Harney & Sons Oolongs


Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Harney & Sons Oolongs

Postby Victoria » Mar 10th, '08, 02:44

Aside from being overpriced, what are your thoughts on any of Harney's upper level oolongs?
User avatar
Victoria
 
Posts: 8186
Joined: Jan 8th, '0
Location: Southern CA

Postby tenuki » Mar 10th, '08, 03:48

what are your thoughts?
User avatar
tenuki
 
Posts: 2339
Joined: Oct 23rd, '
Location: Seattle Area

Re: Harney & Sons Oolongs

Postby Salsero » Mar 10th, '08, 03:50

Victoria wrote:Aside from being overpriced . . .
That's a lot to put aside! ...and you're going to regret giving me a soapbox to talk about Harney!

In January 2007 I had Ali San Oolong (sic, an Ali Shan, I suppose) from Harney that was quite good, but it was disappointing to open the Harney can and find a vacuum-packed bag inside entirely in Chinese. I felt like, gee I could buy the vacuum-packed bag directly from Taiwan and get better, fresher tea cheaper. Their Fanciest Formosa Oolong seems like a pretty average Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty), so why don't they just call it Oriental Beauty? And their Fanciest Formosa Oolong doesn't seem so different from their Formosa Oolong. On the other hand, I had a very nice Da Hong Pao from them in late 2006 and the price wasn't even all that high.

I currently have a sampler of four black teas from them and every one has more quality in the packaging than in the tea. They're not too bad, but so much better is available from so many other suppliers! Their Golden Mudan (reviewed by Jamie at Tea on Tap: http://teaontap.blogspot.com/search?q=mudan) is a nice, unusual Chinese black I had never heard of before, but just a little too sweet for my taste. I have had several of their other black blends in the last couple of years that have been just cheap tea: the kind of stuff where you need to steep no more than a minute or it's just too rough to drink.

Did I mention they don't routinely give harvest dates? Learning from Master Chip, I am starting to see those dates as the first sign that you are dealing with a serious tea vendor.

So, where does all this narrative get us? Harney just seems enormously inconsistent. There probably was a day when they were one of the best things going for teaheads, but nowadays they just seem like a lumbering dinosaur. A company like Adagio has a consistent price/quality ratio and a logical representation of world teas. Plus they don't belabor us with far fetched stories about how a family member traveled deep into darkest China and brought home XXX trophy tea. Harney seems (IMHO) to have a quirky set of choices and you never really know if you're going to get something pretty bad or pretty good.

What was the question again?
User avatar
Salsero
 
Posts: 5214
Joined: Dec 21st, '
Location: Gainesville, Florida

Postby Victoria » Mar 10th, '08, 03:58

tenuki wrote:what are your thoughts?

I haven't tried any of them, and I was looking for some input. Lest I do something crazy and impulsive - again.

Salsero wrote:That's a lot to put aside! ...and you're going to regret giving me a soapbox to talk about Harney!


Humm that sounds a lot like my Upton rant. Thanks for the warning. I'll just buy my small amount and stop trying to round out the order. Thanks for the info.

Salsero wrote:Did I mention they don't routinely give harvest dates? Learning from Master Chip, I am starting to see those dates as the first sign that you are dealing with a serious tea vendor.


Yes I've heard that advice from him, he's usually right. :o)
User avatar
Victoria
 
Posts: 8186
Joined: Jan 8th, '0
Location: Southern CA

Postby Salsero » Mar 10th, '08, 04:28

Victoria wrote:Humm that sounds a lot like my Upton rant.
Linky to Upton rant?
User avatar
Salsero
 
Posts: 5214
Joined: Dec 21st, '
Location: Gainesville, Florida

Postby Victoria » Mar 10th, '08, 11:13

No link mostly word of mouth, but since you are passing me the soapbox ...

I have a friend in NJ who is a big Upton fan. She likes ordering online as delivery is fast for her, plus when she goes to NYC she can just "pop in" and get what she needs. She likes Earl Gray, so who knows, maybe they sell a lot of that and it's fresher or maybe the bergamot is hiding the truth. Who knows. But for their oolongs; I haven't found a good one yet. Most are barely passable at best.

Before I even found this forum, I had made up my mind to not deal with Upton any longer. The leaves seemed either inferior or old, or both. Now mind you, I figured this out as a total newbie, not having any of the experience of this board to draw on. That date they put on the packets didn't fake me out. I found it downright insulting.

After coming here, I know at some point in talking with Chip he told me what you mentioned above, and I felt reconfirmed that my thinking was correct.

Oy, the thought of their huge warehouse in NYC full of old tea! Furthermore, I don't like their cluttered website. Humph!
User avatar
Victoria
 
Posts: 8186
Joined: Jan 8th, '0
Location: Southern CA

Postby Salsero » Mar 10th, '08, 11:30

*What she said.*
In the IM the other day we were speculating on what happens to the old tea that first-class vendors (esp Japanese) have left over when the new stuff comes out...
User avatar
Salsero
 
Posts: 5214
Joined: Dec 21st, '
Location: Gainesville, Florida

Postby Cinnamon Kitty » Mar 10th, '08, 16:09

The only oolong I have tried from Harney and Sons was the TQY. It did not have much of a taste and I was very disappointed by the size of the leaves. The other TQYs that I have tried all had lovely, full leaves while this one looked like chopped leaf particles.

I tried it at the little tea shop in the mall which sells loose tea from Harney. They know how to prepare tea quite well, so I don't think they purposely broke up the leaves. I've had some really good quality teas from there, but not the TQY.
User avatar
Cinnamon Kitty
 
Posts: 1058
Joined: Jan 15th, '
Location: Syracuse, NY

Postby hop_goblin » Mar 10th, '08, 16:49

I have never tired any of H&Ss oolongs. However, Salsero was kind enough to have sent me some black tea, East Frisian to be exact and it was delicious! And I do mean delicious as it only took me a week to finish the almost full tin that was sent to me! :D
User avatar
hop_goblin
 
Posts: 1937
Joined: May 22nd, '
Location: Trapped inside a bamboo tong!

Postby scruffmcgruff » Mar 10th, '08, 16:54

I also had Harney's Da Hong Pao, and thought it was pretty good. Of course, this is likely due in part to DHP's tendency to improve with age. Harvest dates just aren't all that important for high-fired oolongs, as long as they are stored well.

Victoria wrote:Furthermore, I don't like their cluttered website. Humph!


Agreed. Upton may have the worst website ever.
User avatar
scruffmcgruff
 
Posts: 1665
Joined: Jan 11th, '
Location: SF Bay Area, CA

Postby Chip » Mar 10th, '08, 17:19

Salsero wrote:*What she said.*
In the IM the other day we were speculating on what happens to the old tea that first-class vendors (esp Japanese) have left over when the new stuff comes out...


Yikes, I have much to say on this thread, but for now...just on this post by Sal.

You better believe when the Japanese empty their vast cold storage facilties for 2008 harvest teas, they will unload their 2007 harvest on brokers who will ruthlessly sell it to any international buyer. Nobody will buy it in Japan...for Japanese consumption, it must leave the country. I know it makes its way to many US vendors who may or may not be knowledgable to know what they are getting.

The use of required "expiration dates" instead of "harvest info" on domestic USA packaging may justify this practice to some vendors and even buyers, but not to knowledgable ones.
User avatar
Chip
Mod/Admin
 
Posts: 21937
Joined: Apr 22nd, '
Location: Back in the TeaCave atop Mt. Fuji

Postby greenisgood » Apr 1st, '08, 23:34

I actually tried some Harney sencha in a "pyramid bag" at an airport a while back and I was actually quite pleasantly surprised. Though it wasn't the best tea ever, it seemed surprisingly fresh with a nice green color (teabag sencha seems to be usually more of a dirty yellow) and good taste. I personally think they're best for weird blends and flavored teas, one of the teas that got me started with the good leaf was their Bangkok green tea blend which I still think is delicious. From my experience they might be a bit overpriced for what you get but they're certainly a better vendor than some in the "specialty tea market." I usually trust their stuff to be very much acceptable but not amazing.
User avatar
greenisgood
 
Posts: 144
Joined: Sep 2nd, '0

Postby bambooforest » Apr 2nd, '08, 19:01

I have never purchased from Harney. I've heard they do get good Darjeelings though.
User avatar
bambooforest
 
Posts: 401
Joined: Jul 22nd, '
Location: Uji Japan is in my heart


Instant Messenger

Permissions
You cannot post new topics
You cannot reply to topics
You cannot edit your posts
You cannot delete your posts
You cannot post attachments
Navigation