Review: Volcano Winery Estate White Tea

Volcano Winery, White Tea No Comments »
Melanie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavor is definitely one of the best white teas I've ever had! It has a soft background of floral/herbal and peaches, along with the faintest hint of vanilla without being falsely sweet."
Melanie’s Teaview: 10/10
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volcanowinerylogoI recently took a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. There were several things I was excited to see. One was the volcano. The other was Hawaii grown tea. On the day we visited the volcano, the rain settled in so much that we gave up and ended up at Volcano winery. As I was having a wine tasting, I saw that they had a special tea infused dessert wine. I asked about it, and come to find out, they grow tea right there at Volcano winery!

So of course I had to taste their tea too!!! I don’t know much about wine, but I was very impressed with their tea! As I talked to the owner, Marie, I told her I had hoped to visit a tea field and she offered to take me out on a private tour of her vineyards and tea field!

Their tea is grown at 4000 feet, in fields of lava. They have carved the rows out of the lava and brought in dirt. Their tea plants are imported from Japan and were gorgeous! I even got a demonstration of the picking process – both the white needles and the second leaf.

I was sent home with a nice packet of white tea to try brewing at home and it’s as delicious here at home as it was there on the island.

When I first opened the package, I could see the white needles blended with the second leaves. They are a beautiful soft green – the color indicating how fresh this tea is. The smell is strong and vegetal. The needles are softly silver with fine hairs. Mixed in with the needles are the darker, yet colorful, flat second leaves.

They suggest brewing it at 208 degrees, which is a little higher than I usually brew my white tea. I’m glad I listened to their recommendation. I used fresh cold water and brought it to 208 (don’t let it fully boil) and I steeped it for 3 minutes. It brews up a soft light golden, the color of a nice white wine. It has a slight fruity/leafy scent.

The flavor is definitely one of the best white teas I’ve ever had! It has a soft background of floral/herbal and peaches, along with the faintest hint of vanilla without being falsely sweet. It is very smooth with no bitterness or bite. I could drink this tea all day long! They have chosen to keep their teas pure, with no flavorings. I love that this white tea is naturally so flavorful and sweet.

I found that I can brew this tea 3-4 times easily. Each steep has a slightly different flavor focus, with the sweetness decreasing with steeps, and the floral/herbal tones moving forward.

I am so thankful that I had that misty day on the island of Hawaii. I have finally walked through a real field of tea, touched the plants, heard about the processing and tasted the tea. I’m equally as delighted to find that I can brew this incredible tea back at home in the cold Pacific Northwest!

— To purchase Volcano Winery Estate White 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: Melanie Melanie
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Review: Teavivre Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea

Black Tea, Keemun Tea, Teayama No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A delicious black tea with hints of stone fruit and caramel as it cools. Very nicely complex."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 9.4/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 9.4/10
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teavivrekeemunfragrantTeavivre just happens to be a company that I tend to order from a few times a year so I am always happy to review a new product from there. A good portion of the time, that tea will go onto my next order. Even though the teas come direct from China, the shipping is both fast and reasonable. I think that one of my favorite parts of ordering is how they track the tea and send me an email a day or two before it is due to arrive. Just one of those extra touches that really stand out.

I have checked out few of the black teas from Teavivre and have been rather pleased. This particular tea is no exception. The dry leaves give off an interesting fragrance starting with a yeasty base and finishing with the aroma of an overripe peach. After steeping for three minutes, the liquor is a rich golden brown with almost no aroma at all.

The taste however is very smooth and has just a hint of astringency. There is a strong presence of stone fruit, almost like a blend of peaches and apricots. As the tea cools it develops a slight spiciness along with a rich caramel taste that lingers and lingers.

I have tried Keemun before. In fact, I have tried Keemun from this company but it was nothing like this. This particular keemun is definitely a step above the others that I have tried. And, without a doubt, will be going on my next order.

— To purchase Teavivre Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant 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: Shaiha Shaiha
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Review: Mountain Tea Imperial Pearl

Mountain Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is truly a spectacular oolong. The chocolate/plum dimension of the flavour profile is particularly tasty. Highly recommended!"
Sophie’s Teaview: 9.6/10
Other Teaviews: Alexa gave it 9/10, Raven gave it 8.9/10, Shaiha gave it 8.1/10
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mountainteaimperialpearlThis rare Taiwanese tea is part of a new wave of heavily oxidized oolongs. Winner of awards at the North American Tea Championship in 2011 and 2012, it promises “notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, malt sugar, honey, and orange peel”. The rolled leaves are a dark olive green hue. They are quite small, about the size of red lentils. Their aroma is what is most striking to me though. Its sweet, savoury and nutty tones smell almost exactly like a chocolate peanut butter cup to me. Drool!

I infused 3 grams of leaf in 8 ounces of water heated to 95 degrees Celsius for 1 and a half minutes. The resulting cup has an enticing chocolate and smoke aroma. The liquor is a reddish brown – surprisingly dark, almost like a black tea’s colouring. Taking a sip, the flavours are robust but smooth, reminding me of a young red wine. The top notes are somewhat chocolatey, followed by some honey, plum and black currant notes. The lingering aftertaste is sweet and a touch floral. All in all, this oolong made for quite a satisfying cuppa, strong enough to please even black tea drinkers, but not so rugged as to need milk and/or sugar.

I infused the leaves again for 2 minutes. This steep was relatively similar to the first, only with more plum and less cocoa to it. The mouth feel is also thinner and dryer. It’s a little less decadent but very pleasant nonetheless.

I try steeping the leaves a third time for 3 minutes. The tea is rougher and thinner in feel still, especially in the top notes. Fortunately the mineral roughness mellows out as it cools. The finish blends caramel, malt and cinnamon notes, so the steep is well worth it.

My fourth brew clocks in at 4 and a half minutes. The woody top notes are followed by mild sweet potato, malt, and caramel flavours. The finish has developed a tang that is reminiscent of vanilla yogourt. This cup is impressively good, especially considering this is a fourth steep.

I infuse my final, fifth cup for 6 minutes. The faint malt-flavoured top notes recede quickly. This cup is all about the sweet, lingering finish. I am reminded of orange zest, ginger ale and lilac. The feel is much thinner, so I decide to stop. Given the strength of the finish, another decent steep could probably be pulled from the leaves though.

I can confirm that this is truly a spectacular oolong. It’s in a similar vein to Chinese black teas, being robust but smooth and sweet. The chocolate/plum dimension of the flavour profile is particularly tasty. This tea is a bit pricey but it’s available in a range of formats, making it easier to experiment without breaking the bank. Highly recommended!

— To purchase Mountain Tea Imperial Pearl, 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: Canton Tea Co. Organic Arya Emerald Darjeeling

Canton Tea Co., Darjeeling Tea, Green Tea, Organic Tea, Single Estate Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The balance between sweet and savoury vegetal notes is impressive. Clean, refreshing and easy to drink, I could see myself stocking up on this tea in the future."
Sophie’s Teaview: 8.8/10
Other Teaviews: Katie gave it 8.1/10
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cantonemeralddarjeelingThe folks at Canton Tea generously threw in some samples last time I placed an order, including this green second flush from the famed Arya Estate. The tea is described as providing a subtle hint of pear and grape. The leaves display an interesting mix of tan, lime green, gold and silver, along with a delicate herbaceous aroma.

I followed the rather conservative brewing instructions provided on my sample’s package, infusing 1 heaping teaspoonful of leaf in 8 ounces of water heated to 70 degrees Celsius for 2 minutes. The greenish-gold cup has a faint grass and honey scent to it. Taking a sip, the tea is smooth, light and crisp. The flavour profile alludes to vaguely sweet raw greens without being very specific. Green beans, corn sprouts and baby spinach come to mind. The tea gets sweeter as it cools, becoming fruitier especially in the lingering finish. Perhaps it’s the power of suggestion but I can definitely taste the promised grape and pear notes.

I brewed the leaves a second time for 2 and a half minutes. The results are very similar to the first cup, only with a more drying feel in the mouth. A subtle vanilla cookie flavour develops in the finish, in addition to the fruit notes. Yum!

I manage to pull another decent steep from the leaves. Following a 3 and a half minute long brew, the cup is now more grassy and vegetal. The sweet pear notes of the aftertaste are still going strong however. The tea has also become a little rougher in feel. As it cools the tea becomes increasingly mineral and almost bitter in taste so I decide to call it a day.

Clean, refreshing and easy to drink, I could see myself stocking up on this tea in the future. The balance between sweet and savoury vegetal notes is impressive. The fruity notes of the finish are also quite delicious. Currently on sale at the time of writing, this tea is very reasonably priced for an organic, high quality leaf. Definitely recommended!

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Organic Arya Emerald Darjeeling, 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: The Persimmon Tree Rooibos Vanilla Chai

Cardamom Tea, Chai Tea, Cinnamon Tea, Clove Tea, Genmaicha Tea, Ginger Tea, Orange Tea, Rooibos Tea, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"a wonderful chai blend with potent, high-quality spices"
Vanessa’s Teaview: 8.5/10
Other Teaviews: Alexa gave it 7/10, Daniel gave it 7.8/10
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persimmonroobvanchaiThe Persimmon Tree Tea Company is one of those companies that seems to get better the more I get to know it. This is probably about the fifth or sixth tea I am reviewing for them, but I have also put in two different personal orders and have been very pleased. Their rooibos vanilla chai is a take on the traditional chai. It features the standard clove, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, but replaces black tea with the rooibos and then also adds in vanilla and orange. I added six ounces of boiling water to about 1. tsp of the tea to produce a reddish and mostly transparent liquid. The spicy aroma wafted off my glass, a sign of the pungent spiciness soon to hit my taste buds. I have to say that by appearance of the dry blend alone, I wasn’t expecting too much from this tea, as the spice pieces were all pretty small and unimpressive. But wow, there is some serious spicy flavor going on in this tea. For those that love, and I mean really love, robust chai spiced, this tea will guarantee to please you. The clove, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom are all easily discerned, but I would say that the latter two are perhaps the most noticeable flavors. The vanilla flavoring is, in my opinion, mostly overpowered by the spices, and it is most noted in the rear of the sip where I could detect a mild sweetness that took the edge of what might be considered a harshness from the ginger and cinnamon. The strong spices are muted and the vanilla flavor becomes more apparent when milk and sugar are added in the traditional style of masala chai. I used German rock sugar and almond milk, and that combo made for a delicious dessert tea that I would highly recommend. Overall, this is a wonderful chai blend with potent, high-quality spices.
As a final note, the Persimmon Tree Tea website features a short video demonstration about incorporating this tea into a chai martini and I recommend you check it out if you are looking for your next impressive cocktail!

— To purchase The Persimmon Tree Rooibos Vanilla 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: Vanessa Vanessa
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Review: T-OolongTea.com Sun Moon Lake Hong Yue Black Tea

Black Tea, T-OolongTea.com No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Somehow this has all the features of a great Sun Moon Lake black tea but none of the violent punch that usually accompanies them."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.6/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 8.2/10, Sophie gave it 9.6/10, Jamie gave it 8/10
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In general, my biggest complaint with this famed Taiwan black tea is that, while delicious, it’s usually really hard on my system. I can only handle about a half cup before my insides feel like a vat of acid on fire. But I have finally found a Sun Moon Lake black with all its depth and flavour and character that is surprisingly easy to drink.

This summer 2011 tea’s leaves are beautiful, long, curled black spears. After 3 minutes at 212°, I get a striking amber liquor. The cup is a brilliant mix of malt and honey balanced by a winey acidity. Most interestingly, it has “gan,” that hard-to-find minty throat sensation I’ve only seen a few times before. You wouldn’t think mint would go well with wine, but in this context, it’s a delicious and interesting mix. My five-minute second steep is on par with the first, losing little of its complexity and flavour.

Somehow this has all the features of a great Sun Moon Lake black tea but none of the violent punch that usually accompanies them. It goes down smoothly and gently, a great feature for those of us who love rich teas but whose stomachs like to throw frequent tantrums when we imbibe. Recommended on so many levels.

— To purchase T-OolongTea.com Sun Moon Lake Hong Yue 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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