Review: Butiki Teas Purple Tea of Kenya

Butiki Teas, Kenyan Tea, Purple Tea No Comments »
Rebecca’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The unique flavors from this new purple variety are even more intriguing than its name – definitely one to try!"
Rebecca’s Teaview: 8.5/10
Other Teaviews: CJ gave it 8.5/10
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Purple tea?! As someone that’s tasted hundreds of teas, as soon as I saw this one I knew I needed to add it to the list! Everything about it seemed different. According to Butiki Teas (the only tea retailer I’m aware of that’s selling it in the US) purple tea is a new variety of the camellia sinesis plant created by “grafting and cutting as opposed to seeding” and has been in development in Kenya for the last 25 years. This particular tea is grown on a farm on the Southern slopes of Mt Kenya at 2,036 metersabove sea level.

Upon inspection though, my dry leaves aren’t really purple, they’re almost black with a slight bluish/green hue. And they aren’t really leaves but small broken pieces, similar in style to an Argentinian mate. And call me crazy, but the aroma smells a bit like grape jam?! Is it some strange predisposition because it’s a ‘purple’ tea or is there something else behind that smell? (I discovered later there was…)

Butiki Teas suggests experimenting with the temperature and steeping times. I brew my ½ tsp of leaves per 8oz of water at 160F for three minutes and decide to slowly work my way up from there. In the sunlight, the liquor reminds me of pink lemonade  – a bright orange/pinkish color shines through. The liquor itself is very thin but is full of those sweet grape jam notes I smelled earlier. But it’s nicely rounded with no astringency or bitterness and a clean finish. Surprisingly, the wet leaves are bright green.

At 180F for four minutes, my pink lemonade liquor is a bit darker. And the taste has changed – with a bit more astringency and more grassy, vegetal notes than the first. Those sweeter notes have virtually disappeared and even the liquor is fuller, with a velvety smoothness down the back of the throat.

OK what next? I do a final batch for five minutes at boiling. Slightly darker in color, its become a very nicely rounded and full-bodied tea. I’m having a hard time trying to put my finger on the flavor – it’s a bit similar to a white tea. Very subtle honey notes and that trademark velvety smooth mouth feel. And am I tasting those sweet grape notes in my mouth afterwards?

Wow! This tea has taken me on a real taste journey with tastes I associate with green, white and those wonderful black Chinese teas with stone-fruit flavors. It seems depending on how you make it, there’s something here to please everyone. And it never seemed to go bitter, regardless of how long or high my water temp was.

Interestingly, when I look up the antioxidants found in purple tea, I discover that not only are they really good for you but many of them are also found in aronia or choke berries – good for making jams and jelly! Maybe I wasn’t so crazy to taste grape jam in my tea!

The only possible drawback is the ‘dust’ that accumulates at the bottom of the cup even after straining it. But because Butiki Teas describes the leaves as naturally herbicide and pesticide free, I’m not that bothered by it. And because you only need ½ tsp per 8oz steeping, this tea will keep you going for awhile – plenty of time to experiment with all of the wonderful flavors from this tea!

— To purchase Butiki Teas Purple Tea of Kenya, 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: Rebecca Rebecca
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Review: The Spice and Tea Exchange Black Chocolate

Black Tea, Ceylon Tea, Chocolate Tea, The Spice and Tea Exchange No Comments »
Chelsy’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Decadent. Smells like it, tastes like it."
Chelsy’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Jamie gave it 6/10, CJ gave it 5.5/10, Dan gave it 8.8/10, Vanessa gave it 8.4/10
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The dry leaves smell like “black magic cake” -which is really just a chocolate cake made with dark rather than milk chocolate. The brewing tea smells just like the leaves, the cup tastes just like how the leaves were smelling on both occasions. This is new for me. Most teas undergo a change between dry, wet and drinking. This one really held its own and remained integral to my first impression.

I brewed this tea at 212 Fahrenheit (boiling- which all black teas must be made at (and I am going to keep writing this statement until tea drinkers around the world stop abusing their black teas)) for 3 minutes- my standard black steep time- because going over 3 minutes by much releases bitter chemicals from the tea, and no one wants to drink bitter tea. The cup is a deep dark brownish black colour and smells so bakery like in my cup that I am convinced that this is similar to the drink of angels. The flavour is a smooth ceylon black with the dark chocolate running right beside it in the mouth. There is a sweetness given into these two promontory flavours that makes the whole taste very decadent. This tea seems to be particularly well suited for elevenses or afternoon tea- which tend to be less savory meal-types than high tea (the evening meal).

The only thing that I am able to hold against this particular blend is that I could not drink the whole cup because it was so very heavy in richness. I made it 3/4 and then I needed something with spice or salt. Like a rich piece of chocolate pie- can only enjoy a thin slice in one sitting.

— To purchase The Spice and Tea Exchange Black Chocolate, 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: Chelsy Chelsy
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Review: Rare Tea Republic Phoobsering Special Oolong Organic

Darjeeling Tea, Oolong Tea, Organic Tea, Rare Tea Republic, Single Estate Tea No Comments »
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Absolutely wonderful."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9.6/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 8.7/10, Sophie gave it 7.1/10
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I loved trying to pronounce “Phoobsering”. It was like a Dr. Seuss nonsense word come to light. I’m still not sure I have it down – “foobsairing”. No, still not quite right. I’ll work on it. This oolong from the curiously-named Darjeeling estate was grown and cultivated at an altitude of 6,000ft. in early April, making it the youngest “Darjoolong” (my new word for these) to ever cross my lips.

The moment I unzipped the bag – before I could even look at it – I was bombarded with a dueling lime and spice aroma. I could also see what the RTR bio was talking about regarding a honeysuckle presence. There was a floral – almost creamy and jasmine-like – quality to the trail-off scent. And all around, a feeling of spice on the nostrils – very Darjeeling. As for appearance, the leaves ranged from brown to green with downy fuzz – similar to another second flush Darjeeling oolong I tried this year.

Brewing instructions on the RTR site recommended 3 tsps. per cup of 190F water, steeped for four minutes. Um…that didn’t seem quite right. 3 teaspoons is a LOT of tea. (And I didn’t have that much in the sample I was given.) I went with 1 tbsn. in a 12oz. cup of 199F water, steeped for four instead. Seemed about right.

Dear God, this was delicous. It brewed to an even gold color with a very citrus-sweet nose to it. The same was also the case for taste. There was an initially dry, pekoe-ish introduction, but that was followed up by something I could only compare to tangerine zest. Okay, I’m not quite sure what that tastes like on its own, but I’ve had beers with that flavor profile. This was kinda like that, only – y’know – hotter. A bit of token muscatel also came through on the finish. Absolutely wonderful.

— To purchase Rare Tea Republic Phoobsering Special Oolong Organic, 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: Friday Afternoon Tea Peppermint Stick

Black Tea, Caramel Tea, Friday Afternoon, Peppermint tea No Comments »
Chelsy’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Aptly named, this is a most delightful peppermint black tea. "
Chelsy’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8/10
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The different between peppermint tea and peppermint stick tea is quite simple, the later gives a high expectation of the time honoured holiday treat. In my previous reviews and scoring thereof, I have come to be known to deduct points for poorly named teas. If a company calls a tea “banana split” but only puts banana, chocolate, strawberry and rooibos together without tying in the ice cream tradition, it is- at least in my mind- false advertising. In the same way peppermint + black tea are not = peppermint stick tea. That being said, Friday Afternoon named their tea very well indeed. By adding caramel into the blend, and balancing the ingredients and flavours meticulously well, they have created a tea that is peppy and sweet like the red and white treat.

I brewed this tea at 212 Fahrenheit (boiling-as all black teas must be brewed) for 3 minutes. The result is a medium brown cup that smells of minty goodness- as it should with nearly half of the dry tea being peppermint. The ceylon comes through in the flavours rather nicely- but is a bit elusive in the aroma. There is just enough sweetness to cut the mint, which allows the ceylon flavours to shine through. Overall, this is a fantastic cup, great for the post dinner events and wonderful to sip in the morning to liven the senses. I am considering serving this up at my next Christmas get-together.

— To purchase Friday Afternoon Tea Peppermint Stick, 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: Chelsy Chelsy
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Review: Teavivre Bailin Gongfu Black Tea

Black Tea, Teavivre No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It has more of a delicacy with insinuating flavors that range from woodsy to the tastes in dried fruit of concentrated sweetness. These flavors are inhibited somewhat by a papery dryness. "
Jamie’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Dan gave it 9.8/10, Vanessa gave it 9/10, CJ gave it 5.5/10, Raven gave it 9.1/10
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The leaves of this tea are black and orange-tan; long, wiry and twisted with a pleasing tan dust and a smell that is sweet and dry with a bit of tobacco and fruit playing in the nose. The aroma is fantastic.

Using a teaspoon of leaf to 8 ounces of 205 degree water produced a tea that seemed a little weak to me. The flavors were good but body seemed to be lacking and I tried another infusion to see what I was missing. Two teaspoons per 8 ounces yielded a dark copper cup with a dark orange/gold halo at the rim of the cup. The taste is very smooth and sweet. I was a little hesitant that I had spoiled the cup with a bit too much leaf judging from the color of the liquor, but this wasn’t the case at all. The sweet and smooth are tempered by a little astringency that manifests in a tongue tickling dry close. I found this tea sweet and reminiscent of a green tea in that the body was delicate and mild. The flavors are good but not at all like an Indian black tea. It’s not robust, malty or super strong. It has more of a delicacy with insinuating flavors that range from woodsy to the tastes in dried fruit of concentrated sweetness. These flavors are inhibited somewhat by a papery dryness. The tea is smooth and has no bitterness. Enjoyable.

— To purchase Teavivre Bailin Gongfu Black 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: Jamie Jamie
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Review: Herbal Infusions Premium Tea Co. Red Velvet Rooibos

Herbal Infusions Premium Tea Co, Raspberry Tea, Rooibos Tea, Rose Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Sweet and refreshing, this is a pleasant caffeine-free pick me up. The flavour profile is smooth, well balanced and very thirst quenching."
Sophie’s Teaview: 8.4/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 6/10, Chelsy gave it 9.0/10
Your Reviews: 10/10
1 reader review | Add your review »

Today is my first time trying an offering from this Toronto-based company. From what I can tell by a quick perusal of their user-friendly site, they offer a wide range of teas at reasonable prices. This particular blend combines red rooibos, whole raspberries, rose petals, vanilla pieces, and natural flavouring. Visually speaking, it’s not particularly striking: a few beige-coloured rose petals float among the rooibos’ needles. The other ingredients seem rather hard to spot. The aroma is all raspberry, so much so that I’m reminded of my favourite red cough drops. The scent is not unpleasant but definitely stronger than I’d anticipated!

Following the directions provided, I steeped a heaping teaspoonful of the blend in 8 ounces of freshly boiled water for 5 minutes. Generously scented with raspberries, the rusty red liquor is both gently tart and sweet. The vanilla smooths the way for the nutty flavour of the red rooibos. Meanwhile, the rose petals lend a softly sweet edge rather than a floral one, blending seamlessly with the fruit notes. The berry flavour makes itself known especially during the finish, with a tart little kick. Thankfully it is not as potent as the aroma of the dry blend foreshadowed. Adding sweetener does little to enhance the raspberry flavour. However it does wonders for the vanilla and rose notes. So if you prefer a more floral cup, you know what to do! This blend also makes for a decent iced infusion, although I found it had much more depth of character while hot.

An enjoyable second cup can be had following a 7 minute steep. The transitions between each ingredient’s contribution are a little less smooth. The rose petals’ flavour also seems to be a bit more intense this time around. Otherwise this infusion is remarkably similar to the first.

Sweet and refreshing, this is a pleasant caffeine-free pick me up. The flavour profile is well balanced and very thirst quenching. I could have cup after cup of this tisane without tiring of it. I look forward to trying more of Herbal Infusions Premium Tea’s wares.

— To purchase Herbal Infusions Premium Tea Co. Red Velvet 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: Sophie Sophie
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