Review: Tea Horse Dong Ding Oolong

Oolong Tea, Tea Horse No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is a leaf of great quality, that provides a rich, decadent brew. Its dark chocolate and toasted grain notes are particularly stellar. Well worth it!"
Sophie’s Teaview: 9.3/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 6.5/10
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Picked and processed on the slopes of the famous Dong Ding (or Frozen Summit) mountain in Taiwan, this oolong promises “a buttery, honey taste with gorgeous peach notes and a hint of light roasting adding a little nutty taste”. The dark green leaf nuggets are quite small – about the size of a lentil. They have a nice sheen to them, which is usually indicative of very fresh tea. Their aroma reminds me of toasted grain and lilac, a combination that bodes well for the flavour.

I followed Tea Horse’s recommendations, infusing two teaspoonfuls in 8 ounces of water for 2 minutes. The cup bears an inviting toasted grain aroma and a coppery tan colour. Initially it displays an abundance of nutty, roasted grain notes. The flavours are well balanced, with a hint of sweet fruit and grass notes to keep things interesting. As it cools the tea becomes more and more like a cup of dark hot chocolate: bitter-sweet in a rich and decadent way. It’s also smooth, delicious and completely different from other dong dings I’ve had before. Wow!

Despite having a very tough act to follow, my second steep is able to hold it’s own. After 3 minute-long steep, it’s slightly smokier and more tannic. While the body has lost some of it’s creamy feel, the balance of flavours is still enjoyable and fairly similar to previous cup’s.

I tried my luck again, with a third 4 and a half minute-long steep. This time the tea is much thinner in feel and flavour. It’s drinkable – there are no obvious down sides to this cup, but it’s nothing I would go out of my way to seek out again.

This is a leaf of great quality, that provides a rich, decadent brew. Its dark chocolate and toasted grain notes are particularly stellar. I found that the first two steeps are able to hold up well to fairly strongly flavoured foods. This tea pairs well with fresh fruit and sweet, doughy deserts. I am really pleased that this company has come onto my radar. I look forward to trying more of their teas.

— To purchase Tea Horse 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: Sophie Sophie
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Review: Two Leaves and a Bud Mountain High Chai

Black Tea, Cardamom Tea, Chai Tea, Cinnamon Tea, Clove Tea, Orange Peel Tea, Orange Spice Tea, Organic Tea, Two Leaves and a Bud No Comments »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"The overarching theme of this tea would be the orange flavor as it ends with just a hint of cinnamon. I would suggest this tea for the chai beginner, not too bland, not too spicy, a happy medium for those new to chai."
Samantha’s Teaview: 6.7/10
Other Teaviews: Raven gave it 7.4/10
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Chai is one of my favorite drinks to enjoy when the leaves begin to change and the weather turns cooler. Every once in a while I will venture out into the land of milk and honey and add some to my cup. This was one of those times.

Upon researching this company I surprisingly found that “Two Leaves was one of the pioneers of the pyramid shaped tea sachet “. What I like about this tea is that it is organic and comes in an eye catching orange biodegradable tea sleeve as well as a biodegradable sachet. On the front of the sleeve it lists the boil and steep time as well as “full caffeine, “full bodied”. The ingredients are listed as followed: Black Ceylon tea*, cinnamon*, cardamom*, clove buds*, orange peel*, flavoring (*organic).

I steeped the tea at 3 minutes with boiled water and then removed the sachet. At first I was a bit disappointed but only so because I like my chai nice and spicy. Two Leaves lists this tea as having a tangy and fun top note, I would agree it did have a little tang to it. The spices were not as distinct as I expected, I could smell the cinnamon and cloves but found them lacking in the cup. I tried brewing a second time with a new sachet for 5 minutes in hopes that the spices would develop more, only to find the tea to become slightly bitter with the same level of spice.

Though this tea may be lacking in the spice factor for my liking, I found myself enjoying a simple chai with the addition of milk and honey. The pleasant dark brown and autumn orange color graced the meniscus of my white cup as I sipped and enjoyed outside in a 70 degree fall day.

The overarching theme of this tea would be the orange flavor as it ends with just a hint of cinnamon. I would suggest this tea for the chai beginner, not too bland, not too spicy, a happy medium for those new to chai. I would also suggest this tea to those that enjoy an orange black tea.

— To purchase Two Leaves and a Bud Mountain High Chai, 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: Samantha Samantha
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Review: Mellow Monk Frosty Garden Green

Green Tea, Mellow Monk No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"An undeniably sencha flavor that is strong and assertively green, being best likened to spinach"
Vanessa’s Teaview: 7/10
Other Teaviews: Samantha gave it 7.5/10, Katie gave it 8.4/10
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Frosty Garden is a Japanese green tea known as shiraore, which is a fancy way of saying it is sencha mixed with some leaf stems. The dry tea is mostly a dark emerald green in color, but with occasional specks of lighter colored stems. The dry leaves are very pungently scented and offer a strong green aroma that seems to fall somewhere between grass and spinach. The prepared tea (made using sub-boiling water and a two minute infusion) is a somewhat cloudy yellowish-green color. This tea has an undeniably sencha flavor that is strong and assertively green, being best likened to spinach. The flavor profile is rich and the tea has a wonderful almost thick mouth feel that I normally don’t get with green tea. According to the Mellow Monk website, the stems impart a creamy sweetness to this tea. I did notice that the tea has a gentle sweetness to it and that overall, even with the rather strong vegetal flavor, the tea is well-balanced and mild. I found that I enjoyed this tea more and more as the temperature of the liquid cooled down. This is a pretty interesting green tea and it is clear this is a high quality offering. Anyone who likes sencha would probably like this, but if you’re not into really vegetal green teas, this one may be a little too green for you.

— To purchase Mellow Monk Frosty Garden Green, 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: Tea Embassy Georgian Caravan

Black Tea, Tea Embassy No Comments »
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"In [former Soviet] Georgia, tea really does smoke you."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 7.8/10
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I can’t think of a more fitting combination than ex-Soviet countries and…smoke. In this case, it’s a variant on the Russian Caravan formula, only – uh – formerly Russian(?). Georgian-grown leaves are put to a similar smoky treatment as the other Caravan, except that there was no Lapsang in it. Even better. That means all of the leaves have been smoked. That pleases my inner man. Er, I mean, outer. I mean…shut up.

The leaf appearance was like the two other Georgian teas I tried from Tea Embassy. They have an odd, but very appealing, hand-rolled shape to them with an even black shape. It wasn’t as tippy as the others, but who expects that from a smoked tea? As expected from the aroma, it was all hickory and charcoal. Gah, it’s been too long since I’ve had a smoked drink. I was jonesin’.

I subjected to as manly a treatment I could think of for a smoked tea – 2 tsp. in 16oz. of boiled water for five minutes. I wanted to swig this from a pint glass. There was no other acceptable way.

The liquor brewed to a dark amber with an even forest fire aroma. The taste was what I was hoping for – not all smoke but not too little smoke. The balanced, semi-floral/semi-malt flavor of the Georgian tea was there, and the smoky edition acted as a good capper. That and it lit a fire under my chaff in the morning. In [former Soviet] Georgia, tea really does smoke you.

— To purchase Tea Embassy Georgian Caravan, 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: Grand Tea Traditional Tikuanyin

Grand Tea, Ti Kuan Yin Tea No Comments »
Christopher’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Getting into the traditional region of the tea world is always an eye-opening experience. This Tikuanyin is a great starting point."
Christopher’s Teaview: 7.9/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 7.2/10
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Getting into the traditional region of the tea world is always an eye-opening experience. This Tikuanyin is a great starting point. Traditionally, tikuanyin oolongs are roasted in a similar manner to coffee beans. You can find your more flowery light roast, a more toasted medium roast, and a robust dark roast tea. They are also marketed based on the season of harvesting. The name Tikuanyin actually translates into Iron Goddess of Mercy and they can be some of the most expensive teas on the market. Interesting, right?

The brewing style for this sample was International Tasting Protocol (with a twist). The International Protocol is used to create a standard across the board for tea tasting. I say with a twist because the protocol uses boiling water where I modify the rules using water temped to the type of tea. I used a Porcelain Cupping Set filled with 4 oz of 180ºF water. The brew infused for 4 minutes.

Looking at the leaves once opened from their vacuum sealed package, they were tightly crumpled into irregular pellets. The aroma was slightly floral and very fragrant. A natural sweetness emanated from the pouch of leaves. The wet leaves smelled of fresh toasted rice. Very similar to genmaicha, but not as strong. Flowery smells have completely disappeared.

Moving into the infusion, the liquor was a brilliant golden color. Only one full leaf made it through the straining process along with a small amount of leaf dust. First taste brought a strong astringency that melted away into a medium toasty-ness that mimicked the aroma of the wet leaves. With further sips, the tannic feeling lingerd on the back of the tongue.

While I was tasting the liquor, the leaves began to cool. As they did, an aroma most commonly related to burnt coffee permeated my nostrils. While it was not pleasant, it was also not unpleasant.

I decided to give this tea a second chance to wow me. After a second infusion of 2 minutes, the leaves expanded further and my tastebuds opened that much more. The liquor still had a great deal of tannic flavors but they were much weaker. Just barely detectable. The wonderful toasty flavor was still present and for that I am glad. Astringency, while still a major player, lasted only a matter of seconds on the palate.

Something I also noticed was how much the leaves expanded in the tiny cup. The dry leaves alone filled about 1/4 of the infusion cup. The first infusion the leaves opened to fill 1/2 of the cup. Some leaves were still tightly curled while others fully opened. The second infusion really took off. The leaves opened further to fill the whole entire cup, almost pushing the lid off. I feel that if given enough room to expand and float around, the astringency and tannic flavors would not present themselves.

Overall, a delicious brew. I enjoyed the slight astringency with no bitterness and the delectable toasty quality. This tea would pair wonderfully with most meats. A perfect drink for the average dinner. I fear that the toasty-ness of this roast would overpower most fish though.

— To purchase Grand Tea Traditional Tikuanyin, 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: Christopher Christopher
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Review: Tealicious Shangrila

Green Tea, Marigold Tea, Passion Fruit Tea, Peach Tea, Safflower Tea, Tealicious No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The passionfruit takes the lead, but the peach is distinct."
Katie’s Teaview: 7.8/10
Other Teaviews: Chelsy gave it 10.0/10
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This passionfruit and peach green tea blend boasts a big name, and while I might not agree that this is entirely worthy of the title, it has earned a certain modicum of my respect. I steep three teaspoons of leaf in two cups 185° water for three minutes. It smells fruity and delicious but somehow also a touch soapy.

The cup is well balanced without even a hint of soapiness. It’s fruity and floral with a candy-like aftertaste. Flowers are usually added to fruit blends just for a splash of colour whereas in this tea they also add another level of flavour. The passionfruit takes the lead, but the peach is distinct, so the flavours are balanced amongst each other, but they mostly eclipse the base tea.

Hot, it’s a bit too rich to be a regular cup for me, but iced it’s brilliant. Despite a syrupy character, it’s light and refreshing. If you like fruit blends or iced teas, this is something you should try.

— To purchase Tealicious Shangrila, 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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