Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pique Tea, Jasmine

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Pique Tea Description:
Spring harvested green tea infused with fresh Summer Jasmine blooms. A perfect harmony of delicate flavors. Smooth and fragrant.

Sample provided by Pique Tea

My Review:
I reviewed Earl Grey by Pique Tea earlier this month. I rather enjoyed it. So today I am looking forward to giving their organic Jasmine green tea a try.

I have to admit, I really did not know what to expect when I received these samples. Pique brews tea made with fresh whole leaves and using a proprietary method they apply pressure and turn the liquid tea into a crystallized product. At its root the crystals are essentially instant tea but honestly it is unlike any 'instant' I had ever tried.

Pique offers their crystals in a monthly subscription service of which there are multiple plans. At the time of this writing, Pique allows you to sample a box for free. I also notice the website offers an individual box price, though I am not sure how you go about buying a single box from them.

The individual packets are small enough to take with you anywhere. I cut open the jasmine packet for a sniff test. It is sweet, flowery, natural, jasmine scented. It is a lovely scent that is not overwhelming or perfumey.

I poured the contents into my freshly washed and warmed mug. A few drops of water remained in the bottom so naturally, it immediately commences to become tea. The dry crystals are very fine and resemble a hot cocoa mix in color and texture.

I heated water to 190F. I learned from my previous experience with the Earl Grey that you can use ice cold water if that is the way you prefer your tea. You could also use boiling water without fear. The proper brewing time and temperature was handled by Pique. That frees you from worrying about getting it right. I chose a temperature that would allow me to start sipping a steamy cup right away.

The addition of the water grants instant gratification in the form of a golden cup of floral delight. Stirring the hot liquid is not necessary. The crystals disappear the moment the water hits.

Despite using 10 oz of hot water, I have a flavorful mug. The jasmine is the first flavor I notice. As in the dry scent, it is very natural and lightly sweet. The flavor does not hide so if you prefer a really mellow cup try adding more water. If you like it a little more in your face, use less water. The 10 oz seems perfect for my tastes.

Don't think this scented tea is a one note wonder as often found in many flavored versions. The green tea asserts itself by mid sip and finishes with a clean green tea bite. The aftertaste lingers long, sweet and grassy.

Again, I find myself fairly impressed. If you are normally a tea bag user, I believe you will be more than satisfied with the quality. For those who generally use only loose leaf teas, many of you will again be quite pleased with what Pique has accomplished.

To the loose leaf purist, who demand, and are willing to pay high dollar for, the best, you will find some of the more delicate nuances seem scooped out of the middle. I mention this as an acknowledgment of some limitation of the crystallization process, though I think it a moot point as the purists aren't likely to be the target audience.

This tea seems perfectly suited to busy on the go tea drinkers and those who need a convenient 'fix' in the office. For both situations I think you will find Pique Tea more than up to the challenge. This is everyday tea for real life on the go.

You can find Jasmine direct from Pique Tea.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Petit Tea, Darjeeling Green

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Petit Tea Description:
Darjeeling produces some the finest black and green teas known to the mankind. This lightly oxidized Darjeeling green offers a unique balance between flavor and universally known benefits of green tea.

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
It is cold and snowing outside today. I am getting cabin fever. Spring cannot arrive soon enough for me. I should be getting my paperwork in order and knock my taxes out but I'm procrastinating. It wouldn't take long but I'd rather sit and sip a cup of tea.

So today I grabbed a green tea made with Darjeeling tea from India. I am showing the box it comes in, but actually mine was part of the Variety Pack that I received for review. In the box are 12 individually wrapped infusers, each containing 2.5 g of leaf.

I have been very pleased with these infusers thus far. They are convenient, quick, and easy to use. Simply place the infuser in hot water, wait 3 minutes and remove. The tea actually tastes like tea. If you are a regular loose leaf drinker you will understand what I mean. There is no paper in the way to rob the leaf inside (not dust - leaf) of the full flavor.

Opening the outer wrap, I gave the infuser the sniff test. I am getting a light grassy scent.

Into the mug. Add water heated to 190 F. The box directions say to use freshly boiled. It also says to steep 3 minutes but I was typing and by the time I got to the mug to remove the infuser, 4 minutes had passed. Oops.

After steeping the brew turns a delicate green. It appears very light. I am not catching a lot of aroma off the mug. Did I make a mistake by not following directions?

The cup cooled to an appropriate drinking temperature for me - which is probably cooler than most people like, but I can't tolerate really hot beverages. On the first sip, I'm not really tasting much. Took a second sip. OK, now I get it. This is a delicate tea. I was for some reason expecting a much bolder tea.

With the second sip, I am getting a mild grassy flavor. It has a citrus like sharpness that does not become so strong that it overwhelms the green tea taste. In part this is due to my over steeping. Regardless, it seems to fit. I am always appreciative of a clean bite.

Halfway through the cup I added some sweetener. It took it well and boosted the flavor a little. I actually preferred it unsweetened, but then I seldom sweeten my tea anymore. It does make the grassy aftertaste fill in and last longer.

My suggestion is use the boiling water and watch the steep time closer than my feeble attempt.  

You can find Petit Tea on Amazon or direct from Petit Tea.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Pique Tea, Earl Grey

Pique Tea Description:

Handcrafted from organic whole leaves by our Tea Master. Pique Tea Crystals are an exquisite, nutritious tea in a modern sachet. Simply open and stir with water for the perfect cup anytime, anywhere.

Sample provided by Pique Tea

My Review:
Today we will look at a different way to have your daily cuppa - tea crystals. Pique tea recently launched their new tea venture and invited The Everyday Tea Blog to try them out and pass the experience on to you. I'll start by telling you about how Pique Tea works then share my tasting.

Currently this is a monthly subscription service. At the time of this writing Pique Tea invites you to sample their tea for free. If you like them you will be entered into their service.

There are multiple plans available. In the base plan you receive enough tea for one cup a day for 12 weeks. You are in control of what tea you receive by making 6 selections from 5 teas. You can make all 6 the same or mix and match. The cost is listed as $0.69/cup.

The first packet I grab is obviously going to be the Earl Grey. So what did I think?

Admission time, I had to overcome my negative mental image of the Nestea I drank in my youth. I hate to even admit I use to drink it, and today if I am handed a glass of it in a restaurant, I ask them to bring me water. I probably shouldn't bring up my nasty past experience but I did so to admit a certain bias going in to this review.

Pique Tea uses a proprietary method of crystallizing freshly brewed tea. The tea is prepared in a controlled environment. This means your result won't be over or under steeped. It is packed in individual serving packets, so there is nothing to measure. The serving size is pre-measured for an 8 oz cup. You do have some control of the strength by using a little more or a little less water.

A big advantage for on the go drinkers is there is no bag to mess with and no leaves to dispose of afterwards. The little packets fit easily in a pocket or purse. I didn't even need a spoon. As soon as the hot water hit the crystals they completely disappeared. It doesn't get more convenient.

Convenience is nice but taste is far more important to me - I admit to lowering my standards on rare occasions when I am feeling particularly lazy. I am hoping this is a truly convenient tea and not a lazy one.

I used 205F water per directions and immediately had a hot cup of burgundy colored tea. The color is spot on. There is a faint bergamot aroma. It is on par with many of the Earl Grey's that use a lighter touch.

It tastes way more citrusy than I expected. I do like the level of bergamot I'm tasting. Not heavy handed and not hiding in the background. The main comment I want to make concerns the briskness, or clean astringency, that runs through the entire sip. Totally unexpected and very welcome. This cup has guts - not the metaphor running through my head but this site is rated G for everyone ;)

So having decided this actually tastes like tea and tea worth drinking, I got the brilliant idea (I do have them occasionally) to try this cold. I grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and another packet of Earl Grey. The bottle is 12 oz, so I'm a little concerned about the strength of the tea. Added the packet. Replaced the lid, and shook the bottle. In just a few moments I had a icy cold bottle of Earl Grey! It is still citrusy and still has that bite that I expect from my Earl. The strength seemed fine and not diluted. Life is good.

I will reserve final judgment until I sample a few more of the Pique Tea packets. For now I can say my negative mental image has already been shattered. This is a truly convenient and tasty Earl Grey. I am very curious to see how well an unflavored tea stands up to the crystallization process. Stay tuned!

You can find Earl Grey and other tea types at Pique Tea

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

3 Leaf Tea, Golden Eyebrow

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3 Leaf Description:
From the Wuyi mountains, golden eyebrow black tea is made from only the most delicate buds on the tea plant. It's long thin twisted leaves resemble eyebrows. Infusing this tea produces a beautiful golden color. The taste is distinctly sweet like honey with a smooth light graham cracker finish.

Sample provided by 3 Leaf Tea

My Review:
I've reviewed a few offerings from 3 Leaf before. They blend their own flavored matcha and make a killer hot chocolate. They have now expanded to include loose leaf tea.

The first to meet my teapot is Golden Eyebrow, as the description states, so named because of the twisted leaves resembling eyebrows.

Jin Jun Mei, as it is otherwise known, does not particularly resemble its namesake to me. The leaf is lightly twisted and lightly curved, so I get the connection. Looking at the beauty of the colors just makes me think awesome tea that needs to be brewed. This is a black tea made only from buds and has a healthy mix of golden and dark brown colors.

The dry aroma is faint in my sample bag. It seems baked like brownies with some maltiness.

I used 1 1/2 tsp because I am using a mug. The directions call for 1 tsp. Per directions, I used boiling water and a 3 minute steep.

The resulting liquor fills my mug with a deep orange/brown or deep reddish color. 3 Leaf mentions a beautiful golden color. I suspect the shallow ceramic bowl they used makes for the difference.

The steeped leaf is chocolate brown and has a honey and molasses aroma.

Jin Jun Mei is a new member of the lapsang souchong family however this is not a smoky tea.

The taste hits all the right spots for me. It's malt and honey over a base that hints at sweet potato. There is a crisp briskness that runs throughout the sip yet remains low key, never presenting itself in the forefront. The more I sip the more I notice a citrus like fruitiness late in the sip.

The aftertaste lingers sweet with a mouth watering dryness.

Golden Eyebrow is one of my favorite type black teas and this one by 3 Leaf is a solid example.

You can find 3 Leaf Tea Golden Eyebrow here.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Petit Tea, Opulence Morning Dew

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Petit Tea Description:
These modern tea infusers are an elegantly superior alternative to the tea bag and loose leaf tea. Designed to hold tannin longer to keep teas from becoming bitter brewing that perfect cup every time, regardless of how strong you want it.

An elegant Slide out tray in the box holds eight Tea Infusers in four unique flavours. Each Tea Infuser is individually sealed in BOPP film to retain freshness and flavour.

Premium blend of Darjeeling black tea.

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
I usually try not to post back to back reviews from the same companies. Since it has been almost a week since the last, I hope you won't mind. The last couple months have been crazy stressful. The holidays are enough on their own. Add in a father who goes in for a knee replacement the day before Christmas, develops a reaction, and you get a mountain of concern. He is finally doing much better. Then, the weather has been abnormally warm. That's great for not driving in snow and ice but not so good on stressed immune systems. Last week I battled the worst stomach virus I've had in 25 years. I'm back. I weak. I want tea. I don't want to mess with it. Thank you Petit Tea!

As I have written in previous reviews this tea comes in its own infuser. Simply drop it in the cup, add hot water, wait, and sip.

The dry infuser has a solid tea aroma. I can picture putting my nose into a tin of loose leaves. The aroma does not at this point conjure a particular type black tea to my recovering nose.

I used near boiling water and about a 3 minute steep. The package instructions call for 2 minutes, however I was too unorganized to stop it earlier.

The liquor is a bit light in color for a black. That's the moment the light came on - Oh, yeah, a Darjeeling. After I moved away from the bright table lamp, it turns far more of a beautiful burgundy. The aroma is light.

Finally getting to taste. It is a touch woodsy/nutty and I could be convinced this was either a Darjeeling or a Nepalese black as they often have a very similar taste. This one has a citrusy bite that pierces clear through the first sip. I notice it less on subsequent sips. I like that bite especially in something called Morning Dew. Its like stepping outside in the sleepy morning and catching the scent of the damp woods around you, then having the cool brisk air remind you to get moving.

I keep thinking I am getting glancing hints of smoke. I next added a little sweetener (Splenda in my case). For me, it didn't add a lot to the taste, but took sweetening well. I do think it may have developed just a little more of a fruity edge, which is always welcome.

I think where I could best see me drinking this one is with a scrambled egg breakfast bowl made with sausage, fried potatoes, onions, peppers, and cheese, smothered in salsa. That is my usual Saturday breakfast and this would fit perfectly. Man fuel! No dainty tea cakes for me... unless you have some... in which case, we could see how well they work together.

You can find Petit Tea Opulence Morning Dew in the Variety Pack on Amazon or direct from Petit Tea.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Petit Tea, Opulence Lavender Green

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Petit Tea Description:
Opulence Tea Infusers combine premium quality, anti-oxidant rich tea directly and the convenience of a tea bag. Unlike tea bags, these Tea Infusers do not collapse when steeped in water, allowing tea leaves the desired space to uncurl and release delicate flavours and aromas to the water they steep in.

These modern tea infusers are an elegantly superior alternative to the tea bag and loose leaf tea. Designed to hold tannin longer to keep teas from becoming bitter brewing that perfect cup every time, regardless of how strong you want it.

High grown green tea flavored with lavender flowers and natural lavender oil.

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
Truth time - I love just about every kind of tea I have experienced with few exceptions. When I received these samples and saw Lavender Green on this one, my natural reaction was to flinch and put it off until last. Lavender, thus far, is not on my love list. So far, it has been on my too avoid list.

The however is the previous Petit Teas have been very good. So I am going out on a limb and giving them the benefit of the doubt. It also occur to me that if I hate this one (because I just might), I will still have some to review that I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy later.

Long introduction aside - this Lavender Green is one of four blends packaged in the Opulence Variety Pack. Inside the box the aluminum infusers are individually wrapped and boxed.

Once the infuser is removed I sniff. It is perfumey as lavender tends to be, yet not so strong that it offends me - yet. I proceed cautiously.

I used 190F water. The box says freshly boiled. I just couldn't do that to green tea. The box also advises to use a 2 minute steep. At 2 minutes the brew was very lightly colored so I added an additional 30 seconds. Why? I'm a rebel at heart.

The liquor is light green with a slight yellow tint. It only has a faint flowery scent. Fingers crossed. I'm going in....

Hmmm.... interesting, and not at all what I was fearing. Yes, it's lavender but at a very pleasant level. I've had lotus teas that were far more in your face. I quickly took a second and larger sip to confirm the experience. I actually like this. The taste is somewhere between the aforementioned lotus and a mild jasmine. Underneath it is a neat green tea that expresses itself as kind of earthy in combination with the lavender. It rises up quickly at mid sip and pushes its way into the end.

I did not add any sweetener at first. It doesn't need it. For science I mixed in some Splenda mid cup. My advise is don't, or at least try it first. I think it took away from the taste and muddied it.

I am seriously shocked how much I enjoyed this one. Reminds me of the jasmine tea I used to think I didn't like until I had some that was blended correctly. I am now a big fan. Way to go Petit Tea!

You can find Petit Tea Opulence here.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Teabook, Honey Sweet Green / Xiang Ming

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Teabook Description:
Teabook answers the call for pure unadulterated loose leaf tea. Offering a monthly membership of seasonal loose leaf teas. Teabook is for tea drinkers and tea lovers keeping pace with modern life. Our wish is that tea drinkers enjoy and experience the clarity and wellness benefits that come with steeping pure loose leaf tea - conveniently and affordably.  It's great tea. Made easy.

Sample provided by Teabook

My Review:
I previously reviewed the Teabook monthly subscription service. For $24.99/month including shipping (within the US), you receive 9 packets each of two select teas (18 total), plus one special collection packet (today's review), and with the first Teabook order a glass double-walled tumbler.

The teas change each month. My Teabook was from last November and included one special collection packet of Honey Sweet Green (Xiang Ming) from Yueyang, Hunan Province, China.

The tea is packed in an individual serving bag. Once opened I catch the scent of a fresh field.

I poured the leaf on the plate and suddenly realized how much leaf I have been using lately. It must be closer to twice this amount. That's what happens as time goes on and you don't use a scale.

I tried to research this tea but a Google search reveals pretty much nothing. This tea must sell under an alternate name elsewhere. The closest I came was leaf used to make a puerh. This is definitely not puerh. The leaf is long slender light twists. It is very dark. If you get the light just right it does reveal some green highlights.

In the pot it goes, along with fresh filtered water heated the 185F. I steeped for 2 minutes. The dance of the leaf was interesting. Not that there was much movement, but in noting some leaf hung suspended midway between the surface and bottom. The remainder was equally split between top and bottom.

The liquor is bright and clear. It is honey yellow with just a hint of green cast. This smells incredible. It reminds me of a floral high mountain oolong.

The taste is even better than the scent. Definitely don't add sweetener to this. It is just gorgeous the way it is. It is sweet and floral but not so much as to be in the least perfumey. There is a wonderfully cleansing astringent bite running throughout the sip. It almost borders on metallic but never crosses the line. It turns thicker late in the sip, like the way milk feels as you sip. Perfection in a cup. I can think of nothing to complain about or warn against with this one.

Each month the special collection tea is something new, so I don't know if you will get the opportunity to experience this particular tea - which is a bit of a shame. If this is indicative of the level of quality of each month's special tea then you won't be disappointed.

You can cancel at anytime. More details are available at Teabook