drank Amba Ceylon by Harney & Sons
1048 tasting notes

I ordered a sample of this tea from Harney and Sons a couple months back, and in a concerted effort to reduce the number of teas I have left in my cupboard, I decided to take a break from oolongs and give this tea a chance. Those of you who read my reviews have probably noticed that I do not review Ceylon teas all that frequently. There is a reason for this-I don’t tend to like them as well as many Chinese, Indian, and Taiwanese black teas. Still, I wanted to give this tea a fair shot, so I did my absolute best to ensure that my bias against Ceylonese black teas did not get in my way when it came to reviewing this tea.

I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped approximately 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water. I tried a couple different steep times when making this tea, all in the 4-5 minute range. The specific preparation I am reviewing utilized a 4 minute steep time. I thought that one was the best and most balanced. Note that I did not resteep this tea. Again, I generally do not resteep black teas unless specifically recommended by the vendor.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the little tea pouch was that this tea contained not only leaves, but intact stems and flowers as well. It was a nice touch and really added to the aroma of the tea. The infused liquor was a rich golden amber with a slightly brownish tint. On the nose, I picked up pronounced aromas of herbs, toast, malt, leather, orange, lemon, and honey. There was also a faint tea flower scent. In the mouth, I detected distinct notes of orange, lemon, herbs, toast, malt, cream, roasted nuts, leather, honey, apricot, molasses, and tea flowers. There was also what I thought was a mild spiciness, but after trying this tea a couple different ways, I still could not be sure. Maybe it was just me. The finish emphasized brisk floral, citrus, and toast notes with a pronounced astringency that imparted a lingering dryness.

If I can say one thing about this tea, it is that it is unique. The inclusion of intact stems and flowers gives it a little extra something visually, on the nose, and in the mouth that is hard for me to explain. It almost gives the tea a rustic quality that is very endearing. Otherwise, the mix of aromas and flavors is good, though nothing I wouldn’t expect from a typical Ceylonese black tea. If you are a fan of Ceylonese teas and looking for something a tad quirky, I could see this being up your alley.

Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Floral, Herbs, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Molasses, Orange, Roast Nuts, Toast

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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