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
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!
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Rishi Tea
Dragon Well (Long Jing) is the most famous Chinese green tea, named after the Dragon’s Well landmark in the West lake area of the Zhejiang, where the tea originated. Dragon Well is a pan-fired green tea flat fried by hand in large woks one small batch at a time. This artisan processing technique yields a tea with leaves shaped like the blade of a sword. Each spring, during the prime Dragon Well harvest, we select a unique quality that has a balance of fresh green and smooth toasted flavors. Rishi’s Dragon Well is mellow and smooth with a fresh bittersweet finish and roasted chestnut aroma.
Learn more about this tea here.
This month’s Steepster Select Box was a celebration of the Chinese New Year which marked the beginning of the Year of the Dragon. To celebrate this occasion, the Steepster Select Box included three Chinese teas: Two Dragons and a Pearl; a flowering tea from Teavivre; Dragon Well (Long Jing) from Rishi Tea; and Pheonix Yunnan Gold from Tea Valley. The flowering tea and the Yunnan tea are two teas that were new to me, and I’ve already reviewed them this month, but this Organic Dragon Well from Rishi Tea is one that I’m familiar with as I reviewed it several years ago.
This Dragon Well holds a somewhat special place in my heart as it represents the first Dragon Well tea that I tasted that I enjoyed, having had somewhat of a bad experience with a Dragon Well quite some time ago, I was hesitant to try it again. Since that time, I’ve realized that I’m actually fond of most Dragon Well teas, and I therefore must assume that it was how I brewed the tea, and not the tea itself that I found distasteful those many years ago.
The tea has a light to medium body and a crispness to it that is quite refreshing. It is sweet and smooth, with a very pleasing nutty flavor in the background. While the description on the Rishi website (provided above) describes this nutty flavor as a chestnut taste, I find it also tasting vaguely of roasted almonds, a flavor that is especially pronounced toward the finish. It tastes very much the way I think a roasted nut butter made of both almonds and chestnuts might taste.
While this Dragon Well has a somewhat grassy taste to it, I find that the grassy flavor can be toned down significantly by lowering the water temperature to just 175°F and steeping for about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. With this cup, I taste almost no grassy tones, only a hint of it in the distance.
A delicious Dragon Well, one that I’m very happy to be enjoying again!