Monday, February 29, 2016

Free The Tea, Sweet Matcha Vitality

Picture Credit:
Free The Tea Description:
Sweet Matcha Vitality combines the super-food of wheatgrass with the delicious taste of sweet matcha to provide a perfect wellness combination! Matcha can also be added to smoothies, baked goods and many other recipes.  This superfood will give any recipe a boost!

Organic Cane Sugar, Premium Matcha Green Tea, Wheatgrass

Sample provided by Free The Tea

My Review:
Leap Day! So I get one last chance to review a tea this February. I am introducing yet another new to me company, Free The Tea. Reading through their About Us page, I don't learn a lot about the company, instead I get a grasp of their mission:
FreeTheTea concentrates its efforts on more than just providing great tea from all over the world at affordable prices.  FreeTheTea is deeply committed to spreading knowledge of the tea market and introducing the wonderful tastes and health benefits of tea into our customers everyday lives. 
I received the Revitalizer Teaser Box for review. Inside were four sample sized tins and an easy to use tea infuser. The tins are neat little things. They hold enough for 5-7 servings. The top of the lid is clear so you can see what is inside. For storage keep them out of the sunlight.

The ingredients are clearly listed on the bottom of the tin. The label gives basic instructions of add 1 tsp and whisk. Looking at the website it states to use 4 oz of just off boiling water.

Removing a tsp for examination, I notice two things. First the color is a nice spring green. The second is the sparkles that had me checking the ingredient list. This is pre-sweetened with organic cane sugar. The matcha experts might complain about the added sugar. I will not.

For most people their only exposure to matcha is probably limited to the Green Tea Frappuccino at Starbucks. I love those things but they are heavily loaded with calories from the excessive amount of sugar. This matcha by Free The Tea is listed as having only 15 calories.

While reading the ingredient list, I notice the matcha is from Japan (not China), I also noticed wheatgrass. I had to look this up as I am not a health food type. If I were I wouldn't know about the green tea frap, now would I? Wheatgrass is apparently chock full of vitamins and is often added to heath drinks including tea.

My thought on this was with the sugar and the wheatgrass, is there going to be enough matcha flavor in the cup for me to enjoy? Let's find out.

I used 175 F water and 4 oz of water with 1 tsp of matcha. I then whisked it with my handheld frother. While it mixed well enough it would not foam (I later mixed a tsp with milk and it frothed very well). The color however is nicely green.

Tasting this I wasn't sure what to expect. Would it be a really sweet drink? Would it be flavorless, or really bitter? For those new to matcha, it can be a bit of an off putting taste. Traditionally it is made unsweetened and strong. It is often rather bitter. Amazingly this is none of those things.

Yes it has sugar, so yes it is on the sweet side. It is not overly candy level of sweet. It is actually near the same level as I would use when I make a cup. The main flavor is a really nice grassiness. The sweet grass lingers long into the after taste. I am noticing zero bitterness and no puckery astringency. I cannot taste anything that makes me think wheatgrass. Maybe it just adds nutrition or possibly it tastes grassy as well.

I look forward to trying the other teas in my review box as I am pleased with the taste of this matcha.

You can find Free The Tea Sweet Matcha Vitality here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Petit Tea, Om Cashmere Saffron

Petit Tea Description:
This blend of green tea, natural saffron, natural green cardamom and cinnamon elevates tea to a gourmet luxury. Garnish your steep with slivered almonds and natural honey for a must have tea experience.


Green tea, natural saffron, natural cardamom, cinnamon & other natural flavours

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
Your eyes do not deceive you. I have reviewed a Cashmere Saffron recently from Petit Tea. The first was an infuser stick from their Opulence line. This one is a pyramid sachet from the Om series of teas. I was curious myself to see how nearly identical are these two teas.

The infuser lists the ingredients simply as a unique blend of green tea, natural cardamom and cinnamon. The moment the outer wrap is removed it is obvious there is more going on.

The Om tea list ingredients as: Green tea, natural saffron, natural cardamom, cinnamon & other natural flavours.

The two have nearly an identical dry aroma, so I believe the ingredients are pretty much the same, though the ratio may be slightly different. Both are listed as containing 2.5 g of leaf.

The pyramid sachet is made from hand crafted silken mesh. One note here, if you use a mug, hold on to the tag when adding water as it is a little on the short side. The box uses non-toxic soy ink and is completely biodegradable.

I heated the water to 175 F. The label doesn't give a temperature that I noticed, so I went with my gut. Although this is stated as being from India so possibly boiling would work. The steep time was two minutes.

The website calls this a greenish liquor. It reminded me more of sunflowers but I used a clear mug and they used a white ceramic bowl.

The brewed cup has the same floral slightly spicy aroma as the dry. I have never encountered saffron before. To me, the scent is almost lavender talc with notes of cardamom.

Tasting, this is as similar as it is different from the Opulence mug. The infuser hit first with cinnamon, moving into cardamom, before trailing into a grassy green tea bite, all surrounded by the aroma of floral saffron.

The sachet hits solidly up front with the saffron. It is sweet and mildly spicy floral. It isn't perfumey. The cardamom supports under the saffron. The trailing green tea appears at the end but not as heavy a bite or as pronounced.

The first few sips leave me unsure what I think as it is so different from my usual fair. The more I sip, the more I get it, and I start to really enjoy this cup. I was going to add honey but my little bear has turned to concrete. I added Splenda instead. It took it well but seemed a little unnecessary to me.

The Opulence and the Om cups are quite different while being equally similar. Which did I prefer? This one.... that one... this... that... I can't decide.

You can find Om Cashmere Saffron on Amazon or direct from Petit Tea.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pique Tea, Mint Sencha Green Tea

Picture Credit:
Pique Tea Description:
Organic Green Tea. The perfect pairing of Japanese green tea with fresh spearmint. Vibrant and refreshing.

Sample provided by Pique Tea

My Review:
It's raining like crazy outside today. A few days ago we had 3" of rain. It's February. It's supposed to be snowing. Not going to complain. Think I'll just sit back and sip some tea instead.

I have been so super busy of late. It makes me extra appreciative of the convenient and simple to prepare options I have been reviewing recently. The simplest and most convenient that I have found, that still manages to taste like tea that I would want to drink, has been these Pique Tea crystals. I was skeptical when first contacted, but have to say these have, so far, been very tasty.

Pique Tea is a new company offering these individual sized crystallized tea packets through a subscription service. There are five different teas from which to choose. Not to worry, they offer to let you try it for free when you sign up.

The packaging advises to use 175 F water for their green teas and 205 F for all other teas. I'll add that I have used some of the previously reviewed Pique teas in a small bottle of cold water and shook to mix. It worked great.

I heated my water to 175 F. Cut open the packet and poured in a warmed and still wet mug. The powder instantly began to dissolve.

As the water finishes heating, I can already catch spearmint scent in the air. I am not the biggest fan of spearmint in or out of tea but I will proceed with an open mind.

With the addition of the hot water, I get a mug full of a golden amber colored liquor. I don't even need to stir.

Moment of truth time. Interesting. OK, I just admitted that I don't like spearmint, however, something is different here. This may be one of those situations like jasmine, where for years I thought I didn't like it, only to discover I simply didn't like the flavored teas I had tried to that point.

There is no question, this is a mint tea. What I have experienced in the past was gunk that tasted like toothpaste. This does not. The mint is far less intense but still drives the cup. It is followed by an equally intense grassy bite from the sencha.

The bite is reminiscent of that found in Ceylon black tea. Not that they taste anything alike. I mention this because some people like a gentle non threatening mellow cuppa and some of us like a tea that makes its presence felt. This falls into that latter category. It's intense. It's spearmint, and I like it!

You can find Pique Tea Mint Sencha Green Tea here

Monday, February 22, 2016

Petit Tea, Opulence Cashmere Saffron Tea

Petit Tea Description:
A unique blend of green tea, natural cardamom and cinnamon.

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
This Cashmere Saffron infuser is part of the Opulence Variety Pack containing 2 each of 4 unique blends. Each is individually wrapped and packed in its own box.

As soon as I opened the plastic wrap, I become convinced the ingredients listed in the description is incomplete. Looking through the Petit Tea website, I find a Cashmere Saffron in a pyramid sachet. It lists the ingredients as: Green tea, natural saffron, natural cardamom, cinnamon & other natural flavours.  Is this the same? I can't be sure until I review the sachet in the near future, but for now, this list of ingredients makes more sense.

The dry aroma is floral and almost a powdery perfume talc scent, which is slightly lavender to my nose but not quite.

I brought fresh water to a boil and poured over the infuser in a mug. The infuser, as you can see in the picture, is a rectangular aluminum box pierced with many holes to allow for water circulation. The infuser is large enough to give ample space for the leaf to move and swell during steeping while keeping leaf out of your mug.

I steeped for two minutes giving the infuser a couple swirls during the process. The result is a golden yellow cup of tea. It still has some remnants of the floral aroma but its lighter and I now catch cardamom notes.

Tasting, I am immediately struck with how different this tastes compared to both the dry and brewed aroma. I first notice cinnamon. It is not hot or grab you spicy. It is a pleasant adult level of flavor. Then I catch the cardamom. It is similar to cinnamon with an added clove like flavor. This blends in your brain with the aroma to make a pleasantly relaxing drink that feels a bit exotic. The green tea is best captured just as the aftertaste begins to kick in.

This is not chai but I think it would most likely appeal to chai lovers for a luxurious break from the routine.      

Petit Tea Opulence Variety Pack containing the Cashmere Saffron  tea infuser can be found on Amazon or direct from Petit Tea.

Monday, February 15, 2016

3 Leaf Tea, Furry Peak

3 Leaf Tea Description:
This green tea's delicate leaves are covered in white downy hairs. Brewing the tea produces a crisp fresh aroma that is reminiscent of Spring. The taste is light with a soft peach note that lingers on the tongue.

Sample provided by 3 Leaf Tea

My Review:
This weekend, I survived preparing my tax returns and later prepared a candlelight steak dinner for my Valentine. Smoke alarms may have gone off during that last one. Steak was perfect though, as was the company. Later it began to snow, seeming near white out conditions at times. Today it was extremely foggy all morning. Perfect time for tea.

3 Leaf Tea blends their own flavored matcha and hot chocolate mixes. They have recently expanded with a select offering of loose leaf teas. Today I have grabbed Furry Peak, otherwise known as Mao Feng.

The leaf is a very dark green, appearing almost grayish. There are some lighter green and yellow streaks running down the small curly leaf. Looking really close, the leaf is covered with downy hairs.

Dry, it has a grassy, ocean, and malt aroma.

I used my French Press and about 1 1/2 tsp of leaf. The directions call for 1 tsp, but I am making a mug sized cup. The water was heated to 175 F and the steep time was 2 minutes, per label directions.

After pouring the liquor, I noticed the now spring green like leaf felt really soft and delicate. Yes, I still play with my food. It has a rich umami aroma. I think in the past I have called this scent, both spinach and beef stew. Such a wonderful smell.

The brew itself is a lovely green tinted yellow. After giving it a moment to settle, it is bright and clear.

3Leaf says the cup aroma is reminiscent of spring, of course I've already described it as smelling like lunch... lunch... mmmmm. To me, spring better describes the taste. It is fresh, crisp, and lightly grassy, with a mild clean bite. They mention it having a soft peach note. I would not have described it as such had they not stated so, but can agree because they did. It really doesn't quite hit that mark with me, however, I cannot find a better word to describe the note, except maybe delicious.

It seems more savory than sweet to me, and yet I have no desire to add sweetener to this lovely cup. It is a moderately light cup, so if you only like big bold in your face hearty black teas, you probably aren't going to dig this one. If on the other hand you love a gentler cup of green tea, this is a very worthy version of Mao Feng.

You can find 3 Leaf Tea Furry Peak here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pique Tea, Jasmine

Picture Credit:
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

picture credit:
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

Picture Credit:
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

Picture Credit:
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.