Organic Assam Black Tea by Mana Organics

 I haven’t bought from this tea company before, but it seems to have a social conscience. Mana Organics isn’t just focused on producing organic tea and selling it, but instead takes a more holistic approach to getting the products from farmers to customers. They focus on community development and sustainable farming in rural areas, then help the farmers get products out to the world by doing marketing and retail work. So I’m really excited about this company and I’m planning to do more research and potentially start sourcing some of my tea from here.
But on to the review!
I steeped this tea at 212 degrees for about five minutes, using 1.5tsp of leaves in about 10 ounces of water. It turns out to be a handsome teak /cedar color after steeping. It smells deep, malty, and strong. It’s very aromatic, promising good things to come.
First sip: It’s astringent, but not puckery, with a deep and bright flavor profile. There’s just a hint of bitterness at the back but then it’s gone (fortunately; it’s not my favorite thing when bitterness hangs out with me all day). But on top of that, I’m detecting sweet potato and baked squash notes! Nice. Next to chocolate, I think this is one of my favorite flavor types for black teas. Actually I’ve been looking for a good squash/sweet potato flavored tea so this is good news.
Anyway. With milk, which brings baked-squash and maltish flavors to the front, this tea is just great. In fact I’m almost finding it has a little brown sugar flavor to go with the squash flavor. So fun! (Come to think of it, I hope I’m not the only person who thinks it’s funny how similar sweet potato and baked squash flavors are. Isn’t that just strange?) There’s no bitterness now, and practically no astringency; milk is an excellent buffer for such things, which is one reason I almost invariably have milk with my tea. (Another reason is that I sometimes drink tea when I’m hungry, or even in lieu of a meal, and the milk helps keep my blood sugar from crashing.) I’m also thinking maybe I’m detecting a hint of a floral note? But then again maybe I’m making that up–it was too fleeting to be sure.

 

All in all this is a solid, strong, great tea blend and goes well with food at meals (or even without food at meals if you’re like me) and is excellent with milk. <3

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy:  Mana Organics
Description

A brisk tea with a malty, honey-sweet aroma followed deep character of taste and a pleasant pungency that will please even the most discerning of palates.Only Tippy Golden Flower Orange Pekoe Premier Grade (TGFOP1) Assam tea direct from our family’s estate, Chota Tingrai.  Healthier for you and the environment thanks to our USDA certified organic practices.  Packed onsite in re-sealable bag so you get that garden-fresh taste again and again.  Tastes, smells, and looks so delicious that we got an award in the Global Tea Championship 2017

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Oaks SFTGFOP 1 CL SPL 2nd Flush 2016 Darjeeling Organic from Lochan Tea Limited

I steeped this tea for about 3 min at 212 with almost 2tsp and 1 cup water. I couldn’t find the product on the company’s website, so I just guesstimated the steeping specs. Which is always fun. I prefer to use the recommended specs if possible, in order to give the tea a chance to put its best foot forward (as it were), but I’m also fine with just doing whatever seems to work if there aren’t any recommendations.

The water started turning amber pretty quickly after I put the leaves in to steep. I used a generous amount of leaf due to not knowing the specs; probably a heaping teaspoon would have been sufficient, but of course that’s all up to personal preference. The leaves seemed to be chopped pretty small, but they’re not crushed into dust or anything. The fragrance was a bit malty and flowery while steeping, but also a bit astringent.

After steeping, the tea was a warm golden-brown color, transparent enough to see a stray leaf at the bottom of the cup. It smelled very inviting. Once I tasted it, though, I decided I’d steeped it a bit strong. The astringency was prominent, although fortunately the tea wasn’t bitter at all (despite using boiling water). The flavor wasn’t as malty as I expected, but there were still floral notes especially at the end of the sip. It’s a solid black tea, especially astringent but also somewhat sweet.

With sugar, the astringency is wonderfully mellowed and the floral notes emerge a bit more–I’d definitely recommend this. With milk added, I love it even more. (But what did you expect? I always do.) I’d consider this a great breakfast tea, and steeping it strongly is a good plan if you’re going to add sugar and milk, otherwise I’d recommend steeping it not quite so long (maybe 2 minutes?).


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black/Darjeeling
Where to Buy:  Lochan Tea Limited
Description

This tea is no longer on the website but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

English Breakfast Black Tea by Steeped Tea

I steeped this tea for two minutes at 212 degrees, with one heaping teaspoon per cup of water.
So this is another tea company I haven’t tried before, how exciting! Let’s get right to the details of this tea. I guess it’s a blend of black teas, since that ‘s how english breakfast teas are generally made.  It has a nice, hearty, strong fragrance, which is of course exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from a breakfast tea (after all, it’s meant to help you wake up in the morning, right?).
It smells a smidge bitter while steeping, but mainly you notice that strong, robust tea flavor! After steeping, it doesn’t look super dark; instead, there’s a cedar-like, chestnutty color, and it’s very clear rather than opaque. The smell fortunately is less bitter after steeping has ended, and I can detect some malty notes.
The tea itself isn’t noticeably viscous/thickened. At the first sip I notice plenty of astringency combined with a tad of bitterness, but not a lot. It’s not too bitter (not as bitter as you’d expect from how it smelled while steeping), so I’m sure people who like really strong tea (or coffee) would love it, or it would be perfect for if you’re planning to have it with milk and sugar. Or, to avoid the bitterness, I’d consider steeping it a tad cooler next time.
While sipping this I can detect plenty of tannins–it seems to be a highly oxidized tea, which is just what black tea is supposed to be, but it also has an extremely tangy flavor, which I find quite helpful for waking up in the mornings (or even in the afternoons if I’m having a hard time staying awake after lunch).
There’s not much in the way of floral or cocoa notes, although there may be a touch of maltiness deepening the flavor here and there.
Of course I also had to add milk (to test my it-would-be-great-with-milk theory) and discovered that this tea is indeed lovely with milk, and that the milk takes out the bitterness just as I was hoping. With milk this tea has a strong, creamy, and excellent flavor, and I find it to be exactly the sort of tea I enjoy the most. <3

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy:  Steeped Tea
Description
This classic breakfast tea is fresh, full and flavorful. Traditionally served with milk.
Ingredients: Black tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Downton Abbey® Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea by Republic of Tea

Before I get to my tasting notes I’d just like to mention that Republic of Tea uses eco-friendly packaging to combine the convenience of tea bags with the sustainability of loose leaf tea. The tea comes in a reusable (and surely recyclable) metal tin, prepackaged in super-convenient round tea bags that are:
  • Unbleached
  • Minimalistic (don’t use much material)
  • Biodegradable (well, it’s just a thin piece of paper, and tea leaves are compostable)
  • Chemical-free
  • Glue-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Without extra packaging like staples, strings, or tags

It’s a very clever design and I really appreciate the effort they put into making eco-friendly tea so accessible.

So anyway. I steeped this tea for four minutes. I enjoyed the steeping process as well as the tasting process, because this tea gives off a wonderful aroma as it brews. It’s actually so good that you might end up worrying that the tea won’t live up to its fragrance when you actually taste it. It smells like an excellent dessert, which of course it should since it’s dessert-flavored, and creates the impression that you’re baking something custardy in your kitchen.

After steeping, it’s become a nice medium-dark color; it’s reddish/orange/brown, and the smell has strong notes of vanilla and cream. The first sip definitely has more black tea flavor than you’d expect from the fragrance. There’s lots of pudding flavor too, especially in the aftertaste. A bit sweet on its own (without sugar), and it’s very, very buttery.

With milk, it tastes like a custardy dessert in liquid form– it doesn’t taste eggy, though (which is probably a good thing, because who would want to drink eggy tea? Although eggnog chai is definitely a thing I drink sometimes, but it tastes more of spices than of egg fortunately).

Four minutes is just the right steeping time. If you wanted it more dessert-like, you could add sugar to boost the sweetness. But I’m having it for breakfast, not dessert, so I’m not doing that because it seems plenty sweet enough the way it is. Milk goes very well with this (and adds a slightly sweet dimension while also boosting the creaminess). Especially whole milk. I don’t vouch for creamless milk though. Anyway, the creaminess plays into the pudding illusion, so that’s another positive.

All in all I really enjoyed trying this tea (I loooove having desserty teas for breakfast–it’s great because everyone thinks you’re just having tea rather than dessert!) and I definitely would like to try it again. And I’m very glad to know that if I choose to buy tea from Republic of Tea in future, I’ll be making an Earth-friendly choice!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Republic of Tea
Description

This decadent dessert tea has the homemade flavors of vanilla sponge cake drizzled with rich caramel sauce. The full-bodied base of premium black tea lends itself well to a splash of milk, making it a perfect afternoon tea to partner with puddings, scones and shortbread.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Chocolate Mint by The Love Tea Company. . . .

Today we have a wonderfully minty black tea up for review!

This company’s website states that they donate 25% of their net profits to the Flagg Foundation for Mental Wellness, so buying this tea supports a great cause!

Another great thing about this company (in addition to offering great tea) is that their tea comes in cute little plastic canisters that you can either reuse or recycle. This is great if, like me, you’re getting tired of having to throw all those loose leaf tea bags in the trash because they’re made of paper (or plastic) fused with foil so you can’t recycle them or wash them out–or even if they’re just simple plastic bags, your city won’t accept them and you have to somehow recycle them separately (biggest inconvenience ever!). So this company is socially responsible and their tea packaging is eco-friendly (or at least convenient to be eco-friendly with . . . )!

For this tea session, I steeped 1.5 teaspoons of this chocolate mint tea in about 8oz of water (at just under boiling) for about 4 minutes. It smells nice and minty even before steeping, with a smooth creamy undertone from the chocolate.

While steeping, a reddish-brown cloud settles to the bottom of the cup. It starts to smell warmer and chocolatier. By the end of the steeping process, it’s reddish cedar-y in color, darkish but still see-through.

First sip: Very minty–like actual mint tea. There’s a distinct difference between a mint flavor from mint extract/flavoring and the actual flavor of actual mint leaves (mint leaves have some vegetal undertones and the possibility of bitterness if you oversteep, which the “extracts” don’t have). And sure enough, the ingredients list specifies that there are mint leaves in this, so kudos for that–we have actual mint here. And because the tea comes with bits of chocolate in it, this is a very naturally flavored chocolate mint tea.

 The flavor profile is excellent; creamy chocolate flavor is swimming underneath, with the sharp fresh mint above–steeping stronger might make the mint bitter, so be careful about that, but it’s not bitter at this strength. It’s friendly and welcoming, and does the chocolate-mint thing quite well. I can detect a teensy bit of tea astringency and black tea flavor.

With milk: it’s creamy, no surprises here. I use whole milk, which tames the mint quite a bit. It doesn’t bring out the chocolate as much as I was hoping, but it’s still quite yummy. I think next time I’ll need to be more careful to actually include chocolate bits in my spoonful of tea leaves.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this tea and we’re basically friends now. And I really appreciate the Love Tea Company’s social efforts and recyclable tea packaging, not to mention that their branding is really cute–I love the colors! 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  The Love Tea Company
Description

Did you know that February 19th is chocolate mint day?  The combination of chocolate and mint is one of the most delectable pairings known to human kind.   Its origins are unknown, but surely it was created a long, long, long time ago.  This scrumptious Black Tea Blend is a real treat, just don’t steal all of the chocolate pieces before steeping!  Brew up a nice hot pot and add a splash of milk and a dash of sugar and enjoy all of that chocolaty, minty goodness.  Surely February 19th must be the tastiest day of the year!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!