Kenyan Gold Tea from Rington’s Premium English Teas

kenyanRingtonsTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Rington’s Premium English Teas

Tea Description:

Kenyan Gold 80’s is a luxury, top quality tea from the “Extra Fresh” family of teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve tried a couple of different teas from Rington’s Premium English Teas now, and I think that this Kenyan Gold Tea might be the best one that I’ve tried thus far.

Yes, it’s a bagged tea.  Yes, I know that I’ve been ‘bagging’ on bagged teas a lot lately.  I guess after spending the last six plus years tasting teas and writing about what I’m tasting has shaped my opinions about bagged teas because as I’ve said before (and am likely to say again) – loose leaf tea is superior.

But this bagged tea is actually quite pleasant.  The flavor of the Kenyan tea is rich and flavorful.  It’s nice and smooth.  There’s very little astringency to this and no bitterness.  Just smooth, rich flavor that is bold and invigorating.

To achieve this flavor, I brought my kettle to a boil and put one bag into my mug and poured 8 ounces of boiling water over the bag.  I let this steep for 2 1/2 minutes.

It’s a little sweet with a flavor that is somewhere between molasses and caramel.  It has some fruit notes – reminiscent of raisin and plum.  Hints of earth.  Notes of leather.  It has a pleasant, round flavor.  Nice.

Boomstick Black Tea from Butiki Teas

BoomstickTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Our Boomstick combines tangerine, grapefruit, and bergamot flavors with our Kenyan Obsidian tea and orange peel pieces for a citrus lovers dream. Each citrus flavor can be detected on its own but is also cohesive. This tea is a bit of an adventure as each sip has a different dominant flavor. The citrus flavor is not overly aggressive, with just a mild tartness. We highly recommend Boomstick as a breakfast tea.

Read more about this tea on Steepster.

Taster’s Review:

This review is scheduled to be published just after Butiki announces their final sale.  Yes, I’ve said it a couple of times on here, very soon, Butiki Teas will soon be no more.  And while that does make me sad to say goodbye to a truly great tea company, I am happy that this company came to the decision not because they needed to close due to slow sales or anything like that, but because the owner, Stacy, wants to focus on other things now.  In her announcement to Steepster, she said:

When I first started this company, my husband asked me to come up with a goal of how much in sales we could ever dream of making in a year. Well, thanks to you all, we have quadrupled that number! I would have never imagined we would have become this successful and I am so grateful to all of my customers for making us what we are today. Thank you so very much.

Reading that brought a smile to my face.  In this age when it seems like so many companies are struggling to stay out of the red, it’s great to read that a small company did so well.  And a tea company at that!  It’s truly inspiring.

And it would seem that I am – at least partially – the inspiration for the creation of this tea!  When she mentioned that she had bergamot, grapefruit and tangerine flavors, I suggested that she combine these three flavors with a black tea base.  At the time, I was thinking she use her Sansia black tea base – having enjoyed it so much with the Chocolate Chili Truffle tea – I thought that the strong honey tones of the black tea would pair nicely with the citrus fruits.

Instead, Stacy chose her Kenyan Obsidian as a base which Stacy describes as “grapefruity, malty, and woody.”  I also taste a sweetness to this and I don’t know if it’s the tea itself or the combination of the tea plus these particular flavors but I do get a light honey note that’s quite pleasant with the citrus fruit.

I thought about adding a dollop of honey to the cup to enhance those tones, but, I kind of like this straight up.  It’s sweet but not too sweet, and the citrus gives it a tangy flavor – tart … but not pucker-y tart.  Just enough tart that I can feel my taste buds sort of perk up (especially in the finish) from the tart.

This is a really lovely celebration of citrus flavor.  Butiki suggests this as a breakfast tea.  It would make a wonderful breakfast accompaniment (perhaps instead of fruit juice!)  But I also found that this is LOVELY iced.  It’s very refreshing.

This will be my final review of Butiki Teas here on SororiTea Sisters (I do still have a couple of teas of theirs that I’ll be drinking and talking about over on Steepster!) so I wish Stacy all the luck in the world with whatever adventure she takes on next.  I raise my teacup to her and say, Bravo!  And thank you for bringing us so many wonderful teas – you (and your teas!) will be missed.

And … as you head on over to Butiki Teas to see what’s on sale (and what’s left!) be sure to add some of this tea to your cart.  You’ll be glad you did!

Irish Breakfast Green Tea from Culinary Teas

irish_breakfast_greenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Culinary Teas

Tea Description: 

Irish Breakfast Green is full bodied with the ‘umpf’ of black tea but the gentleness of green tea. Enticing toasty hint of flavour. Massively Irish.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

I don’t usually turn to a green tea as a breakfast tea.  I usually want the kind of gusto a black tea provides, but this green tea packs a swift kick!  Yes, the “kick” is a bit milder than what I’d get if I were drinking a strong Assam black tea, but I could see grabbing this tea as a breakfast tea (even though I’m drinking this as an afternoon tea at the moment.)  It has a very satisfying flavor.

Yes, this is a blend, but that doesn’t make it complicated to brew.  I grabbed my Kati Tumbler – really, this is one of the greatest tea brewing systems that I own!  I turn to it frequently because it works great for teas that I have just enough for 1 serving of.  And since I’ll be sharing this sampling with my SororiTea Sister, TeaEqualsBliss, I want to make sure I have enough left to send her way!

I used 1 bamboo scoop of tea for 12 ounces of hot water.  I heated the water to 180°F and I steeped the blend for 1 1/2 minutes.  And wa-lah!  A lovely green tea!

This really is lovely!  A very flavorful green tea blend.  I knew when I brewed the tea that the teas were from China, Japan and Kenya, but I wasn’t sure which teas from these regions were used int he blend.  From looking at the dry blend, I would guess that the Chinese tea is a Gunpowder.  It’s a little harder to distinguish which teas from Japan and Kenya were used, but I think that the Kenyan is the larger, rolled green tea (see the photo above) and I think that the Japanese tea is a Houjicha (or a roasted Bancha type tea).  Of those three guesses, the only one that I’m pretty confident about is the Gunpowder.

I like the way the flavors come together.  The sip starts out sweet.  Right away I start to pick up on the toasty, nutty flavors.  It’s not an overly vegetal/grassy tasting tea but there certainly is a “green” sort of taste to it that’s a little vegetative.  There’s a hint of buttery flavor.  After my palate becomes acclimated to the nutty, buttery, and vegetal notes of the tea, I start to notice floral notes.  There is also a fruity note that I taste that is vaguely reminiscent of melon.  In the distance, I pick up a light “smokiness” to the cup that is quite intriguing.

Overall, I found this tea to be a rather enjoyable cuppa.  If you’re looking for a way to start your day with a green tea, this would be a great choice.  I wouldn’t add milk to it the way many do with a breakfast blend – I think that milk would really overwhelm the tea.

Plus:  Milk + Green Tea usually = ICK.  So best not to try that.

Instead, try this one straight up.  It’s got a really nice flavor without any additions at all.  If you must add something to your breakfast tea, try a dollop of locally harvested, raw honey (added health benefits with that!) or even better:  a thin slice of lemon or lime!

Kenya Hand Rolled Purple Varietal Oolong Tea from What-Cha Tea

PurpleOolongWhatchaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong (Purple)

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

A unique oolong unlike any other we have tasted before, made from the purple varietal tea plant which gives the tea a unique plum taste and purple tint. A rare and unusual tea which is not to be missed.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  What a delightful purple Oolong!

I steeped this the way I would usually steep an Oolong tea, using my gaiwan.  I “eyeballed” a measurement of leaves.  These leaves are so long and wiry that it would be difficult to measure them using my bamboo scoop.  So I poured out an amount that looked like it would be a bamboo scoop into the palm of my hand and then I put it into the bowl of my gaiwan.  Then I heated water to 180°F.  I poured in just enough of the heated water to cover the leaves and I let this sit for 15 seconds – to awaken the leaves – and then I strained off the liquid and discarded it.  Then I steeped the leaves for 45 seconds for the first infusion and added 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion. I combine two infusions in my teacup – so my first cup is infusions 1 and 2, and the second cup is infusions 3 and 4 … and so on!

PurpleOolongWhatcha1The brewed tea takes on a purple-ish color and has a sweet, floral aroma with notes of fruit.  There is a strong flavor to this tea:  tasting primarily of stone fruit and flower.  Just as the above description suggests, there is a strong and distinct plum note.  It is sweet with notes of tart.

The texture is lighter than a typical Oolong.  It doesn’t have that buttery mouthfeel like you might experience from a greener Oolong.  This doesn’t taste or feel “creamy.”  It tastes strongly of fruit.  The fruit notes bring a lot of sweetness to the cup and there is a slight “sugary” sweetness to the cup as well.  There is a moderate astringency to this tea – I can feel the insides of my cheeks pucker a bit at the finish.  But don’t let that dissuade you, because I find that the sensation enhances the fruit notes.

The plum notes were even more focused in the second cup.  Still sweet with notes of sugar cane.  The astringency is about the same in this cup as it was in the first.

The third cup turned out to be a bit different than the first and second cups.  This cup is not as astringent as the first cup – this is much smoother from start to finish.  The plum notes are softening somewhat now.  Still lots of fruit flavor, I’m noticing the flavors starting to become unified.  This is slightly less sweet and a little lighter.  I’m picking up on a slight creamy note now and an ever so slight vegetative note.  Neither of these new flavors are very strong – they’re off in the distance.  Floral notes are slightly more noticeable this time too.

This is a really delightfully different Oolong – one I’d recommend to those who are looking for something just a little off the beaten path!

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea from What-Cha Tea

KenyaSilverNeedleTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

Our Kenyan Silver Needles hits the usual notes usually associated with good quality Silver Needles while having its own unique characteristics not usually found in other Silver Needles. Kenyan Silver Needles is on the fuller side of the Silver Needle scale and features lovely soft tannins, making it perfect for those who find the more traditional Silver Needles too subtle and overly delicate. Our Kenyan Silver Needles represents a chance to try one of the great Chinese teas grown in the unique terroir of Kenya.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Most Silver Needle teas tend to be on the delicate side and this Silver Needle would be considered “delicate” if it were being compared to a green or black tea, but it’s much stronger in flavor than many other Silver Needle teas I’ve had.

But I brewed it the same way I’d brew a Silver Needle:  I used my gaiwan and heated the water to 170°F.  After a 15 second rinse, I steeped the first infusion for 2 minutes.  I added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.  And one thing you’ll find with white teas – they’re ready to keep on steeping!  You’ll easily get five or six infusions out of this tea – perhaps more!

KenyaSilverNeedle1The first infusion was sweet and hay-like.  I also got some lovely melon notes as well as a crisp, floral note.  And even though the approach of a white tea tends to be subtle, I find so many wonderful layers of flavor.  I think that’s why I enjoy them so much.  True, they’re not the type of tea that will get in your face with the flavor.  Instead, it offers its love sweetly and gently.

The second infusion was even sweeter than the first.  A little less like hay and a little more like a sweet, juicy melon!  Lovely!  I am noticing very little to no astringency with this cup.  I did notice a wee bit of astringency with the first infusion … not much, but some.  Now, not so much.

The third infusion was very much like the second – sweet, melon-like, very little astringency and very few vegetal/hay-like tones.  Later infusions slowly started to become less fruit-like and I started picking up on more of the hay-like flavors again as well as hints of an airy floral quality.  Imagine the “taste” of the air when you’re walking through a field of flowers.  Something like that.  Really beautiful and wonderful to experience as those tastes washed over the palate.  I started to notice a loss in flavor by the fifth infusion.  It still had a lot of flavor but not as quite as much as the four that preceded it.

This is a fantastic Silver Needle.  If you’re one who tends to avoid Silver Needle White teas because you find them to be too soft in flavor … don’t give up on Silver Needle teas completely – just widen your search to include this Kenyan Silver Needle!  I think you’ll find it much more flavorful!