Friday, July 15, 2016

BeMatcha, Cafe Grade Matcha

BeMatcha Description:
Also known as “Cafe Grade”, the leaves of our Spring matcha are located toward the middle of the tea plant. They have slightly less sweetness and a stronger flavor when compared to the Ceremonial Grades. This makes them perfect for use as an everyday tea, latte, and/or smoothie. Best of all, they contain just as much EGCg (antioxidants) & L-theanine compared to the ceremonial grade teas which can cost twice as much!

Harvested in June (the second harvest period), Cafe Grade matcha is an excellent everyday matcha for drinking.

Sample provided by BeMatcha

My Review:
Today we will be looking at the second or spring harvest matcha from BeMatcha. Last month I reviewed the culinary grade third harvest and found it to actually be drinkable on its own, though it is intended for baking or use in latte type drinks.

The cafe grade matcha is intended as an everyday tea  to be used in lattes and blended drinks. It is considered a step up in quality from the culinary grade. This tea is grown in Japan and certified organic.

I opened the 10g sample and gave it the sniff test. I get a smooth malty scent. Looking at the powder it is nicely green. No brown or yellow tint here. Just fresh and green.

As before, to keep all things as equal as possible, I used a rounded 1/4 tsp. I heated 4 oz of clean filtered water to 165F and mixed in a bowl with a hand held frother. I use old weak batteries so I don't paint the room green.

It foamed easily with many tiny bubbles. The foam is long lasting and held up as I poured the bowl into a clear mug to better photograph the tea. As you can see the tea is a deep green.

The straight taste is very crisp and clean. Initially I notice a mild bite but by the end of the cup it passes from my noticing. It is lightly sweet. The taste is creamy and vegetal with a slightly grassy aftertaste.

Now let's see what happens when we use this as intended in a latte. You fix how you like it, as for me, I prefer mine cold, made with 2% milk and a single packet of sweetener.

I used 2 tsp of powder along with my one packet of sweetener and a couple ounces of milk. With the frother the mixture was turned into nearly a tumbler full of foam. To this I added more milk and stirred.

As you can see the result is a dark green tumbler of green tea latte.

Definitely a different taste experience from the third harvest culinary grade reviewed previously. This has a deeper, richer taste with a nice umami flavor that seems almost dry. There is only a light sweetness. It feels very creamy. Not at all grassy. It is more a dark vegetal/meaty taste.

You can find BeMatcha Cafe Grade matcha here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Adagio, Strawberry Tea

Adagio Description:
Strawberry black tea combines the succulent taste of sweet strawberries with bright Ceylon black tea. Fresh sweet-floral and berry flavor, smooth and sugary texture. It's a treat you'll want to keep for yourself!

blended with black tea, natural strawberry flavor, strawberries and raspberry leaves

Sample provided by Adagio

My Review:
The humidity outdoors is 100%. It has been raining and the temperature is in the mid 80's F. It is kind of miserable outdoors. That sounds like a normal July. Fortunately I have air conditioning and a tea pot.

I am excited to try my second tea from Adagio. My first experience was Earl Grey Green which I loved. Today it is Strawberry. Until a tea friend gifted me with some very inexpensive strawberry tea bags, I imagined I would not like such a tea. Turns out I not only liked it but loved it. After the citrus of the bergamot orange in Earl Grey, strawberry is my favorite fruit flavor in tea. So here goes....

The sample bag is clearly labeled and resealable. Upon cutting the top, the scent of strawberry immediately filled the air. I took a closer sniff and have to admit it was a wee bit overwhelming. At this intensity is is almost a candy level of scent.

A scoop of leaf is removed and I realize I have misread the ingredient list. I thought this contained strawberry leaves. Instead it is strawberries (pieces) and raspberry leaves.

The Ceylon black tea is very dark and appears to be orthodox processed leaf. It is certainly larger pieces than CTC dust.

I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in 212 F (boiling) water per directions.

The brew reminds me of cherry Dr Pepper in color. It is a deep orange/brown with ruby highlights. The steeped leaf has a nicely balanced fragrance of tea and strawberry. Gone is the candy element, replaced with a more natural scent.

The taste does not disappoint. It is a comfortable level of strawberry taste. Not over the top and not hiding. The Ceylon base is pleasantly smooth with only a light bite towards the end. I find this unusual for a Ceylon black as usually it is the choice of barbarian tea drinkers due to its normally far more abrasive qualities.

Halfway through the cup I added sweetener as I suspect most flavored drinkers tend to do the same. I think I liked the brightness it adds to the strawberry, yet found it altered the base flavor. I am not sure which way I prefer it. Both ways are good but enough different you might try both and decide for yourself.

A sample bag is $2 and makes 10 cups. That figures to $0.20/cup. I find that to be a pretty frugal deal for this lovely cup of comfort.

You can find Adagio Strawberry Tea here

Monday, July 4, 2016

Totem Tea, Kuwacha Mulberry Leaf

Totem Tea Description:
The deep-steamed Mulberry leaves (kuwacha) are uncannily similar to a traditional Japanese green tea like sencha or gyokuro. This uncommon tea is naturally caffeine-free and brews with a silky, vegetal profile. Like a fine Japanese green tea, it has oceanic elements with a smooth, mouthwatering umami texture.

Sample provided by Totem Tea

My Review:
It's the 4th of July. Normally Independence Day around here is hotter than the proverbial firecracker. That is how our June hit us this year. We are getting a break today as its rainy and in the mid 70's F. So to celebrate freedom, the founding of this great nation, and some bearable temperatures, I'm going to brew some tea.

My normal instinct is to grab whatever sounds highest in caffeine. This mulberry leaf, caffeine free, herbal spoke to me today. The folks at Totem Tea say on their website that they have tried similar teas from China and Thailand and they don't quite measure up to this one as it is steamed and prepared similarly to sencha or gyokuro.

Sniffing the sample I notice a pleasant grassiness accompanied by what reminds me of the chaff left over from shucking corn.

Looking at the leaf, if a tea friend had handed me this, I would just assume it was a green tea. Very similar in look and texture to the straight thin blades of sencha leaf.

I followed directions and brewed this at between 195 and 200 F for 45 seconds. This is stated to go 4 steeps. The second and later should begin at 2 minutes and add time as needed.

Pouring into a mug, two things catch my interest. First the brew is green with yellow highlights. Moving the mug away from the light it becomes a darker eerie green. That's pretty cool. Secondly, the steeped leaf morphed into this crinkly mound. It looks like frilly parsley that is very dark green like spinach. Neat. Okay so simple things amuse me.

The taste is unique. There is zero bitterness or astringency. It is smooth with almost no bite. The grassy connection to sencha is very present. There is also an ocean seaweed note, and what to me is best described as a hazelnut element. I think the seaweed/hazelnut combination is what Totem is noting as buttery umami.

We camellia sinensis folks can be quite the snob at times when it comes to herbals. Here is one that bridges the gap. It's late in the day and you want green tea but decaffeinated teas are tasteless? No problem, grab some of this leaf. Naturally caffeine free and pleasantly complex tasting. Truly it is an interesting tea.

You can find Totem Tea Mulberry Leaf here

Friday, June 24, 2016

BeMatcha, Culinary Grade

Sample provided by BeMatcha

BeMatcha has offered three grades of Japan sourced matcha for review - a Ceremonial Grade, a Spring Grade (Cafe), and a Summer (culinary) Grade sample. After some thought I have decided to devote a separate review to each.

I chose to start with the BeMatcha Summer Grade offering as I am becoming quite familiar with culinary matcha. This grade tea is intended to be used in the kitchen. The matcha aficionados would not really think of drinking it straight. It has however become quite popular for use in cold and hot lattes.

I will first prepare this straight, because I am not an aficionado, but more so as to compare to the higher grades in the other reviews. Next I will use it to prepare a cold milk latte.

This matcha is listed as being organic and grown in Kyoto Japan. It is from the third harvest as such it is considered a lower grade. True Ceremonial Grade is prepared using first harvest leaves.

The sample is 10g. Cutting off the top allows for the sniff test. It is fruity and otherwise pretty indistinct from the many other culinary teas I've tried. One thing of note is that it smells pretty much like most of the Chinese intro powdered teas I've used.

The color is much more vibrant green than usual.

I used a rounded 1/4 tsp. The directions call for 1 - 2 tsp but from experience I know I don't enjoy it when it is that potent. 4 oz of water heated to 165F was added in a bowl and whisked. More honestly, I frothed it with a hand held milk frother. Just so you know, that creates quite a mess. Keep some towels handy.

It frothed pretty well for culinary and actually held the foam although some of the bubbles are quite large. I poured this into a mug so I could photograph the tea. As you can see it is a murky dark green in appearance.

I was expecting a very bitter sip. It really was not particularly harsh. I have definitely had much worse. The taste was a little grassy with a brisk bite. It is a little sweet and has a fairly clean aftertaste.

As a straight drink it is certainly not terrible. It is better than most of this grade. Rather the problem with it is it is just not that interesting on its own, but then it isn't intended to be used this way.

Next I'm trying this as a cold milk latte. This is how I start every morning. I begin with a heaping tsp of powder, along with one packet of zero calorie sweetener (in this case generic Splenda). Just a word on this - if you go to Starbucks and order a Frappuccino, it contains a lot of sugar. A lot. Once I broke the cycle I realized it just isn't necessary to make it so sweet.

The dry ingredients go in my double-walled plastic tumbler to which I add 2-3 ounces of cold milk. A hand held battery operated milk frother is used to thoroughly mix and foam the contents.

The few ounces of milk will rise often making 2-3 times the volume of foamy goodness. I then fill the tumbler the rest of the way with milk. When the straw is added it usually stands at attention unless the matcha is of such poor grade as to not be up to the task. This one easily handles the job. In fact by the time I get the camera set up a lot of the tiny foamy bubbles have already formed bigger bubbles but the straw still stands.

As you can see this makes a dark green latte. This is very appealing as too often the color is a sad light grayish green (clay).

Tasting, this is pretty good. It is sweet without being sickening sweet. It has a nice fruity taste that reminds me of mild strawberry. Rather than grassy it is more leafy tasting.

Using approx 2.5g/serving this ranges from $0.55 to $0.65 a serving depending on the size you purchase.

You can find BeMatcha Summer Grade here

Monday, June 20, 2016

Adagio, Earl Grey Green Tea

Adagio Description:
Earl Grey Green tea represents a different take on a classic combination: Indian black tea with tangy bergamot flavor. It features a fresh green tea with a delicious crisp texture that pairs perfectly with the orange rind zestiness of the bergamot. Earl Grey Green has a pleasantly dry finish with lingering citrus sweetness.

Sample provided by Adagio

My Review:
This is one of those reviews I am kind of excited about. Years ago I was perfectly content with my grocery store bagged earl grey black tea. Due to my consuming vast quantities it began to attack my stomach. This bump in the road led me to discovery green Earl Grey and encouraged my foray into loose leaf. One of the first loose leaf companies I discovered back then was Adagio. Despite having filled my online basket several times over the years, this is the first time I will actually get to try Adagio tea.

First, the sample size is a generous half ounce size.  It is also resealable. The ingredients are listed on the label as green tea, orange peels, natural bergamot flavor, and blue cornflowers.

Once opened, I am in love. Green Earl Grey is right near the top of my all time favorite teas. This smells crazy good of bergamot.

I don't see orange peels in the scoop, but they may well have settled to the bottom of the pack. The cornflower does add a certain prettiness to the look. The green tea leaf is long, straight, and flat.

In the press the leaf goes, along with 180 F water for a 3 minute steep. I followed directions, though my natural inclination would be to use around 190 F water for a bolder cup. We'll see.

The resulting liquor is bright yellow. While I am getting better with my camera and actually like the leaf pictures today. I am not as pleased with the mug picture. It does not show how bright the tea looks in person. I had to hand hold the camera as I couldn't adjust my Slik tabletop tripod well enough for a sideways shot.

The bergamot scent is citrusy and cooling.

Tasting. It is a little lighter tasting than I would like. I do believe I under leafed. Next time I will up the leaf a bit.

That said it is a nice cup especially at the price. It starts out lightly mineral and swells into the bergamot citrus. It has an almost creamy texture. As is usual with my taste buds, the more it cools the more the flavor blossoms.

I did add some sweetener halfway through the cup to see how it handled additions. It took it really well - however, it becomes almost Kool-Aid sweet. If that's what you like that's fine. I believe I preferred it without additions.

I did want to show you the steeped leaf before I wrap this review. I really did not know what to expect from Adagio in one of their less expensive teas. Truthfully, I guess I expected tiny little shredded pieces. Instead what I am seeing are really large pieces of almost full leaves.

Seeing the leaf, I felt the need to steep this a second time. OK, I was going to anyway because Earl Grey Green, but the leaf  confirmed the need to go for it.

I went a full four minutes and upped the temperature to 190 F. Same beautiful yellow cup as before.  Where as the first cup is a bolder bergamot statement - though not over the top in my opinion - the second cup is a mellower mingling of flavor. The green tea base and the bergamot blend much tighter together. This seems even creamier to me now. This is a pleasant cup. The aftertaste remains a strong citrus.

Thank you Adagio for a good start to your teas.

You can find Adagio Earl Grey Green Tea here

Friday, June 17, 2016

Monocle Tea Products, Tea Infuser Tumbler

Monocle Tea Description:
Perfect for on the go tea drinkers.  This tumbler will keep 15.2 oz of your favorite tea hot on a cold day (or will also keep it cold on a hot day, funny how that works).

Sample provided by Monocle Tea Products

My Review:
I plan on having a few more pictures than normal in this post. The tumbler reviewed requires a bit more headroom than I usually deal with so I moved my operation on to my porch. I'm still learning my new camera and today's lesson learned is about too much back lighting. I will apologize in advance for the dark images.

Devin at Monocle Tea Products contacted The Everyday Tea Blog to see if I might like to try out their tumbler. It was ordered from Amazon and as usual with them arrived very quickly. It came in a box stuffed with air-filled pillows for protection.

Opening the actual product box I found the tumbler in a bubble wrap sleeve with a foam pad at top and bottom. The tumbler probably would ship safely if they just slapped a label on its box but I feel better knowing we didn't have to find out.

The tumbler is made of double-walled borosilicate glass. I have other products, including my French Press that I use daily, made from this glass. It is strong and holds up well under most daily usage. It is glass however so treat it as such.

The tumbler holds around 15 oz. The double-walled construction helps keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.

The infuser is of two part construction. There is a basket to hold your tea leaf and a screw on cap. The assembled infuser rests on a lip inside the tumbler to hold it securely.

The tumbler can also be used without the basket. Using the infuser lid only works for fruit infusions or grandpa style sipping where the leaf floats freely in the water and additional water is added throughout the day. This is apparently a common practice used by average Chinese tea drinkers.

The exterior of the tumbler lid is bamboo. The interior is plastic.

A neat touch on the lid is the N.O. and mustache engraving. My first thought when seeing it was "No mustaches?" Why? Turns out Devin is all about the mustache. The NO actually stands for his home New Orleans.

Nothing says a proper cuppa like a monocle, a dapper mustache and New Orleans... I'm joking. In truth wherever you are is the perfect place for a cup, make that a tumbler, of tea.

Now taking the tumbler for a test drive I chose a sample of Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea from Teavivre. It is a beautiful crisp green tea and always a pleasure to sip.  

The entire sample went into the basket. One comment here - Devin is aware of this typo error, but on the insert packed in the box it says to use one oz of tea per 8 oz of water. Anyone accustomed to loose leaf should know better, but just in case - Devin intended this to read one small scoop per 8 oz. The Teavivre sample is 10g or roughly two scoops by my measure.

I used water heated to 185 per sample instructions, secured the basket and lid in the tumbler, added water, and secured the lid.

The steep was not timed closely. Maybe it was 3-5 minutes maybe it might have been a little longer. It was entirely too gorgeous outside to be distracted by timers. Fortunately this tea can handle abusive brewing even by a tea barbarian like me.

I removed the lid and the basket. I had to sniff the leaf - it is kind of my thing. It was grassy and citrus with orchid notes. Simply awesome.

I probably should have sat the basket on the lid. I hadn't really planned ahead for it and I'm a guy, so on the table it goes. Just don't tell my wife. After a few sips the level was low enough to be below the basket so I put it back in.

The tea stayed hot long enough that I removed the lid so it would cool off. I am one of those weird people that prefer my tea warm. So I am not the most reliable person to ask but in my opinion the drink stayed very hot for a long time.

The tumbler presented no problems when sipping. The tea tasted great out of it.

I can't think of anything negative to say about the Monocle Tumbler. The closest to a complaint is that it is very tall and narrow. This is actually on purpose so that the tumbler will fit in a standard cup holder.

The overall look is sharp and in fact the logo and lid made me smile. The lid may say NO, but I say YES.
You can find the Monocle Tea Infuser Tumbler here on Amazon.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Totem Tea, Ruby 18 Taiwanese Black

Totem Tea Description:
As delicious as it is beautiful, this striking tea is unlike any other black tea.  There are immediate and powerful dark fruit-pit notes alongside a wintergreen-like expression, which is quite striking and unique.  The dark red quality of this tea seems to go beyond just the rich ruby color.

Taiwan is world renowned for its oolong tea but little is known of its phenomenal Black tea which is often referred to as Sun Moon Lake Black tea due to the location of its growth and production. This black tea is as unique and special as the oolong produced on the special island.

Sample provided by Totem Tea

My Review:
Sun Moon Lake Black Tea. It says so right in the description above. Need I say more? Just in case you didn't get the memo, I will go ahead with the review. Oh, the sacrifices I make for my readers.

I opened up the sample packet and sniffed, just as I always do before looking at the leaf, and first caught dried field grass and a touch of malt. Then I detected fruit. At first I was thinking grape? Then changed my mind to cherry. The later seems to fit the company description better as well. Either way, it definitely has fruit notes.

The leaf as you can see above is very dark, long, and lightly twisted.  This is the only situation where you will ever catch me favorably comparing anything to spiders, but the leaf has that tarantula leg feel about it. I am not afraid. Just by observing the leaf you can feel that this is quality tea.

I prepared this per directions at 195F for a 60 second steep. The beginning western steeper might let this go for the typical 3-5 minutes. I think the tea would hold up to the task but please refrain. One minute is long enough for a beautiful cup and doing so assures you extra steeps with the same leaf. This one claims four steeps by increasing the time with each cup.

The cup is actually a little darker than it looks on my computer screen. It is sort of bronze in color with ruby highlights.

This tastes so good. I wish you were here to share a cup. It is honey and plums? Maybe my first instinct of grapes wasn't so far off. Caramel and cocoa notes are in here as well. Then it finishes with this sensation of mint. Not the taste, the sensation. And not the harsher spearmint type either. This is a very comforting and welcome cooling like from winter mint.

I have to admit, as soon as I saw Ruby 18 Taiwanese Black, I was pretty certain I was going to love this tea. I am not disappointed. In fact I am a bit elated. It has been a while since my last Sun Moon Lake cup and I don't recall any of them having the cooling (and lingering) aftertaste. Possibly they did and I have forgotten.

If you love a soothing black tea, this one comes highly recommended.

You can find Totem Tea Ruby 18 Taiwanese Tea here

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Artman Tea Co, Ashwagandha Jasmine Green Tea

Picture Credit: Artman Tea Co.
Artman Tea Co Description:
Each pouch contains 20 sachets. Each sachet contains 2g of blended tea. 
The tea blend consists of Ashwagandha Root and Jasmine Green Tea. 
Ashwagandha is valued for its ability to increase vitality due to its rejuvenating effects. It causes relaxation and increases energy while helping reduce stress and anxiety.  Jasmine Green Tea is also known to reduce stress due to its unique aroma.
We recommend drinking this tea when/if you wish to relax your mind and body.

Sample provided by Artman Tea Co.

My Review:
I almost turned Artman Tea Company down when they asked if I would like to review their product. I don't normally review teas for their medicinal value. Since this also contains jasmine green tea, I decided I would make an exception. Besides many companies, especially those based in Eastern countries make lots of grandiose claims that I can neither confirm on deny. I figure a believer is going to believe and the doubter is going to doubt. I'll just enjoy the tea and to each his/her own.

However, this is the first time I have ever reviewed a tea with a warning on the label:
Warning: Prior to enjoying this tea, consult with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, nursing, have any medical conditions or prescribed to medication.  It is advisable to not drink this tea for extended periods of time
So this caused me enough concern to do some Google research. What I discovered is there appears not to be a lot to be concerned about unless you fall into a small segment of the population. You can read a good write up on ashwagandha at WebMD. In particular if you take immunosuppressants, sedatives, or to a lesser extent medicine for thyroid, you might want to be particularly careful.

So why did I go ahead and review this product? Well, there is a serious scientific study that suggests a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress.

Now on to the tea. Each bag contains 20 unbleached pyramid sachets. Each contains a 2g blend of leaf and herb. The ashwagandha root is said to smell a little like a horse. Sniffing the sachet, I can make that connection.

I used a mug and poured boiling water over the sachet, covered, and steeped for 4 minutes. This is per label instructions.

The leaf at first clung to the surface as did the sachet, but as the water plumped the contents they slowly began to sink while the sachet remained affixed to the top.

The liquor is yellow. The scent remains a bit horsey.

The taste is hard to describe. Only faintly and mostly as the cup cools can I detect the jasmine green tea portion of the blend. I believe it is there to tame and lift the flavor of the ashwagandha. I have had similar taste notes in some puerh. This tastes dry, or more correctly dusty. There is also an earthiness to the taste. If you in your youth ever cut a piece of tree root out of moist dirt and tasted it (tell me I'm not the only one), then you have a good idea of the notes found here. It ends on a sweet note, which in my estimation is from the jasmine.

Okay, bottom line, is this worth the price of admission? At $25/20 sachets, I would think not if you are buying it strictly as a tea. If you are buying it as a stress reliever maybe. This is my very first experience with the product but I am finding myself feeling very calm and almost sedated. Is it placebo affect? I don't think so as I normally don't respond simply from suggestion.

All around this has been an interesting experience.

You can find Artman Tea Co Ashwagandha Jasmine Green Tea here.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Totem Tea, Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong

Totem Tea Description:
This is a tea that we first discovered on a day trip to Ping Lin, a suburb of Taipei which is known for its growth and production of this particular Oolong tea. Bao Zhong tea has a different appearance from many of the other Taiwanese Oolong teas in that its processing utilizes a twisting of the tea leaf instead of a tight semi-ball rolled style of tea production. This tea processing is similar to that of the Wuyi Oolong production of Fujian Province in China.

Sample provided by Totem Tea

My Review:
So, my wife bought me a new camera for my birthday. I probably mentioned this already. I am really not good with it. My $50 point and shoot took good enough blog pictures. A fancy camera with changeable lens should really improve my pictures - right? Not so far. Photography turns out to be kind of hard. I'll keep working at it and hopefully I will soon take in focus and balanced shots. Until then - sorry.

My leaf photograph turned out semi-okay, it is soft and blurry if you look real close. I think it does capture the beauty of the leaf. It is a really dark almost gray looking green. I lightened it a touch so it would show up better. Instead of the normal balls as oolong usually appears, this leaf is long and twisted.

The dry aroma in the sample bag at first struck me as baked and roasted. I was preparing for a dark heavy roasted tea. Then it changed and had more of a grain scent with fruity notes.

I used 195F water and a 60 second steep for the first cup. After steeping the leaf expanded and lightened up but remained a darker green. No pictures because of new camera.

The aroma off the cup is so good. It is flowers and a subtle spiciness. The liquor is a bright yellow. Everything about this cup is making me happy... and then I tasted it.

Oh My! This is soooo good. Maybe it is extra special because my day until now has been one battle after another (computers, software, and cameras). Maybe, but I don't think so. This really is that good. You have that wonderful scent along with a smooth buttery corn flavored sip. I can feel it melting the stress away.

For an instant I get a flash of spice at the back of the tongue that I thought was going to turn into briskness but it doesn't. Incredibly smooth.

This is the lighter greener side of oolong. The dark roasting I kind of expected is totally absent. It is nicely complex but subtle. If you only like the grab your throat bold roasty stuff, then this isn't your tea. If like me, you prefer a soothing light green oolong that should steep 4 times, then this is delightful.

You can find Totem Tea Wen Shan Bao Zhong here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Petit Tea, Om Hot Cinnamon Spice

Picture Credit: Petit Tea
Petit Tea Description:
Blurring the line between Tea and Chai this blend of fine, natural Assam teas and complimenting aromatic spices is further enhanced by natural goodness of cinnamon oil. A truly fascinating tea drinking experience awaits you! Packed in silken mesh hand crafted pyramid sachets and packed in 95% bio-degradable box.

Natural Black tea, cinnamon, black pepper, cinnamon oil.

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
Alas all good things must come to an end. Today I am reviewing the last of the very generous samples provided by Petit Tea to The Everyday Tea Blog for review. From their tea infusers to the pyramid sachets, I can honestly say I enjoyed every one of them and have no problem recommending them. Let's see if this last sample leaves me with the same favorable impression.

This according to the description blurs the line between Tea and Chai. Personally, I'm not confused (though technically chai simply means tea). Chai always brings to my mind cinnamon, clove, and cardamom. Here we have an enhanced cinnamon tea with the use of cinnamon pieces and cinnamon oil, along with black pepper and a black Assam tea base.

The box contains 15 pyramid sachets each containing 2.5g of leaf. That is enough to make a hearty mug of tea. Each sachet is individually protected in its own clear sealed packet. Once the packet is cut open the intense aroma of cinnamon springs forth.

I used boiling water and steeped for three minutes. One thing I found true of all the Petit Sachets - the string is on the short side, so hold on to the tag when filling the mug, unless you like fishing it out later.

The brew is reminiscent of a cross between root beer and black cherry in color. It is a very nice bright mug of black tea. My photo does not do it justice. I have a new camera (a Canon EOS Rebel T5) given to me by my wife as a birthday present. So far I have barely learned to turn it on. Back to tea - the scent is warm cinnamon. It is not as intense as when dry.

The taste surprises me, as usual. I was expecting to be blasted with Red Hot intensity. I am not. This is a sane and well behaved cinnamon tea. Seriously, when was the last time you actually tasted the tea base behind a cinnamon tea? You can here and it is a nicely smooth assam. Also of note, the cinnamon isn't a dull boring taste like in so many grocery store blends. It is bold and deeper in flavor.

I wanted to taste it without additions first. It passed with flying colors. So having relaxed with the mug, I added sweetener as the label recommends. Interesting. This actually ramps up the cinnamon heat. Not scary heat, just a warming glow. I can still catch the base underneath.

Finally, because the instructions also suggest adding a splash of milk, I did. I've said it before but adding milk is not something I normally do as it isn't as visually appealing to me. I love the natural brew colors. I know, don't use a clear mug.

The taste with milk is again interesting. The heat remains (possibly from the pepper?) but the cinnamon taste is reduced a notch or two. The assam base blends with the milk while the cinnamon bounces all around the edges and the heat warms your tongue.

I have to say, Petit Tea finishes strong and on a positive note with this one. If you are looking for liquid Red Hots try Harney's Cinnamon Spice. If you prefer a lighter touch that still remains fun, then this is an excellent choice.

You can find Petit Tea Hot Cinnamon Spice here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Buddha Herbs, Chamomile Tea

Buddha Herbs Description:
For centuries, Chamomile has been a natural relaxant which is why we’ve extracted the natural flavor of a chamomile leaf into an organic herbal tea blend to help you sleep better and ease minor stomach discomfort. Our Organic Teas are made exclusively from homogeneous herbs cultivated, picked and processed under the strictest requirements for organic produce. These products meet the requirements of EU Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91 and the Rules for Organic Farming. We take great care to ensure that the tea packaging is also ecologically friendly; therefore no glue or metal elements are used while packing our Organic teas into filter bags.

Sample provided by Buddha Herbs

My Review:
Today has been the most beautiful day. Finally the rain has stopped, the sky has cleared, and the temperature is more like June than May. Sure beats the March weather we have been enduring. So I have torn myself away from the outdoors and settled into my den to review a tea. Today's choice is a chamomile tea from Buddha Herbs.

Their website seems aimed at the natural medicines and healthy living market. Sure nothing wrong with that. My reviews don't generally try to sway the reader one way or another when it comes to health claims, however chamomile is very commonly used too help one to relax and unwind making sleep come more easily. My wife does drink it for this very reason even if the science behind it doesn't necessarily support any benefit. In this case she doesn't require proof as she has personal experience. Me, I require something stronger but still drink it for the taste.

This is sold in sets of two or four shrink wrapped boxes. Each box contains 22 double chamber bags individually sealed in its own envelope wrapper. Each bag has a tag and a long string but no staple. The website also claims no glue - I'm not sure what holds it together.

The bags contain only 1.5g of chamomile, so stay with a smallish cup. I used 8oz per the package label. For me, a 6oz cup or double bag would be my personal recommendation.

Opening the envelop I catch a faint scent that reminds me of milled grain. I poured boiling water over the bag in my cup and steeped for 6 minutes.

The result is a lovely yellow cup. It has a nice aroma that is lightly spicy, kind of floral, and a bit like apple. The taste is very much the same. I admit to being pleasantly surprised. I don't normally drink chamomile from a bag. The flavor is a little on the light side but very tasty and balanced.

For fun I added my sweetener of choice. It took it extremely well. My wife who never adds sweetener even enjoyed it. She doesn't care for chamomile if it leans too far towards apple. She thought this one was very nice. Let me add, I thought this was reminiscent of apple pie filling, so just goes to show. We both enjoyed it but from different angles.

You can find Buddha Herbs Chamomile on their website. It can also  be found on Amazon

Friday, May 13, 2016

Teavivre, Organic Bai Hao (White Downy) Green Tea

Beautiful Dry Leaf
Teavivre Description;
The main production points of organic Bai Hao tea includes fixation, rolling, drying. The dry leaves are in straight needle-shapes and they smell vaguely of sweet millet note rather than grass-like aroma which is common in green teas. When brewed, the liquor presents a scent of fresh sweet corn note and a mellow, smooth mouthfeel with a lingering after-taste without any astringency. Overall, it creates more thickness in mouth when compared with the common green teas do.

Sample provided by Teavivre

My Review:
It has been a long time since I last reviewed something from Teavivre. Even so, I must admit this is one of my very favorite tea companies. Not only has the service always been friendly, helpful, and top notch, but the teas themselves are some of the best available here in the west. Enough gushing, let's see if this tea is as good as expected.

I cut the top off the sample bag and as usual poked my nose in for a deep whiff. It bowled me over. Man, this is like sticking your nose into a buttered ear of sweet corn. I'm in love and I haven't even heated the water.

Huge Steeped Leaf
Removing half the 5g sample, this looks a lot like a white tea. Of course it is called white downy and the website does call it a  "Non-fermentation" tea. The long strands of leaf run from white to deep green. Up close it looks fuzzy. Just speculating that the difference between white and green here is somewhere in the fixation, rolling, and drying stages. Whatever, the leaf is beautiful.

I used the brewing instructions similar for cup brewing. I used half the leaf (2 1/2g) and about 10 oz of water heated to 195 F. I let it steep for 3 minutes. This seems long but the directions call for 3-5 minutes.

Normally at this point I would talk about the liquor. Instead, let's discuss the leaf. I did not expect the jumbo sized leaves that were floating in my glass press. Most of my Chinese teas seem to be tiny. Not these babies. Big green and alive looking.

Liquid Sunshine
The scent of the leaves is sweet corn and creamy vegetables. Really nice.

Now on to the liquor. It is a bright and clear yellow with golden tints. It has an aroma that is sweet corn with a warm spicy floral. Everything about this tea so far appeals to me.

On to the taste. First impressions - sweet corn and mineral spring water. Second thing I notice is with the long western brew time, you will not get bitterness or heavy astringency, but you will experience a moderate amount of green briskness late in the sip. The aftertaste mellows and lingers of leafy greenness and corn.

This is nicely sweet and no additives are needed. In my opinion sweetening this would detract from the beauty of the cup.

Second steep immediately followed the first. This time I stopped at 2 minutes. The sweet corn is mostly absent, but then so is all of the green bite. This is just really smooth now. As with the first cup it feels very thick. The flavor bounces between a warm spiciness (I mean a comforting flavor - not heat) and green leafy plant. It still retains that stone like mineral spring water note as well.

My opinion - this is a really lovely tea that I quit enjoyed. Complex enough to entertain but not so much as to demand concentration. That said, I will definitely be playing with the steeping times. My gut tells me around a 1 1/2 minute first steep will produce a smoother and still flavorful cup and allow the second cup to retain some of that wonderful sweet corn flavor. This is probably best enjoyed gong fu style with a gaiwan. I'm stuck in my ways and prefer straight western mug style.  

You can find Teavivre Organic Bai Hao Green Tea here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lov Teas, Awakened Awareness

Lov Teas Description:
Awakened Awareness Tea is an invigorating blend of sweet peppermint and apple, accompanied by peppery hints of ginger and ginseng. Beautifully steeped in sunlit green, it is a mindful addition to your morning routine, giving you an essential dose of balanced, calming energy.

Apple*, Ginger*, Spearmint*, Apple Mint*, Orange Peel*, Goji Berries*, Peppermint*, Hops*, Ginseng Root*

*100% Organically Grown

Sample provided by Lov Teas

My Review:
My wife asks me every time a new box of tea samples arrives at our door if there is anything in it that she can drink. I am more than willing to share but what she means, is any of it caffeine free. She has to avoid caffeine for a number of health reasons. So these blends from Lov Teas have made her very happy. This is the last of the samples and they actually sent two of the same thing.

Inside the colorful box is a bag containing the loose leaf. Honestly, when I see a box like this, I immediately think sachet, so surprise. The bag is not resealable (fold it over and seal with tape or a paperclip). Once opened, I could easily catch spearmint.

I removed some leaf for exam. Apple pieces, orange peel, and goji berries (yum) are easy to spot.

I used my stainless steel steeping basket as I normally do with herbals and small leaf teas. Fresh filtered boiling water was poured over the leaf in a mug.

I did not time the steep. I know, amateur move. I was looking up the tea on the website. It was about 5 minutes.

After removing the strainer, the resulting brew is a golden honey hue. It is a bit cloudy from the fine particles. I notice this a lot, so my strainer may not be as fine as it looks.

The aroma is much more complex and balanced compared to the dry scent. It is mainly mint but a good mix of spearmint and peppermint along with honey and apple.

The flavor moves as you sip. The different mints each come into play, swirling around each other. I can't separate the orange peel or the goji berry, yet the fruit quality is beyond simple apple, so the combination makes an undefinable but solid base for the cup. It finishes with a slight amount of heat from the ginger.

I was a little nervous about this one as it is an herbal which honestly I seldom drink and it had spearmint as an ingredient. What I noticed here is I actually did not mind the spearmint. I seldom enjoy it in black tea because it usually becomes too toothpaste tasting. That was not a problem in this blend. This was complex and enjoyable.

You can find Lov Teas Awakened Awareness here.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Petit Tea, Om Ginger Cardamom Chai Latte

Picture Credit: Petit Tea
Petit Tea Description:
A healthy blend of warmth inspiring ginger taste and refreshing aroma of natural Malabar cardamom this comfort chai will keep you from reaching for calorie rich comfort foods. Anytime. Packed in silken mesh hand crafted pyramid sachets and packed in 95% bio-degradable box.

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
I love spring. The blooms. The greening of the world. Unfortunately, with blooms and warm weather comes pollen and other yucky stuff. The medicine I am taking is wreaking havoc on my sense of smell and taste.

For today's review I wanted to make something that could cut through the spring nasties. This one from Petit's Om series seems just what I need.

When I cut open the plastic outer wrap of the individually wrapped pyramid sachet, the ginger and cardamom filled the room. Yep, I can smell it and I don't have to get real close. Dry it is potent.

I debated how I was going to prepare it today. Chai is traditionally 'cooked' on the stove with milk and lots of sugar. I opted for a simpler method. I boiled my water and steeped the sachet along with a packet of Splenda. While steeping, I put half a cup of 2% milk in the microwave and got it very hot. Pouring the milk into the tea, I continued to steep a couple additional minutes.

The  result is a biege/clay colored mug that smells sensational. I usually steep chai just in water so I can get a good picture of the steeped tea without additions. Today, I just wanted a little closer to real chai so I skipped straight through to the end.

The aroma is spicy and floral. In most chai blends I have a difficult time separating the cardamom from the clove and cinnamon. With those two ingredients missing, the cardamom gets a real opportunity to shine. I sensed the ginger far more in the dry scent than in the mug.

This is just so warm and comforting. The ginger does add a small touch of heat at the end but nothing to be feared. It just fits. This would be excellent late in the day around a fire.

Prepared as I have done here, this is not an overly complex cup. For that I am happy. I just feel this is meant to be a comfort cup and not a deep meditation tea.

Normally my mug reaches room temperature and there is still some left at the end of my typing. Today the mug has been empty for the last several paragraphs and I am about to steep another.

You can find Petit Tea Ginger Cardamom Chai Latte here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ahmad, Primetime

Ahmad Description:
For the quintessential cup of English tea, look no further than our Primetime. A special blend of Assam, Kenyan and Ceylon black teas, each sip delivers a strong, bold and rich taste. Add milk to this, if preferred.

Product was obtained through a give-away on Ahmad's Facebook page

My Review:
Up front, I have to admit Ahmad is my favorite tea company for everyday comfort teas. For those who have never experienced an Ahmad tea, the closest comparison I can draw is to Twinings. The difference is this is Twinings with guts.

Ahmad Earl Grey is my go to comfort tea. I have not been without it for more than a few days in the last decade. So, yeah, I admit some bias here.

I scored this 10 pack sampler by simply replying to a post on Facebook. And you thought nothing good ever happened on social media.

Opening the sample box, I found a plastic wrapper containing 10 tagless tea bags. Each bag contains just over 3g of leaf. That is not common in American sized bags. At best they usually run 2g and too often even less. 3g is more in line with Yorkshire Gold and PG Tips, both are UK favorites.

Giving it the sniff test, it passes with flying colors. It smells very fresh and fruity with almost a pipe tobacco scent.

I used boiling water and a 3 minute-ish steep. The result is a deep rich cherry mahogany brew. It is almost a purplish hue.

The sip is full bodied, and feels thick. There is a briskness present that does not overwhelm or become excessively bitter. The taste is woodsy with fruity notes - its very tea, if that makes sense.

I found this very pleasant to drink straight up. Far more so than the two I compared with on bag size. I found both Yorkshire Gold and PG Tips too bitter for my tastes.

Next I added sweetener. Meh. It is better without it in my opinion. Finally, because the box says "best with milk", I added a splash. Again, for me personally, almost meh. Why? Because it destroys that beautiful color and way mellows out the bite that I was enjoying, though in fairness it took milk well. Your mileage may vary. Never be afraid to experiment. As long as you enjoy it, there is no wrong way to prepare tea.

You can find Ahmad Primetime direct from Ahmad Tea USA. Also check with your local grocer or world food mart.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lov Teas, Calmly Cleansed

Picture Credit: Lov Teas
Lov Teas Description:
Calmly Cleansed Tea is a nutrient rich blend bursting with vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. This unique combination of restorative herbs will leave you feeling nimble and clean. Beautifully steeped in dark orange, it is a wholesome, purifying addition to your self-care routine.

Rooibos*, Blackberry Leaves*, Raisins*, Black Pepper*, Carrot*, Caraway*, Licorice Root*, Cinnamon*, Turmeric*, Dandelion Root*, Alfalfa*

*100% Organically Grown

Sample provided by Lov Teas

My Review:
My internet is making me crazy. I exceeded my bandwidth last month, as always. When that happens I get throttled down to dial up speed (yeah, not fun). When the new period starts my speed is supposed to come back, except it hasn't. Blogging at dial up speed is really hard.

On top of internet issues, my den is a mess. I am wading through guitars, amplifiers, stands of all sorts, along with way too many teapots, teacups, steeping equipment, boxes of tea everywhere. I can't find my desk and it is sort of an Aaaaarrrrgggggh! day. As I try to find the room, I need some calm.

Today's tea is Calmly Cleansed herbal tea from Lov Teas. Just what the doctor ordered - I hope.

I cut the top off the sample pack and gave a sniff. Strangely, I'm getting mint and ginger. Strange because neither are ingredients in this tea. Pouring out onto the plate, I notice pepper corns, and carrot pieces.

A lot of the leaf is very fine as is the rooibos. I decided to use my stainless infuser basket as it has a very fine mesh. The basket of leaf went into the mug along with freshly boiled and filtered water.

My steep time was 5 minutes. I found it interesting to watch the leaf. At first it all floated at the surface but as time progressed the leaf began to fall, until only a small amount remained at the surface.

The brew is a lovely deep orange red. The aroma says rooibos to me, but not the harsh kind. This smells very pleasant.

Tasting, this is not what I expected based on the dry and cup aroma. I asked the herbal drinker in the house to taste. She thought it had a note of cinnamon. I wasn't sure. Her thought as she left the room was whatever, I like it.

To me it was pretty subtle all around. What I originally caught as ginger in the dry aroma I am now wondering if it isn't the combination of cinnamon, pepper, and tumeric. The rooibos is mild and pleasant. I have no idea why I thought earlier that I detected mint. The unique blending of herbs and spices here caught my ravaged brain unprepared this day.

In the final analysis, I find I don't care what is in this blend. My wife summed it up well, Whatever, I like it. The tea has done its job. I feel replenished. Now I have to pack up some guitars and head to band practice. The mess will still be here in the morning.

You can find Lov Teas Calmly Cleansed here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Petit Tea, Organic Lemon Grass Green Tea

Picture Credit: Petit Tea
Petit Tea Description:
Fair Trade & USDA Organic Tea in Artisan Pyramid Sachets
This high grown and lightly oxidized Sri Lankan organic green tea offers a unique balance between flavor and universally known benefits of green tea with tropical aroma of refreshing lemon grass.

24 Pyramid Tea Sachets

Organic green Ceylon tea with lemongrass

Sample provided by Petit Tea

My Review:
We have had a week of the most incredibly beautiful spring weather. The red bud and dogwood trees are in full bloom. Our magnolia tree is covered in blossoms and filling our yard with its fragrance. Today it is raining, which brings me back indoors and reaching for something light that continues to remind me of spring.

The tea of the day is Organic Lemon Grass Green, a pyramid sachet from Petit Tea.  The $6.95 box contains 24 sachets. That translates into $0.29/cup. That is a fairly economical cup. Whether it is a value depends on how it tastes. Let's find out.

Each sachet is individually wrapped in its own sealed wrapper. Once opened, I give it the sniff test. It has a pleasant and light grassy aroma with just a hint of lemon. I can clearly see lemon grass pieces along with pieces of tea leaf.

To me, what makes this tea interesting is knowing this is a Ceylon green tea. I seldom see that on the label. Sri Lanka is more noted for its black tea production.

I looked over the box and the website for some general brewing instructions. Not finding any, I went with the generic parameters found on virtually every box of tea on the grocer's shelves. Bring water to a boil and steep 3-5 minutes (I used 4 minutes). I would generally treat green tea more tenderly but opted to go barbarian on this one the first time as I suspect most newbies would approach it in this manner.

The result is a honey colored brew with a light lemon fragrance.

After noticing the color, I removed the sachet and was impressed by its swollen nature. It is not over stuffed but it's close.

Tasting, the lemon grass captures your senses without overwhelming. The downside of the cup is the fair amount of bitterness. I believe this is due to using too hot of a water temperature or too long of a steep. I must add it is not undrinkable. Ceylon black tea often has a good deal of bite and most people don't mind it.

I added some sweetener and that mellowed out the cup. Now I not only am enjoying the cleansing flavor of the lemon grass, I am also catching the green tea underneath.

For my second cup, I decided to experiment by preparing the tea at 195 F and steeping for 2 1/2 minutes. This looks the same as the first cup. The cup scent has more grassy notes and less lemon.

Tasting, I am amazed at the total difference. The bitterness is completely absent however the lemon grass flavor is very light. I can taste more of the green tea and a light smokiness that I thought I caught it in the first cup. I added a little sweetener and it evened the cup out a little by slightly lifting the lemon flavor.

This one is going to require a little more effort to find the sweet spot. As long as I used sweetener both cups were good. There should be a spot where sweetener is not required. What I want is somewhere between the two cups. My thinking is to try the boiling water that the lemon grass seems to need and cut the steeping time to 2 1/2 minutes, so as to hold down the bite.

If you always sweeten, this is a good value tea. If you don't use additions, I remain convinced this is still worth trying. It just requires trying different brewing parameters until you hit the spot that speaks to you.

You can find Petit Tea Organic Lemon Grass Green tea here.


Found the sweet spot! Full boiling water and steep for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes. The lemon grass is present and flavorful and there is no tea bitterness. Did not require sweetener but takes it well.