Mi Xiang Dark Roast Oolong / Verdant

Flavor and aroma descriptors are fascinating.

Take two people drinking the same batch of tea steeped for the same amount of time in the same cup and both could still pick up different nuances.  Step beyond that though and think about some of them.

Tar. Granite. Compost.

Not many who say that a tea has these characters but even if they do you have to wonder, so… did you chew on some tar? Lick some granite? Perhaps it comes down more to the aroma seeping into ones nose and enveloping the liquid flavor? Why get so philosophical?

This tea is intense, that’s why. It teases with a toasty earthy aroma that quickly dissipates the moment th water is poured on the leaves. High minerality in flavor.

I probably did like a rock or two in middle school. Master Zhang has perfectly roasted this tea to create notes of honey that pair so deeply with the toast notes. Steeped for over three minutes and it gives me hints of bourbon! Stop playing with me!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy: Verdant Tea

Description:

“Mi Xiang” is literally honey fragrance, and a few sips give credence to the name. In other finishing styles, honey usually takes a backseat to more powerful florals and fruit flavors in Tieguanyin, but Master Zhang here has brought out the subtle, thick and rich honeyed quality of Tieguanyin through his precise roast. We have so much respect for Master Zhang’s values in roasting tea. So many workshops will roast to impart heavy handed roast flavor, and in doing so, burn their tea and compromise its original integrity. Master Zhang roasts slowly and with perfect precision so that even a tea this dark tastes only of itself and not of roasted flavor. The result is a tea full of honey, toast and oak, a cozy delight in cold months.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Vanilla Sugar Cookie Herbal Tea/Plum Deluxe

This tea couldn’t have come at a better time. All this stormy weather makes you just want to stay at home with a cup of tea. And I don’t think I could have picked a better “comfort” tea for today.

I usually reserve spiced teas for the holidays. They can be overwhelming year round and aren’t my favorite during warmer weather. But this tea is very lightly spiced and smells amazing—like someone just pulled a tray of snickerdoodles out of the oven. (And it has me really wanting some of my mother-in-law’s snickerdoodle cookies right now!)

This is the perfect tea to brighten up a cold or rainy day. While it smells pretty spicy, the taste is very mild. Just a tiny bit of cinnamon with a vanilla flavor that takes the edge of the spice. It’s made with green rooibos and nothing containing caffeine, so it’s also a nice evening tea if you’re sensitive to caffeine.

The tea itself is lightly sweet on its own, but I added a tiny bit of orange blossom honey to my second cup. I steeped my first cup for 6 minutes and the second cup for 8 minutes. The second cup was spicier, but beyond that, there wasn’t a noticeable decline in flavor, which was nice. I was afraid the light flavors might quickly go bland, but it held up just as well!

This one should definitely go on your list of teas for a rainy day (literally and figuratively!). It’s comforting, even heartwarming, and is just the thing to brighten up an otherwise unpleasant day.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Green Rooibos

Where to Buy:  Plum Deluxe

Description

We’ve heard some of our teas described like a cookie-in-a-cup, but this tea is exactly that! Everybody loves a classic sugar cookie tea. This one is inspired by our staff favorite – snickerdoodles! – we created a calming herbal tea perfect for an evening night cap or just a smooth afternoon pick me up.  We use our favorite herbal tea – green rooibos – paired with a variety of vanilla extras and a unique spice blend that comes together perfectly.  It’s just lightly sweet and lightly spiced, making for a great cookie flavored tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pirate’s Pleasure Rum Raisin Black Tea/Tea Mistress

What could be better after a trip to the beach than a pirate themed tea? Pirate’s Pleasure is a blend of Ceylon black tea, rooibos, hibiscus, raisins, currants, cocoa nibs, rosehips, coconut, allspice, and natural flavors.

The black tea isn’t getting lost under the additions, and the overall flavor profile is warm and dark-fruity, not the bright “ping” of citrus or apple, but the deep satisfying notes of raisin, currant, and spices. I am not tasting the cocoa nibs specifically but they are no doubt adding the depth of flavor to the cup. The coconut is not in the forefront of this blend, but usually adds a bit of creaminess and so again, may be responsible for the impression of depth I am finding here.

Long after drinking, the warm spices persist and I know already that I will be making more of this today! Even with the fruit and spices giving it deep flavor, I do not find myself associating this tea with cool weather or fall and winter holidays as so often happens.

I tried it hot, both sweetened and unsweetened, and I think I preferred it lightly sweetened. It would make a fabulous iced tea, in my opinion!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tea Mistress 

Description

Ingredients: Ceylon Black
tea, rooibos, hibiscus, raisins, currants, cocoa nibs, rosehips, coconut, allspice, natural flavors

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Masala Chai / Shafa Blends

Shafa blends is a quaint little store located in an unassuming business strip mall.

We were in Baltimore for my Grandma’s funeral. Going right before her funeral may seem like it was a weird idea and ok it really probably was but who really is in a good state of mind before a funeral?

I wanted to give you this back story because it ties in with the rest. We walked into the store and we were greeted by the nicest lady. Throughout the course of our few minutes there she was incredibly kind, even without knowing our circumstances. When asking what I was in for today I said for their spicy chai.

She wanted to be sure I was ready for the spice level, I assured her I was. Now as I sit here drinking two cups of it, one with milk and one without, I can’t help but think of my grandma who was somewhat of a spicy lady. One of my favorite stories from her is when her family, 11 in all not sure of how many were there then, were all seated around the table and there was an argument.

My grandma lost the fork she had been waving around and it ended up piercing the ear of one of my aunts. Sounds kinda terrifying writing it but everyone laughs with tears rolling down there faces whenever it is told.

My apologies for digressing from the main topic but I thought I would deviate a little from my usual writing. For those who are curious this truly is a perfect spicy chai. Great with milk or on its own. When on its own it elicits an even spicer tone but the first touch on the palette is clear and silky. Don’t be fooled though as this quickly turns around and punches you in the throat. The after taste is spicy. A minute late after finishing and I still have a spicy sensation.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Shafa Blends

Description:

Our signature Masala Chai tea has an incredibly aromatic South Indian blend of spices with black tea, impeccable cardamom notes, spicy kick from ginger and black pepper. When you steep this blend in milk, the flavors blend in beautifully, and the addition of a little honey takes the flavors to another level. The longer you steep the tea blend in hot milk or water, the spicier the brew will become (a heat-lovers’ delight).

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

First Flush 2019 Darjeeling Blend / Upton Tea Imports

Did you know that one of the aroma descriptors for wet tea leaves is wet leaves? I laugh every time I read it and yet it perfectly makes sense.

If we really want to get complicated we could define how wet leaves differ in smell. For instance the wet leaf of this Darjeeling smells different from the wet leaf that falls in our forests around here in MN.

The wet leaves around here have a somewhat musty and crisp smell in fall whereas this Darjeeling smell is smooth and clear. Generally I don’t like to use clear as a descriptor but it literally feels like the air is clear and being cleansed when you smell it.

Perhaps there is some unknown air cleansing property to it like coffee.

This Darjeeling is quite lovely. It brews up a medium dark, clear, amber. Typical crisp Darjeeling flavor with a silky mouth feel and only a tiny amount of astringency in the after taste.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Darjeeling / Black
Where to Buy: Upton Teas
Description:

This 2018 first flush Darjeeling blend has a sweet aroma, hinting of honey and flowers. Those classic hints spill over into the golden amber cup, complementing the silky smooth mouth feel. The finish lingers on a clean, crisp note. A great value.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!