Orange Spice from PaperBoxGoodies. . . .

One of my favorite things with the cold weather is being able to add spice to everything: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, the more the merrier!  One of the best partners to all this spice, is juicy orange and citrus flavors. I love the idea of decorating my home with clove-studded oranges for the holidays to release their sweet and spicy aromas throughout the house.  Not to mention, a nice slice of orange is the perfect garnish for a chai-based hot-toddy, with honey and lemon.

These are all the delicious orange and spice combinations I think of when brewing a cup of Orange Spice from PaperBoxGoodies.  I’m not entirely sure what all is in this brew, since it’s not currently active on the PBG Etsy shop, but I believe it is an herbal blend from its amber color and sweet taste.

The best part of this blend is that the dry leaf does not contain hibiscus, so the tangy, pink herb can’t take over the blend.  The orange is the main ingredient, adding plenty of sweet and tart flavor.  This fruity, juiciness is balanced by a large helping of cinnamon, adding its warm, herbal tones.  I think I see bits of ginger in the dry leaf, but the flavor is very gentle in the actual brew.

Juicy orange is the main flavor, closely followed by warm cinnamon.  Neither ingredient gets too tart or too spicy, and they don’t overpower each other.  It’s hard to go wrong with a classic taste combination like orange and cinnamon, so support a special tea Etsy shop and give one of the PaperBoxGoodies teas a try today.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: PaperBoxGoodies Etsy shop

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Cacao Shell Trio from Oliver Pluff. . . . .

The Oliver Pluff tea company focuses on colonial-styled teas, like those leaves thrown into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea party.  But is also has a variety of other products like mulling spices, pressed tea cakes, and more. Being both an American history-lover and a tea-fanatic, I’ve had my eye on Oliver Pluff products for a little while, and this post-holiday shopping season seemed like the time to give them a try.

I ordered the Cacao Shell Trio from Oliver Pluff and it arrived promptly at my doorstep. The tins were as sleek and stylish as they appeared online, with nicely embossed, heavy paper labels, and dark metal lids.  Careful when opening– these tins were filled to the brim!

According to Oliver Pluff, cacao shell tea was a big hit with our first First Lady, Martha Washington.  Neither black tea nor coffee, cacao shells make for a roasty blend with chocolate overtones.  I’ve reviewed other cacao shell tea on SororiTea Sisters before, and I’ll reiterate that I think they taste like chocolate-drizzled popcorn.  The cacao shells are surprisingly more buttery and savory than you would expect.  (Also, be aware that while the cacao shells don’t contain caffeine, they are technically stimulants, so make sure you brew this at a time that works around your sleep schedule).

The Cacao Shell Trio has three different blends, plan cacao shells, cacao and mint, and cacao citrus.  The plan cacao shells were comparable to other cacao teas I’ve tried in the past, a nice change of pace for the coffee-lover, or a lower-calorie take on a warm, chocolate beverage.

In the cacao mint blend the mint was very strong, like a less-sweet peppermint mocha.  It was a great blend to drink around christmas time, when everything is flavored like candy canes.  I would advise not over-steeping this blend, or else the mint really takes over.  Keep the steep times short to let the cacao shine through.

The cacao citrus  blend had both cacao shells and orange peels.  This was my favorite blend of the trio.  The orange peels were mild, but helped add dimension to the chocolate cacao.  This reminded me a bit of those chocolate oranges that come out around this time of year, or like some chocolate and orange pu erh teas I’ve tried in the past.  The buttery cacao shells were a nice pair with the tart and fruity orange peels.

Overall this trio was a great purchase and I’ll have to give more Oliver Pluff products a try in the future.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: Oliver Pluff
Description: Martha Washington enjoyed steeping the shells of roasted cocoa nuts from the cacao tree for the interesting flavor and health benefits.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Frosty Garden from Mellow Monk

Frosty Garden from Mellow Monk is a Kumamoto-style guricha with tea leaf stems.  Apparently, the curly-shaped guricha leaves are prepared using a steaming process, rather than a pan-fried process, which give this tea its special flavor.

First and foremost, let me say that I like the name of the tea, and it’s helped me be inspired while drinking this brew. This is a well-balanced tea, just the right mix of both vegetal and fruity notes, and both sweet and savory tones. The vegetal notes feel like spring grass that grew up fast and got caught by that last, sudden wet frost.  This tea feels green and fresh, like melting frost on new grass, very wet and green.

There are also some brighter notes, which taste more lemony with a hint of savory herbs like sage or parsley.  In the aftertaste, there’s a bit of green almost-melon sweetness.  The most I drink this tea, the more I experience a buttery mouthfeel with hints of toasted nuts.  

Reminding me of the cusp of spring weather where new greens meet the last clutches of cold, Frosty Garden from Mellow Monk is aptly named, and a fresh, fantastic brew.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Mellow Monk
Description:

Frosty Garden™ is a shiraore (also known as karigane), a tasty sencha mixed with some white leaf stems. That, plus a slightly different tea-crafting technique, results in a uniquely “soft” tea—a lightly herbaceous aroma, a gentle, creamy sweetness with nutty overtones, hints of sage, and a savory finish. This tea is always first flush—made from the first harvest of spring leaves.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Always a Classic: Earl Grey from Kent and Sussex

In some ways, it doesn’t get more traditional than Earl Grey tea.  Next to English Breakfast black tea, it’s the flavor most people think of when brewing a cup of tea.  Earl Grey from Kent and Sussex brews up strong and tart, a full-bodied black tea with a touch of tart bergamot citrus.

Earl Grey is one of those teas that you customize as much or as little as you want, a lot like coffee.  Everyone had their preferred blend and balance.  You can brew this Earl Grey black without any additives, or brew it with honey and lemon, or add your preferred mix of milk and sugar.  Drink it hot, drink it iced, the smooth, crisp taste of Earl Grey works well with them all.

I brewed this tea hot, in my favorite teacup and saucer, and tired the brew black (no additives), and then with a splash of milk. On its own, this tea is a bit too bold for me, with a strong dry, tart mouthfeel that made me pucker.  Sometimes I prefer Earl Grey to be tart, especially when the leaves are blended with extra strong bergamot orange flavors, or when you want to top off your cup with a wedge of lemon and sugar.  This Earl Grey didn’t have as much citrus in the blend on its own, so I took the cup in a different direction, adding a swirl of milk to help boost the creaminess of the tea.

This is a solid standard to have in your tea cupboard, to brew up in whatever style suits your fancy.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Kent and Sussex
Description:

Delicious Earl Grey! THE GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2007 Award winning Earl Grey. The History of Earl Grey Tea dates back to 1833 the then Earl Grey of Howick Hall the British Prime Minister suspended the price monopoly which the East India Company had until that point enjoyed with its Chinese trading. Originally pure chinese teas were flavoured with fine oils from the Bergamot fruit in an attempt to preserve the tea during the difficult clipper journeys by sea. It was thought that lengthy times at sea could result in tastes of mould and tar. That is how the tea was named and to this day Earl Grey is regarded as one of the very finest flavoured infusions.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Perfectly Pink #LadyMendl blend from #SunshineCottage

Another lovely tea from the crafty world of Etsy, this time it’s Lady Mendl blend from Sunshine Cottage.  The Lady Mendl tea blend is based on a cocktail of the same name.  The alcoholic beverage was all pink pizzazz, served in a martini with grapefruit juice, cointreau, and gin.

With so much pink citrus in the mix, this tea is surprisingly creamy, with delicious, juicy grapefruit at the forefront, and sweet, candied orange in the undertone.  There are even passion fruit pieces in the dry leaf, adding to the popping, tropical flair of these flavors.

The black tea base is nutty and rich, nicely balancing the strong citrus tones.  There’s even a hint of black pepper in the smell of the leaf, and it comes through in the brew the longer it is steeped.  I find the hint of something savory and spicy to be an appealing counterpoint to the luscious fruit.

This would be a great blend for fans of earl grey who want to get outside their usual bergamot flavor but still want a citrus-inspired drink, fit for a lady.  Look no further than Lady Mendl from Sunshine Cottage and start brewing up something perfectly pink.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Sunshine Cottage (Etsy Shop)
Description:

This blend is based on my mother’s favorite cocktail – the Lady Mendl. A delightful blend of orange and grapefruit, this black tea is perfect for an afternoon tea while listening to the legendary Cole Porter – who sang the praises of Lady Mendl in ‘Anything Goes’.

Just as an aside, Lady Mendl (or Elsie DeWolfe) was a fascinating woman and well worth reading about – perhaps while sipping a cuppa of this blend. I enjoy mine with milk (it smooths out the citrus) and a dash of maple syrup (another of my mother’s favorites).

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!