White Chocolate Raspberry Shou Mei from 52Teas

White-Chocolate-RaspberryTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

This is a blissful blend of premium Shou Mei white tea, freeze-dried raspberries, white chocolate chips and organic flavors. I’m pretty sure even the Grinch would like this one.

Learn more about this blend here.

Learn more about 52Teas’ subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

I brewed up a big pot of this tea for my daughter and I – she loves raspberry and white chocolate, so it was as if this tea was custom designed just for her.  As for me, I’m not as crazy about white chocolate as I am about dark chocolate.  But, I like it alright.

And her verdict?  She really liked this one.  When the tea is still quite hot, the white tea is difficult to detect.  It’s very much a raspberry tea when the tea is fresh-from-the-teapot hot.  But after the tea has had a little time to cool, the white chocolate starts to come into focus.  It’s a creamy, sweet note, somewhat vanilla-y and soft.

That said, this is still very much a raspberry tea.  The raspberry really comes through strong and is especially focused in the aftertaste when the tongue tingles from the sweet-tart notes of berry.

And you’d think that maybe with as strong a raspberry flavor that this tea has, that the delicate quality of the white tea would be overpowered, but no.  I find that the white chocolate notes seem to enhance the Shou Mei.  The Shou Mei seems stronger here than in many of 52Teas recent white tea offerings.

Overall, this is a pleasant cuppa.

I infused the leaves a second time and I drank a small cup of that tea hot and chilled the rest.  I actually preferred the second infusion to the first.  The raspberry notes have mellowed a bit with this second pot of tea, and the white tea notes are more balanced with the berry.  And it surprises me to say this, but I think that this is even better as an iced tea than as a hot tea.  I usually prefer my chocolate blends to be hot, but this is really good iced.

Halmari Gold Assam Second Flush Black Tea from Golden Tips

Halmari-ClonalTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Handpicked from superior P126 clonal bushes at the Halmari Tea estate, the opulent appearance of the tea is characteristic of an almost equal combination of black and golden tipped leaves with a smooth texture. Carved out selectively from specially plucked tender young shoots, the tea brings in a unique rich maltiness which is only found in select Assams during the peak second flush tea growing season. The flavor is exhilarating with a perfect balance of strength, full-body and smoothness. This unique clonal tea brings in a sweet fruity finish in the mouth with a lingering aftertaste. The highest grade GTGFOP1 CL leaves prepare a sharp infusion which can be brewed several times. A bright golden amber liquoring cup greets your eyes when you strain out the royal dark brownish infusion.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

So very lovely!  I love it when I discover an Assam like this one:  Rich, full-flavored with a whole lot of MALT!

The dry leaf is quite beautiful.  Dark, chocolate-y brown, curly leaves with golden tips lots of golden tips.  To brew these beauties, I measured a bamboo scoop into the basket of my Kati tumbler and added 12 ounces of hot water (205°F).  I let it steep for 2 1/2 minutes.

The tea brews up dark.  It has a deliciously sweet aroma with notes of earth and leather.

The flavor is bold!  This is one of those teas that would serve you well as a morning tea if you’re looking for one.  It’s smooth with a moderately astringent tail.  It’s got that robust quality of earth and leather but it also has a pleasant malty, caramel-y sweetness that balances out the edgy flavors.

A really invigorating tea – this would take the additions of milk and honey really well if you like to add those to your cuppa, it’s also quite nice served straight up.

Keemun Mao Feng Black Tea from What Cha

1__51135.1406385181.60.90Tea Type:
Black Tea
Where To Buy:
What-Cha

Product Description:

Tasting Notes:
– Caramel aroma
– Smooth texture with no bitterness
– Caramel taste with a malty finish
Origin: Keemun, China
Brewing Advice:
– Heat water to roughly 95°C/207°F
– Use 1-2 teaspoons per cup/small teapot
– Brew for 3 minutes
– Always remove the leaves from the water once the tea has brewed
– Re-use the leaves multiple times and increase steeping time with each subsequent infusion
– Best without milk

Tasters Review:
Ahhhh!  A mighty nice Keemun!  Yes indeed this Keemun Mao Feng Black Tea from What-Cha has that caramelly aroma paired with a caramel taste and malty finish.  It’s VERY smooth on the tongue and has absolutely NO bitterness.  This black tea has one of the ‘cleanest’ tastes I have ever experienced with a black tea base.  For my 2nd infusion the color of the tea in the cup was much lighter and faded and the taste was more of a sweet wood than a caramel like with the first infusion.  This is absolutely delicious and smooth!  It leave no aftertaste and is tremendously ‘clean’.  This won’t last long in my cupboard that is for sure!

Rara Willow White Tea from Nepali Tea Traders

Rare_White_WillowTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Tea Information:

A classic, aromatic, second-flush white tea. Meaning? It’s sweet and fruity with subtle classic white tea notes. There’s also citrus notes to be noticed subtly in the finish. This is a fine example of a white tea! It’s a summer harvest that’s hand-picked – one leaf and one bud.

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I reviewed this tea last year but I’m revisiting it for a couple of reasons:  first, it was part of my January box (themed “Fresh Start”) from Amoda Tea.  Second, it’s an amazing tea that I’m only too happy to be enjoying once again.

I think I’d like to start this review by pointing out that I just love the boxes that Amoda Tea curates!  They have great taste when it comes to tea and it’s evident in the teas that they select that they are very passionate about tea.  If you haven’t yet tried their new monthly subscription, you’re missing out!

This is an excellent white tea.  I described it previously as a trip to the candy shop on Main Street in Disneyland – the flavor of this tea reminds me of those yummy rock sugar lollipops I used to buy there!  That description still pretty much nails my first impression of this tea – it’s sweet and delightful.

Once your palate becomes acclimated to the sweetness, you start to pick up on light citrus notes, especially noticeable near the finish.  I find this citrus-y note to be very refreshing.  My palate feels clean and invigorated after each sip.

As I said in that previous review:  this is a tea that all tea drinkers should try.  It’s a remarkable white tea.  One of the finest I’ve ever tasted.  It resteeps beautifully too – the second infusion is just as delicious as the first!

Barb’s Breakfast Black Tea from White Two Tea

Barbs_Breakfast_BlackTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  White Two Tea

Tea Description:  

The Barb’s breakfast black is an homage to my mother, who despite years of being baited with high-end Puer teas, still prefers to start her day with a heavily brewed pot of black tea in the morning. This Yunnan black tea blend is built to survive British style steeping as well as gongfu style brewing techniques.  Well balanced daily drinking black tea with a classic style, versatile enough to enjoy with breakfast on the go or in a slow and quiet tea session.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about White Two Tea’s Tea Club Subscription here.

Taster’s Review:

A really lovely Yunnan!

This isn’t as robust as I expected it to be.  Usually, I’m expecting a real wallop of flavor from a Yunnan tea, but this is more subdued.  It’s like a mellow version of Yunnan – smooth, rich, flavorful, but without the gusto that I was expecting.

That’s not to say that this isn’t a really good tea – it is!

It’s just that with a Breakfast Blend moniker, I expected it to have the kind of kick that breakfast blends usually deliver.  This is smoother and mellower, more like a gentle nudge awake rather than a swift kick in the pants.

I really love the smooth flavor of this.  It’s nicely round.  It has light notes of spice, like white pepper and hints of cinnamon.  And I find that these gentle spice notes becoming more lovely with each sip.  Not more intense, really, but more clearly defined.

I think that I’d be more likely to reach for this tea as a late morning tea or perhaps an early afternoon tea rather than my breakfast blend.  For a breakfast blend, I prefer really strong teas with some edge, and this doesn’t have that kind of edgy flavor to it.  This is more refined, like something you’d want after you’re already awake and alert, and now you want something to please the taste buds, because this tea certainly does that!

Rather than brewing this gongfu style as suggested in the above description, I brewed it in my Breville One-Touch.  (I don’t like to brew black teas gongfu style, mostly because I don’t like to scorch the fingertips with the hot gaiwan.)  I found it next to impossible to measure out a bamboo scoop of this tea because of the curly leaves, so instead, I poured the leaves into my hand and eyeballed a bamboo scoop measurement.  I eyeballed two such measurements and put them both into the basket of the Breville, and then poured 500ml of water into the jug.  The thermometer was set for 212°F and the timer for 2 1/2 minutes.

The result is a cup of perfection!  Smooth with very little astringency.  Flavorful with notes of earth, spice and leather.  Hints of fruit in the background that continue to develop as I sip, and now that I’m more than halfway through my mug of tea, I taste a distinct plum-like note that is quite nice.  I also taste distant notes of flower.

A really nice, complex cup of Yunnan!

St. Coombs Dimbula Ceylon Tea from Culinary Teas

st_coombs_dimbula_1_culinary_teas_03999059-58d0-4a24-a12c-fd2819859fb4_largeTea Type:
Black Tea

Where To Buy:
Culinary Teas

Product Description:
Pungent flowery character with good body. Takes milk well, highlighting the coppery cup. St Coombs is from the Dimbula District one of Ceylon’s premiere tea estates

St. Coombs. If the name sounds anything but Sri Lankan to you, you’d be on to something. This exceptional tea estate is actually named after a small fishing village in Scotland, probably the birthplace of one of the original planters. During the peak years of the British Empire homesick settlers from the UK frequently bestowed their new homes with the names of the ones they left behind. Somewhere along the line a proud St. Coombsian decided to trade in his fishing nets for pruning shears, board a steamer, head for the Far East and stake a claim. The rest as they say, is history. He could never have known that more than 120 years later the estate he helped plant would still be producing tea – and fantastic tea at that.

Simply put, St. Coombs, situated 1328 meters above sea level in the western Dimbula highlands of Sri Lanka, is an exceptional tea garden. The estate is ISO 9001 certified and year after year produces some of Sri Lanka’s finest export teas, consistently fetching high prices at the Colombo auctions. St. Coombs’ success is in part attributed to an ace in the hole in the form of the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka, the headquarters and laboratory of which are located on the estate. (The institute was established at St. Coombs in 1938.) That said, it is impossible to discount the influence of the exceptional regional climactic conditions on the estate’s output. (Conditions made the estate the perfect choice when the Institute was looking for a location to set up shop.)

From January to March, the Western Quality season, Monsoon rains interspersed with dry periods and cool nights combine to produce a large leaf with high sap content. The leaf blooms vigorously each morning ripe for the plucking, a phenomenon known as the flush. It is during this time that St. Coombs’ finest teas are produced. These tend to be exceptionally aromatic, light in the cup with a thick medium body and long finish. St. Coombs’ Flowery Pekoe is a shining example of this excellent quality. In general, FP teas are laborious to produce and require hand sorting in order to ensure an even grade. As such, they are produced in limited quantity and can be difficult to obtain. Our long-term relationship with the estate allows us to secure a good supply year after year. We can confidently say that a freshly brewed cup of St. Coombs’ stands alone as one of Sri Lanka’s premiere tea offerings.

Tasters Review:
This FB Flowery Pekoe Black Tea from the Dimbula, Sri Lanka Region really fits the bills as a Luxury Black Tea in their ever-growing catalog of tea offerings over at Culinary Teas!

I drink all of my teas ‘straight-up’ with no milk or additives and from what I have read it’s completely acceptable to drink this luxury black tea this way but it also takes well to milk or non-dairy milks if you wish.  I infused the tea leaves for about 3 minutes – but – the product description says you can infusion them for up to 7 minutes if that is your preference.  The post-infusion liquor color is that of a yellow-brown tending towards golden.

Once I started sipping this tea – I KNEW it was for me!  A nice, solid black tea with sweet florally notes and a more perfume-like flower flavor on the end sip.  It’s slightly astringent and overall well rounded.  This is a great black tea to have on hand for any time of day!

French Lemon Creme Rooibos from Petali Teas

French_lemon_creamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green Rooibos

Tea Information:

Sometimes you just want a tea that’s bursting with fun flavour. We think it’s not too much to ask for that flavour punch to taste completely natural. Welcome French Lemon Creme with your luscious lemon and creamy vanilla sweetness. This is built on a green rooibos base, so the blend has extra health benefits from locking in the herb’s natural enzymes.

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I want to start this review by saying:  the aroma of this tea smells just like what the name promises:  It’s lemon and cream.  And it’s lovely!

I was happy to see that this rooibos blend is a green rooibos blend which is my preference when it comes to rooibos teas.  I like the fruity element of the green rooibos rather than the woody/nutty and sometimes gentle smoke note of the red rooibos (the red rooibos is oxidized to achieve it’s color, while the green rooibos is not oxidized.)

To steep this tea, I used my Kati Tumbler.  I measured out 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of the tisane into the basket of my tumbler and added 12 ounces of water heated to 195°F.  Then I let it steep for 10 minutes.  Rooibos doesn’t get bitter because it isn’t tannic like camellia sinensis, so go ahead and let it steep – the flavors will just intensify.  Do be sure to keep the temperature below boiling though, because you may get a ‘sour’ taste from rooibos if you steep it too hot.

Mmm!  This is good.  The aroma of the brewed tisane is still quite lemon-y and because of that, when I raise the tumbler to my lips and inhale deeply, I smell the lemon.  My palate’s reaction to this is to prepare itself for something sour.  But the sip doesn’t start out that way!  Instead I get a sweet, creamy lemon taste, similar to lemon curd.

It isn’t until mid-sip that I start to pick up on the tart notes of the lemon.  They aren’t a pucker-y tart, but just enough tart to let you know that hey, you’re tasting lemon!  The creamy vanilla notes are strong right at first, and then they subside to let some of the bright lemon notes shine through.

I really like the way these two flavors have come together in this.  It’s sweet but there’s enough tart to keep it interesting and to keep it from becoming too sickeningly sweet!  And the rooibos base melds beautifully with these flavors, adding sweetness without taking away from the sunny lemon and the luscious cream flavor.

A really awesome rooibos blend.  I don’t often say that about a rooibos blend, but this one has earned that praise!

Just a Little Reminder…

Hi Everyone!

52teas3I just wanted to post a little reminder to everyone who reads this blog that I – LiberTEAS – together with my oldest daughter, have launched a Kickstarter Campaign – please check out the campaign here!

As I mentioned in my previous post about this topic, Frank of Zoomdweebies – which is the ‘parent company’ of 52Teas and Southern Boy Teas – wants to narrow his focus on his iced tea business (aka Southern Boy Teas).  As a result of this decision, he asked me if I wanted to take over the 52Teas brand.

Frank is also looking to expand Southern Boy Teas, please visit his Indiegogo campaign!

Success with these two campaigns will mean:

  • Keeping 52Teas alive (Frank has said that he plans on closing 52Teas if we aren’t able to take it over!)
  • Helping Southern Boy Teas grow into a nationally recognized brand.

I’m very excited about this opportunity!  It’s a chance to get back into flavoring teas – something that I’ve missed quite a bit since closing LiberTEAS.  I missed it more than I thought I would!

Please visit my Kickstarter campaign and help us reach our goal!   We can’t do this without your help!

The People’s Tea from Tippy’s Tea

ThePeoplesTeaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black & Oolong Teas

Where to Buy:  Tippy’s Tea

Tea Description:

Tippy’s own interpretation of the Russian caravan tea. Strikes a delicious balance between the oolong and black teas. Infuse multiple times for a full tasting experience.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve had a couple of Russian Caravan teas, I think that this one might be the best that I’ve tried!  I think it’s because the Oolong in this blend really comes through in a very pleasant way.  It imparts an almost creamy texture to the cup which is a nice contrast to the smoky notes of the Lapsang Souchong.

To brew this, I lowered the temperature.  When I come across a blend like this that blends two different types of tea (like green and black teas, or in this case, oolong and black teas), I generally yield to the tea that requires the lower temperature.  I’d rather have a slightly weaker flavor from the black tea than the bitterness that would result from a scorched tea leaf.

So I went with 190°F.  I measured a bamboo scoop of tea into the basket of my Kati and poured in the hot water and let it steep for 3 minutes.  After I had started the process, I thought to myself: “Maybe I should have done a quick rinse on the leaves!”  But by the time that I had come to that realization, more than a minute had passed and it was a little passed the time to do a rinse.  Maybe next time!

But as it is, it’s not too smoky.  I don’t know if the rinse would improve the flavor or not, because I’m enjoying it as it is.

It’s smoky, but as I said before, there’s a really nice contrast between the smoky element and the soft, buttery/creamy element of the Oolong.  It’s quite pleasant.  Smooth yet smoky.  Forward notes of caramel.  Middle notes of fruit and flower mingling with the smoke.  Hints of molasses and earth in the distance.  It’s a beautifully complex tea!

In the past, I would shy away from Russian Caravan teas because of the smokiness of them – I’ve never been a big fan of something heavily smoked and when I would smell a Russian Caravan, even though they’re not nearly as smoky as say a straight-up Lapsang Souchong, there is still a strong element of smoke to the aroma and in my earliest days as a tea enthusiast I found that smoky note to be very off-putting.  Now I’ve come to embrace it and enjoy it, but Russian Caravan teas are still not my favorite blends.  The few that I have tried seemed to focus heavily on their black teas and not so much on the Oolong aspect, I like that this tea – The People’s Tea from Tippy’s Tea – brought some balance to the two tea types so that the luscious texture and creamy flavor of the Oolong could be enjoyed with the smoky notes of the Lapsang Souchong and the fruity elements of the Keemun.

It’s a very well thought out blend!  Bravo, Tippy’s Tea!

Shan Black Tea from Shan Valley

Kyaukme_Black-1_088da68b-9b9c-41b8-9681-2439e5128512_largeTea Type:
Black Tea

Where To Buy:
Shan Valley

Product Description:
This is a first flush black tea, and is processed as is local tradition in Myanmar, the tea leaves are a little more uneven and have a balanced flavor. This tea is similar to the Kyaukme Black Tea.   We get our green tea directly from local tea growers in Myanmar (Burma), which include family and farmers, we do not import anything from other companies!

Tasters Review:
Shan Black Tea from Shan Valley quickly became one of those go-to teas to kick start my mornings!  After my initial first taste it was easy for me to do follow-up cups without having to put too much thought into it.  Therefore, I think it was a good ole stand-by.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying this to ‘cheapen’ this tea.  It’s a very good solid black tea.  It’s straight-forward and transparent in a sense that it has nothing to hide.  I like that.

To try and give you a ‘visual’ of my experience…after steeping or infusing the tea for about 3 minutes the post-infusion color in the cup was a VERY dark brown nearing black.  The aroma was a medium- strength black tea with no flavorings or hints at other natural scents.  It wasn’t flowery, it wasn’t really malty per say, and it wasn’t what I consider cakey or bready.  All I DO know is that I really enjoyed the cuppa.  If anything it was more woodsy, I suppose.  But not overly-so.  It was pretty smooth.  And it was even thirst-quenching for a bold black tea base…yet another thing I appreciated about this tea.  Give it a try!