Premium Cha Khao Hom – Thai Rice Tea – From Siam Tee

 

SiamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong, Jin Xuan with natural flavouring.

Where to Buy: Siam Tee

Tea Description:

Cha Khao Hom Thai Rice Tea Premium – 100% natural scented Jin Xuan oolong tea;Exclusive Thai tea specialty from Doi Mae Salong, North Thailand; harmonious combination of high-quality Thai Jin Xuan oolong tea and natural flavor dispensers “Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye” (= “sweet fragrance rice tender leaves”).

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Firstly; I need everyone to bare with me while I do this review. Truth be told I’m out of my comfort zone with this tea but it sounds so wonderfully unique that I have to try it. That means I need to learn as I go, which will hopefully be passed onto you wonderful people.

When it comes to Thai tea I think about Oolong and fruity tasting black/red tea. Well this is an Oolong, Jin Xuan as it states on the description but it’s flavoured with a herb to give it a rice flavour. This herb is fairly common throughout Asia and it is noted to being translated from Chinese to English as “sticky rice” herb. A quick search has shown me that the Chinese name for this herb is Nuo Dao Gen. As well as “sticky rice” it is also commonly translated as “Glutinous Rice”. The part of the plant that is most commonly used is the root and it is said to be very helpful with night sweats and hormonal issues. Another few searches later and I find that this root is very commonly used in Asian food and it is not known to have any side effects, so fear not if you are disliking the idea of taking a random herb.

Some of this information became familiar, I have tried a Pu Erh before which claimed to be ‘glutinous rice’ flavour. It was a while ago and I remember the rice being lost against the strong Sheng. But alas, this version is an Oolong base which frankly I find super exciting!

It’s time to open the packet and reveal this mysterious wonder. As soon as the bag is open enough for me to stick in my nose I inhale deeply. First thoughts? “Woah that is ricey”. It’s sweet and toasted but the rice scent is remarkable. A part of me wants to eat it….

In appearance it looks like some normal Jin Xuan Oolong. The pieces are an assortment of small, medium and large sizes with shiny green and dark brown colours on the leaves.

This tea comes in two different grades: Classic and Premium. I dove straight into the premium end and honestly, so far I am happy with the scent and appearance enough to agree the leaves are indeed Premium. If you want more information on this tea including a comparison on the two grades then Siam Tee has a great article on their blog here.

This is the steeping instructions as taken from the sales page:

For the preparation we recommend pouring from 3.5 to 5 grams of tea- “pearl” with 85 ° C – 90 ° C hot water and a steeping time of 2-3 minutes in a first Infusion.

That sounds good to me, I’m actually thankful this was helpful enough to guide me with steeping information.

Just pouring in the water created a beautiful rice aroma that was strong enough to fill my kitchen and living room. Wow, it’s making me salivate!

Once steeped a yellow tea liquid is produced with the aforementioned rice aroma. If someone were to blindfold me and ask me to guess what it was by scent I would say it was a bowl of rice. There is also the same sweetness and toasted notes from it’s raw form.

The first few sips are interesting…I can detect a toasted grass, milky, floral Oolong but by it’s side is a sweet yet thickly moreish rice flavour. The after taste is a lingering thick (almost stodgy) rice note that has coated the whole of my tongue. A few more sips and it has an added sour note though honestly it’s not for long. I have noticed a slight dryness however which becomes noticeable in the after taste which frankly feels even more like I’m eating rice.

Ok so as rice heavy as this tastes it still does not take much away from the Jin Xuan base which manages to hold it’s own. This I am pleased with, if you’re going to drink Jin Xuan then you should really be tasting it.

Half a cup in and the dryness has increased again to a point that I have a cotton dry tongue. Not pleasant but the lingering after taste is making up for it. It’s still consistent though in strength and flavour from those first few sips.

Coming into this tea I had little understanding of what to expect, the nearest I could imagine was something similar to Japanese GenMaicha which has toasted rice pieces in. Now post drink I can say it’s very different. GenMaicha is more toasted and bitty where as this is fresh and definitely glutinous. It was strange (to say the least) but still pleasant and even the drying quality didn’t put me off. I can honestly say that I can see myself drinking a lot of this tea in the near future. Worth a try if you are after something new, or an authentic taste of Thailand.

Happy Steeping!

Hillside Black Tea Blend By Siam Tee

siam-tee-nordthailand_logo_85Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Leaf Blend

Where to Buy: Siam Tee

Tea Description:

An aromatic Thai tea blend based on a black tea, collected by members of the resident mountain tribe of Lahu semi wild ancient tea trees in the province of fishing which, by means of subtle and skillful addition of a selected blend of fruit and spices such as cranberry, ginger apple, strawberry and cherry in a unique way the atmosphere of the area covered by forest and agricultural land mountains of northern Thailand captures.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Siam Tee is growing to be one of my favourite EU companies, particularly when it comes to blends. This Hillside blend is also available with a green tea base but I chose a black base to try. One of my reasons for adoring their blends is because they use natural flavours from either fruit or essential oil and I take comfort in knowing I’m not drinking chemicals. Far too many times have I experienced a chemical, super sugary fruit tea that claims to be one of the best but really it tastes cheap and tacky, well I have yet to experience anything of the sort from Siam Tee.

Hillside Black says that it contains: cranberry, apple, ginger, strawberry and cherry but does not disclose full information, if you have any allergy then please be aware. The owner of the company Thomas is a very nice man and I’m sure he would address any concerns that you may have in an e-mail.

Opening the packet and taking a quick sniff reveals a mild mixed fruit scent. Further inspection shows very large leaves that are: black, curly, long, thinly rolled and are dark black with some golden tips present. Spreading the mixture out also exposes a couple of large fruit pieces. A closer sniff-spection adds sweet wood to the mild fruit tone.

Steeping Parameters: 5g of blend. Boiling water. 320ml vessel. 3-4 Minute Steep.

Once steeped the tea liquid is amber with a red hue and bares a sweet, strawberry fruit scent with undertones of wood and sour malt.

The first few sips reveal delicate yet sweet fruit notes with some astringency and a sour malt background. The after taste is sweet and fruity whilst not being too overpowering. The fruit is coming through as strawberry sweet but cranberry sour/tart.

As it cools the sour malt comes through a little more but the after taste is fruity and it lingers with the malt, adding some dryness to it all. Perhaps slightly perfumed over all but in a nice contrast to the malt.

The rest of the cup remained rather consistent in terms of strength and flavour. I know I bigged up Siam Tee at the start of my review and while this is not my favourite blend it is still a good job. In terms of quality they are one of the best available. No broken or finely chopped leaves here! The black base is stronger than the fruit but that is to my preference, with such a good quality black tea I want to be able to taste it. So think of this as a black tea with added fruit flavours rather than a fruit tea that happens to contain black leaves.

Overall I like it, a lot actually. Ok so I don’t love it like some of their other blends (Monsoon Oolong is to die for) but this certainly bridges the gap on this rainy afternoon.

Happy Steeping Everyone!

 

Lemongrass and Pandan Herbal Tea from Chiang Rai Tea House

Lemongrass+Pandan1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy: Chiang Rai Tea House

Tea Description:

An exquisite, balanced blend of two fragrant herbs typical of South East Asia. The lemony flavor and aroma of lemongrass is a great match to the sweet, vanilla-like taste of pandan. If you haven’t tried pandan yet, this infusion is not to be missed. The lemongrass-pandan combination is known to relieve stress, ease constipation. detoxify the blood and, being caffeine-free, it’s also the perfect after-dinner beverage. As for all our teas and herbs, these two are also organic.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Pandan seems to be becoming a more popular ingredient in herbal tea – I’ve certainly seen it more recently than I ever have before. It has quite a distinctive flavour, but one that’s also hard to describe – it’s sweet in a way reminiscent of liquorice root, with an almost thick-tasting starchiness. Pretty unique.

This particular blend contains an approximately 60/40 split between lemongrass and pandan. The “leaves” are quite small (approximately 2mm shreds of lemongrass, with slightly larger twists of pandan), but this also means that they brew up relatively quickly. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a pale golden colour, the scent generically sweet.

To taste, the pandan is definitely the most dominant flavour. It has a rather thick mouthfeel, and it’s the kind of flavour that lingers at the back of the throat. The sweetness, particularly, is rather cloying after a while. Fortunately, the lemongrass is there to freshen things up a little. It has a hay-like sweetness of its own, but also a clean, citrus edge that cuts through the pandan and helps to end the sip on a bright, refreshing note. I drank my cup hot, but I can also see this working well iced.

A pleasant, summery cup with two classically Thai components. This one is an excellent, and unusual, herbal, and definitely worth a try if you’re in the market for a caffeine-free option.

Energize Herbal Tea by Teatoxy

Teatoxy EnergizeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy:  Teatoxy

Tea Description:

Teatoxy Energize is a 100% organic blue detox tea blend that is absolutely unqiue and gives you the energy you need to stay fit throughout your day. Our master blenders have created Teatoxy Energize with 3 things in mind: flavour, health and energy. By combining organic Thai lemongrass, Pandan leaves, Moroccan Rose pedals with Bluechai and Lavender you get an amazingly delicious, all natural tea with a vast amount of health benefits.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was initially attracted to this tea due to its reputed energy-giving properties, and I’ve been drinking it fairly regularly since first receiving it a few months ago. The first thing that stood out about this blend was the quality of the “leaf”. Although this blend is herbal so there’s no actual tea, leaf seems an appropriate term to describe this particular mixture. The pieces of lemongrass are some of the largest I’ve ever seen – minimum 1cm square, with whole rose buds, whole bluechai flowers, and large, curly pandan leaves. The lavender is the only small thing here, with a generous smattering of buds throughout. It’s a really beautiful blend to look at – pink, blue, green, yellow, and purple. A true feast for the eyes.

When brewing a cup, I’ve been following the recommended parameters and using 2 heaped teaspoons of leaf. It would be difficult to measure much less than a heaped teaspoon in any case! This can be left for up to 8 minutes in boiling water, but in this case I went for a more conservative 4.5. I’ve found that this gives the most pleasant flavour (more on that in a moment), and means that the tea hasn’t cooled too much before it’s even finished brewing.

The second thing that stands out about this blend is the colour of the liquor. It’s bright blue. This is due to the inclusion of the bluechai flowers, which give this tea its energising properties. As an added novelty, lemon juice will turn the liquor from blue to purple. Lemon has the added bonus of lifting the flavour a little, making it sharper rather than sweet, and more refreshing, which might be quite welcome depending on your personal taste.

As it is, the flavour of this blend is another fairly unique thing. It’s certainly not like anything I’ve ever tasted before! The main note I can detect is rose, but underlying this is a thick almost-maltiness, reminiscent of some of “sleepytime” style herbal tea blends or hot chocolate. It reminds me a bit of Lush’s Twilight shower gel, as a matter of fact. The lavender obviously plays a part in this, but I suspect the pandan may also play a part. I’ve no previous experience with pandan to draw on, however, so I can’t say this too confidently. The aftertaste has a very natural, almost “green” flavour, which puts me in mind of a summer garden in full bloom; grass, chlorophyll, and the scent of flowers. This isn’t a tea for someone who really dislikes heavily floral flavours, because there’s a lot of that here, although adding lemon juice can minimise this to some extent. It cuts through what can become a very cloying tea, and makes it sharper and more refreshing. Definitely worth a try if you’re finding a full cup of this one a bit too much.

Since I’ve been drinking this one, I have noticed a slight improvement in my energy levels and ability to focus. I’ve taken to drinking a cup just after lunch at work, when I often start to flagg. It’s not a massive boost, but I’ve found it to be a good mild pick-me-up, without the associated problems of a caffeine slump. This is an interesting, unique, and intriguing blend. It’s definitely worth a try if you like herbals, want to try some new and unusual tea ingredients, or are looking for a natural boost. My first experience with Teatoxy was definitely a good one!

Black Tea & Lemongrass from Chiang Rai Tea House

Black+tea+lemongrassTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:   Chiang Rai Tea House

Tea Description:

Enjoy your black tea with lemongrass, another great ally of your body with a lemony flavor that soothes and tastes delicious! Sip it hot after a meal for an easy digestion, or pour it over ice cubes for a refreshing summer treat.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Another interesting tea from Chiang Rai Tea House!  This time, it’s a combination of black tea leaves from Thailand and the curly pieces of Lemongrass that I enjoyed so much in their Lemongrass & Ginger blend.  I don’t know if the cutting process that produces the curls in the lemongrass makes a difference in the flavor or if it’s because this is lemongrass from Thailand – but the lemongrass that I’ve tasted in both these blends has been a substantial lemon-y flavor – much more so than I’ve experienced from the typical chopped pieces of lemongrass.

The lemon-y notes are sweet and tart, but not pucker-y tart.  Just tart enough to make this taste like lemon has been added to the tea rather than a sweeter lemon curd type flavor.  Just tart enough to perk up the taste buds and really brighten the cup!

The black tea base is a very mellow tasting black tea.  It’s not particularly robust, so I’m happy to have the sunny flavor of lemon in this tea.  It’s invigorating from the refreshing lemon notes with a background of smooth, sweet black tea.

A really nice blend – not quite as strong as I’d want from a breakfast tea, but this would make a wonderfully refreshing iced tea or a great afternoon tea.