Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Petit Tea, Om Hot Cinnamon Spice

Picture Credit: Petit Tea
Petit Tea Description:
Blurring the line between Tea and Chai this blend of fine, natural Assam teas and complimenting aromatic spices is further enhanced by natural goodness of cinnamon oil. A truly fascinating tea drinking experience awaits you! Packed in silken mesh hand crafted pyramid sachets and packed in 95% bio-degradable box.

Ingredients:
Natural Black tea, cinnamon, black pepper, cinnamon oil.

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
Alas all good things must come to an end. Today I am reviewing the last of the very generous samples provided by Petit Tea to The Everyday Tea Blog for review. From their tea infusers to the pyramid sachets, I can honestly say I enjoyed every one of them and have no problem recommending them. Let's see if this last sample leaves me with the same favorable impression.

This according to the description blurs the line between Tea and Chai. Personally, I'm not confused (though technically chai simply means tea). Chai always brings to my mind cinnamon, clove, and cardamom. Here we have an enhanced cinnamon tea with the use of cinnamon pieces and cinnamon oil, along with black pepper and a black Assam tea base.

The box contains 15 pyramid sachets each containing 2.5g of leaf. That is enough to make a hearty mug of tea. Each sachet is individually protected in its own clear sealed packet. Once the packet is cut open the intense aroma of cinnamon springs forth.

I used boiling water and steeped for three minutes. One thing I found true of all the Petit Sachets - the string is on the short side, so hold on to the tag when filling the mug, unless you like fishing it out later.

The brew is reminiscent of a cross between root beer and black cherry in color. It is a very nice bright mug of black tea. My photo does not do it justice. I have a new camera (a Canon EOS Rebel T5) given to me by my wife as a birthday present. So far I have barely learned to turn it on. Back to tea - the scent is warm cinnamon. It is not as intense as when dry.

The taste surprises me, as usual. I was expecting to be blasted with Red Hot intensity. I am not. This is a sane and well behaved cinnamon tea. Seriously, when was the last time you actually tasted the tea base behind a cinnamon tea? You can here and it is a nicely smooth assam. Also of note, the cinnamon isn't a dull boring taste like in so many grocery store blends. It is bold and deeper in flavor.

I wanted to taste it without additions first. It passed with flying colors. So having relaxed with the mug, I added sweetener as the label recommends. Interesting. This actually ramps up the cinnamon heat. Not scary heat, just a warming glow. I can still catch the base underneath.

Finally, because the instructions also suggest adding a splash of milk, I did. I've said it before but adding milk is not something I normally do as it isn't as visually appealing to me. I love the natural brew colors. I know, don't use a clear mug.

The taste with milk is again interesting. The heat remains (possibly from the pepper?) but the cinnamon taste is reduced a notch or two. The assam base blends with the milk while the cinnamon bounces all around the edges and the heat warms your tongue.

I have to say, Petit Tea finishes strong and on a positive note with this one. If you are looking for liquid Red Hots try Harney's Cinnamon Spice. If you prefer a lighter touch that still remains fun, then this is an excellent choice.

You can find Petit Tea Hot Cinnamon Spice here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Buddha Herbs, Chamomile Tea

Buddha Herbs Description:
For centuries, Chamomile has been a natural relaxant which is why we’ve extracted the natural flavor of a chamomile leaf into an organic herbal tea blend to help you sleep better and ease minor stomach discomfort. Our Organic Teas are made exclusively from homogeneous herbs cultivated, picked and processed under the strictest requirements for organic produce. These products meet the requirements of EU Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91 and the Rules for Organic Farming. We take great care to ensure that the tea packaging is also ecologically friendly; therefore no glue or metal elements are used while packing our Organic teas into filter bags.

Sample provided by Buddha Herbs

My Review:
Today has been the most beautiful day. Finally the rain has stopped, the sky has cleared, and the temperature is more like June than May. Sure beats the March weather we have been enduring. So I have torn myself away from the outdoors and settled into my den to review a tea. Today's choice is a chamomile tea from Buddha Herbs.

Their website seems aimed at the natural medicines and healthy living market. Sure nothing wrong with that. My reviews don't generally try to sway the reader one way or another when it comes to health claims, however chamomile is very commonly used too help one to relax and unwind making sleep come more easily. My wife does drink it for this very reason even if the science behind it doesn't necessarily support any benefit. In this case she doesn't require proof as she has personal experience. Me, I require something stronger but still drink it for the taste.

This is sold in sets of two or four shrink wrapped boxes. Each box contains 22 double chamber bags individually sealed in its own envelope wrapper. Each bag has a tag and a long string but no staple. The website also claims no glue - I'm not sure what holds it together.

The bags contain only 1.5g of chamomile, so stay with a smallish cup. I used 8oz per the package label. For me, a 6oz cup or double bag would be my personal recommendation.

Opening the envelop I catch a faint scent that reminds me of milled grain. I poured boiling water over the bag in my cup and steeped for 6 minutes.

The result is a lovely yellow cup. It has a nice aroma that is lightly spicy, kind of floral, and a bit like apple. The taste is very much the same. I admit to being pleasantly surprised. I don't normally drink chamomile from a bag. The flavor is a little on the light side but very tasty and balanced.

For fun I added my sweetener of choice. It took it extremely well. My wife who never adds sweetener even enjoyed it. She doesn't care for chamomile if it leans too far towards apple. She thought this one was very nice. Let me add, I thought this was reminiscent of apple pie filling, so just goes to show. We both enjoyed it but from different angles.

You can find Buddha Herbs Chamomile on their website. It can also  be found on Amazon

Friday, May 13, 2016

Teavivre, Organic Bai Hao (White Downy) Green Tea

Beautiful Dry Leaf
Teavivre Description;
The main production points of organic Bai Hao tea includes fixation, rolling, drying. The dry leaves are in straight needle-shapes and they smell vaguely of sweet millet note rather than grass-like aroma which is common in green teas. When brewed, the liquor presents a scent of fresh sweet corn note and a mellow, smooth mouthfeel with a lingering after-taste without any astringency. Overall, it creates more thickness in mouth when compared with the common green teas do.

Sample provided by Teavivre

My Review:
It has been a long time since I last reviewed something from Teavivre. Even so, I must admit this is one of my very favorite tea companies. Not only has the service always been friendly, helpful, and top notch, but the teas themselves are some of the best available here in the west. Enough gushing, let's see if this tea is as good as expected.

I cut the top off the sample bag and as usual poked my nose in for a deep whiff. It bowled me over. Man, this is like sticking your nose into a buttered ear of sweet corn. I'm in love and I haven't even heated the water.

Huge Steeped Leaf
Removing half the 5g sample, this looks a lot like a white tea. Of course it is called white downy and the website does call it a  "Non-fermentation" tea. The long strands of leaf run from white to deep green. Up close it looks fuzzy. Just speculating that the difference between white and green here is somewhere in the fixation, rolling, and drying stages. Whatever, the leaf is beautiful.

I used the brewing instructions similar for cup brewing. I used half the leaf (2 1/2g) and about 10 oz of water heated to 195 F. I let it steep for 3 minutes. This seems long but the directions call for 3-5 minutes.

Normally at this point I would talk about the liquor. Instead, let's discuss the leaf. I did not expect the jumbo sized leaves that were floating in my glass press. Most of my Chinese teas seem to be tiny. Not these babies. Big green and alive looking.

Liquid Sunshine
The scent of the leaves is sweet corn and creamy vegetables. Really nice.

Now on to the liquor. It is a bright and clear yellow with golden tints. It has an aroma that is sweet corn with a warm spicy floral. Everything about this tea so far appeals to me.

On to the taste. First impressions - sweet corn and mineral spring water. Second thing I notice is with the long western brew time, you will not get bitterness or heavy astringency, but you will experience a moderate amount of green briskness late in the sip. The aftertaste mellows and lingers of leafy greenness and corn.

This is nicely sweet and no additives are needed. In my opinion sweetening this would detract from the beauty of the cup.

Second steep immediately followed the first. This time I stopped at 2 minutes. The sweet corn is mostly absent, but then so is all of the green bite. This is just really smooth now. As with the first cup it feels very thick. The flavor bounces between a warm spiciness (I mean a comforting flavor - not heat) and green leafy plant. It still retains that stone like mineral spring water note as well.

My opinion - this is a really lovely tea that I quit enjoyed. Complex enough to entertain but not so much as to demand concentration. That said, I will definitely be playing with the steeping times. My gut tells me around a 1 1/2 minute first steep will produce a smoother and still flavorful cup and allow the second cup to retain some of that wonderful sweet corn flavor. This is probably best enjoyed gong fu style with a gaiwan. I'm stuck in my ways and prefer straight western mug style.  

You can find Teavivre Organic Bai Hao Green Tea here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lov Teas, Awakened Awareness

Lov Teas Description:
Awakened Awareness Tea is an invigorating blend of sweet peppermint and apple, accompanied by peppery hints of ginger and ginseng. Beautifully steeped in sunlit green, it is a mindful addition to your morning routine, giving you an essential dose of balanced, calming energy.

Ingredients:
Apple*, Ginger*, Spearmint*, Apple Mint*, Orange Peel*, Goji Berries*, Peppermint*, Hops*, Ginseng Root*

*100% Organically Grown

Sample provided by Lov Teas

My Review:
My wife asks me every time a new box of tea samples arrives at our door if there is anything in it that she can drink. I am more than willing to share but what she means, is any of it caffeine free. She has to avoid caffeine for a number of health reasons. So these blends from Lov Teas have made her very happy. This is the last of the samples and they actually sent two of the same thing.

Inside the colorful box is a bag containing the loose leaf. Honestly, when I see a box like this, I immediately think sachet, so surprise. The bag is not resealable (fold it over and seal with tape or a paperclip). Once opened, I could easily catch spearmint.

I removed some leaf for exam. Apple pieces, orange peel, and goji berries (yum) are easy to spot.

I used my stainless steel steeping basket as I normally do with herbals and small leaf teas. Fresh filtered boiling water was poured over the leaf in a mug.

I did not time the steep. I know, amateur move. I was looking up the tea on the website. It was about 5 minutes.

After removing the strainer, the resulting brew is a golden honey hue. It is a bit cloudy from the fine particles. I notice this a lot, so my strainer may not be as fine as it looks.

The aroma is much more complex and balanced compared to the dry scent. It is mainly mint but a good mix of spearmint and peppermint along with honey and apple.

The flavor moves as you sip. The different mints each come into play, swirling around each other. I can't separate the orange peel or the goji berry, yet the fruit quality is beyond simple apple, so the combination makes an undefinable but solid base for the cup. It finishes with a slight amount of heat from the ginger.

I was a little nervous about this one as it is an herbal which honestly I seldom drink and it had spearmint as an ingredient. What I noticed here is I actually did not mind the spearmint. I seldom enjoy it in black tea because it usually becomes too toothpaste tasting. That was not a problem in this blend. This was complex and enjoyable.

You can find Lov Teas Awakened Awareness here.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Petit Tea, Om Ginger Cardamom Chai Latte

Picture Credit: Petit Tea
Petit Tea Description:
A healthy blend of warmth inspiring ginger taste and refreshing aroma of natural Malabar cardamom this comfort chai will keep you from reaching for calorie rich comfort foods. Anytime. Packed in silken mesh hand crafted pyramid sachets and packed in 95% bio-degradable box.

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
I love spring. The blooms. The greening of the world. Unfortunately, with blooms and warm weather comes pollen and other yucky stuff. The medicine I am taking is wreaking havoc on my sense of smell and taste.

For today's review I wanted to make something that could cut through the spring nasties. This one from Petit's Om series seems just what I need.

When I cut open the plastic outer wrap of the individually wrapped pyramid sachet, the ginger and cardamom filled the room. Yep, I can smell it and I don't have to get real close. Dry it is potent.

I debated how I was going to prepare it today. Chai is traditionally 'cooked' on the stove with milk and lots of sugar. I opted for a simpler method. I boiled my water and steeped the sachet along with a packet of Splenda. While steeping, I put half a cup of 2% milk in the microwave and got it very hot. Pouring the milk into the tea, I continued to steep a couple additional minutes.

The  result is a biege/clay colored mug that smells sensational. I usually steep chai just in water so I can get a good picture of the steeped tea without additions. Today, I just wanted a little closer to real chai so I skipped straight through to the end.

The aroma is spicy and floral. In most chai blends I have a difficult time separating the cardamom from the clove and cinnamon. With those two ingredients missing, the cardamom gets a real opportunity to shine. I sensed the ginger far more in the dry scent than in the mug.

This is just so warm and comforting. The ginger does add a small touch of heat at the end but nothing to be feared. It just fits. This would be excellent late in the day around a fire.

Prepared as I have done here, this is not an overly complex cup. For that I am happy. I just feel this is meant to be a comfort cup and not a deep meditation tea.

Normally my mug reaches room temperature and there is still some left at the end of my typing. Today the mug has been empty for the last several paragraphs and I am about to steep another.

You can find Petit Tea Ginger Cardamom Chai Latte here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ahmad, Primetime

Ahmad Description:
For the quintessential cup of English tea, look no further than our Primetime. A special blend of Assam, Kenyan and Ceylon black teas, each sip delivers a strong, bold and rich taste. Add milk to this, if preferred.

Product was obtained through a give-away on Ahmad's Facebook page

My Review:
Up front, I have to admit Ahmad is my favorite tea company for everyday comfort teas. For those who have never experienced an Ahmad tea, the closest comparison I can draw is to Twinings. The difference is this is Twinings with guts.

Ahmad Earl Grey is my go to comfort tea. I have not been without it for more than a few days in the last decade. So, yeah, I admit some bias here.

I scored this 10 pack sampler by simply replying to a post on Facebook. And you thought nothing good ever happened on social media.

Opening the sample box, I found a plastic wrapper containing 10 tagless tea bags. Each bag contains just over 3g of leaf. That is not common in American sized bags. At best they usually run 2g and too often even less. 3g is more in line with Yorkshire Gold and PG Tips, both are UK favorites.

Giving it the sniff test, it passes with flying colors. It smells very fresh and fruity with almost a pipe tobacco scent.

I used boiling water and a 3 minute-ish steep. The result is a deep rich cherry mahogany brew. It is almost a purplish hue.

The sip is full bodied, and feels thick. There is a briskness present that does not overwhelm or become excessively bitter. The taste is woodsy with fruity notes - its very tea, if that makes sense.

I found this very pleasant to drink straight up. Far more so than the two I compared with on bag size. I found both Yorkshire Gold and PG Tips too bitter for my tastes.

Next I added sweetener. Meh. It is better without it in my opinion. Finally, because the box says "best with milk", I added a splash. Again, for me personally, almost meh. Why? Because it destroys that beautiful color and way mellows out the bite that I was enjoying, though in fairness it took milk well. Your mileage may vary. Never be afraid to experiment. As long as you enjoy it, there is no wrong way to prepare tea.

You can find Ahmad Primetime direct from Ahmad Tea USA. Also check with your local grocer or world food mart.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lov Teas, Calmly Cleansed

Picture Credit: Lov Teas
Lov Teas Description:
Calmly Cleansed Tea is a nutrient rich blend bursting with vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. This unique combination of restorative herbs will leave you feeling nimble and clean. Beautifully steeped in dark orange, it is a wholesome, purifying addition to your self-care routine.

Ingredients:
Rooibos*, Blackberry Leaves*, Raisins*, Black Pepper*, Carrot*, Caraway*, Licorice Root*, Cinnamon*, Turmeric*, Dandelion Root*, Alfalfa*

*100% Organically Grown

Sample provided by Lov Teas

My Review:
My internet is making me crazy. I exceeded my bandwidth last month, as always. When that happens I get throttled down to dial up speed (yeah, not fun). When the new period starts my speed is supposed to come back, except it hasn't. Blogging at dial up speed is really hard.

On top of internet issues, my den is a mess. I am wading through guitars, amplifiers, stands of all sorts, along with way too many teapots, teacups, steeping equipment, boxes of tea everywhere. I can't find my desk and it is sort of an Aaaaarrrrgggggh! day. As I try to find the room, I need some calm.

Today's tea is Calmly Cleansed herbal tea from Lov Teas. Just what the doctor ordered - I hope.

I cut the top off the sample pack and gave a sniff. Strangely, I'm getting mint and ginger. Strange because neither are ingredients in this tea. Pouring out onto the plate, I notice pepper corns, and carrot pieces.

A lot of the leaf is very fine as is the rooibos. I decided to use my stainless infuser basket as it has a very fine mesh. The basket of leaf went into the mug along with freshly boiled and filtered water.

My steep time was 5 minutes. I found it interesting to watch the leaf. At first it all floated at the surface but as time progressed the leaf began to fall, until only a small amount remained at the surface.

The brew is a lovely deep orange red. The aroma says rooibos to me, but not the harsh kind. This smells very pleasant.

Tasting, this is not what I expected based on the dry and cup aroma. I asked the herbal drinker in the house to taste. She thought it had a note of cinnamon. I wasn't sure. Her thought as she left the room was whatever, I like it.

To me it was pretty subtle all around. What I originally caught as ginger in the dry aroma I am now wondering if it isn't the combination of cinnamon, pepper, and tumeric. The rooibos is mild and pleasant. I have no idea why I thought earlier that I detected mint. The unique blending of herbs and spices here caught my ravaged brain unprepared this day.

In the final analysis, I find I don't care what is in this blend. My wife summed it up well, Whatever, I like it. The tea has done its job. I feel replenished. Now I have to pack up some guitars and head to band practice. The mess will still be here in the morning.

You can find Lov Teas Calmly Cleansed here.