had never had a good one so I took her to my tea wall and we sniffed some different ones. She loved the smell of this one, but she said, “I want it to be something easily accessible to me!” I told her they were sachets and were available at Barnes and Noble and she was ready to try a cup.

We made a pot, and again she did not reach for the sugar. She took a sip and said rather shocked, “So the only reason I have been adding sugar to tea was to cover up how nasty it was? This is fantastic by itself!”

I have a new tea padawan! :D


Omg, you have a whole tea wall? what’s it like?


LOL! I should be ashamed, but I’m not! There are four shelves holding 67 tins at the moment, most of them Harney and Sons black and gold tins. When tea comes in a different kind of tin, either they or I repackage it so it matches. Below the shelves there is a chest. It holds my Teavivre teas that are in pouches. I keep some of my most used Teavivre teas in tins on the shelves, though. My French teas are kept in a cabinet and the teas my daughter and her fiancé bring me from Europe are in a basket. I have these smaller stash baskets. I know, I know, too much! But honestly, I give away a ton of tea! I have even sent boxes of tea home with people!


I am jealous! quite jealous!

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This is my favorite puerh without a doubt. If I have a new guest coming to tea and they say they already like and drink tea, I often serve Harney’s Paris or some other flavored black that I feel is a sure thing. If they say they drink coffee and don’t really drink tea or know anything about it, they get this!

A few days ago, a lady I haven’t seen in five years posted that she needed feed bags for a project. I offered her mine and told her to stop by when I have time for tea. She said she didn’t really drink it and to surprise her with something unusual and adventurous. I made this!

When she arrived she told me that she normally took her coffee with milk and sugar, and that was how she had tried her grocery store greens that she dumped out. But she tried this puerh with nothing added and nearly swooned. She loved the cedar-y flavor, the smoothness, and the creamy mouthfeel. We had about eight steeps and honestly, I think the last was my favorite. We swished it around and such a sweetness and bright yet mellow flavor was there. It was pure delight.

This is one of the teas that must ALWAYS be on hand.


Interesting – onto the shopping list it goes.


This one is so good! I only have one serving left, and I’m hoarding it. Sadly it’s out of stock.


I’ll have to dig mine out when I get home. I haven’t tried it but it’s in my cupboard!


Sounds great!

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drank Pumpkin Spice by Harney & Sons
2229 tasting notes

I forgot that I had already tried this tea and bought two sachets at Barnes and Noble to make at home.

My opinion remains the same. It is one of the more palatable rooibos blends (I am not a fan of rooibos but was tasting it to see if my pumpkin obsessed daughter would like it) and reminds me of mulled cider more than pumpkin pie.

I noticed they also have it at Target, and a young man told me yesterday that a friend loves it and had recommended it to him. If you like rooibos and mulling spices, try it! It is certainly a very fall, cozy, holiday sort of tisane.


Whenever I think of putting another Harney tea on my to try list, I always see if you’ve reviewed it first! :)


Wow, that is a lot of responsibility, like Spider-Man! LOL! Well, I hope the reviews are helpful. I have a soft spot in my heart for their teas, as they were my first tea loves! SimplyJenW has also tasted a bajillion Harney’s teas, so she would be a good one to check as well! :)


I love Harney teas also! I have a tin of Queen Catherine and Panyang Congou on their way right now!

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drank Big Red Sun by Harney & Sons
2229 tasting notes

One of the first fine teas I ever bought was Harney and Sons Royal English Breakfast in the Historic Royal Palaces tin at Barnes and Noble. My youngest daughter really loved it and I bought it several times, but we really got away from making anything but loose leaf tea and she started drinking Vanilla Black or Lapsang teas.

A couple of months ago I asked her to finish up the tin as I was doing a tea clean out. Those last two cups recaptured her heart and she wanted more. What to do? I didn’t want more big sachet tins, and I wanted loose leaf. As I looked at their website I discovered that Big Red Sun and Royal English Breakfast seem to be exactly the same tea!

Harney and Sons even repackaged it for me into the black and gold tin so it would match the others on my tea wall!

I had it with my bagel yesterday and I am convinced this is exactly the same as REB. It was so robust that with my meal it actually tasted fruity. It has that really distinctive flavor that shouts TEA!! early in the morning. Slightly astringent, bold, full of body, yet I was able to enjoy it plain and didn’t have to tame it with milk and sugar. This is a keeper, and I am planning to share this with my new doctor who is from Eritria and loves Kenyan tea. I think he will love it even more blended with this smooth and malty Ceylon.

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I am so excited. LOL! I wanted this last year but didn’t get it, and then I gave one as a gift to a friend but I had it shipped straight to her so I never saw it in person.

When I placed my most recent Harney order, I decided to get one for myself and I justified it by saying it as a good way to have a varied assortment for guests. LOL!

Well, it is here, it is adorable, it is handsome, and I would gladly give this as a gift to anyone, even to people who are not as ga-ga over tea as I am.

It comes in a snug cardboard box to protect it. This would also make it super easy to wrap if you were giving it away.

The wooden box is very attractive, super well made, and I couldn’t believe how many little tea bags they managed to fit in it. They are foil wrapped and no aroma is escaping from any, even though I know that a few of these are very aromatic. So that means there will be no contamination of flavors.

I love it, love it, LOVE it! (I already have their large tea chest, and love it, too.)


Sounds like such a lovely gift!

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I bought this to tide me over until my Harney order arrives. It is more astringent than Harney’s but for the price it isn’t bad at all, and went well with my bagel. It smells absolutely awesome when I open my tin. With food, the astringency is subdued and not at all unpleasant, but I do prefer the Harney and Nina’s versions to this one. It is a great value, though.


Ah, see I’m still on the hunt for a really good, strong vanilla black tea. I had high hopes for vanilla Comoro, but it just doesn’t seem to be working out so far.


Have you tried their Vanilla Black? Vanilla Comoro is decaf. Also Vanille des Îles by Marriage Freres is pretty good, but I think Nina’s Je T’Aime is better.


Maybe you could even add your own vanilla beans or vanilla caviar? The stuff from Olive Nation can’t be beat, IMO. I use it to make my vanilla extract and it is the best and most economical I have found.


Oh yes, both vanilla black and je t’aime are on my to try list.


Agreed on Je t’aime! very good vanilla tea. I am always questing for vanilla, as its my favorite. I’ll look up Vanille des Iles as well.

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I am a music teacher, tutor, and former homeschool mom (25 years!) who started drinking loose leaf tea about seven years ago! My daughters and I have tea every day, and we are frequently joined by my students or friends for “tea time.” Now my hubby joins us, too. His tastes have evolved from Tetley with milk and sugar to mostly unadorned greens and oolongs.

We have learned so much history, geography, and culture in this journey.

My avatar is a mole in a teacup! Long story…


North Carolina

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