Review: Shanti Tea Smoked Maple

Maple Tea, Oolong Tea, Shanti Tea No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"There really is a faintly smoky taste to the tea that merges well with the maple toward the rear of the sip in particular. It's well done, though I will admit that I'm hankering to try the Russian Maple, which sounds as though it's the real McCoy of the smokey maple flavor."
Jamie’s Teaview: 7/10
Your Reviews: 2/10
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shantismokedmapleI’d like to open this review by mentioning that Shanti Tea, a Canadian tea company, has a really accessible and well thought out website. I say that even though there’s a liberal use of symbols rather than words on the website, which might under some circumstances seem clunky or confusing. I really enjoyed the large thumbnails that accompanied each tea – allowing the purchaser to get a real feel for the lay of the leaf, so to speak.

If only smells could be incorporated into the website! This particular offering is a very appealing one in terms of scent, particularly if you are a maple syrup fan. The leaves of the tea are big, fat and twisty (oolong) and are shot through with bright orange safflower petals. The scent is a really knock your socks off variety of maple – so intensely maple that it almost tasted sweet.

I infused a heaped teaspoon of leaf in 205 degree water and allowed a three minute steep that could very safely have gone for four minutes. The leaf base is a heavily oxidized oolong tea and has a taste that is somewhat toasted and vaguely smoky. Shanti offers this blend also with a Lapsang base, so you can really pick your flavoring. If you are looking for a solid, smoky tea underlaying your maple flavor, go with the Russian Maple. I didn’t find this smoked maple to be very smoked in flavor. The maple, which was very very strong in the scent, is really nice in the tea itself. It’s present and permeating in every sip but the flavor is more maple and doesn’t come across as artificial in taste. I like it, especially with a bit of sweetener, though I liked the second infusion sweetened better than the first. Adding sweetener with the full strength of the maple flavor was just edging toward over the top so you might consider how sweet you like your tea and you might prefer saving your sweetener for round two if you aren’t crazy about super sweet.

One of the things I like about this tea is how well suited the oolong seems to be with the maple. There really is a faintly smoky taste to the tea that merges well with the maple toward the rear of the sip in particular. It’s well done, though I will admit that I’m hankering to try the Russian Maple, which sounds as though it’s the real McCoy of the smokey maple flavor.

I definitely liked the second infusion better on this one. The maple is toned down a little, I liked the way the tea took a bit of liquid stevia. I found the smoky flavors to be just hint like. The maple flavor seemed to really have merged with the oolong and this was a good pairing. Overall, I found this to be a nice treat of a tea, especially in the dead of winter. If you are looking for a strongly smoked flavor in your tea, try out the Russian Maple. It sounds intriguing and promises a truly smoky flavor. If you are content with a hint of smokiness, this will probably please you very much.

— To purchase Shanti Tea Smoked Maple, 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: Driftwood Teas Organic Sticky Rice Oolong (Nuo Mi Xiang Tea)

Driftwood Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Imagine a lightly flavored butter popcorn...that flavor, minus the excessive and unpleasant salt, is the goodness that you'll find in this cup. "
Vanessa’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 9.0/10, Sophie gave it 9.2/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

The name “Sticky Rice Oolong” intrigued me. And that is the simple reason why I requested to sample this tea. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. However, as soon as I opened my sample of this tea and took one whiff, I knew I had made a great decision by asking for this tea. The tea does, in fact, have a nuance of cooked rice in the aroma. It was entirely pleasing and somewhat addicting, so I continued to sniff this tea and then began to realize that there is a pretty solid butter aroma in this tea. The Driftwood website explains that this tea’s unique flavor is the result of the tea leaves being flavored with a Chinese herb called Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye The leaves are rolled into fairly tight pellets, and the leaves are a dark emerald green color. I followed the Driftwood recommendation for a European style preparation of this tea by doing a twon-minute steep of one teaspoon of leaves in one cup of water that had been brought to a boil then had been allowed to rest for 30 seconds.The tea is a pale yellow color with a wonderfully rich and buttery aroma. This buttery goodness seems too good to be true, but true it is, and not only is it present in the scent, but very much so in the flavor as well. Imagine a lightly flavored butter popcorn…that flavor, minus the excessive and unpleasant salt, is the goodness that you’ll find in this cup. This tea delivers a savory and sweet butter flavor over a light-bodied oolong base. The word ‘wonderful’ just keeps coming to mind when I try to describe this tea. This seems like the perfect tea to enjoy with a light meal. It stood up well to multiple infusions, showing only a small weakening of flavor in subsequent brews. I tried it both hot and cool, but much preferred this one as a hot tea. The only drawback to this tea is, for me, the price. Currently 100 grams of this tea sells for just under $30, making it rather pricy in my mind. But the flavor is so unique and delicious, and with it holding up to multiple infusions, I do believe this tea is worth it.

— To purchase Driftwood Teas Organic Sticky Rice Oolong (Nuo Mi Xiang 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: Vanessa Vanessa
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Review: Chinese Tea Company Ban Zhang Puer

Chinese Tea Company, Pu'er Tea No Comments »
CJ’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavor seems to last forever, which is a great thing if you like puer."
CJ’s Teaview: 9/10
Your Reviews: 3/10
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I think a tea drinker needs two things in order to appreciate puer tea:  a sense of adventure, and a rugged palate.
Puer is an acquired taste, even for someone who likes her tea as robust and dark as I do.   Even the strongest cup of Assam or Yunnan Golden Tips doesn’t prepare you for the pungent, thick, earthiness that is puer.  It’s like the difference between maple syrup and molasses.  Puer tea is akin to the  heartiest, unfiltered molasses you can find.  At least this one was.
This cooked puer  was harvested in the Spring of 2006 and grown in Ban Zhang village.  The region is famous for puer tea that is slightly bitter with a sweet aftertaste.  Personally, I did’t notice any bitterness.  If it was there, it was buried beneath all those sweet, lovely, composted-earth overtones.
Depending on who you talk to, Ban Zhang can make between eight and 11 infusions.  When I tried it at a Gong-Fu tea tasting, I lost track of how many infusions I tried.  I liked them all.  These leaves never seemed to lose their flavor.  In fact, they got stronger with each brewing-at least for awhile.
Though a 3/4 pound cake of this tea costs about 80 U.S. dollars, it is a bargain when you consider how far a pinch will go.  To brew, take a pinch that’s a little smaller than a teaspoon and brew it in a cup of boiling water for anywhere from five to 30 seconds, depending on taste.  The pros rinse the leaves first.  I never do and cannot notice a difference at this point in my tea-tasting career.
If you like puer, you can’t go wrong with this brand and batch.  I rate it a 9.

— To purchase Chinese Tea Company Ban Zhang Puer, 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: Mellow Monk Frosty Garden Green

Green Tea, Mellow Monk No Comments »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Mellow Monk's Frosty Garden is a japanese sencha known as shiraore which contains leaf stems. Most tea does not contain stems. When more constituents of the tea plant Camellia Sinensis are included, more health benefits are apt to arise. "
Samantha’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 7/10, Katie gave it 8.4/10
Your Reviews: 7/10
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Mellow Monk’s Frosty Garden is a japanese sencha known as shiraore which contains leaf stems. Most tea does not contain stems. When more constituents of the tea plant Camellia Sinensis are included, for instance matcha (a powder consisting of the entire leaf), more health benefits are apt to arise. L-Theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found in the tea plant.

Theanine has been found to promote alpha wave brain activity. The brain produces four different types of waves depending on different circumstances such as sleep, physical and mental relaxation, a state of alert such as when we feel afraid or agitated. Alpha waves occur doing wakeful relaxation. Since tea contains this beneficial amino acid, theanine, we feel relaxed when we drink a cup of tea. It’s not just because you enjoy the tea or the peaceful music you have on in the background, though that does help promote relaxation, there’s science going on in your body with every sip you take.

Now that you know that Mellow Monk’s Frosty Garden contains more tea components than just the leaves, you have the assurance of additional relaxation with this cup.

This tea’s leaves (and stems) have a strong smell that falls between grass and spinach. I brewed this tea for 2 minutes at about 167 F. My first brew tasted very much like fresh cut grass, it was smooth and citrusy. The sweetness from the stems tone down the grassy sencha taste. This tea had a particularly thicker mouth feel than other senchas I have had. It was also enjoyable cooled.

My second brew was very similar to the first, the third brew was much nuttier than I expected compared to the last two brews. It was a mix between a sencha and dragonwell but still very much sencha.

Sencha lovers would enjoy this tea, I give it a 7.5.

— 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: Samantha Samantha
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Review: Canton Tea High Mountain Mao Feng

Canton Tea Co., Green Tea No Comments »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This tea tastes like fresh cut hay with a dash of toasty cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon. It has a very smooth mouthfeel and is not dry in the slightest bit. "
Samantha’s Teaview: 8.3/10
Other Teaviews: CJ gave it 10/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

cantonhighmountmaofengCanton Tea’s High Mountain Mao Feng is an enjoyable every day tea. Mao Feng means “hairpoint” which denotes fine strips of hand-rolled leafs. It is also a term used for the picking of a bud and two leaves of equal length. Talk about high quality picking. This variety is grown only once a year in spring and comes from tea plants that must be 80 years old as well as grown at altitudes over 1000m or 3280.84 ft for those of us that don’t use metric. This is a Chinese tea grown in Chunan county of Zhejiang province.

The leaves are small and twisted, light green in appearance with downy buds. It has a very grassy scent with a smell similar to that of cinnamon. I brewed Canton Tea’s Mao Feng for 2 minutes with 1 teaspoon of leaves in 6 ounces at about 170F. The liquor is a pale cucumber-green color.

This tea tastes like fresh cut hay with a dash of toasty cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon. It has a very smooth mouth feel and is not dry in the slightest bit. The second brew lasted 2.5 minutes, this brew was a bit astringent and the citrus notes were a bit more pronounced in this cup. I do have to note that the second brew was a little dry compared to the first but still had that nice smooth mouth feel.

Overall I would say this is a very enjoyable every day tea, it’s not too complex so it’s easy to mindlessly enjoy it. For the quality and simplistic yet delicate tastes I give this tea an 8.3. It’s currently on sale for 25% off so go stock up!

— To purchase Canton Tea High Mountain Mao Feng, 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: Whittard Milky Oolong

Oolong Tea, Whittard No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"While this tea is delicious, with generous floral and stone fruit notes, it doesn't taste at all milky to me. Try it, just don't think of it as a milk oolong. "
Sophie’s Teaview: 7.8/10
Other Teaviews: Katie gave it 7.2/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

whittardmilkyoolongThis British company has been in business since 1886. Their catalogue features a wide range of coffees, teas, and ceramic wares. This particular offering comes from the Chinese province of Fujian. It promises an elegant, creamy taste featuring hints of roses, vanilla and caramel. The leaves are a bit peculiar looking. Instead of being rolled completely into roundish nuggets, they look like they have been pressed into little mounds of varying shapes and sizes. Their aroma is intensely sweet, reminding me of grape-flavoured candies.

In the absence of specific brewing instructions on Whittard’s website, I steeped a generous teaspoonful of leaves in 8 ounces of water heated to 95 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes. The resulting cup is a pale gold hue. It’s aroma is a heady mix of burnt sugar and magnolia. Mineral and mildly grassy when very hot, it develops very sweet floral notes as it cools. The finish and lingering aftertaste are particularly delicious with their honeyed lilac and magnolia notes. It’s a lovely cup but not particularly milky or even creamy to my taste.

I brewed a second cup for 4 minutes, hoping that the milky promise of this tea’s moniker would come through this time. This brew features more cereal flavours present in the top and middle of each sip. The finish is now much fruitier, with intense peach and apricot notes. Again, it’s quite yummy, but no milk oolong. The large, leathery-looking leaves are completely opened in my infuser.

A third cup finally yields somewhat creamy caramel flavours. After a 5 minute-long brew, the tea is now more immediately sweet. The feel is thick and oily at this point, making the tea seem more decadent and filling.

I manage to get a decent fourth cup following a 6 and a half minute-long steep. The tea is smooth, mildly peachy and mineral. The cup is pleasant enough but it’s obvious that the leaves are passed their prime.

I am torn in how to rate this tea – on the one hand it is extremely pleasant tasting, with generous floral and stone fruit notes. On the other, while this tea has a completely smooth feel, it doesn’t taste at all milky to me. I wouldn’t reach for this if I was in the mood for a milk oolong, but this cup hits the spot when looking for an easy to drink sweet tea. The fact that it’s very affordable makes it more likely that it will find its way into my cart. I do recommend trying it, just don’t think of it as a milk oolong.

— To purchase Whittard Milky 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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