612 Tasting Notes

drank HarSha by Harney & Sons
612 tasting notes

Took this along for errands yesterday morning. I can’t drink it unadulterated—I added a splash of milk to soften the tannic astringency—and even with milk it’s a little rough at the end of the sip. I reckon this needs greasy breakfast food to really shine—someone mentions grapefruit and I agree, there’s a morning citrus juice tartness that is remarkable but also hard to take on an empty stomach. I already like Big Red Sun for greasy spoon-style big breakfasts though, since it seems personally I reach for earthy legacy tea bitterness over fruity astringency. So. Won’t be a restock but I can see how others with different inclinations might find its grapefruit-tart charms appealing.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Kinda relieved this isn’t as perfect or honestly even much at all like Golden Moon’s mysterious Honey Orchid—on the one hand it’d be another resource for it (I’m mad for GM’s) but on the other I’d feel a little chumpy for getting sooooo excited about GM’s (one of the first teas I really fell in love with when I joined Steepster) only to discover it was just like everyone else’s what-I-learned-is-known-as dancong (if that’s even what it is…hard to tell, vague copy over at GM!). This doesn’t give me the insta-aaahh sigh of fragrant honey pleasure GM’s does. Honestly, it tastes a bit weak to me…but maybe I need to play around with the steeping paramters or do it gongfu sometime.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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100
reviewed Brew In Mug Infuser by Forlife
612 tasting notes

I’m digging the new features, thanks Steepster! Especially love the “yes or no recommend” option—I’ve pretty much given up rating teas (not Steepster’s fault at all; I don’t think any attempt to give numeric ratings consistently would work for me anywhere) but the “cut to the chase, would you encourage people to try this” I can probably manage most of the time! And the “who owns, who wants” is great, along with the added options for steeping parameters (the option for leaf by weight, more than an assumed standard cup capacity, yes!). And yay, a designated teaware section (there sort of was one before, but making it more official is great…sometimes I think recs for that stuff are more reliable/helpful really as tea tastes vary widely but tea prep priorities rather less so though there’s still some variation of course). I’m sure it’ll take a moment to get my bearings with insta-recognizing what’s-what when using the site, but that’s inevitable. Do wish as some have mentioned that each tea’s description copy was at the top of its page instead of the bottom, but other than that nothing seems amiss/jarring so far. Appreciate you guys and all you do!

As far as steeping baskets go, this is the one I pretty much always turn to. The only tea making gear I use about as much as is my 8oz glass teapot with spout brake (so I can see leaves unfurl for stuff like oolong). I have the Steepster-popular Finum basket too but the dimensions of this work better for all my teapots, teacups, and mugs and offer more room for expanding leaves, and I rest easy knowing there’s nothing but stainless steel touching my tea (I doubt health is an issue on that front with the Finum but I can’t help but wonder if the plastic might eventually absorb and retain odors, and steel just feels more resilient to me in terms of wear and cleaning). I also prefer the lid caddy on this one. It feels more stabilized, less able to be tipped over than the Finums. Still comes in fun colors for the lid caddy lining so competes fine on that front with the Finum’s colorful options too. And the tab on this one keeps me from burning my fingers when lifting the basket out, while for some reason the Finum’s “wings” are less reliable (the tab also works better for me in terms of fitting teapots, etc.; the Finum’s thicker stubbier multiple tabs don’t play as nicely with other lids and wider mugs). It probably lets in a teensy bit more sediment than the Finum does (I don’t remember ‘cause I rarely use it but it appears the Finum wouldn’t let ANYTHING through) but I’m the sort who doesn’t mind some occasional tiny little sediment particles ( just don’t want actual, y’know, leaves in my cup and that’s not a problem). It also eventually stains but I’ve had good luck bringing it back good as new with the usual suspects (baking soda, vinegar, citric acid, etc.) everywhere except the very bottom of the inner chamber. I pretty much never use my Finum (despite it being alright and all) or any of my cute novelty steepers (my ManaTea!) unless I’m doing side-by-sides of multiple different teas all at once. I just like this one that much.

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drank Vanilla Cacao by Herbal Infusions
612 tasting notes

I feel bad not being as into the cacao stuff from HI as everybody else here seems to be. I’m surprised I’m saying this, but I wonder if the reason I vastly prefer ATR’s Choco-Late is the addition of rooibos. I think it must give the tisane body somehow, which when combined with the cacao husks evokes the thick creaminess of hot cocoa. The flavor in the cacaos I’ve tried from HI isn’t bad at all, similar to Choco-Late, but the strength of that smell and flavor and most of all the body of the cup is just so relatively lacking. I have a little more in my sample packets and should try overleafing like mad to see if that helps.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 min, 0 sec
Cavocorax

That’s an interesting idea! Maybe I’ll mix my cacao with mint chocolate rooibos or something like that!

ifjuly

oooh, intriguing.

ifjuly

i like DIY tea fixer upper projects, ha!

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I enjoyed the heck out of this last night, evokes cooling sweet holiday peppermint bark, but I don’t know that I’d need to stock it ever because the truth is I just love peppermint tea and any decent one can put a smile on my face. That said, I was impressed the white chocolate didn’t make it oily. A good winter treat.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Neptune by Lupicia
612 tasting notes

I might’ve appreciated this a bit more if it hadn’t come off the heels of a very flavorful black tea day that included Harney’s Elyse’s Blend (the strongest floral honey smelling dry leaf I’ve encountered) and all the deep, complex flavors in thepuriTea’s Hong Jing Luo. Next to that this wasn’t bad but pretty meh. It’s very gentle but didn’t seem soothing like some gentle teas can at least be. Not terrible or anything but definitely not a restock either.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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drank Hong Jing Luo by thepuriTea
612 tasting notes

Oh man, I really liked this one! It has a DEEP, deep flavor that makes you worry at first it’s going to get bitter, but it doesn’t (might’ve helped that I listened to the Steepster advice about steeping only 4 minutes); instead you get strong cocoa, wood, a little tobacco, and lots of delicious raisin. I love that instead of sweet potato you do get pumpkin. Brandy too, to go with the raisins, yes! I even detect the brown sugar from the copy; for once I seem to get everything described and in spades. This isn’t a tea I could drink all willy-nilly as it’s so intense and there’s a lot going on, but wow what an experience. Something about it, maybe the smoothness and depth of the malt, reminds me a little of Dragon Pearls. Resteeps well too. Seems to be a thing with me, loving Bi Luo-style curls (Bi Luo Chun is possibly my favorite general green tea style). I’m guessing out of my ass here but it seems like somehow twisting and curling the leaves contributes sweet richness. I love the way it looks too. Very bummed I can never restock this one now as thepuriTea is gone. :(

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
tea-sipper

Looking forward to this one! I have a sample – haven’t tried it yet…

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This was good but doesn’t give me the immediate pleasure-pang satisfaction it seems to for most. Part of it is that inescapable sweet potato thing so many popular Chinese black teas have that I’m just bored to tears by personally. And I don’t know, for some reason that note always signals a wateriness to my brain even when I don’t think it’s actually there, hard to explain and I don’t know why. It was certainly not bad but all the wonderful notes others are mentioning I don’t get at all, just sweet starch and a little smoke. It seems I can only appreciate/detect longan when it’s waaaay overpoweringly flavored like in Lupicia’s Earl Grey Grand Classic. I’m such a subtaster. I did this gongfu but I think next time I will try it Western style and overleaf a bit.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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This was good, a little subtle in terms of not being overly sweet, and I loved the true flavor of the cherry, how it really was the specific cherry in a black forest cake smell. That said, something felt missing. I don’t know what though. I had it last night (I’ve developed a habit of trying new teas at night but not reviewing them until the next day which makes for shoddier notes I reckon but is worth it to be able to focus on reading and Buffy) and I can’t remember if I had any guesses then…perhaps body? Not quite thick or silky enough? Hm. Not sure.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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This tea is great! I’ve been quite disappointed by most of the teas I’ve tried that try to incorporate coffee, but this is a hit. Had it for afternoon tea today with the husband after a kind of stressful, crappy day. It’s delicious, with coffee playing a solid role without entirely eclipsing the tea, and the chocolate and nuts add a lot of flavor without making it an oily mess. So far, this is probably my favorite thing I’ve tried from HI. Would restock again in a heartbeat for the cooler months.

Oooh now I see Dexter3657 says it’s delicious iced! I can definitely see the promise there.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Thomas Edward(Toad)

i would drink this, i loves moose tracks ice cream

Dexter

Really glad that you like it – yep if you like iced coffee- try this cold. :))

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Bio

“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

black:
verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

oolong:
verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

green:
verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

white:
butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.

Location

Memphis, TN

Website

http://facebook.com/ifjuly

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