7 Tasting Notes
When I was a wee lad, still in high school, I met one of the head tea-blenders from Harney and Sons. They brewed me my first cup of Jasmine Pearls, and from there I have never looked back. It’s honestly thanks to them that I have a strong interest in teas at all, so if I’m a bit biased in favor of their company’s teas, nostalgia is almost certainly a factor.
As noted by the company, this is a very fruity black/oolong tea blend indeed. The scent is rich and perfumed, and gives an impression of sitting by a window with an old book, possibly in a cafe as it rains outside. I find that to get a good body to the tea, I do have to steep this for a bit longer than most blends. A bit of astringency and tannic-ness actually helps balance out the more floral aspects of this blend. It adds a stately-ness without overpowering the brew. The bergamot flavor is probably the most strong, but there’s also hints of rosehip and possibly a bit of strawberry as well.
Thankfully, this is a pretty easy tea to find – lots of shops have either loose leaf or sachets available. I’d call this an excellent gateway tea – it’s easy to get people more interested in blends and brews after establishing that not all teas are ‘barely flavored water.’ If you haven’t already, grab the loose leaf tin, and give this one a try.
Flavors: Bergamot, Rosehips, Strawberry
I really, really want to like this tea. Tea Guys is pretty local as a brand to me, and they’ve been putting up a real decent Creme Earl Grey in stores. That being said, I’m just not excited about this particular chai. The spice is quite muted, and the base black tea really isn’t anything to write home about. The cinnamon is nice, the vanilla comes through and adds a nice roundness to the flavor, and there’s subtle anise and ginger notes. There’s even a slight acidity which I can’t quite place, but other than that, nothing really grabs me one way or the other. It’s probably good as an introductory chai, or if you don’t like a tea being heavy on the spice, but it’s just not for me.
Flavors: Anise, Cinnamon, Vanilla
This is a Chinese Black tea, and it has a bold, standoffish, almost noble or regal taste. The notes on MEM Tea’s site say that it tastes of burnt caramel or burnt sugar, and that is extremely accurate to me. There’s also this sort of mushroom-y earthiness that gives the brew a very full body, but a very dry finish on the pallet. This is one of those teas where I definitely wouldn’t go more than the recommended brew time of 4-5 minutes, since I would imagine the tannic and bitter notes becoming much more unpleasant. Still, I like how bold the flavor is, and how distinct it is from a lot of other black teas.
This tea seems to be quite caffeine-heavy too, which I found out by accident when I drank a cup of it at 6 PM. I wasn’t able to sleep until 3 AM that night. Unless you’ve got a great tolerance for the stuff, this is a morning-only tea. If you’re looking for a pure, unblended black tea where a sip feels like a duke’s glove-slap to your face, you can’t go wrong here.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Cocoa, Dark Wood, Floral
Rooibos tea is something that I haven’t tried a lot of, though the stuff I have had has been quite enjoyable. This is a strongly vanilla-flavored tea, though it still has a lot of the woodiness and just a pinch of smoke that I’ve come to expect. The body of this tea is full, round, and smooth. Plus, since it doesn’t have any caffeine, it’s well suited for drinking at night or in the afternoon. I wouldn’t recommend steeping for more than 5 minutes, not because of any astringency or bitterness, but because otherwise the vanilla really takes over the drink and makes the taste a lot simpler and sweeter.
I do enjoy this plain, but drinking this with just a hint of milk or cream makes an extremely cozy beverage, perfect for cold winter afternoons.
Flavors: Caramel, Vanilla, Wood
For a white tea, the leaves look a lot more oxidized than most other white teas. I measured out 3 tsp, but this tea is extremely fluffy. If you have an accurate small-weights scale, I would recommend weighing the tea out in grams.
That being said, this particular brew has a subtle, sweet, and mild taste. It’s not my favorite white tea, but it is just generally nice. There is a slight grassy and vegetal note, as in most white teas, but it’s not unpleasant. At the same time, there’s no minerality or unpleasant metallic taste to my palate. Despite the lightness of the flavor, there’s still a good body, and not much of a lingering finish, which makes it generally pleasant to drink. I’d say this would make a good tea to drink in the springtime; warm but still refreshing.
Flavors: Honey, Raspberry
This tea is… fine. Just fine. It has a nice aroma thanks to the blend of ingredients, and the proportions make for a smooth, round drink with just a hint of herbaceous spice. I find that the taste is weakly medicinal on this brewing, but still tea-centered and quite drinkable. If you like herbaceous teas within the licorice and anise palate, you’ll probably find this one to be more enjoyable than I did. Supposedly there’s orange peel in this blend, but I don’t taste that at all. Perhaps with a longer steep time or with hotter water, more of those notes would come forwards, but right now I’m mostly just stuck in the lavender and herbs.
Flavors: Cedar, Herbaceous, Lavender, Licorice
Note; I am heavily biased in favor of this tea, since it introduced me to loose-leaf and specialty teas a few years ago.
That being said, this is not the strongest or most bergamot-forward Earl Grey that you’ll find out there. I personally find this to be an extremely well-balanced version of this classic blend, not overpoweringly strong, but with still enough body and lingering finish to be well worth the taste. This is about the strongest Earl Grey I enjoy drinking straight without milk or sugar, but it’s also around here where those additions start to shine.
This tea also makes for a decent cold brew during the summer – the more citrus-y and lemongrass flavors end up a bit tempered through the extended brewing time, giving it a sweeter, even rounder taste. However, I do like the sharpness and slightly angular flavor of the warm brew. As with all tea, experimentation can help you find a good comfort zone.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Lemongrass, Wood