Sun Moon Lake Assam from Cameron Taiwan Premium Loose Leaf Teas . . . .

Sun Moon Lake Black tea from Cameron gets its name from its home region of Taiwan.  What a celestial and romantic name! Do how did the tea compare?

This was a competition grade assam black tea.  The dry leaves were large and flat, darkly colored from the full oxidation process.  When I put my nose into the bag of dry leaves it smelled pleasantly like chocolate and dark plum.

Brewed, this tea was smooth and crisp, which was a bit of a surprise.  I’m familiar with assam teas with big names like golden tiger which brew up deep and chocolatey, with a robust warm-and-fuzzy feeling.

This assam was much brighter, tasting a little greener.  It reminded me of the tartness of a breakfast black tea, with a brisk and refreshingly dry mouthfeel. Though there wasn’t as much of the cozy chocolate notes as I expected in the brewed tea, there were plenty of sweet fruit flavors like apricot and plum alongside the more traditional black tea notes.

Maybe the duality of Sun and Moon come into play in comparing the tea’s scent with its taste.  The fragrance of the dry leaves are very much the evening moon, with darker, richer tones of cacao and purple plum.  The brewed leaves are much more like the sun, bright and crisp and perfect for breakfast.

This is a great tea if you are looking for a high quality assam that will surprise you.  Take a walk on the brighter side of assam and brew up a cup of Sun Moon Lake tea from Cameron.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Cameron Taiwan Premium Loose Leaf Teas
Description:

Sun Moon Lake is located at altitude of 700m, surrounded with mountains and lakes with remarkable environment and typical climate. Heavy moist and stable yearly average temperature make the tea trees grow thick and rich tea leaves which produce carmine and perfectly clear liquor.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Glenburn Estate Darjeeling, First Flush 2017 from Yatra Tea. . . . .

Darjeeling teas fall somewhere on the spectrum of black teas, green teas, and oolong teas, depending on their level of oxidation.  This 2017 First Flush darjeeling is a high quality blend from Glenburn Estate and from the Yatra Tea Company.

The dry leaves are a very dark green, and tightly curled.  I used the recommended brewing of 185 F water with a steep time of 3 minutes.  Brewed, the tea was fragrant, green and fruity, and very much in the oolong-family of of scents.

The taste was driven by a muscatel stone-fruit flavors, a green and pleasantly tart, almost fermented, frutiness.  This tea was bright and sunny, with notes of apricot and white grape, coupled with a lush green undertone. The mouthfeel was very smooth in texture, though I don’t taste as much buttery flavors as I might expect.  The more I sipped, the more gentle lemon and citrus notes became apparent.

This is definitely a fruit-forward tea, perfect for springtime brewing.  Even if flowers aren’t quite blooming in your garden, watch these tea leaves bloom in your mug and enjoy the sweet fragrance and experience.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Darjeeling
Where to Buy: Yatra Tea
Description:

High in the Himalayas, overlooking the intimidating Kanchenjunga mountain range, lie the rolling tea fields of the heavenly Glenburn Estate. Founded in 1859 by a Scottish tea company, Glenburn is one of the oldest Darjeeling estates and many of the laborious routines appear to be unchanged till date on this 750 hectare estate.

In addition to traditional Darjeeling black teas, Glenburn produces a superior green tea at specific times of the year. Yatra Tea Company proudly presents an April 2017 offering harvested exclusively for us.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Jelly and Ice Cream from Teapigs. . . . .

I recently tried a cheeky box set of tea samples from Teapigs, and their packaging and labels were so cute and irresistible.  One flavor that wasn’t available in the box set was a blend made in honor of the Teapigs 10th anniversary in 2016.  It was meant as a limited edition blend, but it made such a hit that you can still place fresh orders for the blend today.

Jelly and Ice Cream was such an unusual flavor name and profile, I just had to check it out.  This is an herbal blend, made with lots of fruit pieces and natural flavoring.  The dry leaf smells both fruity and nutty, almost like sugary cereal, and brings to mind sticking your nose into a box of Crunch Berries.  The blend brews up as a rich, amber-pink color and tastes much like its scent, only smoother and sweeter.  The great news is that even though the tea is pink, there’s no sour hibiscus petals, so fruity-tea lovers of the world can rejoice that this blend isn’t overpowered by hibiscus tartness.

The flavors are just balanced enough to give me a full taste of both the jam-like raspberries and strawberries, and the sweet-cake tones of vanilla, cream, and biscuits.  Despite the dessert-like name, there’s something bright and breakfast-oriented about this blend, like toast with jam, or fruity cereal in milk.  This blend entices me to make it part of my balanced breakfast! Besides, it makes me feel whimsical and like a kid eating dessert-first.

Not being British, I’m not sure if this tea is based on a type of dessert in real life, but no matter what side of the pond you’re on, it’s hard to argue against flavors like jelly and ice cream and cake.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: Teapigs
Description:

In 2006 the Iphone didn’t exist, the Kardashians were not a (big) thing, nobody #HASHTAGGED anything, people asked directions, smoking in pubs happened, Lance Armstrong was liked, Desperate Housewives ruled our lives, Woolworth’s pick’n’mix ruled our kids lives, avocado’s were not cool and teapigs was launched. We celebrate 10 years of great quality tea with this blend of strawberry jelly & ice cream. Grab a mug and raise a Birthday toast to teapigs!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Sensiblyscript’s Tasting Notes on Passion Berry Jolt by Tiesta Tea. . . .

I steeped 1tsp tea for 4 min. in one cup of water at 200-205 degrees, which  produced a cup of tea with a nice dark amber color. Though there’s no berry coloring, there’s plenty of berrylike fragrance. The tea leaves themselves are attractive, with marigold and cornflower petals providing some nice color contrasts.

The berry smell blends with the black tea fragrance surprisingly well. (On a side note, I’m glad they used a high-quality black tea for this blend, as I tend to tire easily of “black tea” bases that have no actual tea flavor so that all you can taste is the flavoring.)

First sip: Not too astringent or acidic, which is nice. There is a bit of astringency, though. The berry flavor I’m finding in this tea is a bit friendlier, somehow, than most berry flavored teas I’ve tried. Perhaps a bit smoother? I’m sensing a rich, strawberry-like flavor here, and maybe a bit of raspberry as well. Maybe that’s why it’s less astringent and acidic than other berry-flavored teas that are heavy on the raspberry and blueberry. (It turns out that the strawberry-like flavor must have been from the “natural passion fruit flavors” in this tea. I guess I’m just not that familiar with passion fruit.)

It’s also not bitter at all, which I appreciate.

While the black tea flavor is present and isn’t overwhelmed by the berry flavor, it’s not super prominent either and doesn’t overwhelm the berry flavor. They exist side-by-side rather elegantly.

When I add a little sugar, it enhances the berry flavor and makes me want cream to complete the berries-and-cream effect.

When I add milk, it tastes like berries and cream just as I’d hoped. MMMMmmmm! I like it best this way. (Okay, that’s not really a surprise.)

This is a friendly, approachable berry/fruit tea, and it’s great for delivering that berries-and-cream dessert sensation without too many calories. I didn’t find it to be at all violent as suggested by the name (“Jolt”), but that’s okay because I really prefer nonviolent teas in most instances.

Here’s the scoop!

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

Ingredients: black tea + natural passion fruit flavors + cornflowers + marigold petals + raspberry bits

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Charles Dickens’ Black Tea Blend by Simpson & Vail

Steeping specs: I steeped a heaping teaspoon of this tea in about 10 oz. of boiling water for three minutes.

I tried some of this tea before looking it up, so I didn’t know what to expect but then realized it was rather unusual so I checked out the background and steeping recommendations so I could give it a more “proper” review. Apparently it’s a combination of black tea, oolong tea, and natural flavoring (plus cornflower petals, which add visual interest). I found it to be quite a memorable blend.

(Combinations of black tea and oolong intrigue me . . . I mean, for one thing, they’re really hard to classify. For another, I’m never sure what combining them is supposed to accomplish. Is it supposed to be like black tea but with more floral notes, maybe? I wonder what black tea would taste like if combined with a smoky roasted oolong? Hmm, maybe it’s time for an experiment . . .)

After steeping, it’s a sort of cedar-mahogany color, quite clear, and not very viscous. The scent is a bit tart and so is the first sip. It’s rather more acidic and astringent than your typical black tea, but in a good way. It seems quite well-blended; I think the flavors balance well (they bring out the strong, tannic, earthy properties of the black tea). It’s nice and strong, which I like. It would make a great breakfast or afternoon tea, I think. The S&V website doesn’t say exactly what flavoring is in the tea, just that it has a currant aftertaste, but I found it to be quite hearty in a satisfying, filling sort of way.

Next I added sugar. Sugar tames it down a lot. It’s still strong and a bit astringent, but less acidic and curranty. (It still tastes vaguely berry-ish, though.) It’s also excellent with milk. Adding both sugar and milk makes it a hearty, strong, creamy, and well-rounded cup. Overall I’d give this tea a big thumbs-up for flavor, interest, and comforting-ness.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black/Oolong Blend
Where to Buy:  Simpson & Vail
Description

Unlike many of his characters, Charles Dickens was born to loving parents in February of 1812. However, when he was only 12, his father was imprisoned for debt and Charles was sent to work in a blacking factory where he labeled endless bottles of shoeshine. He would leave the factory four years later to finish his education, but those formative years deeply affected him and inspired many of the boyhood horrors he would later write about. He wrote many of his most famous novels like Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby episodically, with a new chapter appearing in a magazine each month. These works examined the lives of the less fortunate and found humanity amid the most inhuman conditions.

Tea appeared in Dickens’ work as a calming force like in David Copperfield, when the main character recounts how he “sat swilling tea until [his] whole nervous system, if [he] had had any in those days, must have gone by the board.” Or it could surface as a commonality between classes that allowed Dickens to emphasize the stark differences between lifestyles. While a “real solid silver teapot” and “real silver spoons to stir the tea with” are listed among the treasures of Old Lobbs in The Pickwick Papers, “a regular place of public entertainment for the poorer classes” described in Oliver Twist would provide “a public breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper all the year round.” Our Charles Dickens blend adds a flash of color to a traditional british tea. The blend is a hearty, well-rounded blend of China and Indian teas that has an amber cup with a light currant after-taste.

Ingredients: Black teas, oolong tea, flavoring, cornflower petals.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!