Chinese Five Spice from 52Teas. . . . .

I love spicy teas, so when I saw that 52Teas has a special spiced blend for the Chinese New year, I had to try it.  Chinese Five Spice from 52Teas is one of my favorite chai blends I’ve tried in a while. In the dry leaf, you can smell the Szechwan peppercorns, adding a little heat and a little tingly, earthy ground pepper scent.

The peppercorns are well-balanced with the sweeter spices like anise and ginger.  The orange peels are specifically mandarin oranges, and there’s something distinct in the citrus flavor that makes it feel different than the usual orange notes. Finally, there are also plenty of cloves that add their own sweet-spice, almost making the dry tea leaves have a fragrance like Dr. Pepper or Moxie soda.

Brewed, the black tea really shines and shows off its quality, tippy tea leaf origins.  Somehow both smooth and tart, it makes the pepper and orange pop on my tongue but without any spicy after-burn on my throat.  There is still a very full-flavored scent in my mug with cloves and ginger, but it’s not sweat-inducing spicy in taste, very drinkable.  No honey or milk needed (though you can always add them if you love it), the blend is well-balanced right out of the bag.

I ordered the sample size but I’ve already finished it, so I’ll have to put the full size bag in my shopping cart soon.  This is a tasty, unique chai for spicy tea lovers everywhere.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Description:

Since China is a very important part of what I do (since most of my tea comes from China!), I decided it was important to do something to celebrate the ringing in of the Chinese New Year this year (The Year of the Dog)! I started with two black Yunnan teas – a Yunnan Black Gold and a tippy Assamica grown in the Yunnan Province – and added dried mandarin wedges and the whole spices of a Chinese 5 Spice blend: Cinnamon, Cloves, Star Anise, Fennel and Szechwan peppercorns. Then I added just a wee bit of ginger to enhance the peppery notes just a little. The result is a cuppa that is a little bit sweet, a little bit savory and a little bit spicy! It’s a really nice, round flavor! The mandarin orange flavor is bright and adds a nice touch to the spices here. It’s kind of like an orange flavored chai – Chinese style! I’m really happy with how this one came out – the spices are strong enough to be inviting but don’t blow out the taste buds with the spice – and the mandarin is really lovely: sweet and juicy!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Toasty and Floral: Keemun Black Tea from The Tea Spot. . . .

Fine quality, unflavored black tea always makes me feel like a serious tea aficionado.  So I brewed up a cup of Keemun black tea from the Tea Spot and put my semi-professional tea-hat on.  Keemun tea is a well-known black tea from China.  The leaves are dark, with medium length and medium twists in shape.  No extra blossoms or fuzzy buds, just deep, rich tea leaves.  Dry, in the bag, the tea smells earthy and musky, very complex.

The Tea Spot describes this tea as having notes of “smoky pine, orchid, crushed apple.”  I was very intrigued. Brewed, the keemun has a much sweeter taste alongside the damp earth tones, which must be the “crushed apple” flavors coming through.  The earthiness is not as strong or overwhelming as sour pu erh tea, but more lush, like wet leaves or freshly-turned soil.  There is a touch of the “orchid” floral notes in the scent of the tea, but I don’t notice it as much in the taste.

The more I drink the tea, the more a toasty, almost-caramel aftertaste starts to appear.  And despite all my talk of savory, masculine flavors, there is a hint of a brighter note, more reminiscent of breakfast teas, with a lighter, almost lemony tone.

There is a lot going on in this tea, and lots of details to savor and enjoy.  For mornings when you want to feel sophisticated and expand your tea palette, you can’t go wrong with Keemun from the Tea Spot.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: The Tea Spot
Description: A splendor of toasty flavor and aroma! The most refined and perhaps the most well-known of Chinese black teas, this Keemun is handpicked in Anhui Province. This tea has an indescribable flavor, with the most delicate hints of smoky pine, orchid, crushed apple and a rich, sweet body.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Golden Monkey from Tea N Joy. . . .

Today’s tea sample is from a company called Tea N Joy. I’ve never tried teas from this tea company before, so I’m excited to see how it goes! This should be fun!
So I steeped this tea for around 2.5 minutes, using a heaping 1/2 tbsp and 10 oz of near-boiling water. It started to give off a nice malty smell right away.
I should describe the tea leaves, too; they’re big, well-defined, long twisty thin leaves with gold tips! Wonderful. They look very high-quality. I love it when my tea has entire tea leaves in it, especially when they’re this beautiful! According to Tea ‘N Joy’s website, it’s because only the very tip of each growing sprig is used in this tea; only the bud and one adjacent leaf.
As the tea steeps, it gains a rich, full fragrance with a slight edge to it and lovely chocolate notes.The tea liquid itself is a darkish copper-amber color.
First sip: Sweet, malty, and pleasant. In fact, it’s so sweet that I’d say it almost has a honey-like flavor. And, as the fragrance implied, it also has strong cocoa notes, not just while steeping but also while sipping.

 

Tea ‘N Joy’s website claims that this is a super-high-quality tea, and I tend to totally agree with that assessment. In fact, I’m tempted to place an order right now just so I can continue enjoying a premium-quality cup of this tea on a regular basis. <3

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Tea N Joy
Description

Golden Monkey Tea is hand-processed each spring with a careful plucking of only one leaf and one bud. It is among the finest Chinese Black Teas available today. A rich, full-bodied Tea. The name comes from its unique appearance: the leaves resemble monkey claws. Sweet and very ‘nosy’ with the aromas of: savory roasted apples, cocoa and spice notes that linger as you sip. Rich, coating texture and very smooth, soft mouth-feel. Delicate, almost indistinguishable astringency.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea by New Mexico Tea Company

I steeped 1 tsp of this tea for 5 minutes in one cup of 212 degree water.

First of all, this tea isn’t kidding when it says “hot.” (Currently I’m able to smell the cinnamon flavor through the bag even though I double-bagged it, which means it has about the same strength as lapsang souchong). You can clearly see, when measuring it out, that there’s tons of cinnamon in the tea leaves. The ingredients list says it has natural and artificial flavorings too in addition to the three types of cinnamon–I didn’t know three types of cinnamon existed, did you? But apparently they do.

I don’t expect the black tea flavor to come through much at all at this point (it’s probably mainly there for caffeination purposes.)

It smells very spicy and strong as it steeps, too. After steeping I note that it has a very dark brown, fittingly cinnamon-ish color. It’s nearly opaque and has bits of dissolved cinnamon in it. Kind of like spiced cider. It also has a faintly sweet cider-ish smell, but of coursewithout the apple factor. (It does have clove and orange peel though, so that’s probably why it’s reminding me of cider.)

First sip: yes, it’s quite sweet and quite spicy. And no, I don’t really taste the black tea at all. There is a slight bit of astringency, but I’m not sure if it’s from the black tea or from the cinnamon. There’s a depth to the cinnamon flavor, which is probably caused by the blending of several types of cinnamon and cinnamon flavorings to create a more complex cinnamon blend rather than one that hits you all in a wave. It’s very effective, too. It’s like a tour of cinnamon.

With milk (no sugar needed as it’s already sweet): it’s creamier, of course, but the milk doesn’t really bring out the tea flavor the way it usually does with spicy teas (though maybe there’s a hint). The excellently warming, invigorating cinnamon flavor isn’t quelled by the milk either, though perhaps a bit tamed.

Overall I like this tea very much both with milk and without. I’d recommend trying it both ways to see which strikes your fancy the most.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  New Mexico Tea Company
Description

.This blend brews very sweet even though no sugar is added. A cinnamon lover’s dream come true. A combination of hearty Chinese and Indian black tea and invigorating cinnamon.
Many cinnamon teas have a watery aftertaste due to the use of low grade teas. The black tea here has the stamina to last through the whole tasting process

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Anxi Tie Guan Yin from Teasenz

I can’t remember the last time I drank a Tie Guan Yin, which is something of a surprise as it’s become one of my favourite oolong varieties. I was more than pleased when I came across this one, not least because it’s a good opportunity to reacquaint myself. This particular Tie Guan Yin is from the Anxi Nature Reserve in Fujian Province, a major Chinese tea growing region (although one I seem to associate more with black tea than with oolong, strangely enough!)

tie_guan_yin_wulong_tea_1I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water slightly cooled from boiling. The resulting liquor is a clear, pale green with a light yellowish tinge. The leaves are beautifully variegated, encompassing pretty much all shades of green from the palest to the darkest, and just a hint of brown. It’s like walking through a forest in the sunlight! The leaves are rolled, and after three minutes they haven’t entirely unfurled, suggesting that this one might be good for at least another couple of steeps.

The scent of the brewed tea is light but noticeably floral. It reminds me primarily of orchids, lilies, and jasmine – heady, scent-heavy flowers. This carries through into the taste, which initially is very heavily floral. So floral, it almost tastes thick. It doesn’t cross over into territory that’s too perfumey or cloying, but it’s definitely distinctively floral. The mid-sip brings a green beany sweetness that helps to freshen up the overall flavour profile, and towards the end of the sip there’s a hint of nuttiness that puts me very much in mind of hazelnuts. It’s an interesting flavour combination, but one that ultimately works well.

I’m also pleased to find that it very smooth in terms of mouthfeel, with an almost-silkiness about it. There’s no bitterness or astringency at all,tieguanyin_tea even though the water was quite hot and the brew time reasonably long. As the cup cools, it develops a creaminess that complements the flavours (and particularly the lingering nuttiness) beautifully.

This reacquaintance with a Tie Guan Yin has reminded me why I enjoyed these teas so much in the first place. I’m impressed with the quality of this tea, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Teasenz’s offerings in the future. Impressed!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teasenz
teasenzlogoDescription

An all-time favorite of Chinese oolong tea lovers. This beautiful emerald green tea is named after the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin. Poets of the Middle Kingdom have described this premium tea for its purifying taste, bringing you into a peaceful, meditative state of mind.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!