99 Tasting Notes


Dried leaves are broken and slightly tippy.

Brewed with spring water—4 minutes at near boiling.

The liquor is a bright reddish-brown. I picked up strong flavors of dates and malt with a woody and clover honey undertone, but very little astringency and no bread/toast, which surprised me for an Assam tea. This isn’t as heavy as other Assams, either, so this can be enjoyed throughout the day—not just a breakfast tea.

This is certainly an enjoyable tea that is a welcome addition to my cupboard.

Date of “Packing” (unsure about picking): May, 2021

Flavors: Dates, Honey, Malt, Wood

6 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

What a treat! I’ve rarely had the opportunity to enjoy a bunch of leaves that fresh.

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I’m a big fan of Margaret’s Hope second flushes, and this one did not disappoint.

We recently installed a new water softener at our house. Since installing the water softener, I’ve noticed a diminished quality to my teas, so I wanted to experiment with this tea that I am familiar with.

I brewed this on two separate occasions. The first time, I brewed using filtered tap water that had been run through the softener (which uses salt to soften the water) and allowed the water to come to a boil. The second time, I brewed using spring water and stopped the heating process just before reaching boiling.

Both occasions revealed the usual astringency and muscatel flavor of the tea, but the flavors were much more pronounced with the spring water. I also had the flavors of apricots and wet rocks with the spring water — flavors I was expecting and hoping for. Neither of these flavors came out with the filtered, softened tap water, but there was a very strong taste of raisins with the softened water.

I am glad I ran the experiment with the water, as it helped me to realize what I am missing when I use the softened, filtered tap water. I think the naturally-occurring minerals in unsoftened water add so much to the tea. I am going to avoid using softened water going forward and try out various waters to find the ones that add the most to my tea experience.

Anyway, this tea is as excellent as it has been in previous years and am looking forward to enjoying it again all summer long.

Date of “Packing” (unsure about picking): May, 2021

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Muscatel, Raisins, Wet Rocks

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

Didn’t enjoy my first Darjeeling because I wasn’t making them right, mostly. But a second flush Margaret’s Hope was the first one I enjoyed, so it has a special place for me. Still my favorite.

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When I first started drinking tea regularly, it was Assam teas that brought me in. This is a perfect example of why they hooked me!

This tea is still one of my favorites. I purchased a large quantity of it back in 2018 and it is holding up well, even four years after picking.

This is a malty, full-bodied Assam tea, with hints of oats and caramel in the flavor. An excellent breakfast tea and a delight for any Assam fans.

Date of Picking: June, 2017

Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Caramel, Malt, Oats, Toast

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec 6 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Just received this from Vahdam over the weekend and was excited to try it. Brewed western style for just over four minutes.

The flavor was okay — nothing special. There’s a slight muscatel flavor to it — nothing further. I expected more, based on the price they are asking for it.

I haven’t been impressed with teas from Vahdam lately and this is an example of why. They started off delivering wonderful teas about 4-5 years ago, but recent shipments just haven’t had the same quality, IMO.

I’ll finish this off but won’t order it again. I’ll try blending this with another Darjeeling to see if I can enhance the flavor a bit.

Date of Picking: July, 2020

Flavors: Muscatel

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 15 sec 6 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Keemun Snail by Harney & Sons
99 tasting notes

I went for a run first thing this morning, and today is the final day of the Bundesliga season, so I am now watching soccer. An excellent morning so far, so it calls for an excellent tea.

I brewed it western style for just over 4 minutes.

This is so smooth and creamy — no spice to it at all. Slightly astringent but in a good way. I taste cedar and sweet potatoes as flavors.

This is definitely one I savor on special days — even if that “special” day is as mundane as today. Happy Saturday, all!

Flavors: Astringent, Cream, Creamy, Sweet Potatoes

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 15 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

Mundane special days are the best.

Tiffany :)

I also had a nice Saturday; weather was nice, went to car wash with boyfriend for his car, got to spend time with my family as a group for only 2nd time since March 2020 (other time was July 2020), and my soccer team Columbus Crew had an away match – and we won! :D I did not however drink as much tea as I should have.

Not a big black tea drinker but this tea sounds nice – might have to get a sample next time I make an Harney order.

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Since Art of Tea no longer sells their Ancient Forest tea (one of my old favorites), I went looking for something similar. While doing a search on “Ancient Forest Tea”, I came across this one, offered for sale by Juniper Trading, so I thought I’d try it.

I am glad to say that it is, in fact, very similar to the tea previously sold by Art of Tea. Based on the description on the website, it seems that this is a black tea from Yunnan. Since that is the same province where pu-erh teas come from, I am guessing that it is a blend of both straight black and pu-erh teas, since this tea has a slight pu-erh-like flavor to it but it isn’t overpowering. The earthy and wet wood flavors just add enough flavor to make it appealing.

All in all, I am glad I found this and have added it to my cupboard as a staple for times when I am in the mood for an earthy tea, but don’t want to be beaten down with the full-throttle earthiness of a straight pu-erh tea. I’ll happily enjoy this tea regularly.

Flavors: Earth, Wet Earth, Wet Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec 6 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Enjoying this tea again today. It sits on my shelf and I normally bypass it for other black teas because I don’t want to use it up, but was really in the mood for it this morning. I seem to overlook how much I enjoy the lightness and flavors of second flush Darjeelings. I’ll be sad when I brew this for the last time. The muscatel and apricot are amazing here!

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Muscatel

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 6 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

That sounds lovely. When the weather finally warms up, I start pulling out my lighter-weight black teas. This would fit the bill nicely.


gmathis: You’re absolutely right: this is a lighter-weight black tea! This is definitely a great late-spring/early-summer tea!

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drank Youthberry by Teavana
99 tasting notes

Another gift from a friend.

Drinking this cold today. I had it warm over the weekend and thought it would be a good candidate when chilled; it is better cold, in my opinion.

The description on the container states that orange is the key flavor in this, but I don’t taste that at all. I taste mango, pineapple, strawberry, and some sort of artificial candy flavor that reminds me a bit of Hawaiian Punch. It is fine if I am in the mood for something like that. It isn’t something I’d grab if I was in the mood for tea, though, since you can’t taste the white tea in it at all.

Overall, I’ll save it for when I am in the mood for something fruity to drink—it’s definitely a healthier option than Hawaiian Punch! :)

Flavors: Candy, Mango, Pineapple, Strawberry

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drank Yerba Mate by Harney & Sons
99 tasting notes

I love plain yerba mate tisanes, and this brand is no different.

The leaves are all broken into tiny pieces, like the picture shows. They are very thin and brittle.

I’ve never learned how to make yerba mate the traditional way, so I just make this like I would any other herbal tisane. I steep the leaves western style in near-boiling water for six minutes.

The liquor comes out strong and somewhat spicy. The flavors remind me of hay or dried grass mixed with spices. It is hard to describe but it tastes wonderful, in my opinion.

Flavors: Grass, Hot Hay, Spicy

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 6 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Brewed western style for five minutes. This is a wonderful Lapsang Souchong tea. The smoke flavor was neither overpowering nor did it fade too quickly in the cup. It wasn’t as heavy as I expected it to be, given how full Lapsang Souchong teas tend to be. The only drawback is that it doesn’t stand up to re-steeping—this is a “one-and-done” tea.

I’ve had this tea for over a year now but rarely drink it since I really have to be in the mood for Lapsang Souchong. This morning was perfect for it—cool and overcast outside.

Flavors: Smoke

5 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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Husband and father. Librarian. Soccer fan.

My tea habits generally depend on my mood and the season but, in general, my preferred teas are black teas, especially those grown in Sri Lanka and India. I will occasionally drink other types, though.

Unless noted in my review, I brew my tea western style and do not use additives (milk/cream, sugar, etc.).

I am definitely not an expert when it comes to tea, so I apologize if my reviews differ from the experiences you’ve had with any of the teas I have logged.

Please feel free to contact me and let me know if you have a favorite that I have to try! :)

My grading for tea:

100: Perfect.

90, 95: Excellent.

80, 85: Very good.

70, 75: Good.

60, 65: Okay.

50, 55: Meh.

40, 45: Not so good.

0-35: Awful.


Northwest Indiana, USA

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