Phoenix Dan Cong Duck Honey Snowflake/SerendipiTea Studios. . . .

Gongfu Brewing. . .something has always scared me away from trying to brew tea up in the tea ceremonial fashion and kept me to western brewing.  I think scared may be the incorrect word. I think intimidated is better.

I was intimidated by the amount of teaware you had to have, intimidated by having the right teaware, and also intimidated by making a complete fool out of myself for trying. But when March rolled around and I turned 40-I finally convinced myself it was time to finally immerse myself into learning something new.

And learn something I did.  I found myself taking notes after notes from different videos on YouTube from amazing tea bloggers like Tea for Me Please and tea companies like Mei Leaf.  By the time it was all said and done, I found tea ware that I already had that would work to get the party started.

So to test this out, I took a sample of Phoenix Dan Cong Duck Honey Snowflake from Serendipitea Studios and brewed the tea both in the gongfu method and western style.  The different was night and day.

With the gongfu method, I was able to get these rich gorgeous notes of sweet floral that I was not getting with the western style.  These pops of sweet floral thrilled my tastebuds and I found myself eagerly drinking this tea down.  Towards the middle brewing sessions, I would find myself describing the tea as being delicate but with a bit of power behind it.  Yes this tea is delicate but this tea demands your full attention as well. There was also this slight savory touch that I could note here and there but couldn’t really pull what I would compare the taste to.

With the western style, I was still able to pull out those beautiful floral notes with a sweet touch but I will say that the flavors were not as bold and not as alluring. Still delicious but I would say I prefer the gongfu method for this particular tea. The flavors were just more pronounced and more on point.

Regardless of how you brew this tea, this tea is fabulous and one that I will be getting more of for myself soon.  I’m beyond thrilled with the tea itself and have found myself wanting more so I may be ordering quicker than I intended to.  Smooth, lush, floral, with just a hit of a contrasting flavor here and there. Can’t ask for more from your tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy:  Serendipitea Studios

Description

Elegant just like its name, Duck Honey Snowflake is a seasonal winter hand-picked harvest of regular Duck Honey Aroma all-natural tea. This winter version is much more florally delicate than the regular and contrasted to caramel like sweetness, its sweetness brings a rather icy wintry feel.

From the coastal area in Canton province, Phoenix Mountain possesses mineral-rich soil and is constantly surrounded by mists and fog, covered by wild tea tress and tea farms, as well as the folklore of the Phoenix Dan Cong Tea. Many wild tea trees are at least 100 to 200 years old.

It’s a special type of organic Oolong treasured for its highly distinctive natural aroma, and is also believed to be the ancestor of all Oolong teas. Well-known for its ten aromatic categories, it delivers rich and complex flavor. Local tea scholars and connoisseurs from China study and try to organize these all-natural teas into hundreds aromatic subgroups. Mandarin uses the word ‘Xiang’ or aroma for each specific type that mimics certain flower or fruit aroma. Phoenix Dan Cong’s aroma is never artificially added or perfumed but exclusively cultivated, artisan crafted, and each aroma comes from the tea plant’s natural aromatic compound.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Gingerbread Latte/A Quarter To Tea

I only recently became a fan of gingerbread and I am a picky one. I like gingerbread just so and I like just enough ginger in food or drink to make it sparkle but not enough to bite!

I am happy to say that this blend is the good kind of gingerbread. I made it as a plain hot tea first in six ounces water with no sugar and it was very good and very flavorful with a steeping time of just over three minutes. Ginger is the main note, followed by cinnamon.

But it is called Gingerbread LATTE so even though I don’t usually add milk and sugar to my tea, I do like lattes – a LOT, even though I rarely drink them. So I heated six ounces of milk with two teaspoons of sugar, and then plopped the infuser basket in for four minutes.

The milk is now a creamy color with little specks of cinnamon and spice swirling in it. Ginger is still up front with cinnamon a close second. The taste and texture of this drink would totally satisfy me as a dessert, no cake or pie needed. The flavor lingers for a long time.

Another A+ for A Quarter To Tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  A Quarter To Tea

Description

This tea is no longer available but click below for tea blends that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

I Will Not Faint/Adagio Teas

Before I get started on this review, I have to disclose that I designed this Miss-Davenport-from-Space-Cases-themed tea myself. I don’t get any proceeds from it. Those go to a charity I think the character would have supported.

ANYWAY.

Making this tea was an adventure. I don’t know how to design or proportion a good tea. Adagio doesn’t really give guidance; it just lets you jump in there and throw stuff in the pot in whatever ratio you’d like.

I just put some stuff in this blend that felt appropriate to the character. She’s English (Earl Grey) and obsessed with waffles (caramel rooibos) and strawberries (strawberry tisane). This is a low-caffeine tea because the character is stressed out pretty much all the time. The last thing she needs is more zing in her fret.

The result smells like CRACK. You should smell this thing. Creamy and Earl-y and rich with berries.

The taste, however… is okay… but not great. I think that all the strawberry I hurled in there might have too much hibiscus lurking in it.

The flavor is, like, tangy? And not in the best way?

When I swallow, it’s great. But when it’s actively being sipped and in my mouth, it’s both bland and a bit much.

This might actually be good iced. Hot, it’s meh.

I feel like I might have messed this up a little bit, but you live, you learn. Feel free to try it, though, and all of the other Space Cases themed teas I made. Every single one has proceeds that go to charity. I am not taking your money, which is for the best, because I can’t promise any of them are good.

Ah, Adagio. You are the tea world’s Willie Wonka factory, and I appreciate you.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Adagio Teas

Description

This tea is a signature blend.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Empress Rajini/Simple Loose Leaf

“When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground,” Cersei famously said in the first season of Game of Thrones.

If you think fighting for dominance isn’t for you, try Empress Rajini. She seems to have her tea game on point. Think of all the tea you could have if you were in charge. Delicious, delicious tea.

I steeped this cup to go along with a donut I procured from the break room. (Why are there never, say, apples in there?)

The blend looked flowery and rich and dark, a perfect compliment to my chocolate-frosted confection.

And BOOM, I was right. This rose-lavender-fruit confection was the perfect counterpoint to the black tea in the blend and the chocolate from the donut. The whole thing was an IMMACULATE pick-me-up. Delicious. Wonderfully balanced, sweet, and ladylike.

I suspect Rajini is a fair and beloved empress.

If you don’t want to risk your life to rule, you could just buy the tea from Real Simple Loose Leaf, I guess.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Simple Loose Leaf

Description

Black tea, lavender, and rose petals with mango and peach flavor

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Let’s Detox/The NecessiTeas

I don’t buy Detox teas. I don’t buy weight loss teas. I don’t buy any teas that claim magical health benefits. I understand some teas can help with some ailments (i.e. ginger teas and peppermint teas can help settle a stomach and chamomile teas can have a calming effect) but I don’t like when teas are marketed specifically for the purposes of curing people and detoxing people because, to me, that marketing strategy is tantamount to the work of a snake oil salesman. With that said, I do want it to be clear that that is just my personal opinion and I understand that for many, detox teas do help them feel better. That is why even though I wouldn’t pick them for myself, when a detox tea does cross my door, such as this one, I usually will try to have them at a time when I feel bloaty or have been having too much junk food because on the off chance they do work, I want to reap the benefits.

The past couple of nights I have been drinking and going out for meals and so if any time was a time for a detox, this would be it. I woke up at 6:30 am and brewed up this tea comprised of honeybush, rooibos, lemon myrtle, lemon peel, star anise, ginger, licorice root, juniper berries, lemongrass, marigold, stevia, birch leaves, willow bark, and natural and organic flavors. Essentially a lot of ingredients I tend to avoid (basically, I am not this tea’s target audience and thus this review should be taken with a grain of salt).

This tea tastes the way a Lush store smells. That is the best description I got. Hopefully you have been in the store Lush and can understand the reference but if you have not, Lush is a store that sells fresh handmade cosmetics. It is fragrant and pungent with a whole plethora of scents that come together in one semi-sweet, semi-medicinal cloud of fragrance.

Surprisingly, it is not as bad as I expected. Between the star anise, the licorice root, and the stevia, I was expecting a cloying mess. Though this does have that sweet licorice root/stevia top note that sort of coats your tongue, there is a nice ginger burn underneath which reigns in those sweeter ingredients just enough that they are tolerable. I get some lemon and some licorice. A little of this and a little of that but nothing distinct enough to give this a truly discernible flavor.

I will say my stomach, which was a bit queasy, is slightly settled. I think the ginger has a lot to do with that and to be honest, I would probably have preferred to just drink a ginger tea for this health benefit. However, it did help which means this does have some merit to its claim that it will “make you feel good from the inside out”. Plus, it is one of the more tolerable tasting detox teas I have tried.

 


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Herbal

Where to Buy:  The NecessiTeas

Description

This wellness blend will make you feel good from the inside out. This antioxidant rich blend of organic honeybush and rooibos is combined with marigold, birch leaves and juniper berries to promote a healthy immune system and cleanse away the effects of harmful toxins.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!