SororiTea Sisters

A Sorority of Sisters Who Love Tea

Mint Julip Black Tea from Tea of Life

July24

TeaofLifeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Tea Description:

Black tea with natural mint flavor.

Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

When I read the name of this tea:  Mint Julip … I expected a little more than a black tea with mint.  I guess when I think Mint Julip, I think bourbon and mint.

But!  Don’t take that statement as me not liking what I’m sipping, because this is an enjoyable drink.  The black tea notes are strong, it’s a brisk tasting black tea with a smooth character.  It’s not bitter or overly astringent, although there is a mild astringency toward the tail.  I like that even though there is this faint “dry puckering” of the inside of my cheeks, the transition from the beginning of the sip to the sensation I just described is very smooth.

I’m a little surprised by the mint notes.  They are quite faint, and generally when I have a minty tea I expect a stronger mint flavor.  This is really quite subtle.  This is definitely more a black tea than a mint tea.

So, that leads me to say this:  if you’re looking for a minty black tea, this is not the right tea for you.  If you’re looking for a black tea with a hint of mint, this is the tea.  This doesn’t have that really CRISP cool minty sensation that you’d probably expect from a minty black tea.  This has a delicate mint note that sort of lingers in the background.

It’s a pleasant, enjoyable cuppa, but not quite what I was expecting!

Earl Grey Black Tea from Nina’s Paris

July23

EarlGreyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black & Green Teas

Where to Buy:  Nina’s Tea Store

Tea Description:

Bergamot from Sicily. The smoothness of Keemun (Black Tea) together with the freshness of bergamot. An ancient recipe that was handed down by a high dignitary of China to Earl Charles Grey. A classic that definitely shouldn’t be missed.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I opened my sample of this Earl Grey tea from Nina’s Paris, I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed and skeptical about whether or not I’d like this Earl Grey, because the aroma was very faint.  Not just faint, but there was hardly any discernible bergamot fragrance.  And when it comes to Earl Grey, I want BERGAMOT!

Now that the tea is brewed, the bergamot scent is a little stronger than it was with the dry leaf.  And the flavor doesn’t disappoint!  Quite the contrary, this is a superb Earl Grey!

The bold flavor of the Keemun black tea base gives this tea a little added “umph!” that makes a real difference in the overall flavor.  I love that rich, smooth flavor of the Keemun together with the tangy-sweet notes of the bergamot.  The wine-like notes of the Keemun marry beautifully with the citrus fruit, and creates a very harmonious taste.

And the slight smoky note of the Keemun also adds some interest to the cup without overwhelming it.  It’s not a heavy smoky tone, just a little wisp of smoke in there that keeps the taste buds intrigued.

The bergamot is stronger in flavor than the fragrance led me to believe, but it isn’t an overpowering bergamot flavor.  Typically, I like a good, strong bergamot essence, but, I like the subtler approach of the bergamot here, because it works to the favor of the complexity of the Keemun, allowing the palate to explore the many different notes within this cup.  It’s not all about the bergamot, nor is it all about the Keemun.  It’s a really interesting combination of flavors, one that I am enjoying very much.

This is a really good Earl Grey.  Definitely worth a try if you’re an Earl Grey enthusiast like me, or even if you are just looking for the “right” Earl Grey for your tea cupboard.  You should definitely try this one, it’s different enough from the standard to make it stand out from the pack.

Yin Gou Mei Green Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

July23

YinGouMeiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

This Chinese tea is often referred to as eyebrow tea due to its eyebrow shaped tea leaves. The leaves are hand picked during early spring to result in a floral and robust flavor without the bitterness often associated with this type of tea. The rich green tea leaves brew to reveal a bright jade liquor with a fresh aroma, balanced earthiness and smooth, subtle finish. Yin Gou Mei Green Tea is best served hot.

Learn more about this tea here.

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

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Yin Gou Mei, so, I was really looking forward to having this tea when I discovered it was part of this month’s Selection Club sampler box from Simple Loose Leaf.

Yin Gou Mei is often called “Chinese Eyebrows” because of the cute “eyebrow” shape of the leaves.  But, I don’t like calling it Chinese Eyebrows because that sounds … weird and not in a good way.  So forgive me for not calling it by that name and instead going with Yin Gou Mei.

And this is a really LOVELY Yin Gou Mei!

This is sweet and creamy with soft nutty notes, but there is a light crispness to the cup as well.  There are delicate floral notes that meld with the soft, creamy sweetness.  It makes my palate swoon how these two tastes mingle together.  It’s very smooth from start to finish, with no bitter notes and very little noticeable astringency.

What I like about Yin Gou Mei is that it’s a little different from the typical green tea in that it tastes somewhat “earthy” but not really overly vegetal.  While there is a slight vegetative note to this, it’s not a heavy, grassy taste, nor does it taste like steamed veggies or any of the other vegetative comparisons that I often make.  It’s smooth, floral and lightly earthy/vegetal note that is softened with a pleasant creaminess.

I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again in the future, but, I just love getting my monthly Selection Club box from Simple Loose Leaf!  It really is a GREAT bargain:  I get five different teas each month and there’s enough for several pots of tea from EACH of the five teas in the box.  Plus you get a sample from the next month’s box to whet your appetite for the teas to come!  And there are a couple of different payment options available to you that have been designed for savings and convenience in mind.

And if you want to save even more, here’s what you do:  use this code - SISTERSELECTION25  - and receive a 25% discount when you sign up for the Selection Club!  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.  It’s an awesome service!

Nutty Mocha Mate Blend from ArtfulTea

July22

nuttymochamateTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Maté

Where to Buy:  ArtfulTea orArtfulTea on Etsy

Tisane Description:

The indulgent taste of chocolate and hazelnut, plus mellow chicory, give this mate blend a rich, roasted, mocha flavor. Yerba mate is an herbal infusion, but unlike most herbal teas, mate contains a stimulating caffeine-like compound. 

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve had some Yerba Mate, and this is a great tisane to get myself back into it!  This is really quite tasty!

It actually reminds me a lot of a tisane that I used to make back in my blending days!  I made a mocha flavored Mate, mostly because I was looking for something that would satisfy my craving for coffee back then because I was still missing coffee.  As I’ve said before I couldn’t drink coffee any longer, but there were still times when I missed the flavor of coffee.  I certainly didn’t miss the sick feeling I’d get a few hours later though!

Since that time, I’ve come to really love tea more than I ever loved coffee.  That’s probably pretty obvious, huh?  But I still love it when I find a tea or tisane like this one that offers a taste that is reminiscent of that rich, roasted flavor of coffee that I used to enjoy.

And this satisfies that craving!  This tastes very much like a rich, delicious mocha that you might find in one of those super expensive coffee shops, complete with the sweet, nutty flavor of hazelnut and even a touch of chocolate.  I am wishing there was more chocolate flavor to this, though.  It’s got some chocolate, but as I have been known to say, more chocolate is always better, and that’s true with this tisane too.

As it is, though, I found this to be quite enjoyable and I’m really glad that I got to try it.  Another tasty offering from ArtfulTea.

Goomtee Grand Reserve Spring Tea First Flush 2014 from Darjeeling Tea Lovers

July22

GOOMTEE GRAND RESERVE SPRING TEATea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

Goomtee Grand Reserve is a LIMITED EDITION tea. Not all teas get the prestigious tag of GRAND RESERVE but this tea deserves every bit of this.

The leaves have been plucked from the highest elevated section of this garden which is also called the MUSCATEL VALLEY. Super fine plucking of the leaves and tender processing has resulted with a masterpiece.

High floral notes with distinct JASMINE LIKE flavour will make every tea connoisseur mesmerized. It is only Goomtee that could deliver such a beauty.  

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This 2014 Goomtee Grand Reserve Spring Tea First Flush is a lot greener than most of the Darjeeling teas that I’ve encountered lately.  In fact, it looks very much like a green tea rather than a black tea.

Taking this into account, I lowered the temperature slightly.  Normally, I would steep a Darjeeling tea at 195°F, but for this greener Darjeeling, I lowered the temperature to 185°F, and using my Breville One-Touch tea maker, I set the steep time for 2 minutes.

The result is a delightful cup of tea!  The aroma of the brewed cup is crazy floral – it is really beautiful.

And the flavor!  Sweet!  Floral!  There are even hints of muscatel in this cup.  The floral notes are profound, and as the description above promises, there is a “distinct jasmine like” flavor.  There is a soft, pleasant texture.  The astringency sort of tingles on the tongue in the finish, and I find that it accentuates the floral notes of this cup.

I’m mesmerized by the jasmine tones of this cup.  I don’t think that this tea was actually *scented* with jasmine, but, it almost tastes as though it has been processed similar to a typical jasmine scented tea.  The jasmine essence is a bit more subdued than in a typical jasmine green tea, for example, but, it’s still a rather surprising taste to find in a Darjeeling tea such as this.

I’d recommend this to all those that enjoy drinking tea!  Those that love jasmine, as I do, this is an exciting twist on that classic favorite.  Those that love Darjeeling, this is one that you should have on your cupboard because it’s a stunning representation of a fine Darjeeling first flush.  Those that simply love all teas, this is quite a unique tea and unlike any that I’ve tried thus far (and I’ve tried a lot of tea!)  It’s one you should try too!

A truly remarkable and … rather unexpected Darjeeling tea.

Product Review: Tea Assortment of Hard Candy from Raley’s Confectionary

July21

raleys-teaProduct Information:

Where to Buy:  Treatsie

Product Description:  

Tea-flavored hard candy.  Flavors include Lemongrass Green Tea, Chai Latte, Arnold Palmer and Mango Black Tea.

Learn more about Treatsie’s Subscription Box here.

Product Review:

I know I’ve confessed it before, but, I’ll confess it again:  I have a sweet tooth.  And I find myself particularly attracted to sweets that are tea inspired, like these yummy hard candies from Raley’s Confectionary.  While recently perusing the Treatsie website, I came across this tea flavored hard candy assortment, and you know I couldn’t resist!

I recently discovered Treatsie, and they’re a subscription box (similar to the box that I get every month from Simple Loose Leaf), so every month, I will get a box full of yummy treats.  (And chocolate.  Did I mention chocolate?)  You can also shop for the products individually and there are some really interesting curated boxes that you can buy at Treatsie too.  I bought these tea flavored hard candies separately, because as I said before, I couldn’t resist when I saw the words “Tea Flavored Hard Candy.”  Um … yes please!

My separately purchased products (not the Treatsie subscription box) arrived this afternoon, and I’m really pleased!  It was packaged beautifully, and I even got a “thank you” treat tucked inside – another package of Raley’s Confectionary’s hard candies – these little “thank you” candies actually say thank you right on them, and they’re pomegranate flavored!  Yum!

These tea flavored candies are really tasty.  The Mango Black Tea candy has a very distinct mango note and I can taste a softer black tea note in there too.  The Lemongrass Green Tea has a lemon-lime-ish sort of flavor to it, with a background of a sweet, grassy green tea note.  The Arnold Palmer tastes more of lemonade than it does of tea, but every once in a while I taste a slight tea-ish flavor.  I like the tangy note of the Arnold Palmer, though, it seems to balance out the other sweeter tasting flavors of the package.

And then there is my favorite of the four:  Chai Latte!  I think I’d be happy to have a whole package of just the chai latte.  They have a gentle spice to them (these aren’t strong in spice!  They’re more sweet than spicy!) and I can taste the black tea as well as a creamy note to them – they’re like a sweet little chai latte!

I love that the flavors that are promised are the flavors that are delivered.  Sure, they’re sweeter than what you’d experience if you were actually drinking a cup of chai latte or a mango flavored black tea – but they ARE candies, after all!  They’re supposed to be sweet.  What I love is that these are not just something that satisfies the sweet tooth in me, but also the tea lover in me too.

So, now I’ve found this sinful company that will send me sweet-tooth indulgences once a month … how do I say no to that?

Mr. He’s 1st Picking Laoshan Black Tea from Verdant Tea

July21

Spring-2014-1st-picking-laoshan-blackTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

Laoshan Black is our most popular tea, and its success has encouraged Mr He of Laoshan Village to keep refining his process to make it better every year. This year, Mr. He has taken leaves normally used for his delicate and subtle early spring green tea and allowed them to roast in the sun for three days before hand processing in small one to two pound batches, yielding this incredible rich, subtle Laoshan Black experience.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The aroma of the dry leaf knocks my socks off.  OK, so I wasn’t wearing socks, but if I was, they’d be blown off.  My feet felt the absence of the socks and felt the strong gust of wind that was there to blow the socks off the feet, but, because there was no socks, my feet just got a nice cool breeze for a few minutes, and given that it’s kind of hot outside, I’m glad that the gust wasn’t warm air.

Wow … so that was a lot “windier” than I expected to be to describe a scent that I can’t remember experiencing with a black tea in the past.  It smells like chocolate.  Like dark chocolate with a nice roast on those cacao beans.  Nice.  The chocoholic in me is happy.

This is a very special tea.  And since it is so special, I decided to consult the suggested brewing parameters on the Verdant Tea website for how to best brew this tea.  Now, this isn’t something I do often.  I don’t usually check to see how the company suggests I brew a tea, mostly because I’ve been brewing tea for a long time.  I eyeball my measurements using my bamboo scoop (the bamboo scoop that I own looks sort of like this one).

I have kind of a set “temperature” guide in my head:  for most black teas, I use boiling water.  If I’m brewing Assam, I drop the temperature to 205°F.  If I’m brewing Darjeeling, I drop the temperature to 195°F.  If I’m brewing herbal teas, including rooibos, honeybush, yerba mate and guayusa, I also set the temperature for 195°F.  Most pu-erh teas get 190°F.  If’ I’m brewing Green or Oolong teas, I use 175 – 185°F.  If I’m brewing a white or yellow tea, I use 170°F.   I don’t often stray from this mental temperature guide often.  Steep times are also follow a mental steep-time guide.

But because this is a tea that is of very limited quantities, and not one that I want to experiment a lot with because I don’t have a large quantity of this tea to experiment with, nor do I have the resources to secure myself a large quantity of the tea … because of these reasons, I decided to consult with the people who have had more experience with this tea than I.  I decided to go with the gongfu brew style (hey, what the heck!) and I now have sitting before me my first cup of this tea – the combined results of the first and second infusions, following an extremely quick 1 second rinse.

Ow!  Cup is hot.  I’m using my little Chinese teacup with no handle and made of very thin porcelain, so there’s not a lot to insulate and protect my fingers from the heat of the boiling water used to infuse this tea.

Very mellow tasting.  These infusions were 15 seconds and 20 seconds, which went a little longer than the suggested 2 – 3 seconds as suggested in the brewing parameters by Verdant.  But there is still a lot of flavor to the mellow taste.

Spring-2014-1st-picking-laoshan-black2The chocolate notes are THERE and I’m loving that.  The tasting notes on the Verdant website also suggest notes of cherry and almond, and I do get a slight roasted nut flavor there that is almond-y.  A lovely combination of flavors with the prolific chocolate notes.  I taste hints of the sweet cherry notes.  This first cup is sweet and lovely.

The next two infusions proved to continue with the chocolate-y notes.  I love the roasted flavor to this cup and how that enhances the chocolate-y notes.  I’m starting to pick up on honey-like flavors and a slight caramel-y note, like a honey caramel.  Nice.  I love that while this is tea is loaded with sweet notes, it doesn’t taste too sweet.  It’s smooth and well-rounded.

Later infusions, I noticed the chocolate notes beginning to wane, replaced with a stronger nutty tone.  Imagine toasted nuts that have been drizzled with honey.

The brewing parameters suggest 15 infusions, and I might very well have gotten that many out of this measurement of leaves, but, I was quite satisfied with the eight infusions that I brewed.  By the fourth and final cup, while I was still enjoying the tea but I found myself missing the chocolate-y notes of the earlier infusions.

Then I found myself wondering how the flavors would differ if I were to experiment with this tea using the “Western” approach to brewing.  So, I decided to do just that!

I think that I actually prefer the western method of brewing for this particular tea.  The flavor is richer and more robust from the very first cup.  Still deliciously chocolate-y and tasting of roasted almonds with hints of cherry, but the flavor has more muchness to it when I brew it using the teapot rather than the gaiwan.

And brewing this way, I can still get three flavorful infusions out of this tea.  The first:  chocolate-y, rich with notes of toasted almond and sweet cherry.  The second:  a little lighter on the chocolate notes, but, still very pleasantly chocolate-y, with more enhanced nutty notes and a touch of honey.  And with the third, I was able to actually taste some notes of sarsaparilla.

This tea is awesome!  It makes me want to dance the futterwacken!

Formosa Assam from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

July21

FormosaAssamTea Type:  
Black

Where to Buy:
Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

Tea Description: 

NEW ITEM THIS MONTH!

What a smooth tea this is! This tea comes from a farm just above the pristine alpine lake called Sun Moon Lake. It’s hand processed by Mr. Lee and his wife, a wonderful and hospitable couple. They grow without chemicals the old fashioned way. Do you like black teas from India? This tea is similar but has no astringency. It’s a pure stock Assam Black Tea that has been growing in Taiwan since 1926 when the Japanese imperial machine started to foster a tea industry in Taiwan for world-wide export.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:
This is one of this company’s NEW teas and I must say it’s a GOODIE!  Of course – I’m partial to a solid black tea especially in the morning – I usually start each day with a black based tea and then move on to other types of tea throughout the day.  Have said that – I REALLY love this tea.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people use the word “Pristine” more and more these days.  I’m not sure if it’s a new buzz word or fad or lingo but I try and reserve it for something REALLY special.  After reading the product description of this tea and this tea being from a farm about the “pristine” Alpine Lake call Sun Moon Lake of course I had to research it to see if it lived up to the word.  And you know what?  It DOES!  This lake truly IS a gem!  It’s marvelously beautiful…and I’ll say it…PRISTINE.  After seeing the photographs I can’t image anything ‘bad’ coming from this area.  I absolutely believe this tea lives up to the product description.

I LOVE that this grown without the use of chemicals and the old fashioned way.  It has no astringency.  It’s bold but smooth.  It’s sweet, too.  For a black based tea I think this has a level of mouth watering and thirst quenching type of sip to it, too!  The leaves are fairly large and precise.  The aroma is pleasant but not over powering and not dark like most black teas.  I can’t think of one thing I don’t like about this tea.  It’s a real winner in my book!

Peaches & Cream Flavored Genmaicha from 52Teas

July20

Peaches-and-Cream-GenmaichaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

So anyway, that’s been my week.  Hope you and yours are doing well.  You know, I could very well be crazy for writing most of this, but sometimes I feel like it might be more interesting to our readers to actually hear what I’ve been up to rather than hearing me go on every week about how each of these teas is awesome and going to sell out fast and you should get yours now.  I mean, all of that is true, but how many times does anyone really want to read that?

So, this week’s post is kind of an experiment.  I’m anxious to see how people respond to it.

The Tea…

Genmaicha green tea with toasted rice, popped sorghum seeds, freeze-dried peaches and organic peach and cream flavors.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

When this Peaches & Cream Flavored Genmaicha was first announced as the tea of the week for June 9th, I wasn’t really sure how the sweetness of peaches and cream would work with the nutty, roasted flavor of the genmaicha.  It sounded intriguing and unique, certainly, and maybe just a little bit crazy, maybe it was crazy enough to work!

And while it IS a tasty cup of tea, I’m not sure I’m as crazy as I want to be for it to say that it “works.”  It tastes good, certainly, and I do like how the toasty, nut flavor of the genmaicha plays with the flavors of peaches and cream, but, at the same time, it almost seems to detract from the blend a little bit.

I can taste all the elements:  the notes of the green tea are lightly vegetal, the toasty rice adds a pleasant sweetness, and the peaches are juicy and add a really nice fruity note to the cup, while the cream notes melds a little bit with the nutty notes of the toasted rice to create a sweet, deliciously creamy tone.  But they almost seem a little disjointed.

It’s a tasty tea, but not the best that I’ve tasted from 52Teas.

Kenilworth Ceylon Black Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

July20
kenilworthceylon

Kenilworth Ceylon Black Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

A satisfying stand alone black tea, this richly robust Kenilworth Ceylon needs nothing to compliment its full-bodied stature. Stronger then our Ceylon Supreme, this fruitier, seemingly apricot flavored, fuller bodied tea exhibits a little tart acidity that lingers on the tongue for a touch of bite. This tea is best served hot or as a strong iced black tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

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

Taster’s Review:

A lovely Ceylon!  I find myself in agreement with the above description provided by Simple Loose Leaf, this is a Ceylon that requires no additions, it is a good, sturdy, robust black tea that has some real heft to it.  This would make a good breakfast tea as well, and I think it would take well to the additions of milk and honey (or sugar – preferably raw! – or for a real treat, try drizzling some real maple syrup in your cup!)

As for here and now, I’ve selected this as a cup of tea to enjoy as my afternoon cuppa, and it is versatile enough to become a brisk afternoon tea as well as that strong first cup or that well-rounded breakfast tea.

It has a very pleasing flavor:  rich with notes of stone fruit.  As the description above suggests, there is a distinct apricot note to this cup.  Toward the finish, I notice a hint of citrus, as if someone added just a drop of freshly squeezed lemon juice to my cup.  The acidic note of the citrus like flavor cuts through the sweeter notes – think molasses! – so that the cup doesn’t become overwhelmingly sweet.

I’m surprised at just how full-flavored this Ceylon is, as I have come to expect a Ceylon to be a milder tasting tea.  This is malty!  Layers of earth and flower lie just beneath the more dominate layers of sweet fruit.

It is a very nicely round, satisfying cuppa that has the ability to become what you want it to be!  An iced tea?  Sure!  Try cold-brewing this one, or if you prefer the hot-brew method, add a sprig of mint to the teapot before you add the hot water or try adding a thin slice of lime to the chilled tea for a truly refreshing drink.  Want a robust breakfast tea?  This tea has that covered too.  A pleasant afternoon tea to share with guests?  Yep, this tea will serve your friends well.  This tea is one of those teas that should be a standard in every well-stocked tea cupboard.

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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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