Monday, April 28, 2014

Life In Teacup, Dong Ding Oolong traditional medium roast

Life In Teacup Description:
Production Year - 2013
Production Season - Spring
Production Region - Nantou County, Taiwan
Style - Traditional medium roast
Pack Size - 1 oz. (28g pack)
Price per unit - $5.40

Sample provided by Life In Teacup

My Review:
Oops, apologies to Life In Teacup. In searching through my drawer of tea today, I found this sample. I had reviewed several other samples some time back, but obviously I missed one.

This is a medium roasted oolong from Taiwan. When I removed the sample from the packet I was amazed at the tiny size of the leaf pellets. They are very dark. I used about 3 g in my press with 10 oz of 190 F water. The steep was two minutes. I did not look up the recommended parameters. I just went with my gut.

The liquor is shiny green when poured but turns honey gold quickly in the cup. Someday I hope to read an explanation of why that happens. I find it fascinating. The leaf has not completely relaxed but has really expanded. It is also fascinating to me how they roll the leaf so tightly. I am always amazed by the art of tea processing.

The wet leaf is strongly roasted in scent. The sip, however, is lovely. The roasting is medium to light. This is nicely sweet and tastes like roasted honey. It seems very thick and milk like but a little more creamy. I taste the mountain oolong notes in the lingering aftertaste. This is really very nice.

It is rainy and gloomy out my window today and this is a little warm ray of sunshine. I'm kind of glad I misplaced this one until the perfect day to enjoy it. This is really hitting the spot.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Berylleb King Tea, 2010 Yunnan Menghai Dayi 7562 Ripe Pu'er Tea

Tea Description:
The ripe Pu’er Brick is Menghai Factory’s traditional ripe tea brick. Young robust leaves are lightly fermented to maintain the tea’s vitality. It yields a bright red broth with a bold, slightly bitter flavor and hints of aged aroma. This ripe tea brick was especially made for collection and storage.

Product Details:
Origin: Menghai, Yunnan Province, China.
Grade: Classical Ripe Pu'er Tea.
Type: Black Tea.
Production Date:  in 2010.

My Review:
I was given a generous sample of a tea by a fellow tea drinker and pu'er lover. He is not absolutely certain (but pretty sure) the sample is from this brick and from Berylleb King Tea on Ebay.

Rather than a brick like shown, mine was about 1" x 2" and recessed across the middle so it easily broke into two sections. The leaf was dark brown, nearly black, with many golden tips like I would expect from Yunnan tea. It was very densely packed.

I placed the half section in my press and added just off boiling water. I steeped for 45 seconds. I normally would use a shorter time but the brick remained pretty solid after the steep. The color of the brew is dark orange.

The aroma of the leaf is kind of 4-H barn. The cup is lighter but similar. The taste, however, is really nice. It is horse tack and cedar. It feels smooth as silk. There are no rough edges that need tamed here. This is very easy to sip or even chug, if you are so inclined. I am also noticing it is kind of sweet. Me and my Splenda monkey like that. This is a very enjoyable pu’er.

The next day I used the leaf again and steeped for 30 seconds thinking the leaf would need to be reawakened after leaving it overnight. I was wrong. This cup is very dark, almost black. Because I steeped a little too long it is slightly rough around the edges. Otherwise this is still very easy to drink. This is a really nice pu'er.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Verdant Tea, Dark Roast 10 Year Aged Tieguanyin

Verdant Tea Description:
Master Zhang rarely releases such mature aged tieguanyin, but when he does, the result is intensely rewarding. His fresh tieguanyin is complex and intoxicating enough as is, so a slow subtle roasting and aging process over ten years brings this level of complexity to its extreme.

The wet leaf’s aroma is intensely nostalgic, reminiscent of the carved sandalwood beads our Buddhist tea mentors carry, along with notes of rose, cinnamon and vanilla.

The tea steeps out with strong notes of spiced rum-infused fruitcake, with its vaporous aroma and raisin-like sweetness. The texture on the palate is similar to a very clean well-aged pu’er.

Later steepings are similar to marzipan cake with an aftertaste of caramel apple and nag champa incense. We were only able to obtain ten pounds of this limited release, so if you love aged Tieguanyin, this is a great opportunity to stock up.

My Review:
I have never had an oolong that was aged on purpose. Sure, I have had my share of teas that have stayed in the drawer too long but that often doesn't end well. I really have no idea what to expect.

The dark nuggets of the sample leaf have no real aroma. I used 4 g in my press with water heated to 205 F. I steeped for 40 seconds. The website calls for 30. The liquor is a dark honey color. It has a light roasted aroma along with notes of tieguanyin. The wet leaf is another story. At first while it is still steaming, the roasting is very strong. As the leaf cools a moment a magical transition happens. I have never smelled sandalwood before but this must be the aroma Verdant mentions in the description. It is spicy and reminds me of an incense I burned years ago. It is a very wonderful aroma.

I get a certain amount of side tongue tingle with the first sip. The roasted notes are much milder than I expected. I am not the biggest fan of overly dark roasted, so I am pleasantly surprised. This is a very smooth and silky cup. I did not get cinnamon and vanilla in the wet leaf, but it seems lightly present in the sip.

Much of Verdant's description is way beyond my senses to detect. Maybe it is there, maybe it is not. I leave that to you. As I stated, I am not a big fan of dark roasted oolong but this I really like. The roasting does not grab you by the throat, and the oolong notes are likewise present but gentle. The sip finishes with a honey like sweetness that yes, reminds me a bit of raisin.

If you have an opportunity to try this one - take it. A unexpected delight.

Visit Verdant Tea online.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Verdant, Sichuan Caravan

Verdant Tea Description:
We love pu’er for its multi-dimensional complexity. One of the most interesting and often overlooked elements of the pu’er experience is the vaguely numbing and tingling sensation that fine pu’er leaves in the aftertaste. Our goal with this blend was to highlight this textural quality of great shu pu’er, while at the same time creating a warming, rich and perfectly integrated taste experience.

We start with the incredible Yanxin’s Reserve ’04 Shu Nuggets. This tea is known for its pastry-like dessert flavors, and its smooth sweet aftertaste. We build on that richness with one of our favorite ingredients to pair with shu pu’er, dried elderberries. The dark sweetness of the elderberries brings out the natural berry qualities of the pu’er itself, and lingers on the sides of the tongue.

Next we draw out the pastry sweetness of the pu’er with a touch of licorice root, which helps highlight and blend the sweet spice of ginger root. Ginger starts to emphasize the tingling texture of this fine pu’er, but on its own, it doesn’t push quite far enough. That is why we added a touch of Sichuan peppercorn to round out this tea and make it whole. Sichuan peppercorn has a uniquely numbing flavor that elevates this blend to a new level. Taken as a whole, no one flavor stands out above the others. They work together smoothly to emphasize everything warm and satisfying that we love about shu pu’er.

My Review:
Looking into the bag leaves me guessing what this is. I pulled up the website and immediately saw pu'er. Well OK. I was pretty sure I saw ginger in the mix and the description confirmed it. In addition there are elderberries - I don't think I have had them before - and licorice root to bring out the sweetness. Sounds interesting.

The dry scent is earthy pu'er and ginger. It also seems a bit smoky but I am not sure if that is cross over from some Russian Caravan I had near by. I used half my sample or roughly 1 1/2 - 2 tsp in 12 oz of water heated to 208 F. The steep was 2 minutes per Verdant's guidelines. The result is a cloudy brew that is orange/caramel/brown. The wet leaf is a little fishy to me. That is what I thought of the previous Master Han's pu'er I reviewed. The wet leaf is also quite spicy of ginger and pepper.

Sipping I get ginger first, then elderberry and licorice root combine to really give this a sweet fruit highlight. Finally it drifts into a tingly warm feeling in part due to the addition of the sichuan peppercorns.

I really can't think of anything to compare this with. It is kind of reminiscent of a fall chai blend but not really. The ginger feels familiar but the elderberry and licorice take it elsewhere. I am still getting a hint of smoke so if it is not supposed to be there on purpose, it is a pleasant accident.

I can't really separate the pu'er out of the mix. Everything else seems very well balanced. I am guessing I am tasting pu'er without it being obvious.

This will definitely make your cheeks tingle. While this is very well blended, and quite complex, spiced teas are really not my thing. Other reviews, I have read, rate this very highly, so I must accept that not every good tea will suit everyone's tastes.

Visit Verdant Tea online.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Teavivre, Organic Nonpareil She Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea

Teavivre Description:
In the early Spring, when the tea buds just appeared their face on the trees, the harvest of She Qian Dragon Well is ready to begin. The tea gardens in Hangzhou are busy making the first flush teas. The fresh leaves of She Qian Dragon Well are all in one bud with one leaf shape, as straight as an upstanding flag. The beautiful shape also brings enjoyment to the brewing.

Why is She Qian Dragon Well better than Ming Qian?

First of all, the She Qian tea is picked earlier than Ming Qian, which is before March 26, 2014.

Secondly, the fresh leaves of She Qian tea are of much higher grade. The leaves are all in one bud with one leaf or two leaves shape.

Lastly, the making skill of She Qian tea is above the level of Ming Qian. Since She Qian tea is picked in early spring when the weather is still cool. The low temperature makes it harder for picking, as well as for making. The output of She Qian Dragon Well is very limited. Consequently, She Qian Dragon Well is much rare.

Sample provided by Teavivre

My Review:
I included a large description from Teavivre because this is possibly the most expensive tea I have ever had on my desk to review. I thought it deserved more background. The sample was packed with a beautiful scarf that when my wife first saw it, she said, "Oh pretty!" She grabbed it and it has been around her neck ever since.

When I opened the sample the aroma was faint like I would expect from delicate dragon well. The leaf is just as pictured yet much tinier than I expected. I am only guessing that is due to the very young age of the bud and leaf. 

I placed about three grams in my press with 8 oz of bottled water (with added minerals) that was heated to 185 F. I steeped for almost 4 minutes. The label said 3-5. At the end of the steep some of the leaf was on the surface while equal amounts were on the bottom or floating somewhere between. I am always fascinated by how the leaf reacts. 

The liquor in the press and in the mug is extremely clear and almost colorless. It has the faintest tint of green. The wet leaf is steamed spinach and cream corn in aroma. Very nice! 

The taste is quite brisk, almost bitter but in a good green tea way. It is kind of sweet and a touch salty. It is altogether definitely dragon well. It is also very crisp. A couple things I am noticing - I get a sensation of inner warmth, and the aftertaste fades very quickly while the warmth remains. I have never experienced this before.

This is a rare tea and is not intended to be an everyday cup. I believe it should be experienced, on the just as rare occasion, when you have the time to be quiet and enjoy the moment. It is a very interesting and beautiful tea of exceptional quality. It is a luxury, like a trip to the spa, when you need to pamper yourself. It should resteep several times as I hope to find out shortly.


Update: I am posting this update on 4/20/14. Today I prepared this tea again. I was not as nervous about drinking it today. I just relaxed and went with my gut. I lowered the water temperature 10 F to 175 F. I also cut the steeping time in half to two minutes.

The liquor is crystal clear and more honey colored than the almost non-existent green tint from the other day. The wet leaf scent is creamed corn and steamed spinach. The taste is simply WOW! Seriously. This is creamed corn with a mild dragonwell bite. The aftertaste now lingers long and pleasant. I am still getting that inner warming glow that a friend identified as good tea energy. This is an amazingly delicious cup. Wow! Just Wow!

Visit Teavivre online.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Persimmon Tree, Sunshine

The Persimmon Tree Description:
Sunshine blooming tea is a delicately hand-crafted blooming green tea that unfolds to reveal an exotic golden flower, with essences of lychee and cantaloupe. This green tea's delightful aroma and fruity essence is great any time of day. To appreciate this tea's blossoming beauty, infuse in large, clear glassware.

Sample provided by The Persimmon Tree

My Review:
I don't normally try to take the pictures for this blog because, frankly, I am not good at it. Even though the light source should have been higher I kind of liked this one so I used it.

My sample tin came packed with 6 pods. They are bigger than many of the flowering teas I have tried. According to The Persimmon Tree, each pod should be placed in enough water for two cups - to me that means 16 oz.

The recommending temperature for this tea is listed at 180 F. With a steep time between 5 and 7 minutes. I used my wife's supposed 4 cup coffee pot which holds 16 oz. Side note - what coffee drinker do you know that uses 4 oz cups? Answer - zero! But that is beside the point.

Once the heated water was added to the pot, the bloom began to bubble and expand. A few of the leaves came loose but not a lot. The marigold inside opened up nicely and made a pretty display. The tea itself is golden in color. I used the picture taken by my wife. She did a good job I think. Maybe too good. The lime deposit around the chrome ring detracts a little from the beauty, but that is the price we pay using our county water.

I have to make an honest statement at this point. I don't drink a lot of blooming teas because generally speaking they just aren't that tasty. I really dislike the flavor of globe amaranth. They are pretty, so mostly they are used for the display.

Another honest statement: Sunshine actually smells pretty. Better yet, I thought the taste was as fresh and different as the scent. The Persimmon Tree says this tastes of lychee and cantaloupe. The melon I get quickly. Lychee, I really don't know what it tastes like. My best attempt to describe the taste of this tea is melon with flowers and the lightest touch of something that reminds me maybe of clove or clover. 

My wife and I drank the first pot straight down and quickly agreed to make another using the same bloom. How often does that happen? Correct answer is never before. 

That my friends is the best recommendation I can give you for this one. We wanted more. The second pot disappeared almost as quickly. I am pretty certain it would have gone a third pot but we did not have time to try it. Best tasting blooming tea I have tried.

You can find Sunshine here.  

About The Persimmon Tree:
(From their website) The Persimmon Tree® offers our customers some of the world's finest organic teas and botanicals. Not only are most of our fresh high quality teas from around the globe hand-blended and organically grown, some of our teas are also fair trade, ensuring fair working conditions, fair wages, and a better life for tea workers from countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

At The Persimmon Tree®, our mission is simple: to enrich people's lives through the pleasure of tea.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Tea Spot, Bolder Breakfast

The Tea Spot Description:
This new American black tea blend combines bold flavor, rich color, & full body with hints of chocolate. This robust breakfast blend is made from our favorite strong black teas from high altitude estates in China, India and Sri Lanka. We have combined these black teas with pu’erh, an aged black tea from Yunnan China, and dark chocolate essence. This tea yields a rich, dark liquor and a warm, well-rounded flavor that takes very well to milk and even better in the form of a tea latte. The high caffeine content and robust flavor makes this the perfect tea to help kick your coffee habit!

My Review:
I looked at the label and noticed the word breakfast. When I opened the sample package I saw what appears to be flower petals. What? I took a whiff and said, "Oh wow!" Chocolate! This must be a breakfast tea dad would serve, because mom wouldn't let me have chocolate first thing in the morning. I decided it was time I looked at the label a little closer. Black tea, pu'erh, and chocolate flavoring. Reading closer the black tea is a blend from China, India, and Sri Lanka. Combined with pu'erh from Yunnan China and chocolate, this is like the breakfast of champions.

I used about 5 g in my press with 10 oz of water heated to 212 F. I let it steep for 3 minutes. The brew started pouring a light orange but turned much darker as I continued. It maintains a clean and clear appearance that surprises me. Chocolate tends to make a mess of the press, the brew, and the cup. This did not.

The chocolate comes through in the sip in an almost minty fashion but it is not overwhelming chocolate. Despite my child like exuberance, this tea takes a more adult approach. It packs half the caffeine of a cup of coffee. While that may be true this is not bitter or astringent. The chocolate melts into the blend of teas. I could only slightly separate out the pu'erh as it has a light earthiness to it. The other teas remain individually hidden to me. Possibly if I had steeped longer but that would also increase the odds of adding bitterness. I really don't mind it the way it is. In fact I rather like it.

A different and tasty morning cup.

Visit The Tea Spot website.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Persimmon Tree, Assam Gold

The Persimmon Tree Description:
This smooth, malty infusion is the perfect alternative to coffee. Assam Gold can be steeped multiple times while retaining its flavor. Golden in color, this import from Northern India is a thick, comfortable black tea brew that warms and energizes after a tough, bitter, cold day.

Sample provided by The Persimmon Tree

My Review:
I opened up the tin and was met with a delicate aroma of malt and grain. Delicate is not an association I normally make with Assam. I removed a scoop of leaf, about 5 g, enough for a 10-12 oz mug of tea. The leaf has a lot of golden buds in it. According to The Persimmon Tree that is not the meaning of the name rather it is supposed to brew a deep golden color. The organic leaf appears to be of orthodox production and even if it is not it is definitely not CTC/dust.

I placed the leaf in my press with 195 F water and steeped for three minutes. The brew was bronze or caramel when poured but appeared more red/orange in the mug. The leaf scent is far more bold than the dry aroma.

The sip is moderately brisk as an Assam should be I think. Truthfully,  I often flinch a little as I take my first sip due to years of trying to like poor quality tea. There is no need to flinch here. It is very pleasant on its own, yet stout enough to stand up to milk and sugar. Only on the rarest of occasions (like frappucinos) will I add milk. I did add Splenda after taking a few sips because I happen to like it in tea, not because it needed it.

This has a good astringent bite without being bitter. I suspect it could become so if steeped too long or with too hot of water. It is slightly malty though maybe not as much as I expected based on the aroma. This is kind of a simple, don't have to think, but good tasting tea. To my way of thinking that makes it a good satisfying morning mug.

You can find Assam Gold here.

About The Persimmon Tree:
(From their website) The Persimmon Tree® offers our customers some of the world's finest organic teas and botanicals. Not only are most of our fresh high quality teas from around the globe hand-blended and organically grown, some of our teas are also fair trade, ensuring fair working conditions, fair wages, and a better life for tea workers from countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

At The Persimmon Tree®, our mission is simple: to enrich people's lives through the pleasure of tea.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Verdant Tea, Yu Lu Yan Cha

Verdant Tea Description:
Fresh young Xinyang Maojian leaves are traditionally oxidized over three days and hand roasted in Laoshan Village as a black tea.  The Spring harvest of this ingenious tea finds the perfect balance of sweet potato, chocolate notes, honey, and silky smooth texture. Closest to a fine Jin Jun Mei in profile, this collaborative tea continues to prove that the world of tea is still young with room for innovation everywhere.

The name Yu Lu Yan Cha Black comes from the ancient names of Henan and Shandong province. Yu is Henan, and Lu is Shandong. To commemorate this landmark cooperative tea producing effort, Yu Lu is added to the tea name. Yan is the first part of Wang Yanxin’s name, honoring her innovation in creating this new tea.

My Review:
I cut open the brown sample bag and poked my nose in... WOW! is all I could think to describe the aroma. It is deep smooth creamy chocolate, with some roasting, and another scent of a particular type tree that my brain won't associate a name with. But just WOW! should suffice.

The dry leaf looks like Dian Hong or a Jin Jun Mei. Beautiful, and my favorite types of straight black tea. I took out about a 5 g scoop and placed it in my press with 10 oz of 202 F water. The steep was 2 1/2 minutes. The brew is a deep caramelly orange. The wet leaf is roasted and brownies in scent.

The sip is different from the dry or steep aroma. It hints at malt and chocolate but only hints. This kind of suggests sweet potato.  It sounds like I am saying this has very little flavor but that is not true at all. I am just having trouble finding the right words. What I can put into words is the roasty taste is very present and it is honey and grain flavored. Underneath and very late in the sip I am getting floral notes that say rose to me senses. I've not read that in any one else's description. The liquor is kind of thick and almost creamy, or silky, as it glides across the tongue.

I have to say I quite like this one.

Visit Verdant Tea online.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Remembering My Roots

My first post on The Everyday Tea Blog was published in 2011. This will be my 486th post. Man, have I experienced some amazing teas from around the world since those humble beginnings. Before launching this blog I had a website dedicated mainly to bagged teas that I had found in local shops and grocery stores. For posterity I incorporated my early thoughts on those teas into this blog.

Before the blog and the website my experience with tea was limited to Bigelow, Twinings, and later Ahmad tea. Most of it was Earl Grey. Much of it was bagged. What loose leaf I could buy I prepared in a tea ball. I had several of them of various sizes and styles. I eventually settled into using a 2" mesh tea ball as it seemed to provide the best room for leaf expansion.

So what prompted me to bring this up today? I ran into a friend and former co-worker. Over the years we had shared a lot of tea together. Knowing me well he almost immediately started bragging how he had just opened a tin of both Twinings Earl Grey and Lady Grey. They were always his favorite teas. That's when it occurred to me that in all my vast collection of teas I did not have a single plain black Earl Grey. If you have been following my blog awhile you may be aware Earl Grey is my number one addiction.

I have Earl Grey teas made with green tea and white. I have Earl Grey with mint, and several with vanilla. I hadn't even noticed the omission. My friend chided me, wanting to know how could I stray so far from our roots? I had no answer. So today I repented. I got in my car and drove 30 miles to the nearest store that carries Ahmad Teas and purchased a 200 g tin of Earl Grey. Arriving back home, I immediately brewed a cup and sat back to remember my roots.

So what favorite tea and old friend from your early days have you neglected lately? Isn't it time you did something about it?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Simple Loose Leaf, Decaf Breakfast Black

Simple Loose Leaf Description:
A delicious whole leaf Ceylon Black Tea, decaffeinated by CO2 natural processing. This Decaf Breakfast provides a deep robust, yet gentle flavor with a dry and smooth finish that has a subtle hint of honey. Delicious as a traditional black tea, served either hot or iced, and often enjoyed with sweetener and milk.

Brew at 212F for 3-5 min.

My Review:
I mentioned in the Strawberry Black post that it was the last tea from the 6 month subscription I was given by Simple Loose Leaf. I also mentioned that one tea had slipped past me during review. It was this Decaf Breakfast Black. I had originally selected it for my wife. She cannot tolerate caffeine so she drinks mostly herbal teas. Most grocery store type decaf teas leave a lot to be desired. I thought she deserved better.

Opening the resealable pouch I catch the dry leaf aroma and it smells like grain. The scent is very pleasant. One more mention of the pouch - it has a vent in the back that helps to force the air out of the bag once the top is sealed. I really like that feature.

I steeped it for 3 minutes in a Finum basket with microwave heated water. In my opinion this is not the proper way to prepare tea. It is the method I often use late inn the evening when fixing a bedtime cup. Here it appears to have turned out OK. I think my normal kettle/press method might have resulted in a darker cup.

This was a nice gentle tea, soothing and relaxing. It is just what I needed this evening. Decaf is never going to taste as full as regular tea because the caffeine is part of the taste. That said this is still really pretty good. It is actually far better than I expected. The taste is slightly malty and earthy or wood. Definitely a solid decaf black. My wife might drink it for breakfast, as for me this is a great last cup of the day.

Visit the Simple Loose Leaf site.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tea Temptations, Ginger Apricot

Tea Temptations Description:
Ceylon Apricot flavored tea with Ginger pieces.

My Review:
A sample of this tea was included in a recent order from Tea Temptations. This company has been reviewed many times on The Everyday Tea Blog, but under the name Empire Tea Services. Tea Temptations is the retail side of the business and Empire Tea Services is the wholesale. This company is located in Southern Indiana and is a couple hours drive from my home. They remain the only local establishment I am aware of that actually blends their own teas. Once or twice a year I visit the warehouse and so I only recently realized the two names involved.

Opening the sample, the leaf looks very much like the picture. The Ceylon tea leaf is very dark and healthy looking. The ginger takes two forms. One is little cream colored nuggets, the other is like tiny dried planty hairs. The tea is flavored with apricot. The dry leaf scent is nicely apricot. At this point I am not sure I am smelling the ginger.

I used about 3 g in my press with 212 F water. The steep time was 3 minutes. The brew is kind of cloudy and a deep muddy orange. It looks a bit like fresh apple cider. Of course the apricot aroma tells you it is quite something else.

Sipping, the apricot steps down allowing the spiciness of the ginger to come into play. Neither flavor is overly strong. The ginger adds a depth of warmth along with its spicy notes that builds under the apricot. My mouth is filled with a tingling glow long after swallowing. The Ceylon base is the least noticeable element. It is there but is mostly filling in any voids in the profile. Usually Ceylon adds bite and that may be the case here though it is not apparent as it is mixing with the ginger.

I have never encountered this combination before. Though I think the quality is high enough, it is is not something I would order for my self. Their Peach Apricot is much more to my liking.

Visit Tea Temptations online.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Simple Loose Leaf, Strawberry Black

Simple Loose Leaf Description:
Our bold South Indian Flower Orange Pekoe Tea joined with the mouth-watering flavor of strawberries for a delicious combination! This tea can be enjoyed hot or iced for any occasion.

South Indian Flower Orange Pekoe Black Tea, Freeze-Dried Strawberries, N/A Strawberry Flavor

My Review:
I pushed this tea to the front of my 'to review' list because I noticed on Steepster that Simple Loose Leaf is running a promo where you can sign up for a 3 month plan and the first month is $1. After the first month the rate is $15/month including shipping in the US. There is a five dollar additional fee per month for Canadian tea drinkers to cover their really high shipping rates. Depending on your selection each month you will choose two teas from a choice of 5 and they will ship one or two ounces of each. Alternately you can choose to receive a sample of all 5 teas. The code to use is 1DOLLAR3MONTH For more information check How It Works.

I feel comfortable mentioning this tea of the month club as this tea completes a six month subscription I received from Simple Loose Leaf. I have enjoyed all of them and loved the Winter White Chai. I did just notice I have forgotten to record one of the teas and will fix that in a few days. Anyway, I think Simple Loose Leaf is a solid value - a good product at a reasonable price.

Now on to this one. The South India leaf is really dark. Submerged in my scoop is a chunk of strawberry. The scent is intense strawberry but almost like it has been dipped in chocolate malt. Yeah, it smells that good.

I steeped it for 4 minutes in boiling (212 F) water in my press. The brew is deep orange/red and sparkly like a fruit juice. The wet leaf is broken orange pekoe and has expanded nicely. The scent is strawberry.

The taste is more reserved than the scent suggested. Yes it is strawberry but it is not in your face STRAWBERRY. I can catch the black tea base late in the sip and it shares space in the lingering aftertaste. As is usually the case for me, I like the flavor more as the cup cools. I think this would make an excellent iced tea. Perfect for a porch swing on a lazy summer afternoon. All I need now is a porch, a swing, and a lazy afternoon!

Visit Simple Loose Leaf online.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Verdant Tea, Master Han’s Wild Picked Yunnan Black

Verdant Tea Description:
Every batch of tea from Master Han is very different from the harvests before. This is because, instead of trying to reproduce results through identical processing, Master Han tastes, smells and carefully evaluates each harvest he picks to determine what will bring out the most in the natural leaf.

This unique black tea is lighter than Master Han’s last harvest, closer to a sheng pu’er in its perfumed florals, crisp vegetal aftertaste and bright body. Yet, it is definitively a black tea in its caramel, malt and chocolate notes. A tea like this challenges the hold fast lines between categories and in doing so, challenges our palates with new pairings. To find so much bright citrus in a chocolatey black tea is something that many strive for through blending.

The creamy sweet body, nutty aftertaste and herbaceous undertones evoke that certain olive oil taste that all of Master Han’s Qianjiazhai teas seem to have.

My Review:
Did someone say Yunnan black? Yes please! Verdant Tea is pricier than most teas that I drink but they have yet to disappoint. There have been a scant few that were not to my tastes but the quality remained high. So Verdant and Yunnan black, I'm trying not to raise my expectations too high but it is probably too late.

The aroma out of the bag did not reveal much. I only have enough for this one session. A larger bag will most likely have a lot to say. The leaf, however, speaks volumes. There is a lot of beautiful color in the twisted leaf. I'm not noticing it in the picture above but mine had some green and silver mixed in with the brown and orange.

I used 205 F water and a one minute steep which gives me a cup that is caramel in color and very clear. The wet leaf had a forest leaf scent with some darker sugary cocoa scent.

The sip has some bite on the edges of the tongue. This is really light tasting. I am used to Yunnans packing more, well, just more. Hmmm. Maybe the one minute recommendation was not enough. I am getting a light earthiness with what I can agree is olive. In the aftertaste I catch a hint of malt.

Oh, there it is. As the cup cools the flavors come out of hiding. If you drink your tea very hot you might miss a lot with this one. It is still light and earthy with olive, but in addition I am getting more typical yunnan notes of honey, grain, and malt. There is also the taste of grape. The leaf more than the fruity berry.

I thought this when I looked at the leaf, now I am going to share it. This reminds me of the Oriental Beauty Oolong, mixed with a black from Nepal. It's kind of lightly Darjeeling like but subtly.

With the second cup I steeped several minutes on purpose. It did not get overly bitter but it was potent. The flavors remained the same as the first with the added power of over brewing. Not my favorite from Verdant (stupid expectations got in my way) but it is good and an interesting experience.

Visit Verdant Teas here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Temple Road, Tiger Monk

Temple Road Description:
Inspired from the power, strength, and courage of the Tiger Warrior Monk in the great and millennial tradition of Chinese martial arts, the distinct woody and smoky aromas of this triple roast, medium fermentation, high mountain oolong tea combine with exquisite balance to create this strong, rugged yet smooth taste. Aroma: Smoke, Wood, Wheat  Flavor: Strong, Deep, Malt

Sample provided by Temple Road

My Review:
My sample was shipped directly from Taiwan. It was packed in a vacuum sealed bag along with an oxygen absorber to insure freshness. The leaf is rolled into tight little balls with part of the stem sticking out. The leaf is dark and has a shine to it. The aroma of the dry leaf matches the company description well. - smoke, wood, and wheat. The combination comes off as kind of like the puffed wheat cereal I ate as a kid.

The sample is 10g. The steeping instructions said to use 3g and brew for 6 minutes with 95 C water, so that is how I prepared it. The leaf began to uncurl and stretch toward the surface of the water. That is always fun to watch. The brew is a very pretty bronze color. The aroma of the wet leaf has more emphasis on the roasted aspect, as does the brew. The leaf expanded quite a lot but has not completely relaxed.

When I take a sip I get the strength right away as mentioned in the description. I also get the roasted note strongly at first. This quickly melts into a more green oolong taste than I expected. I cannot say I detect malt in this first cup. I am noting a prickly sensation as I sip. That is not a bad thing it is just unexpected. This leaves a fruity aftertaste that reminds me of mango.

If you like dark roasted Taiwan oolong, this one is nicely complex.

Visit Temple Road online.