drank Hao Ya 'A' by Harney & Sons
1994 tasting notes

I am now leading a team at work including a new person who just joined us last Monday. I haven’t “officially” been a people manager before so this is a new thing for me. I hope I’ll be good at it. I’ve seen the effects of toxic management on people and my goal is to at least not be that.

As a result, my workload has increased exponentially rather quickly. Last week was essentially back to back meetings all day long and trying to get work done in the interstices. Next week looks like a lot of the same. It’s a good thing I love my job.

As a result (yeah, I know I used this to start the last paragraph, too), I haven’t slept all that well this week. My fitbit is telling me I got eight hours last night and the quality was pretty good, but I feel pretty beat. Maybe that’s why I’m excited by this tea.

The dry leaves don’t reveal much about the tea in their scent — pretty typical earthy/leafy smell, but dude — once steeped, what an amazing smell! It’s pretty much pure chocolate to me, with a tiny bit of smoke and fruit around the edges. The liquor is reddish brown (emphasis on the red) and clear.

The aroma is, oddly, better than the flavor. But the flavor is still lovely. The chocolate isn’t as strong in the flavor, which is probably why I love the smell more. I was telling someone the other day I’d rather die than live in a world without chocolate — which is, ok, an exaggeration, but not by much.

The flavor has more bread/malt in it. I looked back at my note on the Hao Ya B which indicates that I found that one sweet. I don’t find this one sweet, but it isn’t sour or bitter either. I can see where some have said this has a leather note. It’s more savory than sweet, and the smoke and savoriness together produce something reminiscent of leather.

But I generally think of leather notes as making a tea somewhat heavy and potentially rock like in the stomach. This one is substantial, but not what I would call stout or heavy.

I like it quite a bit. Without tasting it next to the B version, I can’t say which I prefer. So I’ll rate it the same.

Flavors: Bread, Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Malt, Smoke

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tastes developed they became less appealing — I still enjoy nicely done blends. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. I used to hate hibiscus, but I’ve turned that corner. Licorice, not so much.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 Excellent; first rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Very good; will likely buy more

70-79 Good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Okay; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes


Bay Area, California



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