Oaks SFTGFOP 1 CL SPL 2nd Flush 2016 Darjeeling Organic from Lochan Tea Limited

I steeped this tea for about 3 min at 212 with almost 2tsp and 1 cup water. I couldn’t find the product on the company’s website, so I just guesstimated the steeping specs. Which is always fun. I prefer to use the recommended specs if possible, in order to give the tea a chance to put its best foot forward (as it were), but I’m also fine with just doing whatever seems to work if there aren’t any recommendations.

The water started turning amber pretty quickly after I put the leaves in to steep. I used a generous amount of leaf due to not knowing the specs; probably a heaping teaspoon would have been sufficient, but of course that’s all up to personal preference. The leaves seemed to be chopped pretty small, but they’re not crushed into dust or anything. The fragrance was a bit malty and flowery while steeping, but also a bit astringent.

After steeping, the tea was a warm golden-brown color, transparent enough to see a stray leaf at the bottom of the cup. It smelled very inviting. Once I tasted it, though, I decided I’d steeped it a bit strong. The astringency was prominent, although fortunately the tea wasn’t bitter at all (despite using boiling water). The flavor wasn’t as malty as I expected, but there were still floral notes especially at the end of the sip. It’s a solid black tea, especially astringent but also somewhat sweet.

With sugar, the astringency is wonderfully mellowed and the floral notes emerge a bit more–I’d definitely recommend this. With milk added, I love it even more. (But what did you expect? I always do.) I’d consider this a great breakfast tea, and steeping it strongly is a good plan if you’re going to add sugar and milk, otherwise I’d recommend steeping it not quite so long (maybe 2 minutes?).

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black/Darjeeling
Where to Buy:  Lochan Tea Limited

This tea is no longer on the website but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Kind Green by Love Some Tea. . . . .

The tea leaves are long, twisty, intact, and dark green. I used the entire sample packet and steeped it for 3 minutes at 175 degrees in about 6 ounces of water.

This tea starts to smell quite buttery and floral while steeping. The water’s not turning color much, but it smells very nice. (When I saw the leaves and smelled the sweet and buttery flavor I kind of forgot this was a green tea rather than an oolong tea, so I was expecting the water to get darker than it did.)

After steeping, the tea liquid is a light whitish yellow; there’s not really much green in it at all. It tastes astringent, floral, and a bit sweet (honey-like?). It has fruity and orchardy notes and maybe a hint of umami. It really tastes much more like an oolong to me than a green tea, with its orchid-fruity taste and lack of the usual green tea flavors like jasmine/grass/seaweed/etc. Although there’s a bit of umami, there’s not a lot of vegetal flavor. The leaves looked oolongy too–super long and twisty.

As I continued drinking this tea, I found it to be a very complex, fulfilling cup. It has more than enough flavor notes to stand on its own without sugar or milk, and is interesting enough that I didn’t get tired of the flavor and found myself wishing for more when I’d finished. I normally consider myself more of a dark-tea person (and don’t drink oolongs or greens much) so that’s quite impressive.

The tea company has a focus on natural tea production and harvesting tea leaves in their natural state (grown pesticide/fertilizer free and plantation free in the forest), which means their processing tends to be a bit different than conventional processing. This may account for the super-high quality of the leaves and the fact that it has elements of oolong as well as of green tea (at least in my opinion). I’m kind of in love with this tea now so I might just have to go and buy some more from their website now. And if you enjoy complex oolong-y flavors and high-quality tea leaves in your cup, you might want to do the same. 🙂

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Love Some Tea

Green Tea natural and wild, the way nature intended. Our green tea is wild picked from the mountains of Northern Thailand.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Nonpareil Anxi Qing Yiang Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea by Teavivre . . . . .

I steeped about half the sample packet (or a little over half) in about 10 ounces of water at 212 degrees for about 6 minutes.

It smells indisputably delicious as it starts to brew. Buttery, creamy, smooth, and rich. Also a tiny bit seaweedy/vegetal/grassy, but that’s subsumed by the butteriness.

The packet says to brew 4-10 minutes, which means it’s probably great for resteeping since you only need to steep it about 5-6 minutes in my experience (and with a little less water it would be less). So if you’re in the mood to re-steep, this might be a good choice for you. (As opposed to when you’re on the road or something and resteeping isn’t convenient.)

I started out using a tea ball to contain the leaves, but after a couple of minutes it became clear that wasn’t going to work out because they were just expanding too much so I let them out. Next time I’d just put them directly in the water or use a brew basket. That way I’d be able to watch them unroll too, which is always fun.

After steeping, I ended up with a nice light yellowish-green liquid (hard to say the exact shade though because I was using a green mug). It smells the tiniest bit flowery in addition to the buttery flavor.

The combo of green and creamy flavors reminds me a bit of matcha actually, although it’s gentler here and less vegetal in flavor. This is a very well-rounded flavor profile, with the bright, floral, and creamy notes complementing each other in a balanced and enjoyable fashion. Each sip is amazing. The floral bit catches your nose as you go to take a sip; the creaminess is there the whole time, and you taste the green/vegetal bit during the sip, and afterwards there’s even a slightly sweet aftertaste. And I don’t even prefer unroasted oolongs as a rule, so I’m extremely impressed with this tea and how much I enjoyed it! Teavivre has done an amazing job with this one as usual!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Teavivre

This tea is no longer available but click below for teas that are available.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

English Breakfast Black Tea by Steeped Tea

I steeped this tea for two minutes at 212 degrees, with one heaping teaspoon per cup of water.
So this is another tea company I haven’t tried before, how exciting! Let’s get right to the details of this tea. I guess it’s a blend of black teas, since that ‘s how english breakfast teas are generally made.  It has a nice, hearty, strong fragrance, which is of course exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from a breakfast tea (after all, it’s meant to help you wake up in the morning, right?).
It smells a smidge bitter while steeping, but mainly you notice that strong, robust tea flavor! After steeping, it doesn’t look super dark; instead, there’s a cedar-like, chestnutty color, and it’s very clear rather than opaque. The smell fortunately is less bitter after steeping has ended, and I can detect some malty notes.
The tea itself isn’t noticeably viscous/thickened. At the first sip I notice plenty of astringency combined with a tad of bitterness, but not a lot. It’s not too bitter (not as bitter as you’d expect from how it smelled while steeping), so I’m sure people who like really strong tea (or coffee) would love it, or it would be perfect for if you’re planning to have it with milk and sugar. Or, to avoid the bitterness, I’d consider steeping it a tad cooler next time.
While sipping this I can detect plenty of tannins–it seems to be a highly oxidized tea, which is just what black tea is supposed to be, but it also has an extremely tangy flavor, which I find quite helpful for waking up in the mornings (or even in the afternoons if I’m having a hard time staying awake after lunch).
There’s not much in the way of floral or cocoa notes, although there may be a touch of maltiness deepening the flavor here and there.
Of course I also had to add milk (to test my it-would-be-great-with-milk theory) and discovered that this tea is indeed lovely with milk, and that the milk takes out the bitterness just as I was hoping. With milk this tea has a strong, creamy, and excellent flavor, and I find it to be exactly the sort of tea I enjoy the most. <3

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy:  Steeped Tea
This classic breakfast tea is fresh, full and flavorful. Traditionally served with milk.
Ingredients: Black tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Organic Greek Mountain Tea by Klio

Steeping time 4 minutes, 1/2 cup boiling water, 2 g of tea leaves and stems.

I have always been an avid herb gardener (although not, alas, always a successful one) and today I noticed what exactly it is about this type of tea that I found familiar. The leaves are similar in appearance (silvery and fuzzy) and even similar in shape to Lamb’s Ear, and I think the fragrance may be similar as well, although Lamb’s Ear  is not actually well-known for its smell. (Plus, I can never manage to keep it alive so I don’t actually have a Lamb’s Ear plant to compare right now). When I looked it up, I discovered that the two plants are in the same family, i.e. the Mint family . . . but then so are hundreds and thousands of other plants, so that doesn’t mean they’re actually closely related. I guess it’s just the type of family resemblance that sometimes shows up unexpectedly between distant cousins.

The other thing that the leaves remind me of is licorice, or at least those licorice-flavored herbal teas that you drink when you’re sick with a cold. (Actually I may be thinking of the combination of licorice and slippery elm flavors? But I’m not positive.) It’s not an unpleasant fragrance, and I can imagine this tea being pleasant to drink.

As I steep the tea, the fragrance emerges more, but not at overpowering levels. The tea liquid itself does not appear to change color greatly, and after steeping appears slightly yellowish but not extremely so. The fragrance hasn’t gotten much stronger in the last couple of minutes.

The first sip is not quite as flavorful as the fragrance, but it does support my impression of this tea as being similar to an herbal tea used to treat colds. It tastes slightly sweet in the back of the mouth. It doesn’t seem all that viscous, but it’s probably giving my throat a nice protective coating as I drink it. It doesn’t need sugar, which is a good thing because if you’re going to drink it every day for your health then you wouldn’t want to add sugar or you’d counteract the health benefits, right? It definitely tastes healthy, but in a good, gentle way, not in a bitter-green-smoothie type of way.

I’m not going to say that I want to replace my regularly scheduled tea breaks with this herbal tea, but since it’s caffeine free I bet it would be a great nightcap. Plus, it does have quite a soothing and calming effect, so add that to its other benefits (such as its health benefits) and it turns out to be quite a valuable beverage!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Herbal
Where to Buy:  Klio Greek Tea

This variety, Sideritis Scardica, comes from the legendary Mount Olympus, in the Balkans, situated between Thessaly and Macedonia.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!