Jungpana Special Spring Darjeeling Chinary Black Tea from TeaBox

ffmhb-dry-leafTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: TeaBox

Tea Description:

With prominent chinary characters, this black tea comes as an opulent offering from Jungpana this spring.
Its dark amber-colored liquor makes for a beautiful sight to behold. Look for sweet notes of honey in its refreshing aroma. Its smooth, full-bodied liquor boasts prominent flavors of citrus and green chili. This tea signs off with fruity accents, particularly those of citrus, that linger on for the good haul. Savor a cup of this medium caffeine spring delicacy at any time in the day.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Jungpana Special Spring Darjeeling Chinary Black Tea from TeaBox is lovely.  This is one of those teas that I was intrigued by the origin of the loose leaf and found that Jungpana is within the hills of the Darjeeling Region so it seems these little leaves were once smack-dab in the middle of everything.

I found out that Jungpana is a small estate nestled in the hills of the Darjeeling region and is known for the muscatel flavor of its teas.  Pure china bushes is primarily used, coupled with different manufacturing techniques resulting an the finest example of richness in flavor and bouquet that Darjeeling teas are renowned for.  Jungpana is a garden of highest quality in Darjeeling, it enjoys the most unique micro climatic and soil conditions. This location and climate produces a distinct flavor and consequently has been established as the the leading quality estate of Darjeeling.

I appreciate the freshness of this tea.  It has a delightful aroma – both before and after infusing.  It has a smooth body with unique flavor featuring this high quality loose leaf tea.  Eventho this is a black tea base it’s a weaker black tea base but can be enjoyed morning, noon, and night.  Be careful with this one, tho, it can get a bit bitter if oversteeped.

Back to the aroma because I think that is what really caught my attention with this one – other than the flavor on the tongue – of course.  Pre-infusion the aroma is sweet and toasty but also floral and hints at subtle chili notes.  The post infusion adds the warmness of honey to the mix.  The best part is the long lingering fruit-floral finish.

This aroma and flavor may be a hard one to pin point as you can see.  So I guess that means you will have to try it for yourself to see what I mean!


Chocolate Chili Truffle Black Tea from Butiki Teas

Chocolate Chili TruffleTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Our Chocolate Chili Truffle pairs creamy chocolate with sweet cinnamon, lingering honey notes, and a dash of heat that leaves a gentle warming feel. The spice level is mild to moderate depending on how the tea is prepared. We highly recommend adding some sugar for a more intense chocolaty treat that is perfect for cold winter nights.

Read more about this tea on Steepster.

Taster’s Review:

OK, so in my last review of a tea from Butiki, I mentioned that Butiki recently announced that they were closing up shop.  Over the course of the last couple of months, Butiki has been creating new blends like crazy in an effort to use up the inventory.  This is one of the teas that was created recently and I needed to try it!  It just sounded too tasty – and knowing how brilliant Stacy from Butiki Teas is when it comes to blending teas, I was confident that this tea would deliver the flavors promised.

So, even though they are closing up shop – I had to place at least one more order with them to try some of the latest creations.

And I’m really glad I did.  This tea is really good!

I brewed this in my Breville tea maker, adding 2 bamboo scoops of tea to the basket and 500ml of water to the jug.  Then I steeped the tea for 2 1/2 minutes in boiling water.  After the tea had cooled slightly, I took a sip or two of the tea without any additives and I decided that I wanted to taste more chocolate.  So I added about half a teaspoon to my 16 ounce mug of tea.  This brought out the chocolate-y notes without overwhelming the cup with sweetness.

There is a really enjoyable combination of flavors between the chocolate, the cinnamon and the chili pepper, along with the natural honey tones of the Sansia black tea base.  There is a really awesome balance of spicy-hot and sweet.

It’s spicy!  I’m feeling a warm burn in the back of my throat and on my lips.  The chili is hot and the cinnamon adds a warm spice and these two complement each other to bring out the heat.

And it’s sweet!  The Sansia black tea has some really remarkable honey tones.  The first time I tasted this tea, I thought maybe someone had drizzled some honey into my mug to see if I’d notice.  But no, the honey is a natural flavor of the tea and it’s delightful.

This sweetness, together with the sweet chocolate-y notes help to tone down the spice just enough so that I’m experiencing that aforementioned “warm burn” without feeling the need to rush to the kitchen to find something to extinguish the fire.  It’s burning, but it’s a gentle, pleasant burning sensation that warms me from the inside out.

A really good tea.  I don’t know if there will be any more of this blend when this review is published, but if there is – I strongly recommend going here and getting yourself some!

Aniseed Balls Tisane from Bluebird Tea Co.

aniseed_ballsTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Spice Melange

Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.

Tisane Description:

Award-winning nostalgic aniseed, star anise + liquorice herbal tea blend

This blend won the highest food award in the country. The judges said: ‘Truly original and delicious infusion that packs a true punch.. finally a blend that’s blokey’! It’s also the nation’s favourite childhood sweet. Not just our opinion, it’s fact. There was a survey, questionnaire and everything.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

When Bluebird Tea Co. asked me what teas I’d like to try, this one was near the top of my list.  After reading the ingredient list, you might wonder why it was that this was one of the teas I requested…

Ingredients: Liquorice, Aniseed, Star Anise, Hibiscus, Stevia, Chilli. 

I mean, this tisane has two of my “I’d rather this tisane not have this ingredient” ingredients:  hibiscus and stevia.  So you might be wondering why I’d choose this tea.  But this tisane also has three of the ingredients that I love to see in teas/tisanes:  Licorice, Aniseed and Star Anise!  And I guess my requesting this tisane proves that my love for these three ingredients overpowers my disdain for the hibiscus and stevia.

Oh, I’m still wishing that the hibiscus and stevia weren’t in there.  Before even taking a sip, I’m thinking that it would be a better tisane without them, although it isn’t really a fair assessment because I haven’t yet taken a sip.

Star Anise – one of my favorite spices. Photo from Wikipedia. Click on the pic to go there.

The dry leaf is gorgeous.  Lots of whole pieces of star anise!  They’re so pretty.  It smells delightful too:  sweet, warm and zesty.

To steep this tisane, I used my Kati Tumbler.  (I prefer to use this device when I’m brewing a spiced tea/tisane like this because when I brew a spiced tea in my Breville, the spices become “embedded” in the tea maker and it requires a soak in baking soda to get the odors to release.  Then again, I need to soak my Breville anyway, so maybe I should have used it to steep this!)  I measured out 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of the tisane into the basket of the Kati and then poured hot water (195°F) over the tisane and let it steep for 8 minutes.

Ordinarily, when brewing a tisane with hibiscus, I steep it for 6 minutes or less.  However, I could see very little hibiscus in the loose leaf blend so I figured that this tisane could benefit from a little more time.  Spices need time to get their flavors to release fully.

OK!  So now it’ sip time.  I can definitely taste the hibiscus.  Next time I try this tisane, I might go with 6 1/2 or 7 minutes rather than a full 8 minutes.  That said, it doesn’t taste too hibiscus-y.  But I’m still wishing it wasn’t there.

That said, this is really quite nice despite the presence of hibiscus and stevia.  And for those who don’t really mind hibiscus quite so much, it does add an interesting tart, berry like flavor to the cup.  It’s a little bit tart and I can feel the insides of my cheeks pucker slightly as I take a sip, but because there is enough going on with this blend from the warmth of the chili to the zesty sweetness from the licorice-y notes, I find that the tartness doesn’t upset me.

The stevia adds sweetness (obviously) and this is a nice contrast to the spicy chili tone.  And take note:  even though chili is listed as the last ingredient, this tisane has a real spicy kick to it from the chili!  I can feel the heat at the back of my throat.  It’s not too spicy or hot.  I’m not running to the kitchen to find something to temper the heat.  But it is warm enough to alert the sensors in the mouth that something spicy is dancing around the palate.

But the three real stars of this cup are the licorice, star anise and aniseed!  This has a really lovely licorice-y flavor!  If you are a fan of black licorice, this tisane should be at the top of your must try list!  This has a lot of snappy licorice flavor!  Sweet and zesty.  It reminds me so much of the black licorice candy that I love.  In fact, it tastes as though someone liquefied some black licorice candy and then served that in a cup with a splash of hibiscus, a pinch or two of chili pepper and a little bit of sweetener.

I like this served straight up without additions but it would also be quite nice with a cinnamon stick garnish.  (I like the combination of cinnamon and licorice.)  Really, it doesn’t need anything other than that.  It could do without the hibiscus, although I’m not hating that the hibiscus is there.  The same goes for the stevia.  I like the little bit of sweetness that the stevia adds to this.  It’s enough sweetness without getting that funky flavor that I sometimes taste from stevia in teas.  Bonus!

Yet another huge win for Bluebird Tea Company!

PGB Black Tea from 52Teas

PGBTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

As difficult as you might imagine it would be to replicate a Pan-galactic Gargle Blaster here on Earth, particularly since the only ingredient we could obtain here would be the olive, it is an even MORE difficult task to create a non-alcoholic tea inspired by the drink. BUT I think we have succeeded in creating something awesome. Here’s our awesome premium black tea base blended with organic lemon-, brandy-, bourbon-, sherry- and red hot cinnamon flavors, cinnamon chips, lemon balm, lemon myrtle, lemon verbena, lemongrass, some chili pepper flakes and a TEENY touch of cayenne pepper to give it that little extra bit of BITE. Instead of an olive we added a tiny touch of organic maraschino cherry flavor for sweetness. I’m sure my creation can’t hold a candle to the awesome concoction from the fertile imagination of Douglas Adams, but I’m pretty sure it will put a smile on your face anyway, and now you can offer your guests a cuppa PGB.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

OK, I can’t tell you how excited I was to learn that 52Teas’ tea of the week was this PGB which – for those of you unfamiliar with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – stands for Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.  It’s one of my favorite movies.

I still haven’t read the book.  I have the book, but I just haven’t taken the time to read it yet.  I plan to do that soon.  As in eventually.

At the same time, I was a little afraid of the tea.  I mean … I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to have my brains smashed in by a slice of lemon that’s been wrapped around a large gold brick.  As amazing as that sounds, I just thought that might be something that’s a little like skydiving:  it sounds fun.  But jumping out of an airplane doesn’t sound like something I should do.

But I decided to summon up the courage and brew some of this tea and try it.  Even if it meant that I would soon feel as though I had my brains smashed in a brick of gold that’s been wrapped in lemon.

At first the tea starts out rather mellow.  But after about three sips, I start to pick up on FLAVOR.  A lot of it!  I taste cinnamon and notes of citrus, a hint of chili pepper.  It’s sweet and spicy and fruity.  The description states that there are flavors of brandy, bourbon and sherry in this, and I’m having difficulty discerning specific alcohol flavors in this.  This could be that I’m either not very good at determining alcohol flavors because I’m a tea-totaler, or it could be that these alcohol notes meld into the background, behind the stronger flavors of black tea, cinnamon, citrus and zesty pepper.

I REALLY like this concoction.  It’s different from any tea that I’ve tried before but it’s also similar enough to things that I’ve tried in the past that it doesn’t taste weird to the point of being off-putting.  It’s a good weird.  Kind of like 52Teas.

As I continue to sip, I’m picking up on a delicate sweetness from maraschino cherry.  It’s a really nice contrast to the low and slow burn that I’m getting from the red hot cinnamon/natural cinnamon and cayenne and chili pepper.

The spice is the best part of this because it’s not TOO spicy.  This isn’t one of those hot-cha-cha kind of spicy teas that becomes too difficult to drink because the spice is overwhelming.  It isn’t sending me to the kitchen for a drink of ice water to cool the mouth.  I’m not in need of a bite of yogurt to tame the zesty flavors that are dancing around in my mouth right now.  It all works together very well.  It’s warm and it’s – as I said before – a low and slow kind of burn in the back of the mouth and toward the back of the throat.

This is the kind of drink that I’m going to want to turn to when autumn arrives and there’s a cool crispness to the air.  It’s just warm enough to give me that all-over sort of warm feeling that I would get if I just drank a shot of whiskey but without the flavor of whiskey in my mouth.  That’s a big bonus for this tea-totaler.

I really like this.  It’s definitely a suitable tribute to one of my all-time favorite movies.

Winter Fire Guayusa Blend from Butiki Teas

winter fire guayusaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Guayusa

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Spice things up with our Winter Fire guayusa. We started out with a generous amount of cinnamon then ground up some whole chilies and added a touch of cayenne to our guayusa base. The result is a cinnamon flavor that packs some heat with a smooth molasses undertone. This guayusa works well without sugar; however, add a little sugar for a flavor that resembles red hot candy. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  This Winter Fire Guayusa Blend from Butiki Teas has got some SERIOUS kick to it!  I doubt anyone could accuse this tisane of wimping out – it brings the heat, and then turns it up … way up!  If this winter weather has left you feeling cold, just brew yourself a cup of this tisane and it will warm you right up!

But, as the description suggests, there is a smooth molasses undertone to it too.  Once your palate gets past that striking heat, there are some really delightful flavors to explore.

The fiery heat from the cayenne, chilies and cinnamon sort of mask the coffee-ish flavors of the guayusa at first, but as I continue to sip on this, I start to notice those coffee notes.  There is a sweet, molasses-like flavor to the cup as well.

The prominent flavors are – quite obviously – the spices of this tisane.  It’s a little jarring at first, just how spicy this is, but, once your mouth begins to get used to the heat, you’ll find you’re able to explore the other notes and you’ll find that there’s more to this than just the spice.

Those who can’t handle spicy-hot … this is not a tisane for you.  This is for those who like it hot!