Review: Teavivre Yunnan Dian Hong Black Tea

Black Tea, Teavivre, Yunnan Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Honey-flavoured base topped with notes of malt, roasted nuts, and berries."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.9/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 8.4/10, Raven gave it 8.5/10, Vanessa gave it 8/10, CJ gave it 9.8/10, Shaiha gave it 8.3/10, Geoff gave it 10/10, MaryAnn gave it 8/10
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Teavivre is a company that just recently showed up on my radar. Around the same time I got my first Teaviews samples from them, I won a Facebook contest for some free samples. The lady I communicated with on FB was very enthusiastic and had rather broken English, both characteristics I view as positives if you want authentic, quality tea.

The needles of this leaf range from deep brown through gold. I put 2 level teaspoons in a cup and steep at 205° for 3 minutes. The scent is rich, with notes of chocolate, toffee, and pepper, but the flavour ends up surprisingly bright. There is a predominant honey-flavoured base topped with notes of malt, roasted nuts, and berries. The smooth, buttery texture is excellent and keeps the tea from being too heavy.

Steep two, at four minutes, has taken on a malty, yeasty flavour, like freshly-baked bread. A hint of bitterness sits at the back of the throat, but it is balanced by a cocoa/chocolate flavour. I pull out three more solid, flavourful steeps by adding a minute to each.

All in all this was a bit different but still delicious, Dian Hong. The typical pepper aspect was present in the scent but not the taste, and it tended towards the sweet rather than the savoury. It’s a solid leaf, and I look forward to starting in on my small stack of other Teavivre samples.

— To purchase Teavivre Yunnan Dian Hong 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Tealicious Veta

Herbal Tea, Tealicious No Comments »
CJ’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A smooth, balancing concoction, no matter what your Dosha!"
CJ’s Teaview: 7/10
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I took a quick, online ayurvedic test  before trying this tea.  The quiz told me I had a predominance of Pitta, or the fire element.  If that were true, I should not be drinking Veta tea, because it is warming.  Fire doesn’t need any more warmth, right?

After smelling my bag of Veta, though, I decided the quiz was wrong.  How on earth did I test Pitta?  Twice?  I’m always cold, even in the summer.   This warming mixture of  chamomile, saffron, licorice, ginger root, fennel seeds, rosebuds, spearmint, rosehips, lemongrass, tulsi(holy basil) and orange peel seemed just what I needed.

The smell was a spicy and minty combination that warmed and relaxed me.  Steeped in 185 degree water for 7 minutes or so, the warming qualities intensified.  According to the Tealicious website, this mixture was designed to balance your Dosha.    I’m not surprised.  The spices mixed with the spearmint seemed a perfect foil for whatever was ailing me when I took that silly quiz .  I slurped up my cup of Veta, and then poured another, and another.  The flavor was mellow yet complex.  Though the separate ingredients of this blend would be quite strong on their own, together they cooperated so none overpowered the others.

The best part of this tea was a hard to identify buttery ingredient.  Was it the tulsi?  I had never tasted it before, but online sources say it is the most sacred herb in India, (hence the nickname “holy basil”.)   Whatever was causing that buttery flavor , it wrapped the other ingredients in a smoothness that I don’t normally find in herbal teas.  I feel balanced, indeed.  I rate Veta a 7.

— To purchase Tealicious Veta, 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: Zen Tara Raspberry Rooibos

Calendula Tea, Organic Tea, Raspberry Tea, Rooibos Tea, Zen Tara No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This blend offers a simple yet inspired combination that is equally delicious hot or cold. Tangy and sweet, the flavourful raspberry taste is really excellent, especially in contrast to the rooibos' nutty contribution. "
Sophie’s Teaview: 9.6/10
Other Teaviews: Jamie gave it 10/10
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Containing rooibos, raspberry pieces, raspberry leaves, calendula petals and natural raspberry flavor, this tisane promises a sweet and smooth cup. The blend is a straightforward looking mixture of rooibos needles, leaves and petals. I did spot some raspberry pieces as well but they are very discrete. The fruity aroma is smooth, with a slightly floral undertone to it.

I steeped this blend according to my usual habit for rooibos blends, infusing a generous teaspoonful in 8 ounces of freshly boiled water for 5 minutes. The resulting cup bears both the rusty red colour and the sour yet metallic scent typical of rooibos. Each sip brings about a burst of very realistic raspberry flavour. It turns out that raspberries and rooibos complement each other exceedingly well. The sweet and tangy taste of the berries enhances the nuttiness of the rooibos. The mouth feel is very creamy, making for a rather decadent tisane. Adding a bit of sweetener does make the fruit flavour pop out a bit more but it’s not at all necessary to do so to get a full bodied berry taste. I also had part of my cup iced. The cold seems to increase the tartness of the berries, making this tisane really thirst-quenching.

A second, 8 minute-long infusion is drinkable but, not too surprisingly, has none of the creamy mouth feel of the first cup. The raspberry flavour is still quite lively though. I could see myself re-brewing this tisane again if I was in a lazy mood.

This blend offers a simple yet inspired combination that is equally delicious hot or cold. Tangy and sweet, the flavourful raspberry taste is really excellent, especially in contrast to the rooibos’ nutty contribution. Personally, I’m not convinced that this tisane is rich enough to quell a craving for sweets but it does seem perfectly poised to accompany most deserts, especially chocolatey ones. Highly recommended!

— To purchase Zen Tara Raspberry 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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Review: Hari’s Treasure Persistence of Memory

Black Pepper Tea, Elderflower Tea, Green Tea, Hari's Treasure, Lemongrass Tea, Organic Tea, Rose Tea No Comments »
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"Much subtler than expected from the ingredients, if effective, the tea’s light root tinged herbaceousness may be more persistent for the mind than it persists in one’s memory. "
Raven’s Teaview: 6.1/10
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Fortunately, I make it out with socks on and I still remember the greek alphabet for I have had to check three times that the oven was off or my door is locked and my grocery list invariably gets left in the car or on the kitchen table and plants….foooourgeddabout it. So Hari’s Treasure’s blends were a marvel to find. Hari’s Treasure seems to value a thought and thinking with a number of teas celebrating Yogic and Ayurvedic sensibilities. Although they don’t sell teas from their website (http://www.haritea.com/), it is an enchanting realm of a site and their teas are available through Amazon. Amongst their herbal, spice and tea blends with meditative names, as a Dali fan (whose paintings I do remember), the Persistence of Memory was clever for a mind bending brew that is naturally organic for full mental prowess. Featuring gingko to kickstart your cerebral circuits in a Sencha green tea, the tea also brings in lemongrass, turmeric root and black pepper with rose petals, linden and elderflowers.

All the teas come in cloth woven sachets which are naturally endearing in a homey way as if hand sown. You don’t see the magic they hold which isn’t as exciting but they are easy and portable. Drawing them near, you can’t see inside the close knit and their scent reveals few clues. Their aroma is medium and a bit indecisive, pulsing with a dry mix of herbal root spiciness, that is more mineral and savoury than sweet but it does have some lift. It brings to mind dry ginseng and bay or marjoram with a hint of dried pear but knowing the ingredients helps. There’s a faint petally rose that flickers through light earthy notes of the turmeric and black pepper with the dry herbal ones of the other flowers and sencha. Yet, the aroma doesn’t really pull in one direction so it would be hard to distinguish without knowing. Subtle but curious, it does get the mind ticking..hmmm.

Fortunately, there’s no thought necessary to brew, as the steeping suggestions are kindly included on the tab of the bag. Hari’s Treasure suggests brewing for three to five minutes with 80°C which ushers in a brightly lit cup. The golden umber brew has a tint of green, charged like mind waves, yet its bouquet calms its alertness with an herbal tone slightly more mineral than the dry sachet. It is mellow reedy scent pulsing with more drier leafy scents from the sencha than vegetal ones to have a subtle herbal bouillion aroma like touches of saltiness, dried parsley and petals. The bouquet is a tad more mineral than the dry aroma with a tinny note, while some waxy grassiness of the lemongrass comes through more so than lemon. While the aroma has a certain ease, it doesn’t have much distinction to wind one’s wheels. The flavour is also reserved, bringing a pleasing warmth to the medium body, more than a whole bunch to ponder. With a light root herbaceousness, the tea has just a slight sense of broth or vegetable oil with tugs of a ginseng-like flavour. It isn’t papery flavoured but there is a soaked dry herb tone to the flavour as subtle as it is. A mild astringency aids the tea’s definition, although it isn’t too dry or bitter as it finishes with a faint aftertaste. Yet, depending on the bag, in some tries, the black pepper also nicely speckled the feel with a light spiciness. However, considering the array of ingredients, the flavour is surprisingly uncomplicated but it does have a mild calm.

A second infusion of the sachet bursts out with a visually teasing, nuclear chartreuse-like coloured brew. As bold as the hue, the tea remains lightly fragrant. The sencha mainly illuminates the bouquet, yet it seems a bit sweeter with a hardy grassiness rimmed with canned honey with help from the linden. There’s also some heat to the scent with flashes of twiggy, earthiness for a grounding hum. Happily, the flavour has more presence, although it is still mellow. The flavour is pleasant enough though, if not flashy, with a light herbal quality from a dry root grounding, reminiscent of ginseng or ginger without a strong spiciness. A slight astringency still wires a lightly waxy feel and tingles on one’s tongue with a touch of sweetness on the finish.

Ingenious marketing plan, beautiful irony or coincidence Hari’s Treasure’s Persistence of Memory doesn’t make as much of an imprint as expected and could indeed have one scouring mental recesses with “What did that tea taste like?”. But, kidding aside, although the sencha does seem on the mature side, some of the ingredients do peek through the tea and it is as easy going down as it is easy to forget with a mild flavour that isn’t bitter. Its colour is a memory keeper though, and if the tea does have some efficacy in booting one’s recall, it’s certainly easy medicine.

— To purchase Hari’s Treasure Persistence of Memory, 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: Vicony Teas Wuyi Qi Zhong Yancha Fo Guo Yan WYA37

Oolong Tea, Vicony Teas No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is a rich and flavourful tea. Those who like a smoke and wood dominated profile should enjoy this one. "
Sophie’s Teaview: 8.4/10
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Grown on the slopes of Mount Wuyi, this “rock oolong” is plucked from trees allowed to grow wild in a nature preserve. Another name for this tea is “Phoenix Fragrance”, but as the website points out, it doesn’t translate very well. So until something more palatable to English speakers comes along, it’s simply known as Qi Zhong or “outstanding” rock oolong. It promises to be “complex, flowery and fruity with a lingering aftertaste”. The loosely folded leaves bear the dark purplish-brown hue characteristic of a thorough oxidization process. A sweet malt and dark chocolate aroma wafts from my sample. Yum!

Vicony Teas suggests brewing this tea gongfu style, steeping 5 grams of leaf in 100ml of filtered, freshly boiled water, starting with a 20 second-long infusion. I tweaked these parameters a little by using water heated to 95 degrees Celsius instead. The resulting cup bears a deep coppery brown hue. It’s aroma is an odd mixture of dark chocolate and marijuana smell. Taking a sip, it’s flavour profile retains much of these characteristics, with the addition of toasted bread, smoke and peach notes. The results are more cohesive and pleasant than readers might think… These really added up to a rich and tasty tea!

After a 40 second brew my second cup makes for a very rugged cuppa. It features lots of wood and tobacco notes, as well as a prominent astringent smokey dimension. It’s a bit over the top to my taste but this has happened before with another Wuyi rock tea I’ve reviewed. Their second infusion always seem a little rougher than the others.

The following 3 steeps were remarkably similar to each other. Using a 60, an 80 and a 100 second-long infusion, these also displayed tobacco, oak, smoke and dark chocolate notes. However a hint of fruity sweetness toned down the astringent feel and made for smoother, more pleasant cups.

My two last steeps were noticeably less complex. After a 2 minute and a 2 and a half minute brew, these were pleasantly fruity and smooth but beginning to thin a little. Seven very drinkable steeps is a very respectable showing in my books.

This is a rich and flavourful tea. The leaves are incredibly fragrant and managed to perfume my entire kitchen every steep. Those who like a smoke and wood dominated profile should enjoy this one. I found that when I brewed this tea Western style, (3 grams of leaf brewed for 4.5 minutes in 250ml of water heated to 95 degrees Celsius) the cup took on a slightly bitter malty sweetness that reminded me of stout beers like Guinness. Before readers get too excited about beer flavoured oolong, I should also point out that Vicony’s teas are available to wholesalers only. However their website is really worth a visit as it has loads of interesting information about tea.

— To purchase Vicony Teas Wuyi Qi Zhong Yancha Fo Guo Yan WYA37, 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: Kally Tea Tropical Heaven Oolong

Kally Tea, Marigold Tea, Oolong Tea, Safflower Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Wow, this tea really shines on ice. It is crisp and refreshing and a perfect iced tea."
Vanessa’s Teaview: 8.8/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 5.2/10, Raven gave it 6.8/10
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Kally Tea’s Heavenly oolong does, in fact, have a heavenly aroma which is equal parts flower and fruits. The blend consists of green oolong, marigold, safflowers, and tropical flavoring. I was disappointed to see the “tropical flavoring” because a) it is really vague and b) it is unclear if this is artificial or natural. I could not obtain much more information on the website, so I am still unsure as to what exactly constitutes the tropical flavoring. In any event, I proceeded with preparing the tea by infusing one teaspoon of tea in one cup of below-boiling water for 2.5 minutes. The oolong which, as a dry tea, was in tightly pressed pellets of various shades of green, unfurled to a respectable volume of large, emerald colored leaves. There is a fruity aroma wafting from my teapot that certainly does evoke a tropical feel. The flavor of this tea is light and fruity with a floral hint in the background. The tropical flavor is not overwhelming on its own, but it does lead the show and mostly mask the oolong base. The tropical flavor does have a generic tropical essence, but I think I can compare this most closely to pineapple or pineapple-coconut. I did enjoy the flavor of this tea, but found that I wasn’t loving it as a hot tea, as the tropical flavors just seemed to contradict the hot tea feeling. I set the tea aside and let it cool a bit, then added some ice. Wow, this tea really shines on ice. It is crisp and refreshing and a perfect iced tea. The tea itself is light and therefore is very thirst-quenching and easy-drinking. In all, I ended up really liking this tea despite its vague “tropical flavorings”. As summer approaches, I would recommend this to anyone looking for a flavorful and refreshing iced tea option.

— To purchase Kally Tea Tropical Heaven 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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