Experience buying from Harney and Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-online-millerton-new-york

Age of leaf: Lot # 11193: puts ”production” at mid-July of 2011. I waited until today, Mid-January 2012, to open this tea (it was still in its vacuum sealed bag within the tin).

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: similar shape and size of a standard green tea: very dark green, curly leaves, which look almost brown. Yet, it has an aroma I have never encountered before (which I really like): surprisingly sweet, and spicy, and somewhat similar to a White Monkey green tea I had recently. It is very leafy in that 1.5oz fit very snugly in their standard 4 oz tin.

Brewing guidelines: leaves free to roam in my glass Bodum pot; stevia added.
……….1st: 165; 1’………. Incredible!
……….2nd: 170; 1.5’……About as good!
……….3rd: 180; 2’………Still good.
……….4th: 185; 2.5’……..Wow, still good.
……….5th: 189; 3.5’………Not much, but some!
……….6th: 193; 5’………….Amazing. Still some flavor!

Color and aroma of tea liquor: standard clear yellowish-green color which did not seem to change much over the steepings; very mild, but somewhat sweet, aroma.

Flavor of tea liquor: < see below >

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Impressive looking: although there were a number of stems (and a few pieces) it was mostly comprised of whole leaves and buds; they were similar in color to the leaves of a green tea, but they had some yellow—and one or two brown—splotches on some of the leaves (I suspect this discoloration is from the yellowing process). It was fun to watch them steep. They slowly progressed from ‘hanging out’ on top on the first steeping, to ‘hanging out’ on the bottom on the sixth. Aroma was odd, almost sour after one steeping, then later, after one of the last steepings, it was almost, malty? Weird.

Value: Awesome for what this tea delivers: $5 / 1.5oz tin.

Overall: First of all, silly as it sounds, I have to apologize to the tea: it sat, unused and unloved in a dark tin, on the back shelf of my tea cupboard for months before I even opened it. Sorry, tea!

Feeling a little better now, to business.

I have had only one other yellow tea (from Tea Trekker) and my wife and I both liked it. Yellow teas are hard to find; well, maybe it’s more accurate to say that they’re aren’t very many types of them (a tea retailer will usually one have one or two, if that). They can be on the pricy side, as there is an extra step in the processing, and I think the production is generally pretty limited. I view yellow teas as the ‘creme de la creme’ of the larger category of green teas (which they kind of fall within). So, I was expecting something good from this tea right from the get-go. And, not long after opening the sealed bag and smelling the leaves I was already starting to get excited about this tea. I could tell right away it was different (I went out to the H&S website to look at their recommendations on how to brew this tea, and I saw that they describe the aroma as being similar to a Darjeeling. No wonder I like the smell of the leaves so much!). So, that’s nice, it looks and smells good, but what about taste? Well, it didn’t disappoint here at all. It was very unusual: smooth, sweet, and fruity, somewhat like an Indian black tea, as good as or better then the Tea Trekker yellow tea, and I never tasted any astringency. My wife could even tell it tasted like a black tea, and she liked it so much she was quickly asking me to brew up the second pot! The staying power of the flavor over six steepings amazed me: it had about as much flavor on the sixth as a quality green has on the forth. All that to say, this is one of the best teas I have ever had, no matter what class it’s in!

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.


Midwest, USA

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