Everyday Green Tea from Rington’s Premium English Teas

EverydayGreenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: Rington’s Premium English Teas

Tea Description:

Our modern version of green tea. The unfermented tea leaves are processed gently, encouraging the mellow tea flavours to come through to give a smoother flavour with no harshness. Ideal with or without milk!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I had my reservations about this Everyday Green Tea from Rington’s Premium English Teas.  I think that by now, I’ve shown that I’m a little less than enthusiastic when it comes to bagged tea.  That said, I do occasionally find not only what I’d deem ‘acceptable’ bagged tea but what I might even call tasty!

This is one such bagged tea.  Sure, I’d be happier if this were a loose leaf tea.  But, for a bagged tea, this is pleasant.  It’s tasty.

To brew it, I heated my kettle of freshly filtered water to 175°F and put one tea bag into a mug.  Then I added the heated water and let it steep for 2 minutes.

It tastes like ‘green tea.’  It’s smooth, sweet and buttery.  It has vegetal notes that are a little grassy and a little like lima beans.

The tea is not bitter but there is a fair amount of astringency to this – much more so than I’m used to experiencing with a green tea.  It starts out rather subtle and it develops and now that I’m halfway through the cup I’m finding this to have a dry, astringent finish.

Overall, this is alright.  It isn’t something I’m likely to stock in my pantry but it’s not something I’d refuse if I were offered it, either.

Cinnamon Apricot Iced Honeybush Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SBT-HONEYBUSH-Cinnamon-ApricotTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy:  Zoomdweebies

Tea Description:

Organic caffeine-free honeybush with organic sweet cinnamon and apricot flavors. This is a tea the whole family will love. We made a similar rooibos blend with these flavors for a 52teas blend years ago. It was my wife’s favorite and received the name, “Sheri’s Blend”. One of our tea bar customers took one sip of that tea and exclaimed, “It takes just like Christmas!” Personally, I think this honeybush blend is even better.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I remember really liking the Sheri’s Blend from 52Teas which was a rooibos based blend with the same flavors of apricot and cinnamon.  And as weird as it is for me to admit, I think I liked that blend better than I’m liking this Cinnamon Apricot Iced Honeybush Tea from Southern Boy Teas.

Maybe it’s the “iced” part, because I am of the firm belief that I prefer honeybush over rooibos so I don’t think that’s the issue with this.  Then again, maybe it is the rooibos – maybe rooibos just goes better with the apricot and cinnamon flavors than the honeybush does.  I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like this tisane.  It’s tasty.  But its not as tasty as I remember Sheri’s Blend being.  I remember tasting a good, strong flavor of apricot that tasted true to the fruit, and here, I’m having trouble finding much apricot flavor at all.

The cinnamon is really dominant in this blend.  I taste mostly cinnamon and it seems to be masking the flavor of the apricot a bit.  After drinking about 2/3 of the glass, I start to pick up on the apricot notes, but they’re still not as strong as I’d like them to be.

The cinnamon is the top note, with mid-notes of honeyed nutty flavors and a low note of apricot.  It’s a tasty blend, but if you’re looking for a strong apricot flavor, this tea isn’t bringing that for me.  But if you like a really nice cinnamon flavor that’s a little sweet and a little spicy – kind of like the cinnamon you’d sprinkle on your breakfast toast – this tea delivers!

Overall, a tasty iced tisane, but I’d like it better if the apricot were more pronounced.

Keemun Black Tea from Swan Sisters

KeemunSwanSistersTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Tea Description:

This is a rich, lightly smoky black tea that’s smooth & bold. There’s a subtle rose note that adds depth to this cup. It has an assertive edge that gets more pronounced with longer steep times. Try it more “edgy” – 1 tsp in 8oz for 3-5 minutes. 

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Keemun Black Tea from Swan Sisters is a lovely Keemun.  It has a lot of the flavors that I expect from a top-notch Keemun tea.

To brew this, I used my Kati Tumbler.  I measured a bamboo scoop of the tea into my basket and poured boiling water into the tumbler and let it steep for 3 minutes.  This produced a robust cup of tea that would make a nice mid-morning cuppa!

It’s got a pleasant smoky flavor – not too smoky, not too overwhelming – but just enough to stimulate the senses.  It evokes thoughts of autumn when the weather starts to become a little cooler and people start warming their homes with fires in the fireplace.  The smoke billowing from their chimneys creates a smoky note in the air that I can almost taste.  That’s what I experience when I drink this Keemun, that wisp of smoke in the air on a cool autumn evening.

I often think (in my own little twisted tea mind) that there are two different ‘types’ of Keemun:  there is the smoky Keemun (like this one) and there is a wine-like Keemun.  This one is more smoky than wine-like, although there are some fruity, wine-like notes to this as well.  I like the way the hints of fruit play with the smoky flavors.

And to my surprise, I notice hints of rose as suggested in the description above.  This is not something I always pick up on, so I’m not sure that I’m tasting it now, or my mind is just making me think I taste it because it was suggested to me.  But, either way, it’s a pleasant experience.

Overall, a really enjoyable Keemun.  Amoda Tea offers me another lovely tea, making me a happy tea sipper.  Thank you!

Organic Chai from Twinings of London

OrganicChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Twinings of London

Tea Description:

Select black tea from Assam expertly blended with sweet and savoury spices including cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger to deliver a flavourful tea with a warm, soothing aroma and a fresh, spicy taste.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

After trying two other rather lackluster teas from Twinings of London recently, I wasn’t sure what possessed me to actually try another today.  But I tried to keep a positive outlook and without having too high of expectations, I brewed this cup of Organic Chai from Twinings of London.

My initial thoughts:  this is better than both the two previous recent tastings of this company’s teas.  I can taste the robust Assam tea beneath the bold spices.  I like that all the flavors that I expected to taste are represented.

About now is where I might say something like “the flavor of the spices are well-balanced,” but I can’t really say that because they aren’t well balanced.  I taste more clove than any other spice.  I taste a hearty cinnamon flavor and in contrast, there is very little ginger flavor.  The cardamom is tasted, but, it’s not as strong as the clove and cinnamon.

But!  I do like the Assam here.  It’s a rich and flavorful tea.  It’s almost creamy because of its thick, malty texture and I find that very enjoyable.

Overall, it’s not a terrible chai.  It’s certainly not great though.  It’s not the tea that I’d keep stocked in the cabinet.  There are so many great teas out there and this is simply average or perhaps even just slightly below.

Sheng Cha Oolong Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

Sheng_Cha_OolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

Sheng Cha is an oolong tea grown at 1,100 m elevation and is grown wild.  Sheng Cha is made from tea plants left to grow for decades in the wild, this imparts a more earthy palate to the leaf.  Look for notes of sesame seed biscuits, toast and wheat.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Co-Op Membership here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m liking this Sheng Cha Oolong Tea from Simple Loose Leaf a LOT!  I’ve tried a lot of different Oolong teas over the years and the ones that really stand out to me are the ones that are different from the rest.  This is one of those teas.

To brew it, I used my gaiwan.  I measured a bamboo scoop into the bowl of the gaiwan and then added just enough hot water to cover the leaves (180°F water) and let that steep for 15 seconds.  Then I strained the liquid and discarded it – that is known as the rinse or the ‘awakening of the leaves.’  A lot of people overlook this step, but I’ve learned over the years that the rinse is essential for getting the best flavor from Oolong teas (this is also true of pu-erh teas!)

Then I filled the gaiwan with more hot water and steeped the first infusion for 1 minute.  For each infusion to follow, I added another 15 seconds onto the steep time.

My first cup is comprised of the first and second infusion.  With this cup, I’m already discovering that the description above is pretty spot on, I’m getting an earthy flavor to the cup.  I taste nutty notes that remind me of toasted sesame seeds and whole, multi-grain toasted bread.  It’s sweet and warm.  It has a nice, roasty-toasty flavor – it’s a comforting, cozy sort of flavor that you just want to curl up to.

The second cup (infusions 3 and 4) was a bit stronger in flavor than the first.  The first was still quite a robustly flavored Oolong – ordinarily with Oolong teas, I find that my first cup is somewhat delicate in flavor but that wasn’t the case with this Sheng Cha.  This second cup is even stronger than that first cup was.  It is only slightly astringent, but I am noticing more astringency than with the first cup – where it seemed almost non-existent.  This time, I’m experiencing a slightly dry astringency at the tail – slight, yet it’s there.

This tea is savory as well as sweet.  I taste the sweet, nutty tones, but the bready notes and the warm, toasted flavors have a savory quality to them.  It’s quite a nice contrast, and with this second cup, I’m noticing more savory than sweet.

Mmm!  My third cup (infusions 5 and 6) proved to be my favorite of the three cups that I brewed of this tea.  The astringency has gone back to the ‘almost non-existent’ that I experienced with my first cup, and I’m also tasting more sweetness than I tasted with the second cup.  This cup still has those savory notes too.  Sweet, nutty, toasted sesame and whole grains.  A slight earthiness and a woodsy note.  It’s a really comforting tea to sip.  It has an autumnal flavor – so it’s something that I find especially rewarding to sip on a chilly evening.

Focus Green Tea from NudiTea

focus-tea-circleTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  NudiTea

Tea Description:

Clear your cloudy mind with our steamy FOCUS blend. Rare and ancient Japanese Sencha is blended with a sprinkling of passionfruit flowers and marigolds creating an intoxicating and flavoursome cup. With a delectable blend of natural caffeine extracts, it’s a better alternative to coffee and energy drinks. FOCUS won’t give you wings but it will help you fly through the day.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf of this Focus Green Tea from NudiTea is extraordinarily fragrant!  It smells amazing!  Like wow, can I get this scent in a bar of soap or perhaps a wax tart that you melt to make the whole room smell like that!  It’s strongly floral without smelling like a flower shop, because there are lovely notes of pineapple that balance the flowery notes.  Lovely!

The brewed tea has a softer aroma but otherwise smells quite similar – beautiful floral notes with notes of pineapple.

To brew this tea, I used my Breville One-Touch.  I measured two bamboo scoops of the loose leaf tea into the basket of the tea maker, and 500ml of freshly filtered water into the kettle.  Then I set the parameters:  175°F for 2 minutes.

It’s a really tasty blend!  The green tea is sweet and has a nice creamy texture to it.  I like that the texture is light but there is a soft creamy feel to it.  It doesn’t taste sharp or bitter, it’s sweet, lightly buttery with some grassy notes.

I taste passion fruit.  The way the description is worded, it seems that it’s passion fruit flowers … but I’m tasting passion fruit.  Sweet, luscious passion fruit!  Yum!  I also get a hint of pineapple from this.  Just a hint.

As far as the floral notes go, I taste the sweetness of the rose and mallow flowers, and I taste the sharp sunflower notes.

The fruit and the floral notes are pretty evenly paired – neither is really stronger than the other.  The fruit is sweet and with just a whisper of tangy flavor while the floral notes add a hint of exotic flavor to it and a touch of distinct flower sweetness.

Overall, this is a pleasant cuppa – it’s sweet but not in a cloying way.  It’s got a nice layered flavor:  layers of flower are the top notes with the middle notes of juicy passion fruit and the undertone of Sencha.

My one criticism – if you want to call it that – would be the addition of the chamomile to this blend.  Why chamomile?  Chamomile tends to be a relaxing herb, not one that I associate with being focused and alert.  I don’t really taste a lot of chamomile in this, maybe once in a while I might pick up on a honey-like flavor that’s quite chamomile-ish but it still is an ‘odd’ ingredient in a tea that is to support a sense of “Focus.”

Product Review: Gingerbread Chai Latte from Coffee Revolution

coffeerevolutionlogoProduct Information:

Where to Buy:  If you live in Vancouver, WA:  Coffee Revolution.

Taster’s Review:

As I’ve said before, I don’t stop in to my local coffee shop(s) often.  Here in Vancouver, Washington – and pretty much anywhere in the Pacific Northwest – there’s a coffee shop at street corner, it seems.  My husband and I often joke at the number of Starbucks that there are.  If you happen to pass by a Starbucks, you don’ t need to turn around and go back, just keep going and there will be another one coming up on the next street corner.  In Portland, I understand there’s a Starbucks inside a Starbucks.

So I was less than impressed a couple of years ago when Coffee Revolution appeared in Vancouver at a location not far from my house.  I don’t usually go to the coffee shop, why would I go to this one?

But they hooked me in with their fancy digital billboard sign outside of their shop.  It beckoned to me:  Gingerbread Chai.  How do I resist that?

As it turns out, I wish I would have.  Essentially, this is the original Oregon Chai concentrate that’s been enhanced with Gingerbread flavored syrup.  The result:  an overly sweet concoction that tasted like gingerbread (with gobs of extra icing).

Yeah, I taste the chai.  I don’t really taste much of the ‘black tea’ that is supposed to be in the Oregon Chai concentrate.  When I’ve tried this brand of chai concentrate in the past, I didn’t taste the black tea either, so it’s not the sickeningly sweet gingerbread syrup’s fault that I can’t taste the tea.  It’s the concentrate’s fault.

The good:  I can taste the gingerbread.  If this were not as sweet, I’d be a lot more pleased with it though.  As it is, it’s just too sweet.  It’s cloying.  It’s so sweet that if I were a diabetic, I’d be worried about diabetic coma at this point.

On another note, I do feel bad.  Because as I was standing there, waiting for the very cheerful barrista to finish with my latte, I’m sure she could see just how disgusted I was that my chai was coming out of a carton.  It wasn’t her fault.  She was just doing her job.  So, if she happens to be reading this, I’m sorry if I came off as a tea snob.  I am, in fact, a tea snob and I don’t apologize for that, but just because I’m a tea snob doesn’t mean that I should be rubbing others the wrong way with it.  Sorry.

Boisahabi Estate Assam SFTGFOP1 Black Tea from Capital Teas Limited

Boisahabi Estate AssamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Capital Tea Limited

Tea Description:

Potently aromatic attractive deep brown Assam leaves with plenty of golden tips. These leaves infuse to a very rich, strong and sweetly malty tasting tea liquor with an unusually smooth disposition for a tea with such strength. Highly recommended as a breakfast tea to drink with milk!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Boisahabi Estate Assam SFTGFOP1 Black Tea from Capital Teas Limited is a really enjoyable Assam – it’s got a rich, thick texture and lots of malt!

It has that strong, robust character that you look for in a morning cuppa – this is one of those ‘get you going in the morning’ type of teas!  What I’m appreciating most about this is that while it is a bold tasting tea, it’s not overly ‘edgy.’  It’s got a smooth, nicely rounded flavor with sweet, caramel-y undertones.  Quite nice!

To brew this, I put a bamboo scoop of tea into the basket of my Kati Tumbler and added 12 ounces of boiling water.  I steeped the tea for 2 1/2 minutes.  I would caution you to watch your steep time because this tea can and will get bitter on you if you oversteep it – so don’t do that!

If you like your breakfast tea to be latte, this tea will take the addition of milk and honey quite nicely.  It’s also really pleasant served straight up.  I like it hot best, but it’s still really tasty as it cools.

Pipers Chai from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

PiperschaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

Black tea infused with black pepper, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla and orange flavor.  Add milk and your preferred sweetener or sweetened condensed milk for a rich, spicy chai. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Pipers Chai from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea is the first tea from this new-to-me company that I’ve tried.  I was in the mood for something satisfying and warming from the inside out and this tea certainly fits the bill.

I brewed this chai in my Kati tumbler, using 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of tea and 12 ounces of boiling water.  I steeped it for three minutes, and it produced a really strong, warming cup of tea!  Nice!

The black tea is a robust black tea.  The description doesn’t tell me what type of tea is used here, but I think – based upon the richness of the tea – it’s an Assam.  There are also some faint notes of bitterness which hint further at the Assam.

The spices are bold.  There’s a lot of clove in there though.  I find myself tasting more clove than any other spice.  The cinnamon and cardamom are warm and the ginger and pepper add some kick to it.  I think it would be better if the clove were not quite as strong so that the other spices could shine through better, it might make for a more balanced spicy note.

The vanilla is the best part of this blend.  It adds a nice creaminess to this and accentuates the malt notes of the black tea base.  It softens some of the edges to the tea and it gives a slight ‘latte’ taste to the cup without going latte with a dairy addition.  It also adds a pleasant sweetness so you don’t have to add too much in the way of sweetener to this (I suggest tasting before you sweeten so you don’t add too much and overwhelm the tea.)

The orange is a nice flavor here too, however, I think it could be even better without it.  I don’t mind the orange, it tastes good with the orange notes, but I think that it detracts a little bit from the spice and I find myself wanting to focus more on the spice and a little less on the citrus.

Overall, I enjoyed this chai.

Ginger Ale Iced White Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SBT-WHITE-Ginger-AleTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy: Zoomdweebies

Tea Description:

Our amazing organic shou mei fannings blended with the organic flavors of ginger and bergamot. We think it makes the ultimate tribute to ginger ale. But what do you think?

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been back and forth with this Ginger Ale Iced White Tea from Southern Boy Teas.  I like it … but I find myself not as happy with it as I was with the original Ginger Ale.  I don’t know if it’s because that tea was crafted with Bai Mu Dan and this is Shou Mei.

Or maybe it’s because since having tried that Ginger Ale tea, I’ve been exposed to a few really awesome ginger ale sodas that have knocked my socks off and perhaps my expectations of ginger ale are higher now.  Perhaps those experiences have raised the bar for me.

That’s not to say that I’m not enjoying this.  I find it tasty and very refreshing.  We’ve had some rather warm weather here lately (sorry for those of you who aren’t getting that same warm weather!) and this is really nice for when I need something cold and tasty that will quench the thirst.

Still, I find myself tasting a little more bergamot than ginger and I’m wishing that the ginger had just a wee bit more bite to it.  I guess it goes back to what I was saying before, some of the ‘gourmet’ ginger ale sodas that I’ve tried in the last few years have been absolutely outstanding and I find myself wanting that kind of flavor.

Overall, though, if you enjoyed the first Ginger Ale tea from 52Teas, I think you’d enjoy this.  It’s tasty.  I found that I enjoyed the second half gallon pitcher of the tea more than the first – so, this is one you definitely want to resteep!

This review will publish at the very tail end of Southern Boy Teas’ Indiegogo Campaign to raise funds to build the brand.  Support this small business and help it grow!