Thursday, December 31, 2015

Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Company, Earl Grey Black and Jasmine Green Tea

Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Company Description:
This is a Special Blend of Earl Grey Black Tea and Jasmine Green Tea. An intriguing blend of Black and Green loose tea leaves. We combine our house Earl Grey which is a blend of Chinese and Indian Teas scented with Oil of Bergamot with our House Jasmine loose green tea from China. An interesting combination which we think works very well giving you a very pleasant balance in cup between the citrus of the bergamot and jasmine blossoms.

Sample provided by Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Company

My Review:
Last review of the year people. 2015, where did you go? Seems like I just barely got to know you and you're all but gone. Now I have to try and get used to the idea of 2016. At least we have tea to help us make the transition.

The last tea of the year is from Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Company. They use the name Tea And Coffee Dot Com Limited for their online presence. They have been around since 1982, carry over 700 different teas and coffee, yet I am just learning about them.

This is a blend of their Earl Grey Black tea and Jasmine Green tea. The Earl Grey is a blend of Chinese and Indian black teas lightly scent with oil of bergamot. The Jasmine green uses a Chinese green base scented with jasmine petals.

The tea came well protected in a peanut packed box. The pouch is attractively labeled. It does include steeping directions. My only complaint here is the top is not resealable.

Once open the wonderful bergamot citrus aroma rolls out and makes me smile. It is a cold, cloudy, dreary winter day outside but there is bergamot inside. A good day.

The leaf is attractive. I lightened the picture so it would show better. Actually it is much darker and appears to be an all black tea with nearly black pieces and some golden tips. Upon closer inspection, the dark green tea leaf pieces can be seen as well as an occasional stray jasmine petal.

I used boiling water and a 3 minute steep per directions. I used my French Press. I probably should have used a proper English teapot, but, you know, laziness. Need I say more.

The tea pours a bright orange tea color.

As I taste I am at first left a little undecided as to how I feel about this tea. Those who know me, know that I have an Earl Grey addiction. I like to call it a passion but let's be honest, it goes way beyond passion. I want my bergamot strong and the base tea to be its equal. I want it to something the Vikings would have fought over to possess. This is not Viking Earl Grey. Neither is it Grandmama's prissy purfume filled cup.

On the other hand, one of my complaints about flavored teas is I want to taste the base. I want to taste tea. This is a lightly scented tea, so the base teas really shine through.

What I get when tasting, is a woody flavor with a gentle touch of smokiness, maybe this is a Keemun base, though the smoothness suggests Yunnan. It does not say in the description. I also catch a controlled amount of bite from the India tea, and can easily pick out the Chinese green tea. It is pleasant in the aftertaste but not so obvious that I can identify it beyond green.

The bergamot is present but no where near what the aroma suggests. Really, if you generally hate bergamot because you find it too powerful in the cup, then this is for you. The jasmine is, to me at least, slightly easier to pick out in the taste. It is very light but well done and natural. I added sweetener to the cup and it took it very well.

So where does that leave us? Well, for the Earl Grey addicts among us, be prepared. This is not a bergamot bomb despite the dry aroma. Neither is it a bouquet of jasmine flowers. What it present is a delightful blend of teas, each with something unique to offer to the cup, along with a gentle light-handed scenting of citrus and floral that emerge as the sip progresses.

Happy New Year All!

You can find Earl Grey Black and Jasmine Green Tea here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Good Earth, Mango Me Crazy

Good Earth Description:
It’s the little things in life that make us smile. Like the crazy, happy feeling you get with a first peek of sun or toes in the sand. Or in this case, some Mango Me Crazy™ tea. Blended with a bold variety of breezy fruit flavors, this white tea will have you feeling like summer is just around the corner whenever you enjoy it.

White tea, rosehip, sweet blackberry leaf, natural mango and mangosteen flavor with other natural flavors, mangosteen peel, chamomile, hibiscus, citric acid, steviol glycosides (stevia), natural flavor.

Sample provided by Good Earth

My Review:
I'm feeling a little less than 100% today. We used a couple plug in air fresheners in the house. I learned I can't be around them as it flared up a pretty severe respiratory attack. Beyond the air fresheners, this is not a good time of year for those of us with breathing issues. First its colder out so outside air is not a big part of the day. Then every store you go in seems to have candles burning or heavily scented wreathes and potpourri. At least there is tea to give some comfort.

Today, I wanted something easy and light to remind me of warm summer air. This bagged offering from Good Earth is a white tea flavored with tropical fruit. I have never actually experienced ocean breezes but today I am imagining that I am on the beach typing this review.

Each bag contains 2 g of leaf. They come sealed in individual foil envelops to increase freshness. The packaging is bright and cheery. I only have one envelop and it does not have brewing instructions, although from previous experience with Good Earth, I know it is on the box.

Since I do not have printed instructions, I planned to default to my old tea bag ways of boiling water and a 4 minute steep. Except as the water heated, I just couldn't do it. I stopped the water at around 195 F. I just can't boil white tea unless I know it is recommended.  

The scent as I open the envelop is really nice. I have never been to the tropics and I have never smelled a real mango. The aroma here I find closely resembles a fresh peach but more prickly and just a touch tart.

When I look at the ingredients, it has me scratching my head. Rosehips? Hibiscus? Chamomile? You know what though? It actually works here. What I am tasting is the mango flavor shining through. The other ingredients seem to be added to fill out the experience. They add fullness and a touch of tart, without drawing attention to themselves. The addition of stevia is almost welcome, except it does add that odd stevia bitterness in the aftertaste. On the other hand, I am not sure if the fullness of the tart fruit bite would present without it, and certainly it would not be as sweet as fruit. It definitely does not need any additional sweetening.

This was a pleasant change of pace. I would like to try it again sometime but iced and under a tree on the beach.

You may find Good Earth Mango Me Crazy at your local Walmart or Kroger stores. It is also available online through Amazon, or order direct from Good Earth.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Company, Orange Cookies

Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Company Description:
Orange Cookies Flavoured Black Tea! A super new spicy loose leaf Tea. Combining pieces of Sweet Cinnamon Spicy Cardamoms Cloves and Fruity Pepper with lovely chunks of Sweet Apple pieces. A wonderful concoction with the scent of juicy Spanish Oranges.

Black Tea, Apple pieces, Cinnamon bits, Coriander, Flavouring, Cardamom pods, Orange slices, Pink Pepper and Cloves.

Sample provided by Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee

My Review:
The Kent and Sussex Tea & Coffee Company is new to me, though it was established in 1982. It is the trading name for three companies. The one that will be of interest to most of you here is Tea And Coffee Dot Com Limited, as that is the online shop where some 700 different teas and coffee can be found.

Today I am reviewing Orange Cookies Tea. It is a black tea. First lets discuss the packaging. The box arrived from England in perfect condition. Inside was a large amount of packing peanuts to protect the two 50g sample packs. The pouch shown here is bright and cheery despite my lighting. I do find two flaws with the bag.

First, there are no steeping parameters. Unless it is a real finicky tea requiring special handling (which this is not) then this is not that big of a deal. I will note that the brewing instructions are listed along with the description on the website.

The second requires a little more effort. The bag is not resealable. 50g is a lot of tea and it will last me quite a while. I cut the top off, folded the bag down and paper clipped it. Not the best, but I don't have an empty tin to dedicate to this one.

Moving right along, after cutting the top, I gave it the sniff test. The scent is soooo calming. It is definitely orange - not the candy fake kind - along with some subtle warming spices. Honestly, even if I end up hating this (not likely) the leaf would make an awesome room freshener.

Looking at a scoop of leaf, I notice a lot of small black tea pieces, an orange piece, a cardamom pod, pieces of apple, pink peppercorns, and coriander seed. I have to look harder to see the cinnamon. Maybe I could see the cloves if I knew what I was looking for. I can definitely smell it lightly.

I opted to use the French press to brew my English tea, that probably started in India (the plants of which can be traced back to China), and I'm steeping it in America. I feel so International.

I used boiling water and a 4 minute steep.

The brew pours a typical orange red color. It still smells incredibly delicious.

The taste is lighter, gentler, than I expected. Based solely on the ingredients, I expected a chai assault of spices. Nope. Just like the aroma, this is mainly a pleasant orange tasting tea with the spices filling out the flavor rather than trying to steal the stage.

The flavor kind of goes orange, cinnamon and clove, cardamom, then drifts into the slightest heat from the pink peppercorn. So subtle but a nice touch. It has a sweet lingering aftertaste.

After initially tasting this with no additions I did add sweetener. I don't think it necessarily needed it, I just wanted it that way. It takes sweetening in stride. To me, it makes all the delicious flavors pop a little more.

I don't think I have ever had an orange cookie, so I can't make that cookie connection, however, this is such a pleasant cup. I can see myself curling up on the couch this winter with a blanket, a book, and a cup of this one.

You can find Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Company Orange Cookies here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wooree Tea, Imperial Blend

Wooree Tea Description:
Wooree Tea's Imperial Blend Green Tea comes from the Hadong region of south west South Korea. Hadong is recognised as the best tea growing region of South Korea. The entire production is done by hand with meticulous care, demanding a sensitive touch and correct timing. Freshly harvested young shoots are gently fired in great iron cauldrons heated by wood-fuelled fires, adding to each vintage’s unique hue, fragrance and flavor.

Sample provided by Wooree Tea

My Review:
Wooree Tea is a recent start up. There is not a lot of personal information on their About Us page. It does state that 10% of sales goes to to help South Korean orphans. The website address and the postal mark are New Zealand based.

At the time of this writing Imperial Blend is the only tea Wooree has listed. There are some teaware items and a link to donate to Korean orphans.

I used the product packaging picture from Wooree's site as my sample came in a bubble wrapped ziplock baggy. The leaf picture is mine. I actually had to post edit the picture to lighten it up as it is a very deep green. The individual leaves are lightly twisted and small in appearance. I didn't notice much aroma coming off the dry leaf.

Brewing instructions were included on an accompanying letter. Preheat cup and pot. Use 1/2 to 1 tsp per person. Add water slowly and cover for 3 minutes. A water temperature of 80 (176 F) was recommended.

I used 2 tsp because I'm making a 12 oz mug of tea. The tea was steeped in my clear glass teapot.

The pot picture is a pretty good indicator that a little hot water made for some major changes. The leaf has turned my pot into a flooded forest. There is a lot of leaf here.

The leaf is the smaller Chinese type as opposed to the much larger Assam leaf. I don't think I've mentioned yet that this is a green tea. One sniff of the spinach aroma coming out of the pot makes that pretty obvious. I might have gone Ooooh out loud, but there are no witnesses.

The color in the pot has a definite green tint. Once poured it looks more like liquid sunshine with just a touch of haziness. That may be my fault as it was closer to 4 minutes on the steep, once I found my strainer, and I did use double the leaf. Notice how clear the tea appears in the pot picture.

OK, so I have a nice looking dry leaf, that becomes a forest of full leaves when steeped, and has a neat aroma. How does it taste?

As good as I imagined.

There is very little of what I would consider to be bitterness. There is a light bite that I find very welcome. The taste is sweet. Vegetative with out being particularly grassy. It is very similar to a Chinese green. The big difference is the additional note that to me tastes like hazelnut. I am also getting something like a citrus tartness (without the citrus taste) very late in the sip. Finishes with a pleasant, sweet, and slightly drying aftertaste.

I have time for a second mug and possibly just as, or more, importantly, I want one. This is an easy sipper. I only steeped for about 1 1/2 minutes on mug two. It is about the same color.

The taste is lighter than the first, of course the steep time is less than half. That said it is very similar to the first and still full of flavor. What I called citrus tartness in the first may be closer to camphor but again without a taste associated with it, just a feeling. Has more of a seaweed taste than vegetative and there is a touch of mineral. Hmmm, the two cups sound very different but in reality they are closer than the description.

As I mentioned this is an easy sipper. I feel certain I could get a third mug, and though I may want it, I am out time for today. If you love green tea and want something a little different this is a good one.

You can find Wooree Tea Imperial Blend here.