Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Camellia Sinensis (However it’s no longer listed)
Here is an wulong composed of leaves varying in hue from light green to orange by way of delicate shades of silver which adorn its numerous buds. The light rolling typical of this type of clonal offers lovely large leaves which, once infused, release rich floral and herbaceous fragrances. The liquor, soft and of a substantial texture, is supported by fruity and spicy notes. Its long tangy finish evokes the lightness of spring.
Learn more about this tea on Steepster!
This is definitely an interesting looking tea, one I probably wouldn’t have chosen for myself had Camellia Sinensis not included it as a bonus sample in one of several orders I’ve placed with them this year. Personally, I don’t have much experience with Darjeeling teas, and I’m almost certain that this is the first Darjeeling Oolong that I’ll have tried.
The dry leaf of this blend it fascinating to me; it definitely doesn’t look like a lot of oolong I’ve encountered. I know it’s definitely on the lower scale of oxidation, for sure – but it doesn’t even look like they even attempted to roll it which is definitely something I’m accustomed to with greener oolong. More so, it just kind of reminds me of Bai Mu Dan, but a little twisted up.
I brewed this one in one of my Gaiwans because it felt more right to be brewing it that way instead of in an infuser mug, though I did brew it Western style instead of Gong Fu. Normally I’m not one to resteep things, but I got three resteeps of this blend before I decided that was enough for the day.
The first infusion was very soft and delicate with such a lovely silky mouthfeel (which was definitely a consistent trait between all three infusions). The flavours were kind of in line with green teas and greener oolong; crisp and sweet sugar snap peas, lighter fruit notes like slightly under ripe honeydew, some floral notes, and a slight creaminess. However, the overwhelming gentleness of the brew reminds me a lot of white tea as well. I was looking forward to experiencing the “tang” like described by Camellia Sinensis, but I definitely didn’t taste anything close to that. Nor did I taste anything “spicy”.
The second infusion definitely brought about a change in flavour though; while the liquor was still very smooth and delicate and I still got some lovely snap pea notes there was also a touch of a herbaceous quality and the more floral notes were traded in for something quite a bit fruitier. More like over ripe honeydew than under ripe, and with an almost white wine like quality. I also experienced the “tangy finish” like described. I was definitely a little taken aback; the body dramatically and quickly shifted into this long, drawn out pleasantly sour finish that I wasn’t expecting. This was easily my favourite infusion of the three I did; it had a great balance between the flavours of the first and third infusions.
The third infusion was still delicate but that tangy note was even more vivid and instead of just being present in the finish it started to creep up into the body of the sip as well. In this infusion I definitely thought it was much more distinctly like white wine. In fact, I almost immediately was reminded of the few Reisling wines I’ve had (I’m not a huge wine person). It was super interesting, and still quite enjoyable but quite different from that first infusion. I can only imagine how much more interesting this would be Gong Fu brewed.
It’s a shame I can no longer find this on the Camellia Sinensis site; I want to learn more about this tea as it was very different from other oolongs I’ve tried, and quite memorable. I 100% recommend trying it, even if oolong isn’t your jam.
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Golden Tips
An outstanding strong and bold black tea from the popular Harmutty tea estate in Assam. The finely crafted dark black leaves boast of select golden tips and make for a bright red liquoring cup. The tea brings in an abundance of maltiness and a woody character which are cherished by connoisseurs who love their cup full-bodied. The lingering aftertaste engulfs your mouth. A perfect-start for a long day.
Learn more about this tea here.
This is a first flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in March 2014 on the Harmutty Tea Estate. I’ve only tried one first flush Assam in my life before, so I’m interested to see how this one compares. The leaves are fairly small and wiry, mostly a uniform black-brown, but with some lighter (milk chocolate) brown leaves scattered throughout. The scent is heavily malty, with a moderately strong spiciness. I used 1 tsp of leaves for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
To taste, this is the mildest Assam I’ve tried for a while. It doesn’t lack flavour, but it seems somehow softer and more gentle on the tastebuds, unlike some of the very punchy, tannic Assams I’ve been drinking recently. It’s sweetly malty, and there’s still a bit of a kick lurking there, though. Golden Tips do some of the maltiest Assams I’ve come across yet, and this one is no exception! A wonderful treacle-like flavour emerges in the mid-sip, maybe not quite as deep a flavour as molasses, but along those lines. The aftertaste is remarkably savoury after the intensity of the malt, veering more towards potato or yam like notes. This is a very smooth tea, very easy to drink, and makes for a good mid-morning pick-me-up.
I like the variation it’s possible to find between Assam from one estate and Assam from another. It’s like there’s one for all seasons, and for all times of the day. I’ve been impressed with those I’ve tried so far from Golden Tips – it’s certainly a site worth checking if you’re looking for a new Assam, or for another Indian tea. The 10g sample size is enough for 3 or so cups, and is just perfect for trying something new! I’ll certainly be looking to repurchase a selection of their Assams in the future, and maybe to broaden my horizons still further.
Leaf Type: Herbal Tisane
Where to Buy: Chi Whole Leaf
A beautiful blend of Indian Rose Petals, Egyptian Hibiscus and Jasmine.
Learn more about this tea here.
I keep wanting to call this matcha…
Honestly; I was a tiny bit scared to try this one. Hibiscus is one of three ingredients in this one, but frankly the entire thing looks like ground up, powdered hibiscus and unless you’re really into hibiscus in the first place that sounds pretty horrible.
That said, after the hot water hit the powder in the bottom of the mug and I had this all whisked up all of that fear melted away. The aroma is very floral and feminine but maintains a wonderful delicateness. How often do you get to call a blend with hibiscus delicate!? Not often – that’s for sure. More so than anything else I thought the rose was the most flavourful component of this tea but it’s not even close to the intensity necisarry for this blend to come off tasting chemical, artificial, or even perfumey. As a whole, it’s actually delightfully mellow.
Maybe it’s because hibiscus is so often paired with berries, but in addition to the sweet and supple floral notes I feel like there’s a hint of watered down berry flavour. The jasmine is the hardest part of this for me to taste; it’s blending in with the rose very well. I really enjoy this blend a lot. My only word of caution would be for people who dislike overly floral teas; but even they might like this because it’s been tastefully done. Even people who are generally turned off by hibiscus would likely like this. Bonus points for being quite affordable; $10.00 for 100g, and it really doesn’t take much at all to make a mug – approximately 1/2 tsp.
Also, many thanks to Will at Chi Whole Leaf tea for sending me the full range of teas currently offered on their site for reviewing! He was very quick to ship things, and in addition to the tea itself he included a very informative pamphlet that broke down the ingredients of each tea. I look forward to trying the rest of the set!
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Kusmi
Nana mint is the mint used for teas in the Middle East and North Africa. Its refreshing taste makes Spearmint green tea perfect for after a meal.
Learn more about this tea here.
The first thing I noticed about this one is how wonderful it smells – fresh, strong, sweet spearmint, right from the get go! I prefer spearmint to peppermint in general, but spearmint teas seem relatively scarce in comparison, so I’m pleased to have found this one from Kusmi. The dry leaf is very dark green and tightly rolled. There’s no indication on the tin of the variety of green tea this is, but I would guess Gunpowder from looking at the leaves alone. I could be wrong, but that’s my educated guess. For my cup, I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a golden yellow, and smells primarily of spearmint with an underlying hint of green tea.
To taste, this one reminds me a bit of chewing gum, or softmints. It has the same intense initial sweet mint flavour, which lingers decently into the aftertaste. Spearmint is pretty much all I’m getting from this one, so it comes across fairly one note, but if spearmint is what you’re looking for, then it’s certainly what you’ll get. I had thought I’d be able to taste the green tea base a little more, but it remains firmly in the background. There’s the tiniest hint of it right at the end of the sip, but in a blind tasting you could tell me this was a pure spearmint tea and I’d probably be none the wiser.
As a fan of spearmint, I really like this one. It’s sweet, clean-tasting, and refreshing, and makes for a very pleasant cup on a warm summer afternoon. I imagine it’d also work well cold brewed, which is something I’ll have to try in the coming weeks. It’s not as punchy as peppermint in terms of flavour, and it lacks the intensely cooling effect that mint sometimes has, so this tea is just the thing if you like your mint a little softer and more gentle. This is a wonderful offering from Kusmi, and well worth a look this summer if you’re in the market for a mint green tea.
Leaf Type: Rooibos & Herbal Tisane
Where to Buy: Good Life Tea
This blend of rooibos, chamomile and peppermint is powerful mix of herbs known for their calming effects. Chamomile is the ancient herb from the Roman empire and has been used to bring about restful sleep. You can actually see the chomomile flowers in the blend. Rooibos is a relative new arrival, only used in the last 200 years as a tisane. Grown only in the Cederberg, South Africa rooibos is naturally caffeine free, and is loaded with anti-oxidants, which prevent a many diseases. It is the reddish brown leaves in the mix. The last ingredient, Peppermint has a huge calming effect on the stomach as a digestive and gives this tea nice finish which lingers for a bit. Peppermint is the green leaves in the tisane.
Enjoy this tea to bring calmness to your day or just prior to bedtime. Because it contains no caffeine, its safe for children to enjoy. Create a nice evening ritual with this herbal tea.
Learn more about this tisane here.
I know that I’ve often said that I’m not a big fan of rooibos and I’m also not a big fan of chamomile. Oh, I like both of these herbs alright. I’m just not wild about them and I can think of other herbs I like much better.
Like peppermint. I like peppermint. And what makes this Organic Gentle Slumber so tasty IS the peppermint. The peppermint is the strongest flavor in the cup, so I can drink this tisane without tasting too much chamomile or rooibos. Bonus!
But even though the peppermint is strong here, it isn’t an overpowering flavor. There is some nutty flavors in the background. A touch of honey like flavor. A whisper of floral tones in the distance. And these flavors add a little bit of dimension to the cup so that it’s not all about the zesty peppermint.
And even though the peppermint is zesty, overall, I find the tisane to be soothing and quite relaxing to sip. It’s a comforting drink to enjoy before bedtime and the chamomile and rooibos are both known for their calming properties.
A great choice to inspire a good night’s sleep!
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