Masala Chai / Shafa Blends

Shafa blends is a quaint little store located in an unassuming business strip mall.

We were in Baltimore for my Grandma’s funeral. Going right before her funeral may seem like it was a weird idea and ok it really probably was but who really is in a good state of mind before a funeral?

I wanted to give you this back story because it ties in with the rest. We walked into the store and we were greeted by the nicest lady. Throughout the course of our few minutes there she was incredibly kind, even without knowing our circumstances. When asking what I was in for today I said for their spicy chai.

She wanted to be sure I was ready for the spice level, I assured her I was. Now as I sit here drinking two cups of it, one with milk and one without, I can’t help but think of my grandma who was somewhat of a spicy lady. One of my favorite stories from her is when her family, 11 in all not sure of how many were there then, were all seated around the table and there was an argument.

My grandma lost the fork she had been waving around and it ended up piercing the ear of one of my aunts. Sounds kinda terrifying writing it but everyone laughs with tears rolling down there faces whenever it is told.

My apologies for digressing from the main topic but I thought I would deviate a little from my usual writing. For those who are curious this truly is a perfect spicy chai. Great with milk or on its own. When on its own it elicits an even spicer tone but the first touch on the palette is clear and silky. Don’t be fooled though as this quickly turns around and punches you in the throat. The after taste is spicy. A minute late after finishing and I still have a spicy sensation.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Shafa Blends

Description:

Our signature Masala Chai tea has an incredibly aromatic South Indian blend of spices with black tea, impeccable cardamom notes, spicy kick from ginger and black pepper. When you steep this blend in milk, the flavors blend in beautifully, and the addition of a little honey takes the flavors to another level. The longer you steep the tea blend in hot milk or water, the spicier the brew will become (a heat-lovers’ delight).

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

2018 Autumn Laoshan Black / Verdant

One phrase I continually hear around this area, MN, is “I don’t like tea.”

Man, I loathe that sentence so much.

Most of the people who say this have no idea of the depth they are missing out on. They think it’s as simple as Lipton and bagged Earl Grey. I probably wouldn’t like tea either if that was all that was available.

Fortunately, thanks to tea farmers and the internet there is a plethora to choose from. This tea, for example, would be a great starter for many who only know Lipton. It has depth.

Such a depth that they probably never thought could exist in a beverage. Have them start off by looking at the dry leaves. What care and devotion it took to harvest and process these leaves in order to get them to you! They almost look like chocolate. Does your friend like chocolate? No…? shh its ok. Don’t tell them.

It has chocolate hints to it but maybe they will taste something different then I am. Make sure they don’t slurp it all down at once like my daughter. Tea needs to be enjoyed a sip at a time. Slurping is fine. Especially to pick up the chocolate and earthy flavors, just don’t down the whole cup in one go.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Verdant Tea

Description:

The He Family’s Laoshan Black has become their most famous tea, earning them features in the US and Chinese news media for their innovative work. This tea is fed by Laoshan’s famously sweet mountain spring water and oxidized traditionally for three days before finishing to bring out rich chocolate notes. This year is the smallest harvest in Laoshan for years due to a bitter cold winter and early rains and heat. While the cold has made for a difficult year for the He Family, the weather has yielded an even sweeter than usual tea, the precious result of careful hand-picking, field management and craft. Rich, full bodied and satisfying, Laoshan Black has become our benchmark for all other black teas.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

First Flush 2019 Darjeeling Blend / Upton Tea Imports

Did you know that one of the aroma descriptors for wet tea leaves is wet leaves? I laugh every time I read it and yet it perfectly makes sense.

If we really want to get complicated we could define how wet leaves differ in smell. For instance the wet leaf of this Darjeeling smells different from the wet leaf that falls in our forests around here in MN.

The wet leaves around here have a somewhat musty and crisp smell in fall whereas this Darjeeling smell is smooth and clear. Generally I don’t like to use clear as a descriptor but it literally feels like the air is clear and being cleansed when you smell it.

Perhaps there is some unknown air cleansing property to it like coffee.

This Darjeeling is quite lovely. It brews up a medium dark, clear, amber. Typical crisp Darjeeling flavor with a silky mouth feel and only a tiny amount of astringency in the after taste.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Darjeeling / Black
Where to Buy: Upton Teas
Description:

This 2018 first flush Darjeeling blend has a sweet aroma, hinting of honey and flowers. Those classic hints spill over into the golden amber cup, complementing the silky smooth mouth feel. The finish lingers on a clean, crisp note. A great value.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Gourmet Root Beer/52Teas. . ..

When I cut open my package of Gourmet Root Beer tea, the first thing I saw was a beautiful, WHOLE star anise. The first thing I smelled was ROOT BEER. That really needed to be in all caps because that is how it smelled. This wasn’t the scent of cheap, off label root beer. This was the rich, full scent of a craft root beer that would be poured from a frosty brown bottle, foaming into a thick and frothy head in your glass, filling the air with the scent of pure vanilla and anise. Perfection.

The blend contains black tea, sarsaparilla root, cloves, star anise, licorice root, vanilla bean, and natural flavors. Licorice root has not only a distinctive aroma but leaves a distinctive flavor and texture in the throat after you swallow. I really didn’t know that there was licorice root in this until I looked at the ingredients, because it was such pure root beer taste that the licorice root individuality didn’t stand out from it. It simply sweetened the tea to the point that a guest, who takes no sugar in any tea or coffee, remarked that this was a very sweet black tea.

I wasn’t satisfied with just trying it hot. The heat index today is 102F. That’s 39C. That’s inhumanly, ridiculously hot. I wanted to see if I could make an ice cold bubbly root beer with this. I put four teaspoons of leaf in seven ounces of water that was 200F then steeped for two and a half minutes and strained it. I poured this over 3/4 cup sugar to make a root beer simple syrup.

Even though it was still hot, I just couldn’t wait to try my experiment. I filled a twelve ounce glass about a third of the way up with ice and poured three tablespoons of the root beer syrup over the ice. Then I filled the glass the rest of the way with pre-chilled Perrier for the bubbles. I pronounce it DELICIOUS.

It was a fun experiment and I can’t wait for hubby to get home and try it. My daughter sniffed it and said she expected it to smell like cream soda but it really did smell like root beer to her. It is really good, and doesn’t have sodium benzoate like most soda. I added the sugar without thinking because that is how you make simple syrup, but if you wanted to cut your sugar intake, I bet this would be still be good with just the sweetness of the licorice root that is already in the blend. Or you could easily make the simple syrup and just add cold water if the carbonation isn’t important to you, but I was trying to replicate actual root beer.

If you love root beer, give this a try. It is not in stock at the time this review was written, but 52teas is all about keeping an ever changing offering of new blends and they do rotate the favorites back around now and then.

Now have fun with your tea and experiment!

 

 


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Description

This tea is no longer available

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

The Cake Is A Lie/Geeky Teas

“The cake is a lie” is a video game reference, specifically Portal. If you aren’t a gamer, do yourself a favor and watch someone play through and enjoy. It is a fun little game. Tell Wheatley I said hi.

There are sprinkles in the blend, which makes the morning start with a little smile, because who can resist smiling at sprinkles?

The tea is a nod to cake, and the aroma captures it pretty well. I don’t fall all over myself in astonishment shouting, “Wow, this is just like cake!” But the aromas of the vanilla and cream flavors call it to mind if you already know what they were aiming for. There is caramel flavor, which I don’t immediately associate with cake but definitely with dessert so it has that going for it, which is nice.

While eating breakfast, this was a good companion. When the food was all gone, the tea became a tad more astringent than I care for, because the black tea base has a little fruitiness on the tart side, like the way lemon tingles your tongue.

I don’t usually add milk and sugar, but for the remaining sips of this mug I added the tiniest splash of milk, which brought it back into my comfort zone. Having tried it that way, I wondered if a sprinkle of sugar would increase the cake element of the tea, but since I don’t care for sugar in my tea, it really didn’t float my Borealis.

If I had this again by itself, separate from a meal or snack, I would definitely go with a splash of milk right up front. No sugar needed for me. With food, it is sufficiently companionable as is and I expect the briskness means it is a good breakfast tea and would please those who like milk and sugar in the morning or just like brisk tea.

Of the two Geek Teas I have tried, I prefer Bad Wolf. But if you like brisk breakfast tea, this one is worth a try for you.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Geeky Teas

Description

Black tea, natural vanilla flavor, candy sprinkles, natural creme and caramel flavor.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!