Pine Oolong from Golden Leaf Tea

The dry leaf and the first brew of this oolong smelled like sour green fruit, like white grapes.  Brewed, the tea reminds me of a kukicha green tea, with a slightly fermented flavor with notes of sweet grass and new hay.  There’s an extra mineral sharpness to this tea, and that might be the “pine” part of this oolong.  There was an almost-lemon citrus flavor that made my mouth pucker with tartness.  I brewed this tea twice, and by the second steeping, the blend had more warm roasted tones and notes of honey, making for a smoother experience than the first brewing.  
I like the idea of an evergreen tea, such as pine or spruce…. maybe not hemlock (which is poisonous, just ask Socrates). Still, I love the smell of pine resin in the woods and the smell of green Christmas trees.  This tea doesn’t quite satisfy that evergreen feeling, but Pine Oolong from Golden Leaf Tea is a solid oolong with a nice balance of sweet and sour fruitiness.  

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Golden Leaf Tea
Description: Pine Oolong Tea is a semi-fermented delicate green tea from the pristine hills of Taiwan. This tea brews to a light honey color with a slightly floral fragrance that lingers after the last sip. A light and delicate green oolong.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Mangue égyptienne Black Tea from Dammann Freres

mangue-egyptienneTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Dammann Freres

Tea Description:

A blend of black teas with sun ripened mango flavour lends to a warm and fruity infusion. Bits of fruits complete the aesthetic appeal.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This last week seems to have been unintentionally themed around mango teas; it honestly feels like I’ve had more of them now than I have had in the last two or three months. That’s probably because I’m a picky person when it comes to mango, but because it’s such a summer flavor there’s a surplus of mango teas around which equates to more that I’m easily swayed into wanting to try out.

This one was done as a cold brew; it had a very natural and realistic mango flavour. I personally find that the actual fruit mango has a very pine like and sappy flavour. I know I’m not the only person to have observed this; and it seems to be commonly observed with unripe mangoes but even ripe ones have this flavour to me. However most teas with mango as an ingredient don’t seem to convey this flavour and as someone who always tastes it when they eat the fruit it makes me feel like something is missing. Thankfully, I did taste is here! While I loved it the vast majority of people might not given than mango ‘isn’t supposed to taste like pine’.

There were also floral notes here, probably from the black base and I thought that added a nice depth to the flavour as well. While the fruit might not have had a robust, juicy flavour like I expected that didn’t stop this from feeling complete. I am, however, wary of how other people would feel about this; like mentioned it has that “undesirable” pine taste. It worked well for me, though.

Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, Volume 17 (Part 1)

yunomi2I received my Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club package the other day and I was excited to get started!  This month, the teas are focused on ’tisanes’ – herbal blends from various Japanese tea companies.

Since this is a tisanes package and not Camellia Sinensis, I won’t be featuring part two of this series tomorrow night.  This is because I don’t usually drink more than 1 tisane per day, so I need time to consume these teas and write about them!

This month’s package included Yomogi herbal tea which is a Japanese Mugwort tea, Longevity herbal blend which is a blend of 18 Japanese herbs, Mulberry leaf tea which has been prepared Sencha style, Organic hatomugicha which is also called “Job’s Tears” and finally, Organic mugicha which is a barley tea.  Of the five, the Mugicha is what I look forward to most, as I’m quite fond of barley tea.

Also in this month’s package was another cute origami Crane … I’m getting a little collection of these!  The usual booklet which offers some information about each of the teas was not included but we received an email from Yunomi explaining that the booklet would arrive separately a little later.

The first tea that I’m going to try is the Longevity Herbal Blend from Nakazen.  I was happy to see that this tea included Camellia Sinensis in the form of Oolong tea.  Here is a list of the ingredients:

Barley tea, job’s tears, sicklepod seeds, cat’s whiskers (herb), dokudami (herb), oolong tea, tumeric, guava leaves, biwa (loquat) leaves, mikan (Japanese mandarin) peels, brown rice, pine leaves, ohbako, benibana, persimmon leaves, amachazuru, sarunokoshikake (fungi), cinnamon

18 Herbs for Longevity from Nakazen

The aroma of the dry leaf is very herb-y.  It sort of reminds me of walking into one of those apothecary shops.  The brewed tea has more of a ‘medicinal’ type of fragrance, still smelling very apothecary-ish but the herbal notes are medicinal smelling.

The taste is actually quite enjoyable.  It has a roasted flavor to it.  It’s toasty and warm.  Very nice on a chilly night!

The roasted flavor I attribute to the barley in the tea.  I also taste the brown rice, it lends a warm and nutty flavor to the cup.  I taste the resinous notes of pine leaves and I taste the warm spiced notes of cinnamon.  I taste hints of tumeric and I don’t know if I actually taste the Oolong, but I can feel it’s contribution – the texture of the tea has that wonderful, thick Oolong-ish mouthfeel.

The other herbs of this tea, I’m not sure what flavor profile to fit with which herb because they are herbs that I am – for the most part – quite unfamiliar with.  I would like to say, though, that even though the aroma strongly suggests an herbaceous, medicinal flavor, I smell more of that herb-y medicine-y flavor than I taste.  For the most part, what I taste is the barley’s contribution to this tea – I taste that warm, roasty-toasty flavor and that’s quite fine with me – I’m really enjoying this!

SONY DSCThe second tisane that I’ll be sampling – and the last for this, part 1 of the Yunomi Discoveries Club, Volume 17 review – is the Japanese Mugwort Tea from Yomogi-Cha.  The word “Mugwort” makes me think of Harry Potter and Nightmare before Christmas.  It sounds like something that Professor Snape would put in a potion or something that Sally would put in Doctor Finklestein’s soup.

This particular herbal doesn’t appear to be available on Yunomi’s site at the moment.

The dry leaf looks a lot like a dried salad.  The leaves are large and fluffy and there are some stems in there too.  The steeping parameters suggest using 1 tablespoon to 2 cups of water.  I brewed this in my Kati tumbler which holds 12 ounces (so 1 1/2 cups of water) so I figured, close enough.  Because these leaves are so fluffy and large, I eyeballed what looked like a tablespoon of leaf and put that in the basket of my tumbler and poured in 12 ounces of water heated to 195°F and let it steep for 4 minutes.  (The suggested parameters are 3 – 5 minutes.)

Having never tried Mugwort tea (at least, not to my recollection), I was not sure what to expect.  The aroma of the brewed tea is very grassy/leafy, evoking thoughts of what it might smell like if I were to steep some fresh lawn clippings.

The taste is very much like what the aroma suggests.  It’s an interesting combination of bitter and sweet.  It’s very herbaceous but not so much in an herbal sort of way, it’s more a grassy sort of herbaceous.  There is a light buttery note which is kind of nice.  There is some sweetness.  Overall, it’s not an unpleasant tasting drink, it’s just quite different from what I’m used to tasting and I’m not finding myself really enjoying it.

In other words, I don’t hate it but I don’t really like it either.

From what I understand, Japanese Mugwort tea is useful for detox and weight loss.  I don’t know if that’s true or not because I’m just drinking one cup of the stuff and that’s hardly enough to gauge whether or not it will work in this capacity.  I am noticing a warming sort of effect though.

Overall, it’s alright.  If I were going to drink this on a regular basis, I think I’d want to add something to it, perhaps a thin slice of lemon or some mint – something to perk up the flavor a little bit so that I’m tasting less of that strong grassy sort of flavor.  Not my favorite.

Mintberry Pine Green Tea Blend from M & K’s Tea Company

MintBerryPineTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  M&K’s Tea Company on Etsy

Tea Description:

Sweet roasted sloe berries doused in honey and liquid hibiscus, tossed with fresh spearmint and 3-distinct green teas, paired with real pine needles. That’s Mintberry Pine. It’s our limited-edition green tea holiday blend that offers a more complex, subtle taste (as opposed to mint exploding in your mouth with the force of a white hot sun). If you’re a green tea lover, mint lover, berry lover, or all three, this tea is perfect for you. Get it while it’s here!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I saw that M&K’s Tea Company had some really intriguing holiday blends, I decided that I needed (yes, needed) to try them!  Fortunately, they understood this need and they offered a Wintertime Tea Sampler!  This sampler offers five different teas:  Moroccan Mint, Pine Needle Tea, Winterwolf Tea, White Vanilla Peppermint and this Mintberry Pine Green Tea.  These samples were all packed into a special sampler package that’s just the right size for stocking stuffers.  It’s a handsome package, something that Santa would be proud to give!

Before I received my package, I received a message from Marty (the “M” of M&K’s, I think!) explaining that the Mintberry Pine (and the Pine Needle Tea) are both very subtle teas.  He recommended steeping them a little longer than the package directs and to allow plenty of steep room for the leaves (let them steep loose in the teapot instead of using an infuser tool).

To steep, I grabbed my small teapot (4 cup size) and dusted it off – it’s been a while since I’ve used this!  I have gotten spoiled with my Breville!  I warmed the teapot and poured the contents of the sampler into the teapot and heated 16 ounces of water to 180°F.  Then I poured the water into the teapot and let it steep for 3 1/2 minutes.  The package suggests 2 – 4 1/2 minutes, but I couldn’t bear to let a green tea steep longer than 3 1/2  minutes.  I was willing to sacrifice a little of the mint, berry and pine flavors but I didn’t want a bitter green tea.

Yes, the flavors are a little subtle, but I like that I’m tasting all the elements of this tea and that the green tea doesn’t taste bitter.

I like the subtle flavor of the mint here.  I like that I have a crisp, cool minty taste without it tasting like I added a shot of mouthwash to my cup of green tea.

The berry notes add some sweetness and not a lot of tartness (which I was a little apprehensive about because I saw liquid hibiscus up there in the description).  There is a light, tingly tart tone that tickles the tongue (try saying that five times fast) in the aftertaste, but that’s to be expected with berry blends.  I’m also picking up a delightful honeyed note from the honey roasting process.  Nice touch.

The pine needles are the softest flavor component of the three elements in the name of this tea.  I do get a very slight, resinous pine note to this that hits the palate right at the start and then it quickly disappears and reappears just after mid-sip, just to remind me that it is there.  It’s very faint and it’s something that I think I’d have missed if I didn’t search for it.

However, as I continue to sip, I taste more and more of the pine, and by the time I’m halfway through my second cup of this tea, I’m getting a nice pine note.  It never becomes a strong presence, but it certainly is a noticeable presence at this point.

And let us not forget that we’re drinking tea here.  There’s a soft, buttery note of green tea.  It’s lightly grassy (and I think that the grassy tones accentuate both the pine and the mint notes in a positive way), and it has a nice mouthfeel.  It’s not bitter nor is it overly astringent, even though I steeped it longer than I typically would steep a green tea.  I think that this could have even gone another 30 seconds to 1 full minute longer without bitterness!

Overall, a very unique blend.  Certainly festive and definitely different from the other teas that everyone else is producing out there!  Bravo M&K!

Winter Forest Green Tea Blend from ArtfulTea

WinterForestGreenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  ArtfulTea or ArtfulTea on Etsy

Tea Description:

A festive blend of almond and orange with a strong pine-like flavor. Chinese sencha and Japanese bancha combine beautifully with refreshing orange and nutty almonds for a lift in any season!

Ingredients: green tea, orange slices, almonds, pink peppercorns, safflower and natural flavors.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yeah, I know that it’s the middle of summer right now and we shouldn’t be thinking about winter right now, but, when I read the description of this tea, I just couldn’t resist ordering it as part of my ArtfulTea Sampler.  The idea of almond and orange in a green tea was definitely enough to spark my interest, but then when I read “pine” in the description, I was sold!  I needed to try it!

And this is totally yum!  I’m so glad I decided to give this one a try.

The green tea base is a combination of Japanese Bancha and Chinese Sencha, and these two teas impart a sweet, slightly grassy, slightly buttery taste to the cup.  The mouthfeel is thick and soft, evoking thoughts of a rich broth, but it tastes more sweet than a savory broth would.  There is no bitterness to the cup and very little astringency.  The astringency is something that I pick up on when I focus on the sip.  Just after the sip is finished, I start to notice a slight dryness.  It’s very slight – so slight that those who are sensitive to astringency would most likely not even notice it unless they’re actually trying to find it.

The buttery notes of the tea seem to marry well with the almond notes.  I suspect that the green tea has some nutty tones to it that accentuate the almond flavors, elevating them into a strong focal point of the sip.

The orange is a little less dominate than the almond.  The orange is nice though, because it brightens the cup, adding just the right zesty flavor where it’s needed.

And I do taste a subtle pine note to this too.  I’m not sure where it comes from, unless it’s part of the “natural flavors.”  It’s not an overwhelming note, but it is there.  I like it, it adds a certain crispness to the cup, like the sensation of the cool, invigorating air in winter just after the snow has fallen.

If I had to describe this in a couple of words, I would say that this tastes like a winter dessert.  Like an almond cake or pastry with a drizzle of orange icing, eaten on a winter evening just after the holiday tree (a fresh, real tree!) has been decorated.  It’s quite nice!