Organic Fruit Jam from Tea Sparrow. . . .

When it comes to getting me gifts, my friends and family often turn to one of two things: mugs or tea subscriptions. One such subscription that I received as my Secret Santa gift this past holiday season was several months of tea from Tea Sparrow. If I am being honest, as someone who loves really out there flavors, I have been underwhelmed by the more basic options I’ve been receiving.

With that said, this Organic Fruit Jam tea did catch my eye. It has the usual fruit tea ingredients such as apples, hibiscus, rosehips, and strawberries but it also has more exciting flavors like barley malt, cream extract, etc.

I made this iced in light of the potential for tartness thanks to the hibiscus and rosehips. Unfortunately, despite the unique ingredients, this tastes a lot like many of the other fruit tisanes I have had before, tart and with a vague fruitiness. It also has a sharp tart note atop the rest of the tartness that hits the back of your mouth near the end of the sip. Alas there is nothing here that says “jam” to me.

I also brewed this hot and intended to try it that way to compare it with the iced tea but life got in the way and the mug cooled before I got to it. However, the hot brewed tea which has then cooled is smoother than the iced tea. It also is a bit less tart than the iced tea which makes more room for a muddled fruit flavor to come through. Still not a “jam” tea to me but this cup is definitely closer to that desired flavor than the iced tea given there is more sweetness here.

Ultimately, I just feel like I’ve had this tea time and time again. The hibiscus/rosehip tartness is overwhelming with a generic fruitiness taking a back seat. The unique ingredients that intrigued me in the first place add nothing or if they do, their addition is drowned out. It’s not bad per se but it just doesn’t stand out at all in a world filled with tea.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Tisane
Where to Buy: Tea Sparrow
Description

With your Tea Sparrow subscription, you’ll receive 4 select loose-leaf teas each month: one black, one green, one rooibos and one herbal tea. You can expect about 35 cups of tea per month: more than enough to spread the love or completely hoard for yourself.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Omija Berry Blush from Story of My Tea. . .

This tea found its way into my cup on one of those fake-out spring days. You know– it’s April and you’re mourning the fun of spring and are just itching for some green grass, chirping birds, and a pitcher of iced tea?

Except here in the Midwest– the birds have all flown south for the winter, the grass looks like the color of that “green smoothie” (yeah right) you tried to make this morning to bolster your winter blues– and you haven’t made a pitcher of iced tea in MONTHS because hello, it’s cold outside!

And then, you dig through your tea stash and find something fruity and light– maybe not to make iced (you prefer a 24 hour cold brew method, after all, and tea is needed posthaste), but makes such a tart and tangy, sweet and fruity hot cuppa that you’ll allow it?

That was TOTALLY this blend for me, friends. Something about the berry blend used here was just a liiiiittle more fun/interesting than your average herbal bear, too– it was tangy and tart, but not mouth-puckeringly so. The berry flavors were vibrant– a little reminiscent of a fruit-by-the-foot in-a-cup… just sans all that sugar.

In a few months, I bet this one will be DELIGHTFUL iced. Until then, though– pile on those warm winter clothes, hunker down in your cozy bed, get the kettle boiling, and serve it up hot.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Herbal
Where to Buy:  Story of My Tea

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

LiberTEAS is Back with Another Tea Box Express Review!

I’m back with a new box (the March box) from Tea Box Express. When I think of March, I think of Easter (can’t help that, even though Easter is the 1st day of April this year, Easter stuff is still everywhere I go) and I think of St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t really think of Earl Grey – even though Earl Grey is a classic fave of mine. I absolutely ADORE bergamot – so long as it’s done correctly, mind you! I have had my share of Earl Grey gone wrong (perhaps even more than my share), but we’re not here to talk about that today. Today, we’re talking the Tea Box Express for March!

This box seems to be all about the Earl! It starts with a slight twist on the classic tea – with Green Earl Grey from BeauTea Studio on Etsy – an online shop that offers not only organic loose leaf tea but also some gorgeous vintage teacups and handcrafted botanical skincare and soy candles – which leads to the second item in this month’s box: an Earl Grey Lotion Bar – also from BeauTEA Studio! Even more than the tea, I love this bar. It smells amazing (because – bergamot!) and it feels even more amazing when smoothed over my skin. I tend to get very dry hands and a quick swipe of this bar over my hands leaves them feeling smooth and silky without them feeling wet or greasy. And the best thing about the bar is it’s portability, it makes this the perfect lotion to tuck inside my purse without worry that it’ll accidentally open and ‘moisturize’ the entire contents of my purse. So right into my purse it goes!

I wish I could say that I’m just as excited about the Green Earl Grey tea (also from BeauTEA Studio). In my many years as a ‘tea taster’ and reviewer, it’s been my experience that when green tea is flavored with bergamot, it results in a somewhat perfume-ish taste. Understandable, I suppose, since bergamot tends to be a favorite scent amongst those that manufacture fragrances – but as delightful as bergamot is to smell, I don’t know anyone who wants to actually drink perfume. The fragrance is where this tea shines: it smells amazing! But to my palate, the flavor ends up tasting too much of perfume and not enough of tea for my liking. Perhaps it is – as I alluded to earlier – the green tea base. Because green tea tends to have a softer, lighter flavor than a black tea base, the perfume-y qualities of the bergamot tend to come forward a lot more. This just isn’t working for me at all – I couldn’t even finish the cup. I’m sure that there are those that probably love this stuff – me, not so much. 

The last three items in this month’s box are not so much “Earl Grey” as they are just fun! There’s a small packet of brown rock sugar from Tea & Spice Merchants along with a pair of sugar tongs to sweeten the tea. The tongs are adorable – but unfortunately, I don’t have a link on them. Finally, as a sweet treat to accompany the tea, there’s Lemon Lavender Chocolate Bark from Ticket Chocolate. While this chocolate is delicious, I was a little disappointed (at least initially) that the curator of this box didn’t go the extra mile and seek out some type of Earl Grey flavored chocolate – hey, I know they’re out there because I’ve indulged once or twice! But that disappointment didn’t last long because – wow! This is an amazing bit of chocolate! The chocolate is rich and creamy with light notes of lemon and lavender. This chocolate is just the *ticket*. 

Overall, I’m happy with the contents of this month’ box even if the tea didn’t exactly do it for me. I had thought that I might end the subscription after the initial 3 months, but I might keep it going because I’ve been pretty happy with everything (with a few exceptions) that I’ve received from Tea Box Express thus far.


Here’s the scoop!

What is it: A subscription box from Tea Box Express
Where to Buy: Tea Box Express
Description: Each month brings a new selection of whole leaf tea and artisan treats.

Milky Oolong from Tea Taxi. . .

When I first started drinking tea, I avoided oolongs at all costs. They were too floral or too green and just not for me. However, over the years, I have found myself more and more curious when it comes to oolongs, particularly milk oolongs which are often so simple and yet amazingly creamy.

This particular milk oolong, Milky Oolong by TeaTaxi, boasts “a subtle taste and a delicate aroma”. I steeped it per the package directions, letting the leaves steep for 3 minutes in 190F water.

At first taste, I found myself worried that perhaps this is too subtle. It came off a touch weak and not all that milky. In fairness, the “milk” oolong I had most recently prior to trying this was Oolong Creme by Sloane Fine Teas and that set the bar quite high. The more I drink, the more flavors I find. There is a definite smoothness here but I don’t know if I would go as far as to say it is “creamy”. On the other hand, I suppose “milky” is an accurate description as it is a little on the thinner side in comparison to the other milk oolongs I’ve tried. There is also a lot of floral notes here which to me appear as almost a shadow of the orchid taste in DAVIDsTEA’s Vanilla Orchid.

All in all, this tea is not bad, but also does nothing to stand out among the sea of milk oolongs. It came to me as a sample in the Generation Tea monthly subscription and the one cup is leaving me satisfied though I probably won’t seek it out again.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Tea Taxi
Description

A subtle taste and a delicate aroma. This classic tea will make you feel as zen as a yoga session would! Namaste.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Anne Has Returned – What Can I Say? I Love Subscriptions!

Greetings – it’s been a while since I last posted a review here – as it’s now coming up on my 3rd year as the Mad Tea Artist over at 52Teas, it’s been almost that same amount of time that I’ve not written a review! Many things kept me from writing here: a lack of available time and feeling a little unsure if I can be an unbiased reviewer since I am now – once again – a tea vendor. I’ve missed reviewing though and I’ve also missed receiving boxes of tea in my mailbox.

But recently, I caved and subscribed to Tea Box Express. I have received one box from them in the past – it was their debut subscription box and they sent both Jennifer (aka TeaEqualsBliss) and me a box to review here.  (I wrote that review in two parts. To check out part 1, click here. To check out part 2, click here.) I loved that box and have considered subscribing many times, but for one reason or another, I never did. Finally, I caved and treated myself to a 3-month subscription.

So let’s get down to it! Five items were tucked into this month’s box, including a stamped teaspoon; a white chocolate dipped fortune cookie; a pouch of raspberry hibiscus flavored S’mores; a pouch or raw cookie dough and of course, it wouldn’t be a tea box without some tea, would it? This box contained one 2 ounce pouch of flavored green tea.

If I’m being totally honest, I wasn’t all that excited after opening the box. A fortune cookie? Hibiscus flavored S’mores? The two redeeming things (or so I thought) were the beautiful spoon (which I do love) and the cookie dough . . . which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. But more on that later.

My favorite item in the box was the first thing that I examined closer – the stamped teaspoon from Mountain Bird Banners. This is one of those things that I’ve wanted for a while but could never justify getting for myself, so what a joy it was for me to find it in this month’s box. The spoon came tucked inside a colorful burlap wrap – I was charmed by the presentation. This spoon is stamped with the words: “Tea Time is Me Time”. Beautiful!

At that point I decided it was time for a cuppa, so I decided to try the tea that was included in this month’s box: Walnut Cake from Polar Tea Co.  It’s a blend of Chinese Sencha, pineapple, coconut, walnut, brittle pieces, almonds and natural flavors. I steeped roughly 3 grams of tea in 12 ounces of hot water (175°F is my go-to temperature for green teas) for 2 minutes. I taste walnut and pineapple and a sweetness from both the brittle and candied pineapple. I didn’t get much ‘cake’ flavor so I put my new spoon to use and added about half a teaspoon of raw sugar to the cup to see if it helped bring out more of the flavor. It did – I could taste a subtle cake-y background. Overall, a decent cup.

As for the sweet treats that were included in this month’s box, my favorite – hands down – was the Raspberry Hibiscus S’mores from Malvi. I was originally not all that excited about this confection because of the hibiscus, but I found that the contrast of tart and sweet tasted fantastic. I also didn’t have high hopes for the Fancy Fortune Cookie but I am happy to say that I it exceeded any expectations I may have had. The cookie was fresh and crisp and the white chocolate coating was not heavy – I was worried this might prove to be something a bit too sweet for my liking but the light shell of white chocolate was not at all cloying. The one thing that I thought I would like – the coconut chocolate chip raw cookie dough from Ello Raw – turned out to be the one thing that disappointed me. This isn’t really ‘raw cookie dough’ like what you might expect – it’s more like a soft, less dense granola bar made of cashews, coconut, oats, coconut oil, cacao nibs and raw honey. It tasted like cookie dough trying to be health food – and when I indulge in cookie dough, I’m not thinking health food! It was good – it just was not what I was expecting  . . . or hoping for.

Overall, I’m much happier with this box of tea time goodies than I originally thought I’d be.  Sure, the cookie dough didn’t turn out to be exactly what I expected, but I didn’t hate it either, so I don’t consider it a loss – but perhaps a draw? Everything else gets a thumbs up from me.


Here’s the scoop!

Where to Buy: Tea Box Express
Description:

Each box includes 4 to 6 curated gifts. The contents are a surprise but subscribers can look forward to a tea care package that contains:

  • Whole leaf tea that is high quality, fresh, and flavorful.
  • Items such as cookies, honey, specialty sugars, chocolate, and infusers.
  • A new selection of tea and unique artisan treats every month.
  • Your very own tea party in a box!