Limited Yiwu Spring 2016 from Bitterleaf Teas

I’m not usually a pu erh tea drinker but I saw the lovely label from Kelly Puissegur on the Yiwu Spring 2016 blend from Bitterleaf Teas and had to give it a go.  This is a limited run of tea, so you won’t be able to get this exact blend anymore, but the same tea harvest for 2017 can be found in the year of the rooster blend.

This tea starts off like many of my past pu erh tea sessions.  The scents are intense and fermented, and off-putting to me as a prelude for something I’m about to taste.  The aroma isn’t bad exactly, in fact with smells like old books or leather or wet grass, I find the flavors to be nostalgic and dreamy; they just aren’t something I’d personally want to smell right before I take a sip.

I steeped this tea over the course of a session, brewing several times.  Before I even tasted it, I stepped for 1 minute in 200F water to rinse and let the leaves open up.  After that I steeped for increasing 5 second intervals.

The first brew had the typical hay barn scent I expect, but less fermented and much more fresh.  Almost like green grapes or wet peony flowers. The brightness in the first steep was a pleasant surprise.

In the second steep there was more white tea buttery earthiness, but still the green grapes and peony came through on the aftertaste.  The tea is very smooth on the tongue.

In the third steep the hay scent was more gentle and the overall flavors were more relaxed.  The brew was sweeter almost like cacao earth tones and smooth honey floral flavors, paired with a very pleasant caramelly mouthfeel.

On the fourth steep and beyond, the tea still holds up the fresh grape and peony tones, but eventually the earthy cacao flavors end up taking over.

I’m not a pu erh expect but this tea took me by surprise and contained pleasantly complex flavors that I wasn’t expecting.  Be bold and try one of Bitterleaf Teas’ pu erh harvests for your next brew.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu erh
Where to Buy: Bitter Leaf Teas
Description:

This Yiwu raw puer is one of our two Year of the Monkey puers. The material for this tea comes from a recently transitioned fang yang (literally meaning “left to grow”) garden that receives minimal human interference, to the extent that all weeding is done once a year by hand (taking up to one month) and is harvested only in the Spring. The tea itself has an initial and surprising honey-like sweetness at the front, which yields to some slight roughness and unique lasting aroma. With good cha qi/tea energy and a solid mineral fragrance that lingers, this is a strong candidate for storage.

Typical of Yiwu teas, this one is on the softer side of things for now, but still maintains a solid backbone with plenty to offer. This also makes it a very drinkable young raw puer, and well suited for beginners and experienced drinkers alike. Don’t be fooled though, Yiwu teas tend to age well, even if they seem lighter in their early years.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pumpkin Chai Latte from the Spice and Tea Exchange

I love all the pumpkin spiced things that come with it. When I saw the first few samples of Pumpkin Chai Latte hit the shelves at the Spice and Tea Exchange, I had to give it a try.

This is a great pumpkin tea to keep in your fall roundup.  Where most pumpkin spice teas have lots of caramel, this tea features cacao shells and maple crystals.  Pumpkin Chai Latte is still plenty sweet and perfectly spiced with warm cinnamon, but the more robust and earthy flavors of raw chocolate and molasses give richness and body to the brew.

There is also a surprising amount of a bright produce-like flavor, which I can only assume comes from the many chunks of dried pumpkin in the dry leaf.  I almost thought there was something like orange peel in the blend, the tart pop of freshness was so noticeable, but there are no orange peels listed in the blend.  Perhaps an ingredient like the dandelion root is adding a nice vegetal tartness against the sweet flavors.

In case all of these tasty autumn flavors weren’t enough, there is added whipped cream flavoring included as well to add to the decadent dessert feeling one wants with a good pumpkin spice tea.

If you love pumpkin spice and feel like you’ve tried everything, don’t miss the chance to try a creamy and chocolatey take on the classic fall tradition.  From one pumpkin-spice-head to another, I know you’ll love Pumpkin Chai Latte from the Spice and Tea Exchange in your mug.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Chai
Where to Buy: Spice and Tea Exchange
Description:

Whispers of spice merge with the flavors of a mid-autumn harvest. A steaming glass of this chai tea is the perfect companion for crisp mornings and cool nights.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Cauldron Cake Genmaicha from 52Teas

52Teas recently did a whimsical and tasty set of Harry Potter inspired tea flavors.  One of these blends is Cauldron Cake Genmaicha. I love the toasty puffed rice and warming green tea of genmaicha and 52Teas is the master of fun genmaicha flavors.  Throw in a Wizarding World twist and I couldn’t wait to try this tea.

Cauldron Cake Genmaicha is inspired by a chocolatey, frosted cupcake.  Alongside the familiar starchy rice flavors there are smooth cacao nibs, nutty cacao shells, and creamy white chocolate chips.  A dash of sprinkles makes the loose leaf look even cuter. This tea looks very festive prior to brewing, with a wide variety of shapes and colors, and smelling like a sweet cake dessert.

This blend reminds me a bit of the honeybush-based blend Rocky Road.  Both blends have cacao nibs, cacao shells, and white chocolate chips. However, 52Teas has been able to fit even more vanilla frosting flavors into the Cauldron Cake Genmaicha blend.  The extra creaminess comes off as marshmallowy when paired with the puffed rice and roasty green tea.

I tend to drink my genmaicha teas without any milk or sugar, but this might be a fun latte to try in the future.  Just be sure to top it off with a little whipped cream and sprinkles for the full effect.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: green genmaicha
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Description:

Our fifth and final new tea for Harry Potter Month 2018! When I was going through my ideas for Harry Potter inspired teas, this one was at the top of the list because CAKE! Originally, I had considered doing this one as a black tea, however, I already had two black teas planned for the month so I decided to rethink the blend and create this as a Genmaicha blend instead.

Now, I haven’t ever had a Cauldron Cake, but the Harry Potter Wiki describes them as a mass-produced cake from Qizilbash Quality Confectionery in Pakistan. I confess that I’m not at all familiar with confections from Pakistan either. So when I went about creating this tea, I decided that a cauldron cake is probably a lot like a cupcake – only probably a bit more rounded at the bottom like a cauldron.

So I did my best to go with that kind of inspiration: a chocolate cupcake … err … cauldron cake with a cream filling and perhaps a light coating of chocolate ganache over it and then garnished with colorful sprinkles. And here we have our organic, Matcha infused Genmaicha blended with cake essence, cacao nibs, cacao shells, vanilla bean, white chocolate chips (vegan, of course) and sprinkles (also vegan, nut-free & gluten-free!)

It’s quite yummy and I believe that Honeyduke’s would be happy to serve this tea to their patrons!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Chocolate Hustle from Wise Ape Tea Company. . . . . .

Chocolate Hustle from Wise Ape wants to be your replacement for coffee or that afternoon energy drink, or any high caffeine beverage that you reach for when the going gets tough.  The yerba mate in this blend certainly gives you some much-needed energy to fuel your day-to-day hustle.

Beyond the yerba mate, this tea has chocolate flavors to indulge your sweet tooth.  The cacao notes also help edge the tea into a more coffee-inspired robustness. There is also mint included for some crispness, a perfectly brisk accent to help make this brew feel more uplifting.  The mint offers cooling and calming sensations to help you with mental clarity and focus.

The dry grass or earthy-hay flavors of the yerba mate are still very much present in the brew, so it may not taste exactly like a coffee replacement.  This is probably a great caffeine-replacer for someone who already likes mate teas.

This tea is flavorful on its own or the perfect partner for a latte or even a butter-filled bulletproof brew. Don’t let low-energy get you down, listen to the Wise Ape and brew up a cup of Chocolate Hustle to keep you going.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Mate
Where to Buy: Wise Ape Tea Co.
Description: A powerful blend of roasted yerba mate tea with hints of chocolate and mint, combined with adaptogenic super-herbs to support your brain naturally. This unique elixir is designed to heighten your focus, energy, and clarity.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Sun Moon Lake Assam from Cameron Taiwan Premium Loose Leaf Teas . . . .

Sun Moon Lake Black tea from Cameron gets its name from its home region of Taiwan.  What a celestial and romantic name! Do how did the tea compare?

This was a competition grade assam black tea.  The dry leaves were large and flat, darkly colored from the full oxidation process.  When I put my nose into the bag of dry leaves it smelled pleasantly like chocolate and dark plum.

Brewed, this tea was smooth and crisp, which was a bit of a surprise.  I’m familiar with assam teas with big names like golden tiger which brew up deep and chocolatey, with a robust warm-and-fuzzy feeling.

This assam was much brighter, tasting a little greener.  It reminded me of the tartness of a breakfast black tea, with a brisk and refreshingly dry mouthfeel. Though there wasn’t as much of the cozy chocolate notes as I expected in the brewed tea, there were plenty of sweet fruit flavors like apricot and plum alongside the more traditional black tea notes.

Maybe the duality of Sun and Moon come into play in comparing the tea’s scent with its taste.  The fragrance of the dry leaves are very much the evening moon, with darker, richer tones of cacao and purple plum.  The brewed leaves are much more like the sun, bright and crisp and perfect for breakfast.

This is a great tea if you are looking for a high quality assam that will surprise you.  Take a walk on the brighter side of assam and brew up a cup of Sun Moon Lake tea from Cameron.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Cameron Taiwan Premium Loose Leaf Teas
Description:

Sun Moon Lake is located at altitude of 700m, surrounded with mountains and lakes with remarkable environment and typical climate. Heavy moist and stable yearly average temperature make the tea trees grow thick and rich tea leaves which produce carmine and perfectly clear liquor.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!