Friday, June 29, 2012

Teas Etc Tanzanian White Tea

Country of Origin: Tanzania
Leaf Appearance: small, pale green and covered in down
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: deep gold

I was really excited to try this since I've never had the opportunity to try tea that was from Tanzania. The leaves of this tea were noticeably smaller than the silver needles typically grown in China. The taste was grassy and lightly floral with notes of melon and honey. These flavors became more pronounced as the tea cools. I was very impressed because I have not been a fan of other African sourced white teas that I've tried. But then, I shouldn't be that surprised because the folks at Teas Etc are very particular about the teas that they carry. Although silver needle can be expensive, I absolutely love it iced and this one would work well hot or cold. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Purchase this tea here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Handmade Tea Smoked Lemon Thyme

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: very dark green, bright lemon peels
Ingredients: smoked green tea, lemon peels, thyme
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: very pale green

What I love most about my subscription to Handmade Tea is that you just never know what they will come up with next. This month's blend featured green tea that was lightly hand-smoked with vineyard grapevine oak and accented with lemon peel and thyme. It was incredibly aromatic and the thyme was particularly pungent. The taste was herbaceous with a pleasant citrus zing in the finish. The aftertaste was sweet and lingered in my palate long after each sip. I thoroughly enjoyed this tea hot but it was also delicious as an iced tea. I've said it before but I'll say it again, Handmade Tea is definitely worth checking out. The teas are truly unique, one of a kind blends that you would not find anywhere else.

Subscribe to Handmade Tea here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Le Palais des Thés Thé Des Alizés

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: dark green, flat
Ingredients: green tea, peach pieces, orange blossom, aromas
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 170 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep gold

I'm going to borrow an expression from my vino-centric day job to describe this tea. What a fruit bomb! This tea tasted exactly like a peach. It was lush and juicy without being cloyingly sweet or artificial. I really enjoyed that the flavoring did not overwhelm the base green tea. It was delicate and grassy with very little astringency. Both the dry leaves and the steeped tea were very aromatic. There are few things I love more than authentic flavoring in a tea and Le Palais des Thés has this one down pat. As delicious as this was when served hot, it was even better as an iced tea. I have as feeling that this blend and I are going to be very good friends this summer. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Purchase this tea here.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Adagio Teas Masters Collection: Yunnan Golden Curls

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: mottled brown and gold, twisted
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic gaiwan
Liquor: amber

This tea was incredibly complex yet subtle at the same time. There were notes of cocoa with just a hint of spice and sweet raisin-like aftertaste. The mouthfeel was very soft and there was very little astringency. The aroma of the leaves was intoxicating so be sure to take a good long sniff in between sips. I did three consecutive infusions and each of them were just as delicious as the one before it. When I was done, I threw the leaves into my cold drip iced tea maker and wound up with the most delicious iced tea. This was an absolutely stellar rendition of one of my favorite black tea varieties. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teavivre Bailin Gongfu Black Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark and twisted with lots of golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 40 seconds
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: amber

I love "gongfu" style black tea because it exactly the opposite of what we normally think of black tea as being. This version was no exception. It was malty with notes of chocolate and caramel. The finish was smooth and there was very little astringency. Despite its mild nature, this tea had major staying power. I did four consecutive infusions and it grew bolder each time. Even if you don't like black tea, I definitely recommend giving this tea a try. There are two things that set Teavivre's website apart. They profile the farmers from whom they source their tea and you are able to view the quality safety analysis report for each of their teas. As I always say, it's important for a conscientious tea drink to know where their tea comes from.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Min River Tea Old Iron

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark brownish green, twisted shape
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 40 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

This tea is a green Tie Guan Yin oolong that has been charcoal roasted. It was incredibly aromatic and I just had to use my aroma cups so that I could really take it in. The taste was woodsy and mildly smokey with a floral sweetness in the finish. This tea was really interesting because despite the roasting, it had many of the qualities of a green oolong. I did three consecutive steepings but the leaves definitely had a lot more to give. I've been very impressed with all of the teas that I've tried from Min River Tea Farm. Their teas are very affordable, especially for the quality of the leaf. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Purchase this tea here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Daintree Tea Company Black Tea

Country of Origin: Australia
Leaf Appearance: dark brown, small
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep reddish brown

Thanks to my friend Geoff over at Lazy Literatus I had the opportunity to try this Australian black tea. It was grown by the Daintree Tea Company at the Cubbagudta Plantation in North Queensland. It had the typical orange pekoe taste, smooth and sweet with just the right amount of astringency. It was strong enough to take milk and sweetener but mild enough that neither are really necessary. Fancy teas are all well and good but there is something to be said for a simple cup of tea and that is exactly what this was. I'm excited to try this iced as well. It would be perfect with just a touch of honey. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Our Home Tea Blackberry Tea

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: small and dark with a strong aroma
Ingredients: black tea, blackberries
Steep time: 4 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: very dark brown

As soon as I opened my sample packet I was hit with a very strong fruity aroma. The base tea was smokey and brisk while the blackberry flavor came through as more of an aftertaste. It wasn't very sweet but had a pleasant berry-like tartness that became more pronounced as the tea cooled. This would make an excellent iced tea, especially with just a touch of sweetener (I'd probably go with agave on this one). This tea is very inexpensive which is something I look for when I want to pick up something to regularly make iced teas with. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Purchase this tea here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

David's Tea Organic Buttered Rum

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: dark and twisted, yellowish curls of coconut, flower petals add a punch of color
Ingredients: black tea, coconut flakes, vanilla beans, cornflower petals. With organic and natural flavouring
Steep time: 6 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: reddish brown

This tea tasted exactly like what I would imagine buttered rum to taste like. It was super rich and creamy with notes of caramel. The vanilla and the coconut were perfectly matched and there was just the right amount of sweetness. I put one of my cups in the fridge so that I could try this iced and it was just as delicious. Summer cocktails anyone? I think I will have to pick up more of this because I'm fascinated with David's Tea's suggestion of blending it with dark rum, brown sugar and a splash of milk. I'm usually a bit more of a tea purist, preferring "straight" teas, but I've been very impressed with the selections that I've tried from David's Tea.

Purchase this tea here.
(Blogger is being weird about adding links to the title so I'm doing this for teas where I couldn't add the link as I normally do.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How I Buy Tea

I often get asked about how I buy tea. First and foremost, I am a notorious impulse buyer. If a tea is unique or strikes my fancy then I'm probably going to buy it. One of the first things I consider is actually the size of the package. Thanks to this blog and the generosity of many lovely tea companies, I usually have tea coming out of my ears. It just wouldn't make sense for me to buy a whole pound of tea because I would never drink it all. I LOVE when companies offer sample sizes because it allows me to try a tea I might not have been able to otherwise.

The next thing I would look for is appearance and aroma. Although not all good looking leaves make good tea, I'm a sucker for a pretty tea. Whether it's the downy hairs of a silver needle or the twists and curls of a golden monkey, I love examining the leaves and getting up close and personal with my tea. Each variety of tea also has a scent all its own and I find myself to be most attracted to teas that smell exactly as they should. Drinking tea is a very sensory experience and aroma is a huge part of that.

It is also very important to me that the tea I buy is environmentally and socioeconomically responsible. I try to buy tea that is organic and fair trade whenever possible. Organic is important because the massive quantities of tea that I drink put me at risk for consuming pesticides and chemical fertilizers. I also prefer that my tea be fair trade because I think it behooves a tea drinker to know where their tea came from and the affect that their purchasing decisions have on the workers who produced it.

Price would be my final consideration. With the world at our fingertips through the internet, there are enough online retailers to make your head spin. It can actually make the decision to buy very difficult. I will usually spend a lot of time comparison shopping before making a purchase. I'll Google a tea or look at what others are saying about it on sites like Steepster and Teaviews. I find that with tea you generally get what you pay for. Of course their are exceptions to every rule and you can find some awesome teas for a bargain price if you search around enough.

I'd love to hear from my readers on what matters most to them when purchasing tea. Let me know in the comments on this !

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Little Red Cup Tea Company Lu Mei Green Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: deep green, twisted
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: gold

This is the first of several reviews of teas from Little Red Tea Cup Co. When I saw a sampler of their teas on the flash sale site Fab.com I just couldn't resist. This tea was vegetal with notes of pineapple. It wasn't overly complex, just a simple and straightforward green tea. The aftertaste was sweet and lingered long after each sip. There was some astringency but it only added a refreshing crispness. I think that it would have been quite a bit stronger if I had used a gaiwan (which I may try since I have some leftover). On a whim I cold brewed this tea as well and it was very refreshing. I've had a string of delicate green teas lately so it was nice to have something a bit more substantial. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Purchase this tea here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Le Palais des Thés Mélange du Cap

Country of Origin: South Africa
Leaf Appearance: reddish, needle-like
Ingredients: rooibos, aroma, cacao peels
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep reddish brown

This herbal tea had an incredible chocolate aroma. Everyone else in the room took notice. The taste was more subdued but just as delicious. It was smooth and sweet with a creamy, chocolaty finish. I loved that it wasn't artificial tasting or overly sweet. The woodsy taste of the rooibos worked well with the flavoring in this blend.  I'm usually not one for adding anything to my tea but this would likely take milk or sweetener well. I would definitely recommend this tea. Le Palais des Thés included a recipe for some delicious looking bread with this tea that I cannot wait to bake. I'll be sure to post about it when I do.

Purchase this tea here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

David's Tea Jade Oolong Chai

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: dark green and tightly curled, colorful spices
Ingredients: jade style Tie Kuan Yin, ginger root, cinnamon, cardamom, pink peppercorns, stevia leaf. With natural flavouring
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: gold

When I saw samples of this in David's Tea's shop I just had to pick one up. I had never seen an oolong based chai and I had never tried a tea with pink peppercorns in it. Unfortunately, this tea was way too sweet for me. I felt like the stevia (or maybe it was the natural flavoring?) all but covered up the oolong. The spice came through only as a slight tingle in the aftertaste. The ginger dominated in that department. There's definitely some potential here but I probably would have gone with a much darker oolong than Tie Kuan Yin. If you are a fan of very sweet teas this blend might up your alley but it just wasn't my thing.

Purchase this tea here.