2018 Laoshan Osmanthus Black / Verdant

Osmanthus. A flowering tree native to Eastern Asia. There are many varieties but the bright, orange blossoms indicate that this is the Osmanthus fragrans. Of all the teas this family, the He family, produces this one ranks of the top of the difficulty list. Due to the tiny size of the flowers they all must be hand-picked.

For each batch they must pick thousands of flowers. After de-stemming and getting rid of all else they dry the flowers while processing the tea. Once they reach the finishing stage the flowers are added to the tea. One might ask if all that trouble is worth it.

Yes. Double and triple yes.

You may open the package and find it lacks scent as I did and wonder what you are in for. This is my first time trying out an osmanthus flower mixed with a tea. It won’t be the last. The wet leaves boast a unique aroma, unlike anything I’ve smelled in a tea before. It is sweet, like perfume, with high floral notes and scant earthy undertones. Hold on to your hats, the amazing train doesn’t stop there.

The clear, amber liquid, light at first but becoming slightly darker as you steep it longer, has a silky mouthfeel with a tiny bit of astringency in the aftertaste. A whirlwind of flavor begins with orange-chocolate tones and changes to brown sugar. Fruity accents, woodsy undertones.

Everything comes together so nicely on the palette. I think I need more of this.

 

 

 


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Verdant Tea

Description:

This is a brand new 2018 premiere! Last year we were lucky enough to share the He Family’s Roasted Oolong scented with local osmanthus flowers. This year Mr. He wanted to share a rich reserve-level Autumn Harvest Laoshan Black, scented during finishing with tiny hand-picked Laoshan Osmanthus flowers. The brown sugar, honey and fruity chocolate notes are melded together perfectly with the luscious almost creamy floral of the He Family’s meticulously hand-harvested Osmanthus blossoms. This tea is one of the hardest to make in the He Family collection since the local osmanthus blossoms are so small that they have to pick thousands just to make tiny batch of finished tea, but the results are worth the effort.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pumpkin Chai/Laughing Tree Tea

As a tea addict I am constantly on the hunt for tea. I mean literally every store, event or venue I go to I check to see if tea is present anywhere. I suppose some folks shop for clothes, others for gadgets and gizmos but I shop for tea. So when I was at the Freight House Farmer’s Market in Davenport I of course went in search for tea. I was surprised that there were several stands selling everything from kombucha to matcha to loose leaf. Tea was well represented here!

After walking around a bit I stumbled upon Laughing Tree Tea’s vendor stand. I must admit the free sample of peach green tea got me. I am a sucker for samples. But the sample was very nice so I decided to scope out the offerings. There were a lot of teas to smell and different sizes of tea to purchase. I do appreciate when companies offer sample packs of tea because honestly I am drowning in tea reserves. I often times want to sample a tea but don’t want to commit to a whole 2 ounces. Plus my husband tells me I might have to rent a storage pod if I continue to add to my collection. At any rate i purchased 4 samples to try.

Like a kid in a candy store I ripped open the first sample as soon as I got home! The first one I have tried and am reviewing today is Pumpkin Chai.

Laughing Tree Tea (try saying that 3 times fast) is a hand blended and locally sourced company that sells their tea in their cafe in Waterloo, IA but also at various farmer’s markets in the area. I smelled the sample of Pumpkin Chai in the vendor stall and immediately loved it! The scent is spicy, sweet and a bit nutty. I steeped my sample up at 212 degrees for 3 minutes. I felt that the tea could actually benefit for a slightly longer steep time so I let it steep an additional 2 minutes after my first sip. The base of this tea is black tea with rooibos. I enjoyed the mix of teas as the rooibos lends a nutty and sweet dimension to the blend. The traditional chai spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and black pepper are present as is coriander. I absolutely love coriander, it gives such a warm distinct flavor to blends. Also, almond, orange, flower petals and nut oil are added.

I really loved this tea. The spices blend so well together without being too spicy. There is a slight hint of pumpkin so I am suspecting that is contained in the natural flavors that are added. I loved this tea on its own but did find that adding a bit of soy milk enhanced the flavor. I suspect this will make an amazing latte.

This is an excellent blend and I have high hopes for the other 3 tea samples that I picked up. It seems that so often we hear about the large tea companies out there but the smaller companies like Laughing Tree Tea are doing some amazing things with tea that deserve to get noticed!

 


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Laughing Tree Tea

Description

Warm up with this with this pumpkin flavored chai. If you like pumpkin this is your chai. Offered seasonally be sure to pick up your brew. Chai is traditionally served sweetened and this fun tea is pre-sweetened with ghost and pumpkin candies.
Ingredients: Tea, Cinnamon, Apple & Rosehip pieces, Ginger, Cardamom, Black & White pepper, Candy, Hibiscus & Calendula & Sunflower petals, Clove, Nutmeg, and Natural flavors.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Creme Brulee Grey Black Tea/Plum Deluxe

Earl Grey tea is black tea with bergamot flavor, and there is a huge difference in natural bergamot – a type of sour orange – and artificial. Some people think they don’t like Earl Grey because they tried either a tea made with a poor substitute for the real deal or a base that too lemony and astringent to take on sour orange. Others love the stuff, any old way.

Enter Creme Brulee black tea. Plum Deluxe has blended a strong black tea base with orange peel, jasmine flowers (<3), blue cornflower, bergamot oil, vanilla extract, and….here I quote the package…love and gratitude.

This tea is STRONG. I don’t mean strong, in-your-face bergamot. I mean they didn’t wimp out on us for the black tea base. It is quality stuff. The first cup has deep, dark, rich color. The bergamot flavor is strong enough to please an Earl Grey lover, and balanced enough with the other ingredients to please the reluctant. The addition of vanilla adds a nice creaminess, and jasmine sweetens it. The aftertaste leaves a brisk tingle on the tongue.

To stretch my sample, I made a second steep. It was good, and sufficiently strong! In future, I would blend the two steeps together at the outset and double my tea dollar. The price is reasonable for a blend of this quality, but more money equals more tea! I was smitten with their Reading Nook blend, so I want to get the most bang for my buck so I can get all the teas I love and share them, too.

I checked out their accessories page and saw quite a few items that would make great gifts…or treats for me! I was rather taken with the pewter dragonfly strainer, but the Victorian infuser was really nice as well. This is also one of the more reasonable subscription boxes. Take a look!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Plum Deluxe

Description

Creme Brulee Earl Grey was the winner in our recent customer appreciation month vote – it won by a landslide, which tells you how good it is. The creamiest of cream earl greys, the brisk bergamot notes balance nicely wonderful rich cream notes. It makes a dandy London Fog (earl grey latte) or just enjoy it with your favorite tea cookie or biscuit.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Keemun Mao Feng Black Tea Grade One/AprTea Mall

Keemun is my absolute favorite tea for breakfast. Once upon a time long ago, if you asked for breakfast tea, Keemun was what you were given. These days, even specifically ordering English Breakfast can result in many different types of tea being delivered to you, with Assam or Kenyan tea being the most likely to show up at your table. There are many, many kinds!

But Keemun is gentler on my stomach and still has that “start the day” vibe. Although I rarely add anything to my tea, Keemun can take additions of milk and/or sugar and still shine. The taste is so great as is that I don’t want to dampen it.

This particular Keemun is the middle grade offered by AprTea Mall. I reserve the highest grades for afternoon tea or for drinking by themselves, and I don’t enjoy lower grade Keemun teas nearly as much, but I find a mid-grade to be just what I am looking for in a breakfast tea or to pair with a meal.

The leaves are very dark, long, and lightly twisted. These are whole leaves and not broken bits. The dry leaf aroma is fruity, and the wet leaf aroma is fruity and bright.

It has just enough heft and just enough cocoa or malt flavor to be paired with waffles and syrup and clear the palate without the pucker factor of most breakfast teas. This particular Keemun also has that hint of fruit that earns some of these the designation of a “winey” Keemun, although it is just a hint here and not terribly pronounced.

Overall, I deem this to be a good, serviceable Keemun that I can enjoy as a daily drinker.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  AprTea Mall

Description

Keemun Mao Feng (祁门毛峰): Keemun Mao Feng is a kind of Keemun Black Tea,has a more refined production process.using one bud and one leaf for full fermentation. the shape is cord tight knot small as eyebrow, the luster is Ukraine; tea aroma lasting fragrance, like fruit orchid fragrance, the aroma has this special name “Qimen fragrant” in the international tea market; tea soup color and leaf color is red and bright, the taste is fresh and thick, and even drink with milk and the sweet sugar, the aroma is not only reduced, but more fragrant.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pistachio Ice Cream/DAVIDs Tea

Disclaimer: I have a long-standing love affair with this flavor. I bought it as one of my very first non-grocery-store loose-leaf blends. The combination of its yummy flavor and the general fact that loose leaf is better combined to make this BASICALLY BAE, as the kids say.

So take this gushing with a grain of salt.

Speaking of salt, pistachio has a sweet & salty vibe that’s delicious. It’s a rare tea ingredient, which makes it special. The funkiness of the pistachios is held up by sweet apples, sturdy black tea, and almonds. The result is a cozy, warm, sweet flavor that reminds me of nothing so much as David the Gnome.

If you don’t remember David the Gnome, it was a cartoon show about gnomes who gave each other nose kisses and hustled around the forest, healing animals. It was adorable. It was kind. It made you feel joyous. JUST LIKE THIS TEA.

For a while there, David’s Tea had discontinued this, and I was very sad. I was drinking my depleting stash as a “special treat.”

THEN IT RETURNED.

The world is an unpredictable place. Life is short. Buy the tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:

Where to Buy:  Davids Tea

Description

Cool, creamy and out of this world – there’s nothing quite like a bowl of ice cream. Even Roman emperor Nero couldn’t resist its frosty deliciousness. Legend has it he used to send runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavoured with fruits and nuts. Though he had the right idea, it seems he was missing a key ingredient – pistachios. Sweet and salty, pistachio ice cream is just one of those desserts that keep us coming back for more. And with this nutty blend of black tea and crunchy pistachios, you’ll definitely want two scoops.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!