Orange Pekoe Special from Swallowtail Tea

When the tea has “special” in the name, it starts with a lot of expectations to live up to.  Good thing Orange Pekoe Special from Swallowtail Tea truly is a special mug of tea.

Right away, I was taken in by the scent of the dry tea leaves.  This is a pure black tea, not flavored, not a chai, and yet the leaves smelled sweet and earthy and strongly of cinnamon.  It was so comforting and flavorful it was hard to take my face out of the bag.

When I brewed this tea, the cinnamon took a backseat and more of the traditional black tea flavors came to the forefront.  The tea was bright and crisp, with just a touch of citrus that says to me it would be delicious if served with a wedge of lemon.  All of these forward flavors were quickly chased by smoother, toasted tones, almost malty and starchy like a not-too-sweet dessert.

The brewed tea smelled like crushed leaves and old wood, with just a whiff of woodsmoke.  The more I drank the tea the more the smoky notes came forward. This isn’t full-on chimney-bacon smokiness like you find in some lapsang souchong teas, this was more delicate, like the appealing sugar char of a creme brulee, or the faded campfire smell after the logs have long gone out.

All these natural flavors like wood and smoke and leaves in Orange Pekoe Special really put me in the mood for fall.  With a beautifully illustrated tin and such a rich flavor experience, this is now the tea I imagine when I think of someone stumbling upon a cabin in the woods and the owner pulls out “the good tea” for a special occasion.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Swallowtail Tea
Description:

Grown at the base of the Himalayas, this tea was first discovered growing wild in the jungles during the mid 1800’s. Assam is known for its deep, burgundy-red cup and pungent but sweet-starchy flavor. This is India’s most popular variety because of its intense flavor and ability to mix well with milk and honey.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Ruhuna Tea from Zesta Tea . . . . . .

The Ruhuna (sometimes spelled Ruhunu) tea from Zesta is part of their regional tea tasting set.  This black tea came in a beautiful red patterned box, and I’m tempted to try the rest of their regional tea set just for the eye-catching packaging alone. Beneath the red box is a foil bag of tea, so I popped it open and started brewing.

The dry leaves were small and tightly rolled, almost like pellets.  When I put my nose into the bag of tea the leaves were very fragrant, with both earthy almost-tobacco notes complimented by bright lemony scents.

In brewing, the leaves unfurled and quickly produced a dark and potent cup of tea.  The taste is definitely that of a strong black tea, but not so strong that it makes your mouth pucker.  This is where the Ruhuna blend stands out. It doesn’t have the fuzzy and chocolatey mouthfeel of some assam or malty breakfast teas.  But it is not sharp or bitter like other brighter black teas I’ve tried, even after a longer steep time.

Ruhuna is powered by its citrus flavors, tasting as sunny and lemony as you can without adding flavoring or lemon peel to the tea.  Beneath that first flush of lemon, there are sweeter orange notes, all supported by a a robust and figgy black tea base.

Sweet without being artificial, and bright without being too tart, it is easy to enjoy such an uplifting and drinkable tea.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Zesta Tea
Description:

Enjoy our regional tea packs featuring teas from five tea growing regions of Sri Lanka – Dimbula, Ruhuna, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Uva. This variety from such a small island is what made Ceylon tea famous – try it – from the low grown Ruhuna teas to the high grown Nuwara Eliya – a true journey in Ceylon tea, packaged in teabags for convenience and offered in a pine wood box. Perfect for gifting.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Tea Break White Tea from Plum Deluxe. . .

Everything about Tea Break blend from Plum Deluxe feels like a spring or summertime brew.  The white tea base has a gentle caffeine level and flavor strength, well-suited for a for a light afternoon break, and holds up when brewed both hot or cold.  I always associate white teas with classy tea cups or brightly colored iced tea travel mugs. There is just something both classical and whimsical about white tea blends.

This Tea Break blend is very fragrant in the dry leaf, with lush tangerine and sweet melon in equal parts.  The leaves smell like a fresh bowl of fruit salad, or a fruity sorbet. Brewed, the tea carries much of the same flavors.  There are notes of bright citrus, but the predominant flavor is honeydew melon. The buttery, earthy white tea matches well with the creamy and juicy melon.  The melon provides a smooth mouthfeel, and keeps the tangerine from being too sour or biting. The tangerine adds some much-needed liveliness to the laid-back melon, the two flavors working in harmony.

If brewing hot, keep your water temperatures a little lower to be gentle on the white tea leaves.  Also try this as a cold brew, where the melon flavors make the blend extra refreshing on a warm day.  Versatile and naturally sweet, Tea Break blend makes it easy to take a moment to yourself and relax with a cup of tea.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: White
Where to Buy: Plum Deluxe
Description:

Sometimes you just need a break. And whether it’s 5 minutes or 5 hours, our Tea Break white tea is the perfect companion. A fresh, flavorful Fujian white tea base is paired with tangerine and honeydew melon flavors that create not just a heavenly aroma, but a truly relaxing, calming, nourishing, thoughtful cup of tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Lady Grey from IndiasTea. . . .

It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes a tea a Lady Grey blend.  I believe Twinings tea company first coined the term, making a citrusy earl grey tea without powerful bergamot oil.  Either way, Lady Grey blends tend to be earl-grey-inspired teas blended to be a bit more gentle or ladylike. Lady Grey from India Teas certainly fits into that category.

While this blend has bergamot oil in it, it is at much lower levels than your average earl grey. Instead of the intense bergamot, this tea is accented with lemon peel and orange peel, making for milder and gentler citrus tones.

The leaves and the brewed tea had a fragrance of lemon-vanilla, reminding me of lemon poppyseed muffins. The tea is bright and pleasant, but not overly sweet, still preserving some of the citrus pop of traditional earl grey.

Brewed, the leaves appear much greener than when they are dry.  I’m not sure exactly what type of tea leaves are used as a base, but the flavor and color lead me to believe it is a darjeeling, or less oxidized tea.  The more delicate leaves suit the airy lemon peel flavors and ladylike theme.

Lemon is the star player in this blend since there is no black tea tannin richness to overpower it.  This Lady Grey is light and drinkable, a sunny lemon brew with just a little grounding to distinguish it from an herbal tea.

This is a delectable alternative to powerful earl greys, and might just be your new favorite citrus tea for cold brewing as the weather gets warmer.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: black
Where to Buy: Indias Tea
Description:

Not to go by its name, Ladygrey Tea is a modern creation so as to appeal to every age groups with its distinctly citrus fragrance.

Ladygrey Tea is a Tea blend which has been flavored with the addition of oil of bergamot to provide a relaxing and calming effect by taking you on a only-me journey.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Peppermint Rooibos (and bergamot!) from Rishi Tea

Sometimes you need a clean and fresh cup of tea to help you relax or clear your mind.  When I needed something like that, I reached for Peppermint Roobios from Rishi Tea. This was a new tea for me, though it didn’t feel out of my comfort zone.  Peppermint and roobios: I know both of these ingredients and I know they make a fine combination.

When I brewed this tea, I read the packaging and noticed that there was another flavor in the blend as well: bergamot oil.  Bergamot is what provides the citrus flavor in earl grey blends. This little citrus pop is what makes this blend appealing for me.  It adds a brightness to the earthy red rooibos and a nice counterpoint to the cool peppermint.

This is a great naturally caffeine-free flavor for a day when you need something soothing.  The citrus-mint combination makes this much more complex and enjoyable, with lots mouthfeel sensations from the sharp citrus, cool mint, and sour rooibos.  This is a great all-purpose blend to brighten a grey day or help bring some cooling inspiration to a busy day.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Rooibos
Where to Buy: Rishi Tea
Description:

Peppermint Rooibos makes a deep red infusion with a smooth, rich mouthfeel and fresh minty sweetness that underlines the finer points of peppermint. The slightest touch of bergamot harmonizes these herbs, highlighting the soothing aroma of peppermint with the sweet and silky character of rooibos.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!