11 Tasting Notes
Tea Ave isn’t yet open at the time of this writing- these are some samples I was sent, and I will definitely be ordering this as soon as I can.
The brewing process was interesting- I usually brew oolongs a little lower than 100 C/212 F, but the packet said to try it at boiling, so I did. Recommended brew time for 250 ml was a minute, but I ended up letting it go for a little longer, about three minutes. Maybe closer to three and a half.
Anyways, onto the tea- the important bit. This was a very bright, tasty oolong. One of the dangers of floral teas is losing the tea to the flowers, but I found that the rose played very nicely with this oolong. There was lots of vegetal and floral goodness, without anything overpowering or cloying. The scent was very much the oolong, as was the initial taste- the rose kind of creeps up on you, finishing the sip with a nice burst of flowery sweetness.
The second infusion, which was a five-minute infusion, brought out more of the subtle vegetal flavors in the oolong. Less grass, more herbal/woody. All in all very nice and drinkable- the oolong base is great and the roses are a nice complement!
On a side note: the packaging for this tea is some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s super informative! In addition to a description of the tea, it tells you the altitude, roasting level, oxidation level, base tea, origin, and gives you brewing instructions for a gaiwan, a tea bag, a teapot, and cold brew… and the sizes for the brewing implements! And somehow it manages to do this without seeming too crowded. A+ visual appeal.
Flavors: Floral, Rose
Not quite as heady as Tower of London (another Harney and Sons blend that I’ve seen compared to this one), with a nice, sweet fruity taste and a very light-but-juicy mouthfeel. The most dominant flavor was this nice mellow apricot-peach; while there were cherry notes in the dry leaves’ scent, I didn’t pick up as much cherry in the cup as I did plum and apricot. A very nice dessert tea; would also probably be very good iced.
Flavors: Apricot, Fruity, Peach, Plums
This is a delicious, dark, rich cup with a really intense flavor and aroma. The cherry scent of the dry leaf mellows out in the cup as the honey and vanilla flavors get stronger with heat. The cup finishes a little like Earl Grey, with the bergamot hitting the back of the palate.
Flavors: Apricot, Bergamot, Honey, Plums, Vanilla
I cold-brewed a gallon of this in the fridge overnight and hands down it’s the best, most refreshing iced tea I’ve ever had. Ever. It’s got a hint of natural fruity and vegetal sweetness and a nice minty taste that makes this absolutely a dream on hot days. I will never drink Lipton again!
I’m not sure if I’ll brew this hot, though. I dunno how I feel about a hot cup of cucumber.
Flavors: Cucumber, Melon, Mint
This is an extremely dark, smooth, oolong that’s rather unlike what I think of when I think of an oolong; the malty notes are reminiscent of a good Assam accompanied by a thick honey taste that’s oh-so-delicious. This is a perfect after-dinner treat (try it with red bean cakes, it’s great).
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Malt, Molasses
This… is not my cup of tea. At first I thought it was a novel idea, putting assam and mate and cocoa and vanilla together, but everything about this jarred with what I enjoy. It tasted like bitter chocolate water, with this weird aftertaste- a kind of tang that was just ehhhhhh. I’ve had other tea with cocoa in them that have been good, so I’m gonna stick to those.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt
The twisty leaves are absolutely gorgeous, brewing into a golden-brown cup. I’m used to brewing Ceylons (and blacks in general) at higher temperatures, but the kid gloves treatment here gave me a really wonderful cup bursting with flavor without any of that underbrewed weakness that sometimes comes from lower temperatures. This is a really nice, bright Ceylon without any hints of tannic bitterness. There is almost a caramelized undertone of juicy sweetness; the mouthfeel was almost like a nice fruit tea but without any fruit if that makes any sense. This is gonna be really great come winter; the sweet aftertaste reminds me of cocoa just a tiny bit, or spiced apple cider- it’s warming, even when the tea’s at a nice drinkable temperature.
Also, it goes crazy good with French Vanilla ice cream. Like, seriously crazy good.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Malt
The first time I tried this, I went with the Verdant steeping guidelines, but I found the cup a bit underwhelming. One and a half teaspoons at three minutes at 175 worked a lot better for me!
I really like floral teas, so I enjoyed this quite a bit. However, if you don’t like floral, you’ll probably want to back away slowly; the aroma and taste are extremely flower-powered. Jasmine and rose flavors play pretty nicely together, and the end of the sip is free from that astringency that you sometimes get with jasmine teas. I didn’t get any vanilla from this, but I did like it quite a bit!
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Jasmine
This is a really nice, subtle FF Darjeeling. It has a really crisp taste, but isn’t too heavy on the tannins. The first sip is pleasantly fruity with a nice sweet aroma. There’s no one overpowering fruit taste, but just sort of a pleasant sweetness to counter the sharper tannic mouthfeel.
Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Tannin
Nice bright green aroma in a lovely light cup- but with a surprising burst of mango at the start of the sip! This is an extremely flavorful first flush Darjeeling with deep, lush fruity notes and a crisp burst of natural sweetness. A light citrus taste lingers after the sip; almost like orange zest playing with the tannins. I really enjoyed this tea from the 2014 harvest!
Flavors: Mango, Orange Zest, Tannic