Review: Canton Tea Co. Anxi Rou Gui Oolong Tea

Canton Tea Co., Oolong Tea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Reminiscent of fall and apple pies, an oolong that is a delight to savor."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 8.4/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 9.2/10, Shaiha gave it 8.6/10, Katie gave it 8.3/10
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There are just some teas that are meant to drink, to savor, to offer to all who step within. This oolong from Canton Tea Co. is one of those special teas. I have been delighting in my sample of this tea for a few days now and it hasn’t disappointed once. It is an oolong that cries for being resteeped as it just keeps getting creamier each time.

Now that I have sung its praises, onto the review itself. My sample consists of smaller nuggets that are a medium green in color. The aroma of the dried leaves is spicy with just a tinge of fruitiness. It almost reminds me of an apple pie. Not an aroma that I have ran across before in an oolong.

I set out to brew this delight up according to their website. Speaking of Canton Tea’s website, it is a delight. If you have a couple hours, check it out. You can really learn a lot about Chinese teas.

In the first brew, the aroma of the apples has faded. Now it is a warming scent of oolong leavened with spices, cinnamon and allspice. Just perfect for a chilly morning.

The taste is one that I want to wallow in. This tea is medium bodied, perfect to roll about on your taste buds. Reminding me of fall, I am able to pick up bits of apples, perhaps peaches all leavened with a spicy taste. There is just a bit of a bite towards the back of the throat on the first steep and it gains a bit of bitterness at one point as it cools and then that fades away.

I have been able to get up to four enjoyable steeps out of this tea brewing it Western style. Each subsequent steep is creamier with the third time around being the best in my opinion. Lovely tea all the way around. I can easily see why it took a gold medal in ’09.

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Anxi Rou Gui Oolong 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: Shaiha Shaiha
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Review: ESP Emporium Cocoa/Orange

Apple Tea, Chocolate Tea, ESP Emporium, Herbal Tea, Lemongrass Tea, Nettle Tea, Orange Peel Tea, Rose Hip Tea No Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Overall, this is not only one of the better chocolate blends that I've tried, but also one of the best herbals that I have had in a long time. "
Laura’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 9/10, Sophie gave it 8.2/10, Melanie gave it 6.9/10
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espemporiumcocoaorangeThis Cocoa/Orange Herbal Tea is the first offering from ESP Emporium that I have had the opportunity to sample. After surfing their website for a little while, I will say that their blends are a flavored tea lover’s dream. Not only do they have many flavored tea offerings (some pure leaf too), but a number of them are quite unique. It is rare that I come across a tea company that has a multitude of blends that I have not seen elsewhere, but this is one of them. In fact, in the most recent sample package that I received from Teaviews, this was one of the samples that I was most interested in trying as I have never come across a Cocoa/Orange flavor profile done as an herbal before. Further, I love the flavor combination of chocolate and orange and have long been searching for the perfect chocolate-orange flavored tea blend.

ESP Emporium lists the ingredients in this tea as cocoa peel, apple pieces, orange peel, roasted cocoa brittle, lemon grass, flavoring, rose hip peel, stinging nettle leaves, mulberry leaves. I scooped this generously and infused it with water brought to a full boil for 6 min. The aroma coming from my tea maker is bright and citrusy. The cup is dominated by a citrus flavor that actually errs in favor of tasting more like lemons than oranges to me. It is paired with a rich chocolatey undertone. The chocolate flavor in this is not mere notes, but a true undertone. It is that of a nice, deep, dark chocolate and that chocolate flavor lingers in your mouth after you swallow. If you don’t taste it when you first start sipping this, chillax for a minute and allow it to cool a bit as that is when the chocolate undertone really makes it’s presence known. I would call the type of chocolate flavor in this to be more of baker’s chocolate or semisweet flavor. While one might think that something that is not distinctly an orange flavor might not pair so well with a chocolatey flavor, that is actually not the case. That deep chocolate flavor prompted to me to keep sipping and I emptied my cup rather quickly. I did find that I enjoyed this best with just a touch of German rock cane sugar, but this is naturally sweet so proceed with caution when sweetening.

Overall, this is not only one of the better chocolate blends that I’ve tried, but also one of the best herbals that I have had in a long time. This blend is delicious and extremely balanced and well done. I loved the sweet refreshing taste that the citrus brought to the cup and also loved that delicious semi-sweet chocolate undertone. One thing to note is that when I do tea reviews, I typically prepare the cup and write a rough draft review. I then come back to finalize the review while enjoying another preparation of the tea. If something isn’t all that great it will sometimes be several weeks until I drink another cup and finalize the review. This Cocoa/Orange, however, was so yummy that just a few days passed! This offering has put ESP Emporium on my list of companies that I will consider when shopping for some unique and tasty flavored blends. This one goes on my short list of teas that I want to add to my personal tea stash. Thumbs up!

Visit ESP Emporium for more information on this tea and many more from their extensive product catalogue

Teaviews Member: Laura Laura
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Review: BourgeaTEA Vanilla Rooibos

BourgeaTEA, Rooibos Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The hearty rooibos base and the strong vanilla flavor make for a perfect dessert and/or cold-weather tea. "
Vanessa’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 7.8/10, Laura gave it 7.5/10
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bourgeteavanillarooibosThis blend has an attractive appearance in which yellow flower petals complement the reddish rooibos leaves. The blend has a sweet vanilla scent that gives a good indication of the flavor of this tea. I gave the leaves a five minute infusion with boiling water. The tea was a little darker in color and more opaque than I am used to seeing in Rooibos teas. The vanilla flavor is very strong, wafting off the teacup to greet my nose. I would describe this vanilla flavor as warming and hearty, the kind that one would find comforting on a brisk autumn or winter day. The rooibos used seems to be of high quality and therefore is an excellent choice for the base of this blend. Sometimes fruits, flavors, and candies can overpower rooibos, but in this blend I find the rooibos to be assertive and not lurking in the shadow of the vanilla. Even though the vanilla is a strong flavor, the sweet and nutty rooibos base also comes through and pairs well with the vanilla.
This tea was perfectly drinkable on its own, byt I personally preferred it with a splash of soymilk and a bit of sugar. In all, this is a tea I would recommend to others and one that I would purchase for myself. The hearty rooibos base and the strong vanilla flavor make for a perfect dessert and/or cold-weather tea.

— To purchase BourgeaTEA Vanilla Rooibos, 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: Mark T. Wendell Indonesian Tea

Black Tea, Mark T. Wendell No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It is a wonderfully solid tea - rich and robust."
Katie’s Teaview: 7.6/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 7.5/10, Melanie gave it 10/10
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I picked this tea to sample because, to my knowledge, I had never had a purely Indonesian tea. I’m sure I’ve had it blended with other growing areas, and I know I’ve had it blended with flavouring, but there’s something wonderful about a tea from a specific place, which is, in this case, the Kartasarie Estate.

The leaves of this particular black tea are very small and choppy, and it’s hard to imagine they will release a rich flavour based on their grainy appearance alone. Yet they smell rich and fruity. After three minutes with hot as possible water, I get an equally hearty-smelling cup. It is a wonderfully solid tea – rich and robust. It has a hint of bitterness which meshes well with the character and feeling of the leaf. The fruity and malty aspects take the edge off the bitterness.

This isn’t a particularly exceptional or life-altering tea, but that isn’t surprising for a tea that costs around $2.12 per ounce. I’d put this on par with the average Irish breakfast in terms of how often I could see myself aching for it as a wake-up tea. Its dark, rich profile is a good jolt to the senses, and I would happily slurp this on any winter morning/commute.

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

Teaviews Member: Katie Katie
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Review: Grand Tea Xi Hu Dragon Well

Dragonwell Tea, Grand Tea, Green Tea, Longjing Tea No Comments »
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It wasn't a vegetal aroma in the spinach sense, but more along the lines of a summertime leaf prior to its autumnal fall. Such a scent is usually pungent but balanced; as was the case here."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8.2/10
Other Teaviews: Lynn gave it 8.5/10, Raven gave it 8.4/10, Bryan gave it 5.1/10
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I remember the first time I tried a Dragon Well green tea, but not because it was a pleasant experience. I received a 1oz sample from a company I purchased some yellow tea from. I was elated to receive it. That is, until I tasted it. Awful, simply awful. All spinach, no tea. However, sometime later down the line I tried a Longjing. I assumed I liked it better than a Dragon Well. Little did I know, they were one in the same, which convinced me that I may have had a bad batch.

Grand Tea presents a Dragon Well with the pretext of “Xi Hu”. The moniker could denote the name of a fresh water lake in Zhejiang Province – the same location where Dragon Well is cultivated. The region has an incredibly rich history, one I couldn’t even begin to summarize here. I can mention, though, that the original name for the lake was “Wulin”, which just so happens to be the backdrop for a “battle-puppet” TV series in Taiwan. The American name for the series was “Wulin Warriors”. I have no idea if the two are connected.

But on to the tea.

This Dragon Well possessed a scent that was floral, sweet, and a dash of something in between citrus and cinnamon. A very pleasant aroma, to be sure. The leaves themselves were a presentable light green, and flat in appearance like a Chinese-derived sencha. I likened them to bark shavings from a very young tree. Couldn’t wait to steep ’em.

Brewing instructions called for 75-80C water. I went with 1 level teaspoon in 8oz of water for three minutes at the bare minimum temp to start. Since this was described as a roasted green, lighter seemed better.

The cup infused to a clear-to-green liquor with a subtly grassy nose. It wasn’t a vegetal aroma in the spinach sense, but more along the lines of a summertime leaf prior to its autumnal fall. Such a scent is usually pungent but balanced; as was the case here. The taste had the same traits listed above, but with a welcomed buttery note – creamy on the foretaste, floral in the middle. It isn’t quite up to the feathery excellence of the Bi Lo Chun also put out by Grand Tea, but it’s still worth a look and taste.

— To purchase Grand Tea Xi Hu Dragon Well, 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: SerendipiTea Colonille

Black Tea, SerendipiTea, Vanilla Tea 2 Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I really think that those chocolatey notes when paired with the solid tea base is what makes this one stand out from any other vanilla flavored black tea."
Laura’s Teaview: 8.4/10
Other Teaviews: Jamie gave it 7.5/10, Shaiha gave it 7.5/10, Sophie gave it 8.5/10, Lynn gave it 6.5/10, Vanessa gave it 8.5/10, Katie gave it 7.4/10
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serendipiteacolonille“Sumptuous, graceful & inviting. A tea that kindles elegant evenings, sweet thoughts & long walks. Beautiful bouquet with a distinct chocolatey taste coupling the vanilla, finished with a full red color, rich palate & distinct memory.” —Serendipitea website.

Tonight I found myself wanting a dessert tea. While it was hard to pass up a number of good ones that I have my personal tea stash, I really wanted to work on a tea review as I was being a bit slacker for awhile. I decided to go with this one based on the high marks that it received from other Teaviews’ Staff. I didn’t find the high marks surprising on an offering from Serendipitea as I have had the good fortune to try at least a handful of their teas and have been pretty impressed with most of them. I stock some of their Forever Spring aka Si Jie Chun oolong in my tea collection and it never stops impressing me with how tasty it is.

This particular offering is described as containing French vanilla and Vietnamese black tea. I prepared this using water brought to a full boil and a 4 min infusion time. The flavor profile is obviously vanilla in nature and what I would call a medium flavor profile meaning that the vanilla doesn’t get in your face, but you don’t have to work to taste it either. This is naturally sweet and really no sweetener is needed to enjoy this so I would recommend trying it before adding any. The black tea holds it’s own in this cup and I found it to be rich, smooth and malty—all qualities that I love in a black tea. As far as the chocolatey notes go, they are there and I suspect that the black tea used is what is giving them off. I found them to be a welcome addition to the cup as most black teas that give off chocolate notes are a friend of mine. I really think that those chocolatey notes when paired with the solid tea base is what makes this one stand out from any other vanilla flavored black tea. Towards the end of my cup, I added a couple of rocks of brown German rock cane sugar and then a splash of fat-free cream to the cup. While I can’t say that they made the cup taste bad, I do think that I enjoyed it more unadulterated.

I am going to get on my soapbox for a minute and express to Serendipitea that I wish that they had a better sample program. I am very much a ‘try before you buy’ kind of consumer and very often will make orders with tea companies that pretty much consist of nothing but samples. Serendipitea does offer 1 oz sizes of most of their products, but they package them in these little tins that drive up the cost of the samples. For example, a 1 oz tin of this blend costs $5. Personally, I could live without the tins and would rather see the sample sizes at a more affordable price point. Ok, I’m done with that subject.

As far as the Colonille goes, I consider this blend to be another winner from Serendipitea and would recommend to most folks that like vanilla black teas that they just go ahead and add the larger size of this one to their shopping cart. The flavor flavor profile is nicely done and it balances nicely with the black tea. The black tea is rich, sweet, malty and chocolatey. What is not to love? Further, if you are looking for something else to add to your shopping cart, then I highly recommend that Forever Spring.

— To purchase SerendipiTea Colonille, 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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