The Holiday Season Approaches!

 

ChristmasLogo1This isn’t a review but an advertisement (sorry guys!)  No, we don’t usually advertise here on this site – this is an anomaly – but because one of the founding SororiTea Sisters is now the Mad Tea Artist behind 52Teas, she gets the privilege of deviating from the norm.

And 52Teas has a Holiday Pre-Sale going on right now on Kickstarter!  This isn’t a typical “fundraising” Kickstarter campaign, instead, this is a chance for you to get some Christmas shopping done early while it helps us keep things just a little more organized by keeping our pre-sales separate from our day-to-day sales activity.

52Teas is offering 5 unique, limited edition teas for this promotion – these teas will be available only during the season and once they’re sold out, they won’t be reblended until next Christmas!

Here’s the specs on those five VITs (Very Important Teas):

  • Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire – This is a special blend of black teas with a hint of Lapsang Souchong to give it that smoky touch that you’d experience from an open fire.  Flavored with chestnut and caramel and just a hint of spice to give it that winter-y kind of appeal.
  • Gingerbread Houjicha – I love the flavor of gingerbread and I think that the roasty-toasty, nutty flavor of houjicha would offer a delightful base to these flavors.
  • Eggnog Chai – A Chai blend (black tea with a touch of honeybush) flavored with notes of custard-y eggnog with an extra dash of nutmeg to enliven the cup.  This would make a great latte to serve Santa on Christmas Eve!
  • Cranberry Orange Cider – A blend of red and green rooibos that’s been flavored with cranberry, orange and apple with a medley of holiday spices.
  • Peppermint Marshmallow Melting in Hot Chocolate – For this blend, I chose a special black tea blend (crafted with teas from our friends at Verdant Tea) for the base that has a rich, natural cacao flavor with hints of malt.  Peppermint, marshmallow and even more chocolate-y flavor to create a deliciously delightful cuppa.

YUM!  So please take a moment to visit the 52Teas Kickstarter Holiday Pre-Sale and get some of that early Christmas shopping done early!  The campaign closes on October 27th so your card won’t be charged until that date, and the teas will be shipped in plenty of time for gift giving!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this . . . now let’s get back to the reviews!

Happily Headless (Custom Blend) from Adagio Tea

happyheadlessTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black/Green

Where to Buy:  Adagio

Tea Description:

You’ll lose your head over your loyalty to this kingly brew!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

WARNING: POTENTIAL GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS

(But really this is season one so if you’re not aware of this you might be living under a rock…)

I have to say, I’m quite happy I watched enough GoT to understand the character reference here! I’ve really only seen the first two seasons and part of the third. I think the ingredients picked out by this blender are pretty well thought out too; though I do think there might just be a bit more “Fire” than “Ice” – although to be fair there certainly are a lot of very visable candy cane pieces in the dry leaf. Aun-Juli Riddle is a pretty good blender; in particular her Doctor Who blends tend to be pretty good and well thought out.

This is essentially a Chai, though an unconventional one, so I wasn’t the most excited about this blend because I’m not a Chai fan myself, but it came out pretty tasty! The clove is easily the strongest flavour here, and since that’s the one ‘conventional’ Chai spice that I personally feel you can never have too much of that works very well in my favor.

The rest of the flavour is pretty nice too; there’s an even dispersal of ginger, cardamom and cinnamon with just the faintest little touch of smoke from the Lapsang. It’s not enough smoke for people who are fearful of Lapsang to be worried about, though. The candy cane isn’t as strong as I expected given how much I could see in the leaf and the fact that this is inspired by Ned Stark which obviously ties into the whole “Winter Is Coming”/Ice thing. It is present, but subtly so and it’s more acting as a sweetener than really contributing any strong mint flavour. The finish is a little bit peppery, with maybe a touch too much cardamom.

Overall I think this is better than most Adagio fan blends though; they tend to get pretty muddled because blenders pick out ingredients that are either too similar so there’s no contrast or playing off one another or they pick ingredients that fit the ‘character’ but clash with one another/don’t compliment each flavour. This kind of avoids that for the most part, while still being fairly thoughtful.

I definitely wanted more “ice” – but maybe it’s poetic irony that the “fire” was the most dominant thing…

AliShan Charcoal Fire Heavy Roast Oolong Tea from T-Oolong Tea

AlishanCharcoalHeavyRoastTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  T-Oolong Tea

Tea Description:

This quality Alishan Charcoal Fire Heavy Roast Oolong is handpicked, handcrafted and produced from Alishan oolong tea. Use only the charcoal made of either Taiwan Longan wood or Taiwan Acacia wood to roast the tea (NOT by electric roasters), and follow old traditional method. This tea has an intense charcoal aroma and taste mixing with flavors of Alishan oolong. The aftertaste is enjoyable and long lasting. It tastes sweet, rich and complex, and stands up very well to multiple infusions.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve had an occasional charcoal roasted Oolong, but I can’t recall having very many AliShan charcoal roasted Oolong teas!  I know I’ve had at least one, but, I can’t recall many others.  So, I’m very happy to have this opportunity to try this AliShan Charcoal Fire Heavy Roast Oolong Tea from T-Oolong Tea!

This is lovely!

To brew, I reached for my gaiwan.  I measured a bamboo scoop of tea and put it into the gaiwan. I heated the water to 180°F and after performing a quick rinse (15 seconds), I started the first infusion, steeping it for 45 seconds.  I added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusions.  Since this is a charcoal roasted AliShan, I opted not to use my designated AliShan Oolong Yixing mug and instead put the tea in one of my favorite tea cups.  This tea cup holds two infusions perfectly, so I combined the first two infusions to make one cup.  Then the third and fourth infusion combined made the second cup and so on.

With my first cup, the roasty-toasty flavors brought as smile to my face.  It’s deliciously nutty and sweet.  While an unroasted AliShan may taste floral and even a little ‘milky’ – this instead tastes nutty, creamy and sweet.  I taste notes of the charcoal.  It’s remarkably smooth with very little astringency and no bitterness.

My second cup was even more ‘roasty-toasty’ and I could pick up on more of the charcoal notes.  Still deliciously nutty and sweet!  The creaminess has subsided somewhat.  This cup is less thick than the first, and there is a slight dryness to it.  Still really nice.

The third cup was a little more mellow than the second cup.  I’m starting to pick up on some light floral notes – like toasted orchid!  It’s an interesting contrast of flavors.   I think that this is the most interesting of the three cups.  The cup is softer in texture.  The charcoal notes are more pronounced.  This cup isn’t as nutty as the first and second cups were but there are still some nutty tones.  This is still roasty-toasty and really pleasant to sip.

I really enjoyed this tea.

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!

Alishan Charcoal Fire Medium Roast from T-Oolong Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  T-Oolong Tea

Tea Description:

This quality Alishan Charcoal Fire Medium Roast Oolong is handpicked, handcrafted and produced from Alishan oolong. Use only the charcoal made of either Taiwan Longan wood or Taiwan Acacia wood to roast the tea (NOT by electric roasters), and follow old traditional method. This tea has a strong charcoal aroma and taste mixing with flavors of Alishan oolong. The aftertaste is enjoyable and long lasting. It tastes very smooth, sweet, rich and complex, and stands up very well to multiple infusions.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s probably no surprise to people out there that I’ve accumulated a vast quantity of tea.  I’m pretty much surrounded by tea, and that’s just the way I like it.  But even with all this tea around me, I still get really excited when it comes time to try an Alishan Oolong – which is my favorite type of Oolong tea.  And when it is an Alishan Oolong from T-Oolong Tea, the excitement multiplies, because I’ve come to appreciate the level of quality that T-Oolong Tea offers.  Their teas are always top-notch, and this Alishan Charcoal Fire Medium Roast is no exception!  This is outstanding!

It’s the charcoal roasting that makes the difference here, creating an Alishan experience for me that is quite different from others I’ve had.  I still taste some of what I recognize as Alishan – the smooth, sweet, floral-y notes, but these notes seem to fill the background while the notes of charcoal and toasty, wood-roasted flavor take the foreground.

The crisp, floral sweetness of the Alishan peeks through the more rugged taste of the charcoal notes, and I notice a bit more of a mineral-y kind of taste and texture, a bit more earthiness, and even notes of sweet, toasted nuts.  The charcoal firing has added such a lovely dimension of flavor, creating a taste that is quite different from other Alishan teas that I’ve tasted … not better or worse, really, just different, and I am really enjoying the differences.

Deliciously different!