Wild Jujube from Teasenz . . . . .

This is the tisane I was most excited for in my review box! As a child I LOVED those Jujyfruit candies, big win for nostagia. But also a health win since instead of processed candies, these are the Cure-All “Red date” fruit that’s popular in Eastern medicine, purported to help with anemia (perhaps vitamin c to help iron absorb?) and insomnia (hmm the scientist in me thinks any nice warm drink should help your body sleep, but we’ll see.)

The dry tisane smells like kettle corn and looks like baby bagel chips about the size of a dime! They feel spongy to the touch, the only other thing I’ve consumed with this texture was… ha well a candy, man my sweet tooth is getting outed in this post, BUT this is a plus for my “less added sugar” new year’s resolution.

So I left in the dry fruits in my cup to brew, trying a very eastern approach, not at all because I was traveling and my filter was to small… They were big enough pieces that it was easy to filter out while I drank, without the fear of tiny pieces getting stuck in my teeth, only to be discovered after smiling a lot at someone important (cringe).

The infusion is a wonderful cider color and it smells of caramels like a distant campfire. It tastes like streusel, a sweet buttery goodness, even though I didn’t add any sweetener… or butter (not a trend for me). Welp, one sip and I’m done for, might as well just order more now. There’s also a hint of Asian pear flavor this medium bodied drink. This would taste so, so great with shortbread cookies, pity there’s no oven in this hotel.

Insomnia verdict: I’m sleepy afterwards but I’m not sure if it’s correlation from binge watching SYFY’s Magicians in the wee hours or causation from the tea. Another experiment is called for, woohoo!

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Dried fruit
Where to Buy: Teasenz

China’s most popular herbal tea made from wild jujube fruits from Ning Xia. The jujubes are dried while fresh and afterwards cut in slices with an optimal thickness for a perfect & healthy infusion.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Anji Bai from Teasenz. . . .

Another rainy night with the feeling of winter in the air. I want tea, a tea that makes me go “mmmmmm” and cuddle the cup.

Enter Anji Bai. Flat leaves of brilliant green that steep a golden cup of tea. The dry leaves smell like milk chocolate to me for some reason, which is also true of some Da Hong Pao. But the steeped tea does not.

The steeped tea smells like oh so fresh lightly buttered vegetables with a hint of asparagus and a hint of peas, but also freshly shelled walnuts with the little papery membrane still on. It reminds me somewhat of a Huang Shan Mao Feng.

At first I think the flavor is very light and mild, and I really concentrate on my cup. The creamy texture of the tea coats your mouth and makes you want more. I could really chug this tea but it is so delicious that I try to slow down and enjoy it. Now the green veggie notes are lingering along with the creaminess. Each exhale causes a little rush of flavor.

Note to self – drink this tea during quiet time and meditation. Exquisite.

(Package said steep for four minutes, website said three so I went for three since it is a green.)


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Teasenz
Description

Fresh and creamy soft with notes of citrus and nuts. From Anji, the town of dense bamboo forests and tea cultivation, comes this Anji Bai Cha, one of the rarest of all Chinese teas. With long, delicate, vivid green leaves, Anji white tea is beautiful in every sense of the word. A green tea connoisseur’s dream.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

White Peony – Bai Mu Dan from Teasenz

I usually stick to the “accepted parameters” for white tea – 180 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes, but Teasenz says to be brave and go with 195 degrees on this one. So I did! And on top of that, I was busy and couldn’t get the leaves out of the pot right away when the timer went off so it went a few seconds longer. And you know what? There was not even a hint of bitterness to the tea.

As is the case with white peony tea, we have a light/medium yellow tea when it is steeped and a light fragrance. The initial impression of the aroma is hay, while the main perception of the tea is creamy, to the point that two people said “creamy” at the same time when asked to describe the tea after sipping. And this tea is all about the aftertaste, which really lingers on and on. I would call this a cleansing tea, and the aftertaste reminds me of the pea pods of sugar snap peas that I used to grow years ago, and we would harvest them in spring and steam them lightly with a little butter. The ghost of that flavor lives in this tea.

It is a good tea for re-steeping. I am only on the second steep but it has lots of flavor and color left and will no doubt keep going. And the aftertaste is still going strong as I write this, too!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  White
Where to Buy:  Teasenz
Description

An authentic white tea from Fujian consisting of a mix of green coloured leaves and white silver needle buds, resembling a White Peony. Exceptionally smooth and sweet flavour. Full of flavour: It’s unbelievable how many steeps you get from the same leaves.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Mini Yunnan Toucha Mix from Teasenz – Reflection on Scent and Memory

I am far from an expert, but I’ve always been both intimidated and entranced by pu erh tea.  The tea comes packed in cakes and wrapped in decorative papers, and you might even have a tea pick especially for breaking up these tightly packed leaves. There’s a proper way to brew and taste pu erh, and all kinds of special teapots and accessories.  There’s something inherently magical about having the right tools for an ancient ritual.  With the Mini Yunnan Toucha mix sampler from Teasenz, I could give the whole thing a try at my kitchen table.

I’ve brewed enough bad cups of pu erh tea to know that it’s worth following the instructions.  For this sampler I used the following process for each: 20 second awakening rinse (pour off the liquid), 5-10 second brews following.  I only did three brews for each tea, though a good pu erh session would have many more.  I only used a small piece of each tea cake for my taste-test– I would not recommend throwing the whole thing in your teapot, no matter how small and cute the tea cake is.

For instructions I found helpful, I recommend Teasenz advice on using this sampler and White2Tea’s guide on on brewing pu erh at home.

I’m going to use the same naming convention that Teasenz used on its website, referring to the teas by the color ink on their wrappings.

First up was the brown wrapper tea.  This smelled like what I typically associate with pu erh: wet hay, earth, and old leather.  If you’re new to pu erh, these flavors may take a little getting used to.  Feel free to shorten your steep times to as little as 1 to 3 seconds if anything gets too intense.  This tea very much smelled like the outdoors after the rain, with notes of wet mulch and damp leaves.  I mention all these wet adjectives because there was definitely a sense of age or plant decay in the smell and taste.

The mouthfeel of pu erh is worth noticing, known for being exceedingly smooth, some might even describe it as creamy.  Black teas can be bitter or have a strong astringent bite, but no such sensation was present in the brown wrapper tea.  By the second and third steep, I continued to notice wet garden flavors, with more mineral tones like mushroom or beets or kale, especially on the aftertaste.  The wet hay fragrance remained throughout, coming on the strongest when first brewed and dissipating slightly as the tea cooled.

Next was the red wrapper tea, in a cube shape.  This tea felt similar to the brown wrapper, with notes of wet earth and grass.  However there was a bit of brightness in the red tea that wasn’t present in the brown, maybe citrus or orange, a touch of something tart. The second steep had more of this brightness, like lemongrass, along with the typical pu erh wet hay flavors.  By the third steep, the citrus verged to more of a bright pine note.  If the brown wrapper tea was a deciduous woods full of wet, autumn leaves, then this red wrapper tea was a damp, evergreen forest with crushed hemlock needles and pine resin.

After the brown and red teas, the blue wrapper tea was quite a departure.  As soon as I rinsed the leaves, I was hit with a striking popcorn scent.  According to Teasnez, this “sticky rice” flavor is a staple of certain pu erh teas.  My boyfriend was walking by the room at this point and said it smelled like Fritos corn chips!  As for the taste, this tea still had the expected wet grass notes, but the brew was more savory, like a soup broth.  The plant-like flavors were a little different than the brown and red tea cakes, this time tasting more like corn or celery.  As I tried more steeps with this tea, the sticky rice note became more mellow, and the damp earth and corn husk flavors were more prevalent, smelling more like an autumn cornfield maze.

Finally we get to the yellow wrapped tea.  This is a different type of pu erh tea entirely.  The brown, red, and blue wrapper teas were all pu erh shou tea.  The yellow wrapped tea is a pu ehr sheng.  Shou tea is fermented prior to packaging, while sheng teas are packaged “raw” and age in the package over time. This yellow wrapped sheng tea occupied a flavor profile somewhere between the wet earth flavors of the brown wrapper tea, and the toasty rice notes of the blue wrapper tea.  The yellow wrapper tea had flavors like starchy baked bread and old paper alongside the damp grass tones. This tea had the most variation between steeps, the second steep having flavors that reminded me of black licorice or roasted nuts, and the third steep brightening up to more of a celery and sweetgrass blend.

Personally, I find the smells and tastes of pu ehr tea to be memory-inducing, reminding me of playing and exploring as a kid.  The scents of damp paper or old leather are akin to going into an undisturbed attic, and the damp earth scents make me think about playing in neighbors’ barns or crawling under the porch for hide-and-seek, while the wet leaves flavors make me think of walking in the woods after the rain.  The flavors of these aged tea leaves provide me with a strong sense of nostalgia and history.

Or maybe I’m just waxing poetic here, and I’ve just brewed one too many cups of tea for one afternoon. Either way, I highly recommend this sampler as a great way to experiment with pu ehr tea and its traditions.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu erh
Where to Buy: Teasenz

teasenzlogoDescription:

If you are new to pu erh tea and have yet to discover the different types of aromas it offers, then this mini tuocha tea mix is the right place to start. Reap the weight loss benefits of this pu erh while enjoying the diverse mix of flavors that ensure you will never get bored.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Red Dragon Pearls (Black Dragon Pearl Tea) from Teasenz

I LOVE a good, solid Dragon Pearl so when I saw Red Dragon Pearls (Black Dragon Pearl Tea) from Teasenz was VERY eager to try it! The company says it’s an unusual black tea that is hand-rolled but I am certainly familiar with it as it’s one of those black teas I tend to look for!

I found that the aroma of this Red Dragon Pearls (Black Dragon Pearl Tea) from Teasenz – DRY – was that of a wine and/or berry scent and it was marvelous! Wet – the aroma is a different story! It smells like a genuine autumn day with wet, sweet woodsy notes, leaves, and even some dark chocolate and/or cacao nib aroma thrown into the mix!

I grabbed 5 ‘balls’ and infused them in my strainer and let ‘brew’ for about 4 minutes. I probably could have went with 4 ‘balls’ at about 3 to 4 minutes and I would have gotten a completely different cuppa but I will base my review on this for now.

The flavor of Red Dragon Pearls (Black Dragon Pearl Tea) from Teasenz is certainly in the strong category which I really like! I can absolutely pick up on a cacao nib-like taste to it along with the woodsy and earthy notes. It’s VERY malty – again – something I LOVE. The end sip and aftertaste has dark chocolate notes that linger, too! YES! You could say I enjoyed this tea and hope to enjoy another cup soon!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Teasenz
teasenzlogoDescription

An unusual black tea hand-rolled into pearls. This fantastically bold brew offers up all the flavors of a crisp autumn day with just one pearl. With complex malty flavors and a clean sweet finish.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!