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Recent Tasting Notes
It’s been a while since I have reviewed a Keemun of any sort, so I figured I may as well go ahead and post this review while I was still at my computer. This was the first of the rediscovered 2017 Harney & Sons black tea samples I finished earlier in the week. I found it to be a very nice Hao Ya B.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 3 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 5 seconds, 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, I detected aromas of chocolate, honey, and baked bread coming from the dry leaf material. After the rinse, I noted an emerging roasted nut scent. The first proper infusion then brought out some hints of brown sugar and leather on the nose. Oddly, I found that the mouth did not closely follow the nose for me. I found notes of smoke, malt, cream, and roasted walnut on the entry. These notes were then chased by impressions of baked bread, chocolate, and honey. Subsequent infusions saw impressions of cedar, pine, smoke, and malt come out on the nose. The cedar and pine also started to come out in the mouth alongside new notes of butter, roasted chestnut, cinnamon, nutmeg, minerals, and plum. Previously absent notes of brown sugar came out in the mouth, though they gradually transitioned to more of a caramel presence. I also began to get notes of leather in the mouth and some stronger impressions of baked bread, honey, and chocolate. The later infusions were mostly dominated by notes of minerals, leather, roasted walnut, and smoke, though I could still pick out some vague, lingering notes of malt, honey, caramel, and cinnamon in the background.
A very nice, very respectable Keemun Hao Ya B, this was a satisfying black tea. Despite its admirable complexity, it didn’t quite blow me away. Truthfully, I tend to prefer Hao Ya A and Keemun Mao Feng over Hao Ya B, but I would have no issue recommending this tea to those who are looking for a good Keemun. Harney & Sons always seem to do an admirable job sourcing teas of this type. I don’t think that one can go wrong with their offerings.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chestnut, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pine, Plums, Roasted, Smoke, Walnut
After reading some reviews I decided to try this tea. It is very good, but I’m not blown away. I like a strong bergamot hit and this one is rather mild to medium. It has a cedar wood aroma that is interesting, but doesn’t come through in the cup.
After drinking more of it, I realize it has very little bergamot. Far to little for me. There are other Earls I would rather drink.
I recently found a bunch of samples from Harney & Sons that I bought last year and forgot about after storing. Naturally, I have been taking time to work through them. This was the second one that I finished, but as of the completion of this review, it will be the first to receive a formal right up here. I am normally a huge fan of the Chinese black teas sourced by Harney & Sons, but this one did not thrill me much. It was not bad. I just found it rather boring and plain.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 3 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 5 seconds, 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 generally prefer to extend black teas to at least 5-7 minutes when I brew them gongfu, but cut this one off at the 3 minute mark as I did not want to keep pushing it.
Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of prune and raisin balanced by a hint of malt. The rinse brought out tobacco and some woodiness on the nose. The first infusion then brought out the aroma of honey as the indistinct woodiness exposed by the rinse turned into a definite scent of pine. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of honey, pine, raisin, prune, cocoa, and malt that were stronger than anticipated. Surprisingly, I also got some hints of molasses, cream, caramel, smoke, damp grass, and black walnut towards the swallow. Subsequent infusions brought out hints of tobacco on the palate and some stronger notes of caramel, molasses, cream, damp grass, smoke, and black walnut. I also found new notes of brown toast, minerals, cinnamon, and dates. The final infusions mostly offered a heavy mineral note balanced by thinner impressions of brown toast and malt, though at times, I could still note some fleeting, almost ghostly hints of honey, cinnamon, and caramel.
This tea simply did not come together in the way that I would have preferred. None of what it displayed took me by surprise; as a matter of fact, the aromas and flavors I was finding were precisely what one would expect to find in many Chinese black teas. It just seemed that the notes I found to be the least enjoyable were the ones that were the most consistently prominent and persistent for me. At this point, I should add that the fact that I did not find anything all that unique in this tea led me to quickly grow bored with it as well. All in all, I would not go so far as to call this a bad tea. I would instead emphasize that it was simply not the sort of black tea for which I generally go.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dates, Dried Fruit, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Tobacco, Walnut
Orange! Very, very very orangey orange orange. It’s an amazing smell from the dry mix, with just an undercurrent of something other than orange but that balances the tart citrus with something a bit sweeter.
The tartness smooths out after steeping. There’s just a hint of baby aspirin orangeyness, and a passion fruit undercurrent that has a berry-like quality as well. The color is a deep, dark, purplish red. Very wine-like.
It’s quite tasty, but I’m not sure it’s better than the other Harney orange or the Todd & Holland. Rating it the same for now, but one day I’ll have to do a side by side comparison.
Flavors: Berry, Orange, Passion Fruits
Lightly tastes of mint, but lots of citrus flavor. I enjoyed this subtle green tea. I prefer my green tea without a lot of grassy notes so this one fits the bill. It was in tea bag form as well, so I know I shouldn’t judge the taste too harshly. I would be interested to try this one in loose leaf form, maybe I will purchase a sample with my next order.
Flavors: Citrus, Mint
Super disappointed in this one from H & S. Usually their stuff is much better.
I got the silk sachets. I could smell the blueberry before I even removed the seal on the tin. Artificial-smelling, like blueberry flavored candy.
Steeps a normal green tea color, which is odd because there are supposed to be real pieces of blueberry in this blend. Shouldn’t it at least have a purple-y-blue tinge to it?Liquor smells strongly of fake blueberry and lemongrass.
The water I used was admittedly too hot, so the tea leaves ended up with that nasty, bitter, “cooked” taste, which I will own is my fault and not the blend’s. But even discounting that, the fake flavor is still overwhelming, with a note of cloyingly sweet fake vanilla in the aftertaste.
For now, this is a hard pass for me— will not be restocking. Will try again at another time with water at the proper temp and see if my mind changes.
Flavors: Artificial, Blueberry, Fruity, Lemongrass, Sweet, Vanilla
It’s odd to me that the prevailing opinion on this tea seems to be that it tastes overpoweringly like artificial orange flavoring. I haven’t found this to be the case; in fact, I feel the cranberry and rooibos flavors overwhelm the orange. This does make for a tea that’s quite sour and astringent, so I’ve found it’s a bit too much for some people, even when sweetened.
Not bad…I had this on the stronger side with a little milk. Its a nice morning time tea. Currently wondering why the heck I would sign up for 5 classes at one time. Ugh, can’t I just read the books and do the Q&A ? Why oh why must there be so many projects and essays? (gripe, vent, gripe) I much too old for this. At least this will be it for me – I will have reached the highest level/salary scale for my job and/or future pension if there is one to be had here in Illinois. And yet…I am thankful I have tea to see me through it.
I’ve had this one for breakfast off and on over the past week or two. I really like the smoothness of the Keemun, which balances the harsh Assam. That combination makes it very drinkable—even on an empty stomach. I didn’t get the upset stomach from the tannins that I normally get from straight Assam.
I can (slightly) taste the cocoa flavor with which this tea is marketed by the vendor. Along with that, though, I also find a stronger flavor of cherries. The first time I had it, I noticed the cherries and thought I’d see if that was a one-off—that something in the way that I made it that day caused the flavor. Nope—each successive time I’ve made this tea, the cherry flavor has been there. I didn’t find the maltiness normally associated with Assam teas, but the astringency of Assam is still there.
Overall, it is a great morning blend—strong caffeine, medium-bodied, and not too harsh. The flavor is different enough from most black teas that keeping it stocked in my collection is definitely warranted.
Flavors: Astringent, Cherry, Cocoa
I love Earl Grey and my favorite is Earl Grey Supreme from Harney & Sons, this is a different taste with the cream and lavender, but just as good! I very much enjoyed the creaminess of the tea. My husband loves this one, very similar to Earl Grey Moonlight from Adiago.
Flavors: Bergamot, Cream, Lavender
I am a little disappointed with this one. To be fair, I have only tried it once so far but it did not live up to my expectation. My experience with milky oolongs suggested this tea should start out vegetal with stone fruit flavors in later infusions. I also expected a floral nose and after taste. The stone fruit and floral after taste and nose never developed for me.
The spent leaf was dissapointing too. Instead of full leaves unfurling, the leaf was broken with few pieces as large as half a leaf.
The tea purchase was not a total loss. Overall the tea was pleasant, slightly unami marked with hints of spinach, nuts, oats and, of course, the milkyness expected in a flavored milky oolong. Overall I think the taste is quite good but no where near the complexity I expected. At $6.00 for 3 ounces this tea is still a good value. The tea is rich in flavor and very consistent in taste for up to 3 rebrews. I would recommend it with reservations. For the price the tea is consistent and tasty and sufficiently oolong to be worth drinking. However it is lacks complexity and does not hold up to brewing very long.
Whomever wrote that this blend tastes like an atomic fireball jawbreaker or red hots is spot on but I’d say it also has a splash of orange. This sachet was an included sample in my recent order. I see this one of their more popular blends. It is so sweet you’d swear there was sugar in it but supposedly there is none added. Not one I’d go out to buy but I am enjoying the cuppa none the less.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Orange Zest, Spicy
Now my favorite Earl Grey, and I have tried many since it is my favorite blend of tea. I can always drink a cup of earl grey. My husband likes an occasional cup of tea as well, if he isn’t drinking a craft beer, then tea is a possibility. He asked me what this one was since it tasted distinctly better than any earl grey he had previously had. I must say, I agree. It is the best of all the ones I have tried. I will put this on my list for the next Harney & Sons, thankfully, I bought a pound bag, so I have enough for all the comings mornings :). I made two teapots of it this morning, sharing is hard :).
Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot
This is what’s in my cup this morning. It is an excellent black current tea…I can’t help think something in this tea reminds me of their Paris blend though. Anyways, the base is smooth and the current is simply delicious-nothing artificial tasting.
Not much more to say on this Friday. Looking forward to the weekend and spring time in general. Have a good day Teaps!
Flavors: Black Currant, Fruity, Lavender
I am not a big fan of licorice. But I should admit that this pairing of ginger and licorice is very good and complimentary. IF you like licorice. And, oh, it smells like heaven.
But if you are like me you better stay away from this blend: I honestly tried hard to drink myself into liking it – but this licorice is just too damn powerful in all its uncompromising glory.
I love lychee flavor, but I feel like with teas it can go one of two ways. It could either be really fruity and sweet like canned lychee, or rosey and peppery like fresh lychee.
This one is a more rosey lychee. Sure, there is a nice amount of fruity goodness mixed in. But the peppery flavor lingers longest. All of these flavors pretty much mute the black tea base. It’s not bad, exactly. But it doesn’t really impress me, either.
The reason I bought this is because Tea Forte stopped making their lychee-coconut tea. I loved it and now it’s going for like $55 a box on eBay. So… I’m planning on finding a good lychee tea and trying to make my own. But I think I’ll try a few more before I settle.
Flavors: Fruity, Pepper, Rose
Incredibly buttery. Like the really fancy organic artisan butter. Slight vegetal smell and taste but very light. There’s a little bit of stem to these rolled up balls but make no mistake they’re isn’t bitterness. Makes a lovely cold brew. Delicate but capable of multiple infusions.
Flavors: Butter, Sweet, Vegetal
This tea is also known as Linden leaf tea. I suppose it is a bit of an acquired taste. Personally, I love it. It took me a little while to love it. It does the trick in helping me fall asleep at night. The leaves are big, fluffy and bulky. It’s an airy light tea, so it takes up a lot of space. It’s a bit messy to get out of the bag/tin/container. You have to use a fair amount of leaves. The leaves are fragile and break easy. What I like about this version of Linden is it is not to flowery. I’ve had very flowery versions that are just to much. This one has a nice flower to leaf ratio. The liquor is extremely light. That’s how it should be. Like a white tea. The smell is strong potent but light at the same time. Salty, astringent, woodsy, delicate. It tastes like it smells in my opinion. Sort of like a chamomile but with a certain herbaceous note.
Flavors: Floral, Forest Floor, Herbaceous, Plant Stems, Salt, Vegetal
What a nice surprise it was after a streak of quite forgettable Harney’s teas. This tea certainly has a very distinct fragrance and flavor profile. The aroma is very perfume-like but not in a bad, sickly- sweet way and over-the top way. There is some freshness and boldness in the smell.
The taste is also distinct. It is charmingly restrained (the bergamot is certainly not as bold as in the Harney’s Earl Grey Supreme) and the slight sourness of the grapefruit blends well with all of that bergamoty goodness. Also, the tea base is lighter than in other H&T flavored teas.
The end result is some understated sophistication without any pretentiousness, which actually befits its name. I am surprised that Diamond Jubilee is not as popular as, say Paris or Vanilla Comoro. Good job Harney and Sons.