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Recent Tasting Notes
I remember reading great reviews about this tea, being tempted but passing on it since it had been only available in sachets at the time. Recently I saw it offered as loose leaf and immediately ordered – this tea has not disappointed. I always liked the famed Paris from Harris and Sons but felt that it was just a bit understated and underpowered. Tower of London seems to address all of my little peeves about Paris perfectly.
It is floral, sweet and bergamoty. Lush, decadent, tempting. I usually do not add milk and sugar to my blacks since they get inevitably hopelessly overpowered but this tea strangely tastes as if milk and sugar has already ALREADY been added to it and just in the right amount. This blend is by far my favorite Harney and Sons tea.
I had one teabag of this as a freebie from a Harney order, so I didn’t want to sip it down without writing a note. It’s definitely not Harney’s best. An okay black tea… I was surprised to see it’s a keemun, as it mostly tasted like Ceylon with a hint of Assam. There is a bright, fruity note with a bit of a kick. But not enough kick for me if it’s a ‘breakfast’ tea. Both steeps tasted the same. I DO appreciate that I was able to try it for free though! Thanks Harney!
English breakfasts is an odd type of teas: it can come seemingly from any country and run the entire gamut of all possible black tea flavors. This one consists of Keemuns and is rather mild, which I like.
For starters, unlike many of its brethren, it has some perceptible flavor of sweetness, malt, spice, and crushed blueberries. Rather pleasant. The taste is not super complex but also agreeable: honeyed sweetness, malt, pepper, wood. You need to steep it for a while and there is no possibility to get anything decent for second steeping.
The power of branding is a funny thing: I would definitely be disappointed if I bought it as a Keemun, but as an English Breakfast it tastes OK to me.
Unlikely to reorder anyway: there are tons of teas that have more personality.
Flavors: Blueberry, Honey, Malt, Pepper, Wood
Generally, I am not a big fan of budget Indian/Ceylon/ Kenyan Assams (too bitter, too simple) but this one tasted surprisingly good for me. The taste has enough complexity with floral, apricot, baked bread, malt and honey-sweet notes. The bitterness is present but it is not extreme and blends well with other flavors. This tea is certainly can be enjoyed without sugar or milk and works best as a morning tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Bitter, Floral, Honey, Malt
I got it thrown in as a freebie with my last Harney’s order, so I guess I log it in as well. On a side note, it is the second time that I order loose black Chinese teas there and receive sachets of herbals as free samples. I suspect that they just have some disinterested worker throwing in the same free samples in each order without any attempt at customization. Which is bad and speaks of less-than-stellar operation practices. Incidentally, the free samples that I have gotten at Teavivre or White2Tea always displayed some thought put into it, have been aligned with my order and, unsurprisingly, did lead to my ordering of the sampled tea in larger quantities afterwards.
Anyway, this tea is pretty standard for herbals. Not bad, but not spectacular either. the mint takes the leading role, while verbena adds some heft and an extra dimension. And, as other reviewers mentioned before, the mint is rather muted and not-in-your face – and I actually liked it. Oh, and the sachet is large and potent enough for multiple steepings.
Not a bad choice at all if you are into herbals and mint, which I am regrettably not – despite all the clever wild guesses of the Harney and Son’s order fillers.
I am usually apprehensive about trying “smoky” teas. Too often in my experience they used some low-quality base and tried to hide it by overdoing the smoky part. Besides, I tend to agree with many people in China that Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, the main ingredient of “smoky teas”, is better enjoyed in its more natural unsmoked state. So, I made a cup of Russian Country tea and prepared myself for a disappointment. I was wrong.
This tea combines Lapsang Souchong with 4 other teas and they actually blend quite nicely together. The smokiness is not overdone and is being quite pleasantly complemented by the sweetness of Keemun and the vegetal sourness of Oolong. And Assam and Ceylon, which are often to heavy-handed for me in tea blends, kept their worst qualities at bay. Leather, malt, pine and salted caramel.
I am not a big fun of tea blends that are not built around some herbs or fruit but this one certainly has legs to stand on a reason to exist beyond the necessity to sell less than exciting teas. I most likely will not re-order it but will certainlyenjoy finishing the 100 grams that I bought.
Flavors: Caramel, Grass, Leather, Salt, Smoke, Sweet
A blend of 8 different teas for a 1990s international political summit. Intriguing. I prepared it with 300 ml of 212 degree water: used 3 grams of leaves and let it steep for 3 minutes.
The dry leaves looked not that exciting for a mix of 8 teas: it was mostly medium-sized black tea leaves with some small broken pieces of greens and an occasional white needle. They also had NO aroma, which was predictable for (most? all?) Harney and Sons teas but still rather disappointing.
The brewed teas presented a rather unusual tea profile: a brief splash of Keemun/Fujian, quickly replaced by bitterness and lingering sourness. The dominant notes are of unripe berries, red currant, grass and floral. The overall effect is bracing and energy-giving. This tea was less complex than I had expected and the flavors did not really blend that well, however, this bitterness/sourness was intriguing. It is quite possible that this tea may grow on you after trying it several times. It reminded me a young exuberant and hot-headed sheng, with its imperfections tempered by addition of mellow and wise teas.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Grass, Sour
This tea looked promising: unusually short for Yunnans but certainly unbroken leaves with a definite presence of golden tips. Unlike many Harney and Sons’ teas it even had a dry leaf aroma of raisins, pears and malt. This aroma quickly transformed itself into some generic overripe berries in the wet leaves and subsequently mysteriously completely vanished from my resulting cup of tea (3 minutes per tea spoon, Western style).
The tea itself was eminently smooth and unispiring: some (honey? apricot?) sweetness plus some bitterness (cherry? chocolate?) There were probably some notes one can recognize via extreme concentration but why on Earth would I force myself into doing it?
In short, some very generic Yunnan that does nothing to charm you outright or even show a promise worth exploring via gongfu.
Oh, and as all other basic Harney and Sons teas it needs a looong steeping time to acquire a decent taste with disernable elements and there is NO possibility of steeping it one more time: it produces something utterly undrinkable despite it deceptively dark color.
I was attracted to Harney and Sons’ teas because of their price – about $5 per 100g after discounts. And yes, they are about 2-3 times cheaper than basic offerings from Yunnan Sourcing and Teavivre but this advantage is negated by the fact that you can steep those more expensive teas multiple times and gongfu them as well. And oh, they also taste MUCH better and are way more complex. And they actually offer you the info on harvest date and location. So in the end Harvey’s teas provide you with about an equal number of tea cups – that have very little smell and taste quite basic – as direct-from-China web vendors. I can still see Harvey’s advantages for the fanciers of flavored blends or basic teas to mix with milk and sugar but that is really not me.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Cherry, Honey, Pear
After following for a while excited reviews by Stoo of Harney and Son’s teas and looking at their super-low prices I decided to get a bunch of them and see if I can make them my workhorse everyday teas. The results so far are not even “decidedly mixed” but one never-ending disappointment.
This review will start a string of my reviews of basic Harney and Sons Chinese blacks and blends.
Malachi McCormick is one of their legacy mixes, named after one of tea enthusiasts of the 1980s and 90s. It includes basic Assam and Keemun. The dry leaf has little to know smell save for a faint generic “black tea aroma”. The aroma does not suddenly appear in a brewed tea either. the taste has three distinct peaks, with the initial malty heaviness of Assam quickly followed (and tempered) by a sweet wave of Keemun, which, in turn, is replaced by a lingering starchy Assam-driven aftertaste. The taste profiles of those peaks are quite basic and one-dimensional. This tea is almost exclusively suited for the Western-style brewing, when I – despite my grave misgivings – tried to gongfu it, the heavy bitterness of Assam overran everything else and the resulting tea was BAD.
This tea is certainly not for perusing and nuance-looking. Looks like a each of its ingredients have several flaws and combining them mutes them somewhat but certainly does not cancels out completely. And this is typical for all tea blends that I tried so far: all of them are made out of lower quality teas. I begin to suspect that I never encountered tea blends out of higher quality teas because those have enough complexity and balance on their own. Also, Malachi McCormick is certainly well suited for addition of milk. Or Sugar. Or for drinking with jams-preserves-any kind of food. But what is it as not an attempt to further hide and rectify the imperfection of the original materials? This tea -as many other Harney and Sons blends – seems to be destined to play the part of a bass guitar in a song where the major task of carrying the melody is reserved for other instruments. It could be fine for other folks but I strongly expect each tea to be able to stand on its own and shine and that is something that Malachi was incapable of doing for me.
I have liked teas from this region of Ceylon. This just didn’t do it for me. Way too astringent for my liking. Was similar to a CTC cut for the tea…I am wondering if that is why it’s so bitter. I am sure this tea would be great with cream and sugar, but to me that’s a sign of a poor tea. I will probably use the rest to make chai with.
Flavors: Bitter, Sour
I like this tea, but it is nothing special. It is a keemum or keemum blend of medium quality. There are higher quality keemums available such as Hao Ya B (or A), or various others depending on where you buy them. Ultimately it is good for what it is: a breakfast tea to please the masses . . . those who want to step up their game from lipton or PG Tips.
Flavors: Caramel, Malt
I cracked this open for the first time yesterday, but didn’t get a chance to write a note about it.
Interestingly, when I had it yesterday, what I tasted was chocolate and raspberry. Then I read the description. Cranberry and almond!
However, it appears I’m not the first to taste/smell chocolate, so I feel a little better.
In the tin, I still smell chocolate and I still smell berry, though what I smell might be more cherry than anything else. Like chocolate covered cherries? Not cranberry for sure, and not almond.
After steeping, there’s not so much chocolate in the aroma and something that is definitely nutty. I can get to almond if I try. And the strong smell of cherry/berry is less, too. I can get to cranberry, but honestly I wouldn’t pick it out if I was blindfolded.
The tea is medium brown. Sort of “chestnut” as in the color of a horse.
Regardless of what this is supposed to be and what I get out of it, I really like it. It’s very flavorful, naturally sweet (but not too sweet), still has that hint of chocolate/cherry even in the flavor. But I do taste the cranberry, and I like cranberry quite a bit. So there’s that, too.
Flavors: Almond, Cherry, Chocolate, Cranberry, Raspberry
I did not expect to like this one. Ceylon teas can be a little too bitter for me usually, but this one was mega smooth and nicely malty. There were the usual cocoa notes that people get with this tea, but it was a nice contrast with the vanilla making the tea sweet like syrup. Maple was one of the things I picked up on more than pure cocoa. I actually liked it more than Golden Orchid-I know, blasphemy, but this one was smoother…although Golden Orchid is a vanilla gong fu tea. I only needed this black tea twice, however, this afternoon.
Since it has been nearly a month now, I figured I should finally get around to copying over the reviews I hastily scribbled in a portable notepad I carried in my purse when I was on vacation Memorial Day Weekend.
This is a pot of tea I shared with Todd at Snake River Tea during my Anime Oasis convention weekend in Boise. They call it “Red Hot Cinnamon” but I am very certain it is the Hot Cinnamon Spice tea from Harney & Sons as the source based on the look of the leaf, the ingredients, and my experiences tasting the tea compared with other reviews.
This tea had a very heavy cinnamon aroma! The flavor of the tea tasted to me very much like cinnamon candies, like Red Hots or Cinnamon Gummy Bears (I always did prefer the chocolate covered ones…) Personally I find the cinnamon flavor a bit too heavy-handed, with only a very subtle clove spice note, leaving the cinnamon lingering on the tongue after the sip. Thankfully that lingering spice taste was more of a sweet warmth rather than an actual spicy heat. Not my favorite cinnamon tea, but it wasn’t an unpleasant pot of tea, either.
Flavors: Artificial, Candy, Cinnamon, Clove, Spicy, Sweet
Looking for a green tea with citrus which I love when I get a bottled one. Wanted to be able to make my own. Out of the few others I tried I like this. Ordered a sample size. First time it was good but I didn’t love ot. Second time I made it was just now and omg soooooo much better. 2tsp of tea. 1cup water. 4 tsp of sugar over 12 ice cubes. Made a good size glass. To fill my fav cup I’d do 3tsp of tea and 1.5 water. Maybe same amount of sugar. Or a dash more. I resteeped a cup just to see what it would taste like