English Breakfast from Rishi Tea. . . .

There’s something about English Breakfast tea that’s like coming home to me. It hasn’t always been that way– in fact, let me take you on a brief history of Mary’s Experiences with English Breakfast Tea (abridged).

5th grade: to celebrate the end of a history unit on the Boston Tea Party, Mary’s teacher throws a traditional British cream tea party, whilst wearing a giant pink satin hoop-skirt-dress and powdered wig. Mary tries to sip black tea with milk and sugar and promptly gags. End of attempts at caffeinated black tea for many years to come.

(brief interlude, in which Mary begins to drinks herbals and green teas and becomes obsessed, but still won’t touch black tea with a ten foot pole. Ah, such wasted time!)

Junior year of college: Mary goes to England to study abroad. On first full night in town, students are treated to a traditional cream tea welcome party. Mary eats finger sandwiches. (Verdict: delicious.) Mary tentatively pours a cuppa. Mary adds milk and sugar because monkey see, monkey do. Mary takes a sip. Decides nope, still not a fan. Two days later, Mary starts her internship, and boss makes her a cup of tea during break because this is what all Brits do, right? And who is Mary to buck tradition? Sip. Sip sip. Siiiiip. WHOA. This is really good. PROMPTLY OBSESSED. Never goes back.

The end!

I know. Great story, yes? All of this to say, my past with English Breakfast tea is storied and vast. And every time I try a new good one, I’m brought right back to those formative moments. This one from Rishi is no exception– rich and malty, it takes milk and sweet perfectly, it’s well-balanced and rounded out, with no obvious acidity. Is it a life-changer? Probably not. But is it comforting, reminiscent of good things, warm and delicious and just what I hoped it’d be? Yup. Just like home.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Rishi Tea

What makes a great breakfast tea? Our buyers have spent years studying tea bush cultivars that present the most robust character, bright red cup color and awakening aromatics. Through extensive travel and tasting, we have found some of the very best in the Assamica gardens in Thailand’s remote northern mountains. This unique origin yields an English Breakfast that is full-bodied, lively and brisk with accents of raspberry and lingonberry. Perfectly balanced on its own or gratifying when smoothed out to taste with milk and sugar.

Tasting Notes: Lively, robust red cup with a brisk flavor and sweet caramel undertones.

Ingredients: Organic black tea

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Vanilla Mint Chai from Rishi Tea

VanillaMintChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy: Rishi Tea

Tea Description:

Creamy, rich textured and inviting, this pu-erh based chai is unlike any other. Its delicate balance of silky and luscious vanilla bean, bright and soothing peppermint and sweet cinnamon transform this chai into something magical.

Tasting Notes: Decadent vanilla bean and sweet Saigon Cinnamon complement smooth, rich Pu-erh tea

Ingredients: Organic and Fair Trade Certified™ pu-erh tea, organic peppermint, organic cinnamon, organic vanilla bean, organic licorice root.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have never had Rishi teas (at least not that I could remember) before nor have I had a lot of Pu-erh.  So when I saw this the other day while I was online, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Steeped this one up per the instructions on the box.  2 tbsp with 1 cup  of boiling water on my stove top.  Brought the mixture to a boil and then added a cup of almond milk and brought the mixture up to a simmer.  Once I was at that point I removed the pot from the heat and let the tea do its thing and steeped for 3 minutes.  After I steeped it for 3 minutes, I added some honey to my mug and strained the tea into the mug.  Seems like a  lot of steps for a  simple cup of tea but this is anything but a simple cup of tea.

This chai mixture has pu-erh instead of black tea or green.  I can’t say I’ve ever had a pu-erh chai blend before.  I am a newbie when it comes to pu-erh so please bare with me.

First sip and I was immediately greeted with this beautiful blend of earth tones and sweet cinnamon spices. Sweet and savory at the same time.  The vanilla just added to the sweetness/creaminess factor and the almond milk brought out more of the earthiness and gave the tea a well rounded balance.    The mint gave the tea a refreshing after taste.  It was very light and faint.  I could barely pick it up.

I think I finished the cup in about 2 minutes flat.  I really enjoyed this.  My first voyage into pu-erh chai was a success.  I think I may have to check out some pu-erh blends now.

Cinnamon Plum Caffeine-Free Herbal Blend from Rishi Tea

CinnamonPlumTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Rishi Tea

Tea Description:

The sweetest Saigon Cinnamon, also known as Vietnamese Cassia, melds with the deep, luscious flavors of currants, hibiscus and plum to yield a rich, warming cup in winter or a refreshing glass when served iced in summer. With its fruity, full-bodied and juicy character, Cinnamon Plum’s robust, crimson red infusion is delicious on its own or mulled into cider or wine.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

Yeah, I’ve said it about a hundred times (or more) … I’m not a fan of hibiscus.  But I am a fan of cinnamon and of plums, and I also like currants and licorice.  So this tisane seems to have more going for it than it does going against it as far as my palate is concerned.

So, I’ll give it a try!

The aroma of the dry leaf is an abundantly cinnamon-y fragrance.  (The same is true of the brewed tea.)  I can also smell notes of licorice and hints of fruit.  It doesn’t smell distinctly plum-like or even like currants, it just smells warm (from the cinnamon), sweet (from the licorice) and fruity.

To brew this tisane, I used my Kati brewing system and I measured out a bamboo scoop of the loose leaf into the basket.  Then I heated the water to 195°F and poured it into the tumbler.  I let the tisane steep for 6 minutes.  The liquid is a very deep ruby red color … like brewed hibiscus.  Fortunately, the color does not accompany the thick texture of brewed hibiscus.  Either the steep time prevented this or possibly the fact that there are a lot of other ingredients in this blend.  (Or a combination of both these factors.)

It also doesn’t taste too much like hibiscus.  I am getting a strong cinnamon-y flavor.  It’s a sweet, warm cinnamon flavor.  Not like the sweet, red-hot type cinnamon but like the kind of sweet, spicy cinnamon you’d sprinkle on your morning toast.

And I am tasting plum.  It is both sweet and tart.  The tartness is enhanced somewhat by the presence of the currants as well as the hibiscus, but fortunately for my tart-sensitive palate, this is not an overly tart drink.  I’m not puckering as I sip it.  I think that the tartness works in the favor of this tisane because it offers a nice contrast to the spicy and the sweet notes.

Overall, it’s a very enjoyable beverage.  I like it served hot – it has a very autumnal feel as I drink it.  It’s cozy and reminds me a lot of a mulled cider.  In fact, I think that would taste lovely with this, I might try steeping this tea in some warm apple cider!  It would also make a tasty iced drink that would be appealing to children as well as adults.


Organic Chocolate Chai Tea Blend from Rishi Tea

ChocolateChaiChai Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh Tea & Yerba Mate

Where to Buy:  Rishi Tea

Tea Description:

Velvety, mellow and deep, this chai is an enticing blend of energizing pu-erh tea, shade-grown yerba maté, and cacao. Made even more inviting by creamy vanilla, nutty coconut and fruity, pungent and uplifting Ayurvedic long pepper, Chocolate Chai is a most sophisticated take on hot cocoa.

Learn more about this chai here.

Taster’s Review:

On this cold and wet evening in the Pacific Northwest, I wanted something warm and invigorating.  This Organic Chocolate Chai Tea Blend from Rishi Tea is just what I needed!

And it is tasty!  I did a quick rinse of the leaves (there’s pu-erh in there, and I didn’t want the cup to taste too earthy) and then I steeped this for four minutes in just under boiling water.

I find that when I use boiling water for Yerba Mate, the resulting brew comes out just a wee bit bitter.  My solution to this was to use just under boiling water for Yerba Mate and Mate blends like this one.  That way, I can steep a while to get full flavor out of the blend without having a bitter cup.  

I’m really liking this chai, although, I find myself in disagreement with calling this “chai.”  While I do understand that the word “chai” means “tea,” here in the United States, we’ve come to recognize the word “chai” to mean a tea blended with spices, and these spices usually consist of (but are not limited to) a combination of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger.  There are sometimes omissions of one or more of these, and sometimes other spices like peppercorns or anise are added.

However, this blend includes these ingredients:

Ingredients: Organic and Fair Trade Certified™ pu-erh tea, organic roasted cocoa nibs, organic roasted dandelion root, organic yerba maté, organic coconut flakes, organic long pepper, organic cardamom, organic vanilla bean.

With only one of the “usual” ingredients, I find it difficult to call this a “chai.”  That … and the fact that this isn’t as spicy as you’d normally experience with a chai.  There is some warmth from the pepper and cardamom, but, it’s not a strongly spiced tea.

That said, this is still really enjoyable.  I love the deep, mellow notes of the  pu-erh and how well they marry with the earthy, vegetative notes of the yerba mate.  The cacao and coconut and vanilla play incredibly well together to give this a sweet, rich, chocolate-y and creamy coconut-y flavor.  YUM!  It’s almost dessert-like!

I love the warmth, I love the complexity of flavors, and you KNOW I’m loving the chocolate!  A really yummy tea!

Organic Raspberry Green Tea from Rishi Tea

RaspberryGreenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Rishi Tea

Tea Description:

Smooth, steamed green tea blended with tart hibiscus and succulent raspberries. This blend is sweet, jammy and rich with a character that lends itself to tasty hot or iced tea. Goes well with a squeeze of lemon or pomegranate juice.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Before taking a sip of this Organic Raspberry Green Tea from Rishi Tea, I found myself wishing there wasn’t so much hibiscus in it.  The hue of the brewed tea is pink … a strong indicator of hibiscus in the blend!

But after taking a sip, I’m not minding the hibiscus so much.  Because it was steeped for just 2 1/2 minutes, the hibiscus didn’t have a lot of time to become too tart.  This doesn’t taste sour nor does it feel thick and syrupy (other indicators of hibiscus!)

This blend is tasty.  The green tea is sweet and slightly vegetative.  There are hints of a buttery note in the background.  Because of the hibiscus in the blend, the raspberry notes are very prominent (hibiscus tends to take on a berry-like flavor).  The raspberry tastes tart and sweet, and has a light berry tingle at the finish.  The aftertaste is delicately tart with hints of sweetness.

A nice cuppa … I still would rather there be no hibiscus in it (what can I say, hibiscus isn’t my favorite thing), but, I have to admit that the pink color of the tea is kind of pretty.  This would make a nice tea for a garden party, and it tastes good iced – and would make a nice alternative to those over-sugared sodas!