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Recent Tasting Notes
I have to begin this review with a question. Has anyone ever noticed that first flush Darjeelings seem to be getting greener and greener? When I first tore into this packet, I was taken aback by how green the leaves were. Most were a dark silvery and/or brownish olive. This was clearly going to be a different kind of first flush Darjeeling.
Due to the appearance of the leaves, I was concerned that the preparation I typically use for first flush Darjeelings would not work with this tea, so I decided to follow the vendor’s recommended preparation method to the letter. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 175 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.
Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted interesting aromas of guava, pineapple, mango, bee balm, and lemon balm. I did not pick up much in the way of Muscat. After infusion, the previously described aromas greatly intensified, though I was now able to pick up a subtle Muscat presence. In the mouth, the tea immediately produced a rush of lemon balm and bee balm flavors. Notes of mango, pineapple, guava, Muscat grape, and ripe papaya balanced by a touch of cream soon followed. The finish was very smooth and fruity, allowing lingering impressions of lemon balm, mango, papaya, Muscat, and pineapple to mingle.
This was an odd, though very satisfying Darjeeling. I had heard that there was a move toward sweeter, fruitier, lighter first flush teas among some estates, and I am assuming that this tea is an example of that trend. I have enough of it left to see how it reacts to a higher water temperature, so I will probably try this one again later and report back if I notice anything radically different. Definitely try this one. I wouldn’t call it the type of Darjeeling to reach for on a regular basis, but I think it would make a wonderful selection when something fruity is required.
Flavors: Cream, Fruity, Guava, Herbs, Mango, Muscatel, Pineapple, Sweet
Gifted to me by the ever lovely SuperStarling!, this tea’s first scent reminds me of chocolate covered orange candies. Which I happen to love. I didn’t realize that they aren’t actually everyone’s favorite.
My mom introduced them to me when I was a kid because she loved them. I also took to them. I just kind of assumed that they were a decadent thing that most everyone enjoyed. Then I met my wife and was so excited when during the first few months of dating, we passed by a specialty chocolate store and they had those chocolate covered orange candies. I proudly passed one to her, took my own bite while momentarily closing my eyes to indulge. I slowly turned to her while opening my eyes, expecting to share that common look of “OMG this is amazing.” Instead, she was recoiling in disgust. To this day, it is one of her only flaws. Haha.
But back to the tea! So the dry leaf reminds me of that smell. I assumed that is what this was supposed to emulate. Chocolate orange. Imagine my surprise upon reading the description that says, “No, no orange.” No one else has even tagged it with that? Hmm. I brew the tea up and yup, still getting that familiar scent. Now that I see it is supposed to be chocolate and hazelnut, I can kind of get the hazelnut with it and perhaps that is what I am confusing with the chocolate orange scent.
Flavor wise, the hazelnut DOES reveal itself more than orange. I still get some orange because of the scent in my nose but I don’t think I would confuse the flavor with it.
Overall though, this tea is REALLY indulgent and delicious. A nice dessert tea. This may be something I consider ordering.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut, Orange
Burns at 185. Brewed at 175 for 3 minutes and found it to be tasty.
1 sachet makes 16 oz.
Warmed the metal thermos first with 210F water, then added in 175 over the sugar and tea.
Nutty taste is light. More like grass. It’s a very light tea, but has quite a bit of flavor to it. I like it.
Thank you for the sample Nicole/Tea-Historic!!
This is a wallop of a tea. Caffeine = yes! what a high. It managed to kick my headache for atleast an hour after finishing my cuppa. It’s back now, unfortunately. (next stop is more caffeine and an aspirin). I saw the reviews indicating how strong it was, so I underleafed at just under a teaspoon. I’m glad I did, as it came out perfectly balanced. My nerves are strung up, so I agree with others here, this is not for anyone who is caffeine sensitive, or consumption in large quantities. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that small mug of coffee shortly beforehand!
Lost track of time but I’d guess I let it go for about four minutes. Really good on it’s own, no sugar or milk added, so a dynamic tea in that regard.
A bit coppery, with a good hit of fruitiness underneath and a pleasant drying sensation. Very smooth, considering the intensity.
With a dollop of cream, it does well too.
aaaand now that I’ve tried it with regular kettle boiled water, I’m saving the rest of the sample to try at work with the water tap. For comparison.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a H&S tea. I’m sure that is adding to my giddiness :P
Yummm, tastes like delicious Harney & Sons goodness. I’m beginning to realize that I’m going to them for Earl-type variations of black teas (for mornings) and turning towards David’s Tea for rooibos or wacky flavors later in the day.
But my morning caffeinated teas are more essential. I don’t get as much citrus taste as most people are saying, more of just the classic bergamot flavor. And of course, there’s the lovely tin to match my purple and green ones. It’s worth it to spend a little extra for the pretty tins. :]
Here is another blast from the past. I somehow completely forgot this one. I have had 4 ounces of this tea sitting around for awhile now, and after packing some up to take to a friend, totally forgot I had any left. Luckily, it hasn’t faded in storage.
I ended up preparing this one gongfu. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted powerful aromas of char, cedar, smoke, and pine tar. After the rinse, each of the above aromas intensified. I also caught slight hints of malt and cocoa. The first infusion produced a similar, albeit slightly maltier, smoother bouquet. In the mouth, the expected notes of char, pine tar, cedar, and woodsmoke were balanced by notes of malt, cream, cocoa, honey, and roasted barley. Subsequent infusions saw the smoke, tar, char, and wood mellow and the grain, malt, cocoa, cream, and honey notes become more prominent. I was just barely able to detect a hint of maple syrup on a couple of these infusions. The mineral note so common to lapsang souchong also appeared at this point as well. The later infusions emphasized mineral, pine tar, and woodsmoke notes, though I could still detect faint impressions of malt and roasted barley on the tail end of the finish.
I was not expecting much out of this tea for whatever reason, yet I ended up being pleasantly surprised. It was a very woody, smoky, malty lapsang. I could see it being a good morning or afternoon tea on a cold day. Though it was not the most complex or sophisticated lapsang souchong I have tried (I found the layering of flavors to be a little too unrefined in places), it was still good.
Flavors: Cedar, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Malt, Maple Syrup, Mineral, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Tar, Wood
Since I gave this tea high praise, and it is a rather expensive tea, I am going to elaborate on it today especially for ScottTeaMan.
I received the Harney sample packet of this from a friend. Most of the leaf was used for the pot I made western style on Tuesday. I have one teaspoon left with which to experiment. I put the leaves in an eight ounce porcelain pot. Steeped for five minutes with boiling water, this is equivalent to what I had Tuesday.
I resteep. The kettle is not on, so the water temp has dropped a little. Second steep at five minutes is light in color but still flavorful. I sip just a little and combine.
Third steep – very pale and not much flavor. I combine it with remains of first two steps.
Nice surprise. The combined steeps are probably the best flavor so far! I do not like astringency. Harney does a scale of 1 to 5 to rate the briskness of a tea, and I consistently do not like teas with more than a rating of two. This tea has a rating of two. Briskness always tastes lemony to me. For me, the best cups of all were the combined three steeps, making it a much more economical tea to drink, and easy to do since I have a Kamjove to keep it hassle free.
This is a showstopper tea. The description says it is grown by monks who brought Anji tea bushes to Tong Lu. They done good.
I served this for tea party yesterday with a chocolate pound cake with whipped cream and a homemade strawberry purée/sauce on the side for a little sparkle. My guest commented several times – “This is good. This is good tea,” several times while sipping this one. That doesn’t happen often.
But quality shows and you can’t hide it in this tea. This one deserves to be on a desert island list if you like black tea that makes you stop and take notice.
Love me some H & S on a lousy winter weather morning… This one is pleasant enough, though I generally avoid berry-flavored black teas (I think berry flavoring goes better in herbal tisanes, or green tea sometimes). I used one of the silk sachets to make this cuppa.
It’s perfumey and a little metallic-smelling, and steeps an orangey-brown colored liquor.
As per usual with H & S blends, the black tea base is high-quality and rich. It tastes better than it smells— sweet, but in the organic, natural, non-cloying way that actual currants taste. Leaves a pleasant aftertaste.
Probably wouldn’t purchase a whole tin of this, but it’s not bad.
Flavors: Berries, Black Currant, Fruity, Metallic, Perfume
Here is yet another sample sipdown. I finished this one yesterday evening. As an aside, I love Earl Grey blends from Harney & Sons. I have long felt that they do Earl Grey better than most other vendors. This one did not let me down.
I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped approximately 1 teaspoon of loose leaf material in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. Obviously, I did not attempt any additional infusions.
After infusion, the dark copper tea liquor produced a heady aroma of bergamot underscored by scents of toast, cream, malt, and caramel. In the mouth, the flavor of bergamot was clean, clear, and strong, while supporting notes of toast, cream, malt, caramel, and cocoa were distinctive and well-defined.
As far as I am concerned, this Earl Grey was another winner from Harney & Sons. I enjoyed its powerful bergamot aroma and flavor, as well as the vigor of its tea base. I often find that so many contemporary Earl Grey blends overemphasize the bergamot in order to cover up tea bases that are weak and flavorless. That was certainly not the case here. Though this was very heavy on the bergamot, the tea base still provided enough support in terms of aroma and flavor to keep this blend from coming off as totally one-dimensional and unbalanced. There was a lot to appreciate about it. I think fans of robust Earl Grey blends would be very satisfied with this one.
Flavors: Bergamot, Caramel, Cocoa, Cream, Malt, Toast
Time to catch up on another review. The backlog is almost empty now. I ended up buying a sample pouch of this Assam a couple months ago mostly because I was not familiar with the estate that produces it. From what I have read about teas from this estate, they tend to run on the sweeter, more honeyed side, but apparently that was not the case with the teas that were produced during the 2016 harvests.
I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion process. Since I was mostly consuming this as a breakfast tea, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. Obviously, no additional infusions were attempted.
After infusion, the dark copper tea liquor produced a bouquet that blended aromas of oak, hickory, and black walnut with subtler aromas of cocoa, citrus, caramel, honey, and malt. In the mouth, I picked up intense notes of burnt toast, oak, hickory, black walnut, orange rind, and leather just barely balanced by smoother malt, cream, caramel, cocoa, molasses, and wildflower honey flavors. This tea was fairly astringent to start with, but grew progressively more astringent from entry to swallow.
I did not find this Assam to be terrible, but I also did not find it to be impressive either. It served its purpose as a breakfast tea, but I could not really find many other situations for which it would be suitable. The flavor had a lot of depth and complexity, but I would have liked to see the softer, sweeter flavors more adequately balance the woodiness and bitter, oily nuttiness. All in all, this one was decent, but I have had better. Maybe 2016 was just a bad year for this particular estate.
Flavors: Astringent, Caramel, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Oak wood, Orange, Toast, Walnut, Wood
I had a couple of samples of this tea left over from a couple of Harney & Sons orders. I’m still under the impression that whoever packs their freebies somehow knows what I don’t like and sends me such things as a joke. The only Harney & Sons freebie I have ever received that I recall liking was their Earl Grey Imperial. Still, I was willing to give this a chance. Though I don’t care for gingko, I do enjoy citrus and green tea, and considering the green tea base is Indian, I was immediately intrigued.
I prepared this tea using a two step Western infusion process. I started by steeping one silken sachet in 8 ounces of 175 F water for 2 minutes. I followed this infusion with a 3 minute infusion at the same temperature.
Prior to infusion, the dry blend presented a powerful mix of lemon, lemongrass, hay, and straw. There was a little bit of nuttiness from the gingko too. After infusion, the bouquet became more integrated and intense. In the mouth, I discovered a powerful, yet muddled mix of dried grass, lemon zest, hay, straw, lemongrass, nuts, and wood. The nuttiness and woodiness of the gingko became more intense on the finish, drying my mouth out and leaving me parched. The second infusion was more mellow, offering more prominent aromas and flavors of lemon and lemongrass before the gingko once again asserted itself and left my mouth and throat feeling dry.
I have to give this blend credit for one thing-it reminded me of why I do not particularly care for gingko. I could not stand how it kept popping up at the end and drying out my mouth. The citrus and lemongrass did not really help matters either. Part of the problem here was that the base tea did not seem all that interesting. It was as if Harney & Sons tried to cover its blandness up with additives that did not work all that well together. To me, this blend just came off as a mess. There was no balance. Everything was out of focus. I highly doubt I will ever have this one again.
Flavors: Drying, Grass, Hay, Lemon Zest, Lemongrass, Nuts, Straw, Wood
I have been making a concerted effort to drink more green tea for the past couple of days. I have been so wrapped up in black teas and oolongs lately that I have been seriously neglecting all of the green teas I have acquired over the last several months. After reviewing the Sencha from Touch Organic last night, I was having trouble sleeping (too much caffeine earlier in the day), and after resigning myself to not getting much sleep, decided to stay up and read. Oddly, I started craving genmaicha and realized I still had some of this left, so I had some. This morning I then discovered that I had never previously reviewed this tea. Now I’m taking care of that.
I prepared this tea using a three step Western infusion process. I started off by steeping 1 teaspoon of the loose tea and rice mix in approximately 8 ounces of 160 F water for 1 minute 30 seconds. The recommended water temperature seemed a bit low to me, but I decided to roll with it anyway. I followed this initial infusion up with a 45 second and a 1 minute 30 second infusion.
Prior to infusion, I picked up lovely aromas of toasted rice, grass, hay, and nuts. Even with my sinuses draining, these aromas came through loud and clear. After infusion, the aromas described above intensified and were joined by a slight seaweed scent. In the mouth, mild, smooth notes of butter, soybean, spinach, hay, straw, grass, and seaweed balanced much more pronounced notes of chestnut and toasted rice. The second infusion was nuttier and grainier on the nose and in the mouth. It also offered a touch of minerals on the back of the throat. The final infusion was subtly grassy, vegetal, and briny, offering a mild toasted rice note under lingering aromas and flavors of grass, hay, spinach, minerals, and seaweed.
I don’t really get the lowish rating for this tea here on Steepster. This genmaicha offered a lovely toasted rice character that was authentic and adequately balanced by the lighter, grassier bancha. While I do not drink a ton of genmaicha, I have encountered far worse. For the money, I found this one to be very good. I would recommend that anyone looking to get into this type of tea or looking for a daily drinker start here.
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Grass, Hay, Mineral, Seaweed, Soybean, Spinach, Straw, Toasted Rice
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Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves, Fireplace, Spicy, Sweet