Review: Up N’ Atom Chai Organic Green Tea

Chai Tea, Green Tea, Up N Atom 3 Comments »
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!" As with the black version, the distinctive peppery burn lingered on the tongue, reminding me of those Atomic Fireball candies (the round, red, potential choking hazard ones), sweet and fiery."
Lynn’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8.3/10, Katie gave it 8.3/10, Erika gave it 9/10, Laura gave it 8.50/10, Shaiha gave it 7.8/10
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upnatomlogoNot long ago I reviewed Santa Cruz-based Up n’ Atom Brand’s Black Chai Tea and it knocked my socks off. I was so impressed that I wrote the company and asked for more samples. They kindly sent me a 6 oz package of their green tea version. Like the black, it’s a chunky, funky blend of Indonesian grown cinnamon and ginger, fancy green cardamom pods from Guatemala, cloves, allspice and black pepper. The only difference was the green tea base and the lack of Canadian coriander. The aroma was strong, rich, and spicy, with overtones of ginger and clove. Visually, the various ingredients were easily identified, as they are in large or whole pieces, including whole cardomom pods. However, like the black, the actual tea was all but invisible.

One cup brewing is not advised with this chai, which may be a drawback for those looking for a quick, last minute fix. Instead, the directions start with a gallon of water and a half cup of the chai mix. I cut it in half. Following directions, I brought the water to a boil and added a quarter cup of the chai mix, then set it to simmer for half an hour. (If you have company coming over and want your house to smell really nice and inviting, I recommend making this chai.) Optionally, vendor also suggests letting the brew stand for an additional six hours, which I did last time, but this time I decided to do a basic brew time and see what happened. This is a chai base, and will keep for 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator, without added milk.

When it was done I strained it and tried a sip of the slightly cloudy coppery brew. As I said of the black, zowie! It was peppery, with a cinnamon and pepper bite, but lots of sweetness, too. You really could drink this one straight, if you wanted to. I prefer my chai doctored up with dairy and sugar, so I added a splash of half and half and two teaspoons of organic sugar. It was different, and good, but no improvement over the unadulterated article. As with the black version, the distinctive peppery burn lingered on the tongue, reminding me of those Atomic Fireball candies (the round, red, potential choking hazard ones), sweet and fiery. The only flavor missing is green tea. I think the longer steep I did with the black resulted in a slightly more mellow cup, but I can still really recommend this one.

As a side note, this company also makes tea-based soap, and sent me a bar of their green tea chai soap. It is full of chunky spices and smells just like the drink, but the flavor profile is quite different—soapier. Just kidding. But it’s really nice soap.

— To purchase Up N’ Atom Chai Organic 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: Lynn Lynn
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Review: KTeas Rooibush Apple Streudel

Almond Tea, Apple Tea, KTeas, Rooibos Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I enjoyed the combination of the vanilla, apple and almond in the flavor profile and the quality of the rooibos is good. I think this is a nice alternative for folks who are a looking for something a little different from the typical apple cinnamon blends."
Laura’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 5.7/10, Sophie gave it 7.4/10, Katie gave it 7.1/10
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kteaslogo“This Rooibush with apple strudel is a tremendous dessert beverage & makes today your own special holiday.” —KTeas website.

Tonight I went rummaging through my sample options not sure what I was in the mood for. However, as soon as I opened the sample package and inhaled the delicious aroma of this Rooibush Apple Streudel, I knew I found my next cup of tea. The aroma is reminiscent of Fall apples and marzipan. KTeas lists the ingredients of this one as red rooibush, apple pieces, chopped almonds, and other natural flavors and my sample contains a fair number of dried apple pieces and almond slivers.

I scooped generously when preparing my cup and infused the mixture with boiling water for 5 min. I found that I enjoyed this tea best once it had a chance to cool a bit as the flavor profile seemed to come into it’s own. The resulting cup is rather tasty. To my surprise, however, instead of the flavor profile being dominated by apples or almonds, my tastebuds taste vanilla as the lead flavor! I found this to be an interesting twist to my expectations. The combination of the vanilla, apples and almonds come together in the nutty rooibos base to create an enjoyable dessert tea. I did find that I enjoyed this cup best with a pinch of German Rock Cane sugar as that seemed to bring up the flavor profile a bit. However, even with the addition of sweetener, the flavor profile is not as full as some might prefer. I also tried this with a splash of fat free half & half. Due to the less than robust flavor profile, I was a bit concerned that the addition of a bit of dairy might wash this out. However, it provided a bit of extra creamy goodness and the cup maintained a reasonable amount of flavor.

KTeas is a company that I have found to offer a number of solid tea blends. This Rooibush Apple Streudel is no exception. I enjoyed the combination of the vanilla, apple and almond in the flavor profile and the quality of the rooibos is good. I think this is a nice alternative for folks who are a looking for something a little different from the typical apple cinnamon blends. While I personally would like to tweak this one just a bit and bring the overall flavor profile up a few notches so that it is a little fuller, this one is still worth consideration. Further, at the time of this review, KTeas has the majority of its blend on sale to make way for new packaging!

— To purchase KTeas Rooibush Apple Streudel, 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: Tavalon Summer Fruits

Apricot Tea, Green Tea, Sunflower Tea, Tavalon No Comments »
Erika’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Each sip remained pleasantly on the tongue and the apricot blended nicely with the tea, creating a fine fruity cup."
Erika’s Teaview: 8/10
Other Teaviews: Lynn gave it 7.5/10, Sophie gave it 7.1/10, Laura gave it 7.6/10
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tavalonsummerfruitsWhat could be better on a hot summer day than Tavalon’s Summer Fruits?  This particular offering includes green tea, apricots, and sunflower blossoms.  Tavalon has an interesting section on their website where you can choose your tea based on its function, and Summer Fruits is listed as anti-aging, enlightening, and slimming.  You can’t ask for much more from a summer beverage.

The leaves were olive green and very thick and choppy.  Bright yellow shreds of sunflower blossoms were mixed in, giving the sample a small splash of bright color.  The scent of the dry leaves was rich and very sweet, with just hints of grassiness.  The heavy sweetness was very nice and gave the tea a sort of tropical feel.  I wasn’t able to pick out the apricot in particular, but a general fruitiness was definitely present.

Following the Tavalon recommendations, I used two heaping teaspoons in 180-degree water with a three-minute steep.  The liquor was a vibrant yellow with an almost syrupy smelling sweetness.  I was really impressed with the body this cup presented, especially for a green tea.  Each sip remained pleasantly on the tongue and the apricot blended nicely with the tea, creating a fine fruity cup.  I noticed that the body of the drink was a bit oily, but for me, this was pleasant as well.  I also tried this tea iced by doubling the amount of leaves and following the same brewing recommendations.  It was absolutely wonderful iced, very refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day.

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: Erika Erika
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Review: Mark T. Wendell Indonesian Tea

Black Tea, Mark T. Wendell No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"a crisp black tea with prominent cocoa notes "
Vanessa’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Melanie gave it 10/10, Katie gave it 7.6/10
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One of the many perks of working on the Teaviews staff is that I get to be exposed to teas of many different origins. Whereas the large majority of teas are of Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan, or Japanase origin, every now and then we get to sample teas of a less common origin. Today’s tea is a black tea from Indonesia’s Kertasarie Estate. The dry leaves are very small, consisting of chopped leaves. The leaves have a very prominent cocoal aroma. I prepared my first cup using boiling water and a three-minute infusion. The flavor of the bright reddish-brown liquid was crisp and clean. The flavor was similar to that of a higher quality bagged black tea, and while not very complex in its flavor profile, it did deliver a nice clean black tea flavor. I prepared a second cup with new leaves, this time using a four minute steep time. I was happy to see that the extra minute did not make for a bitter tea, as I was concerned that the broken leaf sizes would result in a tea that goes bitter too quickly. The flavor was perhaps a bit stronger in the second cup, but the same crisp flavor ultimately came through. Both the first and second cups were completely enjoyable without adding any milk or sugar. The cocoa notes of the tea provided enough sweetness to forego adding any sugar. However because this tea is fairly robust in body, I imagine it would take milk and or sugar well for those that prefer to take their tea in this manner. This is an ideal breakfast tea, because it is definitely hearty and sturdy enough to serve as a decent morning brew. I later sampled this tea as an iced tea and found that for me it was perhaps just a little too heavy as an iced tea and was much more enjoyable as a hot breakfast tea. Overall, despite my initial concerns based on the appearance of the dry leaves, I was impressed with this tea. This crisp black tea with prominent cocoa notes is recommended for anyone looking for a strong morning tea.

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

Teaviews Member: Vanessa Vanessa
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Review: Canton Tea Co. Lapsang Souchong

Canton Tea Co., Lapsang Souchong Tea No Comments »
Troy’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"its more rewarding and less abrasive as the products of good smoking should be. But if your expecting an over-the-top souchong to shine through milk or lemon your barking up the wrong tree."
Troy’s Teaview: 7/10
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markwendelllapsangsouchongFirst and foremost a small cheer for actually telling us some specifics about the tea instead of just a generic story as to its origins. While I wouldn’t say it was rampant or even the norm to eschew specifics about your product, but I do see it quite often and I’m glad this isn’t, here, the case. I’d love to see more information like this circulating in the industry as its a shame that we rarely know the proper names of the varietals we drink, or much beyond certain details of their region. Imagine if French Viticultural regionalism denied you even a general knowledge of the varietals used in your favorite wine.

Aside from telling us the Varietal, and the region of origin a small note towards the bottom of their websites listing specifies that this is in fact last years product, aged to lessen the Smoky flavor just a bit. I actually think this was a very good decision, many Lapsang Souchongs come off as little more than liquid smoke, you can’t smell the forest fire for the trees so to speak, or rather you can smell the wrong trees in far greater numbers. I liked this, the smell didn’t knock me over, and the flavor was smooth and a bit more Tea and Mesquite than Colgin’s. The leaves brewed up nice and rich twice, with a strong but balance flavor both times, Its only flaw is that, having tried to balance the smoke on my own with Milk and Maple syrup these leaves are wholly unsuitable for my signature Lumberjack Chai.

Its one of the few Lapsang Souchongs that really shines without additions, its mellow and smooth enough to be drunk as is, its more rewarding and less abrasive as the products of good smoking should be. But if your expecting an over-the-top souchong to shine through milk or lemon your barking up the wrong tree.

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Lapsang Souchong, 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: Troy Troy
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Review: Grand Tea Organic Genmaicha Matcha-iri

Genmaicha Tea, Grand Tea, Green Tea, Matcha Tea, Organic Tea, Rice Tea No Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It is pretty much free of any bitterness, but the matcha did deliver a touch of creaminess (and caffeine) to the cup that I appreciated. "
Laura’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Katie gave it 6.1/10, Troy gave it 6/10, Lynn gave it 6.5/10
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grandgenmaicha“Organic genmaicha matcha-iri is perfect combination of medium roasted brown rice, matcha (green tea powder) and high-grade green tea leaf. It has a toasty flavor and inviting aroma from the roasted rice. The matcha mixed in with the tea gives it a very distinct and smooth flavour.” —Grand Tea website.

Today I am dragging a little bit due to the fact that I stayed up much too late watching New Moon from the Twilight Saga last night. Since it is a weekend and I don’t have to get up early tomorrow, it is also the perfect time to sample this blend featuring matcha, which is widely known to be fairly caffeinated. In recent months, I have found myself to be fairly obsessed with finding the perfect genmaicha blend—with or without the matcha. Since I love genmaicha so much, it only makes sense to acquaint myself with Grand Tea’s offerings with this sample. Grand Tea carries more serious tea blends and doesn’t offer much in terms of flavored tea blends. Further, at the time of finalizing this review, they have a number of tasty looking oolongs on clearance!

One thing that I noted about my dry sample right off the bat is that while the leaves and little pieces of toasted rice are coated with the matcha, they are not as covered in matcha as what I have seen most genmaicha + matcha blends are. This is not necessarily a bad thing because too much matcha creates bitterness. Also the green tea used in this is in rather small pieces. I am not sure if this is due to my sample coming from the bottom of the barrel (or more likely tin) or if the green tea might not be of the highest quality. I prepared my cup using water brought to just 175 degrees and a 2 minute infusion. The cup brewed up to a rather bright yet murky green color. The prepared cup is actually pretty good. It is pretty much free of any bitterness, but the matcha did deliver a touch of creaminess (and caffeine) to the cup that I appreciated. The genmaicha itself is toasty though not too much so and has a fairly strong rice presence. The biggest possible downfall to this blend is that the green tea is a bit on the mild side and is pretty dominated by the toasted rice and matcha.

Overall, I liked this offering. I liked that too much matcha wasn’t used so the cup was a bit creamy, but not bitter. I liked the amount of toastiness that the cup offered in that it didn’t cross the line into too toasty, which sometimes gives me a tummy ache. If I were to tweak this cup, then I would probably use a less mild green tea and maybe a smidgen more matcha. I say maybe because a bit more might bring bitterness and I don’t want that. However, at just $5.00 for a 50 gram bag, this is a tasty cup at a reasonable price. Thumbs up!

— To purchase Grand Tea Organic Genmaicha Matcha-iri, 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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