Review: Lalani & Co. Okumidori Sencha

Green Tea, Lalani and Co, Sencha Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It's an intensely savoury tea, brothy with overtones of cooked artichoke and a mild lemon acidity to the aftertaste."
Katie’s Teaview: 8/10
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lalanilogoThe leaves of this premium Kyoto tea are gorgeous: shiny, evenly-sized forest green spears. I put 6 grams into my six ounce preheated kyusu and brew at 140° for two minutes. I get a cloudy pale green liquor. It smells strongly lemon, vegetal, and mildly buttery.

The cup has a oily texture, so thick it’s almost soupy. It’s an intensely savoury tea, brothy with overtones of cooked artichoke and a mild lemon acidity to the aftertaste. I thought the website’s recommendation of 140° sounded a bit cool, but it turns out it’s perfect. Any hotter, and I’m sure the tea would be bitter.

I steep again, and while the cup is still good, it’s already lost all its wow. The flavour is vegetal and somewhat buttery, but the balancing lemon acidity is gone, and the texture is thin. I expected the leaf to last a few more steeps, especially since I usually get five infusions from similar senchas.

At this price, and with the amount of leaf you use per cup, this isn’t an everyday tea for the average consumer. But Lalani & Co. is honest from the start. They don’t market this as an everyday tea; it’s sold as a premium tea because it is.

— To purchase Lalani & Co. Okumidori 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Golden Tips Giddapahar Muscatel

Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Golden Tips Tea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"With just a hint of a dry top note, darjeeling has a well rounded flavor profile with a pleasant fruitiness, a sweet caramel and a bit of astringency to clear the palette. "
Shaiha’s Teaview: 7.9/10
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goldentipsmuscateldarjIt’s no secret that while I love Darjeeling in all of its many forms, my favorite has to be the Second Flush. It tends to be a bit more bold and oh that delicious muscatel. And since I tend to be partial to muscatel, one of my favorite estates is Giddapahar which is a smaller estate known for it.

My sample today was picked on June 8th, 2014. It is composed of thin, wiry leaves that are blackish brown with a few lighter, golden leaves. It has a fresh scent that is strong on the muscatel. I set it up to brew using 195 degree water and a steep time of 3 minutes.

The resulting liquor is a dark golden brown with the fragrance of apples, caramel and grapes. Definitely an aroma worth savoring. The taste is equally one to savor. With just a hint of a dry top note, darjeeling has a well rounded flavor profile with a pleasant fruitiness, a sweet caramel and a bit of astringency to clear the palette. This tea also has a nice complexity with the fruitiness morphing between apples, plums and a slight ‘grapiness’ of wine.

This is a great tea to drink at any time of the day and it has gone on my wish list for Golden Tips. Speaking of Golden Tips, they are a well established tea company based in India with quite a variety of teas. It’s definitely easy to build up a wish list with this company.

— To purchase Golden Tips Giddapahar Muscatel, 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: Lalani and Co. First Flush Yabukita Sencha

Green Tea, Lalani and Co No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavour is largely vegetal, but with a beautiful lemon taste as a strong note to the foreground."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.4/10
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lalanilogoThis is my first tea from this company, but based on the website alone, they aren’t they type of place I tend to buy from. The website is very pretty and supremely classy, but it has limited buying options and hefty price tags. It’s definitely a high-end boutique company, but personal shopping tastes aside, it looks like they have really amazing teas.

This first flush sencha is from the Wazuka Garden in Kyoto, and the leaves are beautiful emerald green spears. I brew it according to the website’s directions: 4 grams per 150 mL, 140°, 1 minute. The bright yellow liquor smells vegetal with strong undertones of lemon.

The flavour is largely vegetal, but with a beautiful lemon taste as a strong note to the foreground. Creamy undertones paired with no bitterness or astringency make this a smooth cup. The total lack of harshness is impressive given the strong lemon flavour, and the tea is overall perfectly balanced.

My second steep is also one minute, and I get a cup that is more vegetal, though still very lemon. The finish is very vegetal, and the tea’s full body and full flavour coat the mouth. Despite its richness, it’s so smooth that it’s an easy cup to drink.

Ninety seconds for my next infusion gives me a cup with that still has a brilliant colour and scent. The flavour has started to mellow somewhat, but it’s still very bold. I infuse my fourth steep for 2 minutes, and I leave a fifth for several minutes, getting a cup that is more tea water than tea.

I get as many steeps and as much flavour as I expect from a quality sencha. This is everything Lalani & Co. advertises, and I will greatly enjoy the rest of my sample.

— 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Ambrosia Herb Coconut Cream

Ambrosia Herb, Coconut Tea, Rooibos Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Emma’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This tea is a rooibos with bits of dried coconut throughout, notes of vanilla and caramel. Smelling the dry tea is heavenly. Smooth and creamy, I couldn't wait to try this tea."
Emma’s Teaview: 8/10
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Recently, I have been getting back into dessert teas. I certainly go through tea “phases.” I just finished a chai kick and now I’m craving dark chocolates, caramels, coconut, creme brulee, and pumpkin pies in my tea. In my opinion, there is something exceedingly comforting in sitting down with a cup of tea after dinner instead of a giant slice of pie, cake, or other sugary substance. Maybe it’s just craving extra warmth now that the seasons are changing; whatever it is, I’m going to enjoy it!

Ambrosia Herb is a new tea company for me, rife with exciting dessert tea options like caramel latte and this one, coconut cream. This company’s mission is to allow their customers to experience heavenly herbal beverages, crafted in their shop in Southern California.

This tea is a rooibos with bits of dried coconut throughout, notes of vanilla and caramel. Smelling the dry tea is heavenly. Smooth and creamy, I couldn’t wait to try this tea. I steeped one teaspoon in boiling water for 5 minutes before adding it to warm coconut milk. It is a lovely red-caramel hued liquor and smells more of vanilla than anything else once in the mug.

On the palate, the flavor is very mellow and smooth with vanilla being the dominant flavor, followed by coconut. I would say this tea does need a hint of some kind of sweetener to bring out all of its flavors. I absolutely enjoyed this tea more as a tea latte with coconut milk. The milk brings out a crispness of flavor that I wasn’t expecting. I very much enjoy it.

— To purchase Ambrosia Herb Coconut Cream, 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: Emma Emma
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Review: Teavivre Organic Hangzhou Tian Mu Qing Ding Green Tea

Green Tea, Organic Tea, Teavivre No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Lemon and cooked spinach with a dry finish."
Katie’s Teaview: 9.1/10
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teavivrequingorg2013muTeavivre’s website gives obsessively specific brewing directions for either teapot or gaiwan brewing this tea, which is always something I appreciate. It strikes me as a good sign if a company has put the time into figuring out how to get the best flavour from their teas, if only because I assume they put that much care and attention into picking them to begin with. Besides, it makes it easier for the customer, since you don’t have to waste precious leaf figuring out how to make it. Not that this leaf is particularly precious; at the affordable price they’re charging, you can afford to experiment if you want to.

I decide to brew both ways they suggest, beginning with gong fu. I put 3 grams of the beautiful green spears in my preheated 3 ounce porcelain gaiwan and steep for 30 seconds. I get a beautiful clear yellow liquor with a crisp vegetal/mineral scent. There’s a cooked artichoke flavour accented with cucumber, lemon, and a slight nuttiness that melt into a slightly dry and bitter aftertaste. It’s complex, unique, brilliant.

My second steep is fifty seconds, and it’s got a more citrusy scent than before. The flavour has hits of lemon and cooked spinach with a dry finish. Bold and complex, it’s not an easy tea to drink, but it’s delicious.

By my 70-second third steep, the aroma is starting to dissipate, but the flavour is still going strong. I get one more good steep before the leaves give up.

Afterwards, I try steeping this the other way Teavivre lists: 4 grams per cup at 185° for 3 minutes. As before, the cup has vegetal and lemon notes, but now they are tempered by a buttery flavour that’s come through. It’s simpler this way, and much easier to drink, but it’s also less brilliant, and I prefer the magic of the gong fu brewing. This is a great tea that I definitely recommend trying if you get the chance, and I look forward to picking some up in the future.

— To purchase Teavivre Organic Hangzhou Tian Mu Qing Ding Green 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: Paisley Brand Tea Organic Chai

Black Tea, Cardamom Tea, Chai Tea, Cinnamon Tea, Clove Tea, Orange Peel Tea, Organic Tea, Two Leaves and a Bud No Comments »
Alexa’s Teaview Snapshot
Not Great"I wanted so very much to enjoy this tea since it’s convenient, organic, and fair trade. In the end I think I wouldn’t drink this particular tea again."
Alexa’s Teaview: 4/10
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paisleychaiPaisley Brand Tea is from Two Leaves Tea Company, which was started in 2005. Richard, the owner, has traveled to tea gardens across the world in order to build relationships with tea growers and find the best tea. This company sells organic, fair trade tea from small farmers. They offer loose leaf tea and bagged tea. Paisley Brand is just one of their tea brands.

Paisley Brand’s Organic Chai is made with black tea, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, orange peel, and natural flavor. These are all the typical ingredients you’ll find in a traditional chai. The tea bag looks like a stereotypical tea bag. I put it in a mug of almost boiling water and let the tea bag steep for 2 1/2 minutes. The aroma is very sweet and spicy. I smell mostly cinnamon in this blend. The water in my mug turned a very rich brown.

The flavor is okay, though not very dynamic. I taste mostly cinnamon and cloves. I can barely detect the orange peel. The black tea is very disguised under all the spices and has no outstanding flavor. The taste is sweet as it first hits your mouth but then you’re left with a weird aftertaste. It isn’t awful but it’s rather bitter and not pleasant.

I didn’t hate the tea, but in my desperate attempt to cover the offensive aftertaste , I added a touch of cream and sugar. This was a vain effort and, though it did help the aftertaste, it worsened the actual flavor in my opinion. In my last effort, I tried brewing the water at a lower temp. since hotter water can occasionally create a more bitter tea. This was another effort in vain and the funky aftertaste remained.

I wanted so very much to enjoy this tea since it’s convenient, organic, and fair trade. In the end I think I wouldn’t drink this particular tea again. On the positive side, this tea company is great when it comes to providing information on their teas. They even provide the caffeine levels in comparison to coffee. This Organic Chai contains the same amount of caffeine as 1/2 cup of coffee.

— To purchase Paisley Brand Tea Organic 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: Alexa Alexa
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