SororiTea Sisters

A Sorority of Sisters Who Love Tea

Organic Sencha Green Tea from Shi Zen

July31

Organic_Sencha_tea_infusedTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Shi Zen

Tea Description:

Our organic green tea are from the family farms of foothills of Mount Fuji. This organic green tea will be the teas that are harvested in summer, perfect for green tea to be used daily. We recommend this tea as an entry level that has a very well balanced taste of sweetness and bitter taste.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

After trying Shi Zen’s Organic Superior Sencha, I wondered how this tea experience would differ from my experience with the Organic Superior Sencha.  And while they are definitely two different teas, I have to say that I’m finding both to be quite enjoyable.  It would be difficult to choose which I prefer!

I like the balance of flavors in this cup.  There are some soft bitter notes to this that balance the sweet flavors.  This is a little lighter in texture than I remember the Superior Sencha being – it seemed much more “brothy” than this one, whereas I find the mouthfeel to be softer … not quite as thick.  It’s still really pleasant though.Organic_Sencha_Loose_Leaf

This tea is a little less sweet than the Superior Sencha.  The vegetal note is reminiscent of a lightly buttered, steamed vegetable.  Almost like very young and tender lima beans.  The light bitter tone offers a slightly savory contrast to the sweeter notes that are introduced at the start of the sip.

I like this Sencha quite a bit.  I find it to be an ideal beverage to serve with a meal because it has a pleasing flavor that doesn’t intrude upon the flavors of the food.  It tastes great served hot and I also like this one served iced too.  It’s really refreshing and it’s perfect for these hot summer days.

New Vithanakande Black Tea from P.M.David Silva & Sons

July31

new-vithanakandeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  PMD (P.M.David Silva & Sons)

Tea Description: 

Perched over a hill overlooking an untouched rain forest, New Vithanakande Estate produces the islands most cherished low grown tea. The Guild of Fine Food were adored the unique complexity of New Vithankande and awarded it a Gold Great Taste Award in 2012. Nature heavily influences the tea produced at New Vithankande. Parochial winds sweep through the rainforest adjacent to the estate and when they arrive, they infuse the tea with forest fruit flavours.

The tea is leafy and has a glorious black sheen since the soil is abnormally high in nutrients. When infused, New Vithanakande has a complex caramel flavour and has hints of forest fruits; a tea truly blessed by nature.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm … yummy!  This tea is delicious.  Just as the description above suggests, this tea has a complex caramel flavor and hints of fruit.  It’s strange that no matter how many different teas I try with similar characteristics (like caramel notes, for example), that even though I’ve tried so many teas with notes like this … I’m still blown away by just deliciously caramel-y a tea can be without any flavoring other than what nature and it’s oxidation process has instilled into the leaf.

And this has a really rich caramel note to it:  almost creamy!  There are notes of malt to this as well as a pleasant fruity note that is reminiscent of sweet berries without the tartness that accompanies the berry.  This tea is all about the sweet!  I’m also picking up on some notes of raw cacao and a hint of earthiness.

It has a robust quality to it:  it is rich and full-bodied, with a bold character.  It’s one of those teas that would be hefty enough to serve for a breakfast tea (and would probably take the addition of milk and honey well, although I didn’t try it like that, I found it to be amazing served straight up.)  But it has a really luscious flavor to it that it would also make a great tea to serve with dessert!

I have been very impressed with the teas that I’ve tried from PMDavid Silva & Sons – this is a company that I feel very comfortable recommending highly to all my readers!

Product Review: Chai Caramels from Big Picture Farm

July30

big-picture-chaiProduct Information:

Where to Buy:  Treatsie

Product Description:  

Big Picture Farm’s goat milk chai caramel won the gold medal in the prestigious 2013 Good Food Awards. The team at Big Picture makes this exquisite caramel with organic chai supplied by their friend Neil Harley of Chai Wallah.

Learn more about Treatsie’s Subscription Box here.

Product Review:

As you may be aware, I previously reviewed another product that I recently purchased from Treatsie.  I bought these caramels at the same time, because … hello, Chai Caramels?  Yeah!  I gotta try ‘em!

I’ve previously tried (and reviewed on my now inactive foodie blog) the goat’s milk caramels from Big Picture Farms, and I really enjoyed those.  Goat’s milk caramels do taste a little different than caramels made with products other than goat’s milk, and it’s a taste that isn’t to everyone’s liking.  I personally like the flavor, because goat’s milk has a certain “tangy” quality to it and I like that contrast to the sugary sweetness of the caramel.

And these caramels are not only made with goat’s milk, but also organic chai tea supplied by Chai Wallah, another product that I’ve previously reviewed!  I was happy to see that Chai Wallah was the supplier of the chai for these confections, because this company makes a very memorable chai.  I’ve tasted a lot of chai in the past, and Chai Wallah makes some of the very best that I’ve tried.

So, I was confident that I’d enjoy these treats from Treatsie!  The caramel is super-fresh, I can feel the freshness as I unwrap the candy:  it feels soft and gooey, and there isn’t even a trace of hardness on the exterior of the candy.  It’s soft and pliable.  When I bite into it, it seems to melt in my mouth (and of course, stick to my teeth a bit – hey, it’s caramel, it’s supposed to do that!)

The first notes I experience are the caramel notes, you know, that “burnt sugar” taste that’s sort of … incredible and delicious?  Then I pick up the tangy notes of the goat’s milk.  Then I start to taste the notes of chai.  The spices hit the palate as I’m chewing on the confection, and they linger in the aftertaste.  Now that I’ve finished the bite of chewy, delicious, caramel-y goodness, I can still taste notes of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom and pepper.  Mmm!  So good!

Yeah … you gotta try these!  If you’re a fan of chai, you’ll love them.  If you’ve got a sweet t00th, you’ll want more than just the 10-piece pack!  (Trust me on that.)  If you just want to try something that’s a little different than your average caramel … get some of these!

Organic Rooibos Vanilla Chai Blend from The Persimmon Tree

July30

PERSMITea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where To Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Tea Description:

Our Vanilla Rooibos Chai tea features a delightful blend of masala chai spices, red rooibos and a hint of vanilla. Rooibos Vanilla Chai is naturally caffeine free, making it a perfect any-time tea. Much like its caffeinated cousin Masala Chai, this tea tastes delicious with milk and sugar.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

Well, as I’m writing this, it’s late at night.  I’m a night owl.  My husband works the swing shift (although his shift is about to change!  This may change my sleeping habits.)   Because of his odd hours, I stay up later to be awake when he arrives home so that I can fix him something to eat and maybe watch TV and spend a little time with him before heading to bed.  Another bonus to staying up later - at least in the summer! - is that it’s cooler at night so I get to enjoy some cool temperatures rather than trying to battle the heat.  It’s been a hot summer so far!

Anyway … when its later at night, I like to sip on something that’s caffeine free, so that’s the time that I typically reach for a tisane like this Vanilla Rooibos Chai blend from The Persimmon Tree.  I can still enjoy a spicy-sweet treat in my teacup without having to worry that it’s going to keep me awake when I should be trying to catch some Zzz’s.

This smells awesome.  It’s a medley of aromas:  orange, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom.  I can even smell the nutty sweetness of the rooibos, but I like that this is more of an understated scent, and the fragrance of the spices are prominent.

This is true of the flavor as well.  Sure I taste the nutty, honeyed sweetness of the rooibos herb, but, it unifies with the spices and the orange to create a very seamless flavor that’s evoking thoughts of a spice cookie.

The spices are zesty.  The ginger adds a real punch of spice along with the cinnamon.  This is a warmer cinnamon, almost like a red-hot type of cinnamon flavor but without the overly cloying candied sweetness.  The cardamom and cloves add a warm backdrop of spice and the vanilla softens the flavors just a little bit, giving the overall cup a lightly sweet, creamy tone.

I like the touch of orange to this – it really brightens the cup and perks up the flavors of the tisane.  Everything comes together in a very pleasing way.  It’s sweet, spicy and tasty.  It’s reminiscent of the cooler days of the holiday season when yummy things are baking in the kitchen, and that’s a very welcome flavor to enjoy on this late evening.

Summer Romance Tea Blend from ArtfulTea

July29

summerromanceTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black & Green Teas

Where to Buy:  ArtfulTea orArtfulTea on Etsy

Tea Description:

Let this magical blend carry you away like a summer of love. Sweet papaya and strawberries intertwine with black and green teas for an intoxicating, exotic flavor. Refreshing hot or iced.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm … this Summer Romance Tea Blend is TASTY!  I often have my misgivings about a tea blend such as this, where two totally different tea types are used – in this case, it’s black tea and green tea – because it’s difficult to determine just the right steeping parameters to use.  Black teas usually do best with boiling water (or at the very least, near boiling) and the green tea leaves may end up scorched if I were to use boiling water to brew them.  So with blends like this, I usually cater to the more delicate tea, and so I brewed this with 180°F water, and then I steeped it a little longer than I normally would a green tea:  3 minutes.

These parameters produced a very flavorful, tasty cup of tea.

Of the two types of tea leaves, the black tea offers the strongest flavor.  I taste a rich flavor from the black tea, although I’m sure that it would be far more robust if I had chosen to steep this at a higher temperature.  The green tea is not quite as discernible, but, I do notice some light, buttery notes from the green tea.  The overall cup is a bit lighter and that has to do not only with the lower steep temperature but the presence of the green tea.  And despite my “misgivings” about black/green tea blends, I do like that these two teas were utilized as the base for this tea because it’s a very unique sort of taste and I like the way the flavor of the base plays with the notes of strawberry and papaya.

The rosehips don’t give off a lot of flavor to the cup, but I do notice a slight bitterness from them which acts more as a slight “brightness” to the sweet fruit notes rather than make the cup taste “bitter.”  The same is true of the sunflower petals.  They add a subtle sharpness to the cup, accentuating the sweet flavors of papaya and strawberry.

This tea blend is aptly named, for it does taste a bit like summer in a teacup.  At the moment, we’re experiencing a rainy summer day.  These are the kinds of days that I look forward to in the summer, because it cools things off for a while.  We had some pretty obnoxiously hot days over the past couple of weeks, and I was ready for the rain to come and bring the heat to a halt.  But the tea that’s in my teacup reminds me of just how lovely summer can be.

2014 Jungpana Nirvana First Flush (FTGFOP1) from Darjeeling Tea Lovers

July29

JUNGPANA NIRVANATea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

JUNGPANA TEA ESTATE was the ‘show stopper’ last season. Some of the best teas of 2013 were produced in this Vintage Jungpana Tea Estate. We were very eager this season to see what is in store from this estate, and YES yet again this tea has re-defined the First Flush. Undoubtedly this tea is NIRVANA.

When steeped for 4 mins, it gives bright amber liquor and the flavours are very natural. It has a mouthful of flowery notes which only keeps you anxious for what is in store with the second sip. The aftertaste has a faint muscatel note which is a trademark for Darjeeling. Overall a clean crisp flavour with zero astringency.

We actually feel proud to have this tea in our store and THIS IS WHAT A PURE ORGANIC FIRST FLUSH DARJEELING BLACK TEA SHOULD BE. No wonder the teas from this estate make it to the Royal Tea Parties in England.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

On the Darjeeling Tea Lovers website, this tea mentions that it’s a “Special China Black Tea” and I’m not sure exactly what is meant by that.  I was operating under the belief that the Jungpana estate is in India (Darjeeling).  Does the Special China refer to the type of tea plant?

Despite my confusion (it’s easy to confuse me) I found myself falling in love at first sip with this Jungpana Nirvana First Flush from Darjeeling Tea Lovers!

When I’m about to indulge in a first flush Darjeeling, I don’t expect a strong “muscatel” essence from it, it’s been my experience that muscatel is more common with the second flush, not so much the first.  Both flushes are great for different reasons, but if it’s muscatel that a tea drinker is looking for, then they’d be better served to choose a second flush tea.

But, that’s not the case with this Jungpana Nirvana First Flush!  There are some delightful muscatel notes to this tea!  Sweet, grape-y notes with a luscious body to it – I’d describe it as a thick, silky mouthfeel.  There is an almost sugary sweetness to this cup that I’m finding irresistible.  In fact, it’s difficult to actually write this review because I find myself wanting to keep sipping.  I don’t want to put my cup down long enough to write!

It’s sweet and fruity, with hints of earthy/woodsy tones in the distance.  There is a very light astringency to this.  With the first few sips, the astringency was barely noticeable at all, and now that I’m more than halfway through the cup, I am starting to notice the astringency a little more – it develops.

Overall, a really, really good Darjeeling Experience, even if it’s a little different than I would have expected from a Darjeeling.  Different is good!  And be sure to re-steep the leaves!  The second infusion is just as flavorful as the first!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Iced Tea from Southern Boy Teas

July28

MintChocolateChipSBTTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Learn more about Southern Boy Teas here.

You can also learn more about Southern Boy Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

I love a bowl of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream!  So rich, creamy and the crisp, cool mint flavor really makes it a perfect summer time treat.  And hey … let’s not forget the chocolate chips.  Mmm!  Chocolate!

So I was looking forward to trying this new flavor from Southern Boy Teas:  Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Iced Tea!

It is a tasty iced tea.  There is a palate-pleasing balance of mint, chocolate and creamy flavors along with a backdrop of black tea notes.

That said, I do have a little issue with it.  My one complaint is that the chocolate notes are just a bit on the “fake” tasting side, but this is something that I found an easy fix for:  just add a little bit of sugar.

But because this tea is already on the sweeter side, if you sweeten your iced tea while it’s still hot (so that the sugar melts!), you might want to use a little less than you usually would, or you might want to hold off altogether and make a simple syrup to sweeten to your taste once it’s chilled.

I found it to be rather tasty without the sweetener but as I said, the chocolate tasted just a little off.  I then made a simple syrup:  I just add a teensy bit of boiling water to about a half teaspoon of water and stir in a coffee cup until the sugar is dissolved, and then add it to my tea.  The simple syrup enhanced the flavors nicely and improved the flavor of the chocolate.

Even without the sweetener, this is still quite tasty.  The chocolate notes don’t taste bad, but, there’s just a little something not quite 100% perfect about it either.  The sweetener does improve this issue with the chocolate, but I am not thrilled with the fact that I need to sweeten my tea to make it taste right.

I liked it, but I’ve liked other teas from SBT more than this one.

First Flush Long Jing Green Tea from Teasenz

July28

longjing_greenteaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Teasenz

Tea Description:

A first flush Longjing tea picked in early spring. An exceptional quality rarely seen outside of China.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Nice!  This is an exceptionally fresh-tasting Longjing!  I’m not surprised, of course, because I can’t recall being disappointed by any of the teas that I’ve tried thus far from Teasenz!  This company is one that is committed to offering the very finest (and freshest!) teas.  I like that in a tea company.

And I’m finding myself really appreciating the freshness and flavor of this first flush Long Jing (aka Dragon Well).  It’s sweet and smooth and delicious.  Not a trace of bitterness and a very low astringency level.

This Dragon Well has a light vegetal tone and tastes more of sweet butter with nutty tones than it tastes grassy or vegetative.  I also taste notes of fruit and flower in the distance.

The sip starts out sweet, reminiscent of the nutty flavor you might experience with a browned butter.  The nutty flavor has a light, toasted taste to it.  About mid-sip, I start to pick up on hints of fruit and very delicate whispers of flower in the distance. More sweetness!  The sip ends smooth with a slight dry sensation – a very, very slight dry astringency here.  If I wasn’t focused in on the sip and really concentrating on everything I’m picking up on … this astringency is so low that it would have escaped my notice.

I love how this tea washes the palate with sweetness with every sip.  It’s so enjoyable.  It is more sweet than it is savory or brothy, this isn’t one of those “nourishing” type of teas, this is one to drink for the sheer celebration of a superbly beautiful and satisfyingly sweet green tea.

Another AMAZING tea from Teasenz!

Earl of Anxi Blend from Verdant Tea

July27

earl-of-anxiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

Traditional Earl Grey is a classic, great for every season. With the Earl of Anxi, we start not with a black tea, but with our Master Zhang’s Hand-Picked Tieguanyin to give the bergamot a sweet, bright base and reinforce the floral citrus notes. We draw out the citrus sweetness with a uniquely creamy and rich orange peel, and crystallize the florals into a prominent position with jasmine blossoms.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is really a unique take on Earl Grey – unique but very enjoyable!

What is so remarkable about this blend is how incredibly balanced it is.   This Earl of Anxi has a very balanced fragrance as well as flavor and the result is a very smooth tea.  Unbelievably smooth!

Verdant Tea has found a way to balance all that is unique about Earl Grey to create an uncommonly smooth version of the classic tea.  First, let’s think about the aroma of an Earl Grey tea, because let’s face it, that’s usually the first thing you notice about Earl Grey … that beautiful scent of bergamot!  But the fragrant note of the bergamot is something that is noticeable not just by scent but also distinguishable by taste.  That’s why sometimes bergamot in an Earl Grey can come off as “perfume-y” because one not only smells the heady aroma of the bergamot orange but also tastes it.  Don’t believe me?  Try plugging your nose when you drink Earl Grey and you’ll notice that it tastes different.

The way that the Oolong tea melds with the floral notes of the jasmine and the fruit tones of the orange and goji berry is really remarkable.  It is so creamy and fluid.  Smooth like silk.

To my recollection, I’ve only tried Frankincense in one or two other teas, but based upon my memory of those experiences, I can taste the Frankincense now.  It has a somewhat perfume-ish quality to it, very aromatic and exotic to the nose and to the palate.

The frankincense and saffron offer contrast and balance to the fragrant flavor of the bergamot, as does the jasmine, while the goji berry accentuates the citrus tones.  The oolong offers a creamy taste that is the basis for the smooth flavor and texture of the tea.  It is the conduit for the incredible smoothness of this tea.

A sweet, beautifully balanced, delicately spiced, exotic cup of tea that is so delightful that it is almost impossible to describe.  It is one of those teas that you MUST try to believe.  It’s an amazing tea.

Just Charming Chai Blend from Just.Organic.Tea

July27

justorganictealogoTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Just.Organic.Tea

Tea Description:

Spicy and full of flavor. Our premium black teas mingle with cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and orange peel for an intense full-bodied flavor. If you like your chai spicy and rich, pick this blend. Or, for more tea flavor and less spice, mix with our Oothu tea to fit your taste. Fair trade & organic certified.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Just.Organic.Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I love a good, spicy chai, so when I read the description above, that’s exactly what I envisioned.  Unfortunately, this isn’t quite as spicy as I hoped for.

Oh, it’s still very good!  Don’t get me wrong.

It’s just not quite as boldly spiced as I thought it would be based upon the description above.  The spices are nicely balanced, though, and I like that.  I taste cinnamon, cardamom and clove.  These three spices have been assembled in a way that no one spice overpowers the other.  It’s a warm medley of spice.  Very nice.

I also taste hints of orange from the orange peel.  When I first read that this tea has orange peel, I thought that this might just be their Just Outstanding Orange Spice packaged under a different name.  But they are two different teas.  Here the orange is a very subtle touch of flavor, whereas the orange spice blend has a much more pronounced orange flavor.

This is really quite a tasty blend.  I think that if they want to really go bold with the spice though, Just.Organic.Tea should consider adding some black pepper and ginger to the blend.  That will give it a really nice, zesty kick.  As it is, it’s a nice chai, on the mellower side of chai, but not quite as spicy as the above description would suggest.

This blend is one that I didn’t find on their website, perhaps it’s a blend that’s being rethought?  I would love to see this company have a chai blend though, because I do love chai!  In the meantime, I think their Outstanding Orange Spice blend is really good, and I also noticed that they have a Pumpkin Spice Chai – oh!  I’d like to try that one!

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Our mutual love for tea and writing about it inspired us to start this blog so that we could better share this love with others.

One thing I (Anne) learned very early on in my career as a tea artist is that everyone has different preferences, and every single tea tastes differently on every single palate.  So just because one of us doesn’t happen to like a tea, doesn’t mean that YOU (the reader) will not.

We try to be as impartial as we can.  We do have our favorites.  We are human.  But we do our very best to be as fair and as honest about a tea as we can be.

You might not agree with my assessment – or with Jennifer’s assessment – of a tea.  But that’s OK… if we all liked the same exact tea – we’d only need ONE kind of tea and … wow… that sounds really boring, indeed!

What a beautiful world it is that we have so many teas to suit so many tea enthusiasts!

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