Review: Craft of Tea Four Seasons

Craft of Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"While I tend to prefer the 'greener' oolongs, this is not one that I can recommend especially as I do enjoy letting my teas cool off some so I can really savor the flavors that come out."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 5.3/10
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craftofteafourseasonsHave you ever wished that you could have the option of choosing the teas that you would receive as part of a subscription service? Well Craft of Tea allows that or you can let them choose what you will get each month. And if you aren’t interested in a subscription at all, well then you can just go an purchase their teas outright. I do admit that I really like having the choice since I do belong to a couple subscription services but since I don’t care for green teas, I end up giving away a lot of teas.

My sample today is an Oolong that the blurb states is grown in the mountains of Taiwan and is 25 to 40% oxidized. The leaves have been folded up into little balls and are a medium olive color. The aroma is fresh and reminds of green, growing plants with just a hint of woodiness.

I set up the leaves to brew using the 185 degree water and a steep time of 3 minutes that is recommended for this tea. The liquor is a pale gold that reminds me a white wine with a delicate floral aroma.

A lighter tea with a pleasing floral top note of lilacs, it has a very smooth, pleasant flavor when hot. As it cools however this tea develops a strong mineral twang and bitterness that tries to overpower the sweetness of the lilacs. There is also a lingering, woody aftertaste that isn’t entirely pleasant.

While I tend to prefer the ‘greener’ oolongs, this is not one that I can recommend especially as I do enjoy letting my teas cool off some so I can really savor the flavors that come out. In the case of this oolong however it is best when it is hot and very freshly brewed. I also found the price high for a tea that turns bitter so quickly and doesn’t have a lot of info about the style of oolong.

— To purchase Craft of Tea Four Seasons, 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: Tea Adventure Monkey Chief Hon Kui

Green Tea, Tea Adventure No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Robust green with a dry, lingering vegetal finish."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.9/10
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monkeychiefThis Chinese green tea is harvested in Taiping, Anhui, and it is otherwise known as Tai Ping Hou Kui. It has huge flat green leaves, 2-3 inches long and very broad. They’re a deep green, though they turn grassy when steeped.

I steep 3 grams per cup at 176° for about a minute and get a bright yellow liquor that smells smoky and vegetal. It’s a robust green tea: Smoky, earthy, and vegetal with an underlying fishiness. It has the earthiness and the sharpness of a young, raw puerh, but it’s not bitter. It doesn’t have much vegetal or any sweetness. Overall it’s a rather robust green with a dry, lingering vegetal finish. Despite the depth, it has a surprisingly light body.

My three-minute second steep has a great deal less character than the first, but it’s still interesting. Smoky, earthy, and with a dry finish, it’s smoother and milder than the first. It’s a less interesting cup than the first, but it’s more drinkable.

This is a green tea in a league of its own. Not only is it unique, but for such a robust green tea, it’s remarkably drinkable. I don’t usually favour green teas with strong smoky, earthy notes, but this is an exception. It’s also extremely affordable, so this is a tea I would definitely buy.

— To purchase Tea Adventure Monkey Chief Hon Kui, 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: Tea At Sea Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong

Oolong Tea, Organic Tea, Tea at Sea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"This oolong has some potential but the more pleasant floral elements of the cup are overshadowed by bitter and rough vegetal flavours."
Sophie’s Teaview: 6.5/10
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teaseamountainindooolongThis organic oolong is grown at 800m above sea level, in the Halimun Mountains of Indonesia. Oxidized at 35%, the leaves are said to produce a light, creamy flavour. The large, vibrantly hued, yellowish green leaf nuggets smell delicious! Their aroma mixes notes of cream, honey and springtime blooms.

I follow the instructions provided on my sample’s package, infusing a heaping teaspoonful of leaf in 250ml of boiling water for 5 minutes. The tea again has an enticing sweet and creamy aroma. The pale gold cup is rather milky and mineral at first, sort of like a Jin Xuan. As it cools however, it becomes bitter and vegetal, channeling strong celery, arugula and fennel flavours. These are more abrasive than I would like but it’s not a terrible cup overall.

After a 6 minute long steep, my second cup feels a little smoother. As it cools it develops a vague floral sweetness, overtop of the vegetal tones. These are still too sharp to my taste, detracting from my overall enjoyment. It’s a drinkable cup, but not one that I would particularly seek out again.

I try a final steep, following an 8 minute long brew. It’s pretty mild but there are still some interesting flower tones present, especially lilac and lilies. There is also a hint of milk and almonds. All the roughness of the previous cup is gone. This is possibly my favourite infusion of the lot.

This oolong has some potential but the more pleasant floral elements of the cup are overshadowed by bitter and rough vegetal flavours. Using different brewing parameters like cooler water temperature and shorter steep times should help bring out sweeter, smoother tones. That said, it’s very affordable, especially for an organic tea. At this price, it’s worth experimenting, especially if purchasing some of Tea at Sea’s excellent Yunnan Organic Black.

— To purchase Tea At Sea Mountain Organic Indonesian 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: Sophie Sophie
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Review: Ambrosia Herb Persian Bliss

Ambrosia Herb, Banana Tea, Black Tea, Coconut Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Alexa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The allspice, banana chips, and coconut flakes create a unique flavor. This tea is worth trying! "
Alexa’s Teaview: 7.3/10
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I have tried a few teas from AmbrosiaHerb and haven’t had a bad experience. AmbrosiaHerb, based in California, offers a wonderful variety of herbal teas. Their Persian Bliss is a blend of black tea, banana chips, vanilla beans, allspice, and coconut flakes. I picked out this tea since I’m a fan of all those ingredients. This tea smelled spicier than I expected. The banana and vanilla is subtle. The black tea gives off a bitter aroma.

I steeped 1 teaspoon in a cup of almost boiling water. I let the leaves steep for about 5 minutes. A spicy, fruity smell wafted from the leaves as they steeped. As the tea steeped longer, the aroma of allspice became more evident while the fruity aromas mellowed. I could detect the banana chip and vanilla bean as I took in a big whiff of the tea.

As you take a sip, you immediately taste the allspice. A coconut vanilla aftertaste is left in your mouth as the spicy liquid runs down your throat. This is a light, yet warming and soothing tea. It isn’t bitter from the spice and black tea, as many spiced teas tend to be. It is rather mellow with a hint of fruity sweetness. The allspice, banana chips, and coconut flakes create a unique flavor. This tea is worth trying!

— To purchase Ambrosia Herb Persian Bliss, 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: The Little Red Cup Mao Jian

Green Tea, The Little Red Cup No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"It's not great, but it's easy to make and easy to drink and really, really cheap."
Katie’s Teaview: 6.3/10
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littleredcupgreenmaojianLast time I tried a tea from this company, they had very little selection, but I see they’ve added a few teas since then, and one can’t help but imagine they’re hoping to continue to grow with time. It appears they’ve also started shipping to Canada, and that’s a huge bonus from me as it’s hard to recommend others buy from a tea company I can’t even buy from. They’re still sticking to their original mission and specialising in straight Chinese leaves, and one of my favourite staples from any country is Mao Jian.

The leaves are a deep forest green colour, curled, and smell richly vegetal. I steep a teaspoon at 176° for two minutes and get a beautiful honey yellow liquor that smells surprisingly faint. The flavour is faint enough I end up chugging the first cup and resteeping with 1.5 teaspoons per cup at the same time and temp.

It’s a “rough,” rather than delicate, green tea. Heavily smoky up front, it tapers off into a mid-level vegetal flavour. I prefer more buttery and vegetal notes to smoky ones, but at this price, I’m neither surprised nor disappointed by the rough edges to the cup. It is also brilliantly easy to drink, going down surprisingly smoothly. I steep again for three minutes and get a blander cup than the first, but it’s acceptable enough I’d still resteep just to make this already affordable cup go that extra mile. I’d call it a mid-range Mao Jian, not particularly flavourful or delicate, but not harsh enough that you notice.

This is a definite would buy tea. So why not a higher score? Once I was in a store in Chinatown, and they had a Thai green tea for something like $1.50 an ounce. I bought 1.2 Kilograms of the stuff, drank it all within months, and mourned its passing when I finally used that last teaspoon of leaf. When I stumble out of bed first thing, I usually have that terrible moment where I desperately need caffeine to wake up, but I haven’t had any caffeine, so I can’t put together enough brain power to make a decent cup of tea. This kilo of mid-range green tea sat right by my tea table, so first thing after waking up, I never had to think, as even the most hopeless or tired of tea lovers could make a passable cup of it. I would have given that tea a 6/10 had I rated, yet I drank it nearly daily for a year.

This is that sort of leaf. It’s not great, but it’s easy to make and easy to drink and really, really cheap. At $35/pound, I’d buy a kilo and drink it every time I don’t want to think, which is almost every time I wake up. Sure, it won’t give me a religious experience, taste-wise, but I also won’t notice that I have something disgusting in my cup (a la bagged orange pekoe teas), and I also won’t get raging heartburn first thing in the morning (how does anyone stomach coffee before breakfast?!), and sometimes that’s all I ask.

— To purchase The Little Red Cup Mao Jian, 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

Chai Tea, Firepot Chai, Herbal Tea No Comments »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is a really great chai if you're looking for a caffiene alternative that doesn't lack in flavor. Add milk to a mason jar, shake it vigorously and microwave for 30 seconds, you'll have frothy milk to enhance the flavor. "
Samantha’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Alexa gave it 7.5/10
Your Reviews: 5/10
1 reader review | Add your review »

firepotchailogoSummer has officially arrived and while I’m transitioning my palate from black to green tea, every once in a while you just have to have a good chai.

Award winning company, Firepot Chai offers a caffeine free alternative to the typical black based chai combinging Fair Trade certified cacao nibs with their chai spice blend. The blend includes organic cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, cloves and coriander.

A heaping tablespoon was used to brew for 4 minutes with boiling water. The aroma is pleasently chocolatly and spicey. The taste is deliciously chocolaty though the body is a bit thinner than I anticipated. This is a really great chai if you’re looking for a caffiene alternative that doesn’t lack in flavor. Add milk to a mason jar, shake it vigorously and microwave for 30 seconds, you’ll have frothy milk to enhance the flavor.

Thumbs up to Firepot Chai. Great product!

— 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: Samantha Samantha
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