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

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!

Tokyo from Harney & Sons. . . . .

I’m trying to class myself up. I’ve purchased new clothes, almost figured out how to style my hair, and am going to conquer matcha tea. You don’t care about my clothes/hair, so let’s talk about matcha, which is so bitter and weird I can’t get in there to like it.

I thought maybe what I could do is SIDLE UP TO MATCHA. Maybe like attack approximations, getting closer and closer.

So I bought “Tokyo” by Harney & Sons, which had a bunch of small green leaves, plus a bit of sesame seed and caramel. The dry smell is heavenly. When I put it in my gravity steeper, the whole shebang turned bright Kermit green, just like matcha. (“I AM SO SMART,” I thought smugly.)

The taste itself *IS* sort of matcha-like. It has a bit of that roasty, bitter flavor.

But the caramel balances it out. It’s like “hey guys, this has a vegetal sting, but no worries, I’m ON THIS.” You get the caramel running on a parallel track to the green, not masking it. You can experience both at the same time. It’s more like a salad than a smoothie.

If you want to try it out, Harney & Sons has this nice “sample size” option. What I love to do is drop like $30 on different samples, including ones I’m not sure I’ll even like. It’s a fun growing experience.

I would say that I am one step closer to leveling up in my tea expertise, and you can be, too!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Harney & Sons

Japan’s capital city of Tokyo inspired our delightful green tea blend of Bancha with toasted sesame seeds and caramel flavors. Recalling our many visits there, we wanted to create a taste reminiscent of the city’s impeccably presented desserts.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea by Harney and Sons

I steeped this tea in approximately eight ounces of 212-degree water, using one tea bag, for about three and a half minutes.

These are really cute pyramid tea sachets! (I know pyramid sachets have gotten much more popular recently partly because everybody is recognizing how cute they are, but it still strikes me every time!) I don’t usually buy these, but you have to admit they’re super convenient. There’s no measuring, no latching and unlatching a tea-ball or pouring through a strainer after steeping, no wishing the mesh was smaller so the tea particles wouldn’t get out, no wondering why all of my tea steeping baskets are in the dirty dishes and how I’ll ever get the cooked-on milk out of the mesh of the one that I made chai with that one time.

The Harney website says that there are three types of cinnamon in this tea; I wonder which ones they are. Google says there are four main types of cinnamon in the world today that are used commercially: Ceylon, Cassia, Saigon, and Korintje, so I guess this tea has most of those. It certainly smells very strongly of cinnamon, and there are chunks of cinnamon bark visible with the tea leaves in each sachet before brewing. There’s plenty of quality tea leaves in the bag. Much more intact than in most teabags.

The tea liquid, once steeped, is amber-like but a bit darker. The smell is like those red-hot candies that my grandma used to keep in a candy dish at her house–I used to always wish she’d let me have one when I was little (I didn’t get one very often though, in my recollection at least, but in retrospect that might only be “not very often” in comparison to the number of times I asked, which if you know anything about little kids and how many times they can ask for something per minute, means you should probably take that with a grain of salt).  The tea is kind of opaque, probably from the cinnamon granules–which tells me that there’s probably powdered cinnamon in the mix as well as the chunks that I saw.. It’s a teeny bit viscous, too.

First sip: sweet and spicy. The spice isn’t as up-front as expected-more “hovering,” which is nice because it means that the tea flavor even comes through a little. It’s a tad astringent, but not bitter at all.

With milk–a good flavor but less fulfilling, because in this case the milk dulls more than enhances the other flavors. I’m not sure why–usually milk just makes things creamier and better. It’s still yummy with milk, but I’d tend to recommend it without just so that you can get the full force of the cinnamon! You could even add a bit of sugar–I didn’t try it here, but I expect it would bring the cinnamon out better in this tea than the milk does.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy: Harney & Sons

Our most popular flavored tea worldwide, Hot Cinnamon Spice is an assertive blend of black teas, three types of cinnamon, orange peel, and sweet cloves. There’s no sugar added. Try our great value, a bag of 50 tea sachets. Each tea sachet brews a 12 oz cup.

Black tea, orange peel, three types of cinnamon, cloves.
Contains Natural & Artificial flavors.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Holiday Tea Alert! Holiday Tea from Harney & Sons!

The holidays have begun. Christmas music has begun creeping into the edges of our collective unconscious. I haven’t yet heard the dreaded “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”, but it’s only a matter of time.

During the holiday season, Michaels (the craft store) gets a smell. A distinct scent. I don’t know if there’s some “holiday smell” that they’re pumping in. Maybe it’s like Abercrombie & Fitch, where they dump perfume through the vents.
If you’re not familiar with that smell, and don’t have a local Michael’s, I will attempt to describe it to you as gingerbread-y. It has a chai-and-clove, spice-and-sugar vibe. It’s a delicate balance of every gingerbread house and Christmas cookie tray you’ve ever eaten. It feels like something your grandma made.
When you smell it, you have a manic desire to make your very own from-scratch Martha Stewart holiday for yourself. You do not sleep for days, considering how gold-foil could best be used in an array of handmade ornaments.
Holiday Tea by Harney & Sons is Christmas music and that smell stirred together into one kit-and-kaboodle. It’s like they ground down Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’s very essence for you to boil and sip.
Maybe Harney & Sons’ murdering of Rudolph to make this tea was an act of vengeance.
Maybe it was Grandma Harney that was run over by a reindeer.
I smell a conspiracy.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Flavored Black Tea
Where to Buy: Harney & Sons

Holiday Tea – spiced with citrus, almond, clove and cinnamon – has become a year-round favorite black tea. Delicious hot or iced, it’s a wonderful addition to a holiday table, served piping hot on a cold winter morning, or anytime you crave a holiday-inspired brew. Kosher

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Midwest Tea Fest 2015: Part 2 – The Haul!

Now on to Part 2 of my ‘review’ of the Midwest Tea Fest! Oh, what goodness lies ahead!

TeaHaul1What kind of tea person would I be if I did not take home a massive haul of tea back with me? I packed very light for the trip, but brought a giant suitcase to hold it all in. When it was all packed tightly away, I just made the cut off size for a checked bag. 49.5lbs of nothing but tea, teaware, and toothpaste!

I know how it looks, there is a lot more teaware than there is tea. I waited too long to snag anything, and a lot of the teas being sold were essentially all gone. But! I fell in love with more teaware than I think is healthy for just one person. It was pretty crowded around all of the booths the majority of the time, it was a madhouse! Just watching the folks at the Queen’s Pantry feverishly weigh and pack all the teas that were flying off the ‘shelves’ was almost nauseating. I overheard the people at Shang Tea how they only prepared for 300 people, and there was easily twice as much in attendance.

TeaHaul2The few teas you see are mostly samples, the Rishi and Harney were in my goodie bag, and I got samples of Pomegranate white and gunpowder mint from Single Origin. I did purchase Single Origin Tea’s Jun Chiyabari, the last one on their table. There is a small round tin of Bingley’s 10yrs Oven Roasted Aged oolong, and I did pick up some of Shang’s Aged White. (Not at the actual festival though, I took the short walk to Crowne Plaza to their brick and mortar store to pick some up, they were not selling them at the fest.)

TeaHaul3I ended up doing something I never do, and that is indulge in any whim I had along the way. I bought three pieces from Pi Ceramics, a sweet goblet cup, a cha hai (sharing pitcher) for gongfu, and a short and stout kuysu! They are great looking pieces and have a good home here with me. I bought another sharing pitcher from Bingley’s, as well as a small glass teapot. The two small white cups are from Shang Tea, as well as the white infused mug, and the Tea Seed Oil. (Fun Fact: Tea Seed Oil has a smoke point of 455F. You could healthily fry with it!)

The two books you see are the darlings of my collection from the fest. The first is Nichole’s own book, Tea Log: Chronicle your journey of Tea which a very useful tool I know I will be filling up very quickly. And the hardcover 30th edition of Tea Lover’s Treasury by James Norwood Pratt was signed by the legend himself. I was overjoyed by the welcoming attitude he and his wife Valerie had towards everyone they talked to.