Soothing from Balcony Teas. . .

Between my stressful job and predisposition to be a night owl, I’m always looking for a good calming or bedtime tea. This one seems like a good candidate because I like all of the ingredients individually. It comes in convenient pyramid sachets, which I actually like for herbals because herbals generally don’t need much room to expand and I often prefer easy prep at bedtime.

The dry blend smells like equal parts chamomile and rose. I would totally wear a floral perfume that smelled like this! The hot brew smells of apple, rose, and a hint of lavender. It is, indeed, a soothing scent. Unfortunately, the flavor is less complex than I had expected. The dominant note is the apple-like chamomile, to the point that I can’t make out any floral or other flavors at all.

The chamomile is sweet and calming but the absence of floral flavor is disappointing. I made this three times on two different days just in case the problem was user error but I got the same results each time.

Still, I have to give this blend credit for living up to its name. I happily drank all three cups before drifting off to sleep.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Herbal
Where to Buy:  Balcony Teas
Description

Feel transported to a beautiful evening in the Mediterranean. All is calm and you can smell wild flowers. Perfect for a moment to yourself or to wind down after a busy day.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Monkey Picked Iron Goddess (Fujian Monkey Picked Ti Kwan Yin) from Tea N Joy. . .

Ah, oolongs – my favorite type of tea. There’s no bad time of year for a good ti kwan yin.

Summer? Cold brew. Winter? Western-style brew in a giant mug.  Any time? Gong fu.

The dry leaf of this particular ti kwan yin is forest green with brown stems. It is semiball-rolled. I could not find brewing guidelines on the company’s website so I improvised from experience. I got five decent steeps out of this leaf, all delivering a pale gold brew. I prepared the first steep at 205f for 40 seconds. The wet leaf looks and smells good. The leaves have substantially unfurled. They are medium sized, torn at the edges and sometimes in the middle, and attached to the stems. They give off a scent of light roast and honey. The flavor of this first steep is initially a light honey sweetness, followed by a soft nutty note.

Subsequent steeps bring out some bitterness in the leaf. At 205f for 60 seconds, the second steep may have been too long, too hot, or both. I have trouble identifying the flavor but the closest I can describe it is a stone fruit such as apricot. For the third steep, I keep it at 205f for 60 seconds rather than increasing the steep time. The flavor is a kale-like bitterness with a hint of sweetness.

As it cools, the bitterness fades (though never fully disappears) and a honeydew note comes to the fore. The fourth steep – 200f, 60 seconds – is less bitter and generally lighter, but overall similar to steep three with a slightly bitter honeydew flavor. The fifth steep – 200f, 2 minutes – isn’t bitter but is losing flavor. It still has a light and sweet melon note but this is the last steep.

For thoroughness, I decided to also make this Western-style. I used plenty of leaf and tried a lower temperature to see if that would reduce the bitterness. I brewed it at 185f for 4 minutes. That eliminated the bitterness but it also resulted in a less flavorful brew. There was a nutty note and a honeydew note, but they were weak and watery compared to the flavor of the gong fu preparation and other oolongs I’ve prepared Western-style. I would stick to preparing this tea gong fu style.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Tea N Joy
Description

This wonderful oolong tea comes from the Wuyi Mountains of Fujian Province. Gongfu style preparation is recommended for this high grade Ti Kwan Yin. The tea’s name came from a legend that told of monkeys being used by monks to retrieve this tea from the high mountains. In general, monkey picked tea are from wild tea plants that grow in inaccessible places, such as on high cliff faces. When brewed, this golden liquor gives a floral flavor with a hint of chestnut and a delightful aftertaste.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

The Cleanse from Harlow Tea Company. . . .

I am generally skeptical of any tea that claims a detoxifying effect or special health benefit, other than ginger for its actually proven anti-inflammatory properties. However, I like that the description for this tea doesn’t promise any magic results. I also like that it has dandelion root; I just enjoy the roasty, robust flavor of dandelion root. So I was willing to give this tea a try when I received a sample.

The dry leaf smells like hibiscus, dandelion, mint, and houjicha. The scent of the dry leaf is actually the most complex thing about this tea. Made according to package instructions, the immediate scent of the peach-colored brew is sweet hibiscus with a roasty undertone. The hibiscus flavor is not sickly-sweet strong but it is strong enough to mostly overwhelm the other flavors.

The only other flavors I can discern are some underlying roastiness and a lingering minty coolness after the sip. There’s no change in the flavor profile when the tea cools.

A second steep yields the same results. It’s actually remarkable to me how consistent the flavor is; typically a tea will change at least somewhat as it cools and with multiple steeps.

My guess is that the issue here is the hibiscus drowning out everything else. If you choose teas for their purported health benefits, this one seems as good as any other.

At least it has ginger in it and I didn’t personally experience any negative side effects from drinking two cups of it. But if you choose teas for flavor or complexity and are not a huge fan of hibiscus, I would look elsewhere.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:
Where to Buy:  Harlow Tea Company
Description

We all have seen those “get skinny now” teas available. I so wish such a thing worked for all of us, but it sadly does not. What does help an individual in the weight lose process is detoxing your body with the proper ingredients, combined with diet and exercise.

This tea offers some amazing ingredients on top of green tea which helps boost metabolism.

Ginger, turmeric, peppermint, and dandelion are all natural ingredients to rid your body of toxins, i.e. detox

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!