Review: Madame Fung’s Sun Moon Lake Black Tea

Black Tea, Madame Fung's, Uncategorized No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"While there is nothing really “wrong” with this tea - it's mix of stone fruit and wood tones is a pleasant one, there are definitely more sophisticated tasting Taiwanese black teas out there. "
Sophie’s Teaview: 6.8/10
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madamefungsunmoonSun Moon Lake is an area in Central Taiwan famous for it’s black teas. This offering comes in the form of finely powdered leaf, bagged in a traditional paper teabag, packaged in a foil envelope. It smells rather tannic, like run-of-the-mill bagged black teas, but with a sweet, malty undertone.

I followed the instructions on the envelope, steeping the tea for 2 minutes in filtered water, heated to 95 degrees Celsius. A malty, toasted bread scent greets me as I brew the mahogany brown cup. The profile is fairly light, featuring oak, stone fruit, cinnamon and again, malt. The flavours become more tannic as the tea cools. The smooth creamy feel holds just enough astringency to make it interesting.

I try a second steep following a 3 minute-long brew. Again, the cup is smooth and sweet, with a good dose of woodsy cinnamon flavour still going strong. It’s a little lighter bodied but still decent.

My third cup is rather bland and mineral while it’s hot. It gets better as it cools. Most of the flavour is concentrated in the sweet aftertaste, mixing peach, malt, cinnamon notes. I probably wouldn’t bother with this steep again.

I also tried this tea brewed at 90 degrees Celsius, based on the instructions found online. The results are less sweet and more tannic. I would therefore recommend going for the hotter temperature. Overall, it’s more interesting than your grocery store variety of bagged black tea and very affordable. It’s a decent offering in a pinch but not something I buy personally, having other choices available. While there is nothing really “wrong” with this tea – it’s mix of stone fruit and wood tones is a pleasant one, there are definitely more sophisticated tasting Taiwanese black teas out there. It’s still worth a try for those on a limited budget wanting to experiment with these.

— To purchase Madame Fung’s Sun Moon Lake 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: Sophie Sophie
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Review: The NecessiTeas Blueberry Crumble

Apple Tea, Blue Mallow Tea, Blueberry Tea, Caramel Tea, Fruit Flavored Tea, Hibiscus Tea, Rose Hip Tea, The Necessiteas, Yogurt Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"There's a nice creaminess to balance the tart berry flavour, and a cinnamon spiciness that lingers in the aftertaste."
Katie’s Teaview: 7.7/10
Other Teaviews: CJ gave it 7/10
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necessiteasbluecrumbThe Necessiteas makes some of my favourite dessert blends, but it’s been awhile since I’ve tried anything new from them, so I’m excited for the chance to try this herbal blend. I brew 1.5 teaspoons per cup with boiling water for 5 minutes, getting a bright red coloured cup. It smells exactly like it should with a strong ‘baked goods’ sweetness accented with blueberry.

While the scent is subtly fruity, the flavour is more blueberry than crumble. It’s strongly fruity with a distinct underlying bakery taste. There’s a nice creaminess to balance the tart berry flavour, and a cinnamon spiciness that lingers in the aftertaste.

The flavour is accurate, warming, and comforting. My only complaint is that I feel there’s a touch too much hibiscus, to the point that its tartness overpowers the ‘crumble’ somewhat. It’s just a touch acidic, making it a good blend but not one if my favourites from this company.

— To purchase The NecessiTeas Blueberry Crumble, 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: The Little Red Cup Mao Jian

Green Tea, The Little Red Cup No Comments »
Daniel’s Teaview Snapshot
Not Great"In all, Little Red Tea Cup's Mao Jian is by no means undrinkable or distasteful, but the very affordable price is a perfect reflection of what this tea has to offer. "
Daniel’s Teaview: 4/10
Other Teaviews: Samantha gave it 8.0/10
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littleredcupgreenmaojianOne of China’s most popular green teas, the delicate Mao Jian holds a strong potential for a plethora of enjoyable elements provided both the quality and infusion are up to par. Little Red Tea Cup’s happens to be organic, a strong plus for those understandably wary of brewing pesticide-laden leaves. Resembling in color a gunpowder green, the leaves of this particular product are shorter, darker, and less slender than many Mao Jians I have come across, and the jade-to-sage green typically marking a wide spectrum of Mao Jians is missing, leaving a duller appearance to the dry leaves. Sadly, color is almost indistinguishable and far too brown to be indicative of an ultimately promising infusion.

Without question, this is a perfectly capable leaf for an affordable, everyday drink, but lacking are the much desired refreshing notes of a standout Mao Jian. The liquor ends up being flat, presenting an even profile with little to no subtleties able to be pinpointed. Additionally, the delicateness associated with Mao Jians is missing almost entirely. Given the dark yellow resulting brew and the sage-ish brown leaves of this tea, it’s quite surprising to find that the tasting notes are the tea’s best element. But this isn’t saying much; again, the tea has a moderately enjoyable, slightly vegetal element to it, but there isn’t anything else to speak of.

In all, Little Red Tea Cup’s Mao Jian is by no means undrinkable or distasteful, but the very affordable price is a perfect reflection of what this tea has to offer. Brewed delicately, the tea provides a potentially suitable drink for some; for connoisseurs, a look elsewhere is strongly recommended.

— To purchase The Little Red Cup Mao Jian, 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: Daniel Daniel
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Review: Cameron Tea Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong – Competition Grade

Cameron Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is one of the few milk oolongs I’ve come across that actually delivers a realistic, naturally milky flavour. This tea also tastes great cold, allows for multiple steepings, and has a reasonable price point: an all around winner! "
Sophie’s Teaview: 9.3/10
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cameronalishancompgradeGrown at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mt Ali, this type of oolong is known for it’s milky taste and sweet floral notes. The blackish green leaves have been rolled into tight little nuggets. These seem to be on the small side for a high altitude oolong. Their scent is quite sweet, with a tart undertone, mixing lilac and strawberry notes – it’s quite a mouthwatering combination!

I brew a generous teaspoonful in 250ml of water heated to 95 degrees Celsius for 2 and a half minutes. The resulting pale gold cup offers a light floral fragrance. Taking a sip, the top notes are full of toasted grains, particularly oats. The flavours get progressively more floral, ending with an intensely sweet finish. There is a creamy tinge to the sweeter tones but these are not outright milky.

My second brew is much more successful as far as milky flavours are concerned. After 3 minutes, a slightly mineral, yet convincing milk taste has developed. There are still lots of toasted grains present. The sweetness of the aftertaste of the previous cup has pretty much receded into the background though.

I manage to pull 2 more respectable steeps from the leaves, following a 4 and a 5 minute long brew. The flavours veer back towards sweeter tones, featuring mild tart stone fruit and floral notes. The milky taste is still there but the grassier and more mineral aspects of the cup progressively take up more space. A more patient tea drinker than I would be able to pull another decent cup from the leaves I’m sure.

This is one of the few milk oolongs I’ve come across that actually delivers a realistic, naturally milky flavour. The toasted grains and flower notes are nice complements, but can sometimes overshadow it, especially during the first steep. It would be worth experimenting with the brewing parameters to see what might come out of a gongfu style infusion or using cooler water temperatures. This tea also tastes great cold, making it a good candidate for summertime concoctions, and allows for multiple steepings. Combined with a reasonable price point, this offering is an all around winner!

— To purchase Cameron Tea Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong – Competition Grade, 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: Vintage Tea Company Anji Baicha

Green Tea, Vintage Tea Company No Comments »
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Fresh, with a nutty, herbaceous savour"
Raven’s Teaview: 8.3/10
Other Teaviews: Samantha gave it 9.5/10, Katie gave it 7.2/10
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vintageanjibaichaAs soon as I discovered Anji Bai Cha, it became a favourite. Maybe because of its elegant style, like delicate pine needles, or its oxymoron existence, as a white green tea, but something about it is just divine. With the opportunity to try out Vintage Tea Company, it was a lovely surprise to see they offered an Anji Bai Cha, as it remains a less common offering. Yet, Vintage Tea Company specializes in Chinese tea and single harvest gems with a handful of teas of each kind from yellow to pu erh. The amount of information they give on each of their teas reveals their passion and is all the more enticing. From spring of 2013, their Anji Bai Cha was harvested nice and early and comes in sizes for a quite a prettier penny than others. While Anji Bai Cha tends to be a more expensive green tea, Vintage Tea Company’s Anji Bai Cha contends particularly high leaf quality for the dearer price to have the makings for a precious treat.

The tea’s leaves are cleanly rolled, with thin spindles of forest green to some of a more yellowish green buds interspersed by a few open single base leaves. While they seem brighter hued and slightly less neat, they still have a classical grace. Their medium bouquet is equally refined with a kind of herbaceous vegetal green aroma falling from a, a subtlely edgy piney cool and slightly rich nutty notes that brings to mind rosemary and dried artichokes. It’s not as piney or rich as some Anji Bai cha I’ve had but the scent has enough of both to add an appetizing appeal with a fresh vitality.

Vintage Tea Company recommends steeping two grams of tea per one hundred milliliters or a bit shy of half a cup. Thus, twenty five grams would yield but five cup sized sessions although, they suggest four infusions per session for just two minutes each steep. Although it seems like a lot of leaves, it does seem worth it. Brewed at 80°C, the dainty leaves yield a fitting clear champagne-like or wheat hued cup that begs to sip with your pinky out. While moderately fragrant, the tea scent isn’t thickly vegetal, but has a slightly buttery, piney green warmth, lending a kind of elegance. While it has mineral high notes, they peak a sweet, smooth perfume, like okra and crackers, or almost corn chips, giving the aroma a nice balance of tasty bits and restraint. Likewise, its taste yields a pleasing interplay of texture and flavour. It’s not crisp, but it has a clean quality and clear freshness to the flavour. It tastes lightly vegetal and pond-like with a slight brothiness to keep it lightly playful, yet satisfying, perhaps somewhere between cooked mâche leaves and lily pads with a bit of rosemary. It descends on a mist of raw and cooked pea on the finish that remains more as it builds through sips.

The second cup is near as fragrant as the first with not quite as clean a scent. Similar to the first, there’s a kind of herbaceousness with hints of pine twigs and corn chips to still draw one to the cup. It feels saltier with enough flavour and is just a bit drier, yet it remains smooth. The flavour seems slightly more elemental while still having a muted almost reed-like cooked vegetal and a light aftertaste with a kiss of salt to give it momentum. The third brew still has a light to medium scent, with a similar mix of nutty and green notes, like arugula, with a wave of pond kind of notes and a flicker of gasoline emerging. While the tea retains enough of a light brothiness, cued mostly by a sense of salt, to warmly satisfy, the fuller body has a drier feel with little aftertaste.

Vintage Tea Company’s Anji Bai Cha is a reminder of why I like Anji Bai Cha so. While it’s a bit higher priced and perhaps, more straightforward than some, it has the fresh, refinement and an admirable brewability to be a cup of peaceful contentment any time of day.

— To purchase Vintage Tea Company Anji Baicha, 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: Tea At Sea Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong

Oolong Tea, Tea at Sea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"This is a pleasant tea that has a creamy texture to it. There is a mineral twang to the taste as well as a sweetness from the floral. It makes for an enjoyable cup but there was nothing about it that really stood out."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 6.4/10
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teaseamountainindooolongThis morning it was a debate between which sample from this company that I wanted to check out first. And believe me, a pre-tea debate is not one anyone wants to see. The oolong won out because I have been drinking a lot of black tea lately and I wanted a change.

First a bit about the company. They are a Canadian company that specialize in loose leaf teas. They have a pleasant website that is fairly easy to navigate because they don’t carry that large of a variety of teas. I would like to see a search engine introduced just to make it even easier for the customer. Also they offer their teas either with or without ‘free’ tins. My issue with that is that even though the tins are called free if you select to have one, you end up paying more for the leaves. Not exactly my definition of free.

The leaves themselves were folded up into little balls that gave off a woody floral aroma. I followed the instructions on the sample package and used 190 degree water and let them steep for 5 minutes. The resulting liquor is a faint green with a creamy floral aroma.

This is a pleasant tea that has a creamy texture to it. There is a mineral twang to the taste as well as a sweetness from the floral. It makes for an enjoyable cup but there was nothing about it that really stood out. I could see introducing someone to oolong with this tea but it isn’t one that I would stock personally especially since it isn’t one that can be resteeped successfully once you let the first steep brew for five minutes.

— To purchase Tea At Sea Mountain Organic Indonesian 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: Shaiha Shaiha
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