Genmai-Matcha Matsujirushi from Steepster. . . .

Steepster is a website for tea lovers. If you are not on the website and you love tea, I recommend joining immediately because ultimately it is what fueled my love of all things tea and introduced me to the world beyond DAVIDsTEA and Teavana. It is essentially a forum to connect with other tea lovers, write tea reviews, and discuss all things tea. It is through this site that I met wonderful friends, experienced tea swaps, and discovered traveling teaboxes, which is how I came across this tea.

For those who don’t know what a traveling teabox is, it is a box packed full of a variety of teas that is passed from person to person. Everyone can take as much or as little as they like from the box, making sure to replace what they take with samples of their own teas, keeping in mind things like quality, price, age, type, etc. It gives people a chance to try a whole bunch of new things without committing to more than just a sample.

As a Canadian, I am part of the Great Canadian Traveling Tea Box, which is one of the very few that operates outside the United States. It travels around Canada (and occasionally to the states) to the various Steepster members signed up to participate. Now it is my turn with the box and when I saw this inside, I couldn’t help but grab a taste. First of all its a genmaicha, which I love, but it is also a matcha-coated genmaicha, which means some desperately needed caffeine. And on top of all that, it is one of the few tea offerings by Steepster and since I never took advantage of the Steepster teas in the past, I was all the more intrigued.

I brewed it up as per the package instructions, 2 minutes at 185F, and the end result is a light yellowish-green brew that is slightly cloudy from the matcha dusting. It resembles lime juice now that I think about it. It does not taste like lime juice though and thank goodness for that. It is smooth. Very smooth…and goes down easily. It also manages to be light while simultaneously being quite flavorful. There is a great roasted (barley?) flavor from the popped rice and rather than coming off grassy, this has more of a slightly bitter herb quality to it. Yet, though it seems as if it should be savory, there is a sweetness here (thanks to the base) to round out the tea.

Personally, I am really enjoying this tea. It is so simple and yet so complex. It is also very familiar while being new and unique, like an old friend who I only just met.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green Tea
Where to Buy: Steepster

These teas are no longer available but click below to learn more about Steepster

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong Tea from Tea At Sea

b65494_7f41bb3f7e7248d1a8234fe5a20e7265Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong Tea

Where to Buy: Tea At Sea

Tea Description:

Organic grown in the Halimun Mountains of Indonesia at 800m above Sea-Level. Treated with natural spring water and fresh mountain air. These 35% oxidized tea leaves have a honey milk aroma, light creamy taste with a hint of marine. Wake up the tea leaves and steep around 100°C and watch how the leaves slowly unfold to extract their natural flavour. Enjoy!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong Tea from Tea At Sea has consistently high ratings over at Steepster.  I tend to agree with those high ratings but here is my take on this specific tea.

Upon opening the package it looks and smells like your average oolong but the taste is what I will be focusing in this review!  First impressions on this first sip were great!  First and foremost I had a strong honeysuckle flavor smack my taste buds from the very beginning.  Then there were other floral and semi-sweet grassy notes to follow.  In follow-up sips and at shorter steeping times I noticed more buttery, creamy, and milky type flavors come into play.  An interesting find with a lingering aftertaste was the hint of peach I could pick up on as well.

As long as you don’t over infuse this one you should have ‘smooth sailin’ with this one.  Pardon the pun but seriously…Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong Tea from Tea At Sea is a nice, solid yet smooth, greener tasting oolong that I enjoyed very much!


Angry Pumpkin Black Tea from Design a Tea

Angry PumpkinTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Design a Tea

Tea Description:

A nice hardy blend of pumpkin and nutmeg with a black tea base. Served hot, will fill the room with the aroma of a “beautiful pumpkin”. Those were his words- I know, lame! .

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I hate to admit it, but I have a double standard when it comes to tea names. I absolutely hate it when a company will skirt around what type of tea something is, “It’s a deeply shaded fukamushi sencha harvested in the summer, steamed to perfection.” I get it. Just say it’s a gyokuro already! But when it comes to blended and flavored teas, the more ridiculous the better.

That is why I had to try this tea from Design a tea. I have so many questions. Why is this pumpkin angry? What happened in this tea’s life to make it so furious? Will it make me angry when I drink it? There is only one way to find out.

I brewed up 5g in my 12oz teapot for around 4 minutes. The resulting brew was like an autumn hug. Usually pumpkin flavorings fall short for me, but in this tea, the pumpkin was at the forefront of the brew. Luckily, it wasn’t an aggressive pumpkin. It was sweet and complimented the spices and the black tea base.

I suppose you cannot have a pumpkin tea without putting in some pumpkin pie spices. This particular blend highlighted the use of nutmeg. It was a good idea in theory, but the blend also had cinnamon chips. Yes, it is listed as the last ingredient, but the cinnamon tried it’s hardest to overpower the nutmeg. Throughout all this fighting for attention, what I get is a sweet slice of pumpkin pie. For my first fall-themed tea of the year, it definitely gets me pumped up for more. Bring it on!

I still don’t know what makes this pumpkin so angry, and the other flavors are not that aggressive either. The black tea base is mellow, sweet, with notes of sweet potato. This is a tea with a soothing profile, but I think the name Mellow Pumpkin would not sell as well. Thankfully, it did not make me angry to drink it, and I happily gulped down my pot of Angry Pumpkin to celebrate the beginning of October!

Dark Chocolate Oolong from Liquid Proust Teas

Dark chocolateTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Liquid Proust Teas (No Longer Listed)

Tea Description:

Ingredients: Roasted Oolong, Cocoa, Flavoring

Learn more about this tea on Steepster.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of Andrew, from Liquid Proust Teas, crazy ideas but one which certainly looked interesting to me. I can’t actually remember ever trying a mind blowing chocolate oolong and so the possibility of this tea filling that whole intrigued me a lot! The dry leaf looks really interesting; and it has a soft, sweet cocoa smell and some floral notes too.

Hmm, this didn’t brew up to be the most appetizing smelling or aesthetically beautiful. It’s very murky/cloudy looking, and I get the impression it may have an oilier mouthfeel. However, the really concerning thing is the aroma of the liquor coming from the cup: it’s like the most floral oolong smell I’ve ever come across mixed with mildew and wet dog? And I know that’s harsh – but honestly that’s what I’m smelling and it’s making me gag just a little bit.

The weird thing is that it actually doesn’t taste bad; and I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a tea with such a disconnect between the taste and smell since those two senses are so incredibly intertwined. I mean it’s certainly not the delicious cocoa tea I was expecting but it’s actually nice enough. There are very strong nutty notes and then more medium notes of burnt toast and cocoa in the body of the sip. There are also subtle moss and floral notes. I don’t really like the way the more natural/floral notes pair with the toasty notes and sweet cocoa – it’s kind of like some sort of unholy Frankenstein’s monster of tea.

I’m gonna call it; this is the first offering from Liquid Proust that I dislike – I could probably handle it if, when I went in for a sip, I didn’t have to smell the steeped tea but that just kills it for me. That said, every other review I’ve read has been favourable so if you get the chance to sample this I encourage trying it and forming your own opinion. It’s just not for me.

The Full English from Twinings

TheFullEnglishTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Twinings

Tea Description:

This tea is not available on the US Twinings website. 

Learn more about Twinings Black Tea options for the US here

Taster’s Review:

I am on a quest.  A quest to drink down some tea.  My tea cupboard has gotten outrageously out of control.  So I am now honor and duty bound to drink some up before this coming fall season when there will be pumpkin spice and apple pie teas tempting me to gobble and snatch them up!

The first one I grab is one that isn’t available in the US.  This is something that I have always been confused about. Twinings has a US store and an international store.  The international store has an amazing selection of teas that make me drool thinking about them.  But alas,the same selection isn’t available on the US site.  Eventually one of these days, I’ll order form the international store and deal with the higher shipper cost.  For now, I’m happy I was able to try this one.

The Full English is a tea I believe I picked up from a Steepster member who was putting together some pretty amazing boxes from her travels.  I couldn’t resist.  I kept reading these amazing reviews from teas she had picked up from other Steepsterites and I wanted to be part of the club!

I say this with my head low but this is the first time I’ve even cracked into the box.  I know! Shame on me.  Like I said, my tea cupboard is getting out of control.

I brewed this up like a traditional black-212F-3 minutes and pulled the tea bag out.  I didn’t want to leave this one in which turned out to be a good thing.  At 3 minutes this tea was already turning bitter.  The first few sips were just plain lovely black unadulterated black tea.  Nothing fancy, just good. But as this starts to cool, the bitterness is swooping in.

For a tea at work, this one would do, but I would be afraid that I would constantly have an issue with the bitterness.  This is definitely one you don’t want to forget about. I can just picture this one being lovely when at a tea party or enjoying a spot of milk in it along with a treat.  Yum!