Friday, October 30, 2015

Oollo Tea, Oriental Beauty

Oollo Tea Description:
Renowned for its beautiful five colour dancing leaves. This traditional beauty exudes apricot and peach scents followed by indulging orchid, muscat grape, and apple flavours.

Varietal: Qingxin Oolong/Jinxuan Oolong
Grower Name: Zhen Family
Location: Pinglin, New Taipei, Taiwan
Elevation: 500m
Harvest: 2014 Spring

Sample provided by Oollo Tea

My Review:
Today I was delighted to read up on this tea and learn its secret is Vampires! More on that in a moment. First, something else I learned reading Oollo's website; Oriental beauty is the name British royalty assigned to this tea for it's "beautiful colours and shapes. It seemed like a lady dancing in the tea pot".

What gives this tea its unique characteristics is the green leaf hopper that bites the leaf and feast on the tea leaf juices like vegetarian vampires. Seems totally appropriate on the day before Halloween.

I have a 5g sample in a sealed aluminum bag. The label has brief brewing instructions. There are expanded options on the website.

Opening the bag at first gives up very little in the way of aroma. Then I catch floral notes that seem to grow as I linger. Oollo mentions orchids. To me it was more reminiscent of peony.

The leaf is gorgeous. The five colors associated with higher quality leaf can be seen - brown, red (more of a cinnamon), green, white, and looking closely, touches of yellow. The yellow/white is the result of the vampire biting leaf hopper.

I decided to use the entire sample for a western steep. I was originally going to split it for a gung fu session - until I read about the dance of the leaf that caught the British royal's attention.

Never wanting to miss a good dance, I heated water to 195F and grabbed my clear glass Bodum press. The steep was a short 1 1/2 minutes. So I guess I am back to doing a hybrid method from years passed, where I use western water amounts and eastern time and temperatures. Seems to work for me.

As for the dance, most of the leaf hung vertically from the surface. A few leaf dove to the bottom. What made this interesting was not the ballet I was expecting, rather the slow graceful swelling of the leaf as it began to fill the pot. There were several leaves that gyrated and twitched. I don't know, maybe they were Miley Cyrus wanna bes. Forget it, scratch that image. I know. Too late.

The steeped leaf is mostly complete leaves and buds joined to stems. From this side of the steep, I see no evidence of the work of the green leaf hopper. The scent is honey and fruit.

The liquor is clear, bright, and more the color of syrup than my camera captured. It is kind of a honey/caramel.

Tasting, I am asking, are you sure this is oolong? I know it is on heavily oxidized end of the scale but this seems like a Nepal black tea. It lacks the heavy roasting that many dark oolongs possess and for that I am glad - not personally a fan of heavy roasting.

So what I am tasting is raisin drifting into muscat grapes. It also has a nutty, deep woods presence to it. Late in the sip I sense it opening up with floral notes. Again, to me, it is peony. Very good. I am still making a Nepal/Darjeeling comparison in the flavor.

This should go several more steeps. I may find out later today. Right now an earache and head cold are making me feel less than up to the task. It has to be couch time somewhere, right? Definitely aspirin time.

You can find Oollo Tea American Beauty here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Good Earth, Sweetly Twisted

Good Earth Description:
Keep guessing from the first sip to the last mouthful with Sweetly Twisted™. Starting out sweetly enough, this tea takes a tangy left turn to an unexpectedly refreshing place, sending your taste buds on an impromptu getaway. Hope you have some vacation days left.

Hibiscus, black tea, rosehip, lemon peel, chicory root, natural flavor, sweet blackberry leaf, lemon oil,  licorice root, natural vanilla flavor with other natural flavors, citric acid, steviol glycosides (stevia).

Sample provided by Good Earth

My Review:
Good Earth has so far been a fun break from the 'serious' teas. I like that I can find this brand locally, though it takes a little effort to find all of their different fusions.

As has been the case with all of these teas, the box contains 18 tea bags each packaged in an individual sealed envelope to maintain freshness. The majority of this brands offerings contain slightly more than 2g of leaf. I applaud them for giving us enough leaf to make a real cup of tea.

Opening the envelope releases a scent that is familiar and yet I can't quite figure out what it is I'm smelling. This brings to mind some type berry flavor.

Pouring boiling water into mug, brings about a quick transitioning of the water from clear to deep red. Aw oh, hibiscus. I looked at the ingredients and hibiscus is first on the list. My wife loves it. Me not so much. Good Earth has proven themselves worthy of my continuing on with this cup. I also notice blackberry leaves in the ingredients which explains the aroma and the box graphic suggesting a berry connection.

The aroma is berry and a pleasantly vanilla.

The name of this tea describes the taste pretty well. It hits you with an immediate blast of stevia/licorice root then turns suddenly to tart hibiscus.

I let my wife taste it. She said it certainly doesn't need sweetener. She thought for a moment then added the taste "wasn't bad". That's as close to a detailed review as I ever get from her. My opinion, this one is not for me. I did not enjoy the tartness of the hibiscus and I did not enjoy the strong bitter stevia aftertaste. The stevia reminds me of saccharin. Sorry Good Earth, but its true we can't like them all. If you enjoy hibiscus and stevia, have I found a tea for you.    

You can find Good Earth Sweetly Twisted at your local grocer or direct from Good Earth.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sanne Tea, Taiwanese Green Tea - Cold Steep

In all the time I have been reviewing tea on The Everyday Tea Blog, I have never reviewed the same tea twice in back to back reviews. If I have something to add, I usually handle it by updating the original post. I am making an exception today.

Yesterday I reviewed a hot western steep of Sanne Tea, Taiwanese Green Tea. Today I am writing about a cold steep version of the same tea. The results are different enough to warrant a separate entry.

I love iced tea but for whatever reason I seldom cold steep tea. I'm not sure why, as it is incredibly simple. I grabbed a glass bottle that once contained some particularly mediocre store bought tea. I then placed 3g of loose leaf tea in the bottle, filled it with cool water, tightened the lid and placed in the refrigerator. The next day I have cold tea just waiting for me.

You can do this with any tea (even tea bags) or herbal. Some will work better than others. Experiment and have fun with it.

When I grabbed this today I decided to pour it into another bottle to strain out the leaf. I grabbed a funnel but never thought to grab a screen, so I got a couple leaves in the second bottle. In many parts of the world, they would not bother trying to strain in the first place, so its all good.

The color is a beautiful gold with light green tint. The taste is the reason I felt this deserved a new post. This is just simply delicious and refreshing. It is so sweet, I have no desire to use any additives. The first note that hits me reminds me of the first hot cup. It has a sweet corn/buttered popcorn flavor. Then I catch what seems to be a roasted hint, except this particular green tea was not roasted. So, maybe it would be better to call this a nutty flavor. Finally, I catch an abundance of floral notes reminiscent of Taiwan oolongs. It is a very nice orchid sweetness that carries on into the aftertaste.

As much as I enjoyed this tea hot, I have to tell you this tea really shines as a cold brew.

You can find Sanne Tea Taiwanese Green here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sanne Tea, Taiwanese Green Tea

Sanne Tea Description:
This Taiwanese Green Tea comes from Pinglin District, New Taipei City, near the Feitsui Reservoir area. For centuries, the environment has been strictly protected in this area. Mr. Chen, the fourth generation of his tea family, earned the organic certification in 2010, and became one of only 22 organic tea farmers in this area.

Unlike non-fermented Japanese Green Tea, Mr. Chen’s Taiwanese Green Tea is lightly fermented, about 5%, making the tea less pungent and less bitter than Japanese Green Tea. After it is picked, the fresh leaves go through a short withering process. Unlike other green tea makers who pick immature tea buds, Mr. Chen only picks the well-grown tea leaves, which contain sufficient nutrition to generate exquisite flavors. After harvest, the fresh tea leaves were naturally withered under the sun and gentle breeze. Compared to blower withering, natural withering keeps the tea’s innate aroma. Next step, the stir is the key for making excellent green tea. Insufficient stirring would make tea smell moldy and fusty; over stirring would lose the freshness of green tea. Only an experienced tea master can adjust the amount of time and temperature during stirring, extracting the correct notes from the fresh leaves to impart a wonderful sweetness.

Sample provided by Sanne Tea

My Review:
Sanne Tea invited The Everyday Tea Blog to review a few of their new products. I quickly jumped at the opportunity as the previous teas were very good.

Today's tea is a new Taiwanese Green Tea. Taiwan is noted for their exceptional high mountain oolongs. They also have some fabulous black teas (Sun Moon Lake I love you). Lesser known, especially in the west, are the green teas that did not hit the global market until the mid 20th century and most of us are just hearing about them now.

This is a 6g sample that came in a resealable pouch. It looks like brown market wrapping paper on the outside but is lined to preserve freshness. The package front is elegant in its simplicity.

The back of the pouch is what most catches my attention. The pertinent information is hand written with a brush pen. I find this personal touch and attention to detail refreshing in a world of shove it out the door. Taking the time to do it right is very tea.

Opening the pouch, I get just a light whiff of green. If I have to find a word, I guess grassy is the best choice.

I poured the entire sample on to a plate then divided it in half. 3g went into a glass bottle. I filled it with water and put it in the fridge for a cold brew test in about 12 hours.

Examining the remaining 3g, the leaf is large pieces, some lightly twisted, some not so much. The leaf is various shades of green with an abundance of white tips on the end of the leaf.

I used the glass French press as usual. Water was heated to 175 F and once added the steep was a short 60 seconds.

Permit me to run off on a brief rabbit trail, I have always read tea bags release the flavor more quickly than loose leaf. I just don't get that. I have never steeped a tea bag for only 60 seconds. I think it is more fair to say a tea bag releases most of its flavor in the first steep, reducing the usable number of steeps to one - two if you like weak tea. Loose leaf usually steeps multiple times, has a more complex taste, and often results in a different experience with each.

OK, back to this tea. The resulting liquor I found to be one of the yellowest cups I can recall. The product page calls it light green. Possibly the difference is they may have prepared this in a gaiwan and I used the press.

The steeped leaf has really been rejuvenated. They are big plump green leaves. The scent is between green vines and grassy.

Tasting the very clear liquor, I taste sweet corn. I was expecting more of a seaweed flavor, but my brain and taste buds are calling this corn. It is incredibly smooth with no hint of bitterness. I am not noticing much in the way of drying astringency. The taste turns even sweeter toward the end.

As it approaches room temperature the flavor is reduced and it becomes more of a fresh mineral stream taste. I still find it pleasantly refreshing. The aftertaste remains green and grassy.

The second cup was steeped for 90 seconds. The color of this cup does have a slight greenish tint. The aroma out of the press is far more nori (edible seaweed). This difference is an interesting example of my rabbit trail comment above.

Cool. The taste is also a 180 from the first cup. The taste is bold nori. There is just enough bite to be interesting without being bitter or astringent. The finish is sweet and grassy. I notice just a slight tingle in the cheeks. As the cup cools the bite subsides, though never disappearing completely. The taste remains a mix of seaweed and grass.

This leaf should stand up to three more steeps, and I still have the cold brew to comment about, but not today. It is my oldest son's birthday, so we are getting ready celebrate with him. However, I have enjoyed my time this afternoon with this one from Mr. Chen's garden. Thank you Sanne Tea.  

You can find Sanne Tea Taiwanese Green here.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Red Leaf Tea, French Vanilla Matcha

Red Leaf Tea Description:
When anyone wants to partake of a snack that is deliciously sweet, perfectly healthy and unique in flavor, French Vanilla Matcha becomes an obvious choice. This is because, unlike Madagascar Vanilla Matcha, it has a creamier look and texture and is very smooth on any palate. This makes it a delightful treat for growing families with young children who need to get accustomed to enjoying sweet healthy treats as often as they require. It is also an excellent accompaniment for any adult who wants to revisit their younger days without the calorie overload. For senior citizens it the best choice for an enjoyable palate alternative that is very smooth and easy to partake. French Vanilla Matcha with its very inviting color, combines the best of both worlds because, it uses the exceptional Eastern Matcha tradition with the top notch European practices for delectable daily treats. This makes this unforgettable snack an absolute favorite for anytime of the day or night when both adults and children need to kick back and relax while they treat their taste buds to a unique creamy Matcha that goes down so smoothly that one serving is never enough. This special Matcha treat can also hold its own among many edible alternatives in any social setting. Its ultra-smooth texture and bright coloring make it a favorite for many children parties and other adult gatherings, where people want to venture away from the traditional and experience the exceptional together with their friends and loved ones. French Vanilla Matcha becomes the perfect incentive to bring many people together.

My Review:
I already had my morning cold matcha latte. Lunchtime snuck up on me before I realized (I looked it up - snuck has become an acceptable usage of past tense sneak, at least in the US and Canada). Nothing sounded good, so I finally fixed a small bowl of white rice. Afterward, I started craving another latte. Red Leaf Tea French Vanilla Matcha to the rescue.

Once the sample pack was opened, the air was filled with sweetness like icing. Removing a spoon of powder, this is a yellowish spring green. Mine is the regular basic grade matcha.

I used a half mug of cold 2% milk and my frother to blend it together. The mug was nearly full of froth. When I make my morning latte, I use a 16 ounce tumbler. When a tea froths as well as the French Vanilla, I can put the straw in the tumbler and it will stand straight up. I tried this in the mug, but it is not tall enough so the straw fell over. It is so thick that I fully expected it to work.

Filled the mug the rest of the way with milk. Man, this smells good. It is kind of a clay color. That is typical of a cold milk latte made with basic matcha.

This tastes a lot like iced white cake. Like a big slice of cake was thrown into the blender with some milk. Yes, it is near heaven. Oh wait, except for the milk there is pretty much no calories, as this is simply pure matcha powder from green leaves and French vanilla natural flavor, so maybe it is heaven. Well, at least heavenly.

There is some spicy note present that reminds me of Christmas. I have read no other reviews making that statement, so this is obviously a memory connection for me. I'll take it.

This is smooth creamy, sweet, and obviously vanilla without going over the top in any way. I am pretty sure this will satisfy just about any normal sweet tooth. For those of us that want our dessert even more decadent, it will take additional sweetening in stride.

I highly recommend trying this one.

You can find Red Leaf Tea French Vanilla here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Good Earth, Starry Chai

Good Earth Description:
One sip of Starry Chai ™ and you’ll look heavenward as the sweet, luscious flavor makes your taste buds twinkle. Exotic chai spices are masterfully blended with a surprise touch of cherry flavor to create a lusciously organic tea experience.

Organic black tea, organic natural flavor, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom, organic nutmeg, organic ginger root, organic licorice root, organic raspberries, organic cloves, organic black pepper, natural cherry flavor with other natural flavors, organic star anise, natural flavor, organic chicory root.

Sample provided by Good Earth

My Review:
I am trying to space my Good Earth reviews out a little rather than hitting you all at once with them. They currently have supplied me with twelve different teas and I will eventually review them all.

I am still enjoying the return to my roots with these tea bags. I have only recently started to see this brand locally. Seeing them on the shelf, I had avoided them because my experience in the earlier days taught me in general to avoid teas that had more than 3 ingredients. The rule had served me well, but it appears I need to revise it. My new rule is never buy tea with more than 3 ingredients, unless the blender has proved they know what they are doing. So far Good Earth has earned a spot on that list. They have been a pleasant surprise to review.

On to the tea! The box contains 18 tea bags that are individually sealed in an aluminum envelope. Each contains right at 2g of leaf and spices. Plenty for a hearty cup of tea.

I used boiling water and a 4 minute steep. The brew is an orange/red. Dry the cherry makes this smell a little medicinal, but once steeped it is a warm cinnamon and cardamom with hints of cherry.

My wife liked the taste of this with no additions. I thought it was a little lighter in flavor than I wanted. I added a half packet of Splenda. To me this was a perfect balance of flavor to sweetness. My wife said it was just sweeter. Tinker with it yourself and see if it is better sweet or unsweet (cough sweet).

The taste is much like the aroma. It is a soft warm cinnamon, clove, and cardamom, with a light touch of cherry. Unlike the previous Good Earth chai I reviewed, the ginger and black pepper do not bring a spicy kick at the end. They are present but support the cinnamon allowing it to heat up the finish.

What is especially interesting to me is how quickly this disappeared from my cup. For chai that is a major accomplishment with me. I think there is still a at least one chai from Good Earth I haven't tried yet. There is still the possibility I'll be able to point and say, "Aha! I told you I didn't like chai". For now at least, I have to admit I kind of do like it.

You may find Good Earth Starry Chai at your local Walmart or Kroger store. You can also order direct from Good Earth

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jalam Teas, Bada Mountain Raw Sheng Puerh

Raw Cake
Jalam Teas Description:
This raw green Puerh is a classic Puerh with what Jeff calls 'great qualities that should serve as some sort of example of consistent joy'. From the hands and trees of the Hani people near the village of Manmai, the tea has some of those wonderful slight astringent notes that tingle, dissipate and flow sweet into the throat. Long flavor legs stay in the mouth for long portions and the leaves because of the quality of each stage of production can handle many infusions. It is one of the teas we intend to carry once a year at a minimum and hope to include on our permanent tea menu.

Sample provided by Jalam Teas

My Review:
I have been waiting for the right moment to open this tea and enjoy it. I was up early and got my other work done - 6:00 am I was transposing songs from one key to another for the Praise Team, then I spent a few moments destroying spaceplanes on the runway in Kerbal Space Program. I'm really bad at planes. Now I am home alone with my tea. I'm almost giddy.

Steeped Leaf
Something else to mention - Jalam Teas gifted me with this out of the blue back in April. It arrived at the height of a recent health battle. As you can see by my summer postings, I am just getting back up to speed. Thank you Jalam!

So, opening the (rice?) paper wrapper released a ton of aroma. More importantly it was a very fresh and green aroma with hints of sheng. I am not by any means advanced in Puerh, and I am certainly not used to a sheng having made such a positive impression right from the beginning.

The leaf is as interesting as the aroma. Look at all the color. See picture at top of page. It is green and brown with a plentiful amount of silvery buds.

I used a knife along the outer edge, in towards the center and began to work my way around the edge. I removed about 10g for steeping. Placing it in my clay pot, a few ounces of boiling water was added and poured off after 10 seconds. I then let the leaf sit in the pot and awaken before adding water for the first cup.

Lovely Nectar
The result is an apricot cup with a little sediment because I did not use a proper filter. It doesn't bother me. This is a 2014 pressing. I braced myself expecting a sharp astringent sip. What I got was a tasty cup with only slight astringent notes and as the description says it flows in and out. I caught faint straces of smoke. It is slightly sweet and nicely gentle for such a young sheng. The aftertaste reminds me of peach.

The second cup starts out almost syrupy. It is even sweeter and the peach aftertaste is stronger.

I intend to have many more steeps from this leaf over the course of the day. While I am by no means an expert on Puerh, I know what I like when I taste it. This I like. It is full of flavor without assaulting you with the usual astringent bite.

You can find Jalam Teas Bada Mountain Sheng Puerh here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Good Earth, Sweet Chai of Mine

Good Earth Description:
Take a step back for a little “you” time. With smooth vanilla and decadent maple flavor infused with traditional chai spices, Sweet Chai of Mine™ is the perfect way to do just that.

Black tea, natural flavor, cinnamon, natural vanilla flavor with other natural flavors, cardamom, ginger root, natural peach flavor with other natural flavors, nutmeg, cloves, chicory root, licorice root, Chinese star anise, black pepper, steviol glycosides (stevia).

Sample provided by Good Earth

My Review:
Chai is kind of hit and miss with me. I don't hate it, but I never crave it. I have tried a few I can say I liked. Here's hoping Good Earth's twist on the classic speaks to me.

The box contains 18 tea bags, each sealed in an aluminum envelope. The box lists net wt as 40.5g. Divide by the number of bags (18), gives a per bag weight of 2.25g. That is above average for US tea bags.

Opening the envelope, I am hit with a medicinal aroma. Realizing the taste is often different, I proceed.

Water was heated to 200F and I steeped in the mug for 4 minutes. As it steeps the aroma becomes more of a traditional chai.

Tasting time. This is much lighter than the majority of chai I have tried. Personally, I like that. I taste the traditional spices of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, etc. I also taste light touches of vanilla. I am not getting the maple. With the use of stevia and licorice root, this is sweet but not overly. I think chai should be even sweeter.

I added the equivalent of 1 tsp of sweetener. This brings the mug to life. Besides sweetening the mug, it brings out the maple flavor and intensifies the vanilla. I am also catching the black pepper. Along with the ginger this adds a bite and some heat late in the sip.

My last tinkering was to add a splash of milk. This makes it taste even more maple. The chai spices are muted but still present, making the bite and heat more noticeable, though they aren't really any stronger.

Being generally not a chai fan, I found myself enjoying the mug in all the various stages of tinkering. Which was my favorite? It was a toss up between sweetened and milk added. Each was different but I liked them equally.

You can probably find Good Earth Sweet Chai of Mine at your local Walmart or Kroger store. If not you can order direct online from Good Earth.

Monday, October 19, 2015

What-Cha, Vietnam Red Buffalo Oolong

What-Cha Description:
A brilliant oolong tea with a creamy smooth texture and delightful honey taste.

Sourced by Geoff Hopkins of Hatvala, who regularly travels Vietnam in search of the best teas, all of which are sourced direct from the tea producers.

It is Hatvala's mission to raise awareness of the high quality Vietnamese teas which are often overlooked on the world market and it my pleasure to assist by making Hatvala's full range of Vietnamese teas available on What-Cha.

Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined

My Review:
So today I am reviewing the last of the What-Cha samples I received from Alistair. My first review came as What-Cha was the new kid on the block. A year later they appear to have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the tea world. I love that they offer teas from around the world, places that I didn't even realize grew tea. I have loved almost everything I have tried from them. I also found that when I asked a question, if Alistair didn't know the answer already, he was willing to dig in to it to find out the answer. So, thank you What-Cha. Much continued success!

Beautiful nuggets
The sample is packaged in a resealable aluminum pouch. The suggested brewing parameters are clearly labeled on the front of the bag.

Opening the bag, I am met with a rapid fire hit of three aromas. The first passed before I could identify, though it was familiar. The second was a touch of a roasted scent. The final, well, it reminded me of a certain smell that often came from a room down the hallway in my college dormitory. Not sure what it was but the guys all coughed and laughed a lot ;)

The leaf is rolled into nuggets typical of oolong, except for the unusual color. I lightened the photo so you could see it better. It is very dark, almost black, with cinnamon streaks. It looks like some one rolled a Dian Hong. Just looking at it, this is a hit with me. (rolled, hit, college - I so amuse me)

Lovely fall colored mug
I  followed directions by steeping for 2 1/2 minutes at 203 F. The nuggets quickly began to expand. The leaf didn't so much dance in the water as it relaxed and stretched. At the end of the steep. looking into the glass pot was a bit like looking into a dark cinnamon colored jungle.

The result is a nifty fall colored liquor. It is bright, clear, and glowing. It reminds me of the colors outside my window today.

The steeped leaf has an aroma that again is familiar but I can't quite recognize. It kind of reminds me of grape jelly, honey, and brownies - kind of. Anyway, it smells good.

I poured the leaf out on a plate for a better look. The color is very neat with brown, cinnamon, and olive greens. The thing that caught my attention was the pile of leaf, through the camera, looked like a dragon on the plate. No college joke here. It is called pareidolia. It is when the brain tries to form a recognizable pattern, like faces in a cloud. So, bonus points for random dragons.

I don't see a buffalo, I see a dragon!
Once I take a sip, I am confused for a moment. This isn't like a typical oolong. It isn't black tea. It doesn't remind me of a green.

There is absolutely no bitterness. I am not noticing much if any astringency (drying).

You can tell words aren't coming to me. The taste is much lighter than I expected. I have gone through my reviews of oriental beauty and Bao Zhong teas, thinking maybe this was similar to those teas. Nope.

There is a woodsy taste. It also reminds me of stone notes, like stream water that has rushed through stones. It doesn't have a strong roasted note but more hints. It is honey and malt, yet only lightly.

I really hate that for my last What-Cha supplied review, I can't come up with a better description. On the other hand, it makes for a good mystery. Maybe you will be inspired to find out for yourself, the secret of the red buffalo.

You can find What-Cha Vietnam Red Buffalo Oolong here.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Good Earth, Citrus Kiss

Good Earth Description:
You don’t have to kiss a lot of green frogs to get the lift you’re looking for. Citrus Kiss™ brings lemongrass and citrus flavors together to brighten up top notch green tea for an amazingly good taste invigoration. Kiss your new go-to green tea hello!

Green tea, lemongrass, natural lemongrass flavor with other natural flavors, rose petals, chamomile, citric acid, sweet blackberry leaf, lemon myrtle, steviol glycosides (stevia), natural flavor.

Sample provided by Good Earth

My Review:
I have had a lot of fun with these Good Earth teas so far. From what I have observed on other review sites, the lowly tea bag gets almost no respect. The fact is the vast majority of all tea consumed in the west is brewed from a tea bag. Someone needs to be willing to try them and give an honest appraisal based on what they are. I am not going to dis them simply because they come in a paper bag containing very fine cut pieces of leaf.

That said, I have looked at reviews of this tea around the internet, including Amazon. Wow, most have not been kind. The biggest complaint is the addition of stevia - a natural sweetener. Most reviews state it should be up to the consumer to decide if a tea needs sweetener. Personally, I disagree. As long as it is clearly included in the list of ingredients, the manufacturer is free to add or not add sweetener. Likewise, the buying public is free to buy or reject however they please. That's how a free market works people. Sorry, got off on a rabbit trail.

So with this tea, I used water heated to 190 F and steeped the bag for 3 minutes. The color is a golden yellow/orange. It is clear and shiny. The scent throws me off track for a moment. The combination of ingredients reminds me of the dish washing liquid we use. Red Alert! Red Alert! goes off in my head, but hey, I drink pu-erh and it usually smells like a horse barn, yet I still enjoy it. How bad can this be?

Another rabbit trail - the quote on the tag is from Frank Zappa. It reads, "I never set out to be weird. It was other people who called me weird." That fits perfectly with many of the reviews of this tea I have read.

Big boy pants on. I taste. I'm confused. Why do people hate this again? Yes, the stevia adds a little sweet kick at the end. It is not that big of a kick and it certainly isn't overly sweet. The taste of the tea is actually kind of light and airy. First I taste the combination of lemongrass and lemon myrtle. It achieves a very nice balance. Then I catch a brief brush of rose. It isn't perfume or gross. It is actually quite pleasant. Late in the sip I notice the chamomile and blackberry leaves. Possibly along with the citric acid, they add just a slight tartness before the stevia kick finishes it off.

I should add, stevia does leave a slightly bitter aftertaste that reminds me of saccharin. So I get why people don't like that taste. I don't find it that distasteful here - it kind of fits. I did not feel the need to have a snack with the tea to cover the stevia.

I honestly don't understand the bad reviews. I found this to be light and refreshing. I would definitely drink this again. If, it did not have stevia, I would give it a hit of sweetener. I don't think my Splenda would give it the kick. Instead it would be just evenly sweet. I think Good Earth made the right call. Feel free to disagree.

You can probably find Good Earth Citrus Kiss at your local Walmart or Kroger store. You can also order online directly from Good Earth

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Red Leaf Tea, Banana Matcha

Red Leaf Tea Description:
The well loved banana is grown in many types found in most tropical climates. The banana fruit is vanilla colored and in its powder forms gives it the sweet enriching taste that bananas are well respected for. Adding Matcha to banana powder can give it an interesting twist and a flavor that is sweet light and out of this world.

Banana Matcha makes a truly nutritious drink with its lingering deep taste and imperceptible smell. This special beverage can be taken as both a hot or cold drink depending on the occasion. It can also be taken as an aperitif or with food at meal times. Furthermore, Banana Matcha provides its delighted drinkers with health benefits that linger as long as the drink is taken.

Pure Matcha powder from green leaves, Banana Natural Flavor

My Review:
OK, I know I am bound to make a comment somewhere before this review is complete, so let's just get it out of the way. I am pretty sure I can never type or say banana again without seeing those little yellow Minions. Ba-na-naaaaaa! There got it out of my system.

Got this one from Red Leaf Tea because I happen to love bananas. Then as I grabbed it today, I began to be concerned. The ingredients don't say what Banana Natural Flavor is. In the case of the strawberry it was mentioned in the details that they used freeze-dried fruit. I don't know if that is what they did here.

Then my worry was, even if they used real fruit, at what level of ripeness were they? Many people want them far too green for me. I want them just beginning to get brown spots on the peel. They are far sweeter and easier on the system at this point. The taste is completely different between the two.

The powder is nicely green for basic level matcha. It smells very strongly of banana. I used one tsp in a mug with 8 ounces of milk. I frothed it at 4 ounces then added the rest of the milk. It foamed nicely but did not hold the foam long.

My first taste just seems weird. Sorry Red Leaf Tea, I have to be honest. It tastes banana-ish but has another note that reminds me of light rose water. I guess it is a clash between the banana, the matcha, and the milk. I don't dislike it so much as I find it weird.

Next I added a little sweetener. That almost entirely removes the rose element. Now what I am getting is like a banana marshmallow candy flavor. It is not too sweet but it is sweet. Much better.

My thinking, and I hope to try this later, is too add a big plop of ice cream to the mug, maybe even a drizzle of chocolate or caramel - maybe both. Yeah, that kind of defeats the idea of having a low calorie treat, but I consider such occasions as soul food. You know, things you eat or drink simply for the total joy of being alive. Continually denying yourself such pleasures should be a crime. Seize the moment and grab the ice cream!

You can find Red Leaf Tea Banana Matcha here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Teasenz, White Peony

Teasenz Description:
An authentic white tea from Fujian consisting of a mix of green coloured leaves and white silver needle buds, resembling a White Peony. Exceptionally smooth and sweet flavour. Full of flavour: It's unbelievable how many steeps you get from the same leaves.

Sample provided by Teasenz

My Review:
It has taken a few days to get to this tea that I intended to review earlier. This morning it was so coooold outside. It was near the freezing point. Pretty sure the herb garden and porch flowers won't survive, but it is that time of year. This one seems appropriate for the day.

From Fuding in the Fujian Provence of China, the home of great white teas. This is the last of the Teasenz samples they have provided. I have found all of them to be reasonably priced and wonderful in flavor. I expect no less from this one. I should also mention Teasenz offers flat $5 worldwide shipping on all orders under 2kg.

The sample packaging is a resealable aluminum pouch. The label is simple and does contain western brewing instructions.

Opening the bag I am met with the sweet scent of fresh field hay along wonderful floral notes.

The leaf is as pretty as the aroma. The silver buds are covered in white fuzz. The accompanying leaves range from light green to dark brown. Except for settling, mostly from my pathetic group box storage system, the leaves and buds appear full and intact.

The brewing instructions run counter to popular western ideas about the proper water temperature. Generally it is believed you must use cool water when steeping. Teasenz recommends 195 F. They also state that using even hotter temperature will still result in a non-bitter cup. I have found this to be generally true. The difference for me is the 3-4 minute steeping time. I often use 1-2 minutes on the first steep.

I grabbed my clear glass teapot. It hasn't seen much action lately, due to my own neglect. The 195 F water was added and I set the timer for 4 minutes.

The leaf floated on the surface at first. Then many of the leaves slowly turned and pointed downward, still clinging to the surface. Some of the brave leaves abandoned the safety of the collective and dove to the bottom.

The resulting liquor is golden yellow. It is bright and clear except for some of the tiny white fuzz common to white tea, and a few bits of leaf. I now recall why I don't use the glass teapot more often - I can't remember to use a strainer to filter out the leaf bits. It doesn't bother me personally, but it does kind of look odd in the pictures.

Taking a sip, I first catch clean fresh mountain stream water. It is filled with stone and mineral elements. This turns into a taste that reminds me of the smell from damp forest leaf. Late in the sip I catch floral notes. They are light and remind me of the namesake peony flowers.

For cup two I again steeped for 4 minutes in 195 F water. The brew color is golden yellow like the first. This time I remembered the filter!

The taste is very different. The stream water elements are replaced by a heavier darker flavor that teeters between stone, the forest leaves of the first cup, and a stone fruit note. It is maybe apricot with even some plum hints. This cup seems thicker and more syrupy.

Teasenz says this will resteep many times. My experience with white teas believes this to be true. I won't be able to confirm it today as this is all I have the time to complete.

I have had many white peony teas, this one is as good as some I have tried at twice the price. If the soothing taste of white tea appeals to you, I recommend giving Teasenz White Peony a try.

You can find Teasenz Ehite Peony here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Good Earth, Sweet & Spicy Herbal & Black

Good Earth Description:
Our signature blend and the inspiration behind Tea Untamed, Sweet & Spicy® takes notes of cinnamon and tangles them up with sweet burst of orange. The result is a surprisingly satisfying combination you can savor hot or cold.

Black tea, natural flavor, rosehip, lemongrass, cinnamon, chamomile, peppermint, jasmine green tea, anise seed, ginger root, orange peel, orange oil.

Sample provided by Good Earth

My Review:
Here, on The Everyday Tea Blog, I get to try teas from all over the world. In the early days I reviewed the options I could scour from local grocers and world food markets. Most of what I review today are of the loose leaf variety. Many of them are quite amazing, deep, and complex. I truly love them, however I will always have a warm spot in my heart for my roots. Thank you Ruth Bigelow for your Constant Comment that  started me on this journey. I also have a warm spot for the often maligned tea bag. Its simplicity, convenience, and availability, make tea accessible to a new generation. Frankly, I still enjoy a tea bag in a mug, usually in the late evening.

I am finding these Good Earth teas to be well thought out. I've often avoided teas with more than three ingredients because they generally taste muddy or medicinal (I'm looking at you Yogi). That has not been the case with Good Earth.

I will admit, I can't pick out most of the ingredients and I'm OK with that because what I do taste is clean.

The main flavor here is cinnamon. I will advise you not to leave the bag in your mug after steeping, unless you want a cinnamon punch similar to Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice. While I love the red hot blast, most find it a bit too much. Removing the bag after 3-4 minutes will hold the cinnamon back to a responsible level.

The second flavor is orange. It is a lighter touch. The fruitiness adds a brightness and sweetness that raises this to a new level compared to ordinary cinnamon teas. This is surprisingly sweet. Other than the orange, I see nothing in the ingredients to account for this. Do not add sugar until you have tasted, as I don't think it is needed.

I normally link to the product page where you can order. This one you should be able to find locally. Try your Walmart or Kroger store.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Red Leaf Tea, Strawberry Matcha

Red Leaf Tea Description:
Are you having your 5 A DAY ? What better way to have your first fruit portion of the day is there than to try our Strawberry Matcha Tea. Our Matcha Tea is blended with the best hand picked European Strawberries. It’s time to get those buiscuits out to fuse with our 100% Pure Matcha Tea with a blend of the freshest Aroma of  strawberries.  

Strawberries although commonly found in Europe originate from North and South America. Due to the inherent nature of strawberries they tend to lose their vitamins quickly. Studies have shown that the optimum shef life is for 2 days before they start to lose their vitamin C values. However all our flavors and health benefits are retained as our raw and organic fruits are freeze dried and ground into powder to offer the best quality.

Pure Matcha powder from green leaves, Strawberry Natural Flavor

My Review:
Confession time. I was planning on reviewing a white tea today, but I have to leave shortly and knew I would not have the proper time to devote to a multiple steeped tea. So, second choice was Red Leaf Tea Strawberry Matcha.

I have my matcha system down pretty well. I just sort of eye ball measure and go. The addition of a battery operated milk frother takes all the hard work out of whisking.

The powder on this one is a little darker and brown tinted than I have become accustomed to lately (I've been spoiled). Then I decided this is due to the addition of ground freeze dried strawberries in the matcha powder.

I used 1 tsp in a 10 oz mug of cold milk. Well, actually I started with about 4 oz of milk and frothed the mixture to a thick fine foam, then I added the rest of the milk, and stirred.

The color mixed with milk is a pale mint green. Of course it smells of strawberry.

I really was not sure what to expect of the taste. Would the milk overpower the strawberry? Would it taste like Strawberry Nesquik? By the way, I remember it simply being called Quik. When did the name change, and what does it have to do with this matcha latte? I don't know. I've become so confused. What should I do?

I know, take a sip. Ahhh. Now things are much clearer.

You want to know what this tastes like? A mug full of fresh strawberries with milk poured over them. I half expected to find a green top floating in my glass. Not really.

As you can probably surmise, I found this latte to be very fun. While fun, it is also very delicious. I love a good strawberry black tea, but today I have learned I love strawberry matcha even more. This is my favorite flavored matcha so far. Highly recommend if you like strawberries.

You can find Red Leaf Tea Strawberry Matcha here.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Zhi, Ginger and Lime Green Rooibos

Zhi Description:
Zesty and uplifting, this blend is a caffeine-free suprantioxidant treat. Instead of red or fermented rooibos, we use green raw rooibos along with ginger pieces and lime. This is ultra-refreshing as well as being super healthy. Very clean and uplifting with a good ginger hit and cooling lime.

This blend has also proven to be a popular hit as an iced tea. Very cooling and refreshing.

USDA Organic and Fair Trade

100% Organic green rooibos, organic ginger, organic lemongrass, organic lemon myrtle, organic licorice root, lime and tangerine essentials.

My Review:
My son is here today. He wanted something heavy in caffeine. Actually he wanted to rummage through my stash to see what he might walk off with. My idea. I prepared some Earl Grey Creme for him while he pilfered. D'oh, my idea. I keep forgetting. He found this one by Zhi and said it looked interesting. I have been meaning to review it, so why not.

The resealable pouch is attractively labeled on the front and has more specific information on the back including brewing instructions. My only complaint with the packaging is the clear plastic on the front. Sure, it allows you to view the leaf, but for long term storage clear is not a good idea.

When I opened the bag, I was amazed at the amount of lime scent filling the air. Mixed with the lemon elements it reminded me of Seven Up mixed with lime Kool-Aid. It smells fun.

I have never seen green rooibos before. It is difficult for me to decide what is rooibos and what is lemongrass by looking. It looks like grabbing a handful of grass out in a wild late summer field.

I used 2 heaping tsp of leaf in my stainless brewing basket in a mug of water heated to 205 F. The instructions call for a 6 minute steep. I stopped at 5.

The result is a golden orange brew. It is kind of cloudy. The taste is an interesting intertwining of lime, then lemon, then ginger, flavors. The ginger adds just a touch of heat at the beginning and end, while the lime adds a little cooling at mid sip.

The licorice root adds just enough sweetness without being overly sweet. You could easily add more sweetness if desired without problem.

I think the use of lemongrass combined with lemon myrtle is a good choice. The combination here, simply tastes lemon. Often, the use of these herbs individually tastes like furniture polish to me. Not so here.

The lime is obvious lime. It tastes natural to me. Not candy like.

Possibly my only complaint, I still don't know what green rooibos tastes like. To my ability it blends in so well, I am not sure at what point I am catching its notes. I know I must be sensing it as this mug feels whole and complete. I believe I catch it most as a sweet grassy aftertaste.

I wasn't sure what to expect. This was kind of fun as long as you are a fan of both lime and ginger.

You can find Zhi Ginger and Lime Green Rooibos here.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Good Earth, Matcha Maker

Good Earth Description:
If your body is your temple, what does that make your taste buds? With Matcha Maker™, you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Blended with goodness of matcha and bright bursts of citrus flavors, this tea takes care of temple and taste.

Green tea, licorice root, orange peel, chamomile, orange oil, natural flavor, ginger root, natural orange flavor with other natural flavors, lime oil, citric acid, steviol glycosides (stevia), matcha green tea, tea extract

Sample provided by Good Earth

My Review:
I am sitting in my den getting ready to send a rocket to Minmus (a moon of Kerbin) in Kerbal Space Program. My son gave me this game for Christmas almost two years ago and I am more addicted now than ever. It is not a shoot em up. This is a physics, design, engineering, pilot, exploration game. It is a thinking game. I get lost in it for hours at a time. I always make sure I have plenty of tea with me before launching.

Today I am taking Good Earth Matcha Maker with me as I explore the Kerbal universe. This one comes sealed in an aluminum envelope, contains more than 2g/bag, and has a nice long string. Note this contains a small amount of matcha green tea which is finely ground and powdered green tea leaf, but the main ingredient is green tea (a very different thing).

The aroma of the dry bag is orange and vanilla. I steeped it 4 minutes in 205F water. Before tasting, this smells exactly like root beer to me.

Taking my first sip... it is a very pleasant orange creamsicle. I don't see vanilla in the ingredients but surely it has to be in there. It is nicely sweet from the combination of licorice root and stevia. It doesn't really need it but for those with a super sweet tooth, it will take adding a little sweetener without complaint.

In addition to the sweet orange creamsicle, I also detect a little ginger late in the sip. It adds a little spicy bite and warmth. It is pretty subtle but a nice touch. There is also chamomile but I don't readily taste any of its apply tartness.

You can probably find Good Earth teas at your local Walmart or Kroger grocery store. If you enjoy Celestial Seasonings and similar brands, I think you will find Good Earth worthy of a place in your cupboard. I know I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one,


Friday, October 9, 2015

Sanne Tea, Taiwan No. 18

Sanne Tea Description:
Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s main base for the cultivation of No.18, a black tea strain, also called Hong Yu (Ruby), only grown in Taiwan. In 1999, No.18 was created by hybridizing Taiwanese wild mountain tea trees with Burma Assam tea trees, and grown in the special climate of Yuchih Township, where Sun Moon Lake is located. The trial planting was so successful that No.18 became the signature tea of the lake area.

Similar to Assam tea and Ceylon tea, No. 18, when brewed, has a bright red color and strong, rich flavor with refreshing pungent notes. The tea also has a natural cinnamon and mint fragrance, a feature of the Taiwanese wild tea strain. This distinctive tea is the perfect combination of Indian and Taiwanese Black teas.

Sample provided by Sanne Tea

My Review:
One of the dangers of tea blogging is the amount of teas in the collection at any given time. Occasionally, one ends up at the back of a box in the bottom of the stack of boxes and gets overlooked. That happened with this one. When I stumbled upon it I had to wonder how could this happen, especially when it is clearly labeled as coming from Sun Moon Lake. There are certain growing regions that almost guarantee I am going to be moved. Sun Moon Lake is one of them.

Normally when I  think of Taiwan tea I think oolong, but Taiwan also produces some excellent black teas.

This 5g sample came in a resealable pouch. The front is simple and clean. The back list quite a bit of information, that as I have recently learned, has all been handwritten with a brush pen. Sanne Tea goes above and beyond in this regard. You can expand the picture to get a more complete idea of what information is included. One that I appreciate in particular is the leaf to water amounts.

OK, let's prepare some tea...

First comes the sniff test. Wow. It's mainly cocoa and malt. It kind of has a baked aroma. It is not really brownies. Maybe sweet potato mixed with the cocoa and malt. There is another element that reminds me of almost a Darjeeling like grape. To Amanda of Rambling Butterfly Thoughts this note was more of a sassafras with menthol. However your brain and experience translates it, I think we can all agree it smells amazing.

The leaf is eerily gorgeous. Maybe it just strikes me this way as we just set out some Halloween decorations, but the long slender twists of leaf look kind spider leg like. ha. Seriously though, the leaf is very dark. The picture doesn't do it justice as it was hard to photograph.

I used the entire 5g sample per directions in 205 F water and steeped for a short 60 seconds. The result is a classic hearty ruby red brew. Again today my picture isn't catching the essence of the mug. Here it looks more orangey/brown. It is a far deeper and more beautiful color in person.

The taste is similar to the dry scent. It is a mix of honey, cocoa, malt, and sort of sweet potato, though the sweet potato is not as obvious as in some Chinese Dian Hong teas. The sip builds to a solid peak. I hesitate to call it bite. Despite the varietal being a mix of assam and wild Taiwanese trees, this does not have the strong bite of an assam, rather it is more a presence that asserts itself gently but with some authority. I can still taste and smell what to me is a muscatel type note as well.

The second cup was steeped for 90 seconds. The now cinnamon brown leaf smells much more of sweet honey. The brew color is even a deeper red. The taste also seems sweeter and in some ways more mellow. It feels thick and syrupy on the lips.

I am also getting an interesting sense of candy. Like cinnamon candy without the burn. While it is light and fleeting, I experienced the sensation a few times before deciding to comment. Underneath the honey, cocoa, and cinnamon, I am still lightly catching the leafy grape notes.

This is a delicious and complex tea.  

The label lists this as capable of 5 steeps. From previous experience with this type tea, I fully believe it, however, this is as far as I have time to devote today. Let me add, as a reviewer, I often have to suspend my own preferences and try to understand what the tea is meant to be and how well it achieves it. I love it when I review a tea that 'fits' my personal tastes. This is one such tea. I don't have to work at understanding it. I can simply get lost in the wonderful experience from first sniff to last drop. Much love for this one Sanne Tea!  

You can find Sanne Tea Taiwan No. 18 here.