Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Adagio Teas Cranberry Tea (Pyramid Bag)

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: dark black
Ingredients: black tea, cranberries, raspberry leaves, cranberry flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: reddish brown

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Holiday Cheer Gourmet Tea Collection. I was skeptical about trying it because I'm not a big fan of cranberries. I hate their mouth puckering sourness. I was happy to find that it was more on the sweet side than bitter. There was just enough astringency to lend a crisp tartness. The base black tea added complimentary notes of chocolate and nuts. While a relatively mild cup, it was still very enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Handmade Tea Hark!

Leaf Appearance: small, very green with large chunks of cinnamon bark
Ingredients: whiskey barrel smoked yerba mate, full leaf peppermint and Saigon cinnamon
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep gold

I had been hemming and hawing over signing up for the monthly tea club Handmade Tea for some time and finally decided to bite the bullet. Each month a different hand blended tea is sent out, along with a tasting video. Hark! was my first shipment and  I was beyond excited to give it a try. The first thing that struck me was the packaging. The hand stamped wax seals were such a nice touch. I also really loved that in addition to a tin of the blended tea, there were mini tins containing a sample of each of the individual ingredients. Since this was my first shipment, I also received a tiny glass tea cup and a metal strainer.

The yerba mate really blew me away because the whiskey barrel oak imparted such a unique flavor. It was woody (of course) and slightly smokey with notes of vanilla. The peppermint was some of the best I've ever had. It was extremely pungent and gave the blend a sweet, cooling aftertaste. This tea really brought out my inner cinnamon junkie. The cinnamon pieces added a subtle spiciness and notes of citrus. I really cannot wait to see what next month will bring. I would definitely recommend signing up.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stash Tea Christmas Eve Herbal Tea and Giveaway!

Country of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: lots of orange peels and cinnamon pieces with bits of green from the spearmint
Ingredients: cassia, orange peel, spearmint, vanilla extract, orange oil, natural cinnamon flavor, clove oil
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One- Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep, brassy gold

This herbal blend was extremely aromatic and the smell of cinnamon quickly filled my house while I was steeping. It was sweet, minty and deliciously spicy all at the same time. The spearmint added a really nice, cooling crispness to the finish of each sip. I was worried that the orange flavor might be too strong but it was just right. I could see where this would do well with adding just a smidgen of honey. This would be a great tea for those who typically don't like holiday blends. It isn't overly sweet or spicy, just a nice festive cup. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Comment on this post on this blog or on Facebook for a chance to win a 50g bag of Stash Christmas Morning! Heck, I'm feeling extra generous so I'll throw in what I have left of this tea too :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Adagio Teas Gingerbead Tea (Pyramid Bag)

imageCountry of Origin: Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: small, dark in color
Ingredients: black tea, natural gingerbread flavor, ginger root, cinnamon bark, orange peels
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: dark brown

Gingerbread is one of my favorite cookies and flavors so I was excited to try this selection. Although it was very aromatic, the taste of this blend was surprisingly mellow. There was a mild astringency along with a slightly sweet and cake-like aftertaste. As I was sipping, I couldn't help but feel like there was something missing. Typical of many dessert teas, it delivers on aroma but not so much on taste. That doesn't necessarily make this a bad tea. The black tea base was more than decent, I just expected more out of it. I found myself wanting a lot more spicy cinnamon and craving the tang of ginger. This blend wasn't for me but it may be just right for someone else.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Adagio Teas Chestnut Tea (Pyramid Bag)

imageCountry of Origin: Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: small, dark in appearance
Ingredients: black tea, natural chestnut flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: dark brown

I've never had an actual chestnut but according to Bing Crosby they are supposed to be roasting on an open fire at this time of year. This tea was toasty and smooth. It was surprisingly sweet, so much so that I might even use it as a dessert tea. The nutty aspect of the flavor profile reminded me very much of Nutella so I would say that the chestnut was pretty spot on. I enjoyed that the flavoring was not artificial tasting or overpowering. There was a light dryness at the end of each sip but it was only just enough to add some briskness. Overall this was a comforting cup and I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Adagio Teas Candy Apple Tea (Pyramid Bag)

imageCountry of Origin: Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: very small, dark in color
Ingredients: black tea, apple pieces, natural caramel apple flavor, cinnamon bark
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: dark brown

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Holiday Cheer Gourmet Tea Collection. I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the horrible picture. I couldn't find a photo of this tea so I had to scan the wrapper from my sample. This tea was absolutely delicious. It tasted exactly like a caramel apple, super sweet but balanced by a pleasant tartness. I'm a total cinnamon addict so this was right up my alley. The black tea base was mellow and smooth, providing a perfect platform for the other flavors to shine. My mom was sitting nearby and found the aroma really overpowering but I enjoyed that aspect of it. This is the third tea bag collection Adagio that I've sampled and I have to say that I have been very impressed by them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Boston Tea Company Irish Breakfast

Country of Origin: India and Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: small, very dark
Ingredients: Assam and Ceylon Tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: bright reddish brown

Being a blend of Assam and Ceylon, this tea offered the best of both worlds. It was malty and robust with notes of citrus and a sweet, nutty finish. There was quite a bit of astringency but not so much so as to make it unpleasant. I always take my tea straight but this tea would definitely stand up well to milk and sugar. It would also be nice with a little squeeze of lemon (or maybe even orange). I've tasted the English Breakfast from Boston Tea Company and the Irish version is a slightly brisker cup. I brewed up some iced tea with this blend and it was spot on. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Teavivre Premium Grade Dragon Well Green Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: bright green, large and flat
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: small clay teapot
Liquor: pale greenish yellow

This tea was strangely delicate and rich at the same time. The flavor profile was sweet and floral with an almost oceanic quality that I couldn't quite put my finger on. There a pleasant buttery aftertaste that lingered on my palate. While fresh tasting, it wasn't grassy or astringent. My second infusion was just as enjoyable. The leaves were a good deal larger than most dragon wells and consisted mostly of young buds. I made this in a lovely little clay teapot but I wish that I had used my glass one because this tea was really beautiful to look at. I would definitely recommend this tea. It would be a perfect introduction to green tea for the "I hate green tea" set (gasp, such creatures do exist!).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Adagio Teas Golden Yunnan (Pyramid Bag)

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: mottled brown, curly and twisted
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: dark amber

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Artisan Comfort Gourmet Tea Collection. This tea was earthy and peppery with a pleasant aftertaste that was reminiscent of milk chocolate. There was very little astringency. The flavors really come alive as the tea cools so you might want to let it sit for a bit before taking your first sip. Golden Yunnan is one of my absolute favorite types of black tea and I love having it in the convenience of a tea bag. I always keep a few in my tea wallet, just in case I'm in need of some emergency caffeination. This is a great breakfast tea that isn't too harsh on sensitive palates. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Joy's Teaspoon Cinnamon Roll

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: twisted dark brown, lots of visable cinnamon stick pieces
Ingredients: China Ceylon black tea, cinnamon, flavoring
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: dark brown


This blend was super simple but for a cinnamon junkie like me, it was heaven in a teacup. There was tons of spicy, mouth tingling flavor but it wasn't overdone. The base tea provided a sweet yet earthy richness that stayed in the background. There was a really nice, warming "baked" quality that had me craving cinnamon rolls in the worst way. This tea would be a great chai alternative for those with an aversion to the harsher spices. I've been really impressed with all of the teas that I've tried from Joy's Teaspoon so far and this one was no exception. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Foreign Office Vienna Tea

Country of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: small, greenish brown
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method:
Liquor: bright reddish brown

Although this tea was packaged in a round paper tea bag, it was obvious as soon as I added the water that the leaf pieces were a good deal larger than I would have expected. This tea was smooth and a malty with a lingering but mild spiciness. There was very little astringency. I couldn't quite peg what type of tea it was, perhaps an Assam? Being a compulsive tea nerd, I wish that I knew what kind of black tea this was and from what region. I received a few samples from this new brand at World Tea East. Each of their blends is designed to represent a different international destination. It's a cute, boutiquey concept and overall I think it is well executed. I could definitely see keeping a tin at my not so international office.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tea for Me Please on FourSquare

Being the social media addict that I am, I use and abuse the social check in site foursquare. They've recently added a list feature so I had to take the opportunity to catalog all of my favorite local tea themed haunts. Most of them are in New York City or in New Jersey. Now whenever I'm jonesing for a good cup of tea I can just pull up the app on my phone and see what is nearby. Where are your favorite tea places? Do you have your own foursquare list? Post it in the comments so I can follow! I'm reminded of how many great places I still need to get to.

Update: It's been a few years since I wrote this article and my list has grown quite a bit. FourSquare recently rolled out brand bages so I've created one for the blog. I'll adding tips about my favorite tri-state area tea places so make sure you like my page to stay up to date. Hopefully they will allow mobile check ins for pages soon since I'd really like to be able to share my tea adventures with you all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

IFTA Global Tea Tasters Club - Winter Jin Syuan

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: tightly rolled, deep green
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale greenish gold

The International Tea Farms Alliance was very generous and sent me a sample pack from their Global Tea Tasters Club. I loved that they included information about each tea and the farms where they are produced. The first tea that I tried was this high altitude Alishan oolong from the Dignitea Farm. I was blown away by the quality of this tea. I haven't had an oolong that was quite this good in a long time. It was incredibly delicate but savory at the same time. It was buttery, floral and sweet with a slight vegetal note that reminded me of cucumber. I really enjoyed how slowly the leaves and the flavors unfurled. Each of my three infusions were subtly different and it definitely could have kept going for a quite a few more. I cannot wait to try the other two teas they sent.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Boston Tea Company Autumn Harvest

Country of Origin: South Africa
Leaf Appearance: cornucopia of fall colors
Ingredients: Red Rooibos, Lemongrass, Apple Pieces, Cinnamon, Rosehips, Natural Apple and Cinnamon Flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212  degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: reddish amber

If there was ever a tea that tasted like fall in a cup, this would be it. While I was drinking this herbal blend I felt like I should be hiking through an apple orchard. It was tart and spicy, bringing to mind apple pie or cider at Thanksgiving dinner. The woodsy taste of rooibos is perfect for fall teas. I was happy to find that the cinnamon was strong but not overwhelming. It was very sweet but the lemongrass provided a nice bit of contrast. I love iced teas with apple in them so I am anxious to pop some of this in my trusty iced tea maker. I've been very impressed by all of the teas that I've tried from Boston Tea Company so far.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Joy’s Teaspoon Ruby Red

/42-88-thickbox/ruby-red.jpg Country of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: small, short needles with lots of visible fruit pieces
Ingredients: rooibos tea, pineapple cubes, papaya cubes, mango cubes, flavoring, lemon granules, black carrot pearls, red and pink rose petals
Steep time: 10 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep reddish brown

One of the things I love about Joy's Teaspoon is that their teas never have an artificial taste to them, as so many flavored teas do. This herbal teasan was no exception to that rule. It was incredibly sweet and refreshing. The flavor was citrusy and reminded me very much of a grapefruit covered in sugar but without the usual acidity. I almost found myself wishing that it did have a bit of pucker to it. The pineapple, papaya mango added a great tropical touch. I was worried that the recommended steep time was a little long but it came out just right. I could tell that this would make an awesome iced tea in the summer. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teavivre Tie Guan Yin “Iron Goddess” Oolong Tea

Country of Origin: China (Anxi, Fujian)
Leaf Appearance: dark green, very tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwain
Liquor: pale greenish gold

The leaves of this tea were relatively small and mostly broken. Although they did not appear perfect, I've found that is not really indicative of the quality of the tea. The mouth-feel was very thick. It was not quite like a milk oolong but there was an impression of creaminess. The taste was surprisingly light in comparison. It wasn't perfumy but the orchid aroma lingered on my palate for a long time. There was also a slightly sweet, vegetal note that almost reminded me of baby spinach or snow peas. This tea was very complex and I found it difficult to describe. I did three consecutive steepings in a gaiwan and it still had plenty of steam left. I love an oolong with staying power and this one certainly fit the bill.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Aiya Tea Premium Grade Matcha

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: very fine, bright green powder
Ingredients: green tea
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: traditional (using a chawan and chasen)
Liquor: very dark green with lighter green foam

I have previously reviewed Aiya’s Ceremonial Grade Matcha so this was a great opportunity to compare the two. For starters, the premium grade seemed to be a brighter shade of green. The flavors were fairly similar although the premium grade was smoother and slightly less vegetal than the ceremonial. Another difference that I found really interesting was the the premium grade did not foam up quite as much. Given the higher price tag of this version, it's not something that I would drink on a regular basis but for a special occasion tea this matcha is spot on. If you've never made matcha before and need some guidance, their site has some helpful hints. Aiya also makes a cooking grade matcha that I definitely think will be necessary for my culinary adventures.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Adagio Teas Golden Monkey (Pyramid Bag)

Adagio Tea Golden Monkey Black Tea 15ctCountry of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: mottled brown, twisted
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: very dark

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Artisan Comfort Gourmet Tea Collection. The first thing that impressed me was the amount of large, unbroken leaves in the sachet. Many companies use lower quality leaves in the their tea bags but this one looked exactly like the picture of the loose leaf version on Adagio's site. The flavor of  this tea was spicy and surprisingly sweet. The primary flavor was toasted chestnut but there were also hints of cocoa. The malty, peppery aftertaste added a bit of contrast at the end of each sip. There was some astringency but not so much so as to make it unpleasant. I've just recently run out but this has become my morning wake up tea at work. I think that I'm going to have to restock soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Butternut Chai Chocolate Chip Muffins

Aside from tea, baking is another one of my many obsessions and I love combining the two. Green tea is normally my tea of choice for that since it is so easy to add matcha to just about anything. Last year, a recipe was posted on T Ching for Butternut Chai Chocolate Chip Muffins. I've been meaning to make them ever since and finally got around to it the other day. It uses chai tea concentrate to add a really nice spicy flavor. I didn't have Rishi's concentrate on hand so I used Tazo's from Starbucks and it worked just as well. I probably used too little squash but I wanted to have some leftover to make soup later in the week. I thought that these were delicious and now the gears are turning trying to come up with other ways I can use chai concentrate in my baking. Do you bake with tea? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rishi Tea Green Tea Chai

Green Tea Chai, Organic Fair Trade ChaiCountry of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: very green, more lemon grass visable
Ingredients: Organic cardamom, organic Fair Trade Certified™ green tea, organic lemongrass, organic ginger, organic licorice root, organic black pepper and organic peppermint.
Preparation Method: boiled 1.5 cups of water and 1 cup of milk, added tea, simmered for 5 minutes and strained
Liquor: greenish off-white

I think that I might have liked this tea if I had not followed Rishi's preparation recommendations. I just couldn't get over the stomach churning combo of green and herbal teas with milk. The color of the tea post-steeping was also a really unappetizing greenish off-white color. The dominant flavor here was lemon grass, with licorice coming in as a close second. The peppermint added a bit of sweetness that was tempered by the pepper and ginger. On the plus side, the spices did clear up my sinuses a bit. If I come across this tea again, I will definitely have to try it sans dairy because that was the main issue for me. I love chai but this blend was just not for me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Yumi Yumi Octopus Creature Cup

Octopus Creature CupI have a major teaware addiction but I’ve been trying to cut back due to lack of space and funds. I just couldn’t resist when this unique and wacky cup was offered on the flash sale site Fab.com. What could be better than eight arms coming at you from inside of your teacup? The artist also makes a really cute version with a sea otter. These handmade cups are microwave and dishwasher safe. I cannot wait for it to get here so that I can do a little deep sea tea drinking. In case you want one for yourself, the title of this post is a link to the Etsy shop where they are available.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cost Plus World Market Mountain Wulong

World Market® Organic Mountain Wulong Loose Leaf Tea | World MarketCountry of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small and curled, dark but mottled appearance
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 4 minutes
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: amber

This tea was floral and malty with notes of apricots and a subtle sweetness. There was a bit of dryness at the end of each sip but it wasn't overly astringent. Overall it was a very enjoyable cup and I'm looking forward to trying it iced as well. While this was not the best oolong I've ever had, this tea is really inexpensive so it would make a great daily drinker. You would be hard pressed to beat $9.99 for just over 2oz of decent loose leaf tea. I really appreciated that this tea is organic and fair trade certified. I think it behooves every tea drinker to practice a little bit of social responsibility when we can.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Village Tea Company Spicy Route Chai

Country of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: small, very fine
Ingredients: Black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger root, pepper, clove
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: brought 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of milk to boil and poured over pouch
Liquor: very dark brown

This tea was packaged in a biodegradable pyramid bag. I don’t normally add anything to my tea but I followed Village Tea Company’s preparation instructions for the first round. Chai is the only tea that I can stomach with milk and it worked well here. I added a touch of a orange blossom honey to this as well. I also tried this tea straight but I liked it better the "traditional" way. The spice was definitely on the forefront of the flavor palate with this blend. It wasn't overwhelming but it was just enough to make a warm and cozy cup. The addition of the pepper gave it a nice little kick. I prefer my chai to be a little more “teaish” but this version was well done. I'm not enjoying the arrival of cold weather at all but at least it lends itself well to sipping some chai.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tea for Me Please on goodreads

Being a major bookworm I have found myself addicted to goodreads. It’s basically social networking for the literary minded. You can keep track of what books you read, rate them and see what your friends are reading. I try to read everything on the subject of tea that I can get my hands on and my collection is slowly growing. In honor of my love for tea I've created a list on goodreads called Tea for Me Please. I've included on it all of the tea books that I have read so far. Lists on this site involve community voting so I would love to see some other books added.

Feel free to add me on goodreads too if you would like by clicking the button below!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Joy’s Teaspoon Enchanted Forest

Country of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green with lots of color from the flower petals
Ingredients: green tea, green mate, coconut shreds, flavoring, rose petals and cornflower blossoms
Steep time: 4 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: bright greenish yellow

This blend was quite decadent and aromatic. I thought that the fruity and floral flavors played off of each other really well. The coconut shreds added an almost candy-like element but it wasn’t artificial tasting. Overall this was a very balanced cup with very little astringency. The almond flavoring brought a subtle, almost creamy smoothness. I resteeped this tea a second time and it was just as delicious, if not more so. I have been really impressed with all of the teas that I have tried from Joy’s Teaspoon so far. I also have to add that I LOVE their sample tins. I'm saving all of my empties so that I can re-purpose them to make lip balm with a group of preteen Girl Scouts.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Boston Tea Company Pumpkin Spice

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka and China
Leaf Appearance: small and dark tea leaves. spices and petals added a punch of fall color
Ingredients: Ceylon Black Tea, Exotic Spices, Sunflower Petals, Natural Pumpkin Flavors
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep reddish brown

Halloween has just passed and Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. What better way to get in the mood than with pumpkin pie in a cup? That’s exactly what this tea tasted like. It had just the right amount of spice and a pleasant earthiness. I found it a little too astringent so I will probably steep for closer to three minutes next time. This is a perfect chilly weather tea and a great alternative to chai. I really enjoyed it after battling our first snow storm of the season here in New Jersey. I do wish that I knew what "exotic spices" were used. Cinnamon and clove are the fairly obvious choices but I always like to know what I'm drinking. That minor complaint aside, I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tiesta Tea Nutty Almond Cream

Country of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: large, chunky pieces
Ingredients: apple pieces, crushed almonds, cinnamon pieces, beetroot pieces
Steep time: 7 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: a strange translucent pinkish orange

The first thing that struck me about this blend was the strange color of the brew. It was a very odd, pinkish orange and so cloudy that it was almost translucent. The taste could only be described as being like a less astringent version of apple cider. It was naturally very sweet. So much so that I wouldn’t dream of adding sugar, agave or any other sweeteners. The almond came through in the finish of each sip and while not super noticeable, there was a vague creaminess. I'm big cinnamon fan so this was blend was right up my alley in that department. This was a perfect fall cuppa (though it feels like winter here already!) that made we want to go apple picking and bake a pie. I would definitely recommend this blend.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

HELPS Teas Organic R&R

Ingredients: organic lemon balm and organic passion flower
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: deep gold

I was hesitant to write this review because I usually try to be as positive as possible. I really can’t sugar coat it though, this tea was simply awful. It was very bland but had an odd sour aftertaste that rendered it barely drinkable. Just because a tea has a potential medicinal use does not mean that it can’t taste good too. A lot of companies forget that when making a "health" blend. If I need to relax, I'd just as soon brew up some catnip or chamomile. I would not recommend this tea.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Adagio Teas Silver Needle

Silver Needle from Adagio TeasCountry of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: pale green, covered in down
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 7 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: very pale gold

Although pale in color, this tea was surprisingly flavorful. There were a lot of subtle nuances in each sip if I really took my time to focus on them. I could taste notes of honeysuckle, pear and cucumber. I even picked up a slight hint of bread dough (nicer than it sounds). There was also a slight grassiness but hardly any astringency. The aftertaste was crisp and clean. I also made a pitcher of iced tea with this and added just a touch of orange blossom honey, perfection! I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Aiya Tea Ceremonial Grade Matcha

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: very fine, bright green powder
Ingredients: green tea
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: traditional (using a chawan and chasen)
Liquor: very dark green with lighter green foam

I was really happy to give this tea a try since I can’t remember the last time I had a bowl of matcha. My chawan and chasen were probably pretty happy to stop collecting dust for a bit as well. I always sift my matcha into my chawan first. This helps it mix smoothly and keeps in from getting clumpy. After some vigorous whisking, I had a nice amount of froth built up on top of dark forest green tea. My chawan is made out of clear glass so that I can really enjoy and appreciate the color. This tea was thick and creamy with a smooth, vegetal flavor. One thing I really loved  was that I didn’t have to keep whisking as I drank, which I’ve often had to do with matcha from other companies. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Joy’s Teaspoon Sun Kissed Jasmine

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: thin, very green
Ingredients: Sencha, Lung Ching, green Yunnan, Pai Mu Tan, flavoring, rosebuds, rose petals, mallow blossoms
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: Deep gold

If there was ever a romantic looking tea this would be it. I loved the visual impact of the tiny rosebuds and flower petals. The aroma of this tea was floral and surprisingly fruity. Overall the flavor profile of this tea was fairly complex and well balanced. The taste was sweetly delicate but the jasmine was much more subtle than I was expecting. There was a hint of papaya and citrus flavor that added a pleasant dryness to the finish of each sip. As it cooled the flavors actually became more pronounced so this would probably make an excellent iced tea. I can see why this blend is called "sun kissed", all of those flavors reminded me of spending a warm summer day in a garden. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Min River Tea Iron Buddha

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: large but tightly rolled, bright green in color
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 1 minute
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

This tea was fragrant and floral without being perfumy. It had the classic orchid aroma that one would expect from Tie Guan Yin oolong but it also had a slight vegetal aspect that kept the sweetness in check. While very green, it had a noticeably crisp and clean aftertaste. I did three steepings but I think it definitely would have lasted for quite a few more infusions. Once they unfurled the leaves were very large with tattered, brown tinged edges. They’re the kind of leaves that I can’t help but play with. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Village Tea Company English Breakfast

small_English Breakfast.jpgCountry of Origin: Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: very dark, short leaf pieces
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 4 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep reddish brown

The first thing that struck me about this tea was the 100% recycled packaging. Inside of the cardboard tube were two cotton muslin bags filled with tea and ten paper filters. How perfect it would be to use this for my tea stash at work? I’ve definitely got to brainstorm ideas on how to reuse the tube and bags. This tea was exactly how I like my English Breakfast. It was mildly smoky with notes of earthy chestnut and a subtle sweetness. A touch of astringency added briskness without making it bitter. I only did one steeping with this tea but one or two more decent cups could have easily been had.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Aiya Tea Matcha Zen Café Blend

Matcha green tea online storeCountry of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: very fine green powder
Ingredients: green tea pre-blended with sugar
Preparation Method: mixed in a blender with ice and cold whole cows milk
Liquor: pale green

I got a chance to try some of this at World Tea East and it was delicious. Aiya was kind enough to give me a sample to take home. I prepared it as a smoothie but t can also be used to make lattes or mixed with water as is. I was afraid of messing up but it really couldn’t be easier. I use whole milk because I’m not  a fan of soy or skim milk but you could just as easily have used one those. The finished smoothie was refreshingly vegetal and sweet, definitely way better than anything you would get from Starbucks. There is sugar pre-blended with this matcha but it had just the right amount. The single serve packet made it super convenient. If only I had a blend at work! I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Twitter for the Tea Set

I’ve been tweeting about tea almost as long as I’ve been blogging (which was 3 years to the date last Thursday!). It's been a great way to connect with the companies I love, fellow bloggers and drinkers of tea. I've made so many friends and connections over the years. Twitter is definitely the place to be if you are into tea so I thought that I might put together some pointers. If you aren’t familiar with twitter at all, you might want to check out Twitter 101 first.

  • You’ll have a much easier time writing tweets if it’s something you are passionate about (like tea). It will also make it easier to find people with similar interests. The flip side of that is to try to avoid oversharing. Your followers don’t need to hear about every step you take during your day.
  • Don't be afraid to be yourself. Twitter is an excellent place to let your quirky side loose.
  • Create content, not clutter! If all you do is self-promote or retweet, no one has any reason to follow you.
  • Keep it postive! Spreading negativity is a quick way to loose followers.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the key to Twitter is not the number of people following you. There’s not much point to tweeting if you have thousands of followers but no one is listening. Your goal should be meaningful interactions.
  • A really good way to find fellow tea drinkers is to the join the Tea Twibe. Clicking on "Who to Follow" on Twitter is also helpful.
  • Don’t forget to be social! A lot of people are hesitant to reply to tweets because they think it will clutter up your follower's timeline. As long as your tweet begins with an @username then it will not show unless that person follows both of you, in which case they would probably be interested in joining the conversation.
If you have any other tips to add, I'd love to hear them. Be sure to include your Twitter handle in your comment!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tiesta Tea Creme au Chocolat

Country of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: small, very dark
Ingredients: black tea, chocolate chips, cocoa kernels
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: reddish brown

This tea wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but in a good way. It was subtly bitter sweet and reminded me of a very dark chocolate. I abhor chemically and artificially flavored tea so I was pleased to see that this tea didn't have anything extra added in that department. The base tea was brisk and somewhat malty so my guess is that it was an Assam. I’m not one to sweeten my tea (gasp!) but I think that adding a little sugar would round out the flavor profile nicely. It tasted better as it cooled so it would probably make a very nice iced tea. Whether or not someone would enjoy this tea would depend on how they like their chocolate.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Joy’s Teaspoon Creamsicle

/39-83-thickbox/creamsicle.jpgCountry of Origin: not stated but rooibos is normally from South Africa
Leaf Appearance: reddish brown with small bits of orange peel easily visible
Ingredients: rooibos tea, orange peel, flavoring, freeze-dried yogurt granules
Steep time: 8 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: chocolaty dark brown

This tea had the slightly woodsy, sweet flavor expected of rooibos with just a bit of citrusy tang. I was skeptical of the yogurt granules but they added this amazing creaminess that perfectly complimented the orange peel. Neither flavor was over-the-top or artificial tasting. I love it when a tea tastes exactly the way its name implies. This selection was a perfect example of that. This was truly delicious, summery dessert tea. I could see this being excellent iced as well. I would definitely recommend this tea. I'm not a huge fan of rooibos but lately I've had a streak of good luck with some really wonderful flavored blends.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Village Tea Company Sassy Green Tea with Acai

small_Sassy Green.jpgCountry of Origin: Chinese green tea
Leaf Appearance: dark green, almost sencha-like in appearance
Ingredients: green tea, ginger, flavor, orange peel, peach pieces, chilies, cloves, safflower, acai
Steep time: 4 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep yellowish green

I wasn't sure what to expect from this tea because of the eclectic mix of ingredients. It was somewhat vegetal and sweet but had a surprising kick in the finish. I really enjoyed that aspect because it helped to cut the sweetness of the peach and acai. The spice in this blend is super subtle, letting the tea itself take center stage. There was  just enough to add a refreshing crispness. Leaves aside, I appreciate the fact that this tea comes packaged in a 100% recycled and recyclable container.  I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Smart Planet Eco Cold Drink Cup

I've been on the search for a cold drink cup to use for making chai and green tea lattes at home for a while. Luckily my local Shop Rite supermarket had these on sale. It's double walled design keeps drinks cold while minimizing condensation. The lid fits super tight which is important for the accident prone such as myself. The whole thing is made from BPA free plastic (definitely a big plus), even the straw. The one that I picked out was a super cute argyle print. My version is 16oz but they are also available in a 20oz size.  I love being able to be eco-friendly and drink tea at the same time. If I lived close enough to a Starbucks I would be tempted to see if they would let me use this instead of their disposable cups. It's technically the same size as a grande.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adagio Teas Dragonwell (Pyramid Bag)

Country of Origin: Chinese
Leaf Appearance: flat, dark green
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 180 degrees
Water Temperature: 3 minutes
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: pale gold

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Artisan Comfort Gourmet Tea Collection. The flavor was sweet and buttery with a subtle toastiness that reminded me of freshly popped popcorn. This tea was very smooth but a touch of vegetal astringency gave a dry finish to each sip. As far as tea bags go, this is one of the best dragonwells I’ve had. A lot of companies will use substandard tea that isn't properly pan fired but it was obvious that this tea is the real deal. I hardly ever get around to drinking it anymore but dragonwell is still of my absolutely favorite green teas. I’m so happy that I have a stock of these at work to get me through the chilly fall days to come.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Joy’s Teaspoon Eternal Sunshine

/93-194-thickbox/eternal-sunshine.jpgCountry of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: small, dark and curled with blue petals mixed throughout
Ingredients: pu-erh tea, orange peel, freeze-dried raspberries, flavoring, cornflower blossoms
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: very dark, nearly black

This tea was very lightly flavored with just a hint of berries and citrus. I love a naturally sweet tea and this one did not taste artificial at all. The puerh base was earthy and chocolaty with a rich maple syrup-like quality to it. Overall I thought that this tea was really well balanced. While I was sipping, I found myself thinking that I wish that this was how Earl Grey tasted. Subtle orange flavor trumps the burn of bergamot for me any day. The cooler this tea got the more I liked it. Now I wish that I had enough to make it iced as well as I’m sure that would be delicious. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Boston Tea Company Bombay Chai

Country of Origin: China and India
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with non-descript colored pieces mixed throughout
Ingredients: Black tea, organic ginger, organic cloves, organic cinnamon, cardamom, orange spice flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain mug
Liquor: bright, reddish brown

This tea was packaged in a silk pyramid tea bag. It was wonderfully toasty with just a hint of sweet spice. There wasn’t a single ingredient that stood out or overpowered the others, instead they seemed perfectly blended. I don’t like chai that is throat-burningly over the top so it was just my speed. Although on the mild side, it was definitely still strong enough to take sugar or milk if you wanted to. I still have a few bags left and I’m looking forward to having them at work. Fall is the perfect time of year for chai and the weather here has finally started to cool off a bit.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Village Tea Company Cherry Me Bloom

small_Cherry Rooibos.jpgCountry of Origin: South Africa
Leaf Appearance: small, brown woody stalks with petals and lemongrass blades mixed in throughout
Ingredients: Rooibos, sour cherry, lemon grass, flavor, acai, sunflower petals
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep reddish brown


There were no brewing directions on the package or Village Tea Company’s website so I pretty much winged it with this one. This tea was an easy drinker but possibly too easy. I was expecting a very tart, punchy tea but the dominating flavor was the woodsy and sweet rooibos. The cherry came through almost as an aftertaste. With flavored teas there is a fine line between blandness, being good and overdoing it. I tried resteeping for seven minutes but it still didn’t do much. This wasn’t a bad tea, it was just a little too quiet for my taste.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thistledown Cozies Tea Wallet

There is nothing worse than wanting a good cup of tea and not being able to get one but it’s not always easy to carry tea with me. When I saw these for sale at World Tea East, I knew that I just had to have one. These six pocket tea wallets have a snap closure and are handmade in the U.S.A. They come in a rainbow of colors but the one that I picked up is a tan Asian inspired print.

I’ve currently got six loose leaf sachets from Adagio which makes it a little bulky. I always lug around a gigantic purse so that really isn’t a big deal. I’m excited to try putting some T-Sacs in it as well. Unfortunately I don't think there's a way to make these manly so they are probably only usable for the ladies but I love it all the same.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Joy’s Teaspoon Italian Dream

Country of Origin: N/A (most likely South Africa)
Leaf Appearance: small and dark reddish brown. I was able to easily spot most of the other ingredients
Ingredients: rooibos tea, chocolate chips, brittle pieces, caramel pieces, flavoring, freeze-dried yoghurt granules, roasted coffee beans, roman camomile
Steep time: 8 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep brown

This herbal tea blend was decadently sweet and creamy without being over the top or artificial tasting. It reminded me very much of tiramisu and it would make a perfect dessert tea. The ingredients sounded like an odd combination but somehow it works. I was a bit hesitant to try this at first because I saw that it contained the dreaded “C” word…COFFEE! I love how coffee smells but I’ve never been able to stomach the stuff. I was pleasantly surprised to find that rather than a blast of java, the roasted coffee beans added more of a mild hint of mocha. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Adagio Teas Sweet Medley Collection

Photo: Adagio Teas
Now that I've finally reviewed all of the flavors in this gift set, I thought that I should also review it as a whole. Always the skeptic, especially when it comes to tea bags, I have to say that I was really impressed. Not all of the flavors were exactly my cup of tea but that was more of a matter of personal preference than the actual quality of the blends. As bagged teas go, these are about as good as it gets. They’re not spectacular but they are all pretty darned tasty and not too far off from their loose leaf equivalents. The packaging is cardboard but it was simple, sturdy and well designed. I would definitely recommend this collection, especially as a gift or even just to keep at the office. I’ve been keeping this on my desk at work and those little bags fueled me through several it’s-way-too-early-for-this mornings.

The Sweet Medley Collection consists of 30 tea bags, 5 each of the following flavors:
Peach Oolong
Citrus Green
Peppermint
Earl Grey
White Blueberry
Vanilla Rooibos

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cost Plus World Market Talisman Tea Infuser Mug

Talisman Tea Infuser Mugs, Set of 2 | World MarketI’m always looking for easy ways to make tea on the go so I was really excited to give this one a try. The mug that I received was a different print (a pretty Asian inspired one) than the ones shown on their site but it had the same basic design. The set featured a tall mug with an ceramic infuser that fit inside and a lid. It retained heat well but didn’t get so hot that I was unable to touch it.

While aesthetically pleasing, I thought that the holes on the infuser were too large. I had trouble keeping anything but very large leafed teas (like my favorite dan cong) from slipping through. For this reason, I definitely prefer steel mesh infuser baskets over ceramic ones like this. If you don’t mind leaves in your cup then it’s really not that big of a deal. This mug would make a great gift for someone just getting started with tea or for someone who likes to make tea at the office.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

World Tea East 2011

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending World Tea East in Philadelphia. Since Philly is so close to home I opted to travel by bus and to just go for the day on Saturday. I have to admit that when I first arrived I was a little disappointed to see how small the expo was. In hindsight, that was part of what made it so great. Instead of running from booth to booth in a harried crowd, there was time to have meaningful conversations with some wonderful people.

Just outside of the exhibit hall, Artist Michele Brody set up her Reflections In Tea art project. It features a tea house made out of copper pipe with walls made out of paper t-sacs. Show attendees were asked to write hopes or prayers for those affected by the recent tsunami in Japan and donations were also collected for that same purpose. It was lovely to take a time out to sit in the tea house and enjoy a cup of tea.



I wandered the aisles a bit and then my next stop was the oolong tasting at Teas Etc.’s booth. I sampled some really great teas, including a nice aged dong ding. They were also kind enough to let me sample a sixty year old puerh that was AMAZING. I love meeting tea people that are enthusiastic about what they do and the crew there definitely fit the bill.


The rest of the expo was a blur of sampling teas and talking shop. Many of the companies were very generous with samples and there will definitely be lots of reviews coming soon. I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any tea since I already have way too much (if that is at all possible). I did buy a cute tea wallet from Thistledown Cozies and the latest issue of Art of Tea.

As I heard a lot of people say during the expo, tea people are some the nicest most laid back people you will every meet. After the expo was over, I got together with several friends from twitter at Tbar. I had a rather yummy honeybee latte. It was a great pick me up after all of the walking that I did. After that it was time for the long bus trip home. Even though I was exhausted and a bit over-caffeinated, I’m really glad that I made the trek.