Queen Catherine/Haney and Sons

Everyone who loves tea should probably take a good look at Queen Catherine of Braganza, sometimes referred to as the “Patron Saint of Tea.” Tea was known in England by the time she arrived to marry King Charles II, but she popularized the drink that was already quite a fixture among Portuguese nobility. Her life story is one of great character and strength in the face of both great privilege and tremendous heartache and sorrow.

In 1988, Harney and Sons was commissioned by the Portuguese government to create a tea blend in her honor, and they did a bang on job of it. Keemun, Panyang, and Yunnan black teas were blended into the tea that has become a shelf staple in my house.

In my early tea drinking days, all black tea got milk and sugar. As my palate and tastes changed and I stopped adding anything to my tea, Queen Catherine stayed, because it was just as good (better) plain than it had been with additions.

It is lightly smokey from the Keemun and has a light fruity aspect as well. I enjoy it at breakfast and in the afternoon equally, and because of its versatility it can be served to guests regardless of whether they take milk and sugar. Drinkable on its own, it is also delightful with sweets or with a meal. Because of how dear it is to me, I am always a little nervous when I introduce new tea lovers to it, but it has never failed to win hearts.

(People new to this blend often cry out, “This is TEA!” on first sips.)

Queen Catherine is my tea for days when I need to be told, “There, there,” but also, “You can do it, dear, I know you can, so get out there and be strong!”

This tea will always hold a place in my heart. It was by my side during some hard days and has also accompanied many happy ones. Fortunately, it is a wonderfully affordable tea as well as a great tasting one.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Harney & Sons
Description

We created Queen Catherine, a Harney & Sons signature blend of three Chinese black teas (Keemun, Panyang and Yunnan), in honor of Queen Catherine of Braganza, who introduced her love of tea to the British. We are privileged to have this tea featured in the Museum of Tea in Hangzhou, China. Harney & Sons is the only Western tea company who has received this honor.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pomegranate Oolong from Harney & Sons. . . .

The first word that comes to mind while drinking this tea is “zesty.” Pomegranate — aside from being a difficult word to spell — is a complex flavor. It’s sweet, but it’s also got that sassy tang. The oolong flavor — slightly vegetal, a little bit nature-y, but nothing horribly strong — makes it seem thoughtful. I’m getting a “literature” vibe from the oolong.

For some reason, this tea is reminding me of Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. At first, you’re getting all that sparkly, fruity zest. Then you sip further and you realize, hey, there’s a little bit of something “extra” here. Maybe this girl could, you know, go to Harvard Law and start winning cases. YOU NEVER KNOW.

This tea is delicious hot, but I don’t recommend it cold. The green gets a little weird. It’s a hot-tea. Don’t try to go off-book.

Of course, now that I’ve said that, you’re all going to try it cold. You’re going to try to paint me as a restrictive-rules monster. I’m not! I’m cool! Not as cool as Elle, but, you know, modestly cool.

Now, ladies, Bend. Snap. Brew. Enjoy.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Harney and Sons
Description

Deliciously silky and full of complex flavors, our Pomegranate Oolong tea blends large Ti Quan Yin leaves—also known as Iron Goddess of Mercy—with the tangy, sparkling flavor of pomegranate. The result is a luscious and fruit-forward brew with a toasty aroma and ample flavors of bright pomegranate. Brew hot to enjoy its smooth, silky texture and sweet aroma at its finest.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Heirloom Bartlett Pear from Harney and Sons. . .

I get really excited when Harney and Sons announces new teas. I got my introduction to whole leaf tea with their Royal English Breakfast, Paris, and Golden Monkey. I almost feel like they should let me know FIRST when they are adding something to their catalog. So I was super excited when I got an email a while back about four new flavored teas.

I love my single plantation pure teas, but I also love flavored teas and serve them to guests often. Of the four new teas, I was most captured by the description of this one – silvery Mutan leaves, pieces of pear, apple, and peach, plus nutmeg and two kinds of cinnamon.

The golden tea smells warm and rich. Even though it is desperately hot outside right now, the nutmeg aroma puts me in a holiday mood and makes me dream of serving this in fall and winter this year. As I drink it, I hear the wind blow in a cold front, and leaves crunching underfoot, then I see the table set for Thanksgiving, and hear the chatter of people gathered for Christmas. Bliss.

They say this tastes of crisp Bartlett pear, and I supposed it does, but even on a good day pear is a very, very mild flavor to me. The apple serves to enhance the pear flavor but I simply can not discern the peach, which is good because I would rather pear tea taste like pear tea. The nutmeg is fabulous, just right, and perfectly balanced. The cinnamons are not overpowering but give the impression of a perfectly spiced warm cobbler. And yet the white tea flavor doesn’t get buried in all this!

If you have tried white tea and thought it just tasted like a cup of hay water (which I happen to like), I would encourage you to try this tea and change your mind. There are wonderful layers of flavor here, and this is a definite re-purchase for me.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  White
Where to Buy: Harney and Sons
Description

Heirloom Bartlett Pear tea is a fruit-filled lovesong to the light, sweet leaves of Mutan white tea and crisp flavors of Bartlett pears. The silvery white and green Mutan leaves mingle with delicately succulent pieces of pear, apple, and peach. Spice notes of nutmeg and two kinds of cinnamon add a touch of zing. The result is a multifaceted, beautifully layered infusion that’s light and warming in every cup.

Ingredients:
White tea, pear pieces, apple pieces, peach pieces, pear flavor, nutmeg, cinnamon, white cornflowers, peach flavor. Contains natural flavors.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

White Vanilla Grapefruit from Harney & Sons. . . .

If you’d like a mild midafternoon pick-me-up, I have a delicate refresher for you!

White Vanilla Grapefruit by Harney & Sons is a pastel-flavored creamy vanilla with very faint fruit notes. It manages to be mellow, but not boring. It’s not a showy tea. It understands that it has something very important and comforting to impart. There are times when one wants something that is simply NICE.

It’s the flavor equivalent of a Mary Cassatt piece. It’s a homey domestic scene that reminds one of a vase of tulips and the feeling of warm laundry right out of the dryer. It’s reading a fresh magazine on a sunny couch. It’s the first time out in a new pair of socks. It’s a half-day at work. It’s the joyous announcement of a pregnancy.

Other people LOVE this tea. When I went onto the Harney site to grab the link for this tea, there are twelve — TWELVE — pages of reviews on this. People talk about enjoying it with their roommates, going on quests to find it, where they first tried it. This seems to have an almost cult following.

Will you become a raving fan, too? You’ll have to try it to find out.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  White
Where to Buy:  Harney and Sons
Description

Our cleansing white tea blend of White Vanilla Grapefruit is enriched by vanilla, and brightened by the clear citrus notes of grapefruit. Its vanilla aroma adds a pleasantly indulgent touch.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

San Lin Xi Oolong from Harney & Sons. . . .

This tea tastes like eating a bouquet of nectar-y flowers. I have not, for the record, done this, but it’s how I imagine the experience might be, if you were so inclined. It’s light, lively, vegetal, and easy.

(Original Artwork from Super Starling inspired by this tea)

I feel like being a bee would be wonderful. A life spent in the sunshine, with a clear, tasty plan — find flowers; collect yummy pollen. Have a fluffy face. Hang out in Taiwan (whence this tea originates) with your friends in a hive. Hexagons are very hot in interior decoration right now.

Since I am not a bee (uuuuuuugh), I’ll have to savor this flavor instead.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Harney & Sons
Description

We are pleased to expand our offering of Taiwanese high mountain (Gao shan) oolongs. This tea is from the middle of the Nantou District, between Li Shan to the north and Ali San in the South. It is a lovely lightly oxidized oolong.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!