Red Jade Black Tea from Oollo Tea

oollo-teas-25Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Oollo Tea

Tea Description:

A perfect marriage between Burma Ashamu and Taiwanese wild tea. The long twisted whole leaves give distinct smooth raisin, date and cinnamon infusions with traces of peppermint.

Origin
Varietal: Taiwan No. 18
Curator: Yoshi Lo
Location: Yuchi, Nantou, Taiwan
Elevation: 800m

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Red Jade Black Tea from Oollo Tea has already been reviewed by Anne here at Sororitea Sisters but some teas are worth reviewing more than once.  This is one of those teas and I agree with Anne thoughts as to how AWESOME this tea is.  The following are my additional thoughts on this tea.

As for the aroma it’s one I truly adore in a black tea.  It’s toasty and date or raisin like.  The aroma matches the first sip of the cuppa, too.  I can certainly pick up on the raisin notes and paired with the dark, rich, carmelly notes it’s unlike anything I have ever tasted.  The end sip of the pipping-hot tea is a mish-mash of heavy, dark black tea flavors and a sugary syrupy type taste all in one.  Keep in mind there are NO flavors added to this tea!  This flavor is all from the leaf!  It’s all natural!

As I continue to sip the post-infused liquor cools with the room temperature – unassisted – and I notice the end sip morphs into something of a minty aftertaste that is very refreshing and welcomed.

No this isn’t ‘tea voodoo’ – folks – it’s just a mighty-fine tea that has levels and levels of complexity and for that I will appreciate it until the end of time.  This is a marvelously-fantastic Red Jade Black Tea that should be celebrated at every turn!

Rou Gui Oolong from Tao Tea Leaf

Rougui_Wuyi_OolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tao Tea Leaf

Tea Description:

Rou Gui is treasured for its cinnamon flavour as well as its impressive stamina.   This tea also has the unique ability to keep its distinct flavours after multiple steepings upwards of 7 times.  Rou Gui comes from the historic WuYi mountains in the Chinas Fujian Province. This area is also famous for producing other famous teas like Lapsang Souchong and the famous Da Hong Pao.  Rou Gui has a medium and very smooth body with hints of floral orchid with a lovely honey-like finish.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve only tried a few different Rou Gui oolongs before, most of them from Nannuoshan, but so far I haven’t found one I dislike – the wide range of flavours experienced with the different infusions very much appeal to me so this Rou Gui oolong from Tao Tea Leaf is just going to further my exploration of the class. To stay consistent with the other Rui Gui I’ve tried I had a Gong Fu session with this one using my gaiwan.

The leaves for this are very dark, almost charcoal or black, and decently large. The smell of the dry leaf is very roasty with some fruity sweetness layered underneath. It’s perhaps a touch peachy? I did a ten second wash with this one; as the water hit the leaves my kitchen was instantly filled with a very robust, borderline earthy and roasty smell.

Infusion One: 10 Seconds – This is surprisingly sweet right off the bat despite quite strong toasted barley notes. It’s a little nutty and definitely has some stonefruit notes as well; like dried peach drizzled with honey. There’s maybe some cinnamon too, but not much. These notes comprise the start of the sip and the body. The finish tastes of corn chips and flax to me with a very intense  presence of raisins in the finish. I’m usually quite anti-raisin but I actually like the way it tastes here. The taste of the raisin lingers in your mouth for a very long time after swallowing; minutes.  For the most part it’s very smooth though it did leave my front two teeth feeling very dry. Leaves are barely opened up at all and smell quite roasty with cinnamon notes and something maybe vaguely like coffee grounds?

Infusion Two: 15 Seconds – Still tastes strongly of roasted barley but it a bit more nutty and has woody notes at the start as well as much more defined cinnamon notes. The body is comprised mostly of rich peach and raisin notes. The honey notes have also gotten stronger, and are tightly tying in with the raisin. Some floral notes have begun creeping in as well. I’m almost reminded of a roasted trail mix with dried fruit/raisins mixed in. This subtle transition of flavours is keeping true to what I’ve observed with other Rou Gui. The leaves smell subtly fruitier.

Infusion Three: 30 Seconds – Ooh! This was not a good pour; I spilled tea everywhere. The flavour is really starting to turn. I’m observing a dramatic decrease in roasted flavour. Definitely strong peach/raisin notes; the strongest so far. The peach is less so a dried peach flavour now, and closer to something fresh. Significantly more floral with more defined floral notes like orchid. Almost seems buttery. Leaves are almost completely opened up and smell sweet like honey and quite floral. There’s absolutely no dry feeling on my teeth from this infusion.

Infusion Four: 40 Seconds – There’s essentially no barley, nut or roasted flavour left. The liquor tastes quite floral with strong raisin and honey notes. The peach has faded quite a lot which is actually kind of disappointing; now that the focus is more on the taste of the raisin I’m losing interest. Also, it’s definitely very buttery. This is the lightest and most watery infusion yet. I’m sure I could probably get a decent fifth infusion but for my own personal tastes the leaves may very well be spent. They are, however, fully opened and smell sweet like honey and flowers.

This is definitely similar to the other Rou Gui/Cassia Teas I’ve tried but unique in its own right too – I definitely experience some more unique notes with the first steep like corn chips and flax, and I don’t remember really tasting raisin with the others I’ve tried. It’s definitely something I’d serve to other people and I would totally drink it again myself.

Camellia Rose Black Flowering Tea from McQuarrie’s Tea & Coffee Merchants

McQuarriesLogoTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black/Flowering

Where to Buy: McQuarrie’s Tea & Coffee Merchants

Tea Description:

An exquisite medium body taste profile. A smooth cup with hints of fruit and soft rose notes.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Picked up a single bloom of this one at McQuarrie’s (my local, privately owned loose leaf store) when I was there earlier in the month. It cost about $1.50 if I remember correctly – $2 tops. It’s been a little while since I had a bloom tea, and when I was skimming the selection they offers this was the only one I noticed with a black base, so I figured I’d give it a shot since blooms with black bases don’t seem to be a super common thing. Like I usually do with bloom/flowering teas, I made it in my 25 oz. mason jar from DT so I could see it clearly. I apologize that the pictures I took are pretty crude; my options were webcam or cell phone, and neither are the highest quality…

floweringtea1Aesthetically speaking this was pretty; the black tea when fully spread out did look a little frayed and tattered, but the flower in the center was really pretty. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but it was a little pinker than they’d lead you to believe. A lot of the lavender ‘woven’ in place also got loose as well and ended up as floaty bits at the top of the mason jar.

This was actually pretty decent as far as bloom teas go though; since a lot of the lavendar broke off and was drank by me early on it didn’t get a chance to get super strong/perfumey and instead just imparted a nice light, but still present flavour. Other strong flavours were malt, stewed fruit and raisin from the black base and then quite a bit of rose from the actual rose in the blend. It tied in together pretty well. If I was a fan of raisins I think I’d have personally liked it a little bit better. There was a nice mix between flavours contributed by the tea itself and the additional floral ingredients. Given most bloom teas are just a pretty aesthetic this had some solid flavour to match.

floweringtea2It was a bit bitter by the end; but given that I drank it during an hour and a half movie and it was essentially steeping the entire duration of the movie I think it held up incredibly well. I know McQuarrie’s sources almost all of their teas from different companies, but this one isn’t listed like they usually do – so maybe it is one of the few teas they carry that are actually their own blends.

If that’s true, than it’d definitely be harder for most people to get a hold of since it’s a local store (with pretty steep shipping prices for delivery outside of Saskatoon) – but I do think it’s worth a try! However, if I had to guess where they probably sourced it from I’d wager Metropolitan Tea Company, since that’s where most of the flowering blends they carry seem to be from.

Saskatoon Berry Tisane from Parenteau’s Gourmet Foods

SaskatoonBerryTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit Tisane

Where to Buy: Parenteau’s Gourmet Foods

Tea Description:

Ingredients: Red and black currents, raisins, hibiscus, Saskatoon berries, blueberries, seneka root, natural flavours.

Learn more about this tea on Steepster.

Taster’s Review:

So this tisane is locally made and sold, and it features the Saskatoon Berry which isn’t as well known as it ought to be. I happen to live in Saskatoon Saskatchewan – and the berry is so popular around here that the city is named after the berry, and not the other way around. As such, any tea that features Saskatoons (of which there aren’t enough) very easily get my attention.

I decided to do a cold brew for my first try; sadly there’s a lot of hibiscus in the blend so a cold brew seemed like the best way to hold back some of the expected tartness I’ll likely be experiencing. Thankfully, there’s also a lot of berries in the blend as well but even still, not thirty seconds after I’d poured the water over the leaves the water was already the colour of McDonald’s mascot Grimace. The hibiscus in the blend was working quickly.

By the time the brew was done, it was a deep, dark almost maroon colour – but just slightly more purple. It reminded me of the colour of red wine. The smell is mostly hibiscus. That’s not very promising, but I’m still holding out that this’ll deliver the Saskatoon berry flavour I know and love anyway.

And the moment of truth; taste test!

The initial flavour here is a tart hibiscus flavour as anticipated; however, thankfully this isn’t all hibiscus. Similar to other berry/hibiscus teas I’ve had before like Rum Cream, from another local company (McQuarrie’s Tea & Coffee Merchants), this starts tart and softens into a more mellow berry drink; it’s quite juice-like. I can definitely taste Saskatoon berries myself, but I also really taste the blueberries and black currants in the blend. Thankfully, I don’t get much flavour from the raisins – I’m not a raisin person, so it’s no loss for me.

For people unfamiliar with Saskatoon Berries picture something sort of like a blueberry and cranberry cross. They’re great straight, in pies, in jam or jelly, and as syrup. Really, they’re just great in general. It’s that simple.

I am enjoying this cold brew a lot though I’m craving a richer, more full Saskatoon berry flavour. If they used more Saskatoons and cut down a little on the amount of other berries in the tea, I think this could be amazing without having a more monotone and flat flavour. As is, I’m concerned people not familiar with Saskatoons are mainly going to focus in on the other berries in the blend and the hibiscus and miss out on the great flavour.

And what a loss that’d be.

Rum Raisin Ice Cream Flavored Black Tea from 52Teas

RumRaisinTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

Here’s a unique treat to tempt your tastebuds. How about some of our premium black teas blended with raisins and the organic flavors of vanilla ice cream, raisins and rum? Our Rum Raisin Ice Cream tea is sure to impress. Get some while it lasts!

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

Yummy!  I’ve been looking forward to trying this Rum Raisin Ice Cream Flavored Black Tea ever since 52Teas announced it as the tea of the week for December 9th.  I can’t recall ever tasting a Rum Raisin ice cream, but the idea of rum soaked raisins and sweet, creamy vanilla ice cream sounds delicious.  And I usually enjoy 52Teas ice cream inspired teas, so I was fairly certain I’d enjoy this one too.

And I’m loving this.  It is so good.  The flavors all come together so well.  I taste raisin, I taste rum, I taste the sweet, creamy notes of vanilla and even a hint of a milky/creamy taste that is giving it an ice-cream-y sort of flavor.

And then there is the black tea.  The “usual” black tea base that 52Teas uses for their black tea blends is perfect for this blend.  It is robust and has notes of malt that marry well with the rum notes.  The black tea tastes rich and full and fills out the background while the flavors play in the foreground.

This not only makes a great “dessert” type tea, but also offers an amazing, guilt-free way to enjoy dessert for breakfast.  I enjoyed the tea served straight up, and after the first couple of sips, I decided to try it with a little bit of turbinado sugar, so I added about half a teaspoon.  The sugar enhanced the sweet raisin notes and the ice-cream-y taste, so I highly recommend trying this one with just a little bit of sugar.  Then I poured myself a second cup of this Rum Raisin deliciousness, and this time I tried it lightly sweetened with a splash of milk … and oh my goodness!  So, so good.

A really good one from 52Teas.  As I write this review, I see that there are eight (count ’em … 8) pouches of this tea left.  I highly recommend getting yourself over to 52Teas and picking up one of these pouches for yourself before they’re gone.  It’s a winner!