Review: Golden Tips Arya Ruby Darjeeling Second Flush

Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Golden Tips Tea, Organic Tea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The taste is all I expect in a Second Flush and more. Overall the flavor is very smooth with a sweet aftertaste and rather light astringency for a Darjeeling."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 8.9/10
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goldentipsrybydarjeelRecently I was contacted by Golden Tips and asked if I would review some of their teas. Since I have been rather happy with the teas that I have had in the past from this vendor who is based in India, I immediately agreed.

The first one I grabbed from my box of samples is a Summer or Second Flush Darjeeling from the Arya Estate. All of the teas grown on this estate are organic which is always a plus in my book. The leaves of this tea are wiry and range the gambit of browns from a light golden to a charcoal brown with quite a few silver tips. When dry, the leaves have a fruity aroma that brings to mind a heavier wine or perhaps a port.

I brewed up my leaves according to the suggestions on the sample using 195 degree water and a steep time of three minutes. The resulting liquor is a darker golden brown with a strong muscatel aroma which is a delight to the senses.

The taste is all I expect in a Second Flush and more. Overall the flavor is very smooth with a sweet aftertaste and rather light astringency for a Darjeeling. It has a woody flavor that is lightened by hints of apples, grapes and a lingering caramel tastes that lingers.

As you can tell, I am very happy with this Darjeeling and it is a good reminder why I tend to prefer the second flush. The flavors are a bit earthier and stronger. The muscatel which I love is very present in this tea. I have put it on my list of teas to pick up for my personal stash.

— To purchase Golden Tips Arya Ruby Darjeeling Second Flush, 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: Shaiha Shaiha
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Review: Eco Cha Jin Xuan Oolong

Eco Cha, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"It's largely cream and lilac, and while it's nothing too exciting, it's supremely easy to drink."
Katie’s Teaview: 6.8/10
Your Reviews: 2/10
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ecochajinxuanJin Xuan is a varietal of oolong you may also know by its Western name: Milk oolong. I’ve found that, as with many types of tea, while I like Jin Xuan on the whole, the quality can vary widely enough that there’s no way to know if I’m going to like a certain company’s offering unless I try it.

The leaves are small, crunchy and balled. I put 3 grams in a 3 ounce gaiwan, rinse the leaves with hot water, then steep at 180° for 30 seconds. The cup smells of mineral, lilac, and cream. The flavour is mild with a creamy texture. It’s mostly notes of cream accented with lilac, but overall it’s so mild that it borders on bland. It’s definitely a more aromatic rather than flavourful tea.

My next steep is 30 seconds, and as often happens with oolongs, I find it more flavourful and more enjoyable than the first infusion. Again, it’s largely cream and lilac, and while it’s nothing too exciting, it’s supremely easy to drink. It’s definitely an everyday tea that requires no thought to brew or consume

By my 45-second third steep, the cream and floral are subdued, making way for a mineral note that grows slowly in subsequent steeps. I get a total of seven infusions from the leaf.

I’ve had a few teas from Eco-Cha now, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call this disappointing, this is my least favourite sample from them. It’s a good everyday tea, but I honestly probably wouldn’t get it for myself.

— To purchase Eco Cha Jin Xuan 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Yezi Tea Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong

Black Tea, Lapsang Souchong Tea, Yezi Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The mix of dried fruit, peat and cinnamon flavours is definitely a winning combination. "
Sophie’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Your Reviews: 9/10
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yezilapsangsouchongYezi Tea includes 3 free samples with every purchase. I received this tea along with my order a few months ago. More commonly known as Lapsang Souchong in the West, it has been smoked over a wood fire. Other than being almost all completely whole, the medium-sized, chocolate brown leaves are rather unremarkable. Their aroma is rather briny, with definite peat notes, but not overly strong.

I brew this offering the “Western” way, using 1 teaspoonful in 250ml of water heated to 90 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes. The leaves quickly colour the cup to a deep mahogany hue. The tea’s aroma reminds me of brown sugar, marshmallows and soup broth. The results are fairly smooth and light-bodied. The sip begins with rather sweet tones, mixing malt, raisin and brown sugar notes. It progressively becomes woodier and peatier, especially as it cools. The lingering aftertaste is rather unusual: mostly floral, with hints of cinnamon and mint. Smoky flavours are not immediately obvious, giving way to a much more nuanced cup, compared to other Lapsang Souchongs I’ve had in the past.

I steep the leaves again for 4 minutes. This time the cup is generally brinier, offering less seesawing between different flavours. The feel is rougher and more astringent. On the up side, the finish still features a good dose of cinnamon, raisin and malt notes. I don’t bother with a third brew however, as the leaves seem like they are all ready past their prime.

If you are looking for a predominantly smoky tea, this is not your Lapsang Sounchong. If you would like to taste the leaves, along with a little smoke, this offering is a good bet. Personally I prefer Yezi Tea’s delicious Yi Fu Chun, but the mix of dried fruit, peat and cinnamon flavours is definitely a winning combination. For a more intense cup, I would follow the instructions provided on the website, rather than brewing the leaves the lazy, Western way as I did.

— To purchase Yezi Tea Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, 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: Sophie Sophie
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Review: Firepot Chai Chocolate Chai

Black Tea, Cardamom Tea, Chocolate Tea, Cinnamon Tea, Clove Tea, Firepot Chai, Ginger Tea, Organic Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"The chocolate satisfies but the chai falls flat."
Katie’s Teaview: 5.8/10
Your Reviews: 4/10
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firepotchailogoThis is my first sample from Firepot Chai, a small company that specialises in, surprise, traditional chai. Accordingly, they don’t have a lot of selection, but that isn’t always a bad thing. If you do only one thing and do it really well, I have to respect that. The leaves are a multi-coloured blend of choppy pieces that smell peppery and spicy. I brew 1.5 teaspoons for five minutes, and the prepared cup smell deliciously, distinctly chocolate.

The flavour is surprisingly chocolaty, an aspect that does not disappoint, but I find that the chocolate flavour is my favourite part of this tea. Chai tea is the only kind I regularly drink with milk and sweetener, and I like them to be fairly spicy so they can take the additions, and this one is a rather mellow spice blend. I also find it oddly acidic, which I attempt to balance with sweetener/milk, and while that does cut the acid, as I suspected, it also largely covers up the spice. It does not, however, cover up the unexpected earthy aftertaste, my second favourite part of this tea.

It almost feels like I’ve doomed Firepot Chai from the start. I am really picky about my chocolate blends and even more picky about my chai teas, so there was never a high chance that this would hit all the right notes and be magically delicious for me. The chocolate satisfies but the chai falls flat. However, I feel like it does what it sets out to do reasonably well, and if you’re at all interested in this tea and at all less demanding than I am, chances are you’d enjoy it. Definitely worth trying.

— 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Spicely Sweet Turmeric Kick

Cinnamon Tea, Ginger Tea, Spicely, Stevia Leaf Tea, Turmeric, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"This unusual blend should please those who appreciate Indian cuisine."
Sophie’s Teaview: 6.2/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

SpicelyturmerickSpicely is a California-based retailer of organic spices, chocolates and teas. Their philosophy is to encourage fair trade, as well as eco-friendly practices. This all-organic tisane is a powdered blend of turmeric, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon and stevia. It’s predictably a deep ochre hue. The turmeric and the ginger dominate, aroma-wise.

This is my first time brewing a loose, powdered tea, so I was at first not so sure how to proceed. I pulled out my finest strainer but even then, the bottom of the cup became a bit of a gritty mess. Using fillable teabags would probably be best. Spicely recommends using water heated to 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Brewing time and quantity are left to the user’s discretion. I used a generous teaspoonful in 250ml and steeped for 5 minutes. The results are a murky tan colour. Taking a sip, I’m surprised at how sweet this blend is. The ginger lends a pleasantly warming kick, without being overly spicy. The turmeric is easy to pick out but more muted compared to the ginger and the stevia. If I try, I think I can make out the cinnamon and the vanilla but it may also be the power of suggestion. Personally I would dial back the stevia a little. While I like the sweetener (I even grow it in my yard), too much of it leaves an almost metallic, bitter aftertaste. This is what I find happening here.

I steep the tisane again for 6 minutes. It’s much less sweet this time, tasting mostly only of ginger. It’s not bad, but not fantastic either. Those who like straight ahead ginger infusions would do well to re-steep the blend, otherwise don’t bother.

Despite taking a good look at Spicely’s website, I have no way of knowing if this blend is good value for the money or not. For 17.99$, you get a tin, which is pictured along with other packaging options. No measurements in weight are provided. While this cup is pleasant enough, I would be more inclined to make my own blend with the spices I have in my cupboard, using less stevia. This unusual blend should please those who appreciate Indian cuisine but without more information, I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase it.

— To purchase Spicely Sweet Turmeric Kick, 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: Sophie Sophie
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Review: Lalani and Co. First Flush Yabukita Sencha

Green Tea, Lalani and Co, Sencha Tea No Comments »
Alexa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I was amazed at the smooth, sweet flavor as I took a sip. This is a stunning sencha!"
Alexa’s Teaview: 9.3/10
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lalanilogoI’ve been saving my bag of Yabukita Sencha for a special time when I could really sit down and enjoy it. Lalani & Co remains to be one of my favorite tea companies and I have had the pleasure of trying a few teas from their limited selection. This family run company gets their high quality tea from family run gardens. Their sencha is a Yabukia sencha. Yabukita is used to produce a majority of the sencha in Japan. Yabukita is also said to have the best qualities for making sencha.

This organic Yabukita Sencha is from the Wazuka Garden in Japan. According to Lalani & Co’s website, this sencha is shade-grown for 10 days to enhance the savory flavor. When Sencha is exposed to sunlight, the L-Theanine, which produced a savory, sweet flavor, is turned into catechins, which produces a bitter flavor. Since this sencha is shaded, the flavor should be more balanced, rather than overly bitter. I find many sencha teas to be too bitter for my liking. I also discovered that this Yabukita Sencha was picked between the 14th and 18th of May 2013. I love being able to get such detailed information on my teas.

I put 2 teaspoons of tea in 2 cups of water at 175F and let it steep for 3 minutes. The smell was light and grassy and the water turned a shade of yellow. I was amazed at the smooth, sweet flavor as I took a sip. This is a stunning sencha. It has a light grassy and vegetal flavor. Unlike the disagreeable, bitter aftertaste I endured during the last sencha I drank, this sencha left a light, sweet aftertaste. It is a more delicate sencha with a barely detectable citrus note. Sencha isn’t a tea I’ve had often, but I undoubtedly rate this as the best sencha I’ve had thus far. Lalani & Co also describes their sencha as having a umami note. In Japanese, umami means ‘deliciousness’ and is also used to describe a savory taste. I agree with this description because I would definitely describe this tea as ‘deliciousness’!

— To purchase Lalani and Co. First Flush Yabukita Sencha, 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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