Review: Peter Asher Coffee & Tea Black & White Vanilla

Black Tea, Peter Asher Coffee & Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
CJ’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Very vanilla, yet not overpowering. Promises to add an edge to your "basic black" habit."
CJ’s Teaview: 8.9/10
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The folks at Peter Asher really know how to flavor a tea.  I have tasted three different blends recently and loved them all.  Black and White Vanilla is no exception.

From the moment I opened the package, I had no doubts this was a vanilla tea.  Since a good black dust (which this is) is likely to have vanilla undertones anyway, the additional vanilla seemed quite natural.  Some vanilla teas bowl me over with a strong, artificial, extract-like odor.  This one smelled appetizing with no alcohol or artificiality to it.  The flavor,too,was smooth and brisk with plenty of tea taste.The reason I so often don’t like flavored teas is because I can’t taste the tea.  Peter Asher (PA)  teas don’t have that problem.

I was surprised that their teas were so good because the company devotes equal attention to coffee.   Since I can barely stand to drink tea in a coffee shop because my senses are overloaded with arabica, I carry that sensual prejudice into my online tea shopping as well, avoiding merchants that carry leaves AND beans.

I will have to make an exception for Peter Asher. They opened my mind toward coffee-centric merchants, and they made me into a flavored tea fan.  Not bad for a company that’s only 20 years old.

PA’s youthfulness shows in their website’s somewhat provocative product descriptions.  Their blurb on Black and White Vanilla, for instance, said,

“This is the tea for the leaf enthusiast who will not be satisfied with the same old boring bag that the woman next to them is drinking. This is the tea for the drinker with an edge. They may look like a basic black tea person on the outside but if you take a second look you’ll realize they need a little something more, a little something extra that can only be provided by taking a classic and complex vanilla bean and using those crisp flavors to give their mug an little extra oomph. ”

Since my natural tea proclivity is “basic black”, I wonder, do I look like a “basic black tea person” ?  Am I a “tea drinker with an edge? ”  I’m starting to see a gap between merchants of my generation (and older) and the up and coming marketers.  The latter group wields  adjectives I would never associate with drinking tea. Here’s to a younger, hipper cuppa.  I rate this blend an 8.9.

— To purchase Peter Asher Coffee & Tea Black & White Vanilla, 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: JING Tea Dong Ding Oolong

JING Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Floral oolong lovers will revel in this enchanting first infusion. Cooling allows a very slightly toasted, grainy flavor that merges beautifully with the floral aspects of the tea. Excellent!!"
Jamie’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: CJ gave it 10/10, Alexander gave it 9.5/10, Katie gave it 9.1/10
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Jing’s Dong Ding offering is a whole leaf Taiwan oolong tea grown in Dong Ding, Taiwan. The leaf is tightly bound and of a deep jade coloing with a sweet scent coming right off the leaf.

I used two teaspoons of this oolong per 8 ounces of water heated to 200 degrees and allowed a three minute steeping for the first infusion.

I find my first sip very satisfying. I recently tried a roasted Dong Ding and while I find those alright, my favorite Dong Ding is not roasted but just like this. The sweetly creamy and floral smelling liquor is dark golden green in coloring. The flavor is simply fantastic, the sort of flavor that flows through your mouth and sinuses and makes you smile. The liquor is magnificently floral. Lily is indeed prominent, as Jing mentions in their tasting notes. The lily infuses the aftertaste. Fruity flavors are not jumping off the page to my taste buds which suits me fine. Floral oolong lovers will revel in this enchanting first infusion. Cooling allows a very slightly toasted, grainy flavor that merges beautifully with the floral aspects of the tea. Excellent!!

The second infusion is far more toasty and grainy with a sweetness that has much subdued floral elements. It’s a bit as though the stand out qualities of the first infusion are reversed in the second. Grainy sweetness takes the lead role while floral and fruity (tropical) notes make a strong appearance as the tea cools in the cup.

The third infusion I made from this leaf is fresh and light with fruity floral notes making up the undertones in the tasting.

I enjoyed this Dong Ding very much. The sweet floral first infusion is superb!

— To purchase JING Tea Dong Ding 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: Jamie Jamie
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Review: Canton Tea Co. Magnolia Blossom Oolong

Canton Tea Co., Oolong Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I can think of absolutely no downside to this tea."
Katie’s Teaview: 10/10
Other Teaviews: Geoff gave it 7.3/10, Raven gave it 8.2/10, Vanessa gave it 7/10, Vanessa gave it 10/10, Shaiha gave it 9.3/10
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If you’ve visited my profile any time recently, you may have noticed that I have done approximately five billion reviews and never once given out a perfect score. I had a few teas come close, but I could never quite do it because it means that all other teas have to live up to that perfect one. I’m mentioning this because I’d like to point out that I do not take giving out that first perfect score lightly.

I’m surprised to see Canton doesn’t recommend gong fu brewing; rather, the website suggests one tablespoon of leaf per 6 ounces of 195° water, steeped for two minutes. Once prepared, the tea has a yellow gold liquor with a scent that’s creamy and floral, like milk and magnolias with a hint of peach. It’s floral and creamy with an underlying mild bitterness. The bitterness is not unwelcome, especially because it is balanced by the sweetness that sits on the back of the throat. The buttery taste and texture coat the mouth, and the beautiful milky flavour emphasises the tea’s creaminess. This is remarkably easy to drink, especially after cooling somewhat.

Steep two: Two minutes. The creamy, sweet scent reminds me of milk candies. Steep 3: Three minutes. The tea has settled into a smoother cup with no bitterness. It’s a very aromatic cup of tea, but the flavour is equally enticing – a rare find.

Steep four: Four minutes. With its fruitier and more floral scent, the tea now more resembles its namesake. The scent brings to mind strawberries and magnolias, while the creaminess of the flavour has started to dissipate, leaving room for a more floral flavour. My five-minute fifth steep shows the tea is starting to fade, and my attempt to pull out a sixth is unsuccessful. I expect about 5 “Western style” steeps for a tea of this calibre and cost, so I’m quite satisfied with the staying power of this leaf.

While most of my Yixings thus far are dedicated to general types of tea, this is the sort of tea that deserves an unglazed teapot all to itself. Dan Congs are notorious for being hard to make, but Canton even recommends going the easy route for this tea, making it the perfect cup for when you want something special without the effort. And on top of that, even with the exchange rate from British Pounds, this is a really reasonably priced tea. I expect to pay this much for generic, general Phoenix Mountain teas, so getting something so delicious for the same price is a welcome treat. I can think of absolutely no downside to this tea.

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Magnolia Blossom 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Baily Tea USA Pure Ceylon OP

Baily Tea USA, Black Tea, Ceylon Tea Comments Off on Review: Baily Tea USA Pure Ceylon OP
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Primarily fruity with sweet cocoa undertones; this tea satisfied my craving for a good cup of Ceylon ."
Vanessa’s Teaview: 7.5/10
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As I write this review, I am having difficulty finding any online information, other than a Facebook page, about this new-to-me company known as Baily Tea USA. Therefore, I could not do any research on this particular tea, and nor can I provide any information on how to go about acquiring this product. Regardless, I have been craving a good cup of Ceylon lately and, luckily for me, this tea satisfied my craving. My sample of this tea consists of very long and loosely curled tea leaves. The dry leaves have a wonderful aroma that has elements of cocoa and of baking bread. I brewed the tea in boiling water with a three-minute infusion. The tea is dark reddish-brown in color with a cheery almost-lemony aroma. This is a pleasant cup of tea; not too heavy, not too dilute, but with enough flavor and oomph to make it an ideal breakfast brew. The flavor is primarily fruity with sweet cocoa undertones. The bread-like element I picked up in the dry leaf aroma was not quite noticeable in the brewed tea. Still, this has a nice brisk quality and is something I could see being a good canddate for an everyday brew. I did not add milk or sugar to this tea, but I suppose it is sturdy enough to take these being added to it. I tried this tea as a hot drink as well as an iced tea, and while both were enjoyable I preferred this one as a hot tea, as I noticed that the flavor became a little flat when the tea was cold. While not the most notable Ceylon I have ever had, this is a good offering and one I would happily drink again.

Teaviews Member: Vanessa Vanessa
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Review: Dignitea (ITFA) Siao Syue Winter Jin Syuan

International Tea Farms Alliance, Oolong Tea, Single Estate Tea No Comments »
CJ’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Rich, nourishing, and sweet. Outstanding."
CJ’s Teaview: 10/10
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Although this is an age of booming cottage industries,   I was hard pressed to find a small tea grower that packages and sells his/her own tea.  Tea has been big business for so long, it’s hard to untangle the growers from the brokers from marketers  from the distributors.  Learning about The International Tea Farm Alliance (ITFA) made me happy.  The tea industry, like the rest of the business world, is changing so the little players can earn what their products are worth.

ITFA is a group of Tea Farmers, united to create sufficient buzz and product volume so they can sell their teas directly to consumers.

I signed up right away to sample their teas.  I  wait with bated breath for the opportunity to join their Global Tea Taster’s Club.  For about $25.00 per month, the club would provide me with six shipments of farm fresh tea per year.  Right now, language barriers are making it hard for me to navigate the website.  I don’t seem to be getting any response to my requests.  The fact that ITFA is asking for North American press exposure, though, is a good sign.  I also noticed they are asking for volunteers to help with writing and web design.  Since I got my samples, I am hooked. So, I am urging everyone who loves good tea to visit IFTA’s website (see below) and volunteer or at least tell them you want to join.

With the commercial out of the way, here’s my review of Dignitea Tea Garden’s Winter Jin Syan.   Some teas have more of that unique “tea” flavor than others. This lovely oolong, harvested in the Alishan mountain region of Taiwan, has the most.  How could it not? You should see the leaves!

In the canister, they are the size and shape of capers, and they smell like jasmine. When hot water (about 185 degrees-not boiling) is added, they unfurl to huge, full, WHOLE leaves.  Not broken pieces so common in products called “full leaf tea”.  These are actually entire leaves, each about 2 inches long and about an inch wide, (the size of a bay-laurel leaf.)  It’s the closest I’ve ever been to seeing an actual tea  plant.  I didn’t know the leaves were so big!

As they were brewing, they released a pure and fresh aroma so common with any fine tea. However, this tea set itself apart with  an added layer of richness that reminded me of meat stock or broth. Not that the aroma was anything savory, but it had a nourishing quality that made me really believe all those studies they do on the health benefits of tea! I  felt embraced and sustained by this tea’s scent.

The taste, likewise, was as full and rich as a consomme, and as sweet and fresh as your newly-mowed grass in the summer. Plus, it had jasmine moments, malty moments, and grassy moments, all wrapped up in a smooth, astringent ribbon. The aftertaste left my mouth fresh and sparkling. It worked to clean up my Chinese-food breath better than any mint!

It will be hard to drink anything else after tasting Winter Jin Syuan. I rate it an 11, (and 10 is as high as we go.)

 

— To purchase Dignitea (ITFA) Siao Syue Winter Jin Syuan, 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: Rare Tea Republic Jun Chiyabari Himalayan Evergreen

Nepalese Tea, Rare Tea Republic No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Really vivid flavors pop, especially apricot and a green, lemony-grape. "
Jamie’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Dave gave it 8.5/10, Geoff gave it 9.7/10
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Rare Tea Republic does a beautiful, simple and straightforward job when it comes to packing their tea. They give you the name of the tea, the location in the world where it was grown, the date of the picking as well as detailed information as to steep times, temperature requirements and amount of tea to use per cup of water. This particular tea is of Nepalese Origin. It was plucked on May 15, 2011. Rare Tea Republic recommends 1.5 teaspoons of leaf per eight ounces of 180 degree water and a four minute steep. I followed these recommendations strictly.

The leaves in their dry state are big and unabashedly flamboyant. In case you don’t believe a tea leaf can be flamboyant, I heartily suggest ordering at least a sample of this leaf. It’s beautiful! Exuberantly fat and curly, these are long, fragrant twists of dark olive green emanating the sweet decadent scent of fruit along with strong hints of sultry muscatel. Delicious! Spend a little time (or a lot) inhaling the aroma and you will pick out a distinct berry scent peaking at the top of the nasal spectrum.

The liquor is golden and the tea itself is mild despite the symphony of scents in the dry leaf. My oh my how flavorful it manages to be despite the sweet mildness of it. This tea is very creamy and full of a fruit quality that is really quite oolong like. I found the tea had far more fruity notes than floral, though. Really vivid flavors pop, especially apricot and a lemony-grape.

Cooling in the cup brings out a slight astringency that couples in a pretty sophisticated way with a sweet apricot perk and more of that wonderful smoothness to keep any bite away.

This is really a wonderful tea that I felt privileged to taste. Please try some!

— To purchase Rare Tea Republic Jun Chiyabari Himalayan Evergreen, 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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