Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tavalon Jasmine Dream

If you’ve read any of my other reviews you would know that I am a complete jasmine addict. I’ve heard very good things about this blend so I could not wait to try it when I won a coupon in one of Tavalon’s many Twitter contests. The leaves were a very dark green and the scent of the jasmine was so strong that I was able to smell it through the package. I brewed this tea at work so I don’t have the exact specs. It is relatively bomb proof though. I haven’t had a bad cup yet.

This tea is obviously of a high quality because it very heavily scented. The taste and scent lasts through at least three steepings and I am always left feeling like I could have gotten another brew out of it. This was the first jasmine tea I have tried that did not have visible blooms in it. It detracts a little from the visual aspect but did not seem to have affected the taste very much.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rishi Genmai Green 100% Premium Tea Powder

Rishi contacted me through my personal tea blog and sent me samples of their new Natural Leaf Powder line. I was interested to see how the taste of genmai would carry through to this new format. Genmai is green tea with roasted rice added to it. I took a couple of sips from my bottle first so that it would be a little easier to mix. The powder was a bit clumpy but dissolved very quickly with a few shakes.

The tea itself was darker than the oolong that I had tried previously. I wasn’t expecting this to be as good as a loose leaf tea and it didn’t quite get there but it was not bad by any stretch of the imagination. It was refreshingly mild and sweet with just a hint of the roasted flavor from the rice. I love the fact that these powders are unsweetened.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rishi Green Oolong 100% Premium Tea Powder

Rishi was kind enough to send me samples of their new Natural Leaf Powder line. I was especially excited to try the oolong as I had only seen green tea in this form before. I took a sip or two from my bottle first so that it would be a little easier to mix. The powder looked a little clumpy when it first went in but dissolved very quickly with a few good shakes.

As expected with any instant tea it isn’t quite as good as the real thing. However, it was surprisingly tasty and refreshing. It was on the nuttier side of the oolong spectrum. I love the fact that these are unsweetened. Being a fanatical loose leaf tea drinker, I have lost most of my taste for sweetened tea. I think I may need to pick up a box of these the next time I make the trek to Whole Foods.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Teajo Black Manas

Teajo describes this tea as a tippy golden flowery orange pekoe single estate tea. There was a fair amount of broken leaves visible but there was not much of an aroma. I brewed it using my Zarafina Tea Maker, set on strong black. The liquor was a deep reddish color. The leaves expanded a lot more than I thought they would after steeping.

This tea packed a surprising amount of punch. It is smooth and malty but has an almost peppery finish. The peppery feeling lingered long after the last sip. I love a full bodied black tea and this is one of the best stand alone blacks I have tried. It didn’t need any sweeteners at all. The aftertaste wasn’t biting like a lot of black teas can be. The second infusion was just as delicious as the first. It would have been nice to know which estate the tea came from. Other than that you will hear no complaints from me about this selection.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jing Tea Silver Needle White Tea 2008

This year has been an oolong odyssey for me so I was looking forward to the change of pace that this tea had to offer. Jing’s website explains that it was picked at the end of March 2008 and is made up of the first spring buds of the Da-Bai tea plant. Silver needle is the highest grade of white tea and is still a reigning favorite in my book. The dry leaves were covered in the signature silvery down and had a faint floral scent. I brewed this tea in a gaiwan with 176° water, steeping it for three minutes. The liquor was a light gold color and had a similar aroma to the dry leaves.

This tea was sweet and mellow, just what I would expect from a silver needle. It also had a fresh aftertaste that was very pleasant. The thing that I love most about this type of tea is that it is nearly impossible to botch the brewing. You could toss the leaves in a mug and just let them sink to the bottom and still wind up with a delicous tea. The flavor of this one held up for several steepings, each progressively longer than the last. I have had better quality silver needle teas but this is still a wonderful selection.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tea Places: Ito En Flagship Store

If there was a tea heaven, this place is it. I made the trek to the Ito En flagship store after become addicted to their Dong Ding oolong at Amai. The staff was incredibly sweet, knowledgeable and helpful. They offered assistance but gave me plenty of space so I could browse their museum-like teaware displays. I wound up with three onces of Dong Ding, pricey but so very worth it. Two cute little cups followed me home as well. They go perfectly with the funky kyusu that I ordered from Hibiki-an.

Gorgeous new kyusu018012

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Boulder Tea Oolong

I have enjoyed several of Boulder Tea’s green teas so I was looking forward to trying their oolong. Unfortunately, I have to say that I was very disappointed with this oolong. Boulder Tea describes this tea as a Korean semi-fermented green oolong with long loose leaves and tender flavor. I tried brewing this tea two different ways. First, I brewed it using my Zarafina tea maker. Second, I used a traditional teapot with an infuser basket. The liquor was a deep gold color, turning out slightly darker using the tea maker.

I could not detect any aroma in either cup. There was no flavor to speak of in both attempts as well, not even bitterness. I may as well have been drinking plain hot water. I am a lover of oolongs because of the range of flavors they possess. This tea simply did not cut the mustard. I’ve had other Korean oolongs and enjoyed them very much so I’m not sure what the problem with this selection was.