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

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!

A Trio of Peach Teas from Beleave, Rishi, and Teavana. . . .

Who knew I had so many peachy teas in my cupboard?  Let’s look at a spontaneous peach tea trio!

Pinkies Up Peach from Beleave Teas

Leaf type: white tea

This is a white tea with peach pieces and added flavors.  The dry leaf smells fruity and juicy without being artificial.  When brewed, the white tea base is smooth and buttery and pairs perfectly with the bright sweet peach overtones.  White tea and peach are a winning combination.  Black tea blends tend to get too tart or overbearing against the sweet fruit.  Pinkies Up Peach from Beleave would make a great summer iced tea.

Peach Blossom White from Rishi Tea

Leaf type: white tea

Wow, blossoms indeed!  There are plenty of buds and petals in the dry leaf, and the blend smells a flower box.  Brewed, the fragrance is even stronger with jasmine and peony.  The peach takes a back seat in this blend, and taste a bit more peach candies than fresh fruit.  The peach tones pop up in the aftertaste, alongside citrus notes like mandarin orange.  This wasn’t a very peachy tea, but it was a unique floral blend that surprised me.

Peach Cran Tango from Teavana

Leaf type: black tea

Even before Teavana closed its online shop, I believe the Peach Cran Tango blend was discontinued.  So it’s a bit of a moot point for me to review it now.  To help soothe the Teavana ache, I tried to replicate this blend on Adagio’s custom tea builder.  Give my Peach Cran Tango and try and see how it stacks up.

The last of the Teavana sample I tasted was simple but enjoyable.  Sweet peach is balanced with a bit of tart cranberry, all atop a solid black tea base. This is technically a peach blend, though it also features a good dose of cranberry. Cranberries are sweet, tangy and versatile, and seem to tango with just about any fruit partner. The red-berry tartness help the peach from being too cloying and make for a balanced fruit blend.

Well I’m feeling just peachy after all these peach teas.  All this sweet fruit makes me feel like warmer weather is on its way already…



Persian Plum Rose Black from Blossom. . . . .

I’m TOTALLY LOVING THIS TEA! So much so that I slapped it on one of my personal TOP TEN LISTS even before I gave it a proper review!

The tea I’m referring to is Persian Plum Rose Black from Blossom! It smells AMAZING as soon as you open the bag! I ALMOST didn’t want to infuse it – it was THAT amazingly-scented!

But I did – and I’m glad I did! It was incredible! Persian Plum Rose Black from Blossom is an exotic black tea blend with sultry notes of plum and rose petals, and a pleasant finish of cardamom spice. Organically Cultivated Ingredients – to boot!

The Plum was more like a Sugar Plum…but naturally-so! The cardamom was of gentle to gentle-medium on the flavor scale and done to perfection! The rose gave it a subtle floral-cream flavor to even everything out. This is terrific hot but dandy cold, too! I always drink my tea straight-up with nothing added but I could only assume it would be just as special with rock sugar. I’m thinking it would be the equivalent of a Rose Marzipan but with plum!

This is VERY delicious, memorable, and amazing! I’m totally in LOVE with Persian Plum Rose Black from Blossom!!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Blossom

An exotic black tea blend with sultry notes of plum and rose petals, and a pleasant finish of cardamom spice.

Organically Cultivated Ingredients*:
Black Tea*, Cardamom*, Roses*, Natural Plum Flavor.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

An Early Taste of Spring with Mountain Oolong Spring. . . . .

Mountain Oolong Spring from Mountain Tea Co. is truly a springtime tea.  In the spring, everything blooms and bursts into life, and you can evoke this feeling by brewing a cup of this tea in your kitchen at home.  I’ve had quite a few teas that smell like jasmine or rose, but this tea lights up with the fragrance of less typical flowers, soft and feminine like baby’s breath or lily of the valley.

Putting your nose into a cup of this tea will envelop you with this relaxing, perfumey sensation.
Beyond the flavor of flowers, there are nutty and buttery tones to help fill out the brew and give the tea a smooth, rich mouthfeel.  The more I steeped these leaves, the brighter and greener the undertones became.

The most unique and memorable part of this tea is its forward floral accents.

If you’re a lover of flowery oolongs, Mountain Oolong Spring will be a perfect fit for your tastes.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Mountain Tea Co.

The character of a pot of tea tells a story about the leaf it originated from. Good tea is a mixed blessing for tea farmers; in general, the harder the tea plant struggles to grow, the more flavorful and tempered the finished brew becomes. For this reason higher elevation with colder temperatures and thinner air produces outstanding leaf.

The 2016 spring harvest of Mountain Oolong withstands high temperature water longer without introducing dryness to the flavor, producing a forgiving and well-behaved pot of tea for the busy brewer. The steeped cup reflects a beautifully clear yet deep honey gold color; the nose is creamy sweet over a faint, nostalgic scent of rice flower bud.  Notes for this crop are sharp and floral, paired with a robust body.  Expect flavors of citrus blossom mostly, nasal and high in the mouth.  Properly brewed we found that this tea has even greater re-steep potential than past flushes, up to six or seven.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Jasmine Green Tea from Pipers Loose Leaf Tea

jasminepipersTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Piper’s Loose Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

A delicate tea, our unique JASMINE blend is made with the finest Japanese Sencha (pan fired green tea), whole jasmine flower blossoms and enhanced with pure jasmine oil.  Take a moment out of your day to savor its sweet aroma and classical floral tastes.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I just received the most lovely package from Piper’s Loose Leaf Tea.  When I contacted them, they asked me which teas I’d be most interested in and I noticed they had a jasmine green so I told them that I usually enjoy jasmine.

piper presentationSo I want to start by telling you about the packaging of Piper’s Loose Leaf Tea, because I’m a sucker for awesome packaging.  The teas arrive in a large muslin pouch like the one on the right.  They even took the time to write a note card to me.  I appreciate little gestures like that.  It means a lot when a tea company takes the time to do something as simple as writing a few words onto a thank you card.  It’s a simple thing to do but it means a lot and it’s something that a lot of tea companies overlook.

Note:  the muslin pouch can be reused as pu-erh storage.

jasminecardInside the pouch is a bag of tea, in this case, Jasmine tea.  There’s also a business-card sized card that tells you which tea it is, the description of the tea and suggested brewing parameters.

Then I read the card.

I wish I would have read the description of the tea before I told them that I like jasmine tea because this description is scaring me just a little bit.  First of all, Japanese Sencha?  Traditionally, a jasmine tea is made with Chinese green tea.  So, I find myself puzzled by this choice.  But, hey, it could still work.

But then I read this:

enhanced with pure jasmine oil

Here’s the thing.  I have said (often) that the best jasmine teas are the ones that have been layered with the jasmine blossoms while they’re in the freshly harvested stage.  Before they’re shipped out to us here in the states.  While they’re still there in China, those tender leaves are processed with jasmine blossoms.  They are scented with the essence of jasmine.  They aren’t flavored with jasmine oil.

I love flavored tea.  I’ve enjoyed many a flavored tea and I’m working to take over a tea company that specializes in making a brand new flavored tea every week, so you know I’m not one to turn my nose up on a flavored tea.

But there are some oils that should never be used on teas.  One of them is jasmine oil.  This is an essential oil that is used for perfumes and similar uses.  Not for tea.  Never for tea.  Using jasmine oil on a tea turns a perfectly good tea into something that tastes of perfume.

On the other hand, a scented jasmine tea (that is, the tea that’s been layered with the jasmine blossoms) doesn’t taste of perfume.  It tastes lightly, delicately, beautifully of jasmine.  It’s a sweet and exotic taste but not soapy or perfume-ish.

So I sit here, before I’ve even brewed the tea, in turmoil and worry.  Fearful that I’m about to brew a cup of perfume.  But it’s not like it’s going to kill me.  I might as well give it a try.

To brew this tea, I used my Breville One-Touch.  I added 2 bamboo scoops of tea to the basket and 500ml of water to the jug.  Then I set the parameters:  since I could see that this was indeed a Japanese Sencha, I set the temperature to 170°F and the timer for 1 minute.

I also thought that by setting the timer for just 1 minute, that maybe I wouldn’t get too much of the jasmine ‘oil’ (aka perfume) taste and maybe just get some of the jasmine essence that I want from a Jasmine tea.

And I was right.  I got just enough of the Sencha flavor from the 1 minute steep and not too much of the jasmine oil.  I get a light, jasmine-y flavor without a perfume-y taste.

The Sencha is light and buttery.  Smooth and not overly astringent.  It isn’t bitter or too grassy.

Given all my misgivings and uncertainty about this blend, this is actually pretty good when prepared according to the above parameters.  It made me a little curious about if I had steeped it for the suggested 2 minutes.

In the meantime, I’m happy enough with this cup of tea that I thought I’d try a second infusion of the leaves, adding 30 seconds onto the steep time.  With the second infusion, I started to pick up on more jasmine oil.  It didn’t taste perfume-y, exactly, but it tasted like maybe someone put a drop of jasmine oil in my Japanese Sencha and I didn’t really enjoy it.  I much prefer a scented jasmine.

Overall, this is alright.  It’s drinkable, but it’s not something I’d recommend.