Review: KTeas Chocolate Maté

Chocolate Tea, KTeas, Mate Tea No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Sweetener highlights the chocolate notes and also brings out a bit more of the roasty mate flavor. I know this blend would handle steamed milk of your choice well - but you can be pretty versatile with your choices and have a lovely cup any way you choose. "
Jamie’s Teaview: 8/10
Other Teaviews: Chelsy gave it 4.0/10, Erika gave it 7/10, Laura gave it 6/10
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kteaslogoSeveral years ago, I was introduced to Yerba Mate, a caffeinated hot beverage hailing from South America, at a sampling demonstration at a local Whole Foods. I enjoyed the roasty sort of greenish taste it had but liked it best served as a latte, with steamed soy milk. Mmmm. What a nice way to start the day! In South America it is typically drunk in a unique way, from a hollowed out dried gourd through a shiny silver straw that has a filter like attachment at the bottom to keep the leafy matter from entering the mouth. I don’t have one of those set ups, and they aren’t necessary to enjoy the mate, but if you aren’t familiar with them, it’s worth googling to take a look at. K Teas notes that the gourd itself is called a cuia and the straw is called a bombihla.

I haven’t had any mate in a very long time so I was curious to try a bit when it was offered as a sample option from K Teas. It’s offered as a chocolate mate from K Teas and this didn’t sound too painful to me since I have very high regard for chocolate! I brewed up a sample pot of this tea to share with my husband. I added two tablespoons of mate to a 24 ounce infuser pot and steeped for five minutes with fresh boiled water. This yielded a dark copper, nearly coffee colored mug. Mellow and engaging, Chocolate Mate has a pervasive chocolate smell and flavor that isn’t too strong and is wonderfully true tasting. The mate has the roasted, slightly green flavor that I remember enjoying in the past and I am delighted to report that it couples up beautifully with chocolate – even better than with steamed soymilk!

Mild and mellow, this is a delicious blend. It has a light dry finish. If you serve it up in the afternoon or evening with something sweet, or in lieu of something else sweet, you will be most pleased. This tea doesn’t really need a sweetener, but I found it well worth sweetening as it becomes superbly sweet, decadent and tasty with just a teeny bit added. Sweetener (in this case stevia) highlights the chocolate notes and also brings out a bit more of the roasty mate flavor. I know this blend would handle steamed milk of your choice well – but you can be pretty versatile with your choices and have a lovely cup any way you choose.

Definitely add some of this to your order at K Teas if you enjoy chocolate. It’s really good!

— To purchase KTeas Chocolate Maté, 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: Teatulia Black

Bengali Tea, Black Tea, Teatulia No Comments »
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The tea itself was a deep copper, no bronze, probably due to higher temp water. Taste-wise, it had a very bitter forefront, but relaxed to something more akin to an Assam; a full-bodied black tea with comlex characteristics."
Geoff’s Teaview: 7.4/10
Other Teaviews: Shelly gave it 8/10, Rebekah gave it 10/10, Troy gave it 7/10, Kari gave it 8/10, Cindy gave it 10/10, Erika gave it 9/10, CJ gave it 7.5/10, Katie gave it 7.1/10
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tetulia-black.jpgI was having difficulty finding time to try this offering from Teatulia. My schedule was rather nuts, and the times I did have to try new teas were my days off or at work. The problem being, at work I don’t have the resources available to properly brew a tea. Most times, all I have is a coffee machine with a hot water spigot and Styrofoam cups. Hardly the environment for any modicum of connoisseurship.

However, the beauty of Teatulia is they have a bagged option. While teabags are a subject of derision – and on the Internet, Freudian innuendo – they do come in handy when on the go. I whipped this black tea out at the oddest of times…at an expensive sushi restaurant…during a birthday party. I didn’t want their “house green tea”, for I knew I would be limited to sencha or kukicha. They were even less formal than that. I took a whiff of my friend – the birthday boy’s – green tea and knew right off the bat that it was genmaicha. Some like it. I don’t. Unless it’s blended with matcha.

I asked the waitress for “just” hot water.

Out of my shirt pocket, I gingerly removed the pyramid sachet and dunked it in my water. It brewed up beautifully to a copper-bronze infusion. The waitress looked at me funny. This was not the pale green rice-muck they passed off as tea. The light, spicy scent was also a sign of my liquid guilt. To add to her further ire, I was able to steep the netted pyramid at least three or four more times. Toward the end it got a little bitter, but not much. This black tea sated me well amidst the faux-Japanese franchise.

With the second attempt, I gave it a somewhat more formal treatment. Well, as much as I could at work anyway; Styrofoam cup and coffee-spigot water. However, I was able to at least cover the water for five minutes to let it infuse more propery. I also got a better whiff of the contents within the sachet this time. The aroma was slightly floral, but nothing to brag about. The true jewel was the taste. I wondered if my second go-around with this would live up to the sushi faux pas first.

The CTC-style leaves in the sachet went to work immediately at darkening the water. Liquid turned to liquor in a matter of seconds. The scent was quite malty, but with the same spicy finish I remembered the last time. The tea itself was a deep copper, no bronze, probably due to higher temp water. Taste-wise, it had a very bitter forefront, but relaxed to something more akin to an Assam; a full-bodied black tea with complex characteristics. I would have to confess I liked it better at lighter-temp water – like for oolongs, high-alt. Ceylons, and Darjeelings – rather than the scalding rolling-boil. The flavor was more nuanced.

Overall, though, a very good cup o’ black.

— To purchase Teatulia Black, 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: Geoff Geoff
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Review: Culinary Teas Chocolate Mint

Black Tea, Blackberry Leaf Tea, Chocolate Tea, Culinary Teas, Peppermint tea No Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The black tea base is somewhat bitter and, when paired with the chocolate flavoring, kind of morphs into this bittersweet chocolate flavor that made this blend extra delicious to me"
Laura’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Lynn gave it 10/10
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culinary-tea-logo“Fresh lovely mint combined with full flavored chocolate tea that is wonderfully reminiscent of an after-dinner mint. How decadent!” —Culinary Teas website.

I happen to love the combination of chocolate and mint. Mint chocolate chip ice cream from Baskin & Robbins is one of my ultimate comfort foods though I rarely give in to the urge to indulge. I happen to have a couple of chocolate mint black teas in my personal tea collection and consider them amongst my favorites. When Lynn’s review of this blend posted on the site, I became even more excited to know that my own sample of it was waiting to be reviewed.

Dispersed amongst the black leaves in my dry sample package are some green peppermint leaves. The aroma coming from my sample package is nothing short of decadent! While peppermint dominates the aroma, there is a nice rich chocolate undertone that promises a tasty cup. I prepared my sample with water brought to a full boil and allowed to cool a bit and infused the leaves for a full 5 min (the website suggests anywhere from 3-7 min depending upon how strong you like your tea). A quick check of the ingredients shows that this consists of luxury black tea, peppermint, blackberry leaves and natural flavors. Curious of what a luxury black tea might consist, I did a little checking around on the Culinary Teas website and found that they use high grown teas from the top 3 tea growing regions of Sri Lanka – Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula and Uva. These three high-grown districts produce flavorful teas that have classic ‘Ceylon’ tea character which is noted by floral bouquet and flavor notes, touches of mild astringency and a bright coppery color.

The prepared cup delivers a nice decadent dessert tea. One thing about this blend is that the aroma is amazing and has this hint of chocolate to it that really teases the senses. The peppermint definitely dominates the blend, but doesn’t totally overwhelm it. The black tea base is somewhat bitter and, when paired with the chocolate flavoring, kind of morphs into this bittersweet chocolate flavor that made this blend extra delicious to me. I did find that I enjoyed this best with a healthy dose of German rock cane sugar. This also took a splash of milk well—and took a splash of chocolate milk even better! Further, as I write this Culinary Teas has this blend on sale and, at the sale price of just $6.62 for a 4 oz bag, it is an excellent value. The combination of the mint and bittersweet dark chocolate taste make this one definitely worth consideration.

— To purchase Culinary Teas Chocolate Mint, 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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Review: American Tea Room Puttabong SFTGFOP1Q

American Tea Room, Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Muscat tea No Comments »
Troy’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A strong "Muscatel" Darjeeling that actually exemplifies Muscatel."
Troy’s Teaview: 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, Brad gave it 7/10, Sophie gave it 8.9/10, Raven gave it 7.7/10, Geoff gave it 8.2/10, Lynn gave it 9.5/10
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americanputtabongTasting is an elder art of Monks, Priests, connoisseurs, and those who seek to emulate their trappings. Tea tasting was refined in the far east largely because of monastic prohibitions against the consumption of alcohol. True wines, that is those made from grapes, have a very long history in china (something in the range of 4,600yrs), and indeed wine tasting does have its own rich history in china, but because the monasticism of the east, in stark contrast to the monasticism of the west, often did not allow monks to openly engage in the consumption of alcohol, it was wine that traveled with the Buddhist faith, and it was tea tastings that the monks refined to pure art.

That probably seemed not at all related to a review of this tea, and thats fair, but I’d say that, as with wine tasting, tea tasting requires a broad palate. You can’t drink tea or wine and say its “muscatel” without refining your understanding thereof by consuming Muscatel wines. These leaves are rife with the rich, malty, grape-ey flavors of Muscatel wines, but due to the devaluation of the term Muscatel by pretty much every Darjeeling on the market I doubt this particular Puttabong Darjeeling will get the credit it deserves. This is a shame because, if this batch is any representation of their craft, the men and women of the Puttabong estate know their muscatel. Its got that sweet-malty flavor that seems to straddle the taste buds between really rich chocolate and grapes or raisins. Its not bitter (but follow the three minute instructions on the label as it can easily become bitter) but it is strong enough that your more casual black tea drinker will most likely find it best cut with milk or sugar. I was able to get three or four steeps from a single pot of leaves, so

Now to tackle the letters, which expand to “Super Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1”, and somehow they get Clonal from Q, of all that only Tippy, Orange Pekoe, and Clonal matter, the rest is just a sort of product-identity and advertising. By the last bit I just mean that all the other words in the description are based on unstandardized ratings that can vary widely in meaning, definition, and legal status from country to country and estate to estate. Orange Pekoe refers to the sieve size that the leaves were sorted with, there are a procession of sieves, they work from the widest to the smallest and anything that doesn’t fall through gets the grade of the sieve. Tippy just means that its tips, which needs to be said as the smaller bits would appear to be mis-graded if you didn’t know this. Clonal boarders on meaningless, because practically all teas, that are not harvested from wild genetically recombinant trees, are clones. Cloning is not a bad thing, its fun, get yourself some plants and try it out.

So to summarize this is an excellent Darjeeling, one of the few marked as Muscatel while actually tasting of Muscatel. I’d recommend it most strongly to people, who like myself, enjoy a good strong black tea, or to people who prefer more, ahem, British tea traditions.

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

Teaviews Member: Troy Troy
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Review: Rishi Tea Organic Cinnamon Plum

Cinnamon Tea, Currant Tea, Fair Trade Tea, Hibiscus Tea, Licorice Root Tea, Plum Tea, Rishi Tea, Uncategorized No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This inspired combination produces a warming yet soothing blend: at the forefront is the hibiscus' slight astringency, followed by the sweetness of the fruit and the final flourish of the licorice root. "
Sophie’s Teaview: 7.6/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8/10, Katie gave it 8/10, Erika gave it 4/10, Laura gave it 6.5/10, Cindy gave it 7/10, Dan gave it 7.0/10, Kari gave it 6.5/10, Geoff gave it 7/10, Jenn gave it 8/10, Shaiha gave it 7.1/10, Raven gave it 8/10, Lynn gave it 9.5/10, Nicole gave it 9/10
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cinnamonplum.jpgA heady mixture of cinnamon, hibiscus and licorice root among other things, Rishi’s Cinnamon Plum blend is described as a fruity and soothing, full-bodied infusion. Using all organic ingredients, this caffeine-free cup is a 2009 World Tea Champion according to their website.

Looking at this blend, I truly feel like I have the world in my cup. Currants mingle prettily with cinnamon shavings, vibrant hibiscus petals and pieces of licorice root. Almost boozy-smelling, the fruit and spices are generously scented with a sweet and intoxicating aroma. Following the directions provided on the sample’s package, I used one tablespoon of tea for 8 ounces of water boiled to 212 degrees Fahrenheit and then steeped for 5 minutes. The results are a rich burgundy hue. The odour of the brewed tea is more delicate, reminiscent of stewed plums and cinnamon-flavoured deserts. Based on the potency of the smell of the dried blend, I was expecting something with a bit more oomph to it taste-wise. However the gentle hint of cinnamon and very natural plum flavour wins me over in the end. At the forefront is the hibiscus’ slight astringency, followed by the sweetness of the fruit taste and the final flourish of the licorice root. This inspired mixture produces a warming yet soothing blend. I would warn against pre-sweetening this tisane as it’s already quite sweet on it’s own. The website mentions that it can also be served iced or mulled. I can imagine that the mulled tea would taste quite superb, as the blend all ready has the deep, spicy quality found in mulled wine. A second infusion was rather bland, even after steeping for over 8 minutes.

This is a well crafted blend, using high quality, fair trade, organic ingredients. Although at 9$ for a 3.7 ounce tin it’s starting to get a little pricey, it’s a bit of affordable luxury that’s well worth it. If you need more reason to buy this product, Rishi has currently teamed up with the Clean Water Fund and will donate 25% of their profits from the sale of this tea to restore and protect America’s waters. All in all, it’s a winning combination!

— To purchase Rishi Tea Organic Cinnamon Plum, 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: Canton Tea Co. Jasmine Yin Zhen

Canton Tea Co., Jasmine Tea, White Tea No Comments »
Erika’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The cup finished with a nice buttery sensation that coated the mouth, leaving rich, lingering floral notes."
Erika’s Teaview: 8/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 7/10, Geoff gave it 8.9/10
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cantonjasmineyinNot that long ago, jasmine tea was a staple of mine.  I wanted nothing more than to relax with a cup of my favorite bagged jasmine green tea.  For whatever reason, jasmine tea and I drifted apart once I started experimenting with loose-leaf varieties.  While putting together my sample list, Jasmine Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) caught my eye and re-kindled my interest.

This particular jasmine is hand-made and consists of beautiful long and plump green buds covered in tiny white hairs.  The Canton Tea Company site notes that scattering the jasmine flowers over the tea buds allows the buds to fully absorb the floral scent.  After opening the sample bag, it is clear that the jasmine scent is front and center.

To prepare my cup I used just over a heaping teaspoon in water brought to a boil and allowed to cool.  After a three-minute steep, the jasmine scent coming from the liquor was intense.  The flavor of the tea followed suite and carried a clear jasmine taste, but managed to not be overpowering.  The cup finished with a nice buttery sensation that coated the mouth, leaving rich, lingering floral notes.  This is a very nice tea, both beautiful to behold and to drink.  If you enjoy jasmine tea, add this quality brew to the top of your list.

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Jasmine Yin Zhen, 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: Erika Erika
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