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.