Review: KTeas South India White Oothu

KTeas, White Tea No Comments »
Dan’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I found this tea to be just as nice - if a bit superior to - the previous Oothu Estate tea I've enjoyed. Sweet, mildly spicy, bold and flavorful - yet ridiculously smooth."
Dan’s Teaview: 8/10
Other Teaviews: Lynn gave it 8/10, Shaiha gave it 7.1/10, Geoff gave it 9.4/10, Raven gave it 8.3/10, Sophie gave it 7.8/10, Katie gave it 8.5/10
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kteaslogoThe famed Oothu garden located close to the southern tip of India, is precisely famed for their excellent white tea production, and also apparently for the fact that they are the first estate in their nation to adopt Biodynamic tea cultivation, which I believes involves spirituality combined with organic gardening practices. This specific tea is partially oxidized, lending to its multi-colored appearance.

This tea is a visually-pleasing Oothu white – I’ve enjoyed Zhi tea’s offering from this same estate in the past, so in comparison, they are very similar in appearance. Big, broad leaves combined with a few needle-like buds, a portion of half-rolled/half-shriveled leaves, and some finer dustings. The hues present are very nice – a collection of browns and greens, greys and yellows. Aroma of the dried leaf is very pleasant – a light and subtle tobacco-like scent. Earthy and pleasing.

KTeas recommends steeping at 70-degrees C for no longer than 2 minutes. Utilizing these parameters, a wonderful cup is produced. Interestingly, the spent leaves take on a bright green appearance with streaks of red throughout. The resultant cup has a barely-there aroma, semi-sweet and earthy. The flavor of the cup is immediately powerful and delicious. Slightly sweet, a bit earthy, mildly spicy, and overall incredibly smooth. Not a lick of astringency or detracting flavors to be found.

Curious if the leaves would withstand a second infusion, I brewed with slightly higher-temperature water and for twice as long. This, too, produced a nice cup – albeit quite a different animal altogether. Not quite as smooth, a bit astringent, and much heavier on the spiciness. Yet still very nice, delicious, well-rounded, and enjoyable.

I found this tea to be just as nice – if a bit superior to – the previous Oothu Estate tea I’ve enjoyed.

— To purchase KTeas South India White Oothu, 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: Dan Dan
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Review: Tavalon Jasmine Dream

Green Tea, Jasmine Tea, Tavalon No Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"I think this will appeal to folks who don't like their jasmine cloying. I doubt that I will purchase this for myself, but look forward to using up the rest of my sample adding a pinch of it to this blend and a pinch of this to that blend to make more interesting cups of tea."
Laura’s Teaview: 6.3/10
Other Teaviews: Nicole gave it 9.5/10, Christine gave it 7/10, Troy gave it 8/10, Chelsy gave it 6.2/10, Raven gave it 7.9/10, Sophie gave it 5.9/10
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tavalonjasminedream“A top-grade green tea meticulously perfumed for several days with night-blooming jasmine blossoms.” —-Tavalon website.

Lately I have been on a jasmine tea kick. I used to get in the mood for a jasmine tea just every now and then, but after having had a couple of really mind-blowing jasmine tea blends, I find myself wanting them more and more. I also enjoy blending them with other teas. If you aren’t familiar with Tavalon, then you might take a minute to check them out. I have found that most of their offering are solid. I wouldn’t go so far as to call most of their products mind-blowing, but I would call most of them better than the average. Further, they price their products competitively in my mind. That mind-blowing stuff mentioned earlier came with a little bit of a price tag and might be out of reach for many folks.

Jasmine is one of those ingredients that is quite varied and subjective. Some folks can’t stand it and others just love it. Further, the amount of jasmine presence is pretty subjective as well. I like mine kind of in the middle of the road. I enjoy it’s flavor and love it’s smell, but I don’t want it to clobber me over the head either. Tavalon’s Jasmine Dream is on the gentler side of jasmine and that might due to the lack of jasmine blossoms in the blend—or at least in my sample package. Most jasmine blends I have encountered either have the visually stunning little flowers in them or they are heavily scented. The dry sample of this one just looks to be of green tea and maybe some stems from the jasmine blossoms. I suppose it could be the bottom of the barrel so to speak? The aroma coming from the dry sample smells as much of green tea as it does of jasmine.

I prepared the cup according to Tavalon’s suggested brewing parameters, which was 180 degrees for 3 min. The green tea is a bit vegetal and does have a tendency to bitter if brewed too hot or infused too long. However, when properly brewed, it is slightly vegetal and fairly dry. I found that the cup was most tasty after it had a few minutes to cool. The cooler temp allowed the jasmine to surpass the green tea in flavor profile as the primary flavor. The jasmine used here is definitely not up to the par of some of the other jasmine that I have been enjoying lately, but the pricepoints are in two different stratospheres as well. Further, I found the green tea base to not be up to the standard that I usually find with Tavalon’s products. Overall, I can’t call this a great cup of jasmine green tea, but it is decent. I think this will appeal to folks who don’t like their jasmine cloying. I doubt that I will purchase this for myself, but look forward to using up the rest of my sample adding a pinch of it to this blend and a pinch of this to that blend to make more interesting cups of tea. PS. Jasmine and blueberry and jasmine and passionfruit teas are quite tasty!

Special Offer! For a limited time, Tavalon is offering 25% off for Teaviews Readers. Use the promo code: teaviews when you order at Tavalon

Teaviews Member: Laura Laura
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Review: Tea Spree Earl Grey

Bergamot Tea, Black Tea, Organic Tea, Tea Spree No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is a smooth and malty Earl Grey of excellent quality, especially when it comes to bagged teas."
Sophie’s Teaview: 7.3/10
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teaspreelogoAlthough ultimately it’s the quality and taste of the tea that matter to me in the end, I must admit that cute packaging does play a role in how I rate a tea. It’s certainly the case with Tea Spree’s products. Adorably packaged in origami-like pyramid-shaped paper wrappers, the attention to detail is quite impressive. The paper tag even hangs off a prettily knotted string! Being organic to boot, this Earl Grey blend certainly made a good impression on me right off the bat.

The finely cut, dark brown tea leaves inside the silken infuser are interspersed with small bits of what seem to be citrus peel. This is odd because the ingredients on the website list black tea and bergamot oil as the only ingredients in the blend. There is no detectable bergamot scent to the dried leaves. Instead the tea gives off a smokey, biscuity smell. Having found no brewing instructions on the site or the sample’s package, I resorted to my usual habits when brewing a black tea. I used 8 ounces of water heated to 205 degrees Fahrenheit and steeped for 3 minutes. A deep coppery brown liquor ensued. Although subdued in terms of scent, the taste of the bergamot is out in full force. The citrus oil in this case has a vegetal quality to it, reminding me of the citronella essence used to ward off mosquitoes. The tea base provides a pleasantly smooth and malty backdrop, with a little dryness in the finish. There is very little bitterness present. This is quite a plus to me as I tend to use bagged teas when I’m on the go and not necessarily paying attention to how long the tea steeps in my travel mug. It’s nice when a tea can withstand an indefinite amount of steeping without turning into battery acid. Naturally sweet, this blend does not require the addition of a sweetener. However, as it’s got a fair amount of body and stoutness to it, it can certainly take dairy if one prefers to do so. The second 3 minute infusion is noticeably lighter in colour, and body but still has enough oomph to the bergamot flavour to still make it worthwhile.

This is an enjoyable, good quality version of an Earl Grey, especially when it comes to bagged teas. I generally prefer buying loose teas, but if I was looking to buy bagged teas as a present, I would certainly look to Tea Spree for their beautifully presented box sets.

— To purchase Tea Spree Earl Grey, 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: Mark T. Wendell Hu-Kwa

Black Tea, Lapsang Souchong Tea, Mark T. Wendell No Comments »
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The pine-smoked scent was in effect but understated, not blunt."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9.8/10
Other Teaviews: Melanie gave it 6.5/10, Sophie gave it 8.3/10, Jamie gave it 9/10
Your Reviews: 4.5/10
2 reader reviews | Add your review »

markwendellhuakwuSo proud are the Mark T. Wendell Company of this tea, that it has it’s own category. The Formosan Lapsang Souchong gains its name from the Chinese merchant – Houqua – whom the brand’s purveyor had business dealings over a hundred years ago. In honor of this merchant, Mark T. Wendell renamed his “smoky tea” after him; as a metaphor for his integrity. One thing to note, however, this tea is Taiwanese, while the original tea Mr. Wendell named after the merchant was Chinese. I wonder what caused the shift, or whether or not it was an accidental inconsistency?

No matter.

In comparison to other Lapsangs I’ve put my nostrils to, this did have a lighter smoked scent. While I love the campfire feelings they invoke, some are too heavy on the forest fire fragrance. The best, I’ve found, smell like the aftermath of a good, stoked fire…and chocolate. Hickory-smoked chocolate. The brown-to-black leaves of this Lapsang Souchong had the smell pegged.

Brewing instructions on the site mentioned to allow “the tea to draw for five and one-half minutes. Stir, and let the tea settle for about one-half minute. Then decant.” No mention of brewing temperature, however. I went with a lighter, pre-boil touch to see if that drew a more delicate flavor; 1 tsp in 8oz of water.

Contrary to the site description, this did not infuse to a deep red, rather it brewed to a golden yellow. A comparison on different shades of yellow yielded the color “goldenrod”. The liquor resembled that with a slight reddish tinge to it. I’ll bet my lighter steep temp had something to do with it. The pine-smoked scent was in effect but understated, not blunt. To the tongue, this was among the finest Lapsangs ever to grace my infantile palate. Most are not known for their subtlety, but Hu-Kwa had floral notes complimenting the woodiness. I love a good Lapsang Souchong, and – so far – this is the best I’ve tried.

Visit Mark T. Wendell Teas for more information on this tea and many more from their extensive product catalogue.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff
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Review: Boston Tea Company Boston’s Mint-in-Tea

Black Tea, Boston Tea Company, Mint Tea No Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"I ended up preparing a glass of this iced and this one of those blends that I DEFINITELY prefer as an iced drink. The black tea is hearty enough that it lends itself to icing and mint tastes a bit more refreshing to me when iced."
Laura’s Teaview: 6/10
Other Teaviews: Dan gave it 7.9/10
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bostonmintinteabagged“Take one sip of our classic mint tea, made with a blend of Kentucky spearmint and premium orange pekoe black tea, and you’ll make it a staple in your pantry. Proudly serve it in your home like First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who shared this favorite tea flavor with her guests in the White House!” —Boston Tea Company website.

After eating some food earlier that was a little spicy and had some garlic in it, I found myself wanting a mint tea tonight. While I was very tempted to drink one from my personal collection, I thought it better to review one of the several mint blends in my sample stash. This particular offering stood out from the others in several ways—it was the only mint black tea offering, the only one that had spearmint as the mint type and the only one that came in the form of a tea bag. Truthfully, I pretty much drink no bagged tea with the exception of through my affiliation of Teaviews. Yes, I am a bit of tea snob. I own it. That said, the combination of the black tea and the spearmint sounds kind of appealing this evening. I shall do my best to keep an open mind.

When I opened the paper package that my tea bag came in, I held the tea bag to my nose to take in it’s aroma. The Kentucky spearmint used in this blend reminds me very much of a stick of Wrigley’s chewing gum! I proceeded with my preparation of the cup by boiling some water and infusing my tea bag in it for about 3.5 min. The resulting cup brews up rather dark in color and the spearmint is a little more subdued in the prepared cup than it was in the initial aroma—and that is probably a good thing as it was rather strong. The spearmint doesn’t necessarily strike me as being particularly fresh, but I wouldn’t describe it as stale either. The black tea used is pretty typical of what you will find in most bagged black tea blends. The black tea leaves are broken and small. The black tea brews up rather strong and is a little heavy, but it is not really bitter or astringent. It actually isn’t bad considering it is a bagged tea. I have had worse. I ended up preparing a glass of this iced and this one of those blends that I DEFINITELY prefer as an iced drink. The black tea is hearty enough that it lends itself to icing and mint tastes a bit more refreshing to me when iced.

I think that Boston Tea Company is wise to get word out that they offer a spearmint black tea blend. That pairing is not featured together regularly despite the fact that they do blend together nicely. I can think of one of more folks that refuse to drink anything but bagged tea blends (despite my attempts to get them to drink loose whole leaf), and they would likely enjoy this offering as a something a little different. While I enjoyed the pairing of the black tea with the spearmint, it does not appeal to me enough personally that I would seek this one out for purchase. That is largely due to the fact that I would want some really mind-blowing fresh spearmint coupled with some higher quality black tea in order to consider adding it to my stash. And, yes, I would really want to buy it as a loose leaf tea. However, if you are a lover of spearmint and refuse to use anything other than a tea bag, then this isn’t a bad choice.

Visit Boston Tea for more information on this tea and many more from their extensive product catalogue

Teaviews Member: Laura Laura
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Review: Organic4Tea.com Sencha

Green Tea, Japanese Tea, Organic Tea, Organic4Tea.com, Sencha Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A hearty green tea combining grass and spinach notes with an overall broth-like quality"
Vanessa’s Teaview: 7/10
Other Teaviews: Geoff gave it 9/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

oranic4senchaSencha is probably one of the better known Japanese teas, and it is a green tea that is known for its strong vegetal flavor yet avoids being bitter. I probably don’t drink as much sencha as I should, so I was very much looking forward to sampling the Organic Sencha offered by Organic4Tea.com. The dry leaves were of various sizes, though mostly on the larger end of the spectrum. The dry leaves emitted a fairly rich spinachy scent with faint hints of buttery and nutty undertones. I prepared all of my samples using steaming water with a two minute steep time for a first infusion, and adding another minute for a second infusion. The tea was a pale greenish-yellow color, although over time became darker (a phenomenon I have noticed for many green teas, particularly when they go from warm to room temperature or iced tea). My general impression of this tea is that it is a hearty green tea combining grass and spinach notes with an overall broth-like quality. The brothiness (yes, I know, ‘brothiness’ is not actually a word) of this tea was rather unexpected and reminiscent of many an oolong that I have sampled. I found the second infusion to be a toned down version of the first infusion, both in the vegetal and broth flavors. However, the second infusion still had plenty of flavor and I actually preferred the second infusion to the first infusion. While this tea was perhaps just a bit more vegetal than I prefer, I did still enjoy it very much. The lack of bitterness made it smooth-drinking while the strong vegetal flavors provided a solid body to the tea. I don’t see myself buying this tea, but would certainly recommend it to those that like sencha or anyone looking for a rich, vegetal green tea.

— To purchase Organic4Tea.com 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: Vanessa Vanessa
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