Chocolate Strawberry Saffron from Inspired Leaf

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Inspired Leaf

Tea Description:

Fresh picked, chocolate-dipped with an Eastern twist.

Inspiration No. 22: You are amazing…you deserve great tea!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a very interesting tea.

I’ve had at least one other Chocolate Strawberry Saffron tea, and the two teas very likely came from the same source, but I’m liking this one better … it could all be the result of a better batch, but, I just know that I am finding myself more impressed with this cup of tea than I was with my previous experience with a Chocolate Strawberry Saffron tea.

But, I do think I could be more impressed by this tea, too.  I’ll get to that a little later though.

This tea does deliver with what it promises:  I taste chocolate, and it is prominent; I taste strawberry, and it is sweet and tart, just like a fresh berry; and I taste the saffron which interacts in a very pleasing way with the chocolate, giving it a semi-sweet, bitter note that I find very enjoyable.

The chocolate in this blend comes from cocoa beans, white chocolate chips and dark chocolate flakes, as well as some flavoring, I’d imagine.  The combination of these, together with the saffron, creates a very creamy, rich, chocolate-y flavor that is bittersweet and also has just a hint of vanilla undertone that I really like.  It’s a pleasing, complex chocolate note.

The strawberry flavor is emphasized by the addition of currants to the blend, which seem to highlight the tartness of the berry.  The result is a strawberry taste that is tingling on my tongue in the aftertaste with that berry tartness.  I like this, because it offers a contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate, but I think that if the sweet chocolate notes were not there, I’d probably find this a wee bit too tart for my liking … so it is fortunate that there is some sweetness too.

As I mentioned before, I think that this tea could be improved and take it from something that is good and tasty to something that is rather exceptional.  The change would be in the black tea base.  I suspect this is a Ceylon, and here, it tastes kinda wimpy.  It is very thin in the midst of all these other flavors, and the end result is more of a highly decorated, yet thin hot chocolate rather than a flavored tea.  I think that by adding a Nilgiri or an Assam to the base, or perhaps even a Fujian Black tea, that it would give the cup some much needed body and flavor.  I wouldn’t want something too aggressive, because I like the flavors the way that they are, but, I just find myself wanting more tea out of it, because as it is … it is just too thin.  I don’t like thin hot chocolate, and I don’t like thin tasting tea either … and this seems like it’s stuck somewhere in one (or both) of those confining boxes.

A good tea, but not a great one.

Climber’s High from The Tea Spot

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Roasted Yerba Mate, Black Tea, Green Tea, White Tea, Pu’erh,

Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot

Tea Description:

A super-charged blend of teas, spices and herbs formulated to provide a refreshing daily lift for people with active, high-energy lifestyles. Climber’s High is a high-powered way to increase your intake of beneficial antioxidants such as flavonoids and catechins, as well as a host of healthy vitamins, trace minerals, beneficial phyto-constituents, and caffeine. It was originally conceived to assist people in adjusting to higher altitudes. This spiced yerba mate chai tea is both good for you and a pleasure to drink.

Ingredients: roasted yerba mate, black tea, green tea, white tea, pu’erh, ginger root, cinnamon, green cardamom, licorice root, ginseng root, saffron, black pepper, clove, fennel, safflowers, peppermint, tulsi, and cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla flavoring.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Chai is on my mind lately with the change in seasons where I live, yet honestly chai was not on my mind at all when I reached for this sample from one of my SororiTea Sisters! I simply wanted something that would set well with my upset tummy I have had for the last couple of days, also something minty as I have not been really able to taste much either. Last night I was drinking some vanilla mint tea after trying unsuccessfully to enjoy some other samples. Today I grabbed for this and even though I am still a little stuffy I could smell such yummy aromas and I knew in that moment I could stomach it! So it got steeped.

This is not your typical chai yet it has many chai elements. One may think that they threw everything in here but the kitchen sink and thus may not really end up tasting like anything favorable but surprisingly it is wonderful. You don’t need to be sick, or needing to adjust to altitude sickness to enjoy this savory cup! They even put a little chocolate in there for the sweet tooth and the chocolate does come through nicely but is not over done. This is not a “chocolate tea” it is savory yet every now and then I get a little bit of sweet on the lips and a subtle chocolate taste on the palate.

The yerba mate gives you a nice kick start to your day without leaving you jittery or nervous, while the pu-erh is grounding and centering. I tasted the black pepper notes, which I always enjoy in a tea, the cinnamon, clove, ginger and other savory elements are all quite present but the mint is what seems to linger the longest in a minty sweet manner, as if I had just had a light candy mint. I also do pick up the vanilla as well. Truly this tea has it all and then some and yes at times the flavors get muddled a little as a true blend should but it is quite easy to pick out singular flavor elements as well.

If I was not aware that there were so many types of tea in this blend and I had to tell someone from taste alone what the base tea was I would admittedly be confused, but if pressed I would say mate, pu-erh, then black in that order.

For me, the best part of this discovery is that I have a new favorite chai. I have about three chai now that I absolutely love and will rotate in my stash all winter long.

Aged Traditional Anxi Tieguanyin from Verdant

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Tieguanyin Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description: 

A rich warming Tieguanyin with chocolate barley notes and traditional creamy floral aftertastes. . . .

The early steepings of this tea are surprisingly more delicate than the aroma would imply. There are subtle notes of lime and the thick saffron qualities of a green Tieguanyin. The mouthfeel is buttery like flaky pastry with a slow nuanced build-up of warm caramel notes. A velvety texture starts to come through with orchid-like floral undertones, and sweetness that extends long into the aftertaste.

The early steepings use the deep caramel qualities that the aging and roasting process introduce to truly accentuate everything that is wonderful about green Tieguanyin. The later steepings move into new territory with warming sensations particularly suited to cooler weather. The chocolate notes of the aroma come through as flavor like thick creamy Italian hot chocolate that unfolds into a warm in the chest like that of a great red wine.

Notes of puffed rice and barley start to build up and act as a contrast to the lingering floral qualities. The alternation between deep warming sensations and tingling florals creates an intriguing mouth watering juiciness. This is a very satisfying brew that balances the traditional charcoal-roasted quality of Anxi Tieguanyin with the best elements of the new greener style of processing.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a body and soul warming temptation of a tea. It delights the taste buds but also the mind in its calming and wonderful way. This is one of those teas who’s layers are complex yet not trying to evade your senses. Each and every element of this tea comes forward and presents itself to you and does not make you work to figure it out. The layers of the flavor within this tea are so delightful and one at a time they evolve, sometimes melding together, other times, standing alone, but each flavor in the profile provided by Verdant Tea is noticeable without any effort.

At first it is lightly smoky and roasty, a well done toast taste, the barley gives it a full mouthfeel and makes you feel you are drinking something good for you like a hardy warm breakfast cereal! But then it becomes caramelized in your mouth like a french dessert. Just then you will find that the light lime zest comes forward and does a gentle sweep of your palate to cleanse it for the next layer of flavor to come but before that hits your taste buds you get a quick tease by the flavor of saffron and just as you are thinking “oh please give me more saffron” the floral notes come dancing onto your taste buds leaving this lovely delicate yet intoxicating lingering flavor of orchid!

The result – a taste that is robust and toasty yet very fresh and springy as well. This is one of those tea profiles that could do well any month of the year as it makes you feel warm and cozy yet wakes you up with those fresh salad like notes of spring and summer.

The after taste is mostly of a roasted toasted oolong however when you breath in with your mouth open you get that fresh spring like flavor with the floral notes dancing about. Leaving you thinking your breath must certainly smell like flowers haha. While this is a roasted Tieguanyin I can’t help but think about country roads lined with wildflowers and the warm sunshine all about wide open fields so if this would be more of a “winter” tea it sure would make you feel like its summer time so that is not a bad thing at all!

This tea is exquisite! I love it and I am a huge fan of oolongs but honestly I feel that many people, even perhaps those who are not oolong fans really should try!

I really enjoy that the notes are so easily to distinguish! Sometimes “complex” teas can be complex to the taster. This one is not pretentious at all.

Now on the downside, currently Verdant Tea is sold out. It happened in the blink of an eye. On the positive note, Verdant is currently looking to refurnish their stash of this tea:

“We will be going to China to personally track down a larger cache of aged Tieguanyin in October. Stay tuned…”

I trust that this will happen! I have to, I want more! Verdant also now offers a Rewards Point System! Be sure to check that out and keep your eyes peeled for more of this tea so you can get some once it is back in! A tea like this won’t last long once restocked so be sure to get yours before I get it all.

Climber’s High from The Tea Spot

Please Note:  Check below for special savings on this tea!

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Maté, Black Tea, Green Tea, White Tea, Pu-erh & Tulsi PLUS Spice Melangé

Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot

Tea Description:

A super-charged blend of teas, spices and herbs formulated to provide a refreshing daily lift for people with active, high-energy lifestyles. Climber’s High is a high-powered way to increase your intake of beneficial antioxidants such as flavonoids and catechins, as well as a host of healthy vitamins, trace minerals, beneficial phyto-constituents, and caffeine. It was originally conceived to assist people in adjusting to higher altitudes. This spiced yerba mate chai tea is both good for you and a pleasure to drink.

Learn more about this Yerba Mate Chai here.

Taster’s Review:

This blend has got a WHOLE lot going on!

When I first opened the package, I noticed a pleasant smell that was sweet and a little spicy, smelling a bit like a gently spiced chai.   And one quick glance at the ingredient list suggests that this could easily be categorized as a chai (well, yeah, all tea is technically chai, but, I’m talking about what we here in North America think of when we think “chai”) so, I categorized it as chai.

The brewed tea smells a little earthy, slightly vegetative, but still possesses a certain spicy tone – a bit different than that of the dry leaf, but, it still smells warm, sweet, and a little spicy.

Wow!  OK, so yeah, this DOES have a lot going on, but, somehow, it all comes together to offer a pleasant tasting blend.  I don’t really taste each of the specific tea types here, I just taste a medley of different flavors that I’d associate with the different leaf types.

For example, I taste the earthy, vegetative taste of Yerba Maté, and I would attribute some of that earthiness to the Pu-erh as well.  It tastes rich and smooth like a black tea, but it has a light, almost creamy/airy texture and flavor that I’d attribute to the white and green teas.  I taste hints of mint and basil that I attribute to the peppermint and Tulsi.  And yes, I taste the warmth of the spices, and the sweet, creamy finish that I attribute to the vanilla.

I wouldn’t say that I taste specifically any one of these ingredients, instead, I taste the combination of them all.  I taste hints of sweet licorice, I taste the sweet warmth of the cinnamon and little peppery kick from the ginger and pepper.   I don’t know that I taste any one ingredient more than the others, they all seem to come together in such a way to provide a very solid taste without one overpowering the others.   Some might seem a little lost along the way but at the same time I can’t say that this blend would be the same without any one of these ingredients.

And while there are a lot of flavors to explore here, I am really enjoying the challenge and the journey this tea offers.  It is warm and energizing, just the kind of cup I want on those mornings when I need a little motivation.

I like it!

Special Savings:  Now through July 22, you can save 15% off of Climber’s High Tea from The Tea Spot.  Use the code climbsister in the coupon field at checkout to receive your special discount!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Saffron Chai Tea Mix from Jaipur Avenue

Product Information:

Product:  black tea – instant chai tea mix

Where to Buy:  Jaipur Avenue

Product Description:

An escapade into sensuous notes, floral fragrances and romantic sweetness.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh my goodness!  This is so good!

Having already tried Jaipur Avenue’s other chai blends, I knew I was in for a treat with this one, but I really wasn’t prepared for what the saffron would add to the mix.  Of the five mixes that I’ve tasted … this one is definitely my favorite!

Unlike the Ginger Chai Mix or even the Cardamom, which had a spicier profile, this Saffron Chai Mix is more subdued, but in a very enchanting way.  The flavor is smoother and well-rounded, as the saffron brings a gratifying sweetness to the cup that enhances the flavors without amplifying the spicy tones.  It brings out the more exotic and savory side of the spices in this blend, giving the overall cup a very indulgent, satisfying flavor.

Like the other chai mixes from Jaipur Avenue, this is incredibly rich and creamy.  It is indeed sweet, and while I don’t think I could drink more than one of these at a time, I don’t find the one cup to be too overwhelmingly sweet.  Instead, it has a really excellent balance between sweet and spice, with a pleasing earthiness that grounds the cup so that it doesn’t become too confectionery.

I have really enjoyed these chai mixes from Jaipur Avenue.  I like them because not only are they delicious but they are also very easy to make:  just add hot water and stir!  I used my frothing tool which gave it a light froth on top, but if you don’t have a frothing tool, this still tastes wonderful without the froth.  This mix gives you the tasty results of a chai that’s been simmered in milk on the stovetop without all the mess, and that’s a win-win in my book!