Pumpkin Chai/Laughing Tree Tea

As a tea addict I am constantly on the hunt for tea. I mean literally every store, event or venue I go to I check to see if tea is present anywhere. I suppose some folks shop for clothes, others for gadgets and gizmos but I shop for tea. So when I was at the Freight House Farmer’s Market in Davenport I of course went in search for tea. I was surprised that there were several stands selling everything from kombucha to matcha to loose leaf. Tea was well represented here!

After walking around a bit I stumbled upon Laughing Tree Tea’s vendor stand. I must admit the free sample of peach green tea got me. I am a sucker for samples. But the sample was very nice so I decided to scope out the offerings. There were a lot of teas to smell and different sizes of tea to purchase. I do appreciate when companies offer sample packs of tea because honestly I am drowning in tea reserves. I often times want to sample a tea but don’t want to commit to a whole 2 ounces. Plus my husband tells me I might have to rent a storage pod if I continue to add to my collection. At any rate i purchased 4 samples to try.

Like a kid in a candy store I ripped open the first sample as soon as I got home! The first one I have tried and am reviewing today is Pumpkin Chai.

Laughing Tree Tea (try saying that 3 times fast) is a hand blended and locally sourced company that sells their tea in their cafe in Waterloo, IA but also at various farmer’s markets in the area. I smelled the sample of Pumpkin Chai in the vendor stall and immediately loved it! The scent is spicy, sweet and a bit nutty. I steeped my sample up at 212 degrees for 3 minutes. I felt that the tea could actually benefit for a slightly longer steep time so I let it steep an additional 2 minutes after my first sip. The base of this tea is black tea with rooibos. I enjoyed the mix of teas as the rooibos lends a nutty and sweet dimension to the blend. The traditional chai spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and black pepper are present as is coriander. I absolutely love coriander, it gives such a warm distinct flavor to blends. Also, almond, orange, flower petals and nut oil are added.

I really loved this tea. The spices blend so well together without being too spicy. There is a slight hint of pumpkin so I am suspecting that is contained in the natural flavors that are added. I loved this tea on its own but did find that adding a bit of soy milk enhanced the flavor. I suspect this will make an amazing latte.

This is an excellent blend and I have high hopes for the other 3 tea samples that I picked up. It seems that so often we hear about the large tea companies out there but the smaller companies like Laughing Tree Tea are doing some amazing things with tea that deserve to get noticed!

 


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Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Laughing Tree Tea

Description

Warm up with this with this pumpkin flavored chai. If you like pumpkin this is your chai. Offered seasonally be sure to pick up your brew. Chai is traditionally served sweetened and this fun tea is pre-sweetened with ghost and pumpkin candies.
Ingredients: Tea, Cinnamon, Apple & Rosehip pieces, Ginger, Cardamom, Black & White pepper, Candy, Hibiscus & Calendula & Sunflower petals, Clove, Nutmeg, and Natural flavors.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

2008 Menghai Ripened Puerh/Teavivre

I was introduced to Teavivre by a Tea Friend on Facebook. She told me that it was some of the best teas she had ever tried.

With that glowing recommendation I went to check out their site. They had a fantastic promotion going where you could get 5 FREE samples if you paid the $4.90 shipping.

What an awesome deal!

When I opened the sample bag I had a hard time smelling the pu-erh so I poured it into my Gaiwan. Once it was in there I was able to smell a sweet, fruity, honey-like aroma. It was such a nice smell I was excited for my first sip! Teavivre recommends the brew temperature of 212ºF for 3-5 minutes.

However, if you look on their website that is if you are making a full cup. Since I am making my Pu-erh in a Gaiwan they had different instructions!

For the Chinese Gongfu Method they recommend to still use 212ºF water for 12 separate steepings: rinse twice, 15 seconds, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 100s, 160s. It goes on to say that each rinse time is 5 seconds.

As the first and second rinse steeped I could tell why they recommended a rinse, these first steepings had an almost smoky aroma which I wasn’t expecting. I am not a huge fan of smoky teas so I was a little nervous.

By the first 15 second steeping the smoky smell had completely disappeared and I was left with a mild, sweet smell with just the right amount of earthiness. There was a light nuttiness to the flavor which was incredibly pleasant. As I went through each steeping the tea became sweeter and more floral in aroma and kept the sweet but nutty flavor.

I absolutely loved this tea and would highly recommend it to anyone that likes a darker tea or is generally curious about Pu-erh tea. This is a great starter pu-erh, the sweet flavor will pull you in! Also, since it is so low in caffeine (less than 10% of a cup of coffee) it is one that you can drink at any time of day. Also, since you can get so many steepings out of the tea leaves it is absolutely worth the money you spend.

I look forward to adding more of this tea to my cabinet!


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Leaf Type:  Puerh

Where to Buy: Teavivre

Description

Soft and smooth, rich and thick texture

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Keemun Mao Feng Black Tea Grade One/AprTea Mall

Keemun is my absolute favorite tea for breakfast. Once upon a time long ago, if you asked for breakfast tea, Keemun was what you were given. These days, even specifically ordering English Breakfast can result in many different types of tea being delivered to you, with Assam or Kenyan tea being the most likely to show up at your table. There are many, many kinds!

But Keemun is gentler on my stomach and still has that “start the day” vibe. Although I rarely add anything to my tea, Keemun can take additions of milk and/or sugar and still shine. The taste is so great as is that I don’t want to dampen it.

This particular Keemun is the middle grade offered by AprTea Mall. I reserve the highest grades for afternoon tea or for drinking by themselves, and I don’t enjoy lower grade Keemun teas nearly as much, but I find a mid-grade to be just what I am looking for in a breakfast tea or to pair with a meal.

The leaves are very dark, long, and lightly twisted. These are whole leaves and not broken bits. The dry leaf aroma is fruity, and the wet leaf aroma is fruity and bright.

It has just enough heft and just enough cocoa or malt flavor to be paired with waffles and syrup and clear the palate without the pucker factor of most breakfast teas. This particular Keemun also has that hint of fruit that earns some of these the designation of a “winey” Keemun, although it is just a hint here and not terribly pronounced.

Overall, I deem this to be a good, serviceable Keemun that I can enjoy as a daily drinker.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  AprTea Mall

Description

Keemun Mao Feng (祁门毛峰): Keemun Mao Feng is a kind of Keemun Black Tea,has a more refined production process.using one bud and one leaf for full fermentation. the shape is cord tight knot small as eyebrow, the luster is Ukraine; tea aroma lasting fragrance, like fruit orchid fragrance, the aroma has this special name “Qimen fragrant” in the international tea market; tea soup color and leaf color is red and bright, the taste is fresh and thick, and even drink with milk and the sweet sugar, the aroma is not only reduced, but more fragrant.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pistachio Ice Cream/DAVIDs Tea

Disclaimer: I have a long-standing love affair with this flavor. I bought it as one of my very first non-grocery-store loose-leaf blends. The combination of its yummy flavor and the general fact that loose leaf is better combined to make this BASICALLY BAE, as the kids say.

So take this gushing with a grain of salt.

Speaking of salt, pistachio has a sweet & salty vibe that’s delicious. It’s a rare tea ingredient, which makes it special. The funkiness of the pistachios is held up by sweet apples, sturdy black tea, and almonds. The result is a cozy, warm, sweet flavor that reminds me of nothing so much as David the Gnome.

If you don’t remember David the Gnome, it was a cartoon show about gnomes who gave each other nose kisses and hustled around the forest, healing animals. It was adorable. It was kind. It made you feel joyous. JUST LIKE THIS TEA.

For a while there, David’s Tea had discontinued this, and I was very sad. I was drinking my depleting stash as a “special treat.”

THEN IT RETURNED.

The world is an unpredictable place. Life is short. Buy the tea.


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Leaf Type:

Where to Buy:  Davids Tea

Description

Cool, creamy and out of this world – there’s nothing quite like a bowl of ice cream. Even Roman emperor Nero couldn’t resist its frosty deliciousness. Legend has it he used to send runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavoured with fruits and nuts. Though he had the right idea, it seems he was missing a key ingredient – pistachios. Sweet and salty, pistachio ice cream is just one of those desserts that keep us coming back for more. And with this nutty blend of black tea and crunchy pistachios, you’ll definitely want two scoops.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

High Mountain Oolong/Qi Aerista

This just might be the first tea I have ever tried from Qi Aerista. More specifically, High Mountain Oolong from Qi Aerista, that is.

First I want to talk about their website. It’s pretty fantastic when it comes to individual information about each one of their teas and products. Very few companies describe the process of each tea to the degree that Qi Aerista did. With this oolong, they said it went thru the traditional process, but went one further to describe it step-by-step which included Plucking, Withering, Bruising, Kill-green/Fixation, Rolling & Shaping, and Drying & Roasting with special emphasis on the ‘bruising’. Bruising is a critical phase as it involves rounds of shaking and resting of the leaves to obtain the right amount oxidation that delivers the optimal flavor and aroma.

Going beyond the process, they told more secrets of this tea including the tea type being a Semi-oxidized Oolong and what other names it could go by which were Xiyan Oolong and West Rock Oolong. Cultivar was listed as Local oolong cultivar and the region it hails from is Dapu County, Guangdong Province, China.

What I find even more exciting is that the age of the plant in which this tea came from was over 60 years old and grew at an altitude of 1250m/4100ft from their April 2017 harvest.

I took about 2 or more teaspoons of this loose leaf and infused for about 3 minutes. It was the perfect cuppa outcome! It offered a gentle roasted flavor but it was also sweet. Smooth, crisp, and a bit nutty on the end sip! A really lovely flavor. I can’t want for another cup! Next time you are looking for a tea to buy or try – make sure you look this one up!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Qi Aerista

Description

This tea is no longer on the website but click below for more information regarding Qi Aerista’s offerings.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!