Jade Cloud from The Spice and Tea Exchange. . .

I needed a tea experience tonight. My husband wanted to know what I meant when I asked if he wanted to join me for a tea experience, and I told him, “You, me, the kid, on the floor with the tea tray and NO ELECTRONICS!”

But I had to choose a special tea to gong fu, and I really wanted to try something new. This one looked interesting, with its thin, twisted leaves that are such a dark green.

The first steep was really smokey. The company calls it toasted chestnuts and I’ll buy that. I don’t think I have ever had toasted chestnuts so I can’t say for sure. But definitely woody, nutty, toasty, and earthy come to mind. There is a long lasting aftertaste reminding me of the liquor from cooking mustard greens or turnip greens, a Southern favorite in the USA.

The second steep changes pretty remarkably. As the stronger flavors step back, a light floral taste comes forward – very light, with Southern greens still in play. My husband liked the second steep much better, and the kid did, as well. We plowed through four or five steeps and still wanted more tea, so I got fresh leaves and a new kettle of water and we started all over again.

This time I gave the leaves a ten second rinse to try to duplicate the taste of the second steep in the first. But even with the rinse the first steep had a lot of smokey flavor, which my husband noticed right away. After my “I told you so” we moved on to the resteeps again.

Again, these are earthy green and lighter. Husband and the kid say they enjoyed it, and preferred the later steeps over the first. I have to say that I enjoyed wending our way through all the flavors this tea had to offer.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy:  The Spice and Tea Exchange
Description

Special grade of green tea produced in high-elevation gardens of Hubei, China. A smooth and mellow cup, with a sweet aroma and the slight flavor of toasted chestnuts.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

White Christmas from Harney and Sons. . . .

White Christmas announces on the tin that it is white tea with almond and vanilla flavors. When I opened the tin, there was an aroma that was none of the above. Then when I steeped the tea, the aroma was even stronger. It wasn’t white tea, it wasn’t vanilla and it wasn’t almond, but I couldn’t place it and thought at first it might be some kind of mint.

Time to cheat! Looking at the list of ALL ingredients in the tea, I see it! Ah ha! Cardamom! Of course! Ooooo, I really like cardamom! More lemony than mint, but still a high note rather than a deep one. There are also white chamomile blossoms, to remind one of snow.

Someone asked me tonight what white tea tastes like. I told them it often tastes the way hay sitting in warm sun smells, and that’s why some people prefer it flavored. I think this white blend should have plenty of flavor for anyone. Just don’t expect it to be merely almond and vanilla, since the cardamom is a powerful player here.

Harney’s sachets are intended for twelve ounces of water, not a mere five or six like most teabags. And since this tea resteeps, you can get quite a lot of tea from this tin of thirty sachets.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  White
Where to Buy:  Harney and Sons
Description

Recline in front of a glowing fire while the snow drifts, and the tree lights twinkle. A sip from this warm and nutty blend completes the perfect winter wonderland. Features hand-picked white tea blended with almonds, vanilla and cardamom, accented by white chamomile flowers. Tin of 20 sachets. Each sachet brews a 12 oz cup of tea. Caffeinated.

 

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Austin Breakfast from Zhi Tea

Austin Breakfast is an organic Indian black tea. I have the sachets and – BONUS! – they are biodegradable. I love the company’s vision statement.

“We’re a homegrown Austin, Texas company composed of a few die-hard tea freaks, lovers of fine foods, stewards of sustainable agriculture, and passionately dedicated to the human experience.”

I made this for my daughter and myself to have with breakfast. I noted that the website says this will offer some good resteeps, and not to toss the bag until it has given up all of its goodness, so that is what I intend to do.

First steep – My word, this is a super aromatic black tea. At this point, I had noted that the tea was from India as stated on the packaging but I had not looked up the specifics of origin. No matter, there is no mistaking right off the bat that this is a Ceylon tea from the aroma alone.

And it is one of the more aromatic I have tried. There are lovely, deep round dark raisin notes, a nice middle creamy thick feel, and swirling higher notes of orange and lemon. While eating my oatmeal, I detected no astringency at all. After my bowl was empty, I held the tea in my mouth and swirled it around, and there it was! The classic Indian tea briskness.

I take my tea sans additions, and I have a very dodgy stomach that often rebels at tea of Indian origin, kicking me in the gut as revenge. Nicer Indian teas do not have this effect. Dodgy ones get smoothed with milk if I drink them at all.

Happily, my stomach is quite at peace with this tea. Not so much as a burble. I feel like I am drinking a high quality Irish breakfast tea. No milk nor sugar needed, but if that’s how you roll, it can take it.

Steep 2 – While it is piping hot, I think that the low notes have utterly disappeared and the brisk, high lemony notes are mostly what remains. After a couple of minutes cooling time, I find this tea to have its thick and creamy body restored and the briskness is now slightly muted compared to the piping hot sip. Still a good cup of tea, though different from the first steep. I will definitely be trying a third steep.

This would be a great morning tea at work, with the first bracing cup preparing one for the day and tasks ahead, and the remaining cups serving as an easy peasy resteep as you simply add hot water to continue through the morning,


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Zhi Tea
Description

Our Austin Breakfast honors the intensity and laid-backness of Austin. The Ceylon black tea is at once bold and smooth. It has a deep character and clean finish like a great Irish Breakfast tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Russian Caravan from Tea Queens. . . .

I usually reserve my smokier teas for cool or cold weather since I find them very comforting, but cloudy, rainy days spent gazing out the window qualify, too!

Tea Queens sells through consultants, and you can host a tea break or a tea party to learn about tea and to taste some of their offerings. If there is no consultant in your area, the website instructs you to call customer service, so I assume you can order directly from them.

This Russian Caravan is a blend of Assam, Keemun with lychee, and Lapsang Souchong. There are no steeping instructions on the website so I went with 200F and four minutes just to pamper the Assam a bit.

The resulting tea is so light I thought perhaps I had made a mistake, but I have another Lapsang blend that comes out a similar color.

This went very well with our breakfast of blueberry scones. The company sells scone mix, too, by the way! And teapot cookie cutters and colorful decorating sugars.

There is a touch of briskness from the Assam, and it is nicely smokey. I like smoke, and a few Russian Caravan blends have disappointed me by being a bit too tame, but this one was just right. I really don’t taste much lychee, even the cups I drank after the scone was long gone. I think mainly I pick up a general fruitiness from the the Assam and lychee together.

I have made a lot of new friends by having people over who want to learn about tea, where it is grown, how it is processed, how to prepare it, why to drink. I think the idea of hosting a party where an expert comes to conduct your own personal tea flight is marvelous! Especially since it gives you a discount on your tea, and real teaheads know how outrageous the tea budget can get!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Tea Queens
Description

A blend of Assam and Keemun with Chinese lychee tea imparts a wonderful fruitiness. Lapsang Souchong adds a gentle touch of smokiness to this one of a kind blend.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Sweet Peaches from Blooming With Joy. . . .

We drink a lot of water, but when we are craving flavor we turn to iced tea. Soda bubbles don’t offer the thirst quenching, deep draws from a glass.

The first cold brew iced tea I ever tried tasted as a friend put it like “restaurant tea”. I grew up on sweet tea but have since given up sugar in my hot tea and greatly reduced it in iced tea, with some blends getting no sugar at all.

Making iced tea couldn’t be easier than with these pre-measured pouches. I filled a half gallon (two quart) mason jar with water, threw in a pouch, and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning I had a beautifully clear, deep amber tea that smelled like ripe, juicy peaches. The flavor is light and refreshing. I love the Taiwanese oolong base. I find it “wetter” and smooth going down when you want to guzzle a glass. This is my batch.

Hubby wants his tea sweet and we all know that sugar never dissolves quite right in tea that is already cold. For his batch, I put a little sugar in a jar and added an equal amount of nearly boiling water and stirred like mad. You can as easily add simple syrup, which we generally keep on hand. Then I topped up the jar with cold water and popped in a large sachet. The next day he had his beloved sweet tea on ice. The kids helped him drink it up.

So many flavors to choose from, I don’t know where to start!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Blooming With Joy
Description

Cold Brew Iced Tea is the perfect way to enjoy a cool, refreshing beverage on a warm day. Available in many of your favorite varieties. Cold Brew Iced Tea is easy to make simply pop one pouch in your pitcher, and it will brews cold in your fridge! All it takes is 4-6 hours. Pop in in before bed and awake to find a tea rich in flavor and aroma. You can leave the pouches in for up to 24 hours.  Additionally, you can make sun tea by placing the Cold Brew Iced Tea pouch in your sun tea container, it will brew on your porch.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!