SororiTea Sisters

A Sorority of Sisters Who Love Tea

Southbrook Berry Blend Tisane from Pluck

September30

Southbrook_Berry_BlendTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Pluck Tea

Tea Description:

A blend of dried grape skins from Niagara’s Organic and Biodynamic Southbrook Vinyards, layered with hibiscus and berries for a delicious fruit tea.  Enjoy hot or iced.  Caffeine – free

Learn more about August’s Postal Teas shipment here.

Learn more about subscribing to Postal Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

Of the three teas that I received in this month’s box from Postal Teas, this is the tea that I was putting off trying.  I was not looking forward to it.  I can see the hibiscus!  UGH!  And because it’s dried grape skins, berries and hibiscus (all dark red) … it just looks like pure hibiscus!

So, needless to say, I didn’t have high hopes for this blend.  To steep this, I got out my Kati tumbler and added 1 bamboo scoop of the dark, burgundy red leaves into the basket of the tumbler and poured water heated to 195°F into the tumbler and let it infuse for 4 1/2 minutes.  Normally, I’d steep a fruit/berry/herbal tisane like this for 5 – 6 minutes, but because this looked like pure hibiscus to me, I went with slightly less time.

The thing about hibiscus is that the longer you let it steep, the tarter the flavor.  Tarter?  Tartier?  More tart?  In addition to a more tartness, the hibiscus turns the liquid into a thick, almost viscous syrup that is quite tart and not very enjoyable to sip.  At least, not for me.  I guess there are some people that dig that sort of thing.

Anyway, this tastes much better than I anticipated it would.  Because of the short steep time, I don’t have a tisane with an unpleasantly thick texture.  And because of the short steep time, I’m not tasting an overwhelmingly tart, hibiscus-y drink.

I can taste the berries!  I can taste the grape!  In fact, the grape is what I taste most.  This tastes a whole lot like warm grape juice.  I suspect that this tisane would taste really good iced and would go over well with children, and it’s a caffeine free alternative to all those sugary sodas.

The “berries” in this blend, because they meld in such a seamless way with the grape and the hibiscus, it’s difficult to discern what type of berry I’m tasting.  It tastes like a berry/grape medley.  The hibiscus is still there, of course, but it melds with the flavors of grape and berry in such a way that it doesn’t taste “hibiscus-y”.  It tastes like a grape and berry juice that’s both sweet and tart.  I am not one who particularly enjoys tart flavors so I added about half a teaspoon of raw sugar to the cup and this toned down the tartness to a tolerable level for my palate.

This is alright.  It’s not my favorite tisane, but given how much I thought I’d dislike it, it turned out to be much better than I thought it would.

Overall, I enjoyed this month’s box from Postal Teas.  And after perusing Pluck’s selection of teas, I’m finding a whole lot more that I’d love to try.  Hey, Postal Teas, if you’re reading … you should feature Pluck again, soon!

Shou Mei White Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

September30

shoumeiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.

Tea Description:

White tea, considered by many tea experts to be the finest tea on earth, comes primarily from the Fujian Province in China. It is very lightly processed with sunlight and low temperatures. A standard grade Chinese Tea, Shou Mei White with its downy silver tipped leaves has a sweet, floral aroma and a mild, smooth, lightly sweet, pale yellow liquor.

Ingredients:  Shou Mei White Tea

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club subscription program here.

Receive 25% savings on the Selection Club from Simple Loose Leaf.  Just type in SISTERSELECTION25 in the coupon field and save 25%!  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been drinking quite a few flavored Shou Mei white teas lately, but it’s been a little while since I’ve had a pure Shou Mei.  So I was happy to be able to reacquaint myself with an unadulterated Shou Mei!

I’m very pleased with the quality of these leaves.  The leaves are soft and are covered in fluffy fuzz, and the leaves vary in color from pale green, silver, and light brown.  This is not the “typical” Shou Mei that sometimes looks and feels like dried, brown leaves.  This appears to be a higher quality tea leaf to me.

And the difference is not only evident in the appearance of the leaves but the flavor of the tea.  I steeped these leaves at 170°F for 3 minutes.  The liquid is a pale amber color and has a delicate, hay-like aroma.

The flavor is sweet, fresh and light.  It has a crispness to it, evoking thoughts of a cool spring morning.  It makes me think of the dewdrops on fresh new leaves in spring.  There is also a distinct “hay-like” flavor, like the air after a cutting of hay.  I spent my adolescent years in an area that grew a lot of hay and alfalfa and you could always tell when the local farms cut their hay as the hay cut imparted a distinct essence to the air that was not only experienced by the nose but also the taste buds.  That’s what I’m tasting (and smelling!) with this tea now.

It’s quite a pleasant cup of Shou Mei!  And this tea offers multiple infusions.  I’m currently on my third infusion, and the flavor just will not quit!  (A good thing, because I’m really enjoying it and I’m not ready to stop drinking it!)  A great choice for this month’s box from Simple Loose Leaf!

Cinnamon Orange Flavored Iced Honeybush Tea from Southern Boy Teas

September29

Cinnamon Orange SBTTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

Premium organic caffeine-free honeybush with organic flavors.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Before I start this review, I wanted to update you with some news about 52Teas/Zoomdweebies/Southern Boy Teas!

Recently, they launched a whole new website and along with the new website came some exciting changes to the way they sell teas!  They are now offering their teas in .5 ounce size pouches rather than the 1 – 2 ounce size pouches and what this means to those of us who subscribe is this:

  1. No longer will I be receiving 1 – 2 ounces of tea per week to add to my overwhelming stash.  This is a good thing.  I’m a taster.  I like this small size because if I find a tea that I really like enough to add it to my stash, then I can buy more of the smaller size.  This means the tea stays sealed and fresh until I want to use it!
  2. Savings!  I am now able to subscribe not just to the 52Teas/Zoomdweebies “hot tea” blend but also the Southern Boy Teas weekly blend for about the same price as I was paying for just the hot tea blend from 52Teas.  I am getting more flavor for a lower price.  OK, sign me up!  Here’s where you can subscribe!

Now … on to the review!

When I first read the name of this tea – Cinnamon Orange Iced Honeybush Tea – I thought it would be what I consider a “typical” cinnamon orange type of tea.  That is, one of those red-hot, spicy-sweet cinnamon-y teas with notes of orange in the background.  They are usually sold as “hot cinnamon” or “holiday” blends.  But this iced tea doesn’t taste at all like I expected it to!

And that’s a good thing!

Oh sure, I enjoy those red-hot, spicy-sweet, candy-like teas.  They’re one of those guilty pleasures of mine.  But I was not too sure about that spicy-sweet flavor for an iced tea.  Iced tea should be something very refreshing and cooling for the palate, and while I do enjoy those spicy-sweet teas, they aren’t really very cooling for the palate.  I think it’s because of the spicy thing.

But this isn’t spicy-sweet.  The cinnamon tastes sweet and it’s gently spiced and smoothly flavored.  It doesn’t impart a warm flavor on my palate.  It’s sweet and a little savory, but it isn’t hot or spicy.  The orange is bright and juicy tasting.  And it is a very refreshing taste.

The honeybush is a little sweet and nutty, and the earthiness of the honeybush brings out the earthier, sweeter flavors of the cinnamon without emphasizing it’s spicier side.  The orange is sweet and vibrant.

A really tasty iced tea.  I wouldn’t call it my favorite iced tea selection from Southern Boy Teas, but, I am really enjoying it and will have no problem finishing the pitcher.  I might even buy another pouch or two in the future.  It’s a good one.

Top Grade Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea

September29

orientalbeautyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Fong Mong Tea

Tea Description:

Taiwan characteristic Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea, a long narrow strip like of various colors, is also called Bai Hao Oolong Tea. Bright white-tipped leaves, a symbol of high level Oriental Beauty Tea, can only be cultivated irreplaceable strong fragrance in organic ecological tea plantation. This tea, with very limited quantity, can only be produced by a senior experienced tea master at one harvest each year.

Learn more about this tea here.

 

Taster’s Review:

This is not the first time that I’ve sampled and reviewed Fong Mong Tea’s Top Grade Oriental Beauty Oolong, but with every new year comes a new harvest and this is a top notch Oriental Beauty!  It’s definitely worthy of another examination because it’s one of the best Oriental Beauty Oolong teas that I’ve encountered.

To brew this tea, I reached for my gaiwan.  I measured 1 bamboo scoop of leaves into the bowl of the gaiwan and then I heated the water to 180°F.  After a 15 second rinse, I steeped the leaves for 45 seconds and strained the tea into a small teacup.  The teacup holds 2 infusions, so I went ahead and infused the leaves a second time, adding 15 seconds onto the steep time (1 minute) and then combined the two infusions into the cup before I started sipping.

The first cup was delightfully sweet with notes of fruit that are peach-like.  There is a honey-like sweetness to the cup as well.  The liquid is very smooth and has a soft, rich mouthfeel.  It has a barely there astringency.  By the time I reach mid-cup, I start to pick up on a light floral tone and subtle woodsy tones.

I noticed the flavors became more developed with the second cup (infusions 3 and 4).  The fruit and honey notes remain the strongest flavors of the cup and these flavors have intensified.  The peach notes are like a soft, ripe peach.  I can almost feel the soft, luscious texture of the peach as I sip this tea.

There is a little more astringency with this cup than in the first cup, but it is still quite a light, barely noticeable astringency.  The floral notes and woodsy tones I started to notice at mid-cup are a little stronger with this cup.  A pleasantly sweet and beautiful cup to sip.

Later infusions offered an even stronger sweetness.  In the third cup, I noticed the floral notes emerging a little more and I found these to be sweet and as they melded with the honey notes and the sweet peach notes it intensified the sweetness of the overall cup.  I also started to pick up on some earthier qualities.

A very intriguing tea, I highly recommend this one to all Oolong enthusiasts!

Oh Canada! Rooibos Blend from David’s Tea

September28

OhCanadaTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos & Honeybush

Where to Buy:  David’s Tea

Tisane Description:

Looking for a taste of Canada? Try this red rooibos tea. It’s sweetened with (what else?) maple syrup and sprinkled with delicious maple leaf candies. Plus it’s 100% diplomatic (well, caffeine-free) and tastes great in both our official languages. With green rooibos, honeybush, caramel and toffee bits to shake things up. A truly authentic Canadian experience.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The brewed tisane smells scrumptious!  It smells like a pancake breakfast and it’s making my mouth water!

To steep:  I used my Kati Tumbler and added 1 1/2 bamboo scoops to the basket of the tumbler.  Then I added 195°F water to the tumbler and allowed the tisane to steep for 10 minutes.

And it tastes a little bit like a pancake breakfast too.  The nutty notes from the rooibos and honeybush add a “pancakey” like flavor to the rich maple-y notes of the flavoring.  The toffee and caramel notes enhance the sweetness (this is a very sweet pancake breakfast, mmm-kay?)

But really, even though I’m getting notes of rooibos, honeybush, toffee and caramel, this tisane is really about the maple!  Sweet, delicious maple.  Not like the weird corn syrup with maple flavoring.  This has a real maple-y flavor to it.  It’s sweet and luscious!

If you’re a fan of maple, this is a tisane you should try.  It has a very dessert-y quality (obviously) so it would make a tasty low-cal/non-fat substitute for dessert or a great treat for the sweet tooth late night craving!  And it’s naturally caffeine free!

Darjeeling 1st Flush 2014 Jogmaya White Tea from What-Cha Tea

September28

DarjeelingJogmayaWhiteTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

A brilliant white tea composed of whole leaves with a silky texture, combined with a gentle grass taste and wonderfully light finish with hints of spice.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have enjoyed many different types of white teas in my years as a tea reviewer.  And while I do enjoy the many different types of white teas that I’ve tasted, I think I’m finally comfortable saying that my favorite white teas are Darjeeling white teas.

And this Darjeeling Jogmaya White Tea from What-Cha Tea is absolutely stunning!  It’s so good!  The dry leaves have a distinct grassy aroma with a soft floral note.  I can smell a light, fruity sweetness in the background.

To brew this tea, I decided to reach for my Kati Brewing System.  I measured 1 1/2 bamboo scoops into the basket of the Kati tumbler (I usually use a little more leaf when it comes to white teas because the leaves are considerably “bulkier”.  I heat freshly filtered water to 170°F and poured the water into the tumbler and let the leaves steep for 3 minutes.  DarjeelingJogmayaWhite1

Sweet and delicious!  As with other white teas, the overall cup is delicate, but I generally find that Darjeeling white teas are a little less subtle in the flavor department than most other teas and that is the case with this Jogmaya White tea.  Perhaps that’s why I enjoy them so much!

Or it could be the amazing spice notes of a Darjeeling white.  This tea has a warm, zesty spice note.  Think white pepper.  Maybe not exactly white pepper, but think of the first time you tasted white pepper and how you noticed the gentler pepper note.  It still tasted of pepper but it was definitely more subdued.  That’s what I taste now, a soft, subtle spice note that is a little warm and zesty.  Perhaps not as abundantly “spiced” as I might experience in say a Yunnan black tea, but there is absolutely some zippy spices that are capturing my taste buds’ attention.

This has a nice body to it, it’s silky and smooth.  Notes of sweet grass and whispers of flower.  I can taste notes of fruit as well.  Melon and a crisp apple note.   As I continue to sip, I start to pick up on a slight grape-y flavor.

This is a very refreshing white Darjeeling.  The sip starts with grassy notes and almost immediately after I experience those notes, I start to pick up on the aforementioned gentle spice notes.  As the sip progresses toward mid-sip, I taste the medley of fruit notes:  melon, apple, and a touch of grape.  As I reach the end of the sip, I taste a slight floral note that melds with the fruit.  The sip ends with a slight dryness and the aftertaste is clean and slightly sweet.

A really enjoyable cup.  What-Cha Tea delivers … again!

Elderflower Champagne Oolong Blend from Bluebird Tea Co.

September27

elderflower_champagneTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Oolong is considered to be the very best, the champers, of the tea world. Oolong is the prettiest tea to watch unfurl in your cup too! Our combination of fresh zingy citrus + delicate floral elderflower won’t get you tipsy but it is tip top indeed. You can also rebrew this one up to 7 times!

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a really tasty and refreshing blend!  I usually prefer pure Oolong teas as opposed to flavored Oolong blends but this one really is quite delightful!

The scent of the dry leaf is beautifully floral with bright citrus notes.  It’s beautifully aromatic, smelling a bit like something I’d want to fragrance my home with!  This would make a great potpourri!

I brewed this tea in my Breville One-Touch tea maker.  I don’t usually brew Oolong teas in my Breville but I do sometimes make an exception when it comes to blended and/or flavored Oolongs like this Elderflower Champagne blend.  I measured out 2 bamboo scoops of tea into the basket of the tea maker and then poured 500ml of freshly filtered water into the jug and set the settings for 180°F with 3 minutes steep time.  For subsequent infusions, I simply added an extra 30 seconds onto the steep time, keeping the amount of water and temperature the same.

The result is a very tasty tea indeed!  The aroma of the brewed tea is a little different from the dry leaf – this smells much more citrus-y and less floral than the dry leaf did.

The flavor is a stunning balance of citrus fruits and floral notes.  I taste orange and lemon and I like the way the sweeter orange softens the tartness of the lemon so I’m not puckering as I sip.  I taste soft, sweet flowery flavors too.

The ingredient list shows that there is hibiscus in this blend too, but I am happy to say that I don’t taste it … nor do I really see any evidence of hibiscus in this blend.  The tea does not brew up “pink” in color (it’s more of a light, clear champagne color) nor does it have a thick or syrupy texture, and I’m not tasting hibiscus tart.  So hooray for that!

In the first infusion, I didn’t taste a lot of obvious Oolong contribution to this.  I did get a nice, buttery texture which is very Oolong-ish to me.  I think that this buttery quality is perhaps the only attribute of the first infusion that speaks to me and says, “This is an Oolong tea.”  I get hints of vegetation and notes of floral – and it could be that these are from the Oolong or at least these characteristics are highlighted because of the Oolong’s presence in this blend.  But neither the vegetal notes nor the floral qualities are saying to me that they are here because of the Oolong.

That said, this is a very enjoyable drink, and I was very happy with the first infusion.  I found that the subsequent infusions started tasting more like a Chinese Oolong tea and I noticed that some of the stronger citrus-y notes began to wane.  I’m still getting plenty of citrus-y flavors – especially in the aftertaste! – but the citrus notes are softened now and allowing more of the Oolong notes to shine through.  The elderflower notes are also softer in later infusions, and again, no real distinct hibiscus-y attributes.  Yay!

I really like this tea a lot and I’d recommend it to those that appreciate a fun and interesting tea blend.

Organic Green Tea from Arum Tea

September27

ArumGreenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Arum Tea

Tea Description:  

This gentle green tea has a sweet vegetal aroma. The mild floral flavors are smooth and refreshing.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve had limited experience with Indonesian teas.  That is to say that I’ve tasted many more Chinese, Japanese and Indian teas than I have Indonesian teas.  So, I’m always excited for the opportunity to try more!

The dry leaf of this Organic Green Tea looks very much like I’d expect an Oolong to appear with dark green leaves that have been wound into pellets.  (Think about the pellets of a Tie Guan Yin Oolong as an example.)  But this tea smells much more “green” than an Oolong typically smells.  I believe that the longer oxidation process of the Oolong tea (however long or short that may be) allows other aromas to be developed.  The aroma of this tea smells a bit grassy, reminiscent of a freshly cut lawn with the faintest hint of a flowery fragrance in the background.

I noticed the difference in aroma (between this Organic Green Tea from Arum Tea and a greener Oolong) to be especially apparent when the tea was finished brewing.  I brewed this tea in my Breville One-Touch tea maker.  I measured 2 bamboo scoops of tea into the basket of my tea maker and then poured in 500ml of freshly filtered water into the jug and set the controls for 180°F and 1 1/2 minutes.

The tea brews up light in color:  a clear, very pale spring green.  And it is very aromatic!  I could smell the vibrant, fresh grassy tones.  The fragrance reminds me of the aforementioned freshly cut lawn.  Imagine the smell of the air after the first lawn cutting of the spring when the grass is new and green.  Now imagine how the air would smell if after mowing the lawn you trimmed the flower hedges.  There’s a slight floral element in the air along with the fresh grassy notes.  That’s the aroma that filled my kitchen after this tea was brewed!  What a delight to experience!

The tea is very flavorful!  Sweet with notes of vegetable and a light buttery note.  There is notes of flower in there too, just as the aroma would suggest.  I had kind of expected all those flavors before lifting the cup to my lips but what I wasn’t prepared for was the fruit notes of this tea.  I taste sweet notes of melon!  A juicy honeydew melon!  Nice!

I like that the flavor is sweet but there is a certain savory element that arrives on the palate toward the tail to offer some contrast and complexity to the taste.  It’s not overly “kelpy” or “seaweedish” which I like, because I’m not a big seaweed fan.

This is a very light, smooth, pleasantly sweet and refreshing tea.  I would highly recommend this to those who are looking for something that is somewhat familiar to the usual green tea but with some really interesting differences too.  This is deliciously familiar but intriguingly different!

Tropical Sorbet Black Tea from Tea of Life

September26

TeaofLifeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Tea Description:

Black tea with natural banana, pineapple, passion fruit & mango flavors.

Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the tastier teas that I’ve received from Tea of Life.  I’ve enjoyed a few of their teas and there were some that I didn’t really care for but this one moves its way right toward the top of the list.  It’s got a good flavor:  a background of brisk black tea with a pleasant tropical fruit note.  As summer has come to an end and fall has just begun, this tea takes my taste buds on a summer-y holiday to the tropics.

I like that I can taste each of the fruit flavors:  I taste notes of banana and mango, hints of pineapple-y sweetness and a touch of passion fruit, but these flavors do not overpower the black tea base.  The black tea tastes smooth and I’m tasting more of the sweeter notes of the black tea emerge thanks to the sweetness of the fruit notes.  It’s a very harmonious taste.

It’s sweet but not too sweet and the fruity flavors are not overwhelming.  There is no doubt that what I’m drinking is tea that has been flavored with fruit rather than fruit flavors rather than fruit flavors with a little bit of black tea mixed in.  This is tea first!

It’s a tasty cuppa served hot but I like this one best when it cools because the fruity notes give it a very refreshing taste that is more “iced tea” to me.  An enjoyable tea from Tea of Life.

Gentle Slumber Organic Tisane from Good Life Tea

September26

Gentle_SlumberTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos & Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Good Life Tea

Tisane Description:

This blend of rooibos, chamomile and peppermint is powerful mix of herbs known for their calming effects.  Chamomile is the ancient herb from the Roman empire and has been used to bring about restful sleep. You can actually see the chomomile flowers in the blend.  Rooibos is a relative new arrival, only used in the last 200 years as a tisane.  Grown only in the Cederberg, South Africa rooibos is naturally caffeine free, and is loaded with anti-oxidants, which prevent a many diseases. It is the reddish brown leaves in the mix. The last ingredient, Peppermint has a huge calming effect on the stomach as a digestive and gives this tea nice finish which lingers for a bit. Peppermint is the green leaves in the tisane.

Enjoy this tea to bring calmness to your day or just prior to bedtime.  Because it contains no caffeine, its safe for children to enjoy. Create a nice evening ritual with this herbal tea.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

I know that I’ve often said that I’m not a big fan of rooibos and I’m also not a big fan of chamomile.  Oh, I like both of these herbs alright.  I’m just not wild about them and I can think of other herbs I like much better.

Like peppermint.  I like peppermint.  And what makes this Organic Gentle Slumber so tasty IS the peppermint.  The peppermint is the strongest flavor in the cup, so I can drink this tisane without tasting too much chamomile or rooibos.  Bonus!

But even though the peppermint is strong here, it isn’t an overpowering flavor.  There is some nutty flavors in the background.  A touch of honey like flavor. A whisper of floral tones in the distance.  And these flavors add a little bit of dimension to the cup so that it’s not all about the zesty peppermint.

And even though the peppermint is zesty, overall, I find the tisane to be soothing and quite relaxing to sip.  It’s a comforting drink to enjoy before bedtime and the chamomile and rooibos are both known for their calming properties.

A great choice to inspire a good night’s sleep!

Please Note:  the free sample offer is no longer valid.  Thank you for stopping by!

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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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