Tuesday, November 25, 2014
This caffeine-free herbal alternative to Earl Grey black tea comprises fragrant bergamot essential oil and hand-crafted organic fair trade rooibos, delivering a sweet, deep red infusion with fruity and floral notes. This delicious herbal tea is a real treat with milk and rock sugar, and can be enjoyed any time of day.
Sample provided by The Persimmon Tree
Hello from space - the final frontier! I finally have my internet woes sorted out. We went with satellite internet. It is not cheap and you can't game with it, but that is the price of living out in the boondocks.
So today I have chosen an herbal to review. This one is a South African rooibos flavoured with bergamot oil. You know me, if there is any association with my beloved Earl Grey, I must try it. This also happens to be a decaffeinated herbal, so no worries about late evening or night time sipping keeping me awake.
I heated to water to the recommended 200 F. This was steeped in my Republic of Tea mug with a stainless filter basket. I prefer a Finum basket as the mesh is much finer on those. Since my wife is using both (both!) of the ones we own, that leaves me little choice. I'll survive.
I steeped for about 4 minutes with the lid on the mug. Removing the lid reveals a dark orange red brew. There are some tiny bits of rooibos floating on the surface. This is the issue with using this mug. Rooibos requires a very fine mesh filter to avoid floaters. Again, I'll survive.
The scent is pretty absent of bergamot. Brewed this has a mellow aroma of rooibos. I do attribute the mellowness to the bergamot. Straight rooibos often has a sharp scratchy aroma and taste. This does not.
When the cup is hot, I taste only the tamed rooibos. I like it well enough, however it is not what I was expecting.
As the cup cools I begin to catch more and more of the wonderful citrus I crave. It is still light but obvious.
I guess I can look at this two ways. First, the rooibos is tamed. There is no harshness or scratchy aftertaste. So as a relaxing herbal cup this succeeds. Second, as an Earl Grey alternative this really leaves me wanting. Bergamot and rooibos really do compliment each other, so I want this cranked up several notches.
If you drink your tea very hot and are expecting a stout Earl Grey, you aren't going to get it. If on the other hand you would like just a touch of bergamot, or simply a way to like the sometimes overwhelming taste of rooibos, then this may well fit your need.
You can find Herbal Grey here.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
The mindful morning blend is the Plum Deluxe take on classic Earl Grey.
Everyone loves Earl Grey, but we found a way to make it even better so that we can start every day with a tea blend that is truly luxurious. We began with our absolute favorite black tea, Ceylon – it is a tea from Sri Lanka that has a gentle vanilla flavor to it. We then added a tiny pinch of sweet honey, a bit of flavor and color with the cornflowers, and topped it off with the bergamot oil that makes earl grey so famous. The orange peels give it a final flavor boost.
Sample provided by Plum Deluxe.
I was recently contacted by Andy at Plum Deluxe and asked if I would like to review one of their teas. Looking through the online teashop, all of the choices sounded equally inviting. I chose Mindful Morning Blend. Why? Uhmmm, because it has bergamot in it. I am nothing if not predictable.
The label lists a brief description and the ingredients. Missing are steeping instructions. The base tea is Ceylon, so I'll use standard black tea parameters.
Update - after reading my review, Andy wrote, "When people order they get an email with brewing info, but you're right, it's not on the labels. It's on the new ones now since people often misplace the email or gift the tea."
I have to admit part of the description made me smile. "Pairs well with quiet moments & good conversation." I can pretty much say, any tea I drink first thing in the morning, will not be accompanied with good conversation. I am not a morning person. Neither is my wife. We tend to avoid each other until both have had their respective morning cup. I will agree as an afternoon tea, the aroma alone would enhance the conversation.
|A very full mug|
Instead, I put the leaf in my press with boiling water and steeped for about three minutes. It is a good thing I used more leaf than usual, as there was a little water left in the kettle and I filled my mug a little fuller than intended.
The brew color is dark caramel/orange. I can smell the tea in the wet leaf. The combination is sort of chocolate, orange, and honey. I don't mean to dwell, but it smells so nice and inviting. It isn't candy. It isn't citrus. It isn't floral. It is kind of all these things.
Once it finally cools enough to taste, I am not disappointed. The sweet citrus, and not really chocolate but along that vein, flavors are joined by a vanilla like taste and texture. This does not require added sweetener, yet it is not overly sweet by any means. I am detecting no bitterness. Ceylon teas especially when bergamot is added can be very drying. This one is only mild drying.
The ingredients are USDA organic and fairtrade certified. Plum Deluxe has a small variety to choose from but they do their own blending. What I get with this cup is not heavy handed or in your face. It is very tastefully blended.
Plum Deluxe was founded in 2007 as an online community to help people create moments that matter. The tea came later. Quoting from information I was given about their tea story:
Tea is a beverage that can’t be rushed – you have to give it a few minutes to steep. By encouraging our readers to drink tea, we’re helping them slow down just a little, and perhaps giving them a minute or two each day to be still.
I completely agree with this philosophy. I can also highly recommend this blend.
You can find Mindful Morning Blend here.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
After the Bi Luo Chun Green Tea is made, they will be put together with large numbers of jasmine flower in a room. That’s why this tea carries a heavy jasmine fragrance. When brewed, it taste refreshing with sweet aftertaste.
This tea has three things going for it before I even open the package. First, it is Teavivre - one of my very favorite tea providers. Second, it is Bi Luo Chun - one of my very favorite green teas. And third, this is jasmine. Before tasting Teavivre's high quality offerings, I did not like jasmine, but they do it right. Their jasmine premium dragon pearls are crazy good.
With that introduction, it sounds like this tea almost doesn't have to work to get a good review. You never know something could still go horribly wrong.
I poured the contents on a plate and was surprised. The Bi Luo Chun I have reviewed before was long twisted curls of loose leaf. This is rolled tight like a mix of dragon pearls and tieguanyin. I see a couple petals of jasmine left over from the scenting process. The color is olive green with silver streaks.
The sample is about 7g so I chose to divide it in half and save some for another day. Into the press it goes with 185F filtered water. The steep was two minutes.
Then, and this was awesome, some of the whole leaves began to rise up. It reminded me of an old Saturday matinee monster movie. I could hear Godzilla roar in my head while watching. It still resembles a sea monster once safely beached on a plate. Definitely one of my favorite steeping shows in a long time.
I recommend a clear teapot so as not to miss this display.
Even though this is fairly strongly scented, it is not over the top, and it tastes natural. I find with 3g of leaf and the two minute steep in a 10oz cup this is a bit drying and brisk. I like the briskness but if you don't, I would recommend starting with a one minute steep and adjust from there. Lowering the temperature a little would help tame it as well.
I can taste the tea beneath the jasmine, especially late in the sip. It gets kind of grassy and in the aftertaste it adds a fruity element. I read one review that suggested melon. I think that sounds accurate. The aftertaste really lingers.
The cup is a little sweet. Even so, if you have a real sweet tooth, I have always thought jasmines take sweetening rather well.
You can find Jasmine Bi Luo Chun Green Tea here.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
A delightful green tea with a brilliant apricot taste combined with hints of nectarine, one of our favourite green teas.
Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined
November 1st already? What happened to summer? More important at the moment - hurrah! I seem to still have an internet connection at the beginning of the month! My provider went out of business and now I am just waiting to hear from the carrier about future options. Trying to stay positive in an area without many choices.
Today, I reach the bottom of the box What-Cha sent for me to review. I can't say enough nice things about my dealings with What-Cha. Their tastes are similar to my own. Almost all of their offerings are single source natural and unflavored teas. They carry many teas that are more traditional or common types but the majority are off the beaten trail type teas.
The leaf is mostly large full leaves and connecting stems. Though dry, they appear fresh. The scent is like fall leaves.
Using my press and charcoal filtered water heated to 176F. The leaves were steeped for 3 1/2 minutes. I was busy getting the computer up and running and missed the dance. The outcome was some of the leaf hung from the surface, while others rested on the bottom. The remainder drifted in between. I'm sorry I didn't get to watch.
The scent was steamed vegetables with a fruit note that upon reading What-Cha's description I can agree is nectarine.
You can see buds in the picture, as well as two and three leaves joined by a stem.
The liquor is a bright and shiny yellow with maybe a hint of green. It kind of depends on the light. (duh)
The taste is light and crisp. At the front it is vegetal with just the slightest bite. This drifts momentarily through spring water before changing to a floral grassy aftertaste that lingers. No bitterness and no astringency.
What I love about this tea is it is similar to a lot of the better Chinese green teas I've tried but still unique in its own way. In addition, it amazingly bears no resemblance to the Nepal black or white teas I have tried from What-Cha.
I loved the other teas as well. That is not my point. While all of their Nepali teas are sourced direct from Greenland Organic Farm, all of them taste different. I find that cool. It speaks highly of the artistry of the farmers. Of interest to many of you, all the Nepal teas are chemical and pesticide free.
A huge thanks to Allistair at What-Cha for allowing me to sample and review some of your offerings. Much success to you.
You can find Nepal First Flush 2014 Emerald Green Tea here.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
An exclusive tea only offered by one other seller, a great tasting lightly oxidised oolong with a fruity body and a citrus finish.
Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined
I really intended to make it through all the samples from What-Cha this month. Nope. I didn't quite make it. I am definitely in no hurry. Their teas have taken me new places and I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey. While I am in no hurry to complete the trip, the uncertainty of my future ability to post without a trip to town for public WiFi access, has caused me to tread a little faster.
Today, I picked an oolong for review. It is my first silver oolong. The large resealable mylar bag is as always simply and clearly labelled. I really appreciate the label. It tells me all I need to know. The website adds a little additional information as to the source for those who want to know.
I followed the suggested directions of 176F water (charcoal filtered) and steeped for 3 minutes. I used one third of the 10g sample in my press.
Its appearance reminds me of a Chinese green I have had in the past - possibly it was Xin Yang Mao Jian, but I'm not certain. That comparison is kind of pointless as the aroma off the wet leaf is unlike anything I have previously experienced.
What I experienced was a very definite citrus nose. At first, I was certain it was lemon. As I breathed it in again, I began to think orange. There is nothing but tea here so whatever the scent it is natural. It is also very pleasant.
Actually, the taste surpasses the aroma. Seriously good. I get a buttery corn at the front of the sip that turns spring water in the middle and moves right into a lovely citrus finish. Again I say, seriously good.
There is no bitterness. Sometimes I want a little to give the cup character. Here it just doesn't need it. I get no astringency. There is nothing even vaguely off in the taste.
Choosing a favorite from What-Cha would be very difficult. This one is certainly a contender for that title. Unique and lovely, this is a wonderfully refreshing cup.
You can find Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea here.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
|Web Photo - not taken from this cake|
A classic Menghai tea factory recipe that was first introduced in 1985 for direct sales to Hong Kong Nian Tian company. 8582 Raw Pu-erh Cake use larger mature leaves inside for this cake, the tea has a very refreshingly sweet and smooth aftertaste, gives rich taste and swallows extremely well. Great potential after a few years of aging.
Size & Price:
2008 Menghai *8582* Dayi Raw Pu-erh Cake - 357g, $17.60 (USD)
I have had this sample in my pu-erh drawer since spring. I have been so busy it just wasn't fitting in my schedule. Pu-erh waits patiently and instead of losing its appeal, it generally gets better with age. Today is a slow rainy day and it is begging for a sheng.
The leaf is dark but still shows hints of green and I see some whole leaf in the mix. I did not detect any significant aroma to the dry leaf.
I used my Yixing pot and 10 oz of water heated to 212F (100C). I really don't know if I should be using cooler water for a raw tea. I should experiment a little and see what happens. Anyway, I let this steep for about 45 seconds.
The brew starts pouring as a light yellow orange. As it cools it becomes more golden orange. When I poured, I did use a strainer but it turned out to not be necessary. The strainer holes in the pot proved to be sufficient to prevent leaf from escaping.
Tasting the first cup, I am noticing bitterness first, then some astringency in the form of drying. It does seem a little sweet with some woodsy notes trying to come through. Maybe cooler water and definitely a shorter steep is in order. On the other hand, I did not pour off the first cup as a wash. I almost never do, so I'll take the blame for this one.
As the cup cools and I taste while typing, I caught a faint hint of smoke. Promising.
For my second 10 oz pot, I used 200F water and a 10 second steep. The color is only slightly lighter in color. The wet leaf now has a pleasant woodsy mushroom with a hint of smoke aroma. Yeah, that's more like it!
The bitterness is all but gone. Just enough remains to make this interesting. The dryness is also greatly reduced. This is sweet. It feels a bit syrupy. The taste is a combination of stone and mushroom. There is nothing off-putting in the taste. A very enjoyable cup.
Mug three - cup 9, if you gongfu brew - at 20 seconds, is the best yet. A slight bitterness is present. The flavor is again woodsy mushroom with a stone element. The stone is a mineral taste like drinking water poured over rocks. The smoke is light but present late as I exhale.The aftertaste lingers.
This shows no signs of giving up but I want to post the review, so I am quitting here for now.
You can find the 2008 Menghai 8582 Dayi Raw Pu-erh Cake here
Monday, October 27, 2014
|Resealable and clearly labeled|
Our Kenyan Silver Needles hits the usual notes usually associated with good quality Silver Needles while having its own unique characteristics not usually found in other Silver Needles. Kenyan Silver Needles is on the fuller side of the Silver Needle scale and features lovely soft tannins, making it perfect for those who find the more traditional Silver Needles too subtle and overly delicate. Our Kenyan Silver Needles represents a chance to try one of the great Chinese teas grown in the unique terroir of Kenya.
Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined
I started my reviews of the What-Cha samples by an obsession with purple varietals. As I have worked my way through the box, I have developed a similar curiosity and thirst for their white teas. All so different and all so good.
I'm pretty sure I have closer to 4 g of leaf than the 3 I intended, but it's on the plate so let's live crazy. The silver fuzzy leaf looks just like it should, comprised of whole buds. There are a few green leaf in the mix as well. I did not notice them until I looked at the picture.
The wet leaf has a baked aroma. The buds have turned green and lush. They have fattened up but not a lot. Silver needle is so light and fluffy to start with that I didn't expect otherwise.
Waiting for tea to cool enough to sip is always the hardest part of any session for me.
reviewed - immediately likable. Then I decided, no, it is much different. Where as the Nepal tea had a woodsy taste, this is more corn like. It is much more naturally sweet. It turns somewhat floral late in the sip along with a stronger fruit note. It doesn't really make me think peach. Than again I understand when you are tasting an unflavored tea any such notes are generally very light.
I am surprised by how different this tastes from Chinese grown silver needle. While this lacks the melon and cucumber notes of the Chinese version, it replaces them with corn and fruit. The natural sweetness and stronger flavor might make this more appealing to those who find white tea to be colored water. This is still white tea so don't expect the throat grabbing assault of a breakfast black. It is a subtle tea.
I get zero bitterness. I am noticing very little in the way of dryness. The aftertaste lingers long after sipping. The longer it goes the more I am tasting sweet hay and, oh wow, even some of the melon notes I did not think were in the cup. Very neat.
You can find Kenya Silver Needle White Tea here.