Review: American Tea Room Puttabong SFTGFOP1Q

American Tea Room, Darjeeling Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A tea that enlivens the senses, full of vigour, striking boldly at the palate with it's dry smoky-spicy flavour and deep muscatel aftertaste."
Sophie’s Teaview: 8.9/10
Other Teaviews: Dan gave it 8.7/10, Steven gave it 8/10, Shaiha gave it 8.6/10, Laura gave it 8.25/10, Troy gave it 9/10, Brad gave it 7/10, Raven gave it 7.7/10, Geoff gave it 8.2/10, Lynn gave it 9.5/10
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americanputtabongTypically second flush Darjeelings as this one are full-bodied and rich in the muscatel flavour they are famous for, more so than any other harvest. In this, American Tea Room Puttabong SFTGOP1Q Darjeeling Muscatel does not disappoint. Described as “deep, rich and earthy, with hints of clove and nutmeg and a classic muscatel second flush note”, it is a complex and captivating tea from start to finish.

Because the leaves of the best Darjeeling teas are incompletely oxidized, they are closer to oolongs than traditional Assam teas. Thus the colour of the leaves in this tea is varied, ranging from café au lait to chocolate brown to espresso black. The leaves themselves are rather small, shrivelled and curly-looking. However, the most striking thing about the dried tea is it’s aroma: sweet and astringent, hinting at the juicy muscatel notes to come. Some teas you can really taste before they get to your taste buds!

Following the direction provided, I infused one teaspoon of leaves with water heated to 195 degrees and let steep for 3 minutes. The result is a coppery amber cup that holds a deliciously perfumed scent, reminiscent of exotic fruit and spice. The flavour of the brew comes in waves, leading one down multiple sensory paths at once. The sweet and sour muscatel aftertaste is perhaps the most striking of all, but the dry, smoky-spicy flavour that hits the tongue is also deeply satisfying.

A second infusion still provides an interesting cup, although with a slightly flatter range of flavour intensity. The dryness on the tongue still lingers, as does the tart finish. The leaves yield such a strong cup, I decide to see what a third infusion will deliver. I first thought that this time the tea was definitely passed its prime. The brew is thinner, the spicy notes are more on the bitter side, and the sweet muscatel flavour has all but disappeared this time around. However, as I sipped my cup, I found myself appreciating the gentler qualities of this steep. What seemed so definite and punchy in the first two steeps seems to have blended together, showing a more soothing side.

This is a tea that enlivens the senses. Not one of those subtle and precious Darjeelings, but rather one that is full of vigour and strikes boldly at the palate. A definite must for those who appreciate rich and complex teas. Well done!

Special Offer! Free shipping on all purchases over $50 from AmericanTeaRoom.com.

Teaviews Member: Sophie Sophie
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Review: Dao Tea Sejak

Dao Tea, Green Tea No Comments »
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is a complex tea, one best enjoyed slowly and quietly with some concentration, not gulped down while you're doing something else."
Lynn’s Teaview: 10/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8.5/10, Katie gave it 8.4/10
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daoabsenchaA aspect of Asian tea culture little known in the west is poetry about all aspects of tea, from making to drinking. Dao Tea does us a service by sharing some on their website, including this one:

Spring water cries out in a rocky valley; pine trees echo when wind is coming. I drank a cup of tea and watched the flowing and stillness. Quietly and naturally I seemed to forget the return of time. Cho Ui (1786-1866).

Dao’s teas are each hand-made by a single tea master, in this case Tea Master Kim Jong Yeol. Master Kim Jong Yeol left a corporate job to farm tea in a stunning mountain village, harvesting his leaves from ancient bushes, and handmaking his teas.

The leaves of this artisan tea are of medium size, long and slightly twisted and an attractive dark olive green. The aroma is very fresh: a bit fresh cut grass; a bit slightly spicy floral. The instructions give an unusually low brewing temperature, between 65-70C (149-158F). Abiding by this, I measured out three grams (about a tablespoon) of the dry tea and placed it in a warmed china pot wrapped in a tea cozy, then steeped it in 250 ml of hot water for the recommended 90 seconds. This is a very exacting tea! (A second infusion is recommended if you have plum blossoms to add. Since I didn’t, I planned to stick to a single steep.) When it was done, I poured all of it off the leaves into a tall glass. The liquor is a very pale jade green, with the vegetal grassy aroma of a Japanese green, with faint additional notes of honey and flowers which gradually intensified and took over as it cooled.

The flavor was at first very subtle—sweet, and vegetal, with a touch of chestnut that reminded me of a Long Jing, and with a hint of something just on the edge but not quite bitterness—bittersweet chocolate, perhaps. The finish was intensely sweet along the sides of my tongue, fragrant in the mouth, and a little drying. As it cooled, the flavor, like the fragrance, intensified, growing steadily sweeter, nuttier, and less vegetal, with a slightly toasty finish now. I could see why such a low temperature is recommended; the level of flavor at this temperature was quite amazing and would probably turn very bitter if brewed in water that is too hot.

When I returned to the pot, I found the leaves a lighter green, slender, whole, succulent-looking, and they smelled exactly like dark chocolate. They smelled so good, in fact, that although still lacking plum blossoms, I decided to try a second infusion anyway.

The second liquor was the same pale jade color, but cloudy this time. It smelled more vegetal when hot, rather like boiled asparagus, but the flavor was very similar to the first, sweet, vegetal, chocolaty, lingering on the tongue, and rich with the bittersweet chocolate flavor as it cooled. The cooler it got, the sweeter it smelled and tasted, becoming quite intense. I definitely do recommend a second steep for this tea, with or without the flowers.

This is a very complex tea, one best enjoyed slowly and quietly with some concentration, not gulped down while you’re doing something else. It is well worth taking the time to enjoy it as it cools. It made me wish I was sitting beside a stream in a pine forest, writing tea poetry and sipping this delicious tea from a celadon cup. Highly recommended!

— To purchase Dao Tea Sejak, 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: Grand Tea Jo Sencha

Grand Tea, Green Tea, Sencha Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This tea is strong and savory, and, oh, did I mention delicious?"
Vanessa’s Teaview: 8.7/10
Other Teaviews: Lynn gave it 7/10, Jamie gave it 8/10
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grandjosenchaAccording to the Grand Tea website, Jo Sencha is a superior grade of sencha, the most well-known Japanese tea. Sencha is the tea I reach for when I am in the mood for pungent, spinachy, green goodness. And this tea most certainly delivers on that! Appearance-wise, this tea looks like any other sencha, but once brewed, it stands out easily from other sencha offerings. This tea is not for the newcomer to green teas. Oh no, this is for those who have acquired and appreciate those characteristic green tea vegetal flavors in all of their glory. In trying to describe the flavor of this tea, terms like seaweed, spinach, vegetal, and grassy spring to mind. Jo sencha has a very umami-like quality to it. This tea is strong and savory, and, oh, did I mention delicious? The second infusion of the same leaves produced a very similar cup. I was more than pleased with this sencha and this is something I would purchase for myself as well as recommend to others. This is a strong, hearty, healthy green tea sure to please those that love grassy green teas.

Teaviews Member: Vanessa Vanessa
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Review: Andao Organic Golden Monkey

Andao, Black Tea, Organic Tea 1 Comment »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The notes of honey and vanilla stand out the most. This is one of the few teas that improves drastically as it cools."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.6/10
Other Teaviews: Laura gave it 9.75/10, Lynn gave it 9.5/10, Shaiha gave it 9.5/10, Brad gave it 7/10
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andaogoldenmonkeyThis little beauty is my second organic Fujian tea from Andao, which is dandy because I really like the first one. Andao recommends using a gaiwan, so I put a heaping teaspoon of the beautiful gold and gray leaves into my 100 mL pre-heated gaiwan. The leaves unfurl nicely after their first, 30-second steep. The infusion as a whole feels very luxurious. It is buttery and smooth, rich with calm hints of tobacco and pepper. It is hard to find black teas that are as velvety as Michael Bublé’s voice, and this exceeds. The smoothness is incredible and makes the cup what it is: Excellent.

As Andao suggests, I steep the second cup for one and a half minutes. I decide to let it cool somewhat (or maybe I wandered off in the middle of a tasting again. you’ll never know), and it is one of the best tea-related decisions I have ever made, right down the list from turning my dining nook into a tea office. The notes of honey and vanilla stand out the most. This is one of the few teas that improves drastically as it cools. I don’t like adding anything to my hot teas partly because of the principle of the thing but mostly for health and laziness reasons, so when notes of sweetness come through naturally, I love it. I wish I could chug gallons of honey since I really love honey and really hate bees, but that’s not good for someone wanting to avoid her teeth falling out in handfuls, so I must find my honey flavour elsewhere. I have found it in this.

Steep three was two and a half minutes and not as riveting as the first two. It was still quite good and smooth, just not as interesting or complex. I left the fourth infusion for 3.5 minutes and found it similar to the third. Not wanting to push my luck and risk ending on a bad note, I stopped at this fourth steep.

Price-wise, this is certainly worth the cost for how indulgent it feels. It tastes more expensive than it is, especially considering how unique the overall cup is. Since it’s so good cooled, this is the perfect tea for sipping slowly or making in big batches to drink throughout the day without worrying that it stays piping hot. Or for the days when you just can’t seem to find the time to sit down and finish a whole cup in one go.

You’ve impressed me yet again, Andao. You win this time. Well played.

— To purchase Andao Organic Golden Monkey, 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: California Tea House Lime in the Coconut Green Tea

Assam Tea, California Tea House, Coconut Tea, Green Tea, Lime Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"I really wouldn't recommend this tea as a hot beverage, but it does make for a decent, iced tea. My main issue with this tea is that I would have liked to see a gentler green tea that better complemented the light tropical flavors."
Vanessa’s Teaview: 6/10
Other Teaviews: Lynn gave it 6/10, Laura gave it 7.6/10, Katie gave it 5.6/10, Erika gave it 8/10
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californialimeincoconut“Lime in the Coconut” green tea is a memorable tea if for nothing more than the fact that it gets that catchy little tune stuck in your head for hours. This tea is described by CTH as “superior Indian Assam and fine Chinese green teas tossed with shredded coconut, lime juice and sunflower petals”. The lime came through more than the coconut in the aroma, and I really don’t know why, but when I sniffed the dry blend, I detected a subtle mint aroma. Luckily, that phantom mint essence didn’t make it into the flavor. This tea is a somewhat unique combination and did seem to have promise, but this tea does seem finicky in its preparation and perhaps isn’t well-suited for consumption as a hot tea. The brewed tea had delightful lime and coconut flavors, and I found the level of flavoring to be just right. Even though there was key lime in the tea, I didn’t find it to be sour, and I think the coconut provided natural sweetness to balance out the lime. However, I found that the green tea base was too harsh and clashed with the light, tropical flavors. I prepared this tea several times because I feared that the harsh, bitter green tea flavor was a result of incorrect preparation. However, even when I confirmed appropriate brewing techniques with a thermometer and timer, the green tea was still a bit bitter. I will note, however, that this tea was much smoother when allowed to cool to room temperature or colder. I really wouldn’t recommend this tea as a hot beverage, but it does make for a decent, iced tea (and with lime and coconut flavors, this seems like it should be an iced tea anyway). My main issue with this tea is that I would have liked to see a gentler green tea that better complemented the light tropical flavors.

— To purchase California Tea House Lime in the Coconut 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: Vanessa Vanessa
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Review: Andao Organic Buddha’s Eyebrow

Andao, Green Tea 3 Comments »
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"In ancient times, when tea was first being brewed, people added things like ginger, vegetables, even onions to make a sort of soup. This full-flavored, robust tea would have made an excellent base for such a concoction. I'm almost tempted to try it myself."
Lynn’s Teaview: 8.9/10
Other Teaviews: Brad gave it 7.5/10, Raven gave it 7.2/10, Vanessa gave it 5/10, Jamie gave it 7.75/10
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andaobuddhaeyebrowThis incarnation of the venerable Chinese green, also known as Chun Mei, hails from Zhe Jiang Province and comes, as the title says, from last year’s spring harvest. The leaves in my sample were dark green, wiry, and slightly twisted, with a vegetal, grassy, roasted aroma.

I steeped two tablespoons in a cup of 195F water for about 30 seconds. This produced a cloudy yellow liquor with a toasted, grassy aroma. The flavor was robust—roasty, grassy, and smooth, with tasty vegetal undertones and finish, and with a touch of a bitter bite appropriate in a green. There was not much fragrance in the mouth to speak of, but plenty of texture, as it was thick and slightly drying.

In ancient times, when tea was first being brewed, people added things like ginger, vegetables, even onions to make a sort of soup. This full-flavored, robust tea would have made an excellent base for such a concoction. I’m almost tempted to try it myself.

Subsequent steepings produced an equally flavorful second cup, and a rather bitter third. If you are in the mood for a strongly flavored tea, this is a very good choice, and the price is quite reasonable, especially with its staying power through double steepings, making it a good choice for an everyday tea. It would certainly wake me up in the morning.

In addition to caffeine, Chinese green teas contain most of the vitamin alphabet, as well as antioxidants, and are even said to help with weight loss by speeding up the metabolism and oxidizing fat. All that, great flavor, and organic, too! The only criticisms I can come up with for this one are the lack of mouth aroma and the cloudiness. Highly recommended otherwise.

— To purchase Andao Organic Buddha’s Eyebrow, 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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