Review: Drink the Leaf Organic Lu’An Melon Seed Green

Drink the Leaf, Green Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The second steep makes a more subdued yet equally enjoyable cup of tea. During the first cup, I found myself excited by its nutty and sweet flavour. During the second cup, I found myself deeply relaxed with its grassier and more vegetal flavour."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.5/10
Other Teaviews: Troy gave it 9/10, Kari gave it 6/10, Numi gave it 8/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

melon-seed.jpgUpon first inspection, the leaves of this tea are remarkably gorgeous. The picture on Drink the Leaf’s website does not do these large, deep green leaves justice. When they are steeped, they unfurl in a beholding transformation process.

Once steeped, this tea’s scent reminds me of bussel sprouts. This does not pose a problem for me since I really love brussel sprouts, so I appreciate the pre-drinking experience with this tea.

As far as overall flavour, there are few teas that can compete with the depth and uniqueness of this cup. It has a vegetal taste in the initial flavour, but that quickly gives way to an extremely nutty taste with a hint of sweetness in the latter part of a sip. This is one tea that I appreciate a great deal more while it is still piping hot. For some reason, the nutty flavour comes through more.

The second steep makes a more subdued yet equally enjoyable cup of tea. During the first cup, I found myself excited by its nutty and sweet flavour. During the second cup, I found myself deeply relaxed with its grassier and more vegetal flavour.

This tea went above and beyond what I expected and will mostly likely become a new evening favourite.

— To purchase Drink the Leaf Organic Lu’An Melon Seed Green, 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: Sodastream Fountain Jet Soda Maker

Uncategorized 29 Comments »
Stephen’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"For those who love to drink sparkling water, this is a no-brainer. Saves time, money, effort and the environment all at the same time."
Stephen’s Teaview: 9/10
Your Reviews: 7.2/10
12 reader reviews | Add your review »

A few months ago I remember reading about carbonated iced teas – a new trend that started in Europe but was slowly tip-toeing its way over to the United States.  It registered briefly in my mind as a “hmmm, that’s interesting” sort of moment, and so it remained filed away until I came across a company called Sodastream which sells an at-home water carbonation system.  It was with the “cabonated iced tea” idea in mind that I contacted the marketing team at Sodastream, and lo and behold, they were kind enough to send a unit to Teaviews for review.

What arrived was their Fountain Jet Starter Kit – a nicely designed black and silver model complete with two 1-liter, capped bottles and one 60-L carbonator.  (The Sodastream web site says their starter kit comes with two 60-L carbonators – but I checked the packaging several times and I’m sure I received only one.)  Setup was pretty straightforward – open the back of the fountain jet, take out the spare bottle, replace it with the carbonator charger, screw it in tightly, and you’re good to go.  There’s no electricity or batteries involved here, which is a nice touch.

The set comes with two special 1-liter plastic bottles, but they come with very particular handling and care instructions.  You can’t wash them in the dishwasher.  You can’t wash them with hot water (only lukewarm, up to 120 degrees F).  If they sustain any damage or scratches you’re told to stop using them and replace with new ones.  And finally, each comes with an expiration date, after which you’re told to replace with a new bottle.  (Mine was October 2011, so that gives it a lifespan of just over 2.5 years).  A little odd, perhaps, but then you have to remember we’re dealing with pressurized gases, so I guess there’s a lot of wear and tear these things need to put up with.

The first step in the process is to fill one of the 1-liter bottles with water up to the fill-line, and then upt it in the fridge to get it nice and cold.  The instruction manual emphasizes this point, since cold water will hold carbonation much better than room-temperature water.  Once you’ve got the bottle nicely chilled, you just screw the top into the front of the Fountain Jet until its tight.  Then press the button on top until you hear a (somewhat nerve-wracking) BUZZ noise.  They recommend doing this three times for a “standard” amount of carbonation.  I like my seltzer heavily carbonated, so I did it 5 times – that came out very bubbly.  I’ll probably stick to 3 or 4 charges in future batches.

The whole process (not including refrigeration time) takes all of about 30 seconds to complete, so this is super-fast and easy.  The resulting seltzer was great – just like the expensive stuff you have to lug from the grocery store, only cheaper and more convenient.  I used filtered spring water (we have a monthly water-delivery service) but you could just as easily use filtered tap water and more than likely get similar results.

Now, I should mention here that carbonated iced tea at home probably won’t work with this product.  Or at least, it could work, but you’d be voiding your warranty.  The manual specifically says you can not carbonate anything but pure water or you may damage the machine.  I imagine you could carbonate some water and then pour in some powdered tea (such as Rishi’s Premium Tea Powder), but my idea of brewing up some tea, cooling it down, and then carbonating it directly is apparently a no-no according to Sodastream.  Ah well.

Personally, I’m loving this machine – but I’m also a huge fan of fizzy water.  I regularly lug home big bottles of Perrier and San Pellegrino from the grocery store – but no more.  30 seconds with this little miracle worker results in fresh, clean-tasting sparkling water that tastes just as good as the brand-name products.  Sodastream also markets a huge line of 20-30 different flavors so you can make proper sodas – cola, root beer, fruit sodas, you name it.  I’m not big on sugary drinks, so I didn’t try those, though I did try a few of their “My Water Flavor Essences” – they were ok, but really for me I prefer just straight-up, unflavored sparkling water.

The one big question for me is what to do when the carbonator runs out.  Supposedly its good for 60 bottles of water, so that should last us about 2-3 months.  I read a bit more in the manual and online and found the answer – they offer a pick-up and by-mail replacement service.  Technically, the carbonator isn’t sold to you – its simply “loaned” and remains the property of Sodastream.  When it runs out, you either call their 800 number or place an order online for a replacement carbonator.  They’ll either schedule a driver to come pick up your charger from your front porch and leave a new one, or if that’s not possible, they’ll ship it to you UPS along with a pre-paid box to send back your old one.  Since I only have one charger, it looks like my only option is the “Carbonator Kit C”, where I send back one empty and get three full ones in return, for $62.49.

So my verdict?  I love it.  If you really enjoy sparkling water, and if you already have at-home access to high-quality water (either delivered or via a good home-filter), its a no-brainer.  It saves you money, it saves you the hassle of lugging heavy bottles of soda-water from the store, and it saves the environment from all those discarded glass and plastic bottles.   Although I’ve not tried most of their soda-flavors, my guess is those looking to replace actual soda-pop might be less enthused – let’s face it, water is water, but soda lovers tend to adhere to specific brands and flavors, and no two colas are exactly alike.   But again, that’s just an assumption on my part – they may have some really excellent flavors available, I’ve just not tried them.

UPDATE: Well, it’s about five weeks since I received my Sodastream, and I’ve just today run out of gas in the carbonator.  I’d say I averaged about 0.9 liters of water carbonated per day during this time, which would come out to around 31.5 liters of carbonation per “60 liter” charger.  Or roughly half of what they claim it will charge.  To be fair, I charge my water about 4 times instead of the recommended 3, so I’m not too disconcerted that it ran out so early.

I’ve ordered a set of 3 60-liter replacement chargers this evening, and will report back on how the “refill” process works out.  Supposedly they ship them UPS along with a pre-paid box for me to ship back the empty one.  As long as I return the empty within 14 days, everything’s kosher.  Finger’s crossed – I’m dying for a seltzer tonight and it’s killing me that I’ve run out of gas!  🙂

UPDATE TWO: Now you can save big on a Sodastream Fountain Jet Starter Kit.

— To purchase Sodastream Fountain Jet Soda Maker, 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: Stephen Stephen
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Review: Golden Moon Rose Tea

Black Tea, Golden Moon Tea, Rose Tea No Comments »
Numi’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"There are bits of red rose petals among the black tea bits, and the rose scent and flavor lingers on my nose and tongue without being overpowering. The taste is strong enough to make me wonder if I have rose-scented breath now."
Numi’s Teaview: 8/10
Other Teaviews: Joe gave it 7.5/10, Katie gave it 4.5/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

goldenmoonrose.jpgI’ve tried a few times in my life to love rose-scented things but besides the real thing, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a scent best suited to other women. Roses smell glorious on my mother, on strangers, and in linen stores but it doesn’t suit me. So it feels strange to try a tea that makes me feel like I’ve stolen a cup from someone else. The scent of this tea is of a bouquet of roses that melds into the flavor of rose petals on my tongue. Golden Moon has done a good job here of being generous with the whole rose experience. There are bits of red rose petals among the black tea bits, and the rose scent and flavor lingers on my nose and tongue without being overpowering. The taste is strong enough to make me wonder if I have rose-scented breath now…that would be a cool feat. The black tea is smooth with a medium strong body that gives a nice grounding to the roses flitting about. I’m already thinking about getting some of this for my mother. Very nice.

Special Offer! For a limited time, Golden Moon Tea is offering deep discounts on their product line. If you're interested in purchasing this tea or others from Golden Moon Tea, shop now by clicking this link: Golden Moon Tea

Teaviews Member: Numi Numi
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Review: Red Leaf Tea Chamomint

Chamomile Tea, Herbal Tea, Peppermint tea, Red Leaf Tea No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Not Great"Instead of the best of both herbal worlds, what my cup yielded was a muddy intermingling of taste (and color even!) which socked me with a too tall mug of the herbal blahs."
Jamie’s Teaview: 4.5/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 6/10
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redleafchamomint.jpgOne of the things I like about Red Leaf tea is that they offer a lot of herbal blends. While I used to be impervious, seemingly, to the keeps-you-awake-at-night aspect of caffeine consumption, I seem to have misplaced that gift, and so am always on the lookout for nice herbal blends to satisfy my love of hot drinks in the evening time. And sometimes, an herbal blend is just what you are hoping for, instead of a dubious decaff. I’ve enjoyed a couple of Red Leaf’s other herbal options and was pleased to try their Chamo-Mint blend. Hard to imagine anything going wrong with the blending of two herbal standard bearers like Mint and Chamomile!

Mint is one of my favorite herbal teas. I love it! Aside from warm and happy associations with times drinking it in the past, I love to brew it up with mint straight out of the garden, fresh or dried. I also love mint tea for it’s incredibly thriftiness. Try and picture if you will how voluminous a pound of cut and sifted peppermint is. That’s a lot of pots of tea, a pint is a pound the world round or not!

I thought the dried leaf was pretty, with lots of mint and pretty chamomile flowers. I brewed it up just as I would any herbal, with nearly boiling water and a longer steep, but somewhere, something went wrong. Perhaps a short steep time is imperative with this tea, but perhaps somehow the two flavors just don’t or won’t meld, at least in this particular match up. Instead of the best of both herbal worlds, what my cup yielded was a muddy intermingling of taste (and color even!) which socked me with a too tall mug of the herbal blahs.

I’m not really sure what went wrong here. Perhaps these two herbals should remain apart and dignified, each representing a different mood and flavor. Perhaps the honeyed, prim and pretty sweetness of chamomile rebels at being made to stand next to, or even in the same room as, the rugged, charming good taste of my herbal hero, Peppermint. Like another Hollywood marriage turned divorce, this one just left me shaking my head and thinking…they are each so good on their own, why’d they have to spoil things by getting married?

— To purchase Red Leaf Tea Chamomint, 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: Jamie Jamie
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Review: Red Leaf Tea Rooibos Bourbon

Red Leaf Tea, Rooibos Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"The bottom line: not a bad tea, by any means, but certainly not the best vanilla-flavored rooibos I have tried. "
Vanessa’s Teaview: 5/10
Other Teaviews: Geoff gave it 8.5/10, Brad gave it 7/10, Dan gave it 6.5/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

redleafroobiosbourbon.jpgAs rooibos tea goes, Red Leaf’s Rooibos Bourbon is quite tasty. However, as far as flavored rooibos tea goes, this tea fails to deliver. I immediately assumed that the tea would bear some Bourbon whiskey type flavor, but then after reading the Red Leaf description, I realized that the this tea was flavored with vanilla. Regardless, this was like drinking a cup of plain rooibos tea. I know that if I had tasted this as part of a blind taste test, I would have concluded that this was an unflavored rooibos. Fortunately, the rooibos base was of high enough quality that I still enjoyed the tea. I added a splash of sugar to see if that would help me be able to discern the vanilla flavor any better. While the sugar did make the brew into a wonderfully sweet caffeine-free dessert treat, I still could not taste a strong vanilla element. The bottom line: not a bad tea, by any means, but certainly not the best vanilla-flavored rooibos I have tried.

— To purchase Red Leaf Tea Rooibos Bourbon, 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: Vanessa Vanessa
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Review: Golden Moon Vanilla Jasmine

Golden Moon Tea, Green Tea, Jasmine Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Christine’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The vanilla is still the dominant flavor of the two, but the jasmine makes itself known and adds an interesting twist to the traditional vanilla."
Christine’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Shelly gave it 5/10, Katie gave it 4.5/10, Laura gave it 8/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

goldenmoonvanillajasmine.jpgI love trying different things; in high school, I took Japanese instead of Spanish; when eating out, I try my hardest to pick a dish I’ve never had before; and when it comes to tea, I love trying blends that I’ve never seen before. Vanilla jasmine is one of those blends. It sounded as though it could either turn out to be absolutely delicious, or it could just end in tears. Thankfully, it falls squarely into the “delicious” category.

The tea leaves are nothing special to look at; just black tea with a smattering of jasmine flowers. Something I’ve never seen before, but not really all that impressive to look at. It smells mostly of vanilla, with the jasmine taking the backseat. It’s smooth smelling with a good dose of sweet, which when it comes to vanilla is the only way to be.

The taste is noticeably different from the smell, but not in a bad way. The black tea does play a dominant role in flavor, but there’s enough vanilla and jasmine there that even I enjoyed it. It isn’t quite as sweet as it smells like it should be, but it is just as smooth. I tried mine with a pinch of sweetener and just a bit a milk and it was dang near perfect. The vanilla is still the dominant flavor of the two, but the jasmine makes itself known and adds an interesting twist to the traditional vanilla.

Bottom Line: While not as decadent as most dessert teas, I think this does fall into that classification. It’s smooth and creamy, and with a bit of sweetener I think it could easily take the place of bowl of vanilla ice cream any day, though maybe that’s just because I’m partial to chocolate.

Special Offer! For a limited time, Golden Moon Tea is offering deep discounts on their product line. If you're interested in purchasing this tea or others from Golden Moon Tea, shop now by clicking this link: Golden Moon Tea

Teaviews Member: Christine Christine
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