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harney and sons tea review

Mokalbari Golden Assam/Harney and Sons -ashmanra

Photo Credit: Harney and Sons

When I drink black tea, it is almost exclusively Chinese black tea. I drank more Indian black tea back in the days when I added milk and sugar, but since cutting out additions, I found that many teas from outside of China gave me a stomach ache or heartburn if I hadn’t smoothed it with milk, neutralizing some of the components that were cramping my style…and my tummy.

Golden Tip tea and finer Assams are another matter, and when I saw the photo of these leaves and read the description, my mouth started watering. It was an expensive tea, but I had been building up my Loyalty Points for just such an occasion.

The lid and inside edges at the very top of the tin are coated with a fine golden powder. This is the lovely dusting of the golden hairs from these leaf tips. And the tea is indeed comprised of almost exclusively leaf tips, tan and gold and pale brown in the tin.

The leaves are so light and fluffy. As soft and light as they are, I added a little extra to my initial teaspoon to try to hit the 2.25 gram mark for my six ounce serving.

I steeped for four minutes since it is a golden tip tea. A full leaf or broken Assam would have only stayed in for three minutes for me maximum. I am surprised at the rich color from what I thought might still be too little leaf.

Moment of truth – is this tea worth the plump price tag?

If you love high quality Assams, I would say it is.

The Harney website estimates the price per cup at $1.33. That’s right – PER CUP. That is more than most tea lovers pay for a daily drinker, but competition oolong teas and fine aged puerh tea can run much higher. I did my own figuring on my two ounce tin and came up with a price of $1.10 per cup….if I don’t resteep the leaves! Fact is, I have just made three very good steeps with around 2 grams of tea.

The aroma, first of all, was just as mouthwatering as I had hoped it would be. The dry leaf smells like candy. No kidding, I lifted the tin and was very surprised at how sweet it smells.

Once steeped, it is lightly malty with some of the same dark honey scent I find in Golden Monkey teas. Though the description didn’t mention it at all, I detected walnut. In fact, I found it to be in the forefront for the first steep. After drinking it for a bit, I notice my tongue is feeling dry. Harney puts this at a two on the briskness scale, but I would possibly give it a little more.

It has medium body for mouthfeel, but the aroma is thick and lush, giving a sense of it being a creamy tea, fooling you into thinking the body is even heavier. For you milk-in-tea folks, I would think this bodes well. It does not coat the mouth like a creamy tea, however, due to the briskness.

I tried it with a bit of food next, as I find that briskness can almost disappear with a meal. And so it does, becoming far less noticeable. So this would be hreat for pairing with breakfast or afternoon cookies! After eating, I keep drinking this tea and there it is again – drying!

The third steep is lighter with a lovely golden-orange clarity. Still brisk but less so, still sweet. Enough flavor that I don’t consider it a washout and would definitely want to go three steeps each time I make it, but I think no further than three.

If I use Harney’s estimate per cup but allow for three steeps per teaspoon, I am now paying only 44 cents a cup for a fine tea. I can live with that.

 


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:    Harney and Sons

Description

A rare treat from Assam, comprised of nearly 100% golden tips. The Jalan family are the producers of this Mokalbari East, and they made the best Assams in 2021.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Huang Guan Yin/Harney and Sons – Ashmanra –

Huang Guan Yin goes by several names. The tea plant is a hybrid/cross of a Tie Guan Yin cultivar and a Huang Jin Gui cultivar. The name literally translates as “Yellow Goddess of Mercy.” It is sometimes also called No. 105 or simply Yellow Goddess. It is a fairly new cultivar.

This particular one from Harney and Sons is very light. There is none of the roasty toasty or smokey flavor found in many TGY or Wuyi oolongs. No Tung Ting nuttiness. I think some companies do sell this processed a little more roasty if their descriptions are accurate.

The scent cup revealed floral aroma reminiscent of baby powder – that light magnolia or osmanthus scent, and a baked sugary treat smell that made me think of cream filled dougnuts. Then a herbaceous savory note rises.

It was prepared gongfu style. The liquor is yellow. There is quite a mix of flavor here. The floral scents are still there, but there is a savory note overlaid on all the sweetness. Sipping the tea, I taste the floral aspects first and then the savory nips in at the aftertaste like vegetable liquor from leafy greens, like tender greens (popular in the South where I live) or perhaps bok choy, perhaps more well known.

The leaves held up for steep after steep, delivering a lot of flavor. It was a very interesting tea to try. I wouldn’t want to waste this one by drinking it with a meal. I prefer to enjoy it on it own to tease out all the flavors.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Harney & Sons 

Description

This is a light Oolong from the Wuyishan area of northern Fujian Province. We have been buying from Mr. Chao for many years. This Spring we stopped by and saw him and his wife. This is one of the 3 teas that we bought from them. This is a cross blend between Ti Quan Yin and Huang Jin Gui, so you have nice floral notes and a bit of sweetness.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

**this tea was purchased and not gifted in exchange for a review**

Victorian London Fog/Harney and Sons

This Earl Grey variation won Harney’s customer creation contest! And I see why, because it’s super-tasty.

Imagine, if you will, Earl Grey — with lavender, oolong, and vanilla added. The contents of this tea SOUND like a sock drawer, but they work together well. The oolong adds a gentler, rounded-out tea note, and the lavender & vanilla sweeten up the citrus of the bergamot.

I’ve never BEEN to London, but I like to imagine it’s classy, rounded-out, and fun like this. Everyone’s tastefully, liberally dressed; there are fun activities like art museums and bookstores; and the breeze is always crisp. Oh, and I’m dating one of the Queen’s Guard with the fuzzy hats. (In this vision, my husband is just himself, with an accent, and, of course, the hat. I can’t even have a fantasy without him intruding. Go. AWAY. Ugh. Married life.)

SO ANYWAY. I’m glad this tea won the prize, because it’s tasty and fun. Next time you want to pretend you’re in London with your fuzzy-hatted partner, get on a double-decker bus with this one


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black/Oolong

Where to Buy:  Harney and Sons

Description

Victorian London Fog was the winning blend in our customer creation contest! Thousands of blends were submitted and we let you all choose between the top 5 flavors!

The beverage called London Fog originated during the Victorian era. Traditionally, it is an Earl Grey served with steamed milk.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

**by purchasing this tea through the above picture (link), you will be supporting the SororiTea Sisters in their mission to support tea companies.  all monies collected from the amazon affiliate program will go towards future purchases of tea for the SororiTea Sisters to review or shipping costs**

Vanilla Comoro/Harney and Sons

Drinking this today, a friend asked me why it is called Vanilla Comoro. I told her that the Comoro Islands are a source of vanilla, sugar, ylang ylang, cloves, and spices. Can you imagine what that place must smell like? And although it isn’t publicized on the label, this is a decaffeinated tea. Harney and Sons makes a tea called Vanilla Black that is not decaf and is very similar, but to me it is not quite the same flavor as this one.

When I poured the tea, my friend mentioned that it didn’t look very dark. She had already sipped and swooned, so the news that it was decaf hit her with a shock! “What? It’s so rich and good!”

A lot of decaf tea goes wrong. A decaf tea can be disappointing and even sometimes disgusting. This tea? Love love love. I don’t ever resteep this one, but the price is so reasonable that I don’t need to. It needs no sugar, no milk. Even though it is decaf, a little maltiness builds up as you drink – a lovely foil for that sweet, rich vanilla.

Fair warning and this is my opinion – I have had this tea in bags, sachets, and loose. I will probably never buy it any way but loose again. I don’t know why, but it is so much richer tasting to me. But if you have to have it convenient for on the go, my preference would be the sachets. To each his own, and try them all and see what you think!

If you see bits in the bottom of your teacup, have no fear. Those are not dregs, those are VANILLA BEAN SPECKS! We sometimes jostle to get the last cup from the pot so we can have all the yummy vanilla bits at the end.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Harney and Sons

Description

We’re pleased to offer Vanilla Comoro, our popular decaffeinated version of Vanilla Black tea! Now you may enjoy our favorite vanilla dessert tea to your heart’s content, and still get a good night’s sleep.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Li Shan/Harney and Sons. . .

This tea tastes like it was poured out of a very delicate porcelain teapot by an expert. It’s a delicate green pollen, pooling in your cup, soothing you during difficult times. It’s classic; it’s timeless; it’s fancy. It’s exactly what I’d expect to taste at a non-matcha tea ceremony.

When I was in Phildelphia’s Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, I actually accidentally walked into a class where they were teaching tea ceremonies. I didn’t realize it was a class. There was no note. There was just a person speaking to some other people, sitting on a mat. I thought it was a tour guide or something and got — unceremoniously — thrown out.

I think that, if I had stayed, I would have learned the art of distributing this tea to my companions with grace. These leaves deserve fine treatment after, as Harney’s site claims, “battl[ing] cold (sometimes even snow) and frequent mists,” resulting in a “rare and haunting” quality. I could have poured this pale yellow tea with a delicate wrist motion. People would have sipped it out of clay cups like these.

Alas, I’m drinking it out of a mug I got from Hot Topic for $5. I guess I’ll never be as classy as my tastes.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Harney and Sons

Description

Li Shan, considered to be among the best oolong teas in the world, comes from one of Taiwan’s highest mountain areas. The tea plants must battle cold (sometimes even snow) and frequent mists. This makes a rare and haunting brew, with echoes of honey and cream.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!