Ginger Beer Tisane from DAVIDsTEA

10526dt01var0028998-bi-1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Tisane

Where to Buy: DAVIDsTEA

Tea Description:

Sweet, spicy, refreshing…is there anything tastier than a good ginger beer? Since its introduction in 18th century Britain, this fizzy, golden drink has been a hit everywhere from the lunch counter to the cocktail bar. And with warming ginger and sweet apple, this tasty blend is our take on the classic. We love sipping it after a heavy meal, or to soothe a sore throat. Up for experimenting? Brew it strong and top up with sparkling water and a splash of vodka, for a twist on a Moscow Mule. Cheers!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Last week I stopped at DAVIDTEA after work around when I was starting to get sick/just realizing I was sick and I picked up some tea to drink later and grabbed a hot “To Go” cup of this as well. I picked it out because it’s the new Tea of The Month but I realized much later it was actually probably a good choice because of the ginger as well since that’s a good thing to drink when you are sick.

I was a little taken aback! I’m honestly not the biggest fan of Ginger Beer. Every time I’ve tried it it’s just been a little too concentrated and spicy for my liking. And actually, I’m also just not a huge fan of ginger in general. However, that said, I actually found this pretty enjoyable. It’s not like it didn’t taste like Ginger Beer either; the ‘zippyness’ and almost ‘bubbly’ ginger flavour was accurate to my memory of Ginger Beer and very well captured the spirit of the drink. This was just much lighter overall and didn’t have that ginger burn that comes with too concentrated ginger. I dislike that sensation so much. Instead it was more of a mild ‘tingle’.

Of course, ginger isn’t the only flavour going on in this blend. I also tasted notes of honey and apple, both of which were quite nice and provided a sweet juxtaposition from the ginger. However, the most interesting flavour I tasted was lime!? I’m not sure where that’s coming from at all because there are no ingredients that should be contributing that flavour however it’s definitely something I tasted, and I quite liked it. Maybe it’s because I was slightly sick and my sense of taste may have been a little off. I’m not sure.

Overall? I wouldn’t buy this again but I liked it and for me that’s more of a ‘win’ than I ever expected with this blend. If I did drink it again, it would probably only be to see if I could taste the lime again when I’m not sick.

Hempmaicha Green Tea Blend from Handmade Tea

hempmaichaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Handmade Tea

Tea Description:

Hempmaicha is a Handmade Tea variation on the popular Genmaicha-style tea. Hempmaicha begins with a smooth Chinese green tea base. The blend then introduces roasted hemp seeds for a nutty, sweet flavor. Lastly for Genmaicha authenticity natural popcorn (no oil, no butter, and no salt) is added to the blend. Originally blended for the month of June. ’14.

Learn more about this blend here.

Learn more about Handmade Tea’s blend of the month subscription here.

Taster’s Review:

I have been a fan of Handmade Teas for quite some time.  So every once in a while I check out their website to see what they’ve been up to.  The last time I went to the website, I noticed that Hempmaicha was their June 2014 blend, and I decided that I just HAD to try that!

I have been a big fan of hemp for many years now.  In my college years, I was a very vocal advocate for the legalization of hemp because I feel that it would be very useful.  Hemp fibers can be used to make fabric that is soft, breathable and durable, paper that requires no bleaching and is therefore better for the environment and the seeds are very nutritious.  Some of the first automobiles were built to run on fuel made of hemp.

So when I saw that this blend from Handmade Tea was created Genmaicha style, but instead of using toasted and popped rice kernels, roasted hemp seeds and popcorn was added to the blend.  Interesting and very cool, indeed!

I’ve tried several of Handmade Tea’s blends in the past, but this was the first time that I tried their “mini” size.  The full size of Handmade Tea’s blends included a large tin of the blend, plus three small (sample size) tins of the components in the blend.

For example, with the Balché blend that I reviewed previously, I received a 3-ounce tin of the blended tea and three smaller tins with the individual components:  a tin of Yunnan Black Tea base, a tin of Guajillo Peppers, and a tin of Cacao Nibs and Cinnamon blended together.  (Click here for part one of that review, and click here for part two.)

But for this purchase, I decided to try their mini size and see what that was like.  The mini size is a mylar-lined, kraft stand-up pouch that holds 1.5 ounces of the blend.  You also get the nifty little envelope that’s been wax sealed and includes information about your blend.  This size is really ideal for me, because as much as I do love the full size and all the tasting components of the blend, I’m a “taster” and 3 ounces is more tea than I need.  I would love to see the “mini” incorporate a small sampling of each of the components as well (like the full-size does), maybe in smaller pouches, because I do like that feature, but for a taster like me, the 1.5 ounces of tea is much more agreeable to me and my overflowing pantry of tea.

So the first thing that stands out about this blend for me – other than the name and the “hemp” factor – is that the tea used is a Chinese green tea rather than a Japanese green tea.  Genmaicha is a Japanese tea, so I was a little surprised that this was crafted using a Chinese green.  But that’s OK, this tea is more about the hemp, I think – at least for me it is – than it is the type of green tea used for the blend.

The blend looks exactly like the photo above because, well, I took that photo.  Yeah, I’m no photographer.  But it did manage to capture the green tea, the popped kernels of popcorn and if you look closely, you can see the toasted hemp seeds too.  I was happy to see that there were quite a few hemp seeds in this.  The blend has a very strong nutty aroma.  It smells sweet, nutty and warm.

And it is really good.  It’s a bit nuttier in flavor than a typical Japanese Genmaicha.  It is sweet and toasty in flavor.  It’s perfect for this afternoon, because we’re just now starting to experience some autumnal type weather.  It’s not unbearably hot outside although it is still quite warm as I type this, but it’s not so uncomfortably hot and humid.  And with the slightly cooler temperature, I find myself wanting that warm and cozy sort of experience from a tea and this tea delivers that.

The green tea base is sweet and lightly grassy.  It has a slightly creamy element to it – not quite ‘buttery’ but maybe a little bit – and this melds nicely with the nutty hemp notes.  The hemp adds a sweet nuttiness to the cup, and it tastes roasty-toasty which I like.  I don’t know how much of the popcorn I’m actually tasting here.

It’s really tasty.  It’s sweet with a certain savory element, warm, and toasty.  I am really glad I decided to grab this blend while it was still available.  As I write this, there are still “nine” of this tea in stock (I’m not sure how many of the 1.5 ounce mini packs are available versus the 3 ounce full-size packs.)  So if the idea of a re-imagined, re-interpreted version of the classic Genmaicha using a Chinese tea base and hemp seeds instead of rice appeals to you – you should try this!  I think that it’s close enough to the original idea of Genmaicha that those who love Genmaicha would also enjoy this, and those that are looking for something just a little different would also like it!

It gets a peace sign of approval from me!

Namring 2nd Flush Darjeeling Tea from Upton Tea Imports

NamringTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

Grown high in the Teesta valley at the base of the Himalayas, this 2nd flush brews up with the famed muscatel aroma associated with high grade Darjeelings. A classic afternoon tea.

Learn more about Steepster Select here.

Taster’s Review:

Lovely!  I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again anyway … I love second flush Darjeeling teas.  And this Namring 2nd Flush Darjeeling Tea from Upton Tea Imports is a delightful example of why I adore them.

It has a pleasant fruity character that is reminiscent of a wine.  I taste black currant and grape!  These fruit notes deliver sweetness and a hint of tart.  There is a somewhat tannic quality to this tea that is also reminiscent of that aforementioned wine, and it finishes with a dry astringency.

But when it comes to a second flush Darjeeling, it’s really all about that muscatel note.  And this has a really lovely muscatel.  It’s sweet and fruity.  Notes of wood.  Subtle hints of earth.  Everything melds together in a very enjoyable way, bringing those delectable fruit notes forward, while the earthier tones fill in the background.

It’s a very elegant tasting tea, one that would be a good choice to serve to friends.  A nice afternoon tea.

Another wonderful tea brought to me by Steepster Select!

Madagascar Coconut White Tea Blend from Simple Loose Leaf

MadagascarCoconutWhiteTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

Our Madagascar Coconut white tea is like a coconut cream pie in a cup! A vibrant combination of Madagascar vanilla and coconut enrich a toasty white tea for a fruity, buttery and sweet finish. Enjoy either hot or iced for a light, sweet delight.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s customized subscription program here.

Taster’s Review:

My subscription package from Simple Loose Leaf arrived the other day and I’m LOVING this Madagascar Coconut White Tea Blend that I received!  What a deliciously creamy tea!  It tastes decadent, but it feels light and refreshing.

The white tea base is a Shou Mei white tea.  I like this choice, because it isn’t as delicate as a Bai Mu Dan.   The Shou Mei is a stronger tasting tea and this allows for a more flavorful experience.  I can taste the earthy, hay-like notes of the white tea, along with a light, buttery sort of taste.  It is crisp and exhilarating to sip.

The vanilla cream notes are smooth and rich and taste very dreamy!  Like a dessert but without being a overly sweet treat.  The coconut and vanilla are nicely balanced with the vanilla notes maybe just barely edging out over the coconut, but not by much.  I taste just a tad more vanilla than coconut.  But the two together are quite wonderful, like a sweet coconut custard.

You might remember my blog post about last month’s tea from Simple Loose Leaf.  Well, they got in touch with me not long after the post published, and they wanted to make my dissatisfaction with that tea right!  I was very impressed with not just their willingness to work with me to make things right, but their wanting to go above and beyond what they needed to do to fix things.  

I love it when I find a company that is dedicated to excellent customer service – even when I will be the first to admit that the fault was not really with Simple Loose Leaf … it was my fault for not having read the description before I placed the order!  I saw Cocoa Cream and thought CHOCOLATE without reading the “coffee” in the description.  That’s my fault, not theirs.  But they still wanted to make things right, and I love that.

They wrote me a nice email, and in it, they offered to replace the tea that I didn’t care for with a tea of similar price and weight ~or~ a handful of free samples.  I, of course, opted for the samples since I’m a taster.  This month, along with this month’s selection, I also received three free samples.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts on those teas with you when I try them!  Until then, I’m so happy that I included this Madagascar Coconut White in my subscription order, because it’s fantastic!

Earl Grey Assam Black Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

Earl Grey AssamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

The extremely popular and refreshing blend of citrus bergamot over a rich Assam black tea base. This Earl Grey provides a rich and smooth finish to a famous tradition. Best served hot with milk and sugar.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s customized subscription program here.

Taster’s Review:

I was really excited to receive this month’s package from Simple Loose Leaf!  I have been looking forward to trying their Earl Grey Assam Black Tea since I placed my subscription order.  I love Earl Grey, and usually Earl Grey teas are made with Ceylon leaves.  I’ve tried a couple of Earl Grey teas that were crafted with Assam tea, but, I am always interested to try others.

And I’m really enjoying this Earl Grey.

The bergamot aroma was strong and distinct when I opened the pouch.  The scent from the brewed liquid is a little softer than the fragrance I experienced from the dry leaf, but, it is still wonderfully aromatic.

And the flavor … sublime!  The bergamot is strong without tasting perfume-y.  It has a bright, energetic citrus note that is tangy and sharp.  Hints of floral tones sort of weave their way in and out throughout the sip.

The Assam tea is a substantial base – it tastes strong and sturdy!  There are notes of malt, but I’m finding this Assam to be more “wine-like” than malty.  And I like the way the wine notes complement the bergamot.  They marry very nicely in this cup.

Since the last time I reviewed a tea from Simple Loose Leaf, the company has implemented some changes.  Or perhaps, I should say that they’ve added some additional services on to the unique customized subscription program.  They now have a Tea Collection subscription service, where you can choose from six different tea collections, like Earl’s Collection, Fruit Lover’s Collection or Pure Green Collection.  And with these subscriptions, you simply choose which collection is most appealing to you, and they’ll send you a pre-selected monthly tea.

In addition, they have Tea Clubs that you can sign up for, and choose from a monthly payment plan or a pre-paid plan.  And they also offer tea samples and tea by the ounce now … these are two suggestions that I made in my previous review, and I’m glad to see that they have considered my advice!  (Yes, I’m taking credit for it!  ha!)

This is a very good Earl Grey tea – if you love Earl Grey like I do, this is one you should try!