Go to Wonderland with a cup of Lewis Carroll tea from Simpson and Vail.. . .

Springtime feels like the time for Alice in Wonderland: flowers blooming, spending more time outside, feeling a little more whimsy after the winter blues.  I’ve seen a few new teas popping up this time of year, themed for just such an occasion.

I recently tried the Lewis Carroll blend of black tea from Simpson and Vail.  In case you don’t know, Lewis Carroll is the author of Alice in Wonderland, among other works.  Alice in Wonderland tends to be a favorite among tea fans for the famous tea party scene featuring the Mad Hatter, not to mention all the cute tea cakes that wreak fantastical havoc for Alice’s adventures.

This Lewis Carroll tea blend features an Indian black tea base, combined with Chinese Rose Congou black tea, highlighted by added violet fragrance and flavoring.  All these flowers are meant to put us in a fantasy world, whether in the queen’s roses, or in the garden beside the tea party.  There are lots of blossoms in the dry leaves, and the brewed cup smells as sweet as a blooming garden.

I enjoy the fragrance of this tea, but strong floral blends aren’t my personal favorite when it comes to taste.  I found I enjoyed the tea more with a touch of milk and sugar, which helped mellow out the strong floral flavors and made the brew more like a flower-scented dessert.

This is a great tea to put you in a springtime mood, perhaps sipped while out-of-doors after a dreary winter.  If you’re one for having fancy tea parties, this may also be a great choice, whether it fits your Alice in Wonderland theme, or just because it feels fancy and ladylike, and makes the flowers on your teacup smell like they are alive and fresh!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Simpson and Vail
Description:

A tea party plays a memorable role in Carroll’s most celebrated novel as the setting for Alice’s nonsensical meeting with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. “A large rose-tree stood near the entrance of the garden” where, as the Mad Hatter told Alice earlier, “it’s always tea time.” To make our Lewis Carroll blend, we added our fragrant violet flavor to an Indian Black tea and Rose Congou tea, a China black that has been scented with rose petals during the drying process, to create a deep amber cup with an incomparable bouquet and a flavor that is absolutely heavenly.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Emily Dickinson’s Jasmine Tea Blend – Simpson and Vail. . . .

Now I have to start this off by saying that I am a sucker for author inspired tea blends. So it goes without saying that you are sure to find me reviewing more in the near future. Which shouldn’t be surprising since what is better than a cup of tea and a good book?

Now I think that this tea was simply delightful. It is not too strong and not too subtle, it has a perfect balance in my opinion. As a matter of fact when I was drinking this tea it was like it started to clear my head. Now I don’t mean completely like a lavender tea would do, but to the point where I could think about things. Now since I go to college I began to think about things I could do for my final that is coming up but not only that I can imagine this tea being a perfect companion when I am writing for a more creative venture.

I was also surprised that this tea had little to no dry notes in it whatsoever. And in my experience with jasmine, there would always be slight, somewhat powerful dryness to it.  But I believe that this a soft and balanced tea because of the ingredients. The jasmine tea is a beautiful binder for the rose petals, jasmine blossoms, marigold petals and blue cornflower petals. It goes without saying if you have read any of my previous reviews, that I have always loved the pairing of jasmine and rose. In my book, jasmine and rose will always be the power couple.

Now when I was in the process of brewing my cup I had a look at the tea leaves and apart from the enjoyment of finding little jasmine blossoms I was happy to see plenty of blue cornflower petals. Now, for those who don’t know, my favorite tea of all time is Lady Grey and that contains, you guessed it, blue cornflower. And I believe that the blue cornflower is a perfect addition to this tea for it adds a nice subtle, sugary sweetness to the blend.

On top of the delightfully delicate tasting tea the price is not at all bad either. It is $9.75 for a 4 oz tin but if you don’t want the tin you can save about $3 and pay $6.90 for a bag of the same size. Along with a great price this tea also has deep connection with the talented poet we know as Emily Dickinson. As the description reads on the bottom of this review, this tea was based off of Ms. Dickenson’s garden, which was a place that she got most of her inspiration from for her poetry.

All in all, I believe that this a beautiful tribute to Emily Dickinson and I will be purchasing this for my ever growing collection of teas in the future. (My collection is very expansive. If you don’t believe me, head over to my Instagram and I usually post updates on how big it has gotten.)

See you for the next cuppa!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green Tea
Where to Buy: Simpson and Vail
Description:

Emily Dickinson was born on December 10th, 1830 and lived in a home that was central to Amherst political society thanks to her father and brothers. Growing up around powerful men prepared Dickinson for a life of the same, but society dictated that, as a woman, she was relegated to seemingly less meaningful ventures. Her anger at this slight comes across in her poetry and letters where she explored complex ideas of meaning and self while examining the smallest details of the world around her. She withdrew herself from society and lived in relative solitude until her death. Only a few of her poems were made public during her lifetime, but four years after her demise, a collection of poems was published and met with popular and critical acclaim. Her poems reveal a complicated mind that examined itself with as much attention to detail as it examined the world. Dickinson’s defiance of categorization and simplification make her a popular poet to study even today.

In the years she spent away from society, Emily Dickinson cultivated an extensive garden. In it, she grew jasmine flowers, cornflowers, roses, and many other flowers, plants and herbs. These flowers appear repeatedly in her poetry so our blend had to be floral. We created a delightful combination of jasmine tea and rose petals that brews to a light ecru cup with long green leaves and rose petal accents. This delicate tea hits you with a strong jasmine taste that’s sweetened and mellowed with the subtle flavors of the rose petals.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

A Cuppa That is Akin to Wilde’s Garden – NovelTea’s Wilde’s Rosy Tea Blend

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”  ~Oscar Wilde

And that is exactly how I felt about this tea. I wanted to enjoy over and over and I couldn’t get enough! And as the title suggests, I feel that when I drink this tea I am enjoying this beverage in a garden full of freshly bloomed roses while the door that leads into the garden has some jasmine incense wafting out of it.

But before I get into my full review here are the specifics. This tea is made up of a lovely blend of organic jasmine green tea and a rose-blended bergamot. The site doesn’t dictate how long to steep it so I just went with my gut and steeped it for a good 3 minutes and that method seemed to work perfectly. Lastly, the price for this tea is not too bad for you only pay $14.99 for a 3 oz bag which is about $3 dollars more than the 2 oz Rose Petal China tea that I have. Now if you want the beautiful “Picture of Earl Gray” novel tea tin that will set you back $29, which includes the 3 oz bag of tea as well.  As a side note, I am honestly obsessed with the tin and I will get it in the near future.

Now to the taste of the tea, which is just beautiful, simply beautiful. It does mimic a black tea with that bitter fruity taste that is the jasmine flower. But don’t fret if you are not a fan of the slight bitterness that the jasmine offers for it is mellowed out by the soft green tea that is paired with. Now to the rose flavor which pairs perfectly with the jasmine. I will just say that I absolutely love roses in my tea.  So the roses in this tea were absolutely delightful. And if you are wondering what roses taste like remember the aroma of a fresh rose and that is how they taste; a weird perfumey, watery sweet.  It is definitely something I urge tasting but then again I am a rose lover so I am a bit biased.

Now as I drank this delicious tea I was instantly reminded of the beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Mr. Oscar Wilde himself:

The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.”

All in all regardless of if you are a fan of Wilde or not this tea is delicious and refreshingly different compared to the other rose teas that I have tried.  I am now officially a lover of this blend and I look forward to seeing what else the brand comes out with! My hopes are that there will be a Jane Eyre or a Lovecraft inspired blend.

See you for the next cuppa!

Kara


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green Tea
Where to Buy: NovelTeas
Description:

The delicate flavorings and novel-inspired decorations of The Picture of Earl Grey™ may deceive you at first. This tin and tea provide for an exquisitely deceptive and Wildely elegant experience for any new collector. Organic jasmine green tea and a rose-blended bergamot radiate hedonism and reflect your eternal beauty as you sip.

Inspired by Irish author Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ it makes a great gift for the book lover in your life.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

The 2017 Valentine’s Day Collection from DAVIDs Tea. . . .

Valentine’s Day, the Hallmark holiday. A wonderful time to celebrate those you love with flowers and cards and chocolates and gifts. Red and pink hearts abound. All the while, intelligent companies bank on this commercial goldmine, like Lindt which sells the same Milk Chocolate Lindor Balls you can get year-round but in a heart-shaped box and with an inflated price tag. DAVIDsTEA is no stranger to the Valentine’s Day game and lucky for us that means new Valentine’-inspired teas to try. That and cute heart-shaped tea tins for those hoping to impress their tea-loving sweethearts.

The Earl’s Valentine is a returning Valentine’s Day blend that was sold last year to a great deal of popularity. It is branded as a black early grey based tea, but there are more chocolate curls and rosebuds in the dry mix than actual tea leaf. It is made with roasted carob, black tea, chocolate pieces, rose buds, cornflower petals, natural and artificial bergamot, chocolate and cocoa flavouring. It brews up a caramel brown color and looks rather oily on top, probably due to the chocolate pieces. Thankfully the slickness of that oil goes unnoticed unless you are focusing on it. As for the flavor, the earl grey base, though it appears minimal compared to the other ingredients in the dry leaf, is quite present. The bottom of the sip is brisk and citrusy while the silky milk chocolate floats on top. Sandwiched in between is the rose which acts as a nice segue between the other flavors that might seem out of sync without its presence. Sweet yet floral, this blend delivers on what it promises and should be enjoyable if you enjoy bergamot and can look past the sheen on the top of your mug.

Berry Romantic, one of the new blends introduced this year, is a strawberries-and-cream tea made with apple, oolong tea, cane sugar, blackberry leaf, gomphrena petals, jasmine buds, strawberries, rose buds, natural strawberry flavouring and artificial cream flavouring. The dry leaf looks quite lovely and smells like a bouquet of flowers. The blend steeps up almost golden and has an unexpectedly thick mouthfeel that compliments the “cream” flavor. Unfortunately, the berry doesn’t remind me of the fruit so much as a generic berry flavoring. Also, I do pick up on the apple more than I would like, though I suppose that would make sense since it is the first ingredient. On the plus side though, despite the various floral ingredients, it is not a particularly floral-tasting tea and the blackberry leaf and cane sugar do not make this overly sweet. It is better than expected but still more synthetic and processed tasting than I normally like.

White Chocolate Rose, the other new blend for 2017’s Valentine’s Day, is probably the one I was most excited about. I don’t usually love floral teas so the rose should be more off putting to me but something about the simplicity of this blend just called to me. Black tea, white chocolate , rose buds, and natural and artificial flavouring make up this offering – no added sweeteners which DAVIDs has become so found of and no mile-long list of ingredients. The dry leaf is beautiful with its large pink rosebuds and its bright white chocolate pieces amidst the black tea base. Brewed up it is very similar in appearance to The Earl’s Valentine, caramel brown and with a slickness on top which, again like The Earl’s Valentine, is inoffensive in regards to the texture. Scent-wise this is all rose and that translates into the flavor as well. I saw white chocolate so I know it is in here but I just can’t find where. Nevertheless, I think this is my favorite of the three as it is the most natural in the mix. It is also the prettiest/most romantic looking blend, though all would make for an aesthetically pleasing present.

If your Valentine like chocolate teas or floral blends, these might be worth taking a look at. If not, I would recommend going with teaware instead…or flowers or chocolate or jewelry or any other classic Valentine’s Day present.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Various
Where to Buy:  DAVIDs Tea
Description

truly, madly, steeply

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Ceylon Idulgashinna Blooming Mushroom White from What-Cha

Ceylon Idulgashinna Blooming MushroomTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White/Bloom

Where to Buy: What-Cha

Tea Description:

A hand tied ball of silver tip white tea, possessing delicate fruity tones which become stronger with subsequent infusions. Tangy apricot notes become apparent with some subtle malt tones in latter steeps.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have to admit, the only reason I bought this tea was because it has ‘mushroom’ in the title and it intrigued me since I’m very allergic to mushrooms. Though the tea itself has little to nothing to do with mushrooms, it still felt kind of cool to get to say I was ‘having them’. #TeaOnTheEdge #ButNot2Edgy

I only bought a sample amount; two blooms. When I opened up the package I was pretty taken aback because the smell was very pungent and defined. It certainly smelled strongly of apricots but also something sort of akin to sweet and sour sauce? I wasn’t expecting that level of smell at all, though it was intriguing to say the least.

I made three 12 oz. infusions of this one over the course of a work day, making sure to take note of the differences. I certainly freaked out a few coworkers at my new job; they saw this unfurled tea bloom from a distance/in passing in my mug in the breakroom and assumed something fungal was growing in my mug and that’s because the bloom certainly wasn’t the most attractive one I’ve come across – there’s no “flower” tied into it just an arrangement of white tea leaves tethered together. Which is fine: I wasn’t drinking this tea for the aesthetics however I’ll admit I did expect the “mushroom” to tie in with the overall shape of the bloom but it certainly didn’t look like any mushroom I’ve seen.

The first infusion was a mix of sharp, lively, tangy notes of apricot and peach. Again, the intensity of the ‘tang’ reminded me a little of sweet and sour sauce. Actually, in particular I couldn’t help but think of a very particular flavour from highschool cooking class I’ve only experienced once: we made vegetarian meatballs with a “sweet and sour sauce” that used apricot jam and ketchup in the sauce and this was quite similar to my memory of that sauce. There was also a very slightly malty taste to the finish of this infusion.

The second infusion was about 50/50 malt and apricot/peach with less of the piercing tang. It was probably the smoothest infusion overall and I’d say my favourite. Finally, the third infusion was more malt than anything else with light notes of apricot and a bit of a peppery finish. I swear there were also very light cocoa notes on the top of the sip as well.

Overall, I thought this was surprisingly delightful – more so than I actually expected it would be if I’m being completely honest/transparent. What started off as a bit of a ‘gag’ purchase actually resulted in a wonderful tea session and intriguing learning experience. Also, credit where credit is due: What-Cha has done a marvelous job describing the overall flavour of this tea on their page for it. While I was taken back by the intensity of the apricot notes there’s no doubt in my mind that their flavour description was super accurate. I absolutely recommend trying this tea!