Review: The Whistling Kettle East Frisian Black Tea Blend

Assam Tea, Black Tea, The Whistling Kettle No Comments »
Melanie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It is actually a really nice gentle blend and would be excellent for someone who doesn't like a pure Assam, or who is new to Assam."
Melanie’s Teaview: 8/10
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whistlingkettleeastfrisThe Whistling Kettle is an online loose leaf tea store with tearooms and cafes located in Ballston Spa and Troy, New York. They opened in 2004 with the goal of featuring both an online tea store and full service tea rooms.

I was really impressed with the catalogue I received with my samples. I spend several hours pouring over it. They have an amazing variety of tea!

This black tea blend is created with broken assams, as well as teas from Java and Sumatra Estates. When I opened the package, I had pretty high hopes when I saw the number of golden tips. This creates a nice malty tea and I love a good malty tea in the morning.

But no matter how good a tea looks, you don’t know for sure if it will be on the bitter side, the weak side, or just right until you taste it. This one was just right!

I started with a pot of tea, 3 small teaspoons of tea and fresh cold water. I know from experience that brewing an Assam tea requires just the right steeping time to get the full maltiness without getting bitter. I brewed this 6 minutes and I think that was perfect. However, I later made a single cup of tea and with one teaspoon of tea and approximately 7oz of water, I only steeped it 5 minutes and also got a very nice cup of tea. The brewing suggestion is 4-6 minutes and I found that even going up to the 6 minute mark, it wasn’t bitter.

The brewed tea is fairly dark and not particularly red. I could definitely smell the malty Assam, though. I drink my good black teas with light sugar and milk and this tea held up splendidly to both of these. I savored the pot down to the last drop.

Now, just because I’ve focused on the flavors of the Assam, don’t be mistaken that this is a straight Assam tea. It is actually a really nice gentle blend and would be excellent for someone who doesn’t like a pure Assam, or who is new to Assam. It’s gentle, a touch of astringency and the body is middle of the road – not too light and not too heavy.

It’s a great breakfast tea, though I did have one cup at lunch time. I could definitely imagine having this as my regular breakfast tea.

— To purchase The Whistling Kettle East Frisian Black Tea Blend, 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: JING Li Shan Oolong

JING Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Notes of lilac, cream, and a mild underlying melon flavour."
Katie’s Teaview: 7.9/10
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This lightly oxidised high mountain oolong comes from Li Shan in Taiwan. The leaves are huge, tightly-rolled, dusty green-coloured balls. I brew one tablespoon at 195° for two minutes and get a pale golden yellow liquor. It smells vegetal, mineral, and mildly creamy with notes of honey and lilac.

The texture is creamy, and it has a beautiful, clean flavour. The flavour has notes of lilac, cream, and a mild underlying melon flavour. The texture is perfectly smooth, the finish mostly clean with a mild, lingering grassy vegetal taste. The tea is equally aromatic and flavourful, a rare find for any tea.

I steep again for three minutes and get a brighter, bolder scent. It’s still smooth with lilac, cream, veg, honey, and mineral notes. The texture is thicker now, coating the mouth and letting the lilac and veggie linger on. It’s more complex than before, and there’s a slight bitterness that sticks to the back of the tongue.

After the second infusion, the tea starts to mellow into a more blended, milder cup, and by the fifth steep, it’s mildly honey and lilac and little else. A great finish to a great tea. It’s rich, but it’s still definitely a jade oolong. A true Li Shan, this is the very pinnacle of oolongs.

— To purchase JING Li 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Sanne Tea 2014 Oriental Beauty

Oolong Tea, Organic Tea, Sanne Tea No Comments »
CJ’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"Salty! ...and surprisingly flat given it's multi-colored appearance."
CJ’s Teaview: 6/10
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sannelogoWhat tumbled out of the package when I opened this tea reminded me of  “Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt.” I was delighted by this cheery blend of leaves in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Ah, but my taste buds were not so delighted by the festive-looking leaves.  I was hoping for bold complexity, but got a tea so weak, (or as some would say “delicate,”) I could barely taste it.

I brewed the leaves in “fish eye” (bubbles resembling fish eyes, about the size of pearls, rise to the top of the kettle at this level of boiling, producing temperatures between 175 and 180 degrees) water for one minute, as directed.

The color was yellow, not tawny as I experienced with other Oriental Beauties. As for aromas and flavors, all I could tease out was seaweed and salt. While an ocean-evoking hot beverage is a fine thing, this brew lacked any waves of depth or mystery. Unlike other Oriental Beauty teas I’ve tried, this seemed more like leftovers than the sweet, carefully-crafted leaves also known as Asian Beauty.

Taiwanese teas dubbed “beauty” are distinctive because they are processed by leaf hoppers, tiny green insects that chew on the plants. Their saliva imparts a fruity, somewhat fermented flavor to tea leaves, but in this case it was so faint I couldn’t detect it. It was overpowered by the savory notes.

If you have  sensitive taste-buds and prefer savory teas, by all means this is for you. I think it is a fine quality tea. It just wasn’t for me.

 

 

— To purchase Sanne Tea 2014 Oriental Beauty, 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: CJ CJ
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Review: Inca Tea Machu Pichu Mango

Apple Tea, Hibiscus Tea, Inca Tea, Mango Tea, Rose Hip Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Initially, the flavour is good but generic, all sweet and tart in a very non-specific way. But then the aftertaste hits, and it's all mango and deliciousness."
Katie’s Teaview: 8/10
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incateamangomachuInca Tea is a small company that specialises in blends that contain purple corn. Whatever you care about in the tea world, they have it covered: Whether it’s non-GMO, natural ingredients, supporting non-profits, recyclable packaging, or preservative-free blends. None of those things are particularly important to me, but I realise they all matter in varying amounts to other various people. However, the thing that gets me really excited is that their tea sachets are made from biodegradable materials! I compost all my tea leaves, partly for the sake of the environment and partly because I don’t want soggy leaves leaking into my garbage can, and the fact that I can’t compost high-quality tea bags has long been a source of frustration. For some time, I cut open the sachets, threw out the bag, and composted the leaves inside, but if I’m drinking bagged teas, chances are I’m feeling lazy, so I quickly gave up on that. These suckers, however, are going straight into my compost where they will eventually, hopefully break down.

I brew one teabag in 8 ounces 195 degree water for 5 minutes. The second the hot water hits the teabag, the liquor turns a brilliant magenta colour, I assume thanks to the purple corn. It smells brilliant, all mango and citrus and delicious.

Initially, the flavour is good but generic, all sweet and tart in a very non-specific way. But then the aftertaste hits, and it’s all mango and deliciousness. The spice takes a few sips to build enough flavour, but once it does, it adds a brilliant depth. And all that is underscored by a wonderful citrus acidity.

Inca Tea’s website says you can use each bag of their teas twice, but I am sceptical, since herbals don’t tend to resteep well. I’m happily wrong, however, getting a second steep that is nearly as bold and unique as the first. I’m so thrilled with my first experience with Inca Tea that I felt the need to use the word “brilliant” four times while writing out my initial tasting notes. It’s a unique, interesting, and delicious blend.

— To purchase Inca Tea Machu Pichu Mango, 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: Majani Imara Organic Black Tea

Black Tea, Kenyan Tea, Majani Teas No Comments »
Melanie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Telling you that I finished the whole tin, tells you how much I enjoyed it!"
Melanie’s Teaview: 8/10
Your Reviews: 6/10
1 reader review | Add your review »

majanilogoMajani Tea is a new company founded in 2012. Their goal is to find and sell naturally grown, organic, fair trade Kenyan teas. Fair trade benefits both the small scale tea farmers and consumers. They export teas worldwide.

They have a small but excellent offering. Two black teas, a black breakfast tea, two green teas, a white tea and an oolong tea.

My loose leaf black tea arrived in a sealed foil bag to protect it from air and sunlight and then sealed tightly in a very pretty tin. I was able to keep the tea in this bag, roll it shut and the tea stayed fresh in the tin until I had drunk it all!

The tea is a dark brown with some soft caramel colored stems. It had a scent that reminded me of a ceylon. Because the leaves were fairly large, I had a hard time using a tea scoop to measure the tea. So instead, I used 3 fingers and my thumb and took a large pinch of tea. This was approximately a teaspoon full.

I drank all of this tea in my 4 cup pot as my morning black tea. Telling you that I finished the whole tin, tells you how much I enjoyed it! I used 3 pinches for each pot and let it steep in a strainer for 5-6 min and then removed the strainer.

I always started with fresh cold water, and brought it just to boil. It’s a medium bodied tea so I preferred to steep it for 6 minutes. But if I went beyond that, the tea got quite bitter. So, unless you are like me and like to get your tea as strong as you can, I would suggest steeping it for 4-5 minutes.

The tea brews up a beautiful deep golden brown. I always use milk and sugar in my morning tea and this tea took both very well, though I had to be careful not to overdo it with the milk.

I found the flavor profile to be closer to a ceylon than an assam or china tea, and yet, it was unique in flavor. The description on the website says “toasty notes, with a hint of caramel, and sweet finish with a touch of spice”. To be honest, I think this description gives the impression that this tea is has a complex flavor. I, on the other hand, would say it had a gently simple flavor.

Simple is not bad. It’s not the type of tea that you mindlessly take a sip of and it suddenly jerks your attention to it’s flavor. It’s more like a favorite sweater you feel really comfortable in… a flavor you can settle down with and sip at leisure. It is a slightly sweet black tea, and if I was to put any flavor notes on it, it would be an after taste of orchard fruit.

All of that to say, I really, really enjoyed this tea. It’s simple gentle profile and medium body makes it a black tea that many people would enjoy. And it made for a wonderful month of morning tea for me! And I must admit, I always like it when I am drinking a tea that is fair trade. I enjoy thinking of the small scale farmers and knowing that I am drinking tea from a company who cares about people and the environment.

— To purchase Majani Imara Organic Black 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: Melanie Melanie
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Review: Dachi Tea Scarlet Honey Oolong

Dachi Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Dachi Tea's Scarlet Honey Oolong is amazing, they are serious when they say it tastes like cherries. This is why high quality teas are superb, cherry flavor naturally created by the artisan tea maker in your cup with careful attention to it's processing. This is why teas don't need flavorings added."
Samantha’s Teaview: 9/10
Your Reviews: 4.5/10
13 reader reviews | Add your review »

dachihoneyoolongDachi Tea hits the nail on the head when it comes to high quality oolong as well as their slogan “As Human As Possible” connecting us to the farmers and a tantalizing visual experience in tea. Scarlet Honey Oolong is an experience you must have. Sometimes it’s easy to drink mindlessly and not truly appreciate all that the leaves have to offer, in that case, enjoy and come back to it again when your palate has tamed and you’re ready to experience.

This tea is naturally bug bitten similar to an oriental beauty oolong which causes partial oxidation to create the honey like flavor. Produced by Mr. Ye, in the Meishan region of Nantou Taiwan.

For Scarlet Honey one tablespoon was used in 5 ounces water at 190F for 2 minutes. The first taste that struck me was the strong cherry like flavor, wow, they were serious when they say it tastes like cherries. This is why high quality teas are superb, cherry flavor naturally created by the artisan tea maker in your cup with careful attention to it’s processing. This is why teas don’t need flavorings added.

This is honestly the first cherry tasting oolong I’ve ever had, or at least have recognized as cherry. It is medium bodied, dark roast and creates an amber red color in the cup. There is an earthiness to it as well as a hint of plum and honey. The more you drink, the more the flavors meld together an the cherry becomes less dominate. For me, this makes for a great tea to transition my palate to more hearty flavors for Fall and Winter.

Scarlet Honey is a show-stopper and exhibits the craftsmanship of fine oolong tea. While it is priced steeply and may scare away beginner oolong drinkers, this tea is truly worth every penny. It is one of the most unique oolong teas I’ve ever tasted. Highly recommend this for oolong lovers. Beginners beware, this will set your standards so high for oolong you may find your self disappointed with other teas and make you a regular with Dachi.

— To purchase Dachi Tea Scarlet Honey 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: Samantha Samantha
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