Review: Golden Tips Tea Nilgiri Tea

Black Tea, Golden Tips Tea, Nilgiri Tea No Comments »
Dan’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Makes for an excellent morning cup or mid-afternoon perk-up, and is probably going to be my standard, go-to, everyday cuppa for quite a while."
Dan’s Teaview: 8.9/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 6.8/10, Raven gave it 6.3/10
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Despite specializing in Darjeeling Tea (and being located in the District it was named for), Golden Tips of Darjeeling also offers a variety of other Indian-grown teas, including this Nilgiri tea. Grown high in the blue mountains in the south of India, Nilgiri is a unique and distinct tea.

The dried leaf is a rich mahogany color – less dusty and grey than other Nilgiri teas I’ve seen, but with vibes of that rich, woody scent. A 3 minute infusion works nicely, presenting a flavorful yet mild cup. The liquor is bright coppery-red, and produces a full-flavored semi-sweet umami cup. This could easily take to milk and sugar and is almost begging me for some – despite the fact that I almost never add either to a cup of tea anymore. I also experiment with 4 and 5 minute cups, and they get even nicer approaching the upper end of that range – the flavor is more robust, the liquor darker, the aroma richer.

This is certainly a quality tea, and just as good, if not better than, other Nilgiri teas I’ve enjoyed recently. It makes for an excellent morning cup or mid-afternoon perk-up, and is probably going to be my standard, go-to, everyday cuppa for quite a while.

— To purchase Golden Tips Tea Nilgiri 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: Dan Dan
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Review: Tea Emporium Sungma DJ149 2nd Flush 2011

Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Tea Emporium No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Spiciness is not as large a part of the flavor profile as it is the scent profile, but there's a mellow, full, autumnal sort of flavor that is strongly fruity, sweet and dry."
Jamie’s Teaview: 8.5/10
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This offering from the Tea Emporium is rather difficult to locate on their website catalog. In fact, I wasn’t able to. But it’s worth inquiring about as it is an excellent second flush Darjeeling offering. The leaves are full and medium in length with a gentle curl and a dark coloring that reminded me, anathematically, of very darkly roasted coffee beans. A rare silvery green leaf makes an appearance as well. The scent is rich and with a woodsy, spicy muscatel quality that is sweet and dry at once.

I brewed one teaspoon of leaf in 8 ounces of just under the boil water and allowed three minutes to steep. The dark orange liquor resonated a sweet, dry and spicy smell that was redolent with a baked autumnal fruit fullness. My first thought on sipping was a reactive “delicious!”

This tea offers lots of fruit flavor, which is brought out more fully with a little sweetener but is notable on its own. The flavors are very full. Spiciness is not as large a part of the flavor profile as it is the scent profile, but there’s a mellow, full, autumnal sort of flavor that is strongly fruity, sweet and dry. The strong notes of baked or stewed fruits are beautifully augmented with the full, smooth quality of the tea’s body. I enjoyed this tea with and without sweetener. Unsweetened, this tea has a wonderful dry quality to the sip and the finish both that is somewhat more eclipsed in the sweetened cup.

A second infusion is smooth and delicious as well with the added benefit that it does not become bitter or sour even if you allow the infusion to progress far longer than intended.

All in all, this was a really marvelous second flush that should bring the purchaser many happy returns. Highly recommended.

— To purchase Tea Emporium Sungma DJ149 2nd Flush 2011, 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: The Teahouse Organic White Peony

Bai Mu Dan Tea, Organic Tea, The Teahouse, White Tea No Comments »
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavour blossoms with a light alfalfa sprout flavour, whose best part is the compelling inflection of the feel that seems to snap in the mouth, crisp and spritely."
Raven’s Teaview: 8.7/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 9/10, Geoff gave it 9.8/10, Shaiha gave it 8.0/10, Katie gave it 8.1/10
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Mary had a little lamb, whose fleece was white as snow….But little did dear Mary know that if she was truly in the know, she should rightly go to the tea tiller with her lamb’s filler to swap some fleece for tea, and she could be petting lambikins over a cup of white peony. White tea does seem the stuff that nursery rhymes are made of, particularly white peony arising from its often playful appearance. And of course in fableland, everything is organic as the bugs are too busy dancing and singing to nibble on the tea leaves. The Teahouse seems to hold a fun for tea too as their cartoony site is light-hearted to showcase their ample selection of all types of tea. The only thing missing, is it would be even nicer to have pictures of their teas with their descriptions too. Yet, not so much for Mary, but for me, the organic procurement of their White Peony seemed a great first try.

As if touched with Disney’s digital colour, the leaves’s bring an animated start. Rather than the tawny browns often seen in white peonies, the broken leaves and stems are mostly a range of soft dark greens, as lime, rifle, olives and dark ferns that adds a lovely mix of hues with the occasional tan leaves. Yet, overall they have more of a uniform colour with just enough variation to add visual appeal from their sizes and shapes, while they have a soft finish rather than a fuzzy one. There’s only a few about half inch, very thin whitish green needles that are cute in their small size against the matte array of leaves. With such lively colours, the leaves would surely have Miss Muffet second guessing her curds and whey.

A kiss of green also springs through their light to medium bouquet, closer to a silver needle but not quite as fruity or lush to have the same tone. The lovely sweetness of the leaves’ scent imbues a light golden raisin but it is more the smell of sweetness than fruit centered. Instead, a slight downy quality mingles with a light fresh rice kind of grassiness to seem like fresh clover and milk pods. Not too dry or too wet, Goldilocks would be pleased.

To truly find the tea’s story, The Teahouse starts the tale, kindly offering brewing suggestions on their website to use one and a half tablespoons of tea for one minute. While they suggest a 190°F brew, I stuck with a more traditionally lower temperature for whites of 170°F. I had my doubts about the short steep but they were quickly dashed as the pastelled yellow came forth, sweeter than the yellow brick road, paved with a medium light aroma. The delightful scent is a bit sweet with a mild nuttiness, lined with a dash of green. As such, it has a likeness of corn husks and wild fragrant grasses that is a twist appetizing while still very fresh and bright. The almost floral of the grassy notes brings out the sweetness, delicate and almost supple.

Happily, the flavour has just as much perk and seems an ode to the tortoise and the hare. Crisp and tender, a hint of fuzziness enrobes a chestnut flavour with hints of a dry grain and green freshness that ends with a light flourish of light pink flowers. It captures the nuances of alfalfa sprouts to be alive while still ample enough to be satiating without being starchy or coarse. It’s very clear tasting and the bit of sweetness innervates the light to medium body with an engaging morsel to hold. The fresh flavour follows in a medium finish of light, joyful aftertaste of clover.

The bright greens of the leaves hardly look wet which is enough to send Jack and Jill up the hill for one more infusion. As it turns out, the second skitter of the leaves brings an even deeper yellow cup. While the bouquet is still coy, sweetly teasing with light to medium aromas of pink flowers with a bit of fuzziness, like sweet grass and warm flannel, it’s almost cute smelling. The flavour blossoms though, with a light alfalfa sprout flavour, whose best part is the compelling inflection of the feel that seems to snap in the mouth, crisp and spritely. The wonderfully, sweet freshness has a gulpable enthusiasm with enough grassy graininess to give the light to medium body grounding. As such, where it falls in refreshing, it makes up for in dynamics.

Tumbling down the cup far too quickly, exploring a third infusion returns to a yellowish beige of the first brew. The scent remains light and fresh with a subtle sweetness that isn’t as grassy or green tinged. The flavour is quite mild but it continues to follow the sip. Like the aroma, the flavour also seems less green, rounding to whiter flavours, like waterchestnuts or bean sprouts to retain a nugget of sweetness although the feel isn’t quite as nice.

After just enough cups for the three blind mice, The Teahouse’s Organic White Peony seems to have laid the golden egg that even Mother Goose would revere. Not only are the leaves a sight but the frivolity of the bouquet and the animated body is enough to keep Humpty Dumpty on the wall and break through the walls of one’s day with some fables on one’s table.

— To purchase The Teahouse Organic White Peony, 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: Raven Raven
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Review: Asha Tea House Pure Heart Alishan Oolong

Asha Tea House, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Delicate and well-balanced, consisting of sweet buttery notes and subtle flowery notes.."
Vanessa’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Rebecca gave it 9/10
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According to the Asha website, this tea comes from Taiwanese tea master Mr. Li, who has been proclaimed one of Taiwan’s ten best tea farmers. The tea has an apperance that is typical for an Alishan ooling, consistin of tightly rolled leaves that are a bright mossy green color. I do have to comment that this particular tea seemed to have a much higher proportion of twigs and stems than other comparable oolongs I have previously sampled. I can’t say for sure if this affected the flavor of the tea, but it did detract from the visual presentation. Anyway, on with the review. I prepared this tea in my Breville One-touch tea maker using the Oolong temperature setting and a two-minute brew time. The tea produced is a straw yellow color with a honey-sweet aroma. The flavor of this tea is delicate and well-balanced, consisting of sweet buttery notes and subtle flowery notes. The tea is very smooth and easy-drinking, whether taken hot directly after brewing or allowed to cool just a bit. There is a mild nuttiness that makes itself noticeable in the aftertaste, yet overall the tea has a pronounced sweetness. This is a fine representative of an Alishan oolong and I would recommend this, provided your wallet can afford it. This is definitely not a cheap offering, as two ounces of this will set you back $24, but considering that, as with most oolongs, the leaves can be resteeped multiple times to give equally enjoyable cups, this may not be all that unreasonable of a price.

— To purchase Asha Tea House Pure Heart Alishan Oolong, 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: Butiki Teas Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Black Tea, Butiki Teas, Pumpkin Tea 4 Comments »
CJ’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A sensual experience. Spicy enough for fall, mellow enough for every day, every season."
CJ’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 8.8/10
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The smell of Butiki’s Pumpkin Creme Brulee black tea was therapeutic for me. I tend to get a bit depressed when the weather turns cooler. This tea captured and presented Autumn and Winter at their cozy best. One whiff whispered to my brain: Soft sweaters! Pecan pie! Reading by the fireplace! Watching snow fall! Salvation Army bells! Twinkling lights! If you can imagine the delicious potpourris and scented candles that expensive housewares stores start selling around October, you get the idea. It’s the kind of smell that puts you at ease and says,

“Buy anything you want! Everything must be alright because the world smells so good!”

I have always love tea, but this is the first blend that has transported me so. Here’s Butiki’s recipe for this moving mix: Organic Ceylon Black Tea, Organic Cinnamon Pieces, Pumpkin Flakes (vegan), Organic Nutmeg, Organic Natural Flavors (vegan).

The appearance of the product looked like it contained much less; basically, dark fannings laced with appetizing chunks of …pumpkin? Creme Brulee? Both? Whatever those bits were, they dissolved when I poured boiling water over the leaves.

I steeped them for 3 minutes, during which time the aromas so intensified I could hardly wait to taste this concoction. When I did, I was not disappointed. The tea’s flavor was initially quite spicy, and then it turned mellow, floral, and vanilla, with a hint of cinnamon. On top of all that, the Ceylon tea flavor shone through it all, adding a satisfying astringency to the mix.

Butiki recommended adding sweetener to enhance the flavors, but I drank it black. I found it as creamy and sweet as a hot drink could ever be. It made me feel warm all over. I would drink this tea every day, every season. I rate it a 9.5.

— To purchase Butiki Teas Pumpkin Creme Brulee, 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: CJ CJ
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Review: Aiya Premium Grade Matcha

Aiya America, Green Tea, Japanese Tea, Matcha Tea 5 Comments »
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I wish I had more of this stuff; I would drink it daily."
Geoff’s Teaview: 10/10
Other Teaviews: Katie gave it 8.6/10
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On appearance, I really couldn’t tell the difference between Aiya’s Premium and Ceremonial Grades. The coloring was the same, as was the powder consistency. The difference – as far as I could tell was in the smell. While this had the kelpy sweetness of the two Ceremonials Aiya offers, this had more of it. A refreshing sweetness complimented the natural, dry grassiness of the powder. That was where I figured this stone-ground blend had some more care put to it.

I figured if this was best that Aiya had to offer, I might as well treat it with the respect it deserves. That being a koicha-grade froth-up. I used 3 chashaku-(bamboo spoon)-fuls of powder per 4oz. of 165F water, all poured into an unsuspecting miso soup bowl. An actual chawan was still out of my budget, but this was at least somewhat Japanese.

Sidenote: Prior to the splashdown with the hot water, I did my usual cold water/chasen (bamboo whisk) pre-sift to get rid of clumps. The resulting paste smelled the closest to green tea ice cream as any matcha I’ve ever whiffed. Okay, I already used that comparison with the Ceremonial Grade, but it definitely applies here. This was one sweet matcha – both definitions of “sweet”, applicable.

Once I added the hot water, I vigorously whisked the vibrant green soup to produce the requisite froth…and, boy, did it not disappoint. The resultant foam was outright bubbly, not just fizzy. Said head of froth actually formed a mound over the liquor rather than a mere thin layer. The aroma was nutty, pungently sweet, slightly grassy and seaweed-like, but ever-so-inviting. As expected from the preamble, the first sip was nectar to the tongue – silky smooth, mildly vegetal and dessert-like. I wish I had more of this stuff; I would drink it daily.

Oh wait…I do drink matcha daily. Hrm, guess I have no excuses then.

— To purchase Aiya Premium Grade Matcha, 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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