Monday, December 31, 2012

Chad’s Chai & Tea Co., Finnigan’s Wakeup

Chad’s Chai & Tea Description:
The Irish are known to say that tea should be strong enough to stand your spoon up in it. This Irish breakfast tea is indisputably bold, yet lively with fun flowery undertones. And it will take all the milk and sugar you can give it!

My Review:
This partial sample came in the mail from a tea friend recently. I have never heard of this company before, and that makes me happy. I’m trying something new. The leaf is course cut, dark brown almost black pieces, with some light tan mixed in for good measure. I did not notice any distinct scent off the leaf. It smells like tea.

I did not have steeping instructions so I am treating this like a normal black tea on the first cup. I used one healthy scoop, or half the sample, in my press.  I heated the water to boiling and poured over the leaf, steeping for 3 minutes. My room is fairly dark but in the low light this has an interesting ruby red appearance.

This is very smooth. There is no bitterness and no bite. It borders on wanting to be fruity but never commits. I think there is some Darjeeling in here. There is also just a hint of smoke in the background. Surprisingly, for being so smooth, this is very drying. I can feel the astringency in my gut. If you don’t tolerate black teas well, you will need to reduce the amount of leaf and keep the steep time short. This tastes a lot like Prince of Wales, so I am pretty sure it has some Chinese black tea in the mix. I am also sure I got the water too hot and steeped too long.

On the second cup I heated the water to just starting to boil and turned it off. After about 30 seconds I poured over the leaf. This time I steeped for about a minute and a half. Now the cup is well behaved. The flavor is a little stronger but with out the heavy astringent drying of the previous cup. I can definitely tastes Chinese black tea now. The fruity flavor I mentioned is still there as well. If this doesn’t also contain Darjeeling I would be surprised. This is a pretty good cup.

Visit Chad’s Chai & Tea at

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two Leaves, Alpine berry

Two Leaves Description:
We turned to hibiscus, blackberry leaves, and orange peel when we created this tea and it reminded us of a wonderful hike in the mountains of Colorado, where we live. This bright berry tea brews up a beautiful jewel-toned shade of red. Perfect for sipping on a cold day, or refreshing over ice.

Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. Steep twice for $0.26 per cup.

Part of the Complete Sampler Pack provided by Two Leaves Tea Company

My Review
I grabbed this one for a late evening sip as it is caffeine free. The sachet scent is fruity goodness. I couldn't wait to soak it in water. I boiled the water and steeped for about three minutes. They say this brews up a beautiful jewel-toned shade of red. It sure looked purple to me. The scent is one of those interesting mixes you can't quite figure out. Its kind of blackberry but with all this other stuff going on.

From the description on Steepster, this is a herbal potpourri of hibiscus, apple peel, rose hips, blackberry leaves, orange peel, strawberry, and raspberry, that can be enjoyed hot or iced. I tried it hot then let it cool to room temperature.

Despite the strong berry fruit blast in the aroma. I found this to taste a little flat and thin. It is a little tart. That would be the hibiscus. Not really a fan. I added sweetener and it did not improve it greatly. I am not a fruit / herbal sipper. The black and green teas by Two Leaves have all been very enjoyable, so maybe this is good. All I can say is, I loved the smell, but the taste left me wanting.

Visit Two Leaves at

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hampstead Tea, Lime Green

Hampstead description:
The tropical floral zest of lime is a sophisticated compliment to our green tea. This mellow, fresh blend is invigorating and reminiscent of beachside evenings.

Price: $5.19 for 25 bags on or about $0.20 per serving.

My Review:
This is my first Hampstead tea. This is a bagged tea. I want to comment on the bag, or rather the string. There is no staple on the bag. The string is looped and knotted in such a way it holds the bag shut. Maybe I have seen this before and not noticed. More important to me personally, is the fact the string is long enough that pouring the water over the bag does not cause the tag to get sucked in. I hate that. The sealed outer wrap reminds me of a Stash tea envelope.

The dry bag does not have a lot of scent. I steeped this about 2 ½ minutes with steaming water. I could smell the lime and green tea when I removed the bag. It plumped up nicely, Ok here’s the thing. I don’t know how old this is. It was given to me. I tasted this and it tastes like nothing. So back in the water goes the bag.

Another minute steeping brings out the light flavor of what I believe is Sencha green tea. I also catch light notes of the lime. Sadly this bag may be way past its prime. What I am mostly getting is the taste of paper. Based on the way the leaf swelled when brewed and that I can see actual lime zest through the bag, I believe this could have been quite a nice cup.

A fellow Steepster reviewer commented they had a similar experience with this tea. If you have experience with Hampstead tea, I would be interested in hearing what you thought.

Visit Hampstead Tea at

Friday, December 28, 2012

Twinings, Rose Garden

Twinings Description:
From English country gardens to ancient Turkish palaces, there's nothing like the romance and style of a rose. We think the taste and aroma are special, too.

That's why we've blended the elegant fragrance of rose with a light, refreshing black tea. Make a cup, take a moment and prepare to be wooed. Great news - although initially launched as a Limited Edition, Rose Garden is now permanently available, following popular demand.

My Review:
This one came from a my Steepster friend ashmanra. This is apparently started as a limited time edition from Twinings and is not readily available in the USA. It pays to have connections. This is a bagged tea.

Generally speaking, rose teas scare me. Why? Mostly because tea blenders don't know how to behave themselves. If a little is good, a whole lot should be great, right? NOT! I opened the envelope and removed the bag. I smell rose. Red Alert! Shields up! I heated the water and poured over the bag. The steep time was, well... whatever looked right.

I lift the cup and breathe in rose. Phasers on stun! I took my first sip. What? It is not overwhelming. Hmmm. Cancel red alert. This isn't scary. Yes, it is rose but lightly done. I can taste the tea. Balance! How rare. This takes sweetener well. Nicely done. Another solid offering from Twinings.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dens Tea, Kuradashi Sencha

Den's Tea Description:
In 2010, Shizuoka initiated a project to build a replica of the kura that was used by the Shogun Tokugawa who lived from 1542 to 1616. The replica kura was built in Ikawa in Shizuoka at an elevation of over 3,000 ft. Once the kura was completed, our parent company, Shirakata-Denshiro Shoten, was allowed to store a small quantity of first flush tea there.

Tasting Profile: This delicate waves brings a creamy taste. Kuradashi Sencha is aromatic and has a mellow Umami acquired in the naturally cooled kura at Ikawa.

My Review:
I researched this tea after tasting and reviewing. This was a very limited edition tea. I really should look this stuff up first.

This came in the mail from TeaEqualsBliss of SoriTEA Sisters fame. The leaf is dark thin spikes. I used all of what was left in the sample pouch, which was one generous scoop of leaf. I steeped this for about a minute and a half in steaming water. I may have overheated as it was really steaming in the press. The brew is light green. The leaf really expanded. I could have used half as much and had some for another day. I am feeling a bit like an amateur at this time.

The smell of the leaf and the mug is green steamed veggies.

So I take a sip of the first cup - Lord Almighty, I should have used half the scoop, half the water temp, and half the steep time. This is take your face off Sencha. Wow!

Second cup – with just steaming water and a one minute steep. Now this is a good cup of tea. Sweet and green. Grassy but not too grassy. Lingering aftertaste with a bit of bite. I like it.

Visit Den's Tea at

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Twinings, Blossom Earl Grey

Twinings Description:
To capture the moment when Orange trees flower as winter turns to spring, we've created a stylish mix of sweet orange blossom flavour and citrus bergamot.
The result? A black tea that brightens your day and warms you from the inside out. Great news - although initially launched as a Limited Edition, Blossom Earl Grey is now permanently available, following popular demand.

All natural ingredients:

- Black tea
- Natural bergamot favouring with other natural flavourings (7.5%)
- Natural Orange Blossom Flavouring (2%)

My Review:
This came in a recent care package. This bagged tea, as far as I know, is not available in the US. This particular bag made its way to my house from Ireland. I thought it was the British version of the Earl Grey sold here. It is not. as you can see in the ingredient list this is a black tea with bergamot and orange. The bergamot is lighter than Earl Grey. The orange is lighter than in Orange Bliss. Together they make a solid and flavorful offering. Imagine Lady Grey without the lemon. That sort of describes the flavor of this tea.

When the cup was very hot, I wasn't sure the flavors were natural or mingled well together. It just seemed a little off. The more the cup cooled the better it tasted. I actually liked this one at room temperature. This is another solid offering from Twinings though you may have to work at it a bit to hit your sweet spot.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Two Leaves Tea Company, Organic African Sunset

Two Leaves Description:
We call this organic rooibos tea (say "roy-bus") "African Sunset" because red tea is grown in South Africa, where it is cherished for its spicy, herbal flavor. We've added just a touch of lemongrass and lemon zest to brighten up this smooth, decaf cuppa' tea on your palate.

Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. Steep twice for $0.26 per cup.

Part of the Complete Sampler Pack provided by Two Leaves Tea Company

My Review:
I am not sure I have a lot to say about this one. Known as red tea in the west, rooibos is actually a small African bush and not literally tea. Maybe if you were an expert at rooibos you could tell the difference between different growing areas and climates like many can with tea from different regions. I cannot. To me rooibos always tastes like rooibos, whether it is in a bag, sachet, or loose.

Now let’s move to what does make this one different. I have had rooibos straight up. I have had it blended to taste like everything from pumpkin pie to Earl Grey. In almost every instance the common trait is it has a sandpaper like feeling of scratchiness on my throat. That is until today. This one has just the tiniest amount of lemongrass and lemon zest. It is not enough to make me think – oh, this is lemony. What it does do is take the rough edge off the cup and change the flavor so slightly that I found myself trying to figure what is this I’m tasting. I didn’t have the ingredient list while sipping and I thought maybe it had a little bit of green tea in the sachet. Nope, it’s lemon. Rooibos is never going to be a personal favorite but I found myself enjoying this one.

It’s caffeine free, so it is a good evening choice. Rooibos makes a horrible mess fixed loose in my French Press. Bags often taste like paper. This sachet did not alter the flavor and somehow it held the contents and did not make a mess in the bottom of my cup. That impressed me. The way I usually make rooibos is with a Finum basket. The fine mesh does a good job with fine cut herbals. For pure convenience sake, the sachet was much less work.

Apparently I was wrong, I did have a lot to say about this one.

Visit Two Leaves at

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Twinings, Camomile Green Tea

Twinings Tea Description:
Green tea is known for its smooth flavour and refreshing taste. Green teas are made from leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, the same leaves as black tea. Green teas go through a process where the leaves are heated to prevent oxidation while black teas are oxidized for additional colour and flavour. Twinings' Camomile Green Tea is expertly blended with the finest camomile. The result is a soothing and refreshing tea that brews to a light golden colour.

My Review:
This is the third and final bag I received from Twinings in their recent give-away promotion. It occured to me as I opened this one that in all the years I have been drinking Twinings I don't recall ever having plain old green tea. Well, I am not going to have it today either. This is green tea mixed with camomile. The scent of the bag is mostly paper. I wasn't sure what to do with the water temperature as green likes cooler water and camomile likes boiling. I leaned towards a green water temp so as not to end up with something bitter. The brew was a golden amber, looking far more like camomile than green.

The taste was a balance of green and camomile but leaning more towards the latter. I think that is a good thing as the green was ordinary. It wasn't bad, it was just ok. The camomile was slightly muted by the green. If you find it too strong for you but would like to enjoy its calming properties, this might be a good choice. The honey apple flavor is still there but the bitter aftertaste that often accompanies camomile was greatly softened.

I wasn't sure what I thought of this one when I first started sipping. It wasn't until about halfway through the cup that I decided I liked it. I found myself quite relaxed before the cup was emptied.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Twinings, Orange Bliss

Twinings Description:
Fine black tea expertly blended with the alluring flavour of freshly-squeezed oranges to deliver a delightful tea with a sweet aroma and fresh citrus taste.

Ingredients: Black Tea, Natural Orange Flavour with Other Natural Flavours

My Review:
This is the second of three teabags I received from Twinings. I have tried very few of their teas that I did not like. Twinings has been in business a long time and they know what they are doing. The best part for the Everyday Tea Drinker is you can almost always find at least some of their offerings at your local small town grocer. Admittedly, I have never seen Orange Bliss before, which is why I requested this one.

Upon opening the wrapper, I smell orange. Rather than fresh oranges, it reminds me more of those soft sugar coated candy orange slices I used to eat as a kid. I loved them. Do they even still make them? I am really craving them now. I love when a tea can evoke memories.

I steeped this, using boiling water, for three minutes. Then added sweetener and waited for it to cool. I have had a few orange teas in the past and generally liked the idea but not the execution. Simply put, they tasted weird to me. This one I like and would drink the whole box. Does it taste natural or fake? I can't really say as I don't eat oranges. It tastes just like those candy slices I just mentioned. That’s what I want orange to taste like. So for me it hits the target. Your mileage may vary. *Update before I even post this one. A Steepster friend whose reviews I respect said this does taste like real oranges. So there you have it.

The one complaint I have is the same as I feel about most of Twinings flavored teas. The base is a little too unnoticeable. I would love to see this orange flavor go up against a memorable black tea. I would love to see a good hearty bite in the mix with this flavor and see what magic happens. As it is, this is a sweet mellow treat that I would gladly drink again.

Visit Twinings at

Friday, December 21, 2012

Nature's Tea Leaf, Bergamot Green Tea

Nature's Tea Leaf Description:
Bergamot Green Tea is a select Sencha green tea with genuine, dried pieces of bergamot. The Sencha tea leaves are green and have a flat, smooth, and narrow body. Bergamot, a “Chinese bitter orange,” is a citrus aurantium, a type of citrus fruit that is yellow in color with a pleasant fragrance and sour, sweet taste. When infused, the tea liquid is light yellow. Naturally fortified with antioxidants, our Bergamot Green Tea is potent with a citrusy aroma and a bold and stimulating flavor. With a hint of muscatel, this tea has a pleasantly dry finish you are sure to enjoy.

Price: $6:00/2oz

Sample provided by Nature's Tea Leaf for review.

My Review:
I am home today. I took a snow day. There isn’t that much snow but the wind is howling causing the snow to drift faster than the road crews can plow it. I talked with my sons who both work the night shift. They said it was treacherous out there. I decided to head for the couch. On the way I grabbed a Pop Tart and went looking for tea. I need Earl Grey, but I don’t have any at home. Yeah, it’s at work. I do have an ounce of Bergamot Green Tea.

I opened the pouch and sniffed. Ok, this isn’t Earl Grey. At least not the kind I normally drink. This smells of green tea with light citrus/pepper notes. I heated my water and poured into the press where a scoop of the leaf was waiting. The steep time was about a minute. The resulting brew was yellow turning amber in the cup.

Some teas have layers of flavors that can each be detected as you sip. Some teas are just a muddy mess. This tea is different from both extremes. Here we have closer to a melding of flavors where the green tea and the pieces of bergamot fit seamlessly together. What I mean is there are different flavor elements but you can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. This is Sencha, and light citrus. It also tastes a lot like pepper without the heat. It completely makes me think Gurman’s Pepper Mango, spicy but without heat. This is not Earl Green. It is something completely different and interesting.

Visit Nature's Tea Leaf at

Twinings, Lapsang Souchong

Twinings Description:
Lapsang Souchong tea comes from China's Fujian Province and Taiwan. The unique flavour of Lapsang Souchong is produced by lying the leaves out on bamboo trays and allowing smoke from pinewood to permeate through them. Twinings Lapsang Souchong is an adventurous tea with a unique smoke flavour and a dark rich colour. Drink with or without milk.

My Review:
This is one of three samples I received from Twinings. For years I have avoided lapsang like the plague. I couldn’t imagine enjoying a heavily smoked tea. Having sampled some really good loose leaf smoky teas lately, I am feeling brave. This is a bagged tea but its Twinings and they seldom disappoint. Removing the bag from the envelope and sniffing reveals a strong scent akin to putting your face in the cold ashes of a fire pit. I am not afraid. Well, maybe a little. I steeped with boiling water for only a minute and a half. The room now smells of smoke and it reminds me of bacon. It’s making me very hungry.

The sip immediately brings two things to mind. First, a little over a year ago I would have tasted this and gone, “Eeeeew, Ick!” Today I am thinking this is not bad. Second, I am impressed at the complexity of the smoke flavor in this bag. It moves from the mouth to the throat and then into the nostrils. This is definitely the most heavily smoke tea I have had to date and I am liking it. The aftertaste is long lingering. The base is Fujian and Taiwanese teas. I really can’t comment on the choice of base leaf as I can’t separate it from the smoke.

The second cup from the same bag :) I steeped at three minutes. It is much sweeter. For a brief instance I think I taste leaf, then it disappears again. This cup tastes like pulled pork barbeque. Liking this one a lot.

Third cup! Yes, a third cup. Steeped five minutes. It is lighter but still very flavorful. My exposure to lapsang is limited but this is pretty good tea.

From Twinings website the loose leaf version of this tea has been discontinued.

Visit Twinings USA at

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two Leaves Tea Company, Organic Chamomile

Two Leaves Description:
Delicious little flowers - that's how we think of our Chamomile. Open up a packet and take a whiff. You'll smell a rich apple scent (in Greek, Kamai means apple) with soft honey notes. It's sweet, relaxing and the best chamomile you'll ever have.

Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. Steep twice for $0.26 per cup.

Part of the Complete Sampler Pack provided by Two Leaves Tea Company

My Review:
Chamomile is a flower in the daisy family so to the purest it is not tea. It is an herbal or tisane. No matter what you call it chamomile has unique taste. I have sampled only a handful of chamomile ‘teas’. Until now, all of them have been blended with other flowers and herbs. The taste is sweet and a bit honey like. It is kind of flowery, duh, because it is a flower. To me it tastes a something like apple and maybe pear mixed. Ok, I wrote that before I read Two Leaves description, so they agree with what I get from tasting this one. Beyond what they say there is the slightly sour and bitter aftertaste. That adds character when it is not overwhelming. I found this particular one to be very enjoyable. I did add sweetener but it really stands up well on its own.

I have been drinking herbals in the evening to avoid caffeine. Chamomile seems to have a relaxing affect. I haven’t researched this to see if there is a scientific reason, or if it is simply because it is just tastes calming. It doesn’t matter as long as it works. This one does the trick for me.

Visit Two Leaves at

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Two Leaves Tea Company, Jasmine Petal

Two Leaves Tea Company Description:
If it's true you taste with your nose as much as with your tongue, the delicate floral fragrance that lingers atop this smooth cup of green tea will be an otherworldly experience. These tea leaves are dried with jasmine flower petals to absorb the flavor. Inhale, then enjoy.

The Jasmine Petal whole leaf green tea sachet from two leaves™ is a first place winner in the North American Tea Championship's
2012 Packaged Single-Service Class competition.

Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. Steep twice for $0.26 per cup.

Part of the Complete Sampler Pack provided by Two Leaves Tea Company

My Review:
I haven’t been avoiding this sachet. I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. Yesterday I received an email from Two Leaves stating this one had won 1st place in the 2012 packaged single-service class. It looks like it is time I tried this one out.

I am seldom neutral about jasmine tea. The bagged ones are usually horribly flavored, as are some of the loose leaf teas. I have learned it matters how the tea is flavored. The only way to get that wonderful jasmine flavor in the cup is to use real jasmine petals and let the tea absorb the flavor naturally. Adding oils and perfumed flavoring to the leaf does not give a result that I care to sip. This one appears to have been done correctly and some of the petals have actually been left in with the leaf.

Opening the sachet releases enticing grapey notes of jasmine into the air. The instructions say to use a 3 minute steep. I did not see a temperature on the wrapper so I used heavily steaming water, well below boiling.

I wish that I had tried this before I found out it is a prize winning tea. I don’t want to review it based on someone else’s standards. I also need to admit I read several reviews of this tea prior to sipping it myself. Ack, I am trying to remain neutral. Pressing on.

The jasmine is very natural tasting. It is in no way perfumey flavored. There is a light grapey-ness to it. The level of jasmine is lighter than the dry scent would suggest. Though the flavor is light, the aftertaste lingers long after the sip. There is just a bit of bitterness in the aftertaste from the green tea. The second steep is lighter with no bitterness in the aftertaste.

This is better than any jasmine I have tried in a bag. I have not tried any other sachets to compare it with. While this is better than some loose leaf jasmine teas I have tasted, it falls short of the great ones. What’s the difference? The great ones have a more fully developed complexity of the jasmine flavor profile. Translation – they leave you swooning. This one puts a smile on my face but I don’t lose track of time.

Final analysis: The convenience and anywhere portability of the sachet make it an easy choice over any of the bagged jasmines I have tried. I believe my friends, that is the point, in awarding this the winner of the 2012 single service class award.

Visit Two Leaves at

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Leaves Tea Company, Better Rest Blend

Two Leaves Description:
If the sandman has passed you by, try this relaxing blend of chamomile, peppermint, hops and valerian. Lemon balm and rose hips make this herbal tea a soothing and healthy part of your bedtime ritual. Sip, sip, saw logs!

Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. Steep twice for $0.26 per cup.

Part of the Complete Sampler Pack provided by Two Leaves Tea Company

My Review:
Lately I have been trying to sip something not only decaffeinated, but also relaxing at bedtime. Stress is robbing my body of much needed rest. I am only getting maybe 4 hours sleep on average per night. I got up this last Sunday after only 2 hours. What fun.

Ok, this tea – Most herbals I don’t really care for. Some I kind of like enough I will drink. This one I gulped. Seriously, It was gone way before I intended. It doesn’t look like chamomile in the sachet. It looks more like splinters of wood. It turned dark in my cup. The first night there wasn’t enough light in the room to tell what color this was. The taste is light peppermint and licorice with honey poured over the top. There is no licorice (or honey) in this so it must be the combination chamomile and valerian. In fact I couldn’t single out the chamomile either. I don’t know what valerian is, but I want some. It is on my herb garden list for next year. This relaxed me and shut down my mind. I slept for 6 hours. I would have slept longer if not for that pesky alarm.

I kept the sachet for using the next night. It steeped well for a second cup. This time I could tell this was a beautiful deep bronze color. On day 2, I could pick out the chamomile. The other flavors are still present as well. Once again it relaxed my brain and I got several uninterrupted hours of restful sleep. I need to see if I can find this one in a loca shop. It needs a permanent place in my collection. Thank you Two Leaves!

Visit Two Leaves at

Monday, December 10, 2012

Two Leaves Tea Company, Organic White Peony

Two Leaves Tea Company Description:
White tea is made from the young, unopened bud of the tea plant, and handled gently to preserve silvery white hairs on the leaves. We think that you'll sense the care used to harvest this tea in each cuppa' - it's smooth taste is matched by a soft flavor you can drink all day.

Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. Steep twice for $0.26 per cup.

Part of the Complete Sampler Pack furnished by Two Leaves Tea Company

My Review:
The wrapper on this one is pink. Pink? Secure in my manhood I press on. The biodegradable sachet contains little flakes of leaf. I use to really enjoy white peony from a tea bag. After experiencing the same in loose leaf form I learned there really is no comparison between the two. The bagged white tea is just very two dimensional. It is flat. So, even knowing the Two Leaves sachets have been very good. I am nervous. I sniff the sachet and it is nicely sweet smelling leaf. Relief. The wrapper says to steep for 3 minutes but does not give a water temperature. Most white teas need cooler water than green tea for a proper cup. I heat the water to steaming and turn it off for a few moments then pour.

The sachet did not plump as much as the others in the sample pack have so far, but it’s all good, because this tastes fantastic. It is a little like fresh hay. It is also a combination of melon and cucumber. The aftertaste is lingering and pleasant. The cup smells really good as well. The colder this gets the better I personally like it. The first cup is miles above any white tea in a bag that I have tried. In fact it holds its own against the loose leaf teas. This makes a very good cup of tea. The second cup is weaker, yet still flavorful.

Visit Two Leaves at

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Zhena's Gypsy Tea, Chamomile Rose

Zhena's Gypsy Tea Description:
This tea is the result of carefully crafted blending, to ensure that the essential harmony of the botanicals healthful properties yield a superb tea experience.

A harmonious blend of select golden colored Chamomile blossoms, rose petals and hibiscus flowers is balanced with serene, soothing notes of fennel, lemon myrtle and orange peel with a floral bouquet that scents the steam. Chamomile is noted for its naturally calming energy and its ability to relax both body and mind. One of our most popular signature caffeine-free blends.

Ingredients: Chamomile Flowers, Fennel Seeds, Hibiscus Flowers, Orange Peel, Rose Petals, Natural Lemon Flavor.

Price: $6.99 for 15 sachets or about $0.46/serving direct from Zhena's Gypsy Tea. Multiple steeps would reduce this per serving. I found his much cheaper online. As low as $0.26/ serving.

My Review:
This came in the mail as a surprise from a tea friend. This is my first Zhena's Gypsy Tea. Of course it's not actually tea. It is an herbal blend. The wrapper is bright and well labeled and includes ingredients and steeping instructions. Opening the wrapper reveals the sachet made from biodegradable, GMO free, corn silk. Inside you can see the mix. It looks a lot like course sawdust and tiny wood chips. Looking closer the chamomile is obvious. I see tiny pieces of flower petals, and bits of fennel.

After steeping the brew is pinkish and not really like the picture. It smells like you might expect - a little rosey and a little chamomile.

In the sip there is a lot going on and it is pretty enjoyable to me. I taste the chamomile. I taste the floral and citrus elements as kind of a unit. While you can separate the floral and citrus elements, they flawlessly fit together. I can taste the rose. I taste the hibiscus though it is mild. It does add a tiny amount of tartness but that mixes with the orange and lemon. I also taste the fennel. I happen to like fennel and was really surprised how it stood out and in a good way.

I am not a big herbal drinker but I liked this one a lot.

Visit Zhena's Gypsy Tea at

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Two Leaves Tea Company, Organic Orange Sencha

Two Leaves Tea Company Description:
We take these big green tea leaves and blend them delicately with Italian red orange flavor for a memorable yet not overpowering citrus flavor. It'll perk up your tastebuds and your mind.

Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. Steep twice for $0.26 per cup.

Two Leaves Tea Company as part of their Complete Sampler pack provided this tea.

My Review:
I have never seen an orange Sencha before. I tore open the clear outer wrap and caught the first hints of orange. The scent was really nice at first, but quickly seemed overly soapy. Knowing that dry scent often does not translate into the brew I continued on. The water was at a light boil and the steep was around 4 minutes. The instructions are on the outer wrap, but I found them to be a little difficult to see as they are printed very faintly in green. The brew started light green and turned amber as the steep time ended.

As I suspected, the orange flavor is subdued in the sip. This is a light, balanced, cup. It starts kind of earthy, which is a bit of a non-descript term but I can’t think of a better way to say it. Then I notice the orange that gently slides into the grassy textures of the Sencha green tea aftertaste. It is slightly astringent but not bitter. The delicate nature of the cup has almost a milky quality about it.

I appreciate the orange being restrained as it is not a flavor, on its own, that I find appealing in tea. Blended with other citrus flavors, I would want it bolder. Here, it is the perfect intensity for me. The Sencha, to my tastes though, is too light. A couple years ago I would have disagreed, as I did not ‘get’ Sencha. Just read my trashing of Stash Green Tea to see what I mean. Although I posted the review on this blog just last year, it was actually taken from notes originally written a couple years earlier. Today, I want my Sencha to stand up and be noticed.

This is a perfectly acceptable cup of tea. There is nothing really wrong with it, except it does not appeal to my tastes. Maybe I would feel differently had I sampled this tea on a bright sunny afternoon. With its low caffeine and light body, this doesn’t work for me on a dark dreary rain-soaked December morning. I will add, once the cup reached room temperature, I did find this tea to be more to my liking.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Two Leaves Tea Company, Organic Earl Grey

Two Leaves Description:
The best Earl Grey teas begin with high quality full black tea leaves, which get their legendary flavor from natural bergamot oil - oil from a citrus fruit grown in Bergamo, Italy. This is an elegant cuppa' tea with tried and true flavor that ranges from a light citrus zip to a deep, smooth black tea.

Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. Steep twice for $0.26 per cup.

This tea was part of the Complete Sample pack provided by Two Leaves Tea Company

My Review:
I love Earl Grey. It is my favorite flavored tea. I am also picky about it. The bergamot has to be strong enough I that I know this is Earl Grey without having to read the label. At the same time it cannot be so strong as to overpower the tea base. I want to taste tea. Two Leaves teas have been pretty good so far, let’s see if they understand a good cup of Earl Grey.

I tore open the clear plastic outer wrap and sniffed the sachet. The bergamot is strong and citrusy. I do not know from the label if this contains actual bergamot or if it is flavored but given the organic nature of Two Leaves I believe it is natural bergamot. (Edit Fact Check – according to Two Leaves this is natural bergamot)

I guess I need an explanation of what whole leaf means, as this is small cut pieces of leaf, not whole leaves. I steeped in boiling water for about three minutes. The instructions say four minutes but I have to be careful not to overdo black tea. The sachet really plumps up nicely. The smell of the sachet is bergamot and tea. This is promising.

The sip reveals a lighter touch on the bergamot than what the scent would suggest. My normal Earl Grey is by Ahmad but I use Twinings Earl Grey as the reference because most people whether they like it or not have tried it. Using Twinings as the benchmark, this is much lighter. It is stronger flavored than Ahmad No 1 (an excellent inexpensive tea). So if you are familiar with those teas you have an idea of where this fits in. The bergamot leans towards light lemon in flavor.

The tea base is definitely more flavorful than Twinings. This is not bitter. It is a more elegant Earl than I am accustomed to drinking as it lacks the bite of Ahmad. The astringency level is low enough it does not make you pucker. Yet it is drying. A longer steep might have brought out more bergamot but the trade off would be more astringency.

The second cup was steeped at 5 minutes and is even lighter on the bergamot but it is still present. The base stood out more. It is woody tasting and probably fruity but it is hard tell whether I am tasting tea or bergamot. There is still no bitterness or bite. I have tasted this base before I believe it is a rally smooth Ceylon tea.

All in all, while not my favorite, this is not a bad Earl Grey. It got high marks on Steepster.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Two Leaves Tea Company, Organic Darjeeling

Two Leaves Description:
Strong but sensitive -we like that in a tea. These organic, golden orange pekoe tea leaves are grown on the rolling hills of Darjeeling, India. This rich drink evokes the quality tea from India, and we think its subtle astringency pairs perfectly with dessert.
Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. That's $0.53 per sachet. It will steep twice reducing the cost to $0.26/mug

This sachet is from the Complete Sampler Pack provided by Two Leaves.

My Review:
After trying the Assam, which I didn’t think I would like but did, I am really looking forward to this one. I do love a good Darjeeling. This is labeled as whole leaf black tea and that is obvious even looking through the clear outer wrap into the sachet. The instructions don’t list a water temperature so I went with just beginning to boil. Darjeeling can be a bit fussy about temperature. The recommended steep time is 4 minutes. I forgot to set my timer, so, lets call it 4 minutes… sort of.

Removing the biodegradable sachet reveals it is swollen to the max and extremely stuffed with leaf. I don’t really detect an aroma in the air. If I put my nose close to the cup it is lightly fruity. I take my first sip and oh my, this seriously tastes like a malted milk ball. I looked through other reviews of this tea on the web and no else noted this flavor. Even so, that’s what I got. The Muscat grape taste I was expecting comes in late in the sip and lingers in the after taste. There is no bitterness. I don’t detect a lot of astringency, as a bite, yet is a little drying. While it is hot, I don’t know I would be able identify it as Darjeeling had I not seen the label. Once it cools it becomes more as expected. My experience is limited to a half dozen tea bag versions, and one or two loose leaf versions.

I really enjoyed the first cup. The second was lighter yet very flavorful.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Two Leaves Tea Company, Organic Assam

Two Leaves Description:
Sure, you can sip Assam for breakfast. We encourage it. But we're not going to call this tea the classic "English Breakfast," because that typically refers to a blend of lesser quality teas. These are big, black, organic tea leaves grown in Assam, India, where hot days and cool nights bring out a rich, full flavor.

Price: $7.95 for 15 sachets. That's $0.53 per sachet. It will steep twice reducing the cost to $0.26/mug

This sachet is from the Complete Sampler Kit provided by Two Leaves.

My Review:
I can’t recall the last straight Assam that I reviewed. It has been a long time. Assam, in the past, has always struck me as beige. Nice but not memorable. Let’s see if Two Leaves changes my mind. This is a whole leaf sachet. I have only had tea bag fannings thus far in my tea journey. The sachet comes sealed in a clear plastic envelope. The sachet itself is biodegradable nylon. You can see the leaf inside and it does look pretty much intact and not the tiny dust specks I am accustomed to seeing.

The dry leaf does not have a lot of scent. I heated 12oz of water to boiling and poured over the sachet. The instructions say use a 4 minute steep. Mine was closer to 3 and a half. The brew has nice and dark. I removed the sachet and fought my old instincts to squeeze. If tea hurts your stomach, the two main reasons are over steeping and squeezing the bag – don’t do it! I resisted and instead, I turned it over a few times to drain it. I am amazed at how much it plumped up. Dry, I wondered if there was really going to be enough. Now the sachet is bloated with leaf. Cool.

As the cup sits cooling, I notice the aroma. It is wonderfully fruity, almost like a cherry pipe tobacco. This has me intrigued. As I begin sipping the fruity aroma fills my nostrils. At this point, the tea can taste like water and I am going to like it. Of course it doesn’t taste like water. It is cherry and woodsy. What else is that I taste? Is it malt? Why yes it is and it is good! There is no bitterness. The astringency seems light. This is hardly the beige I was expecting. Thank you Two Leaves for tearing down another wall of preconceived notions and enlightening me.

The second cup was just as tasty as the first.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Sampler from Two Leaves

Today's post is a review of the complete sampler pack from Two Leaves Tea Company
Two Leaves Description:
Discover each two leaves' tea flavor with this wonderful sampler. Contains one of each two leaves tea sachets - a total of 18 sachets. Find new favorites while enjoying the wonderful world of two leaves tea!
NEW LOOK! We've revamped this sampler box. The white box measures 9" x 4" x 2.5" and contains a tidy, colorful row of all 18 sachets. The compact box will nicely fit in your tea drawer or cupboard. 

Price: $14.95

My Review:
It was like the Holidays came a little early when I arrived home from work to find a package containing this sampler. Since there was no "do not open before Christmas" sticker on the box, I quickly cut the tape and opened. Inside was the white sample box. Oooh it's like a present wrapped inside a present. I lifted the top to reveal the green tissue paper. At this point, being a guy, I thought I was supposed to remove the tissue paper and almost made a mess.  Thankfully the sachets are individually clear plastic wrapped.

The sampler contains one each of - Organic Assam, Organic Darjeeling, Organic Earl Grey, Tamayokucha, Organic Orange Sencha, Jasmine Petal, Organic Tropical Goji, Organic Pomi-berry, Organic Gen Mai Cha, Organic Better Rest Blend, Organic Better Morning Blend, Organic Better Belly Blend, Organic Peppermint, Alpine Berry, Organic White Peony, Organic Chamomile, Organic Mountain High Chai, and Organic African Sunset.

This is an interesting gift idea that most tea drinkers would love to receive. First, because, well - its tea. Second it is a number of different teas and herbals to try. Tea drinkers generally love samplers. I know I look forward to trying these teas and reviewing them on The Everyday Tea Blog. I have previously tried a couple Two Leaves sachets and found them to be quite tasty.

There are a number of other samplers to choose from on their website, but I personally would choose this complete sampler. Although, I really like the look of the teabag teapots in teaware. I have never seen one of these before. Santa, are you paying attention?

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