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! 

Murmur from Handmade Tea. . . .

I received this tea at the beginning of the year after a tea friend signed me up for a monthly subscription to Handmade Tea. It smelled awesome and was just full of strawberry bits and cacao nibs but the white peony base had me apprehensive. However, it was gifted to me and the smell caught my attention so I got to brewing.

I made this both as a plain cup of hot tea and as a chocolate milk latte. I steeped both for 4 minutes in boiling water as per the recommended steeping parameters. In the process I managed to spill chocolate milk all over the counter, the floor, and my pajamas but I suppose there’s no point crying over that now.

I tried the latte first and I am definitely picking up on those cacao nibs. This is a whole lot of cacao flavor and not much else. Honestly what it tastes like to me is a packet of rich instant hot chocolate that’s been made with water instead of milk because it’s got the almost dark chocolate flavor (and a fairly high quality one at that) but it’s thinner than a typical hot chocolate.

The hot cup allows for more of the flavors to stand out as they aren’t being drowned out by the strong chocolate milk flavor. The base tea is floral but also has a honeydew flavor as promised on the package. Unlike what’s promised on the package, I don’t quite get the “drizzled with honey” part this tea should have per its description. There is also less strawberry flavor than I expected given the copious amounts of that ingredient in the dry leaf. What I do get is a heavier/darker taste as each sip ends and I think that is the result of the cacao.

If I am being honest, this tea is lacking a lot of the flavors described on the package which is surprising because the dry leaf is clearly built up of a variety of different ingredients that just seem to get lost in the mix. It’s by no means a bad tea but I wanted a chocolate covered strawberry and all I’m getting is a dark and fruity white tea. I wonder if maybe a smaller cup or different steeping parameters could help coax out more flavors? Luckily I still have some left I can experiment with.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  White
Where to Buy:  Handmade Tea
Description

This tea is no longer available but click below for more information regarding  their monthly tea subscription.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!