High Mountain Oolong from Qi Aerista. . . . .

This tea is sturdy and sophisticated, like a sweater vest on a college professor who is woke to the kids’ causes. It is tasteful. It is educated. It knows how to reap the health benefits of green tea AND black tea.

There are notes here of plum, stone, moss, and maybe some algae, which I say with utter love and absolutely no derision. It’s earthy and wet and vegetal and a little bit juicy.

It somehow manages to make me feel like I know what’s going on. Like drinking it has made me a better person. Like maybe, very slightly, I have it together.

I do not, just to clarify.

I do not at all.

But the tea is very nice.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Qi Aerista
Description

Aroma is honey, woody and with a lightly roasted aroma. Flavor is smooth, crisp, with a sweet aftertaste. To dry and enhance flavor profile, the tea leaves underwent a slow roasting process with charcoal for 9 straight hours to produce its characteristic smooth flavors.

This High Mountain Oolong is grown on Xiyan mountain in Dapu county. This beautiful county is known as the Shangri-La of the Hakka world, where Hakka is one of the ethnic subgroups in China.

What makes this cup of High Mountain Oolong incredibly delightful is that these tea plants are grown at high altitude with an age of more than 60 years old

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Blood Orange Herbal from Simple Loose Leaf. . . .

I purchased myself a subscription to Simple Loose Leaf because I simply did not have enough tea in my house. *

* (Full disclosure: this is a filthy, no-holds-barred lie).

My most recent package had an Earl Grey tea, a genmaicha, an oolong, and this herbal tea, which I think is a nice, well-rounded mix. Lots of flavor profiles. Great intro, especially to someone who perhaps doesn’t know tea very well.

The Blood Orange Herbal contains “Rooibos, Orange peel, Hibiscus, Rosehips, Apple pieces, Safflowers, and Rose petals with Orange, vanilla, and lemon flavor.” Simple Loose Leaf says this is a summery blend, which I totally agree with, so I decided to ice it to accompany my dinner.

I’m glad I did! The sweetness of the rooibos and apple play nicely against the tang of the orange and hibiscus. A velvety sweet lemon balances gallantly atop the tableau, almost an afterthought, a kiss.

This tea is essentially a maypole dance of flavors. It has me looking forward to when the spring/summer finally comes.  This tea gives me hope that sunshine is around the corner!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Rooibos
Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf
Description

Blood Orange is a melody of orange and apple with the earthy flavor of rooibos as the backdrop. It will remind you of summer no matter the time of year.

Ingredients: Rooibos, Orange peel, Hibiscus, Rosehips, Apple pieces, Safflowers, and Rose petals with Orange, vanilla, and lemon flavor

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Life is Rosey from Simplicity Teas. . . .

My friend signed up for Simplicity Teas’ subscription/blind box, and has begun passing me some of her samples! HIP HIP HOORAY for MORE REVIEWS!

Today’s pick is “Life is Rosey,” a black tea with rose petals & flavoring. It comes in a charming test tube that you can observe here.

My friend gave it to me because she believes that roses taste like soap. She is not, to be fair, entirely wrong on this point. I often also feel like I’m using hand-wash in my mouth if florals aren’t done delicately.

Fortunately, for me, this particular rose is nicely crafted. The rose adds a charming, grandmotherly stateliness without being an overwhelming love-gush from Bath and Body Works. (A great store. But not for eating.) The black base is a very neutral stoic foil for the rose. The duo reminds me of flamenco dancers: The man dons a simple black outfit; and the woman wears a frilly, showy dress.

And did I mention the test tube? It’s the cutest way to receive tea, I’ve decided. The packaging appeals to my inner science nerd; the rose appeals to my inner hopeless romantic. It’s a fusion of joys!

Though you can’t buy this tea specifically on Simplicity Teas’ site, they do have a blind box subscription to which you can subscribe to try other offerings. I am super into blind boxes. They’re a great way to try new things. Your favorite could be just around the corner.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Monthly Tea Subscription Plan
Where to Buy: Simplicity Teas 
Description

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

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!

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.