1403 Tasting Notes

These half day retreat days are flying by. The week is almost over.

I am still challenged in streamlining and simplifying in everyday life, aside from the time that I spend on the cushion.

Still drinking straight teas. For now.

Ok, I find this tea rather remarkable.

The dry leaf is long, thick, wiry.

Steeped, first, rich dense stone fruit, plum, prune and malt. Then, camphor and eucalyptus. Mineral, a bit metallic even. Almond. Followed by a honeyed finish.

Pretty great.

Happy New Year to you, Steepsters!

May you be healthy and well. May your cups be full and warm, may your stashes be fresh and plentiful, may there always be room on your credit card for a coveted and desirable tea purchase or two. May your hearts be kind and compassionate to both yourselves and to those around you.

Cameron B.

Happy New Year! ❤

Courtney

Happy New Year! :)

Rosehips

Happy New Year!

Leafhopper

Happy New Year!

ashmanra

Happy New Year!

CrowKettle

Happy New Year! :)

Martin Bednář

I am late, but Happy New Year!

tea-sipper

I’m REALLY late on reading these but that is a lovely tea note. Happy new year :D

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The dry leaf is lovely. Intense black mahogany flecked with gold leaf here and there.

As soon as the water hit the leaf and the cocoa honey scent rose, I knew I was going to love this smooth malty blend. And I do.

So pleased that I ordered directly from H & S after the Canadian distributor disaster.

I do have one irritant to share though. My order was a substantial one. If a Canadian is going to pay the hefty exchange rate and the generous shipping fee and risk getting dinged with more charges at the border, he or she is usually going to make it count.

With my order came one teabag sample. What, really?! My first order with your company, and it’s a big one, and you send one teabag as a hello how are you thanks for coming?

Have I done something to offend you?

I am grateful for that one teabag, but gosh, really, you could do better.

Cameron B.

I think I generally get two wrapped teabags from them?

Evol Ving Ness

Thanks, Cameron. I was feeling ticked off about this. I know postal fees are expensive and not the fault of the tea company. Americans get free shipping with a minimum purchase of whatever while Canadians and others pay $25 US plus in shipping plus the other charges mentioned. You’d think the company would realize and recognize this discrepancy in some small way that doesn’t affect them too much.

Evol Ving Ness

I know that that is the deal and the buyer makes the choice to purchase or not, but yanno.

ashmanra

Unless it just changed, Americans get free shipping period. No minimum. But with rising costs they may have altered that.

Evol Ving Ness

Yes, I just checked. Free domestic shipping in the US, so it doesn’t matter if you buy one tin or twelve. And it is the same or similar with other tea companies there. In Canada, there’s a free shipping threshold for our companies. Something like $60 or so.

It just got to me today and I needed to vent.

Evol Ving Ness

Are you feeling better today, ashmanra?

ashmanra

Not yet, Evol! Soon, soon. I got the shot at 5 pm and it was super quick and didn’t hurt. By a few hours later it felt like my arm was made of lead. Then headache and body aches by noon. Have dozed and read, hoping tomorrow morning I will be back to normal.

ashmanra

Years ago, Harney did have a free shipping threshold. I think it was $40.

mrmopar

CA is painful to ship to. Stuff I have sold across the border is $$$. Man only one sample. I normally do 3 per package and enough for a couple of sessions.

Evol Ving Ness

Sorry to hear that, ashmanra. Sounds like you are treating yourself with care in all this.

I realize that shipping here from the States is costly, and potentially a pain, compared to your domestic post. Still, the customer pays for that on top of the tea and currency exchange rate and possibly duties at customs. it seems to me that a bit of appreciation to foreign clientele who still choose to shop with you, despite these impediments via heavy fees on top of your products, is not too much to ask.

I mean, if someone is spending well over a hundred dollars on your products, is a free 25 gram sample pouch or two or a sample few teabags really an imposition?

Small independent, and even most large, tea businesses manage to do this without a huge sacrifice. ( I think the range of three is standard, teabags or small pouches, as you say. )

Needed to vent, apparently.

Even more so, as the USA is supposed to be known for customer service. I realize that the country is so large that there are enough American customers that you may not need international buyers, so there’s that. But still.

No doubt, I enjoy many of H & S’s products, but when it comes to placing orders, I am well aware of which tea businesses make me feel valued and appreciated.

Evol Ving Ness

Wow, that’s a lot of venting :)

ashmanra

Ha ha! I don’t blame you for the vent! It would be really nice if big orders got extra samples, or maybe an extra nice tea! They should have a sample generator….if customer buys (X) they get a sample of (Y) cuz they might like it! I get Organic English Breakfast over and over and I really dislike that one.

Leafhopper

I try to avoid ordering from the U.S. because of the exorbitant shipping cost, even though it’s not the vendors’ fault. And yes, one teabag is pretty stingy as a sample. I appreciate companies that offer generous and/or curated samples (What-Cha is great at this and does seem to change the number of samples given based on the order size).

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Tl/dr

So, I have been in the habit of ending the year with a weeklong meditation retreat.

Enter COVId and lockdown and quasi-lockdown and the unease, if not paranoia, of emerging into the world. Needless to say, the retreats have been cancelled.

And then, as Omicron starts making a name for itself, another retreat is announced, both live and virtual.

Despite various precautions, I don’t feel comfortable spending half a day in a room full of distanced others breathing. Even with masks on. Even with the windows open. Nope.

So I am zooming in to be present. Hehe, excuse the pun. Sorry, not sorry.

Normally, the retreats are full days with heavily ritualized silent mindful breakfasts and lunches and clean-ups and individualized communal chores. Of course, now, none of this is on. Just the half-day meditations and talks and feedback/discussion.

So I am making an effort to insert a bit of streamlining into my home life to mimic the full retreat.

It hasn’t been all that effective yet. For one thing, I have been online, distracting myself with social media and films and such.

However, I have been waking up early, whether my neighbours have allowed me to sleep much or not. I have been reading dharmic texts. I have been more aware of my habitual patterns and thoughts, positive and not so much.

Also, I have been choosing to drink straight teas over my froufrou choices or over the top eggnog additions.

I don’t know whether I will continue with straight teas. After all, eggnog season is brief and I am weak. But for today…

This tea, of course, is not at all any kind of sacrifice, what with luscious scents and flavours of bittersweet chocolate and freshly baked bread. Occasional peek a boos of sweet potato and prune.

After the second steep, there’s a bit of raspy throat kind of harshness, but other than that, this tea is a great delight and I am grateful to have some in my cup.

Harvest—Spring 2020

CrowKettle

I reached for this one today too (also to temporarily escape froufrou teas). It’s a great yet simple comfort.

Glad to hear you are able to connect with the mediation retreat during these times.

Evol Ving Ness

Ha! Yup, this tea is pretty great.

Interesting to hear your perspectives on it. I think mine is a previous harvest, but I’ll have to check. Currently, it is 5am and I am up: thanks, neighbours. Not checking packet right now.

Thanks. Me too. Sanity-making. Well, maybe that is going too far in terms of optimism, but it is a great support to attain a bit of groundedness.

Evol Ving Ness

Mine is Spring 2020.

CrowKettle

I don’t think I got the chance to try that harvest!

derk

Thanks for talking about your year-end retreat — you’ve inspired me to look into something similar for the next New Year. For me, the first two days of 2021 are dedicated to fasting. I hope you can achieve what’s needed through virtual attendance :)

Evol Ving Ness

Highly recommend, derk.

Of course, each person’s experience is different, but for me, it’s a way of checking in more deeply with myself and becoming more grounded. Especially valuable in these times when so many of us are struggling.

Normally, I find the whole holiday and Christmas season overwhelming. The retreat helps simplify, clarify, focus, and balance.

Here, it is the same person who leads the retreat every year. He’s been meditating forever, but he’s very real, very human, very funny.

Zooming, surprisingly, has been very inclusive, so it’s the next best thing.

Still, if possible, an on-site retreat with or without overnight stays is probably more of an in-depth experience.

But this here, for me, is working and certainly fulfilling what I came for.

If you are interested, I may have some suggestions as to where you might begin your search.

derk

Thanks for sharing. I will take this to PM soon enough.

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See Persia Lahijan Black Tea or Persia Lahijan Hand-made Black Tea

CrowKettle

I have this tea too and I don’t know what page I should post a note to :P

Evol Ving Ness

Haha. Looking forward to hearing what your experience is like. Good to see you here. I was a bit worried after your last flu-incubator exposure comment.

CrowKettle

I’m alive but still feeling blah, cuddling with my much loved chicken noodle and honey. There’s not enough tests here so I get to sit around assuming I may have a mild case of omicron, but not knowing (this is the worst part). The rest of my family is asymptomatic if they even have whatever this is, and I’m super jelly.

I too look forward to drinking this tea soon :P

Evol Ving Ness

No tests here either. Or the good masks, for that matter.

I hope you are ok and things just blow over without any drama.

Here, every time I clear my throat or blow my nose, I get a niggling thought. What a drag.

derk

Different than the Persia Lahijan black tea. This is full leaf, baby. And dare I say not as good but still I love it so. It reminds me of a Mr. Goodbar.

Evol Ving Ness

Oooh, thanks for pointing that out. I haven’t opened the packet because I still have some of the other on the go.

I just assumed that this is the exact same tea re-labelled as some parts of the world are banned from accepting products from certain other countries for political reasons.

Oops. I was wrong then. Is this still made in Lahijan?

Evol Ving Ness

Also, I don’t know Mr. Goodbar, aside from the film. We may not have it here (‘though I am not certain).

derk

Yeah, your assumption was mine regarding the difference between label and site name. This is grown in Lahijan, yes. Mr. Goodbar is a Hershey’s candy bar made of crap milk chocolate and peanuts. I scoop one up every now and then :)

Evol Ving Ness

Hmm, looking forward to your review of it.

also, thanks for the chocolate bar explanation.

Evol Ving Ness

Also, CrowKettle, I really hope you are feeling better.

CrowKettle

I was so confused when I received this tea, “I thought I bought Persia Lahijan something something,” until I remembered “trade embargoes.” :)

Still not up to trying this tea even though I’m super curious now, but I’m finally improving! I’ll make some tea note when I’m less stuffed up (also, I don’t have omicron; it’s just.. something else, hurrah!)

Evol Ving Ness

Hurray for the something else part! May that too pass quickly and easily.

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There are several listings for this tea. More likely, according to tea reviews, this is the one I drank yesterday and I am having again today.

This oolong is a marvel. I wish I had more more descriptors to adequately convey what is going on in my cup.

Fragrant. Floral nectar. Sugarcane sweet. Gentle honeyed sweetness. Honeysuckle, maybe. A bit green with subsequent steeps . And juicy, very juicy.

Leafhopper

Sounds like the roast doesn’t overwhelm this oolong.

derk

Oh my gosh, I’m so glad to see another note for this tea! I think it was a one-time offer when I bought it several years ago. I was so enamored with it that I bought an extra 50g bag to store sealed. I see it every now and then when rooting through my oolong box and it always makes me smile. The time to open the tomb will come.

Evol Ving Ness

:)

My packet was sealed and hidden in a dark cool place, which, I suppose is the reason that is tastes so fresh and lovely. But damn, this a very lovely tea.

If I had tasted it immediately, I also would have picked up more too. Oh well. I don’t need to have ALL the teas. Immediately, anyway. :)

Seems you and I have similar tastes in terms of what we find to be fabulous.

derk

Someday we’ll have to share teas in person :)

Evol Ving Ness

That would be awesome and I would love that.

That said, I am out of commission for swaps because for the past couple of years, I cannot commit to any sustained effort. Health and other things have been a challenge and I don’t want to disappoint anyone, or myself, for that matter. Likewise, I can’t take on extra stress and/or additional commitments.

Hope that doesn’t sound too crazy. That’s just the way things are at the mo. Hopefully not forever.

derk

No worries, the last thing I want is to impose. Be well <3

Evol Ving Ness

No imposition at all. Thank you for hearing me. And you too. <3

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Sugarcane sweet.. Floral. Juicy.

Yes, I know juicy is probably not a flavour.

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Yesterday, this tasted a bit thin because the water was cooler than needed, so I thought I would give it another try today.

Lovely. That said, I feel the flavours could be fuller.

Perhaps the issue is that I had steeped quasi-Western style, flash steeping in my
Libre. Though this method has worked very well with a variety of milk oolongs. Maybe this particular tea requires more leaf.

Perhaps if I were to steep using a gaiwan, the flavours would be more concentrated and evocative.

Or maybe I have been frying my tastebuds with too many froufrou teas and an abundance of spicy food.

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I’ve taken to starting the day with a tablet of this 72% tea-infused chocolate. While wintergreen would not be my first choice of flavour, this is really growing on me. I am plotting an UpBio order. Maybe.

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Gentle sweet mango and milk.

It reminds me very much of the mango sticky rice with coconut condensed milk I was overdosing on throughout the summer. It was one of the few things that made the summer humidity remotely bearable.

The milk here is not over the top creamy and thick, but it’s present. Just mellow.

The sweetness lingers on the lips after each sip.

Quite a delightful way to start the day.

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday.

Happy Christmas, Steepsters!

I hope the year ahead is filled to the brim with kindness, peace, well-being, and health.
Cameron B.

Sounds lovely, and Happy Christmas!

derk

Merry Christmas :)

Martin Bednář

Happy holidays!

CrowKettle

Happy Christmas!

This my absolute favourite “mango” tea XD

Leafhopper

Merry Christmas! It’s nice when fruity notes show up in Jin Xuan.

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You know when you take a sip and omg, this is the most amazing thing ever comes to you?

Well, yes. Freshly baked homemade butter tart with extremely buttery perfectly baked caramelized pastry with whispers of orange blossom water and toasted almonds.

Happy Christmas to you all, Steepsters! <3

gmathis

Who was it that said, “life isn’t measured in years, but in moments?” I’m glad you had a few of them with what sounds like an absolutely perfect cuppa. Merry Christmas.

Evol Ving Ness

Thank you. Why, yes, yes I did and yes, it was. Moments, yes. A moment of near-perfection can last a lifetime. Happy Christmas to you and yours, gmathis.

ashmanra

Beautiful! May you have many more moments, and some of them soon!

Evol Ving Ness

Thank you, ashmanra, and you too.

Leafhopper

Merry Christmas! :)

CrowKettle

Merry Christmas! :)

This tea sounds amazing! Butter Tarts are the best.

Evol Ving Ness

Merry Christmas!

Especially the ones that are so fresh that the filling is dribbling down your arm.

Martin Bednář

Merry Christmas!

Evol Ving Ness

Merry Christmas!

derk

Merry Christmas :)

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A monk sips morning tea

A monk sips morning tea,
it’s quiet,
the chrysanthemum’s flowering.

- Basho

(1644-1694)

Note to self—-you do not actually need any more tea.

My real tea obsession began in February 2015.

Not, sadly, when I had been living and working in China, though I very much enjoyed sampling a variety of teas during my travels there as well. No, no, that would have been far too sensible.

I am a reformed coffee drinker. I still enjoy a long double espresso with a good quantity or milk or cream from time to time, but for now, tea is my thing. All day.

*note—this is way out of date, so if we are doing a swap and you are checking to see what I like and dislike, mostly never mind what you find below. One of these days, I will update this. In the meantime, check what I’ve been drinking and use your own judgement. I like all the teas. Well, I am open to trying all the teas.

I tend to drink black, green, or oolong tea in the morning to early afternoon. Rooibos or
Honeybush or herbal in the evening. And perhaps some sort of sleepy-type tea in the wee hours.

This year, I’ve been discovering flavoured teas, so it may look like that is all I drink although that would provide a false impression.

Not a big fan of chocolate or mint in teas, but I will try them and, from time to time, have been pleasantly surprised. Also, usually I dislike a prominent cinnamon flavour, if untempered with other things, in teas. Again, I say usually, because there are exceptions.

Also, please note that haven’t quite gotten into the habit of updating my tea cupboard on Steepster, and it is unlikely that I will do this on any kind of regular basis.

I drink my tea black and unsweetened. If there comes a rare moment that I add something to it, I will mention it.

Finally, while I thank large and successful tea companies for tantalizing and beckoning me to the world of tea, I prefer to support independent ventures with real people, real enthusiasm and commitment, and real dreams.

Currently, I am researching monthly tea subscriptions. Perhaps it will keep me out of tea shops.

And here is Shae’s rating scale— which I am using with permission, of course— which more or less describes the way I have been rating teas. I am going to make more of an effort to stay very close to these parameters now.

Rating Scale

1-20: By far, one of the worst teas I’ve tasted. I most certainly will not finish my cup and will likely “gift” the rest to my sweet husband who almost always enjoys the teas I dislike (and vice versa).

21-40: This tea is not good but if I mix it with another tea or find another steeping method I might be able to finish it.

41-60: This one is just okay. I might drink it again if someone were to give it to me, but I probably won’t be buying more for myself.

61-75: This is a consistently good tea. It’s reliable but not necessarily special.

76-90: This one is a notch above the rest and I would gladly enjoy a cup of it any day of the week. I’ll likely be keeping this in my cupboard, but it isn’t one of my all-time favorites.

91-95: One small change and this tea would be perfect. I’ll definitely have a stash of this in my kitchen if you come over for tea.

96-100: No words can describe this tea. It’s an experience, an aha moment. Closed eyes, wide smile, encompassing warmth. Absolutely incredible. Perfect.

Location

Mostly, but not always, Toronto, Canada.

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