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Recent Tasting Notes
I remembered rather liking this year’s first flush Risheehat Darjeeling offered by Harney & Sons, so I kind of had to try the second flush. Compared to the first flush, this is a much darker, toastier tea with a nuttier flavor profile. I think that it compares favorably to most of the other second flush Darjeelings I have tried.
I prepared this tea using the one step Western infusion process I tend to favor for non-Chinese black teas and black tea blends. I steeped approximately 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. Obviously, I did not attempt additional infusions.
Prior to infusion, I noted that the dry leaves were darker than some of the other second flush Darjeelings I have seen recently. I noted a musty, straw-like aroma from the dry leaves. After infusion, I noted that the dark golden tea liquor emitted aromas of straw, roasted almonds, brown toast, Muscat grape, and lemon balm. In the mouth, I easily detected notes of Muscat grape, lemon balm, grass, straw, nutmeg, brown toast, honey, roasted almonds, and minerals.
In the end, this was not a bad second flush Darjeeling by any means. I particularly enjoyed the pronounced honey, toast, almond, and nutmeg notes. The mineral presence was somewhat distracting, especially on the entry, but mellowed out rather quickly. I do wish the Muscat flavor were a little more pronounced, but overall, this was a good second flush Darjeeling with plenty of the grassy, herbal character I tend to get from Risheehat teas.
Flavors: Almond, Brown Toast, Grass, Herbs, Honey, Mineral, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Straw
As smoky as this one smells from the tin, it actually brews up into a balanced cup, with a round sweetness and a slight salt-and-pepper flavor underneath the smoke.
The second steeping is, frankly, weird — the smoke becomes thinner and more acrid, the pepper note grows more dominant, and the sweetness disappears.
I just ordered a pound of the stuff, so I guess I like it.
Edit: Bumping up the score on this one, I really love this stuff. Might just be my desert-island tea (although it would probably be weird to actually drink on a desert island).
Flavors: Pepper, Salt, Smoke, Sweet
My wife surprised me with a massive package of Harney & Sons tea samplers today: I had never tasted this brand, but always wanted to! So, my first job was to add all of those teas to Steepster and read the reviews. It had me at “cookie”.
So, the aroma upon opening this package was indeed that of vanilla sugar cookies: it reminded me of brown sugar biscotti. After it was brewed, I could smell more of that black tea. I am a little put off by how small the tea leaves looked? Maybe my package got knocked around in shipping, but it seemed like the tea leaves were incomplete (verging on the size of fannings?).
The flavor was heavenly. I’m a sucker for dessert teas with cream and sugar, and boy did I find it. My first cup was overly sweet, I was not anticipating the vanilla punch that this tea packed! My second cup had more milk but less sugar – perfect. I tried a little bit of double strength concentration in a tea latte – also heavenly. Overall, a very nice cup! Very smooth, not mild…but smooth.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cookie, Toasty, Vanilla
This was another sample I received with a Harney & Sons order. Until I drank it a couple nights ago, it had been sitting around in my sample pile for a couple of months. I had totally forgotten about it.
I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. Honestly, I chose to not press on with a second infusion because I did not care for the results of the first infusion all that much. Anyway, I steeped the sample sachet in 8 ounces of 175 F water for 3 minutes.
Prior to infusion, I noted that the dry tea and mint blend mostly produced a strong aroma of peppermint. After infusion, I again noted a strong scent of peppermint, though I also picked up on hints of grass and cream. In the mouth, the peppermint dominated. I also got a slight creaminess, which I often get from peppermint. Aside from very subtle notes of straw and grass, the green tea did not display much of a presence at all.
This is one that I will definitely pass on in the future. I am not entirely averse to mint teas, but I like them to be more balanced. This was very heavy on the mint, which made the blend seem very off-kilter and one-dimensional. If you happen to receive a free sample of this blend, by all means try it, but just be aware that it is definitely all about the mint.
Flavors: Cream, Grass, Peppermint, Straw
Here’s Hoping TTB
I’ve had the Passion Plum from Harney before (and I may have even had this one as well) and I remember liking it but not loving it. I’m still in the same boat now – the plum is hidden, it’s still there and a little crisp (almost hibiscus-y) but this tastes like apple crisp with a little bit of plum in it. It would be fantastic with a little bowl of ice cream right before bed. I’ll definitely keep digging into this one while I have the box but I don’t know if I’ll be keeping it with me.
Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Oats, Plums
This was delicious and I drank it sooooo fast. Surely a sign of a good tea? Harney & Son’s website is somewhat ambiguous about the history of this tea. It seems to suggest this tea was blended for The Plaza Hotel’s famous restaurant “The Palm Court” in NY and that it’s the preferred tea of choice of the guests there – yet I can’t find anything to back this up on The Palm Court’s website. Of all the samples I ordered from Harney & Son’s this was repurchase for sure! Delicious & enjoyable!
I had really high hopes for the flavored black tea “Boston”, yet this was the only tea I couldn’t finish. Advertised as a nutty blend of almond, vanilla & cranberry, it fails to mention how floral-tasting this tea is. Very. I cannot for the life of me do floral teas. The longer I sipped, the worse/intense the floral taste became. It just lingered longer than anything should on my palate. I ended up giving the rest away. Pity. If floral is your thing, TRY THIS!
I’ve been wanting to try “Eight at the Fort” ever since I read about it:
In June of 1997, President Bill Clinton hosted a G8 (Group of Eight) summit in Denver. One of the events was at a friend’s restaurant: the Arnold’s The Fort that is high above the city. We were commissioned to do a special tea for that event. So we carefully chose eight special teas that would combine together in the hope of a better future.
I decided to dig around on the interwebs and see if I could find this restaurant, and I DID! It hardly has the looks of anything elegant, and at first I found it hard to believe that a G8 was held there … but it’s true. I am very impressed with this tea. Smooth, almost velvet-like. Just a really good cuppa. WONDERFUL.
I bought the tin with the sachets. What a lovely tin it is! This is going to sound crazy, but this tea tastes similar to Harney & Son’s Paris, only better and more mellow. It must be the addition of honey to this one. It has a beautiful color when steeped. If I had to choose this over Paris I would choose this one. Bliss.
This tea has been on my amazon wish list for about a year, and I was lucky enough to receive 2 tins of them for christmas last year (thanks, Mickey & Devon)! This a hugely popular tea among tea drinkers, and one of Harney’s best sellers. According to their website : “This tea smells like an early grey with black currant and vanilla aromas and a hint of caramel.” I can’t say I smell the same things. This tea is definitely different – it’s like nothing I’ve ever had. Somewhat floral (I don’t like floral teas) somewhat fruity, somewhat … tea? It’s a taste and aroma I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s somewhat reminiscent, somewhat new. Do I like it? Yes, but it’s not something I would drink all day long, but it IS something I would reach for on a regular basis. I’m over the moon I have back up supplies!! One can never have enough tea. Another bonus is that whenever I drink this, I think of a scene from “Father Ted” when Father Ted starts singing “I love Paris …. in the springtime….” HA
This tea is popular for a reason! Try it!
Sometimes I wonder whether or not the individual responsible for packing the free samples offered by Harney & Sons has an intuitive understanding of my tastes and selects samples that run counter to them. I recently posted a negative review of their Organic English Breakfast and then received nothing but sample sachets of Organic English Breakfast with my most recent order. Prior to pulling the sachet of this flavored oolong out of my sample pile last night, I had been wavering on trying this one for nearly a month. I decided on it mostly because I wanted a cup of tea and couldn’t think of anything else to try. I didn’t care for it, so here’s hoping that my next Harney & Sons order does not contain a pile of Pomegranate Oolong samples.
Brewing flavored oolongs always kind of perplexes me. I almost always reinfuse oolongs. As a matter of fact, I tend to favor brewing oolongs gongfu style. For some reason, that never really feels like the right thing to do with flavored oolongs. I prefer brewing them Western style. Harney & Sons recommended a single 4-5 minute infusion in 205 F water, so that is the method I used for this tea. I ended up steeping the sachet in 8 ounces of 205 F water for 5 minutes.
Prior to infusion, I noted that the dry tea leaves gave off a wonderfully pronounced pomegranate aroma underscored by a hint of grassy, vegetal character. After infusion, the pomegranate aroma was much more muted. As a matter of fact, I primarily noted mild aromas of butter, cream, custard, and sweetgrass emanating from the pale golden tea liquor. In the mouth, I noted a subtle pomegranate note that was quickly overwhelmed by flavors of cream, custard, vanilla, sweetgrass, butter, and plantain. I also noted a slight floral quality in the mouth, almost like a mixture of lilac, honeysuckle, and saffron. The floral and pomegranate notes were a little more pronounced on the finish, as were the notes of vanilla, custard, and sweetgrass.
It ended up being a good thing that I decided to go with a one step Western infusion for this tea, as I really was not impressed and had little desire to press on with additional infusions. I generally do not care for flavored oolongs, so I am not certain what I was expecting from this tea. To me, it seemed like Harney & Sons muddled a perfectly acceptable Tieguanyin with the addition of pomegranate essence which fought the base tea’s more savory and vegetal characteristics.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honeysuckle, Saffron, Vanilla
So I come home today and find out that CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY THIS YEAR! My H&S order was waiting by the door and I couldn’t stop bouncing with excitement. This is my first time ordering from them directly, and I couldn’t be happier. The teas I chose all smell amazing! Just for the record, I ordered loose leaf tins for Paris, Boston, and Florence. Time to travel the world (I wish..)! It’s really too bad that I chose all black teas. I can’t try them tonight or I won’t get to sleep! Luckily, I received a sample of Caribe, a blend of green and black. I can’t NOT have any of my new tea today so I decided to start with this.
I tore open the sample packet and stuck my nose in it. WOW thing tea smells zingy! It was a punch of sweet and sour citrusy notes right to the nostrils. Really reminded me of Juicy Fruit gum, which I noted another review mention. The smell is really quite similar that my mouth started watering in anticipation of that delicious first sugary sour bite. Interestingly enough the aroma didn’t translate after I had brewed the tea. It lost a of lot of punching power, mellowing out to a sweeter guava-dominated aroma that is much easier on the nose. I only left the sachet in for about 2 minutes, as the tea turned dark very quickly (which has been my experience with all H&S teas I’ve tried so far). My first sips didn’t turn out much flavour however, so I threw it back in for a while longer.
This tea almost tastes like Juicy Fruit gum. I definitely get that sour pucker on the sides of my tongue. I don’t know how much I like the black tea base in there, it doesn’t seem to match the zingy tropical theme this tea is going for. Guava and lime are the most dominant flavours I can identify. It’s not terrible, but I think the flavour profile just falls short of its potential. I think it could be better without the black tea; with it I feel it is a bit muted, like the grumpy sibling to a bouncy little child that just wants to be free. Maybe I’ll go grab my guava fruit out of the fridge to pair it with!
Edit: As it cooled down the flavours got a lot more balance and liveliness to them, so I feel like this could make a great iced tea. If I ever get my hands on more, I will try it iced!
Saw this while shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond. The one not too far from me has a fairly good selection of tea and even sells cast iron teapots. I picked this up because it is something that I like once and a while because it is caffeine free. While I prefer loose leaf only the tea bags were available in the store. I used three tea bags for one sixteen ounce mug and it seems about right. The tea bags were not filled with all that much leaf. This comes across with that apple like earthy taste that I always find in chamomile. It’s not bad but of course not as good as the puerh I was drinking earlier this morning. But as I like to sleep I don’t drink puerh at this hour, at least until someone invents decaf puerh which unfortunately doesn’t exist. This is at least as good as other camomile teas I have had. Compared to them it gets a high mark. Overall I can’t give this tea a mark in the eighties but if I wasn’t forcing myself to compare it in general, maybe.
I brewed three tea bags in 16oz of boiling water for 5 minutes.
Saw this at the NW tea fest and pounced on it, been wanting to try some Korean tea for a while now, :).
This is my first Harney & Sons tea, and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed by the quality, which is solidly upper middle of the road and reasonably priced at that. I disregarded the brewing instructions on the tin the first couple tries and gongfu’ed it, but I can firmly say now that this is a tea that is better westerned as the flavors come out more rounded and well balanced for it.
This is a beautiful green when brewed for five minutes at 170 F. It’s a pretty pale green when gongfu’ed too, but it looked nuclear under the blue lights of my kitchen in the tea press, quite awe inspiring, haha. It is more of a wheat-y yellow gold green in warm light (and after being exposed to the air for a bit), but still a pleasure to sip with a slick, buttery mouthfeel and a sweet, savory grassiness (not quite hay) to roll around and indulge in. There’s a bright aftertaste to this in the chest that I could see as floral, but I wouldn’t personally call it that.
Practically bombproof in regards to prep time as it has no bitterness and only a bit of astringency after a second steeping for over half an hour, I would recommend if you’re too busy to really make tea in the morning or at work, especially if you’re a fan of greens with a little more depth. The energy on this one is very lively and uplifting as well, I may stock up for that alone after I run out if I can confirm that is indeed the tea.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Olive Oil, Sweet, warm grass