Review: Teavivre Guang Dong Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea, Teavivre No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The cup is very aromatic, with a robust smokiness, earthiness, and strong apricot notes."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.5/10
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teavivrephoeixdancongThe leaves of this tea are small for a dan cong tea, only 0.5-1 inch in length. Other than the size, they’re appealing; they’re curled, dark brown with flecks of gold, and they smell brilliantly of apricot and smoke. Teavivre gives directions for either gong fu brewing or Western-style, but they’ve sent along plenty of leaf, so I go with gong fu.

I fill my porcelain gaiwan about 1/4 full of leaf, rinse, and steep at 195° for 30 seconds. The cup is very aromatic, with a robust smokiness, earthiness, and strong apricot notes. Because of the smaller leaf size, I’m not surprised to find the cup a bit harsh, a little acidic at the front of the sip and dry at the finish, but despite these notes it’s not really bitter, and the dry finish leaves me wanting more. And it’s backed by a brilliantly rich apricot flavour.

My second steep is already much milder. It’s easier to drink, and though still a bold cup, the apricot isn’t as shocking. Steep three is a little bitter but robust enough to handle it. I get a total of seven steeps from my leaves.

I brew it again western style, and though it’s got the apricot and some added lilac, there’s no smokiness now. It’s a bit of a let down after the gong fu – a tasty enough cup, but not interesting.

It’s definitely a commercial dan cong, but it’s also one of the most affordable ones I’ve seen. An everyday dan cong in both flavour and price.

— To purchase Teavivre Guang Dong Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Katie Katie
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Review: JING Ali Shan Oolong

JING Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Melanie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I really enjoyed this oolong tea. It could easily be a regular afternoon tea treat for me."
Melanie’s Teaview: 8/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

jingalishanAfter visiting Jing Tea’s website, I was excited to get the opportunity to taste some of their special oolong tea.

Ali Shan is a beautiful green oolong. When I opened the packet, the first thing I did was smell it. Beautiful spring days of my childhood flooded back to memory. It has the scent of spring – fresh grasses, with a touch of floral floating on fresh spring air.

This is a beautiful tea! The large green leaves are rolled up into characteristic balls, and the taste is as beautiful as it is pretty.

Ali Shan is not a flavored tea, but it has some distinct background flavors. It has a gently creamy feel on the tongue, and the flavor reminds me of a being in a peach orchard. I’m not talking about a sweet candy sort of peach. There’s an organic, earthy sort of flavor in a peach straight from the orchard.

Jing Tea describes it as being “famous for their outstanding aroma and flavour. An exquisite tea with fresh notes of spring flowers with depth of mango and apricot.”

I brewed this tea in my iron teapot. I heated the water to the lowest oolong temperature of 185 degrees, since it is a green oolong. I used two large teaspoons of tea and brewed it 2 min. The tight little balls of tea opened up into beautiful full leaves. It was a very pretty golden color. I also tried a second and third steep, but I didn’t enjoy those near as much as I did the first steep.

I really enjoyed this oolong tea. It could easily be a regular afternoon tea treat for me. It’s natural sweetness curbs the need for a snack, and the Spring-like characteristics help me face the winter dreariness.

— To purchase JING Ali Shan Oolong, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Melanie Melanie
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Review: Golden Tips Castleton Moonlight

Darjeeling Tea, Golden Tips Tea No Comments »
Alexa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It is a lovely, delicate darjeeling. The more you drink the tea, the more flavors you detect."
Alexa’s Teaview: 7.8/10
Your Reviews: 5.3/10
3 reader reviews | Add your review »

goldentipsmoonlightGolden Tips began in India during 1933 and markets “100% Pure Single Origin Unblended Teas.” On Golden Tips website, I learned that they are a main supplier of wholesale teas to many parts of the world. Their teas come straight from India and are ethically grown. The amount of information they give on their tea definitely sets them apart from other tea companies.

Their Castleton Moonlight Darjeeling Black Tea is a first flush tea picked April 5th, 2014. Not many tea companies give the exact date, so I found this impressive. The tea was grown above 1800 meters in the town of Kurseong. Castleton estate, the plantation where this tea is grown, was established in 1885 and is known to produce some high quality teas.

The tea leaves are light green, as they should be for a first flush. First flush darjeelings are less fermented, causing the leaves to be lighter then the second flush. The leaves smelled grassy, sweet, and minty. I steeped 1 teaspoon in one cup of water at 200F. As the leaves steeped, more minty and vegetal notes emerged in the smell.

After 4 minutes of steeping I tried the tea. It is a lovely, delicate darjeeling. It is not a tea I suggest drinking with a meal or any additives. It is best to drink on it’s own to fully enjoy it’s delicate nature. The more you drink the tea, the more flavors you detect. It leaves a sweet aftertaste. After drinking half a cup, I noticed the typical musty flavor that is common for darjeelings. I tried this tea a second time, steeping it for 6 minutes rather then 4. I didn’t enjoy this tea as much the second time. More steeping caused the tea to become more bitter, less sweet and mellow. I definitely recommend 4 minutes of steeping time for this tea.

— To purchase Golden Tips Castleton Moonlight, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Alexa Alexa
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Review: Tea Adventure Huo Shan Yellow Buds

Tea Adventure, Yellow Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Overall, the tea is insanely delicate, yet it has enough character to refrain from being bland."
Katie’s Teaview: 8/10
Your Reviews: 3.8/10
5 reader reviews | Add your review »

teaadventureyellowbudThis is not my first sample from Tea Adventure, and I hope it won’t be my last. Their website is beautiful and thorough, giving detailed descriptions and instructions for each tea. They even include a brief primer on the difference between yellow and green teas, the commonly found yellow teas, and exactly how this particular leaf is created.

I brew this according to the website’s suggestion, filling my porcelain gaiwan 1/3-full of the dusty green fuzzy spears and steeping at 160° for 20 seconds. The liquor is shockingly pale and smells very faintly vegetal. It’s a subtle cup in every aspect including flavour, but it isn’t bland. Creamy and faintly acidic, the smooth, oily texture coats the mouth and leaves a mild vegetal finish.

My second steep is one minute, and while still delicate, it has more character than before. I continue to add one minute of steep time each infusion and get a total of five cups.

Overall, the tea is insanely delicate, yet it has enough character to refrain from being bland. It’s affordable and relatively easy to prepare. This is a great novice yellow tea in that it is almost as easy to brew as it is to drink, but it’s interesting and complex enough that even the more experienced drinker can appreciate it.

— To purchase Tea Adventure Huo Shan Yellow Buds, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Katie Katie
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Review: Firepot Chai Chocolate Chai

Black Tea, Chai Tea, Chocolate Tea No Comments »
Daniel’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"On its own, Firepot Chai's chocolate chai encapsulate warmth and repose. The immediate note of each sip stems from the tea's cocoa nibs, and while there's nothing sweet about them, they will provide an interesting and detectable "chocolatey-ness.""
Daniel’s Teaview: 8/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

firepotchailogoI’m not a huge fan of chai; there, I’ve already admitted it, yet here you are, scrolling over a review meant to provide meaningful and reliable insight into a specific and ultimately unique chai tea. Rest assured, I’ve had many varieties albeit comparably slim to those more enthusiastic towards some liquored sweet and spice.

Predictably, I’ve never purchased anything from Firepot Chai, a Nashville-based company providing organic spices and Fair Trade teas from communities in India and Africa that the Firepot team has known for over a decade. Of the company’s very limited selection of products is an intriguing chocolate chai harmoniously providing a classic chai blend with an eye-catching addition of cacao nibs.

Starting at the highest points of the review, a tea latte or cup of flavored milk with a teaspoon or two of Firepot’s chocolate chai is insanely scrumptious, especially when sweetened. Of the many thick, frothy, and perfectly sugary lattes made from my Frabosk milk frother, my few from this blend were arguably objectively incomparable. Upon memory inspection, I just couldn’t think of any other tea latte that packed as much flavor in each and every sip.

Notes of the blend are balanced as well, which is difficult to do with any chai tea. Too often I’ve paid the price of excessively spicy or eccentric blends that promise everything but. Firepot’s chocolate chai, however, apparently has a little bit more figured out. In fairness, this is probably due to the fact that nothing in the blend could even pretend to be genuine leaves of the Camellia sinensis and the lack of such leaves do not invite the temptation to overcompensate (with various spices) for the boldness and astringency of what is almost always black tea.

The aroma pre-brewing is prominently earthy and not so chocolatey given the obvious lack of sweetness of the cacao nibs, but I did expect a richer aroma despite my small sample size. When steeped, the blend gives off its spicier notes in the ensuing aroma and the cacao nibs are more prominent. Yet for some reason, taking in these various scents all at once does not exactly provide the most pleasant experience, especially for a chai. I wouldn’t go as far to say the tea smelled musty or anything of the sort, but the individual ingredients meld together into something downright funky.

On its own, Firepot Chai’s chocolate chai encapsulates warmth and repose. The immediate note of each sip stems from the tea’s cocoa nibs, and while there’s nothing sweet about them, they will provide an interesting and detectable “chocolatey-ness.” Downing the liquor brings the bulk of the spiciness down with it, but it is not too much for the throat to handle. Impressively, the chai is just peppery enough to not be washed out by milky and sugary additives, nor is it too much so to be frustratingly harsh. As with many luscious-sounding teas, this one is a bit thin, perhaps primarily due to the lack of ingredients.

In all, this somewhat novel chai is within the range of hopeful expectations, but its simplistic nature can only stretch so far. When made into a tea latte, the brew of Firepot Chai’s chocolate chai is practically unparalleled. Don’t expect the unadulterated infusion to “wow” you, but it proves to be more than serviceable. For the aforementioned reasons, a favorable recommendation is well deserved.

— To purchase Firepot Chai Chocolate Chai, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Daniel Daniel
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Review: Ambrosia Herb Earl Grey Organic

Ambrosia Herb, Bergamot Tea, Black Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Organic Tea No Comments »
Alexa’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"It smells sweet but very earthy and smoky. You can tell by taking a whiff that this is some strong black tea."
Alexa’s Teaview: 6.9/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

ambrosiaherbearlgreyI’ve had lots of Ambrosia Herb tea and I’ve yet to be extremely disappointed with any of their teas. They focus on herbal teas and create some delicious blends. Their Earl Grey is an organic black tea from Italy. Natural Bergamot essential oil is added to their Nilgiri tea. Nilgiri tea is a very dark and aromatic tea, also called Blue Mountain Tea.

This tea looks and smells like a typical Earl Grey. It smells sweet but very earthy and smoky. You can tell by taking a whiff that this is some strong black tea. This is a good blend for those who love robust teas.

I steeped 1 teaspoon in one cup of almost boiling water for about 5 minutes. The flavor isn’t as sweet as the smell and is rather on the bitter side. It’s a strong, bitter, and smoky black tea. As a fan of strong tea, I rather enjoyed it plain. Since it is on the bitter side though, this tea is also very enjoyable with some cream and sugar. Due to being more robust, this isn’t a tea you’ll want to accidentally over-steep. The bergamot oil also isn’t a flavor that everyone will enjoy, though I rather liked the floral and citrus notes the oil created.

Despite being strong, it is enjoyable. Since this is a black tea, the blend contains caffeine and provides a good boost in the morning. I also find it very relaxing with the bergamot essential oil.

— To purchase Ambrosia Herb Earl Grey Organic, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Alexa Alexa
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