White Tipped Oolong from Simple Loose Leaf. . .

This tea is like an academic who hikes then comes home to write an academic paper on his worn leather couch. The flavor here is earthy, but sophisticated. There’s that sharp, deep flavor that calls forth dark tweed blazers with patched elbows.

The description on Simple Loose Leaf’s site indicates a “nutty” flavor, but I’m not sure I’m getting that. Believe me, I’ve spent several minutes trying to find it. I’ve been swishing the tea around in my mouth. My teeth are yellower for it.

That said, I’m good without the nutty flavor. The flavor that is here is a winner. It’s a tongue-lingerer, which means I get to keep it for a while.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy: Simple Loose Leaf 

White Tipped Oolong is an open leaf full body oolong that has a smooth taste. When brewing look for earthy notes along with slight a nuttiness from this oolong. Like many oolongs, White Tipped Oolong will evolve over the course of the tea’s temperature changes – so let the cup of tea cool as you drink to to experience the changing flavor profile.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

A Quarter to Tea’s Tea Box. . .

Last year for my birthday I was gifted an A Quarter to Tea monthly subscription for 8 months. When the gift ended, I wasn’t ready to give up my monthly box of delicious so I continued on the subscription myself. In March, I received what I like to call my “Anniversary Box” as I had come to a full year of A Quarter to Tea tastiness being brought monthly to my door.

This box has some great options including Green Velvet Cake, a flavored green tea; Pistachio and Cream Cookie, a flavored white tea; and Whisky Chocolate Truffle and Hot Cross Buns, which are both flavored black teas.

Green Velvet Cake: This is the tea I was most excited to try given my love of cake and all things dessert. First thing I noticed was that the dry leaf and the steeped tea capture the scent of cream cheese frosting perfectly.That frosting comes through in taste too, albeit not as strongly as the smell would suggest. Peeking over the edge of that sweet icing flavor, is just a touch of the kukicha base – slightly grassy yet fresh. Personally I could do without the vegetal input of the base tea and with a touch more actual cake notes. The frosting is nice but it isn’t called “Green Velvet Cake Frosting”.

Pistachio and Cream Cookie: This blend combines white tea, sprinkles, pistachios, rose petals, and natural flavors. Though the “cream cookie” calls to me, pistachio is a flavor I am indifferent to and rose just isn’t appealing. When I had this before, it had a creamy note to it, though today it has less cream. Instead of that cream, this has almost a touch of spice and definitely more rose. There is also more pistachio flavor which comes through clearly and helps sell “baked good”. When I think about it, I can see this as a cookie with a hint of brown sugar, a hint of spice, and the distinct pistachio nuttiness. The rose is what takes me out of that cookie mindset so my preference would be to eliminate that ingredient altogether. However, that is more due to personal preferences than a reflection on the rose’s contribution to the tea.

Whisky Chocolate Truffle: This was the one I was least excited about trying. As cute as the shamrock sprinkles are, whisky just isn’t my favorite and chocolate can be hit or miss, especially when cacao nibs and shells are used like they are in this tea. Other ingredients include marshmallow root, semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, and natural flavors. As I drink this, I know it is not for me. It has a chocolate undertone but one that is more dark and bitter than milky and sweet, which is my preference. There is also a definite alcohol vibe here that again isn’t really to my tastes. Something about this tea overall comes off very dried fruit/raisin/prune to me and though I can see this being nice for others, I am just not part of the demographic this was blended for.

Hot Cross Buns: Comprised of black tea, lemongrass, calendula, raisins, and natural flavors, the steeped tea smells lemony and sweet with a touch of raisins. It is certainly selling the baked good scent with lemon glaze. Now I should say I have never actually had a Hot Cross Bun but if they taste anything like the first sip of this tea, I would devour mountains of them because this. is. good. The yunnan base has a strong bread flavor and the lemongrass tastes like a sweet glaze drizzled on top. The raisin pops up every now and again as an explosion of juicy sweetness, just as a raisin in a bun would explode when you bit into it. Honestly, this tea just captures fresh baked goods perfectly…warm, spicy, sweet, doughy and delicious!

As far as the teas in this box go, Hot Cross Buns is by far my favorite, followed by Green Velvet Cake and Pistachio and Cream Cookie. Whisky Chocolate Truffle was a miss for me but I can appreciate that there is quite the variety here to appeal to all tastes. What worked for me might not work for others and vice versa. That is what makes subscription boxes like this so fun!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Subscription Box
Where to Buy: A Quarter To Tea

The gift that keeps on giving!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Organic Fruit Jam from Tea Sparrow. . . .

When it comes to getting me gifts, my friends and family often turn to one of two things: mugs or tea subscriptions. One such subscription that I received as my Secret Santa gift this past holiday season was several months of tea from Tea Sparrow. If I am being honest, as someone who loves really out there flavors, I have been underwhelmed by the more basic options I’ve been receiving.

With that said, this Organic Fruit Jam tea did catch my eye. It has the usual fruit tea ingredients such as apples, hibiscus, rosehips, and strawberries but it also has more exciting flavors like barley malt, cream extract, etc.

I made this iced in light of the potential for tartness thanks to the hibiscus and rosehips. Unfortunately, despite the unique ingredients, this tastes a lot like many of the other fruit tisanes I have had before, tart and with a vague fruitiness. It also has a sharp tart note atop the rest of the tartness that hits the back of your mouth near the end of the sip. Alas there is nothing here that says “jam” to me.

I also brewed this hot and intended to try it that way to compare it with the iced tea but life got in the way and the mug cooled before I got to it. However, the hot brewed tea which has then cooled is smoother than the iced tea. It also is a bit less tart than the iced tea which makes more room for a muddled fruit flavor to come through. Still not a “jam” tea to me but this cup is definitely closer to that desired flavor than the iced tea given there is more sweetness here.

Ultimately, I just feel like I’ve had this tea time and time again. The hibiscus/rosehip tartness is overwhelming with a generic fruitiness taking a back seat. The unique ingredients that intrigued me in the first place add nothing or if they do, their addition is drowned out. It’s not bad per se but it just doesn’t stand out at all in a world filled with tea.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Tisane
Where to Buy: Tea Sparrow

With your Tea Sparrow subscription, you’ll receive 4 select loose-leaf teas each month: one black, one green, one rooibos and one herbal tea. You can expect about 35 cups of tea per month: more than enough to spread the love or completely hoard for yourself.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Coconut Lime from Handmade Tea. . . . . .

Month two of my three month Handmade Tea subscription arrived. This time I kept that wax sealed envelope closed and decided I would let the tea speak for itself before reading the provided tasting note.

First thing I noticed was the big pieces of coconut in the blend. The scent of them takes over which makes since given the bright white coconut chips amidst a sea of black tea. When steeped up though, the malty assam base is what floods the nose leaving me a little bit worried that those coconut chips are just for show.

Sipping on the blend, I will say it is a pretty nice black tea. The malt is strong here. It is smooth but a little bit pithy and astringent as the sip finishes. I imagine that is the contribution of the lime element seeing as I have no other indication of its presence in the tea. There are also notes of raisin and stonefruits, sweet and jammy, with a drizzle of honey. Now and then there is a creaminess that I think is the coconut though it is faint and merely textural. To be honest, if I was blindly trying this, having not known the name or seen the dry leaf, I would have assumed this was a plain assam tea, not a flavored one.

So, having now tried the tea and assessed it for myself, let’s see how my observations compared to those laid out in the tasting note: “The black tea has light raisin notes along with a brisk astringency” – so far it seems my thoughts are in line with what is to be expected. “Next we add coconut chips to add a natural sweet flavor. Coconut also adds a thicker and more complex mouth feel” – I definitely got the mouth feel component here, though I interpreted as a creaminess as opposed to the described thickness and the sweetness I attributed to the base instead of the coconut. “Lastly, dried lime peel is added in to finish out the blend. The tartness and subtle sweetness of the citrus balances well with the coconut and raisin-like notes of the base tea” – this was lost on me.

In addition to the tasting note, the blender provides a message in which he also makes note of the stone-fruit flavor I picked up on in the tea. He also speaks to the fact that he believes this is a good winter tea which is an interesting point in light of the more tropical/summery coconut and lime flavors. However, having drank the tea, I can see how this is better for the winter given the focus on the rich base as opposed to the lighter flavoring

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Handmade Tea

This is a selection from Handmade Tea’s monthly subscription plan. Click below if you want to learn more about this plan.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Wen Shan Baozhong Oolong from Tribute Teas/ChaHoney

WenMountainBaoZhongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Tribute Teas & ChaHoney

Tea Description:

Baozhong oolong originated from Anxi in Fujian, China.  A history of production reaching back nearly 150 years, it is the most famous tea of northern Taiwan.  The name ‘Baozhong’ refers to its traditional packaging in a bamboo wrapping.  A uniquely light oxidation and minimal roasting reveal a elegant, smooth, and notably fresh flavor.  Its aroma is floral and sweet, with notes of apricots. . .

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about subscribing to ChaHoney here.

Taster’s Review:

Subscription boxes are the thing these days.  I myself subscribe to a few.  The one that intrigues me the most is ChaHoney, a monthly subscription plan that basically does your tea shopping for you.  ChaHoney doesn’t blend their own tea yet instead looks for those amazing teas that you might have overlooked here or there.  Each month features a different company.  I just love this idea and hope to become a member soon.  But first I need to sipdown some teas (this will be #33!!).

I’m almost finished with this first box from ChaHoney that I received.  I’m quite impressed with the teas I’ve had so far.  The company that was featured was Tribute Teas.  You’d think I would have tried them by now since they are in my home state but alas no.  Shame on me.

This oolong right out of the gate smelled decadent and romantic.  I can absolutely pick up notes of lilacs.  I love lilacs and am happy just to sit around enjoy the aroma from this tea. So beautiful.

I let this tea sit for just a moment and then took my first sip. Gorgeous! Simply gorgeous, romantic and exactly what I needed today.  This tea is everything you could ask for and more.  Irresistible floral notes paired with hints of a sweetness that I would compare to an apricot.  The description is spot on.  I am incredibly impressed and next payday, this one will need to be re-ordered.

I am simply in love with this floral roasted sweet apricot loving oolong!  I can absolutely see this tea being one that you drink while you get lost in a good book. This is my favorite Tribute Tea to date!