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.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

But I want the top two leaves!

I just had to share this video because it gave me a good giggle. The commercial is set in China but the narration is apparently in Thai. I haven't seen a cute tea commercial here in the states since the heyday of the Tetley Tea Folk. What's your favorite tea video?


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.