Review: Fresh Air Sri Lankan Tea Fastee Silver Line Tea

Ceylon Tea, Fresh Air Sri Lankan, White Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Creamy and tangy with a bright, fruity finish."
Katie’s Teaview: 9/10
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I know little about this company other than what was included in the somewhat jumbled PDF file they provided, so it has one major disadvantage right from the start: I have no idea how to buy their products. I also have no idea how much this costs, and I didn’t see the brewing suggestion buried in the PDF until after I brewed the tea, so I didn’t make it the way they recommended. But other than that bevy of complaints, I was happy with this tea.

The leaves make it immediately apparent where the name “Silver Line” comes from; they are a beautiful deep gray with a single silver streak running down each one. I go with my staple white tea brew, 180° for three minutes, the find out later the company recommends 160°. However, I am happy with the cup, so I don’t retry it. Thanks, but I prefer it my way.

The liquor is a surprisingly deep amber colour, dark for a white tea, but since the leaves themselves are pretty dark, I’m not surprised. It has a strong grape aroma with hints of hay and asparagus. Nothing like a grapey-smelling tea to get my tongue tingling. The flavour is creamy and tangy with a bright, fruity finish. It has sweet overtones with a fruity, white wine flavour. A hint of vague vegetal taste sits on the back of my tongue.

My 160° 5-minute second steep has a stronger taste than I expected, but the flavours aren’t as brilliant as they were before. They’re somewhat muddled, though it’s still a pleasant cup. I’m a sucker for grape/muscatel flavours in my tea, and this leaf hits that note beautifully while having a variety of other flavours and characteristics. The first steep is especially well-rounded and delicious and will stick in my memory as a tea that stands on its own merits and, because there’s no website to go with it, basically nothing else.

Teaviews Member: Katie Katie
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Review: Joy’s Teaspoon Harambee Black

Black Tea, Joys Teaspoon No Comments »
Melanie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It smells like honey, which prepared my mouth for a ceylon flavor, but it actually tastes very different. I can taste a slight buttery flavor and it also has a bit of spiciness and a definite citrus undertone."
Melanie’s Teaview: 8.5/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 7.5/10
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Joy’s Teaspoon has a whole section of “Orthodox” teas available on their website. What makes a tea orthodox you may ask? “Our Orthodox collection consists of premium teas from around the world that have been hand processed from start to finish. No machinery means fuller leaves, undulterated flavor profiles and the touted health benefits are more fully intact!” (quote from Joy’s Teaspoon). Processing tea by machine tends to chop it into uniform bits. It is also considered to affect both the flavor and the quality of the tea. Orthodox tea is consider to retain more of the complex flavors.

Harambee Black tea is an orthodox tea grown at a high elevation on the southern slopes of Kenya. The area is situated between two rivers which both source in the Mt. Kenya forest. The area is farmed by approximately 3700 tea farmers. Most of the farmers are related and their farms have been passed down from generation to generation. Most of the pluckers are women who farm tea farms that belong to their husbands or fathers. Land is usually inherited patrilineally, though recently women have begun to inherit and purchase their own tea farms. (information gleaned from Joy’s Teaspoon website)

I just love knowing so many details about not only where my tea comes from, but who it has been purchased from. Harambee Black tea is also naturally pesticide and herbicide free. And if you order the “refill” it comes in a recyclable bag that you can put in your own tin.

The tea is very dark and fairly large, though it’s not long and wiry like a ceylon. It smells so fresh and I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Joy’s Teaspoon offers brewing suggestions. Since I was brewing a whole pot of tea, I used 3 large scoops (teaspoons). I heated the pot and brought fresh water just to boil. I steeped it for 5 minutes.

The tea is golden amber. It’s a nice bodied tea – not full bodied, but not weak either. It smells like honey, which prepared my mouth for a ceylon flavor, but it actually tastes very different. I can taste a slight buttery flavor and it also has a bit of spiciness and a definite citrus undertone. As stated on the website, it is not bitter (if it’s not over-steeped), but there is a lemony citrus aftertaste. It’s a full enough bodied tea to take milk and this adds to the creaminess. It also handles sugar if so desired.

I would definitely recommend this tea to anyone who enjoys a good black tea and especially to those who enjoy lemon in their tea. I’m not rating this one quite as high as other black teas because I don’t ever choose lemon in my black tea. However, my husband wouldn’t rate many of my favorite teas as high and would put this one very high because he loves a touch of lemon in his tea. Don’t get me wrong… this is not a flavored tea. It’s just a gentle lemon aftertaste, and I did really enjoy both of the morning pots of tea I made with my samples.

— To purchase Joy’s Teaspoon Harambee Black, 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: Melanie Melanie
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Review: Thunderbolt Tea Singbulli China Classic Super Fine (First Flush 2011 – Organic)

Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Orange Pekoe Tea, Organic Tea, Single Estate Tea, Thunderbolt Tea No Comments »
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Worthy of a cup…or pint."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8/10
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This was the glorious second first flush tea I found completely by surprise in the recesses of my inventory. Yes, I actually need to use the word “inventory” now. I think five-plus boxes of tea warrant the need for that word. I digress.

Thunderbolt Tea mentions that Singbulli is best known for their first flush teas. So much so that even the other estates look to them as the trendsetter. I wasn’t quite sure if I’d ever tried anything from Singbulli; the name certainly sounded familiar.

The leaves were splendidly green – par for course with a lot of first flushes – but what was lacking was the requisite spice-grape-wilderness aroma. Sure, it was there, but it was quite understated in comparison to other 2011 first flushes I’ve had of late. This could mean that the brew itself was more understated as well or more prevalent on the winy note. Either way, it smelled like spring.

When brewing, I used my typical Darjeeling approach – almost-boiling water and a two-to-three-minute steep. However, instead of an 8oz. normal cup, I doubled it. It was my “morning”. I required a pint of the stuff.

The liquor brewed up gold-to-amber, not much of a surprise there, with a typical muscatel aroma. Added to that was a finishing scent of wood and caramel. On tonguedown, the flavor started off with a smooth delivery with a slight bite of bitterness. The top note was consistent with Darjeeling’s spicy strengths, but it tapered off a little too quickly. The lingering finish was an odd combination – reminding me of smoke and tulsi. It had a character similar to Runglee Rungliot’s (another Darjeeling estate’s) second flush.

A second attempt a few days later at thirty seconds less on the infusion turned up far better results. The second steep even tasted like oranges. How often does that happen?! I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but compared to some of exquisite first flushes I’ve had lately, it was a bit lacking. That isn’t to say that it isn’t worthy of a cup…or pint.

— To purchase Thunderbolt Tea Singbulli China Classic Super Fine (First Flush 2011 – 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: Red Leaf Teas Madagascar Vanilla Matcha

Green Tea, Matcha Tea, Red Leaf Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"the overwhemling flavor that resulted from the combination of matcha and Madagascar vanilla was that of a rich, and sweet butterscotch; absolutely delicious."
Vanessa’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Katie gave it 9.0/10
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Red Leaf Tea offers two vanilla flavored matchas, one being their French Vanilla matcha, and the other being Madagascar Vanilla matcha, which is the focus of this review. The only ingredients in this tea are matcha and vanilla powder. I don’t tend to think of vanilla in powdered form, but nonetheless, I am pleased to see that the ingredients list is short, sweet, and devoid of artificial additives. The scent of the powder is just wonderful, and really appealed to a sweet-tooth like me. I followed Red Leaf’s guidelines for preparing this tea, using a generous (about 1.5tsp) amount of powder and whisking in about 3 ounces of sub-boiling water. It took some vigorous whisking with my chasen to get an adequate froth, but I was able to do so. I was instantly pleased with the flavor of this tea. It is sweet and satisfying, with a subtle hint of creaminess. What struck me most about this tea was that despite this being a vanilla matcha, the overwhemling flavor that resulted from the combination of matcha and Madagascar vanilla was that of a rich, and sweet butterscotch. I found it to be absolutely delicious. I have sampled quite a few offerings from the new-and-improved Red Leaf matcha lineup and I have to say that this may be my favorite so far. This is a versatile matcha that lends itself to being enjoyed both hot and cold. I highly recommend this tea!

— To purchase Red Leaf Teas Madagascar Vanilla 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: Vanessa Vanessa
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Review: Naivetea Li Shan Oolong

Naivetea, Oolong Tea, Uncategorized No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"While the first infusion's nectarine notes were really impressive, generally speaking I wish the tea had more depth and complexity to it. I would recommend it to those looking for a rather simple, buttery yet fruity oolong."
Sophie’s Teaview: 7.6/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 9/10
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Harvested at an altitude of 2100 meters above sea level, this tea is some of the highest grown in Taiwan. The rolled leaves show a variety of dark green hues. Their aroma smells roasted yet floral, having a definite hint of pollen to them.

Naivetea’s brewing instructions suggest infusing 1 tablespoonful of leaves in 6 ounces of water heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 seconds. After a quick rinse, the cup’s aroma is sweet and fruity. Taking a sip of the pale gold liquor, the top notes are rich and brothy, with a touch of steamed greens. The most striking aspect of this tea is it’s finish, with it’s long lasting fruit and flower notes. Once the cup has cooled down somewhat, the it tastes almost exactly like nectarines. While certainly pleasant and thirst-quenching, it lacks some depth and complexity. I’m hoping that the best is yet to come: Naivetea recommends using the leaves for a further 6 infusions.

After a 40 second and a 50 second brew, the next two steeps produce a cup that strikes a nice balance between fruity and vegetal tones. While the foreground displays smooth artichoke and asparagus notes, the backdrop is reminiscent of stone fruits. There is also a more important mineral dimension present throughout. These steeps were not as intense as the first brew unfortunately. They were pleasant but a bit one dimensional. Instead of making me perk up and take notice, I found myself drinking this tea rather absentmindedly.

My following 4 steeps (60, 70, 90 and 120 seconds) were buttery and grassy, with a vaguely peachy sweet undertone to them. All were smooth and relatively well balanced, but again not particularly memorable. While certainly drinkable, you’re not missing out if you’re not infusing the leaves past the third steep.

Looking into my infuser, the leaf clusters have completely unfurled into trios of leaves and buds that are several inches long from tip to tip. The amount of desiccation and rolling involved to produce this tea are quite extensive, explaining the higher price tag of this tea I suppose. While the first infusion’s nectarine notes were really impressive, generally speaking I wish the tea had more complexity to it. I would recommend it to those looking for a rather simple, buttery yet fruity oolong.

— To purchase Naivetea Li Shan 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: Sophie Sophie
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Review: ThepuriTea Dan Cong

Oolong Tea, thepuriTea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Interesting experience. It reminds me of sitting around a campfire and roasting hazelnuts. There are also bits of vanilla and peach in the taste."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 7.9/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 7.8/10, Katie gave it 7.7/10, Vanessa gave it 9.3/10, Troy gave it 7/10, Nicole gave it 7/10, Jamie gave it 8.5/10
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I feel as though I had a really productive day. I got busy and planted some herbs as well as repotting my house plants. Now as a reward it is time to curl up with a good cup of tea. Tonight I am going to try out a Dan Cong oolong. I have found in the past that this style of oolong is really hit or miss with me but I have to check them all out because when they hit they really hit.

The leaves of this tea as long and thin. They range in color from a darker brown to a black. The aroma is delicious. Not too heavy but a wonderful marriage of orchids and stone fruit. Very refreshing.

I set it up to brew using 3 rather rounded tablespoons of leaves to 1200ml of filtered water. I set the brew temp at 190 and let it steep for 2 minutes. The resulting liquor is a gorgeous dark gold color. Much darker then I expected for such a short steep time. The aroma now is all about peaches and apricots.

This tea has a darker taste to it. Not sure if that makes sense but that is what first popped into my mind. It reminds me of sitting around a campfire and roasting hazelnuts. There are also bits of vanilla and peach in the taste with the peach becoming stronger as it cools.

This to me is an unusual Dan Cong in that it is neither a hit or a miss. It is a very good tea but not one that I am drawn to stock for myself.

Special Offer! For a limited time, thepuriTea is offering deep discounts exclusively for Teaviews readers. Get 20% off (no minimum purchase) with the coupon code: TEAVIEWS. Shop now at thepuriTea.com.

Teaviews Member: Shaiha Shaiha
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