Chinese Five Spice from 52Teas. . . . .

I love spicy teas, so when I saw that 52Teas has a special spiced blend for the Chinese New year, I had to try it.  Chinese Five Spice from 52Teas is one of my favorite chai blends I’ve tried in a while. In the dry leaf, you can smell the Szechwan peppercorns, adding a little heat and a little tingly, earthy ground pepper scent.

The peppercorns are well-balanced with the sweeter spices like anise and ginger.  The orange peels are specifically mandarin oranges, and there’s something distinct in the citrus flavor that makes it feel different than the usual orange notes. Finally, there are also plenty of cloves that add their own sweet-spice, almost making the dry tea leaves have a fragrance like Dr. Pepper or Moxie soda.

Brewed, the black tea really shines and shows off its quality, tippy tea leaf origins.  Somehow both smooth and tart, it makes the pepper and orange pop on my tongue but without any spicy after-burn on my throat.  There is still a very full-flavored scent in my mug with cloves and ginger, but it’s not sweat-inducing spicy in taste, very drinkable.  No honey or milk needed (though you can always add them if you love it), the blend is well-balanced right out of the bag.

I ordered the sample size but I’ve already finished it, so I’ll have to put the full size bag in my shopping cart soon.  This is a tasty, unique chai for spicy tea lovers everywhere.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Description:

Since China is a very important part of what I do (since most of my tea comes from China!), I decided it was important to do something to celebrate the ringing in of the Chinese New Year this year (The Year of the Dog)! I started with two black Yunnan teas – a Yunnan Black Gold and a tippy Assamica grown in the Yunnan Province – and added dried mandarin wedges and the whole spices of a Chinese 5 Spice blend: Cinnamon, Cloves, Star Anise, Fennel and Szechwan peppercorns. Then I added just a wee bit of ginger to enhance the peppery notes just a little. The result is a cuppa that is a little bit sweet, a little bit savory and a little bit spicy! It’s a really nice, round flavor! The mandarin orange flavor is bright and adds a nice touch to the spices here. It’s kind of like an orange flavored chai – Chinese style! I’m really happy with how this one came out – the spices are strong enough to be inviting but don’t blow out the taste buds with the spice – and the mandarin is really lovely: sweet and juicy!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Lemon Sherbet Green from Bluebird Tea Co.

lemonsherbetTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Green tea with lemon is a classic. In true Bluebird style we have done it a bit different! Sweet + tangy like sherbet on your tounge + two types of lemon to make your mouth water with delight. Another fantastic blend to add to our traditional sweet collection.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Thank you to my SororiTea Sister Scheherazade for sending me a sample of this tea!

Personally speaking, this is one of those blends that I probably wouldn’t have chosen myself just because I’m not drawn to green blends normally and I think the pairing of citrus/lemon and green tea is a little played out, but the dry leaf smelled really strongly of sweet lemon juice or lemon candy, and I do like the simplicity of the tea so I was actually kind of excited regardless.

Because it is something I’ve kind of tried before, though, I wanted to do something a little different than usual – so I made this into a tea soda; while I wont take the time to explain my process of doing that (unless anyone would like me to) I will point out that the process uses sweetener though – and with a tea like this that’s already pre-sweetened due to the stevia in it a preparation method like this negates that aspect of the blend a little bit because when I tasted this tea I knew it would be sweet and expected that; theoretically with a more traditional tasting/preparation method I could have tasted the stevia and been more critical about it’s presence – I don’t typically like when my tea is sweetened for me; I want to have the choice to do that and pre-sweetened blends eliminate that choice.

I think the simplicity of the blend ultimately works against this tea though; the flavour was very monotone and I think the only reason that didn’t read as ‘flat’ was because of the carbonation which makes it hard to view anything as tasting ‘flat’. The green base was eclipsed and instead this had a really strong, distinct taste of lemon verbena or lemon myrtle; not exactly a ‘realistic’ lemon flavour and while strong and steady only really enjoyable if you’re big into those flavours to begin with. And you better be, because it’s all you’re going to taste.

Decent blend overall; the name’s pretty accurate so kudos for that. I just wish it had a little more to offer; I shouldn’t feel like I have to resort to creative methods like tea soda just to make this feel a little less mundane.

Sangria Matcha from Red Leaf Tea

Sangria-MatchaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green/Matcha

Where to Buy: Red Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

Sangria Matcha is the perfect answer for those adults looking for a fruity platter treat that has a dash of exotic Matcha and tastes of refreshing spices. This delectable treat is a perfect after hours drink that brings its well rounded charm into the palate. It can be taken with a fine assortment of many snacks and meals to add to their overall flavor and also make things more exciting. This fine treat is great for adults who love the tangy tasty combination of many fruits on their palates.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m adding Sangria matcha to the many flavours under my belt because I thought it would make for a really great summer flavour to have stock up; and obviously it’s not a flavour that screams “try me in milk” like how I normally prepare my matcha so I made it as a Matcha Soda instead.

This is the ‘recipe’ I used:

– 1 tsp of matcha whisked into approx. 2 ounce of hot water

– Dissolve approx. 1 tbsp. of sugar into the concentrated matcha to create a ‘matcha syrup’

– Cool down the syrup, and add a can of Club Soda

Just being perfectly honest, as soon as I took my first sip I knew that I didn’t like this flavour of matcha. There was a lot that I personally felt was wrong/off about it – for one the fruit flavours are incredibly muddled on top of tasting really artificial. I know Sangria is a combination of different fruits but I couldn’t pinpoint any of the individual fruits that traditionally make up Sangria. In addition, the vegetal/grassy notes of the matcha were far too pronounced for my liking (despite this being Distinctive flavour level) and took on a ‘swampy’ kind of flavour when compared with the weird/chemical tasting fruit notes.

I’m definitely disappointed by this flavour; it’s nothing like I’d hoped it would be and if you’re looking for an accurate Sangria flavour I think you’re best off looking elsewhere. The worst part is that I’m almost certain that Robust flavouring would taste even more chemical/artificial since that’s the way fruit flavoured matcha tends to go but, while delicate level flavouring might reduce the fake fruit flavour, I think it’d make the Sangria flavour even less distinct than it already is.

Using the rest of this will certainly be a challenge for me.

Just Peachy Tisane from DAVIDsTEA

JustPeachyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal/Tisane

Where to Buy:  DAVIDsTEA

Tea Description:

It took us years to find the perfect peach iced tea – but this sweet, summery blend is so peachy, it tastes like it’s fresh from the orchard. Now that we’ve finally mastered our favourite summer fruit, we just can’t get enough. And we keep discovering new, delicious ways to try it. It’s amazing mixed up with peach sliced and frozen into ice pops. Or served chilled with a splash of Prosecco. But the best way might just be straight up, with lots of ice and a touch of agave. However you enjoy it, this blend is a real peach.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is part one of a five part review of the DAVIDsTEA Summer Collection.

Just Peachy Tisane from DAVIDsTEA was around last year, but I didn’t get around to trying it because it just really didn’t interest me: I’m kid of fickle towards peach teas, and at that time I was especially wary of them. However, this year I’ve opened up quite a bit more to trying new things so I gave it a shot! It was popular enough to come back a second year so there’s got to be something good about it.

This review is for my tea soda preparation of the tisane; I did this at home using my standard tea soda method (Infuse the tisane into a simple syrup and then float the simple syrup in a can of club soda), not as one of the in store tea soda’s that DT makes.

Dry, the leaf smells very intensly of sweet peach candy with some apple-y undertones – it’s really fresh and in your face. I also took a small sip of the syrup before it had been diluted with the club soda, and (keeping in mind how concentrated it was) I thought it tasted exactly like a Fuzzy Peach!

Based purely on this tea soda, I would one hundred percent buy more of this: it’s absolutely one of the better tea sodas I’ve ever made – The peach is very strong, fresh, and sticky sweet tasting. I’d describe it as Fuzzy Peaches meet Peach Bellini meets Peach Schnapps. The Peach Schnapps comparison is very high praise; that’s easily my favourite liqueur or, really, kind of alcohol in general. It does a great job of navigating away from overly artificial or cloying territory, as well.

The touch of sweeter but also slightly tart green apples stops this from being totally monotone in flavor, but really that secondary flavour is all this needs – the absence of blackberry doesn’t disappoint me. This is just a simple, fun tisane that’s incredibly hydrating and energetic with the peach candy flavour. I can’t get enough of this one; and just writing about this tisane soda has me craving it again so badly; I’m sure a restock will be in my future – I think the question is just how much I’ll be picking up.

Cola déthéiné Black from Dammann Freres

the-detheine-colaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Decaffeinated Black

Where to Buy: Dammann Freres

Tea Description:

Coming from the ‘Little Cristal’ collection, Cola is a decaffeinated black tea with a cola flavor that children have so dear.

At tea time, a flavored tea to enjoy the “Five O’clock” like grown people.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Prior to trying this blend, I’ve had exactly three cola flavoured teas: Cola Matcha from Red Leaf Tea, Cherry Cola & Cake from Della Terra Teas, and DAVIDsTEA’s Cherry Cola black tea. I remember that so specifically because all of them were super memorable experiences, and not for a good reason. In fact, DT’s Cherry Cola blend may actually be the worst black tea I’ve ever had. Cola just seems to be something that doesn’t apply well to tea, so I’m going into this tasting with extreme reservation and fairly low expectations.

I probably wouldn’t have purchased this one at all if it weren’t for the fact I got some in a group order, and therefore got to pick up a small size of it. It also helps it’s from Dammann Freres – I’ve yet to really find a “flop” from them, though there have been a few blends that just didn’t click because of personal taste. I have faith that if any company can pull off a cola tea they’re likely to be the ones to do it.

I’m cold brewing this – I just personally think that cola flavor kind of only works cold. I’ve had hot coke before (it was a dare) and it didn’t go over well. I have to say, the dry leaf of this smells pretty wonderful. It definitely conveys the smell of coke without any of the chemical/artificial qualities that I’ve experienced with every other coke tea. I don’t know how they do it! There’s even a whiff of vanilla to the smell as well!

I’ll come right out and say it; this is easily the best cola tea I’ve had. Simply put, it tastes like those shimmery silver cola ball candies that are basically pure sugar – though not as cloying as you’d imagine. There’s a really nice freshness to the tea and more natural notes as well like very mild citrus and possibly also pear. It’s ‘fancy’ cola ball candy! Definitely no sweetened needed with this one though; it’s just barely treading the line between natural sweet and ‘cavity’ sweet. I like that the base is also pretty strong, but not overly brisk. The fact it’s decaffeinated is a huge plus – as a generalization black tea is my favourite type and being limited with how much I can drink at night without the jitters is definitely a concern of mine; this will fit seamlessly into my evening routine.

I can totally see why this is marketed towards children as well; it’s something familiar flavor-wise, definitely sweet enough on its own, obviously healthier than actually giving a child a bottle of Coke, and what parent is going to complain about the lack of caffeine!?

My opinion on cola teas has been completely changed; and I’m already imagining interesting ways to try this one: tea soda, as a latte (because ‘floats’), and possibly even hot…