2362 Tasting Notes

drank Huang Guan Yin by Harney & Sons
2362 tasting notes

I ordered a sample of this because 1. I love Huang Shan Mao Feng and 2. I love Tie Guan Yin. This is completely different from those two. And I love it.

This tea is also known as yellow goddess and golden jade oolong. I think there are a few more names as well, as it is a somewhat recent hybrid.

This is the second time I have had this tea. The first time, I made it the way the website recommends, and it was really good, but it didn’t taste exactly as the website described to me. It was certainly highly floral in aroma, but at 212F and 4 minutes, it had a savory aftertaste. It was good, but they didn’t mention savory.

Tonight, I had only about a teaspoon of my sample left so I made this is tiny amounts. I forgot it was supposed to be boiling water and used about 180F. Glory hallelujah this is good! It is so much more floral and there is a milder, sweeter flavor. I really love this, so much so that I went to the website to order but then I saw why I only bought a sample. But you know what? You only live once, and life is too short to drink bad tea. In this case, life is too short to deny yourself good tea if you really, really like it.

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I am very surprised I didn’t have this listed in my cupboard, but I guess I shouldn’t be. I counted just the tea I can see in one go and there was a lot more than what I have in my cupboard. I need to catch up!

I first got this as a sample in a swap with Hesper June. We loved it, so I purchased some at A Southern Season, and have bought it there more than once now.

I usually drink my smoky teas in fall and winter, and it is around 100F here these past few days. However, I am eating Howling Cow ice cream, have bare feet, a wooden floor, and the a/c roaring. The ice cream is from the University my daughter attends – North Carolina State. They have a huge veterinary school and agriculture program so they have lots and lots of cows and they put them to good use making some truly delicious ice cream. The flavor I am eating is called Campfire Delight, and I’ll be durned if it doesn’t taste like a campfire roasted marshmallow with caramel with graham cracker and chunks of chocolate. The light smokiness and the ice cold condition of my toes called for some hot tea, preferably smoky to match the mood the ice cream had set.

This is not as smoky as Lapsang Souchong, but smoky enough. The key here is that the base has FLAVOR and personality, something often lacking in really smoky tea. I think sometimes they use inferior tea since they know the smoke is strong, but you really can have both – smoke and tea base that has great taste.

This is making me want to revisit some of the other Grace Teas and try some new ones, too.

gmathis

NOBODY does atmosphere like you do :)

ashmanra

Heehee! I’m all about some atmosphere!

Kittenna

I’m not an ice cream person, but that does sound delicious!

ashmanra

Kittenna: I don’t mean to be an ice cream person, but I am. Homemade milkshakes and floats have been a terrible weakness, and now to find that some teas pair beautifully with ice cream….OY!

gmathis

Do you have Braum’s in NC? (Oklahoma based ice cream & burger chain.) Their sundaes are (heh) pure evil.

ashmanra

Oh my, it is probably a good thing that we don’t have them then! I miss Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor..

gmathis

Oh, that’s a throwback! (Favorite big sister memory, too…thanks for the reminisce.) Braum’s is tasty, but we are still mourning the loss of our local Baskin Robbins.

ashmanra

Awwww! My Farrell’s memories are all of my mom, patty melts, and hot fudge sundaes! Come see me – we still have Baskin Robbins!

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NOOOOOOOOO! I finished the tin and I don’t have any on the way! Twitch. Twitch.

Once upon a time I would have added milk and sugar to this. Now I find myself getting up some mornings saying, “I need a tea that grabs ahold of you and smashes a kiss right on your lips.” It isn’t a need for caffeine to wake me up. I have never really needed that. Sometimes I just want that rich, dark, unsweetened cocoa right in your face power. There is a toasted walnut flavor to this as well, and a little malt.

This is just the right spot between fine foofoo afternoon aromatic Keemun and down and dirty breakfast tea for me. It resteeps really well and is still quite strong enough for me if I mix the steeps together.

I made a blueberry buckle this week and finished it this morning for breakfast. The dog adores blueberry buckle and spends his day leading us to the cake plate over and over hoping for a bite until it is all gone.

Must reorder. Can you tell? It would be a shame if there was a new yixing pot in the cart as well…do I dare?

gmathis

I can just see your Sheldon Cooper twitchy face now!

ashmanra

I thought of you the past two days as I drank this, GG, because it reminds me of Fujian Congu from Nature’s Tea Leaf. I need to send you some to try and see if you agree!

gmathis

Well, you said cocoa and that’s the magic word.

mrmopar

Yes you dare! And blueberries..YUM!

ashmanra

Oooo, thank you, mrmopar for being such a great enabler! I have been watching the videos of Yixing pots being made and now I want them all! I have two, one decent one and one really good one that I got at an estate sale for $6. It had never been used and had the certificate and original packaging, i doubt it had ever even been taken out. I would love to get a dragon egg pot and maybe one more…

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drank Wenshan Baochong by Tea Ave
2362 tasting notes

I didn’t actually drink this tea tonight, but I am posting here because a few weeks ago the Tea Avenue website went down. It looked like it was there but it was an empty template and there was no product for sale. I can see running out of tea waiting for the new harvest, but teaware also?

I sent an email. No reply. I tried to contact through Facebook. No reply. I called their phone number. Fast busy signal. Checked instagram, no recent posts. We pretty much declared them kaput. Gone. Thought they ghosted us.

Well, I decided to check on them again tonight and their website is up again. On my phone it wouldn’t give me US prices, but on my tablet it did. I am really bummed because I just ordered Wenshan Baochong yesterday from another tea shop because I couldn’t get it from Tea Ave.

But I wanted to dispel the rumours that Tea Avenue was dead! Apparently, TEA AVENUE IS STILL IN BUSINESS! Maybe I will go ahead and order more Wenshan and use it as a comparison between two vendors. Sigh. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

By the way, I have had this tea in the past. It was light, floral, and lovely. I don’t know why I don’t have reviews already posted on it. Maybe Steepster ate them.

ETA: I think I will call again tomorrow and make sure it is really them and someone hasn’t hijacked their website. Can that happen?

ETA: Message from them this morning says they are not taking new orders at this time. Will post again with actual message for anyone who wanted to place an order with them. We may still be able to do so at some time?

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drank Earl Grey Royal by THE O DOR
2362 tasting notes

When I tried the sample of this tea, I longed to try it iced to see if it could replace Frank’s Southern Boy Iced Tea that had Captain Picard on the label – Earl Grey Iced. Well, my eldest daughter gave me a whole tin so now I get to experiment!

I made about a quart and used 1/4 cup sugar to sweeten. Is it exactly like Frank’s? No. Is it good? Yes. And I think I can tweak it a tiny bit and make it even better. I believe that a touch of sweet orange juice will carry this toward Lady Grey flavor and make it more like I remember Frank’s tea. It just needs something to take off the slight sour edge of the bergamot to really make it match. Comment if you have any other suggestions to help with that! A touch of jasmine? Just the orange juice? Or orange syrup?

Personal note: If you have been on here long, you know youngest daughter was a regular tea buddy for me. Our children were homeschooled and we went through a lot of tea every day in the last nine years of it.. Last year she left for university, and now…she is going to study in Poland! She leaves in late July and will return in late December.

Martin She is flying first to Prague and will do some sightseeing there. Are there any tea shops or tea rooms there you recommend? What brands do you like that can be found in grocery stores there?

Anyone with knowledge of that part of Europe, please chime in with advice or recommendations!

Kawaii433

That is so wonderful. You must be so proud, ashmanra. :D

mrmopar

Agreed! You should be very proud of her and yourself. This is a unique opportunity for her and I know she will excel.

ashmanra

Kawaii433 and mrmopar: This is a dream come true for her so I am very glad it worked out. She has been learning Polish in preparation for going. She says that knowing Russian has made learning Polish easier because many words are the same, but it is confusing to see it with a different alphabet than she was used to for Russian! She is very excited to experience actually living in another country where English is not the main language. She loves to travel, just like her big sis, Superanna.

Martin Bednář

Drop me an email. It’s my first name (dot) three letters of surname and 95.
At gmail. I will try to write something down

ashmanra

Thank you, Martin! I shall!

Martin Bednář

I received an e-mail, few minutes ago I sent a reply :)

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I am not going to add this to my cupboard because we are turning it into iced tea so fast that I will be removing it very soon.

I bought this on our beach trip and made a couple of gallons of iced tea. It was peachy and everyone loved it. This tea is no longer available here where I live, so I have to buy it out of town.

Now that we are home, the peach flavor is disappearing from the tea shortly after I make it. I will try using more leaf and not making two gallons at a time and see if that helps.

It is great peach flavor most of the time, so I don’t know what is going on with it. It isn’t just me, a guest said she didn’t taste the peach either. Oh well!

Kawaii433

So strange that the flavor disappears after making it.

ashmanra

I am thinking perhaps it was a little underleafed and possibly the flavoring may have more or less evaporated or dissipated? I just had some more and it just tastes like plain iced tea. Smells very peachy in the tin and the single gallon batches I made were good. The two gallon batch is the one that isn’t flavorful.

Martin Bednář

I had similar trouble with decaf black tea with peach flavour. It just disappeared. Maybe it is trouble of the aroma?

ashmanra

Martin, I think that could be a lot of the problem. So much of our taste depends on aroma, and I think the aroma just up and left!

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I can’t believe this was kt already in my cupboard because I have an excessive amount of it. But Y’ALL….guess what happened tonight? My husband learned to POUR.

No biggie, right? When we have gong fu service at night, I choose the tea, set up, light candles or incense, and do all the pouring. Tonight I asked him if he would like to learn to use the gaiwan. I thought he might say, “Duh! Hold onto the lid and tip!” But he didn’t. His hands are absolutely huge compared to mine and I don’t think I could possibly hold the gaiwan the way he did. But he said it burned his fingers a bit.

I told him not to lay his thumb along the side and adjusted his hand for the next pour. He said it was better, but he didn’t feel that he had good control of the cup and lid. He insisted on trying a third pour. I told him to bring his hand up and over the gaiwan and then angle his wrist for the tip. He said it worked great! Then he wanted to try pouring the water on the leaves.

We talked about the “gallbladder” of the tea, and not bursting it, as taught by the GuanYin tea house videos. I showed him low and high pour and explained where you would use each, and I think he really enjoyed participating in a bigger way rather than just drinking the tea.

Next time we will talk about how to judge how long to leave it steeping.

Who knows? He may ask for own gaiwan. :)

Now for the tea…

The tea leaves are large, light and fluffy, and somewhat broken. The liquor itself was a lovely golden color. The flavor began as lightly citrus with floral, then became moderately creamy and the citrus notes receded as floral came to the front.

Steep after steep, it hung in there, giving up around steep 10 or so.

It will be interesting to see if he asks to pour in future.

gmathis

You’ve trained him well!

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We are back from the beach! Hooray! It is good to go but oh so good to get back!

I missed my tea things so I wanted to have gong fu service tonight. We were having oound cake with strawberries and whipped cream, so that cries out for black tea to me. This is one of the very few black teas that my husband likes without milk and sugar.

The first steep was so silky, and the aroma was honeyed. It is rather light in color for a black tea but has plenty of flavor. At times it tasted rather savory, while having sweet and coppery aroma.

Subsequent steeps were much the same, but there were fleeting changes. Around steep four, there was a nice burnt sugar taste and the briskness increased a little. Perhaps I steeped it longer but it was really delightful that way. A steep or two later and it was suddenly very floral. Then at the very end, the lingering aftertaste has a touch of orange peel notes – a slightly bitter or brisk citrus. It still has a creamy body and this must be about the tenth or eleventh steep. The flavor really lingers.

I don’t know if I am tired from the packing up and trip home and unpacking, or if this has tons of GABA, but I am mellow, peaceful, and sleepy. Time to sit in my rocker and read Good Omens!

I have made this western style and it really wasn’t nearly as good, so this one is reserved for gong fu.

tea-sipper

I’m trying to read Good Omens soon too..it’s on the giant LIST.. and avoiding everything about the TV series as much as possible before I read it. Don’t want to ruin the images I have while reading…

ashmanra

I am about halfway through, tea-sipper! My daughter is really after me because she wants to go ahead and watch it, but she is waiting for me!

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drank Tower of London by Harney & Sons
2362 tasting notes

This tea and I have a long history. Back when I was first getting into tea, I read about this one and wanted to try it. The Harney website was out and even though it was part of the Historic Royal Palaces collection, Barnes and Noble didn’t stock it with the others.

My husband got on the internet and tracked down a tin in a gift shop and surprised me with it on our anniversary. It only came in sachets then, but I pestered Mike Harney so badly that he made it available in one pounds bags loose. It really took off, so they started selling smaller tins, too, and now I can just walk into my local Fresh Market and buy it whenever I want!

I have already had about four mugs of this in the past few days because we are on our first vacation in four years! I am gazing at the Atlantic as I type.

Some liken Tower of London to Paris, but I have talked to a lot of Paris lovers who say they like this one better. I feel that the overall taste is a little deeper, darker than Paris but still fruity and bright. It does resteep decently, and it tastes good iced, too.

When I first started drinking it, I was still adding sugar to tea – something I haven’t done in years. This is great with sugar if you like sugar, but I like it just the way it is.

tea-sipper

I’m happy to hear your connection to Tower of London! I hope you have the best vacation, Ashmanra. :D

ashmanra

Thank you, tea-sipper! It is going to be the most unusual one ever!

mrmopar

Travel safely and enjoy the trip!

Rosehips

I must say that I love Tower of London!

gmathis

Me too!

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drank Wenshan Baochong Oolong by Tea Ave
2362 tasting notes

I suppose last night was the last time I will ever have this particular tea, because it appears that Tea Avenue has closed. It was paired with Humboldt Fog goat cheese, which is delicious, but this is one time that the cheese really was not a good pairing for the tea, as this tea is delicate and floral and I was eating the strongest parts of the cheese since those are my husband’s least favroite parts.

A long time ago I got a Yixing pot and seasoned it with Harney and Son’s Wenshan Baozhong. Once I ran out of that tea, I just didn’t use the pot. It may even have been a couple of years.

I decided to test the pot as I had read, leaving some water in overnight to see if the taste of the water had changed. This is really for testing an unseasoned pot, but I didn’t think I had used this pot enough for there to be a real difference. Wow! Was the taste ever changed! At first I thought the water tasted soapy. I rinsed the pot and tried again. Still a flavor. Not unpleasant. Floral.

So I went ahead and made this tea sample in it, and it tasted so much like the ghost tea!

The tea was very floral with no astringency. We had quite a few steeps from it, and my husband said he was getting lots of flavor even after I felt it was all steeped out. That may have been the rind and mold stripe overpowering the tea for me.

We finished the session with a tiny bit of Godiva salted caramel chocolate bar.

Now…since I obviously don’t keep this tea on hand all the time, do you guys think it would be okay to use it for green oolongs in general? It obviously kept its seasoning, so I am thinking it may not work and I need to either keep buying WB or re-season the pot for another tea.

It is a middling quality pot with good heat retention, good porousness to season, decent pour, and it held a vacuum last night with hot water, which it did not do with cold. My best pot holds a vaccum even with cold water.

ashmanra

Roswell: I have tried to reply on the discussion and it isn’t working….again. Tea Ave hasn’t posted on IG since March 15 and nothing on their blog since December 2018. Phine goes to fast busy signal instantly, and no one has responded to my email, so I guess they are gone.

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Bio

I am a music teacher, tutor, and former homeschool mom (25 years!) who started drinking loose leaf tea about ten years ago! My daughters and I have tea every day, and we are frequently joined by my students or friends for “tea time.” Now my hubby joins us, too. His tastes have evolved from Tetley with milk and sugar to mostly unadorned greens and oolongs.

We have learned so much history, geography, and culture in this journey.

I am also reviewing for Sororitea Sisters now!

My avatar is a mole in a teacup! Long story…

Location

North Carolina

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