Harmony Tea from Mellow Monk. . . . . .

Genmai cha is a special type of green tea with toasted rice.  Some of the rice kernels have popped in the toasting process, looking like little puffed, white popcorn pieces.  I’ve sometimes seen genmai chai billed as the “movie night” tea for its inclusion of these popcorn-like rice pieces. No matter what you name it, genmai cha is a unique and delicious tea experience.

It was a long time in my tea journey before I put genmai cha tea into my usual rotation.  Beyond the puffed rice in the dry leaf, the next most striking impression about the tea is that it is savory.  If you aren’t expecting a savory experience, the brew can be a little unsettling at first.  If you know this tea won’t be fruity or floral going into it, you’ll be much better off.  Tasting Harmony Tea genmai cha from Mellow Monk was no exception.

Brewed, the Harmony Blend smells like warm bread or sticky rice.  With these meal-like flavors, the warm tea might seem almost more like broth than tea.  Over my years of drinking genmai cha, I find this warm brew and its toasty, starchy flavors to be supremely comforting, like sitting in the kitchen when the oven is on and bread is baking.

Despite all this toastiness, it is good not to forget that genmai cha is a green tea, so brew it with slightly cooler water to avoid burning the green tea leaves.  Though the toasted rice is the prominent scent and taste of the tea, there is a role for the green tea to play in the flavor profile.

Green tea on its own can sometimes have savory incarnations, but it is usually a vegetable-inspired savoriness, like buttery bok choy or dark and nutty kale.  The green tea in Mellow Monk’s Harmony Blend is much sweeter, and not too vegetal.  It reminds me of a smooth green tea matcha, green and grassy but still sweet like nutty wheat bread.

It is a rainy, gray day today, and a warming cup of toasty Harmony Tea was just what I needed to turn my mood around.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Mellow Monk
Description:

Harmoney Tea™ is a genmaicha — green tea mixed with roasted brown rice. The rice imparts a nutty, toasty flavor that makes genmaicha one of the most popular types of green tea in America. Unlike some tea growers, this artisan roasts his own rice, which he buys from local farmers. (During roasting, some of the rice grains pop like popcorn. This popped rice is also included in the mixture to enhance the flavor.)

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Caramel Popcorn Matcha from Red Leaf Tea

It’s been a while since our last Red Leaf Tea review so I thought why not write about Caramel Popcorn Matcha from Red Leaf Tea!

The color of this is a grey-green but the old sniffer is drawn to the smell of it!  It sure DOES smell like Caramel Popcorn with the vegetal matcha by it’s side!  I was surprised to learn that the only two ingredients in this was matcha and peanut butter flavoring!

Caramel Popcorn Matcha from Red Leaf Tea is really delicious!   It does taste like Caramel Popcorn and matcha!  The gently popped likeness was just enough to notice.  The caramel (or peanut butter flavor) was top notch!  It leaves a slightly sweet and creamy after taste.  It isn’t the slightest bit bitter which is nice especially for this flavored matcha!


customer_area_logoHere’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Matcha (Green Tea)
Where to Buy: Red Leaf Tea
Description:

Pure Matcha powder from green leaves, Peanut Butter Natural Flavor

Delightfully sweet caramel corn can be given wider appeal by adding the exotic velvety touch of oriental Matcha. The resulting Caramel Popcorn Matcha is a sweet and pleasant tasting snack that can be served and enjoyed by a wide variety of people from all walks of life. For the young children, this sweet tasting and bright colored treat holds obvious attraction for all the right reasons. For working adults, Caramel Popcorn Matcha provides them with the added sugar and energy needed to get through their hassle filled days and nights. For senior citizens it gives them many minutes of pure enjoyment as they sample its sweet depths.

Caramel Popcorn Matcha is an adaptable drink that can be used for any occasion. When it is used for festivities, it combines perfectly with many other snacks likes nuts and pies, among many others. When used as an everyday treat, it makes an excellent mid morning or mid afternoon snack. Caramel Popcorn Matcha is a delectable treat that provides its many takers with something to look forward to especially when times are tough and a little sweetening is required to make life bearable.

Irrespective of the age group, it is impossible to go wrong with Caramel Popcorn Matcha. This is because, with its Matcha twist, its concentrated sweetness is tempered and balanced nicely. Caramel Popcorn Matcha can easily become the treat of choice at many corporate functions instead of partaking of the usual sweet refreshment choices normally on offer. This unforgettable Matcha treat always keeps its date with the unapologetic sweet tooth.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Brown Sugar Organic Oolong by Tea Leaf Co.

BROWN_SUGAR_OolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Tea Leaf Co.

Tea Description:

A wonderfully bold and smooth organic tea blend of dark oolong and maple, a perfect pairing. While the oolong is bold, full-bodied, and lightly smoked, the maple is light, aromatic, and sweet. The combination of the two flavors results in a well-balanced, featured favorite maple tea blend.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been drinking quite a lot of Oolong recently, and some of it has really challenged my assumptions about the variety. I thought for a long time, for example, that I didn’t like Oolong at all. Then I realised that mostly what I don’t like are dark or roasted oolongs, but lately I’m even beginning to wonder whether that’s true. Mostly because of teas like this one! The dry leaf smells good – just like opening a fresh packet of brown sugar. It’s a mild toffee, molasses-like scent. Sweet and delicious. The leaf is fairly thick and wiry, with red safflowers. So pretty! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a bright golden brown, the scent heavily vanilla.

All of this gave me very high expectations, but I’m pleased to say that the taste more than lived up to them. This is a truly delicious tea. While drinking it, I almost completely forgot it was an Oolong because the flavour is so strong and accurate. The initial sip is hard to describe. It’s like taking a spoonful of brown sugar and letting it sit on your tongue – there are notes of toffee and vanilla, with a deeper, richer, molasses flavour running underneath. The mid sip is beautifully buttery and smooth, and reminds me a little of toffee popcorn. The flavour lingers long in the aftertaste, fading slowly and gradually into a fudgey, sweet, sugary ghost. I think this is as close to drinking brown sugar as it’s possible to get, and obviously so much healthier! I can hardly taste the base tea at all, which is a good thing in my book when it comes to flavoured teas. I want to be convinced by the flavours I’m drinking, and on this occasion I really, really am.

I think it’s easy to tell that I loved this one. I’d drink it again and again if I could – and I’d unhesitatingly choose it as a desert island tea if it ever came to that. It’s desserty decadence — pure deliciousness in a cup!

Hempmaicha Green Tea Blend from Handmade Tea

hempmaichaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Handmade Tea

Tea Description:

Hempmaicha is a Handmade Tea variation on the popular Genmaicha-style tea. Hempmaicha begins with a smooth Chinese green tea base. The blend then introduces roasted hemp seeds for a nutty, sweet flavor. Lastly for Genmaicha authenticity natural popcorn (no oil, no butter, and no salt) is added to the blend. Originally blended for the month of June. ’14.

Learn more about this blend here.

Learn more about Handmade Tea’s blend of the month subscription here.

Taster’s Review:

I have been a fan of Handmade Teas for quite some time.  So every once in a while I check out their website to see what they’ve been up to.  The last time I went to the website, I noticed that Hempmaicha was their June 2014 blend, and I decided that I just HAD to try that!

I have been a big fan of hemp for many years now.  In my college years, I was a very vocal advocate for the legalization of hemp because I feel that it would be very useful.  Hemp fibers can be used to make fabric that is soft, breathable and durable, paper that requires no bleaching and is therefore better for the environment and the seeds are very nutritious.  Some of the first automobiles were built to run on fuel made of hemp.

So when I saw that this blend from Handmade Tea was created Genmaicha style, but instead of using toasted and popped rice kernels, roasted hemp seeds and popcorn was added to the blend.  Interesting and very cool, indeed!

I’ve tried several of Handmade Tea’s blends in the past, but this was the first time that I tried their “mini” size.  The full size of Handmade Tea’s blends included a large tin of the blend, plus three small (sample size) tins of the components in the blend.

For example, with the Balché blend that I reviewed previously, I received a 3-ounce tin of the blended tea and three smaller tins with the individual components:  a tin of Yunnan Black Tea base, a tin of Guajillo Peppers, and a tin of Cacao Nibs and Cinnamon blended together.  (Click here for part one of that review, and click here for part two.)

But for this purchase, I decided to try their mini size and see what that was like.  The mini size is a mylar-lined, kraft stand-up pouch that holds 1.5 ounces of the blend.  You also get the nifty little envelope that’s been wax sealed and includes information about your blend.  This size is really ideal for me, because as much as I do love the full size and all the tasting components of the blend, I’m a “taster” and 3 ounces is more tea than I need.  I would love to see the “mini” incorporate a small sampling of each of the components as well (like the full-size does), maybe in smaller pouches, because I do like that feature, but for a taster like me, the 1.5 ounces of tea is much more agreeable to me and my overflowing pantry of tea.

So the first thing that stands out about this blend for me – other than the name and the “hemp” factor – is that the tea used is a Chinese green tea rather than a Japanese green tea.  Genmaicha is a Japanese tea, so I was a little surprised that this was crafted using a Chinese green.  But that’s OK, this tea is more about the hemp, I think – at least for me it is – than it is the type of green tea used for the blend.

The blend looks exactly like the photo above because, well, I took that photo.  Yeah, I’m no photographer.  But it did manage to capture the green tea, the popped kernels of popcorn and if you look closely, you can see the toasted hemp seeds too.  I was happy to see that there were quite a few hemp seeds in this.  The blend has a very strong nutty aroma.  It smells sweet, nutty and warm.

And it is really good.  It’s a bit nuttier in flavor than a typical Japanese Genmaicha.  It is sweet and toasty in flavor.  It’s perfect for this afternoon, because we’re just now starting to experience some autumnal type weather.  It’s not unbearably hot outside although it is still quite warm as I type this, but it’s not so uncomfortably hot and humid.  And with the slightly cooler temperature, I find myself wanting that warm and cozy sort of experience from a tea and this tea delivers that.

The green tea base is sweet and lightly grassy.  It has a slightly creamy element to it – not quite ‘buttery’ but maybe a little bit – and this melds nicely with the nutty hemp notes.  The hemp adds a sweet nuttiness to the cup, and it tastes roasty-toasty which I like.  I don’t know how much of the popcorn I’m actually tasting here.

It’s really tasty.  It’s sweet with a certain savory element, warm, and toasty.  I am really glad I decided to grab this blend while it was still available.  As I write this, there are still “nine” of this tea in stock (I’m not sure how many of the 1.5 ounce mini packs are available versus the 3 ounce full-size packs.)  So if the idea of a re-imagined, re-interpreted version of the classic Genmaicha using a Chinese tea base and hemp seeds instead of rice appeals to you – you should try this!  I think that it’s close enough to the original idea of Genmaicha that those who love Genmaicha would also enjoy this, and those that are looking for something just a little different would also like it!

It gets a peace sign of approval from me!

Kettle Corn Maté from 52Teas

Kettle-Corn-MateTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Mate

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tisane Description:

If you could smell this through the internet, we would be sold out instantly. This is an amazing blend of roasted yerba maté, freeze-dried corn, marigold petals and organic flavors including popcorn and honey flavors. This is a seriously comforting cuppa. It’s all the goodness of kettle corn, but it won’t get stuck in your teeth. =)

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

I was glad to read 52Teas’ announcement of their tea of the week for the week of July 14.  Not because of the “Kettle Corn” part (although, that sounds amazing) but because of the Yerba Mate part.  It’s been a while since 52Teas released a Yerba Mate blend (or a Guayusa blend!) so I was excited to try another Yerba Mate blend from them.

When it comes to Yerba Mate, I usually go with a slightly lower than boiling temperature – 195°F – and steep the leaves for 8 – 10 minutes.  This time, I went with 8 minutes and I’m pleased with the results.  Because Yerba Mate doesn’t have the tannins that Camellia Sinensis leaves have, you don’t have to worry about the cup becoming bitter from oversteeping, so take advantage of that and get as much flavor as you can out of this tea!  It’s worth the effort!

Because this is yum!

When the cup is piping hot, this doesn’t really taste much like Kettle Corn, but as it cools (slightly – you still want the tea to be hot!) those flavors begin to develop.

At this point, I feel I should mention that my experience with Kettle Corn is limited to the few times that I’ve had it from the commercially packaged offerings that I can find in the grocery store which add up to probably fewer than a handful of times, and the once or twice that I’ve had the Kettle Corn varieties of microwave popcorn.  I haven’t ever had Kettle Corn at a fair, then again, I don’t attend fairs.  Not my kind of thing.

But from the Kettle Corn experiences I’ve had, this is very similar to what I remember.  I can taste the sweetness of honey and the flavor of popcorn.  A pinch of salt added to the cup will help to accentuate the “sweet and salty” aspect of the Kettle Corn experience, and this really helps the popcorn notes shine through as well as give the cup a really intriguing contrast of flavors (I absolutely LOVE the combination of salty and sweet).

The Yerba Mate is a good base for these flavors.  It’s got that robust, roasty-toasty sort of flavor that ties in well with the popcorn notes.  It adds warmth to the cup which enhances the whole experience and gives it a “freshly popped” popcorn type of taste.

After having tried this both hot and iced, I have to say that I prefer it hot.  It’s alright iced, but the flavors become somewhat muted in the process.  When served hot, the Kettle Corn flavors seem truer – as if someone had liquefied some Kettle Corn and added it to my cup of Yerba Mate.  When cold, the flavors seem to all meld together and it’s difficult to discern what I’m actually tasting.  It tastes more like a cup of caramel-y … something.  It’s still good, but it doesn’t taste like the Kettle Corn Yerba Mate that the hot cup offers.

Tasty!