Oliver Pluff & CompanyEdit Company
Popular Teas from Oliver Pluff & CompanySee All 31 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
Well I don’t usually like smoky teas, but I figured I should try this anyway. This is smoky and meaty, but maybe they chose a milder one to be enjoyable to a general tourist palate because I really don’t mind this as much as every smoky tea I’ve ever tried. Of course I diluted this heavily with milk and sugar, but I found this meaty in a comforting and not overbearing way at all. I liked it even more with almond milk. It was just so hearty.
This was super smooth without any bitterness. I’m actually not exactly sure how to describe it since it’s different from the teas I usually drink. There is a bit of an emptiness that I start to notice after a while. On my second and third cups of this, I enjoyed it more. It became desserty and almost biscuity.
I was in Boston recently, and I had to visit Abigail’s Tea Room, which was attached to the Boston Tea Party Museum. The museum tour was a little too expensive, but I spent a lovely hour in the tea room sampling the tea types thrown overboard during the Boston Tea Party. It was only $4 for an unlimited supply of the five teas, plus sugar and milk options. I drank way more tea than was reasonable, but it was really fun.
I’m not much of a plain green tea person, but I enjoyed this! It was served hot, which isn’t how I usually drink my green teas. Sweetened a little, it was pleasant, a little bitter, but mostly smooth.
Says Oliver, since days of yore, elderberry was considered “capable of restoring good health, and an aid to longevity.” Not sure I need a longevity aid tonight…it’s chill-you-to-the-core icy outside, I spent a good deal of the day out and about, and I feel about a hundred and two.
However, this little sample included with an Oliver Pluff do-over order did a lovely job of thawing me out. The recommended steep time for the sachet is 5—10 minutes, what you’d expect for an herbal, but I just left it in the cup. As a result, mint was the first thing I noticed in the flavor lineup, but the berries added an interesting flavor note.
This turned out to be a really happy accident. Our friends at Oliver Pluff mislabeled or mis-filled and I ended up with Cacao Mint instead of just plain Cacao. (And here’s a shout-out to the Oliver Pluff order fulfillment folks, who cheerfully corrected the error when I reported it).
However…this is probably the best chocolate-mint blend I’ve enjoyed over the years, steeped long and strong. The cacao is the real thing—rich and thick, with enough mint to add a little zing without overshadowing the chocolate. Some with a little milk last night was pretty close to a liquid Andes mint.
This was part of last fall’s anniversary surprise, and I left the mini-tin sealed until now. However, the label said just plain “cacao,” so when we opened and got a whiff of peppermint, I went to the website and confirmed that they do sell a mint version—just a labeling boo-boo. (I emailed the company to see if they would consider making good on what was originally ordered…results yet unknown.)
But, all that said, let’s talk cacao mint. Oliver Pluff has done well with the blend—crunched up the cacao enough that it steeps richly and smoothly. The mint is neither too mild nor too spicy to overshadow the cacao. Not what I expected, but in an unexpectedly pleasant way.
As I was adding this to the library, I laughed at the “slight hints of smoke” notation in the purveyor’s description—when I opened the tin, I actually reared my head back at the Charge of the Smoke Fumes. (I can only imagine the Attack of Oliver Pluff’s Lapsang Brigade.)
However, liberated from captivity and steeped with a light hand, the smoke dissipates and the caramel and oak notes do make their presence known. It’s downright appropriate for the cool and cloudy weather today, and has the potential, with some additives (maple syrup?) to be bracing and comforting when winter comes to Valley Forge.
Routine medical appt allowed me not to have to leave for work quite so early, so I had high hopes of tea on the veranda (ahem, cracked back patio slab) while watching the tomatoes grow. Grandpa used to do that in an old, stinky canvas-backed chair with a metal tumbler of iced sassafras tea and I thought it was weird. Now I get it.
This was in my tumbler, and I was able to enjoy it for three whole minutes before the bugs started using my feet and ankles for their breakfast buffet. However, it’s as tasty indoors as out — not a hint of artifice about it, no tart hibiscus to interfere with the “just plain cranberry.” Recommended for a good, no-frills summer sipper, either hot or cold.
Many, many years ago, when Snapple was just a baby niche market product, they had an unsweetened cranberry tea that my husband loved. The gold standard for all flavored tea as far as he was concerned—nothing has ever measured up properly. Bottled, oversweetened tea won’t do; neither will the chemical-and-hibiscus cocktails some try to pass off as genuine cranberry flavor.
As of this morning, we might have found a close substitute. It’s a beautiful tea replete with real cranberry shards and safflower petals. Wasn’t abusively, tongue-shriveling tart thanks to the safflower, and the fruit was genuinely fruity. Smells a little muffin-y in the cup. I have the leaves from our morning pot steeping in the fridge. We’ll see how it does cold.
I bought this tea on the basis of it coming from the only American tea plantation: Oliver Pluff & Company, in Charleston, South Carolina. I was intrigued by their slogan “A leaf from America’s tea heritage”. I would like to know how they determined this to be like the tea drunk in Colonial America. Whence came the recipe(s) for curing the tea to produce this flavor? I don’t know, but here are my impressions, from my first two cups, today:
It seems a bit weak. I used three teaspoons, had the water to the suggested 195 degrees, and steeped it 4-1/2 minutes. I’m glad it’s not too strong, as it’s not bitter. There’s a subtle smokiness, much lighter than the Lapsang Souchongs I’ve experienced. It’s an all right cup of tea, but not as distinctive as I would have liked, considering its presumed heritage of “America’s” tea. Perhaps it’s simply that American soil is not the right place to grow tea. I shall try to use a bit more the next time I try it.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Fireplace, Smoke, Smooth, Tannic
A friend of mine went to Charleston and brought this tea back. I was excited to try it, but unfortunately, this wasn’t a favorite for me. The flavor is quite aggressive for a green tea, strongly herbaceous with mineral notes and an oddly metallic aftertaste. I’m still curious to try more from this company, but this isn’t one I’ll be drinking again.
Flavors: Herbaceous, Metallic, Mineral
Sampler Sipdown September! This is another tea I pulled from the last Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thanks to tea-sipper for organizing and those who contributed to the box!
I’ve never tried a Young Hyson (that wasn’t in a blend), and I’m going to try not to judge all Young Hyson tea based on this one, because… it smells odd. The brewed cup has a slightly musty sort of scent? Also a little of that smoky aroma, but that I’m at least used to, from gunpowder green, and the Azerbaijan Azercay green I sampled the other night.
The flavor is really unappealing to me, like something fermented (I’d say pickle brine, though not as acidic/tart), with a flavor that I can only equate to “musty attic,” and a slightly smoky finish. I’m getting a bit of a metallic aftertaste as well. There is possibly some mild grassiness there, but the “off” flavors detract from it too much. I can’t imagine it used to be like this, so I’m thinking that this is a case of green tea well past its prime; pure greens don’t exactly age gracefully. If that isn’t the case, then my palate is just picking out some rather odd flavors here that aren’t working for me.
Flavors: Dill, Dry Grass, Metallic, Musty, Smoke
City dwellers, how do you do it? I was in a major metro area for less than 48 hours and the overstimulation (traffic, people, noisy restaurants) just about did me in. A little airline connection drama didn’t help much, either.
The antidote was a lovely afternoon with the leaf blower and mower mulching the maple leaves in the back yard. The mower wasn’t quiet, but my inner farm girl was going “ahhhhhhhh!” the whole time.
I’m drinking Antidote Part 2. Some people might insist that fall tastes like pumpkin spice, but I disagree. Fall tastes like this lovely congou—leafy leather and burlap with a little dried fruit to accompany it. One of these days, when my inner farm girl has a little extra cash in her overalls pocket, she’s going to buy another tin. This is good.
So…when fall weather finally arrives, what unflavored tea do you crave? I’ve got my gingerbread and carrot cake and chai all ready to go, but the one variety I associate with autumn is a good Keemun Congou. This one is especially fine. When I underleaf (my worst steeping habit), I can’t catch it, but I threw caution to the wind this morning and in addition to the burlap and leather vibe, there’s a lovely apple-peel note as well.
After a furlough of several years, Oliver Pluff came to our house yesterday, courtesy of thoughtful husband and our 37th anniversary. Oliver tells me that 15 cases of this lovely Congou were pitched overboard at the Boston Tea Party. Independence is a laudable goal, but oh, what a waste!
The first couple of sips after a four minute steep worried me—even though it was a beautiful roasted mahogany color, I wasn’t getting anything but “just tea.” But allowed to rest for a few minutes, the flavor caught up with the appearance: deep, autumn-fruity, black cherry. You know those old museum-quality still life paintings with urns of fruit against a dark background? This tastes like what those look like.
The best cups of tea I have ever had have not been determined by tea variety, but by circumstances—cups that signify the end of a traumatic event because I am home and safe and warm.
I had one those “best cups ever” yesterday after watching my dad pass away. He was warm and comfortable, unhooked from the monitors and machines that had been troubling him, and his kids were there to say goodbye. Arrived in Heaven just in time for morning coffee (he wasn’t a tea guy).
I drove four hours home (it’s hard to merge onto an interstate while you’re weepy; don’t try it yourself) and collapsed with a cup of this Congou. It is excellent, whether you’re in the throes of tragedy or not…as I posted this, I noticed the “dried baked apples” description—I’ll have to pay more attention, but maybe that’s the thing that was making me think, “Something about this is really distinctive.”
I believe I’ll have me another one this afternoon as I bolster myself for a week of funeral plans and bustle and remember how my dad mistrusted restaurants that didn’t have hat racks, loved polka music, bought odd-duck grocery items in crazy bulk quantities, taught me to be 15 minutes early for any occasion, always advised that “it’s just as easy to fill the top half of a gas tank as it is the bottom half,” and what he said to me just before he escorted me down the aisle at my wedding: “Don’t walk too fast.”
Savor whatever’s in your cup today.
After complaining to you about the daytime tea stash, I did something about it and brought a few loose leaf packets to finish up…among them, this very nice “just green” tea from Oliver Pluff. It meets my standards by tolerating abuse and absentminded steeping and is more toasty than it is vegetal. OP calls it buttery and plummy—that may be a little ambitious, or that may be because I’ve let my supply sit too long, but it is a very nice change of pace.