Chai Houjicha from 52Teas. . . .

I like me a mellow chai. I like roasted green teas. And I often enjoy 52teas’ blends. So I was very pleased to receive a generous taster pouch sample of this blend. It has not disappointed!

The dry leaf smells of clove, cinnamon, and a hint of pepper. Brewed up, it smells of clove and cinnamon. The dominant flavor is the roastiness of the hojicha, with a hint of cinnamon and the lingering bite of clove. Adding rice milk really makes this dreamy. It adds a sweetness and touch of creaminess that just perfectly complements the mellow spices, highlights the roasted note, and smooths out the clove. I tried adding honey for the sake of being comprehensive, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. This blend consistently delivers a solid second steep. I have also found that the caffeine kick here seems to be pretty mild, so I can have it later in the day than most other caffeinated teas. Overall, this is a mild but flavorful chai that is perfect for a chilly afternoon.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  52Teas
Description

This tea is no longer available but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Green Lemonade from Love Tea Co. . . .

I pulled out this sample in optimistic anticipation of warmer weather.

Steeped up hot, it tastes like green tea with lemon, but not lemonade. It’s lacking the sweetness of lemonade; the mild smokiness of the gunpowder green further undermines the promise of the name. But it is delicious! This blend is equal parts juicy lemon and gently smoky green tea. As it cools, the lemon flavor becomes more dominant and some sweetness does come out, which made me want to try a cold brew.

On the second steep, the lemon flavor takes on more of a candy note. That doesn’t necessarily sound like it would work but it does.

I also tried this as a cold brew. My first impression is that this turned out tart! Lemon juice tart! I can’t make out much sweetness except for a smidgen that lingers on the tongue. The lemon flavor overwhelms the tea but that’s ok. This tastes like lemon water. I’m actually fine with that. There is a place in my tea heart for refreshing caffeinated lemon water. I can see this being a great cold steep for summer. If I had more, I would experiment with doing a half-and-half cold steep of these leaves with some moderately roasted oolong. Basically a loose-leaf cold-steeped unsweetened Arnold Palmer.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Love Tea Co. 
Description

This Brilliant Blend is a fan favorite.  It combines the best of green tea with the best of a lemon, with lemon bits and wedges you’ll get the full “lemon-y” affect.  Low in caffeine and easy on the pallet, it goes down like a smooth summer day (without the humidity).  Brew a pot of this fine blend and serve hot or cold year ’round.   It never hurts to add a fresh lemon slice to anything!  Be sure to #sharethelove on this one.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Love Love Love from Harlow Tea Co. . . .. .

Herbal teas are great for me because I can have them at night without worrying about being awake until 3am. I also think it’s a huge plus when the ingredients are all actual plants instead of mystery flavors and sugar. So I was pretty happy to give this sample of a honeybush tea blend a try. It only has five ingredients and they all actually grew out of the ground.

The dry leaf smells exactly like dried cranberries, to the point that I’m surprised they’re not an ingredient. The tea brews up the same color as a slice of blood orange. The brewed tea tastes entirely of juicy plum and hibiscus. I couldn’t taste the honeybush in it at all. The risk you run with hibiscus is always that it will drown out everything else. That seems to have largely happened here, though the plum does hold its own. I also got a pleasant second steep out of it, which doesn’t always happen with herbals. If I had more leaf, I would try steeping for 4 minutes instead of 5 to see if that helps tone down the hibiscus a bit.

I don’t know that I love, love, love this blend, but you might if you really like plum and hibiscus!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Herbal
Where to Buy:  Harlow Tea Co
Description

This caffeine free tea is a great tea for any tea drinker, someone brand new to tea or have tried it all.

Honeybush tea is vey mild, but gives great flavor without caffeine. Floral hints from rose hips, hibiscus flower, and lady’s mantle is balanced with the fruity aroma of dried plums

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

“Idris” Hot Chocolate Infused Chai from Calabash Tea. . . . .

A tea friend and I rather randomly ended up at Calabash Tea Bar & Cafe last time I was in D.C. The owner of this gorgeous cafe is an herbalist, so the blends focus on the medicinal value of tea, herbs, and spices. It started raining just as we got there, so we decided to settle in and stay a while. I’m so glad we did. We got to try several of their teas and both fell in love with this one (though really, who could resist Idris?). I ended up buying this and the anti-inflammatory Triple Goddess blend to take home.

I have brewed this tea a few times now. I always brew it hot – it just seems wrong to drink a chocolate chai iced. My favorite way to enjoy it is with a splash of chocolate almond milk, which turns this into a creamy chocolate bit of heaven in a cup. Even without any additions, the chocolate flavor is rich with a bit of the bite that dark chocolate has. The most dominant chai spice here is clove, but it is not overwhelming. I’m also picking up maltiness from the base tea, cinnamon, and a hint of citrus (though I am not at all certain that there is either cinnamon or anything citrusy in the blend). The clove, malt, and chocolate notes linger after the sip, with the clove lingering longest because of that tingling sensation clove can cause. This blend can be steeped a second time, though it loses the cocoa notes and comes out a tad watery. Some almond milk fixes that right up though.

Overall, this makes for a great fall tea that doesn’t require milk but does benefit from it.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Calabash Tea
Description

Add an extra dash of spice makes Calabash’s Hot Chocolate Chai a delight!. This organic chai is strong, spicy, sweet and unapologetic about waking you up for a lil’ lovin’ in your cup. INGREDIENTS: The highest quality Assam Black Tea, Cocoa Powder, Chai Spices, Chocolate Buttons & lots of love.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Honey Red Jade from Golden Leaf Tea. . . . .

I’m a sucker for bug-bitten oolongs and their characteristic honey flavor. Although I usually avoid black teas for health reasons, I couldn’t resist a straight black tea with honey in the name. I did not know anything about it at the time I drank it and took notes, but I have since looked it up and am not surprised to learn that this is a Taiwanese black tea produced from tea leaves that have been nibbled on by leafhoppers. It tastes exactly like you would expect that description to taste, in the best way.

The sample I received came in a pyramid sachet. This is also available in loose leaf. I brewed three steeps in the sachet, but if I were to do it over again I would cut open the sachet and put the loose leaf in a steeper. I opened up the sachet when I was done and the reddish-brown leaf was still not fully unfurled even though it had filled up all of the space available. It’s just really good leaf, and it deserves room to breathe.

The dry leaf smells like honey, malt, and sugar. It steeps up a nice amber color. The flavor is malt and honey. Simple but beautifully executed. It’s seductively smooth for two solid steeps. A third steep is possible but comes out watery; I had to top it off with some actual honey. If you’re looking for a black tea that’s a little different than the usual, this one’s worth a try.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy: Golden Leaf
Description

Third Place Award Winner at the North American Tea Championship 2015.  Honey Red Jade Tea is a unique fermented black tea from the pristine hills of Taiwan. Hand-picked and processed, Honey Red Jade Tea is grown naturally to encourage the tea leafhoppers to feed on the tea leaves, producing a natural honey fragrance when the enzymes from the leafhoppers interact with the tea plants. This tea brews to a dark caramel color with a sweet fragrance and refreshing taste.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!