Review: Nature’s Tea Leaf Wuyi Narcissus Oolong

Nature's Tea Leaf, Oolong Tea, Wu Yi Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Complex, robust yet balanced, this is a high quality Wuyi oolong. It hits all the requisite notes, with lots of toasted grain, black currant and wood flavours. Definitely a good, solid buy!"
Sophie’s Teaview: 8.1/10
Other Teaviews: Jamie gave it 4/10
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naturesleaflogoNature’s Tea Leaf’s website lists a whole range of amazing benefits to drinking this tea, namely weight loss, liver, dental and digestive health. It would be great if links to statistically sound references supporting these claims were also included. Looking at my sample, the large, loosely twisted leaves display a deep maroon hue. Their aroma is a sweet combination of mocha and pipe tobacco notes.

I followed the directions posted on the site, infusing a heaping teaspoonful of leaves in 250ml of water heated to 90 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes. The rusty brown cup’s aroma is scented with mocha and toasted barley notes. Quite hefty while very hot, the top notes have a coffee-like quality to them, along with some strong barley flavours. Their intensity decreases as the tea cools. The finish is fruity and smooth though, with hints of black currant and elderberry. The feel is a little astringent in a resinous sort of way, the tea thickly coating the mouth. Overall the cup strikes a nice balance between very flavourful, rugged notes and more subtle, fruity tones.

I try a second cup, brewing the leaves for 4 minutes. The flavours of the start and finish are more integrated now. A hint of vanilla has appeared, that is very nice paired with the mocha and berry tones. A tangy element to the profile has also surfaced, reminding me of sour plums. This is a gentler but more well-rounded cup.

I steep the leaves a third time for 5 and a half minutes. The results are much more muted this time around, the flavour profile being very mineral at this point. The finish has some interesting honey and cinnamon notes but for the most part, the sip is rather bland.

Complex, robust yet balanced, this is a high quality Wuyi oolong. It hits all the requisite notes, with lots of toasted grain, black currant and wood flavours. This offering is a good gateway for coffee drinkers converting to tea (or alternately for tea drinkers who miss drinking coffee). Definitely a good, solid buy!

— To purchase Nature’s Tea Leaf Wuyi Narcissus 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: Canton Tea Co. 2010 Mengku Zheng Raw Pu’er

Canton Tea Co., Pu'er Tea No Comments »
CJ’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A great find for someone who loves a vibrant, robust, cup."
CJ’s Teaview: 10/10
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CantonTeaLogoRaw Pu’er was a revelation to me. I never thought I’d see the day when I enjoyed a green tea as much as I love heavily oxidized black and oolong teas. But the aging process produces a green tea as full and robust as any black.

All pu’er is kin to green tea in that it is dried right after picking in order to “kill green,” i.e., kill the enzymes that lead to oxidization. Unlike green tea though, the production of pu-erh allows a small amount of enzymes to live. Thus, pu’er tea undergoes a minor amount of oxidation.  Some are pressed or packaged and sold at that point, and some are aged, like this three-year-old Mengku Zheng.  (Ripe or “cooked” pu’er leaves undergoe a composting process, but that’s another story.)

Appearance-wise, the leaves were flattened and colored a dull, gray-green.  They smelled rather lemony in the package–an aroma that intensified when boiling water was added.

The flavor was as complex as any oolong, and satisfying as any black tea.  It possessed fullness, fruity, muscatel notes, as well as dryness and astringency.  Above all, it had all the smoothness and staying power associated with proper aging.  The same leaves produced several hours of tea-drinking bliss.

Brewing pu’er, though, is for artists,(or gamblers.)  If you don’t want to invest in tiny clay tea wares, or pay careful attention to brew-times, you’re taking your chances and most likely will over-brew this tea. Here is an excerpt of Canton’s recommendations for brewing:

“A typical infusion sequence will be as follows: infusion number: 1 – 15 seconds, 2 – 12 seconds, 3 – 25 seconds, 4 – 40 seconds, 5 – 50 seconds and so on. A lot depends on the quality of your Puerh and the ratio of tea to water.”

Serious tea aficionados would do well to read the full article on Canton’s website by clicking the link below.

Sadly, Canton was sold out of the 2010 batch when I wrote this review. Like wine, though, pu-er gets better with age and the website had an array of older, (more expensive,) raw and cooked pu-ers to choose from.  I recommend trying at least one.  This one, in particular, was a 10.

 

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. 2010 Mengku Zheng Raw Pu’er, 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: Palanquin Tea Cardamom Tea

Black Tea, Cardamom Tea, Kenyan Tea, Palanquin Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This tea delivers a clean, spicy flavor that is wonderfully balanced; not too spicy, not too bland. "
Vanessa’s Teaview: 8/10
Other Teaviews: Melanie gave it 10/10
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palanquincardomanI had never heard of the England-based Palanquin Tea company before, but on their website they claim to be the first to offer bagged spiced tea (masala chai). They offer a small lineup of various teas, primarily chai spices and one unflavored Kenyan black tea. All of their black teas appear to use a Kenyan tea as the base and then are mixed with traditional Indian spices. I was interested in trying the cardamom tea because as best I can remember, I have not had a tea that featured solely cardamom; I have only had this spice when it has been mixed with other chai ingredients such as cinnamon, clove, and ginger. The tea is packaged in your standard, unimpressive tea bag and it is hard to see the contents of the teabag through the opaque teabag. I emptied the contents into a fine mesh infuser basket, which allowed me to see that the tea leaves, as well as the spices, are pretty finely ground. I tend to shy away from tea this fine because I find that it over-steeps and gets bitter quickly. I will say though that I was impressed with how much cardamom was present, and I appreciated the fresh spicy aroma of the dry tea. I steeped the tea for three minutes in boiling water and despite the tea being made of such fine pieces, the tea did not get bitter or taste over-brewed in any way. This tea delivers a clean, spicy flavor that is wonderfully balanced. The tea is not too spicy nor is it too bland. I found this quite comforting, as I have had many a chai tea that just had too much cardamom, and this can be an over-powering ingredient. The Kenyan tea base is a nice change from the usual Assam bases that are used for chai tea. It is lighter in body and seems a little less intense in flavor. I tried this tea straight up, with some rock sugar, and then with some rock sugar and a splash of cream. While all three were delicious in their own rights, I found that the black tea with rock sugar was the way to go for me. My initial reservations about this bagged tea made of nearly dust particles were quickly dismissed and I realized that this is a downright tasty blend. There are many customer reviews on the product website, and it seems that this tea has quite a loyal following. I would recommend this tea to others and look forward to sampling other blends from Palanquin Tea.

— To purchase Palanquin Tea Cardamom 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: Drink the Leaf Silver Needle

Drink the Leaf, White Tea No Comments »
Christopher’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Silver Needle. Known for its light and delicate flavors. Lets see if I can get more out of it than that. "
Christopher’s Teaview: 8/10
Your Reviews: 6.5/10
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drinktheleaflogoSilver Needle. Known for its light and delicate flavors. Lets see if I can get more out of it than that.

For this review, I brewed 1 Tbsp of tea with 8 oz of water at 175ºF for 3 minutes.

The dry leaves were very light and airy with soft silky threads covering the leaves. Similar to the downy fur on a white tea leaf. The aroma was fresh and clean like the smell after a summer rain. Very long flat leaves. Smells of wet pebbles from a river appear.

The liquor brewed to a pale silvery color with heavy mineral characteristics. Flavor is very light on palate with a distinct white tea taste. Subtle notes of honey and orchids. Very pleasant. Seems like a great palate cleanser during a long meal.

The infused leaves became a pale green needle. Hay like aromas wafted my way. No unfurling of the leaves occurred.

This brew, while being difficult to describe, was outstanding. Perfectly clean and crisp, it had a flavor of its own. Light body, light flavor, and light aroma rested heavy on the senses. A very calming cup. Surprisingly long finish for such a delicate brew.

As I mentioned earlier, I would recommend this tea as a palate cleanser. An intermezzo of sorts. Placed in between a heavy course, such as a beef or game meat course, and cheese or dessert. It could help dilute lasting flavors of heavy red wine or buttery sauces to make way for more gentle notes of cheese and sweet desserts.

Unfortunatly, Drink the Leaf has closed its doors on the tea world. Best wishes to the company and its employees.

Teaviews Member: Christopher Christopher
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Review: The NecessiTeas Aloha

Coconut Tea, Orange Tea, Rooibos Tea, The Necessiteas, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"If you're looking for a refreshing summer drink that your friends would enjoy at your next gathering, this would be it."
Samantha’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Melanie gave it 9/10
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necessiteasalohaAloha, welcome to Hawaii. Wishful thinking! This is the first tea I’ve had from The NecessiTeas and anything that makes a nice iced tea is definitely a necessity in this heat! It’s mid July at the time of this post, it’s been 90s in the Northeast. Ready for a drink to cool off? Try grabbing a tall clear glass and adding the Aloha blend in a bag and steep outdoors in the summer heat. A cool drink just makes me feel cooler, but if you’ve read Tea Magazine’s July-August issue they dive into the science of a hot drink on a hot day.

This blend includes green rooibos, orange, pineapple, coconut and vanilla. The NecessiTeas is an online shop that’s focus seems to be on flavored teas, their selections include unique flavors such as bubble gum and rainbow sherbet. While I’m not a huge fan of flavored tea myself, I’m more of a purist when it comes to a cuppa.

I wanted to see what this tea had to offer so I chose to brew hot (190F, 2 min) as well as the cold brew method. This cup is smooth, the flavor of coconut fades into pineapple in this bright orange cup. For some reason I don’t particularly enjoy the flavor of coconut when it’s hot, the flavor just isn’t appealing so I figured a cold brew method would let this tea show it’s true flavor profile. I was right.

When cold brewed, the flavors seem to be in a more natural state, when iced this tea takes on the taste of a refreshing pina colada. It was difficult to taste orange but as my cup sat out, by 30 minutes the orange flavor appeared. A suggested time would be to let this tea sit for about 20 minutes before serving iced. Over all, I would rate this tea refreshing, enjoyable, and flavorful. I personally wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase it since I’m not a huge fruity tea person but if you’re looking for a refreshing summer drink that your friends would enjoy at your next gathering, this would be it.

— To purchase The NecessiTeas Aloha, 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: Mountain Tea Mountain Oolong, Winter

Mountain Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This leaf provides an interesting honeyed floral and nut profile. It doesn't blow my socks off, but it's a satisfying, soothing brew."
Sophie’s Teaview: 7.4/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8/10, Samantha gave it 8.0/10, Shaiha gave it 7.2/10, Daniel gave it 8.3/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

Grown at an elevation of 1500m above sea level, this tea promises “notes of honeydew, kiwi, and tropical fruit and long lasting mellow finish”. My sample comes in a vacuum-sealed foil package. Taking a peek, the rolled leaves have a pretty blue-green sheen to them. Their aroma is a gentle mixture of peaches and wild flowers.

I infused a heaping teaspoonful of leaves in 250ml of water, heated to Mountain Tea’s recommended 90 degrees Celsius. After a 3 minute-long brew, the pale gold cup smells very enticing. Coconut, lilac and cream notes greet me as I inhale. The flavour profile is surprisingly similar to the aroma. The top and middle notes are buttery and round, with some mineral tones to them. The lingering finish and is sweeter, with mild toasted walnut, coconut and honey notes. It doesn’t blow my socks off, but it’s a satisfying, soothing brew.

I steep the leaves again for 3 and a half minutes. The results are more astringent, with darker, dryer toasted barley flavours taking the lead. The mineral notes of the previous cup having mostly disappeared. Otherwise the lilac and coconut notes are still present, rounding out the flavour profile.

My third cup is my favourite. Following a 5 and a half minute brew, the top notes are mostly mild and buttery. The flavour is all in the finish and the aftertaste. These are slightly astringent, sweet and herbal, like a mix of thyme, sage and mint. Very interesting!

I manage to pull another decent steep from the leaves using a 7 minute-long infusion. Wildflower, peach and honey flavours are more evenly present throughout the sip. These are faint but still satisfying. Another mild steep could probably be pulled from the leaves but I decide to call it a day.

This leaf provides an interesting honeyed flower and nut profile. It seems to develop a unique herbaceous quality as time goes by. I found this tea to be pleasant drunk hot or cold. However, it’s milder than I like and a bit pricey, so I’m not sure it would find it’s way in my personal stash. I can recommend it as a good quality oolong though.

— To purchase Mountain Tea Mountain Oolong, Winter, 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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