Leaf Type: Green (Matcha)
Where to Buy: Red Leaf Tea
Sea buckthorn has its origins in the high Eastern hills of India, Russia and China. This hardy plant can also be credited for checking the soil erosion within the mountainous climate it is grown on. It also grows in great abundance and provides a steady source of revenue for its local farmers. Sea buckthorn has been well documented in Eastern folklore as having very many remedial benefits from past times as long ago as the 18th century.
Learn more about this flavored matcha here.
If you’re like me, you’re wondering what a Sea Buckthorn is. Apparently it’s a berry that’s loaded with health benefits. I ordered this Sea Buckthorn Flavored Matcha from Red Leaf Tea out of curiosity, though, not because it was going to be healthy. That’s never my motivation for my tea orders … I drink tea because I like the taste, not because it’s healthy. That it IS healthy – that’s a bonus!
So I went into this experience not knowing what to expect from it. After preparing it traditionally: scooping out the matcha with a chashaku into a fine mesh strainer that I use to sift the matcha, then I sift it directly into the chawan and pour hot water over the matcha while whisking with my chasen. The matcha had very little froth, much less than I usually have with a matcha and what little froth was present dissipated within moments after I finished whisking.
My first sip: hmm, I taste a tart, tangy berry taste and a citrus-y taste that is especially noticeable in the aftertaste. It’s as if a berry, a lemon and a lime have somehow had a lovechild. That’s what I taste from this Sea Buckthorn flavored Matcha. It tastes lemon-lime-ish with a distinctive berry-like note. It’s very bright and flavorful, tart with whispers of sweetness. There is a “slickness” to the texture that melds in a harmonious way with the natural creamy texture of the matcha. There is a tangy astringency toward the tail that I rarely experience with a bowl of matcha.
The “usual” matcha flavors are not real obvious to the palate with this bowl of matcha. I do taste a light buttery taste and I think more than anything, what the matcha does is soften and sweeten the fruit. From what I can learn of this berry, it is quite a tart berry and I think that the sweetness of the matcha is helping to curb some of that tartness because this isn’t an overly tart tasting drink. It is tart … but not as tart as I think it might be if there was more sea buckthorn flavoring.
As it is, I have selected the “distinctive” level of flavoring with the classic grade of Matcha. I think that this was a good choice, because I’m getting a pretty good idea of what sea buckthorn tastes like. A stronger level of flavoring would have likely been too tart for my palate. However, if I were to purchase this in the future, I might choose a delicate level of flavoring because I would like to taste more of the Matcha. The distinctive level is just right to learn more about what this fruit tastes like … but I think that for future use, I’d rather have more matcha flavor and less fruit.
This is a tasty matcha. Not my favorite from Red Leaf Tea, but, they can’t all be my favorite, now can they? But I like it and am happy I had the opportunity to try it.
Leaf Type: Tisane
Where to Buy: Amazon Trading
Hibiscus, Chai, Rose Hip, Calendula Flowers, Lemongrass, Mango, Pineapple, Papaya, Cinnamon Bark, Cardamom, Cloves, Orange & flavors of Mango & Pineapple.
Learn more about Amazon Trading here.
I didn’t have high hopes for this Sea Breeze Tisane from Eden Grove. When a tisane sports hibiscus as its primary ingredient, that doesn’t sound promising to me.
But this isn’t too bad. I brewed it for just 5 minutes in 195°F water. Usually when I brew a tisane with hibiscus, I keep the steep time to 5 or 6 minutes to keep the hibiscus from overpowering the cup. When hibiscus steeps too long, I find the resulting liquid to be too tart and too thick and syrupy. Fortunately, at five minutes, this tea does not taste too tart, nor is it too thick or syrupy.
I do taste the hibiscus, but I can taste other flavors too! I taste the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. I like these spice notes. They offer a wonderful contrast to the sweet notes of the fruity notes. There are notes of mango, papaya, orange and pineapple! I taste notes of mango and pineapple mostly, but I can also taste hints of citrus as well as papaya.
I still find myself wishing the hibiscus wasn’t there, because the tartness of the hibiscus is still strong here, even with the short steep time. I like this alright, but, it hasn’t been my favorite tea that I’ve tasted thus far from Eden Grove.
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Fong Mong Tea on Ebay
Located between Xitou and Ali Mountain in central Taiwan – Nantou County, Sun-Link-Sea is famous for its amazing “sun links sea” scenery. Situated at an altitude of approximately 1600 – 1800 meters, Sun-Link-Sea has an average temperature of 20 degree Celsius all year long. Sun-Link-Sea tea tree mountains, not as high as other high-mountain tea tree ones though, with their distinctive geographic environment, gestate another different fragrance and taste which is another characteristic fine tea of Taiwan high-mountain teas.
Learn more about this tea here.
This is the first time I’m trying a “Sun-Link-Sea” Oolong (at least to my knowledge, unless I tried another Oolong that was in fact a Sun-Link-Sea but it was called something different by the purveyor). And as I sip this tea, I am really glad that I finally do have this opportunity to try it, because it is outstanding!
The tightly wound leaf pellets look very much like many other “green” Oolong teas (like Ali Shan or Tie Guan Yin, for example), but this tastes much different. Sure, it has many of the qualities that I often associate with green Oolongs, such as a green vegetative taste (which is very slight here) and amazing floral tones, and even a hint of fruit. But where this one strays from the pack, so to speak, is that it doesn’t have that strong creamy presence that so many other green Oolong teas tend to have. It doesn’t taste or feel buttery or creamy or milky.
Instead, this has a remarkably light and crisp flavor and texture. The floral tone that I mentioned are reminiscent of a magnolia-scented Oolong. The magnolia notes are there, but they aren’t as strong as you might find in a tea that has been specifically scented with the flower. Perhaps a hint of osmanthus flower, and even a touch of orchid. Very exotic floral notes that seem to meld together in a seamless way.
The fruit notes that I mentioned previously are very similar to apple, but not in a conventional way. What I actually taste is what you might experience if you were to drink a sweet-and-sour dry apple wine… if there is such a thing. It tastes light, and the apple-y notes seem to become progressively stronger as I sip, but never become a very prominent flavor.
But that is what I like so much about this tea. It isn’t really strong or distinct in one way, but, hints at so many different flavors that it becomes an exciting adventure with every sip. And I strongly urge you to indulge in multiple infusions … I enjoyed the third and fourth infusion even more than the first. So sweet and amazingly good.
This is in no ordinary Oolong!