Colombian Andean Princess Black Tea from Simpson and Vail. . .

Grape-y Goodness? Yes, please! But Colombian Andean Princess Black from Simpson & Vail is much more than that thanks to the simple – yet impressively unique – list of ingredients! The ingredients in this loose leaf tea are Colombian Black Tea, Isabella Grape Skin, Andean Raspberry, and Hibiscus Flower.

If any tea has done Hibiscus Flower perfectly it’s THIS tea! I wouldn’t change a thing about the hibiscus ratio or any other ingredient ratio in this lovely loose tea!

The grape and raspberry combination really make this special. Everything seems to have the same color hue when dry that it camouflages within the packet of ingredients!

S&V states on their website that this tea blend balances the naturally acidic flavor characteristics of Colombian fruits with the sweet flavor of Black Tea. Isabella grape is a hybrid distinguished by its high acidity and enhanced level of antioxidants. Andean raspberry is a type of blackberry found in northwest South America that is noted for its high vitamin C content, calcium, and phosphorus. Andean Princess tea brews to an amber cup with a full fruit flavor.

I enjoyed reading a bit more on this tea and the region it hails from which is the mountainous region of Colombia, in an area steeped in biodiversity, along the western slope of the Andes, is the Bitaco tea estate. They say the gentle mist from the mountains, rich soil, and ample rainfall all stimulate the growth of the tea bushes, producing a tea with unique characteristics.

I was excited to also learn that Bitaco Tea owns over 200 acres of tea plants that are cultivated at over 6,000 feet above sea level in the region of Choco. This region enjoys a high rainfall and has exceptional biodiversity. The tea gardens are located next to a thriving, protected rain forest, the Bitaco Regional Forest Reserve, where there is a wide diversity of flora and fauna: 256 bird species, 28 amphibian species, 23 reptile species and 772 species of plants. The garden, located near the Equator, enjoys a consistent climate which results in a bountiful production of tasty, delicate tea-tips that are picked and processed throughout the year.

Bitaco Tea not only cultivates exceptional teas, they also are committed to their community – (which you know we LOVE to talk about ChariTEAs here at the Sororitea Sisters). They created the Agricola Himalaya Foundation to develop and improve programs focusing on education, especially for local children. Activities focus on the improvement of infrastructure, recreational opportunities, local culture and access to technology.

This is a complete CommuniTEA Tea! Share with others and enjoy and KNOW it comes from people who also are passionate and care, too!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Simpson and Vail
Description

This Blend balances the naturally acidic flavor characteristics of Colombian fruits with the sweet flavor of Black Tea. Isabella grape is a hybrid distinguished by its high acidity and enhanced level of antioxidants. Andean raspberry is a type of blackberry found in northwest South America that is noted for its high vitamin C content, calcium, and phosphorus. Andean Princess tea brews to an amber cup with a full fruit flavor.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Orange Pekoe Special from Swallowtail Tea

When the tea has “special” in the name, it starts with a lot of expectations to live up to.  Good thing Orange Pekoe Special from Swallowtail Tea truly is a special mug of tea.

Right away, I was taken in by the scent of the dry tea leaves.  This is a pure black tea, not flavored, not a chai, and yet the leaves smelled sweet and earthy and strongly of cinnamon.  It was so comforting and flavorful it was hard to take my face out of the bag.

When I brewed this tea, the cinnamon took a backseat and more of the traditional black tea flavors came to the forefront.  The tea was bright and crisp, with just a touch of citrus that says to me it would be delicious if served with a wedge of lemon.  All of these forward flavors were quickly chased by smoother, toasted tones, almost malty and starchy like a not-too-sweet dessert.

The brewed tea smelled like crushed leaves and old wood, with just a whiff of woodsmoke.  The more I drank the tea the more the smoky notes came forward. This isn’t full-on chimney-bacon smokiness like you find in some lapsang souchong teas, this was more delicate, like the appealing sugar char of a creme brulee, or the faded campfire smell after the logs have long gone out.

All these natural flavors like wood and smoke and leaves in Orange Pekoe Special really put me in the mood for fall.  With a beautifully illustrated tin and such a rich flavor experience, this is now the tea I imagine when I think of someone stumbling upon a cabin in the woods and the owner pulls out “the good tea” for a special occasion.

 


Here’s the scoop!

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

Grown at the base of the Himalayas, this tea was first discovered growing wild in the jungles during the mid 1800’s. Assam is known for its deep, burgundy-red cup and pungent but sweet-starchy flavor. This is India’s most popular variety because of its intense flavor and ability to mix well with milk and honey.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Keemun Chinese Black Tea from The Tea Spot

I love the discovery of new tea flavors, finding their nuances, comparing and contrasting from a baseline. I started educating myself on tea with subscription boxes, and still have a soft spot for them. Looks like Tea Spot will be my next choice. They offer a monthly subscription box for $16 for about an ounce worth of 5-6 teas and also a quarterly loose leaf club at $45 for 3+ teas of one chosen style, in larger portions obviously. This selection seems to be from the former.

The dry Keemun smells very gentle, a bit like the coriander in my cupboard. There are uniformly tight, straight, leaves, appearing medium on the spectrum of browns. I see some broken bits in wet leaves and a tamarind color brew. It smells subtly sweet, and reminds me of cherries – cheerful but with a slightly tart finish.  1 heaping tsp per 8 oz from the brewing instructions, does not make a strong tea, which some people prefer. I’m not the type to drink this flavor straight, because tannins and I are frenemies.  I think it is It may leave a slight orange taste in my mouth but, this tea is still excellent at its job of caffeinating me!

Just like the Beastie Boys, I like my Sugar with [Keemun] and cream, too sweet to be sour, too nice to be mean.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy: The Tea Spot
Description:

A splendor of toasty flavor and aroma! The most refined and perhaps the most well-known of Chinese black teas, this Keemun is handpicked in Anhui Province. This tea has an indescribable flavor, with the most delicate hints of smoky pine, orchid, crushed apple and a rich, sweet body.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

English Breakfast from the Virginia Tea Company . . . .

When you need a tried-and-true pick-me-up in the morning, many of us reach for a cup of English Breakfast black tea.  But each tea company has a little different take on this style of tea. English Breakfast from the Virginia Tea Company is robust in scent, taste, and texture.

This tea is full and malty, almost chewy, with toasty tones of baked bread.  This tea is strong enough to have flavor after being mixed with milk and sugar, and to hold up on its own against the savory flavors of your breakfast.

The first scent and taste are the rich and complex flavors like roasted wheat or leather, followed by the little crisp bite of black tea that we come to expect.  There is a hint of earthy smoke at the back of each sip, along with the the less bitter black tea tannins and thicker mouthfeel.

This is a black tea that makes you feel strong and invigorated, while also giving your palette a full-bodied flavor experience.  For those mornings where it is hard to get your head on straight, be sure to brew up a strong cup of English Breakfast from the Virgina Tea Company and get back on track.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Virginia Tea Co.
Description:

This organic tea is perfect for pairing with your morning meal. The full-bodied flavor can be blended with milk and sugar to create an even better drinking experience.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Sweet Ghost from Malfoy Tea Emporium . . .

This morning’s tea is a dessert option called Sweet Ghost. The Emporium describes it as “a decadent loose leaf tea blend that is crafted from black tea, natural gingerbread flavor, natural vanilla flavor, natural creme flavor, ginger root, orange peels, cinnamon bark and chocolate chips.”

It’s basically chocolate cream with slight chai spices. It’s a very strong, saturated flavor.

The only thing that bothers me is that it’s called “Sweet Ghost.” Like… why? I could see a delicately-flavored tea as being ephereal. Maybe a white tea.

Also, when was the last time a sweet ghost was featured in a movie? ALMOST NEVER. Ghosts are usually haunting people, screaming with their eyes pure white, crawling out of floors, moaning, flailing — causing an unpleasant ruckus, basically. They’re impolite. They’re horrible houseguests.

Rename the tea something nice, guys! Maybe something Harry Potter themed. There are tons of options! Here are a few freebies: Hogwarts Express Fuel. Hagrid’s Third Dessert of the Night. Mrs Weasley’s Evening Crochet Me-Time.

You’re welcome.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Malfoy Tea Emporium 
Description

This tea is no longer available but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!