Review: Tea Palace Afternoon at the Palace

Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Tea Palace No Comments »
Joe’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This really is a fine tea! "
Joe’s Teaview: 8.5/10
Other Teaviews: Lynn gave it 8.5/10, Patty gave it 7.1/10
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palaceafternnoonOn their website, the British company Tea Palace describes themselves as a modern tea emporium that wishes to introduce the best quality teas and infusions to the UK. Afternoon at the Palace is my first and only experience with their tea, and from my perspective they are achieving their mission.

Afternoon at the Palace is a Darjeeling and China black tea blend. In all honesty, I’m not a great fan of Darjeeling teas. For me they taste too much like green tea and usually have a bitter finish. But this was not my experience with this blend which has a smoky almost pu-erh smell and a wonderfully smooth, dark musty and malty taste. I would like to emphasize the word smooth and strongly recommend this mild blend to people who don’t like strong tea and even those who don’t care for tea at all.

Some of my favorite teas have great latitude when it comes to steeping times. Afternoon at the Palace fits this mold. The website recommends one teaspoon of tea in eight ounces of water for four minutes. This works nicely. If you want a stronger brew, five minutes results in a more robust, but still smooth cup of tea that is not bitter or astringent. This really is a fine tea!

Sadly, if you live outside of the UK, shipping costs make it difficult to purchase this product. I consider myself a passionate tea drinker and I love a good cup of tea, but I have limits as to how much I will spend. But this is not a problem with this blend or company; we can’t all live conduct business in the same place. I will however be looking for friends and colleagues traveling to London.

— To purchase Tea Palace Afternoon at the Palace, 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: Joe Joe
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Review: Naivetea Imperial Beauty Oolong

Naivetea, Oolong Tea 3 Comments »
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"I steeped the third infusion for six minutes and this is when the flavor of the tea finally popped."
Lynn’s Teaview: 6.5/10
Other Teaviews: Dan gave it 8.0/10, Vanessa gave it 6.8/10, Nicole gave it 10/10
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naiveteaimperialbeautyoolongNaivetea specializes in traditional oolongs organically grown on artisan farms. Their 2007 Imperial Beauty won second place in Taiwan’s Organic Tea Competition.

The leaves are rolled and twisted into little nuggets like Tieguanyin, forest green with lighter highlights. The aroma of the dry leaves is a bit kelpy, but that often isn’t indicative of the final product.

For the first infusion, I brewed a teaspoon of tea in 8 oz. of just under boiling water for 2 minutes. The result was underwhelming. The liquor was a very pale straw, the fragrance was mildly floral, and the taste was faintly sweet.

For the second infusion, I lowered the temperature a little, but bumped the time up to four minutes. The leaves were totally open now, whole and well formed. The liquor was a pale gold with just the hint of green. The fragrance was light and clean, with a bit of “stone fruit” or fresh grape. The flavor was more pronounced, but still very subtle, light, and clean, with a hint that followed the stone fruit aroma.

I steeped the third infusion for six minutes and this is when the flavor of the tea finally popped. The fragrance was all but gone, but the sweetness filled my mouth, making my mouth water, and it increased as the tea cooled. It reminded me a little bit of watermelon, a little of honey.

Finally, I took the remaining sample and brewed it gong fu style in a small Yixing teapot. A standing time of about thirty seconds yielded a straw yellow liquor with a sweet, almost “fresh cut grass” aroma. The flavor was a mix of light sweetness. The second infusion steeped for a minute and the sweetness was joined by a bit of metallic bitterness.

Overall this isn’t a terrible tea, but it hasn’t impressed me, either. As much as I admire this company’s commitment to organics and small farms, this tea just doesn’t have enough body for me.

— To purchase Naivetea Imperial Beauty 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: Lynn Lynn
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Review: Naivetea Delicate Bouquet Oolong

Naivetea, Oolong Tea, Organic Tea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A very delicate Oolong tea with a sweetness that remains long after the tea is gone."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 8/10
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naiveteadelicatebouquetI am trying to widen my tea horizons and one style of tea that I hadn’t tried yet was an Oolong. NAIVETEA was kind enough to offer up some samples and since they specialize in Oolong tea, I decided this was the place to start. All of NAIVETEA premium offerings are also certified Organic by the Taiwan Organic Production Association which is a plus in my book. In researching the Oolong, I discovered that as far as processing and fermentation, they tend to be right in the middle between a green and a black tea. And that they can range in taste from nutty or woody to flowery. I can see that discovering just what I prefer will be an interesting journey.

The Oolong that I am trying today is NAIVETEA Delicate Bouquet Oolong. This is a very interesting tea as all the leaves appear to be have been rolled up in tight little balls. It has light grassy scent mixed with the smell of flowers. According to the NAIVETEA website, it has the scent of orchids but as I have never had the pleasure of smelling an orchid so I can’t narrow down the floral scent to that particular flower.

Using two teaspoons for my 16 ounce mug, I set my Zarafina on the Oolong setting at a medium strength. After the first steep, the little balls of tea leaves haven’t opened up completely. This tea brews up a really light golden color. If I didn’t know better, I would think that I was pouring a white tea. The floral scent is even stronger once brewed and the grassy scent seems to have washed away. The taste is delightful. Very smooth with no astringency that I would have expected from a partially fermented tea. The floral scent adds a sweetness that seems to remain on tongue long after the tea is gone. Not a tea that I would drink for breakfast as there is no kick of the caffeine but instead one of enjoy in the afternoon purely for the taste.

At almost $40 for a little less than 2 ounces, NAIVETEA Delicate Bouquet Oolong is not a tea that I could afford for every day. However this is a tea that I would want to keep a bit around for the days that I feel I deserve a treat. And what a wonderful introduction into the world of Oolong. Now I am off to make my wish list at the NAIVETEA site.

Edited to add: Since my little tea balls didn’t open during the first brew, I went back for a second. And I have to say that the second steep is just as good as the first. The floral scent and taste has diminished by about half so the cup isn’t as sweet. Now the taste reminds me more of a black tea with slight bit of bitterness in aftertaste. This is a tea that keeps on going.

— To purchase Naivetea Delicate Bouquet 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: Shaiha Shaiha
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Review: The Exotic Teapot Luxury Fruit Infusion

Apple Tea, Citrus Tea, Fruit Flavored Tea, Hibiscus Tea, Rose Tea, The Exotic Teapot 1 Comment »
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It never occurred to me to brew up a pot of tropical fruit trail mix before, but that’s just what this chunky offering from the Exotic Teapot looks like."
Lynn’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Laura gave it 8.75/10, Katie gave it 7.6/10
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exoticteapotfruitinfusionsIt never occurred to me to brew up a pot of tropical fruit trail mix before, but that’s just what this chunky offering from the Exotic Teapot looks like. A blend of natural hibiscus, apple, citrus and wild rose buds, it is made in Fujian Province, China.

My sample was made up primarily of dark red, yellow, and orange chunks of fruit, dark red dried hibiscus blossoms, a rosebud or two and crushed rose petals, and had a sweet, fruity aroma dry and wet. I steeped a generous teaspoon in 208F water for five minutes in my JING one cup glass teapot, enjoying the colors. The result was a pale but distinctly orange infusion with a sweet, citrusy fragrance. The flavor was very pleasant; sweet, with tart hibiscus undertones. I could definitely taste the apple, and some citrus, though I could not tell what kind of fruit had been used. As with many flavored teas, the taste became more pronounced as it cooled. I saw no need for sugar. This is recommended as an iced tea, so I chilled the remainder of the sample.

Curious, I tried a second infusion with the same fruit, steeping it for eight minutes. To my surprise, it yielded an infusion equal to the first one. I added this to the one chilling in the fridge.

I added more hot water to the pot, setting the timer for ten minutes this time and was rewarded with yet another cup of fruit infusion nearly as good as the last two! This stuff just doesn’t quit.

Finally, I put two fresh teaspoons of the mix into a tall glass of water, covered it with plastic wrap to keep out the California wildfire smoke out, and set it in the sun to infuse for a few hours. The result was a sweet, refreshing tisane that tasted even more strongly of fruit. Though not listed among the ingredients, I could swear I tasted mango and pineapple. The heat brewed sample that I’d chilled was comparable. In my opinion, this fruit tisane is meant to be an iced drink. Another point in its favor: no sugar needed. The natural sweetness of this mix is perfect, needing no augmentation.

This is a delightful, summery infusion. If you like fruit tisanes, you’ll want to give this one a try. Highly recommended.

— To purchase The Exotic Teapot Luxury Fruit Infusion, 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: Lynn Lynn
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Review: Rishi Tea Organic Ancient Pu-Erh Ginger

Ginger Tea, Orange Peel Tea, Pu'er Tea, Rishi Tea 1 Comment »
Joe’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The slight taste of ginger with the strong fermented flavor of pu-erh make this a perfect combination."
Joe’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Jamie gave it 9/10, Laura gave it 8.5/10, Dan gave it 7.5/10, Troy gave it 9/10, Katie gave it 7.8/10, Brad gave it 7/10
Your Reviews: 9/10
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rishipuerehgingerI swear that I have no family members or friends working at the Rishi Tea Company nor am I a direct (or indirect) descendant of the inventor of Pu-erh tea. I can state without bias that I would like to drive to Wisconsin and kiss the person or people who created this blend. And whichever member of the Han Dynasty thought it would be a good idea to age tea leaves – was a generous!

Pu-erhs in general and this tea specifically are the tea tasters equivalent to the music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Weird, wild and wonderful! Just when I was beginning to think all teas are starting to taste the same, Rishi’s Pu-erh Ginger comes along and revives my hope and senses. My overwhelming gratitude to all who made this beverage possible.

The dry ingredients look like dusty tea infiltrated by flecks of ginger. I was excited to try this concoction which smelled like soy sauce and ginger and reminded me of Kappamaki (sushi roll made with cucumber).

I steeped one tablespoon of this blend in eight ounces of water for six minutes. This produced a cloudy reddish-brown liquor. The ginger and soy smells were replace with the smoky fermented scent of a pu-erh. After a short time a slight fragrance of the orange peel became evident.

I’m always at a loss when trying to describe the flavor of a pu-erh. The best I can do is rich and smoky tasting. I imagine that this is what drinking coffee must be like – but that might be because I don’t drink coffee. The slight taste of ginger with the strong fermented flavor of pu-erh make this a perfect combination.

I tried this with and without honey and experimented with half and half and soymilk. I liked the half and half with honey best. This tea goes tastes especially well with the music of Stereolab.

— To purchase Rishi Tea Organic Ancient Pu-Erh Ginger, 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: Joe Joe
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Review: TeaFrog Coconut Vanilla Flavored White

Coconut Tea, Rose Tea, TeaFrog, Vanilla Tea, White Tea No Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"You can taste some coconut glimmers in this as it cools, but vanilla definitely dominates."
Laura’s Teaview: 7/10
Other Teaviews: Emma gave it 8/10, Vanessa gave it 6.5/10
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teafrog“This wonderfully flavored tea is a great introduction to white teas if you have never tasted a white tea before, or are nervous about moving to this type of tea. This tea combines natural coconut and vanilla flavors with the smooth fragrant Pai Mu Dan white tea to create a sensational flavored tea that you will not be able to get enough of!” —TeaFrog website.

Out of all the samples that arrived in my last batch, this was the one that I was most excited to try. I love, love, love coconut. I have long been looking for a great coconut white tea to add to my stash. TeaFrog lists the ingredients in this blend as Pai Mu Dan, coconut pieces, pink rose petals and flavour. My sample package looks representative of the ingredients listed, but does not contain as many coconut pieces as I’d like to see. The aroma emitted by my sample smells primarily of white tea and vanilla. I did find that it seemed as though many of the smaller coconut and flower pieces were settled on the bottom of my sample and found it necessary to manually redistribute them so as to hopefully scoop up a sample that is representative of the ingredients in the blend.

I prepared this using water that was cut way short of boiling and infused for 3 min. This is a nice mild, delicate white tea with a pleasant vanilla flavor. The vanilla does not overpower the white tea, but instead offers a pleasant sweetness. The vanilla flavor marries nicely with this white tea base. Unfortunately, the coconut is scarce in this blend and barely noticeable. The roses also appear to not contribute any overly floral components to this. I am not a big fan of rose so that is just fine with me. The white tea base is relatively quiet. It is not particularly dry or floral and makes a decent base for a flavored white tea blend.

I would probably not be disappointed in this if I wasn’t hoping for a stronger coconut presence. You can taste some coconut glimmers in this as it cools, but vanilla definitely dominates. Don’t order this is you are looking for a flavor profile with much coconut in it because you will be disappointed. Overall, this is a tasty cup and worth consideration, but try it because it is a solid vanilla white tea offering with some subtle coconut notes for interest.

— To purchase TeaFrog Coconut Vanilla Flavored White, 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: Laura Laura
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