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Recent Tasting Notes
Home – 2:00 PM
This is from my swap with ashmanra.
I think I accidentally added a bit too much water to this, but it’s still quite good! The white tea is light and creamy, with notes of oats and hay. The pear flavor seems to be more of a poached pear than a fresh one. There’s just a hint of cinnamon.
This tea makes me think of a pear crumble! Baked pears, a touch of cinnamon, and a lovely sweet oat crumble topping.
I’ll have to put this one down to order the next time I need some from Harney & Sons!
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Cream, Hay, Oats, Pear, Sweet
Home – 1:00 PM
From my swap with AJRimmer!
I’m not always the biggest fan of tropical fruit in black tea – to me, it pairs much better with green oolongs, greens, or even whites. I prefer my fruity black teas to be more on the side of red fruits, or stonefruit, or berries.
But here we are! The base tea here is surprisingly earthy, even to the point of tasting a bit mineral. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, just unexpected for a fruity tea. The flavoring tastes like a combination of mango and passion fruit, and there’s a little bit of a floral note.
Overall, it’s fine. It’s probably a good choice for someone who likes tropical black teas, although the base tea is a bit unusual.
Flavors: Earth, Floral, Mango, Mineral, Passion Fruits
This is a sample tin I have had for a while. I know I’ve had this tea before, and I’m perplexed by the absence of a note on it. So here I go, solving that problem.
I’m going to rinse, then steep this one with short steeps in the gaiwan for this initial note foray. Later I may try it in the yixing.
I am a big green oolong fan. I generally prefer them to the darker ones, though there are always exceptions. This one looks pretty green — the leaves are a jade color rather than a brown. The dry leaves also have that wonderful green oolong floral smell.Starting with a 15 second steep, this tea makes a light butter yellow liquor that also smells of butter and flowers. This is what makes green oolongs one of my favorites! I wish I was better at discerning floral scents. I want to say it is gardenias I am smelling and tasting here?
The second steep, 20 seconds, if anything, brings these flavors out even more. There is a mild, vegetal undertone in the sip and a nuttiness to the finish. I find myself agreeing with the description that it is reminiscent of almond.
Third steep, 25 seconds. The leaves have fully unfurled from their balled state and doubled the volume of leaf in the gaiwan. The steeped leaves have a sharp, woody scent.
A little toastiness is coming through in this steep. The flavor is less round and buttery than the first two steeps and is fresher and perkier this time.
Fourth steep, 30 seconds. Less floral, more vegetal this time. A little like snow peas. After the tea is gone, the cup smells sugary.
Fifth steep, 35 seconds. The flavor is starting to fade, but is still floral and nutty.
It has been a while since I had a green oolong. I didn’t realize how deprived I was feeling until I had this one. So while I’m fairly sure this isn’t the best I’ve ever had, I’m inclined to rate it based on my experience today — which my pent up demand undoubtedly influenced.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Floral, Gardenias, Peas
today has been a very stressful day, spent 2 hours at the vet with my cat who was not eating. they did a full blood panel and urinalysis, both of which looked good (he has kidney disease and I was worried that he was getting anemic, which is not what is happening). the bad news is they don’t know why exactly he has been more sleepy/not eating (the not eating/not eating very much thing started yesterday evening and continued this morning), they gave him an injection and some other medication, one to treat potential nausea and the other to help with his appetite (this one is a little tablet that I will have to give him every 72 hours and I’m already feeling anxious about giving him a pill). when we got home, Spooky started eating a little bit, and then we took a nap. now he’s been eating off and on, which is great. tomorrow he goes back for some fluids, because he was a bit dehydrated. I’m not a big fan of leaving him at the vets office though, I love the staff and his doctor, but I get weird when I have to leave him there.
anyway, what a weird ass way to drink hojicha. I ordered this on a whim (well, kinda, I really want to put this in some oatmeal), what a novel thing, I thought. prepared this like it was matcha, but instead of that wonderful green/sea matcha smell, I was greeted with the warm coffee/nutty hojicha smell. uuuuuh. they should make hojicha candles. I really enjoyed this, but I also just really love hojicha in general so….
Flavors: Coffee, Nutty, Wood
Work – 11:00 AM
Ahhh, I love Earl Grey in the morning… ❤
This tea claims to be an Earl Grey with grapefruit, but to me it tastes more like sweet orange or mandarin. There are a few white tips mixed in with the black tea as well.
It’s definitely a good tea. The base tea is light, and the bergamot is in balance. The added citrus is both sweet and refreshing.
However, personally I feel like they added too much of the citrus flavoring. It’s a bit heavy-handed and the tea sort of comes off as artificial and perfumey because of that. For me, that keeps it from being a truly great tea.
Luckily, I am quite happy with my stash of Kusmi citrusy Earl Greys, so I am not too disappointed! ;)
Flavors: Artificial, Bergamot, Citrusy, Grapefruit, Orange, Perfume, Smooth
There’s something very comforting and happy and warm about this tea. It is mildly tart without being sour, with nice spice underlying it. The tea base is strong but not at all bitter or astringent. A little sugar or sweetener definitely brings out the flavors more. It’s not necessarily refined and fancy, but very solid and cozy.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cranberry, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Spices
Home – 8:30 PM
Still packaging up some samples, but I had to take a break to write a note about this tea because I am thoroughly impressed with it!
I was afraid because mine is in sachet form, and the white tea leaves are quite crushed up inside. This can often make for a bitter white tea. With that in mind, I shortened the steep time a bit. I used two sachets for my 16-ounce pot. I was rewarded with such a lovely light Earl Grey! The bergamot smelled quite strong in the dry leaf, but I find it’s in perfect balance here. I can taste the white tea, it’s sweet and smooth with nice hay and grain notes. The bergamot makes its appearance mid-sip and strengthens toward the end. As it fades, the aftertaste is sweet and grainy (in a good way!).
Love it, especially for the price and the gorgeous tin! This may be one that I keep around always, for when I feel like a lighter Earl Grey. ❤
Flavors: Bergamot, Floral, Grain, Hay, Smooth, Sweet
The scent of this tea in the bag or canister is overwhelmingly fruity, so trying it seemed like a jump.
Once brewed, however, the scent mellows and the flavors blend beautifully. The first aroma is fruit (apple and plum) blended with cinnamon. As time goes on, you begin to pick up ginger and a touch of the currant. The flavor is wonderfully mild: apple and plum on the front note with the spices blending in as you inhale over your tongue.
Flavors: Apple, Black Currant, Cinnamon, Ginger, Plums
This was another of the tea samples I finished back around the start of September. It was something of an important sipdown for me as it spurred me to finally admit something to myself: I do not generally care for Keemun Mao Feng nearly as much as I do Hao Ya A and Hao Ya B. This particular Keemun Mao Feng was nice enough, but unfortunately, the most memorable thing about it was something of an off note.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cocoa, honey, ginger, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I noted an aroma of pine accompanied by hints of smoke. The first infusion introduced a sweet potato aroma as well as a bizarre stewed tomato scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of ginger, cocoa, honey, and smoke that were backed by impressions of sweet potato and stewed tomato. Subsequent infusions saw aromas of candied orange, malt, toast, roasted almond, and rose emerge. New flavors of candied orange, rose, malt, toast, minerals, roasted almond, leather, and caramel emerged along with belatedly appearing hints of pine and cinnamon. The final few infusions emphasized lingering notes of minerals, roasted almond, and malt that were accented by hints of ginger, sweet potato, and caramel.
For the most part, this was a decent Keemun Mao Feng, but I had trouble getting over that strange and borderline unpleasant tomato presence that was so noticeable in the early infusions. Also, this tea faded very quickly. For what it was, it was pleasant enough, but there are better teas of this type out there.
Flavors: Almond, Candy, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Ginger, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Pine, Rose, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Vegetal
Now, this is a well-reviewed, beloved by many tea. Given a recent stretch of personally disappointing teas from Harney I approached this one with trepidation but my misgivings proved to be totally unfounded. This is a nice, solid tea blend.
It does not look to much as dry leaf but has a nice powerful smell of fallen leaves , autumnal forest decay and a slight hint of Yunnan sweetness. The taste closely follows the aroma: baked bread, dry leaves and floral medow sweetness accompanied by a distinct kick from Keemuns. This rather uncomplicated flavor combination remains very steady: while consistently satisfying, this is not the tea for gaiwans. Not much of an aftertaste too.
I don’t usually drink this tea on its own since it does not have enough nuances to occupy my attention but it is excellent for drinking with food: it powerful enough to cut through all kind of food tastes and provides a nice compliment to meals.
This was one of the best entry-level-priced Harney and Sons’ teas for me with a clearly defined purpose. I avoid buying Harney’s more expensive teas since they do not disclose the harvest date or location and there are enough reputable vendors that do. It’s quite possible that Harney has good reasons for that and this way of business suited them well over the decades but it lost them me as a customer for anything but their lowest-priced teas, many of which are indisputably a good bargain.
Today I start my day with a cup of disappointment. Rule of thumb for me is that if the tea smells like nothing in the tin, it’s not going to taste all that good. This didn’t really smell like nothing, but a faint smell of hay isn’t any better.
Long story short, it wasn’t anything like the toasty, chocolatey panyangs I’ve gotten from other retailers. It was light, weak, and tasted like hay. Not anything I like or want to keep. Good thing Harney’s offering free shipping for domestic orders now, or I’d regret this even more.
This was the last tea I finished in July, and to be honest, it did not do all that much for me. I’m something of a Keemun fan, but I do not go out of my way to try them very frequently since there are other black teas I enjoy more. This one, while pleasant in the early steeps, faded very quickly and revealed a harsh texture in the mouth that I did not enjoy.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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. I normally take black teas to at least the 5 minute mark in my gongfu sessions, but I did not do that with this one because I was not getting much out of it at 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, chocolate, cedar, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I noted a stronger sweet potato aroma and a new aroma of butter. The first infusion then introduced a subtle plum scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered thin notes of cream, butter, cedar, and honey that were chased by subtle sweet potato notes. Subsequent infusions saw the chocolate presence grow stronger on the nose as new aromas of malt, cream, orange zest, and toast also showed themselves. The honey and sweet potato notes swelled in the mouth while new impressions of malt, orange zest, minerals, toast, and roasted almond appeared. Chocolate also belatedly revealed itself on the palate along with a very subtle plum presence. The swallow imparted some interesting herbal notes that reminded me of both camphor and tobacco. The final few infusions washed out very quickly, though I could pick up mineral, malt, cedar, and cream notes that were framed by some very vague, fleeting hints of honey and sweet potato.
As some of you may have guessed two of the things that I weight heavily in my reviews are texture and longevity. Initially, this tea had a very pleasant milky, creamy body, but that soon faded to reveal the kind of harsher, sharper, more mineral-laden mouthfeel that I would have expected and welcomed in a Wuyi oolong or black tea. Here, I did not find it all that enjoyable. Also, this tea faded fast. It was a mixed bag overall. The first third of the session or so was nice, but the remainder was not very satisfying. A few points above the 50% mark feels fair to me.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Camphor, Cedar, Chocolate, Cream, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Plums, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Tobacco
A malty, slightly smoky tea with hints of cocoa (presumably from the Keemun). Nice, flavorful, and round but a bit on the brisk side for me at a 4-minute steep. I’m going to reduce to 3.5 or 3 minutes and see if it’s more to my palate.
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Smoke
Prior to steeping you’re able to smell the hints of roasted rice within this matcha/genmaicha blend. It has heavy earthen tones and the dust of the matcha is visible within the metal container and gives the drink a heavily green color.
The taste is very crisp and refreshing. The blend helps mitigate some of the standard bitterness that usually accompanies green teas. The aftertaste is not very long, but it is very flavorful in of itself. Definitely one of my more favorite “tea bag” green teas (I usually am preferential to loose leaf so I can see the quality of the leaf and have a deeper infusion/steep). It is on the pricier side though. That being said, this tea company typically has very nice quality teas that can be steeped about twice, depending. I plan on steeping this tea a second time for slightly longer as well to enjoy a second cup, though the second cup might be more bitter.
Flavors: Earth, Roasted, Toasted, Toasted Rice
So either Harney sent this teabag to me as a sample OR it’s really really old. (I’m also loving that Harney has been having free samples AND free shipping with even the smallest of orders. There is NO EXCUSE not to order from Harney! Grab a few samples of teas you’ve been meaning to try!) But this is just an “I Drank This” tasting note. I don’t like having a one-er of something and not write a note. I am certainly not the one to judge chamomile (don’t like it) and this might have been overbrewed. But this was chamomile. And I drank it.
Another VariaTEA share, and something that I could really easily/quickly finish off today without needing to pay it much mind. Also, it was just convenient having the teabag format at work when I was making something during our busy period today.
Honestly, this didn’t even taste like green tea to me though. Apart from the lightest bit of astringency in the finish, I’d probably have never known I wasn’t just drinking a strong tasting straight peppermint. So, not bad! Plus, bonus points for convenience.
It’s actually pretty good. I thought I wouldn’t like this. I’m not much of a fruity flowery tea person. The flavors are subtle. The caramel brings together the fruity flavors and the black tea. Delicious. The smell is very fruity and sweet. The taste is more subtle and smooth. The liquor is a reddish brown color. It’s a nice color.
Flavors: Caramel, Cream, Creamy, Fruity, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla
I’ve grown to like floral teas. I didn’t always. I used to think they tasted like perfume. This tea is nice. Although I only had the bagged version it still was whole pearls that unfurled in the bag. The liquor is a light gold/yellow color. The flavor is good, subtle on the green, not to strong on the jasmine. It hits the nose in a good manner too. It smells sweet, floral, and just like a jasmine tea should.
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Jasmine, Perfume, Sweet