Review: Tea at Sea Yunnan Organic Black Tea

Black Tea, Organic Tea, Tea at Sea, Yunnan Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is a truly excellent Yunnan black - creamy caramel and buttery bread notes round out more astringent tobacco and wood tones. It’s definitely worth a try, especially at this price point! "
Sophie’s Teaview: 9.4/10
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teaseayunnanTea at Sea is a Canadian company that is new to me. Their website and packaging is user-friendly and quite cute, with nautically inspired themes. Their catalogue features a variety of loose organic teas, sourced directly from farmers. Grown in Menglai Hill, at an altitude of 1200-2000m above sea level, this particular tea is described as “earthy, light, refreshing with hints of caramel”. My sample comes in a re-sealable foil envelope – Yes! The leaves vary in colour from ebony to gold. Their aroma is malty and sweet, with a touch of wood and spice.

I steep a heaping teaspoonful of leaf in 250ml of freshly boiled water. After 3 minutes smooth, creamy malt and raisin notes blend with a touch of cinnamon and buttery bread undertones. Just a hint of tannic astringency balances things out. It’s delicious!

I brew the leaves again for 3 and a half minutes. The results are still rather sweet with hints of caramel, cinnamon and brown sugar. At the same time, the cup is a little more peppery in taste and feel, and thus less decadently creamy.

I try a third steep following 4 and a half minute steep. It doesn’t dazzle like the previous two cups but it’s not a waste of time either. Most of the flavour is now concentrated in mild peach and malt finish. I decide to quit while I am ahead.

Tea at Sea actually recommends a 5 to 6 minute long brew. The longer steep accentuates tobacco and wood tones of the cup, as well as its more fermented, “barney” flavours. It’s slightly more astringent than my shorter brew but also creamier and sweeter. There is no need for milk and sugar, even at this length. Re-steeping the leaves is less successful however, the leaves petering out more quickly.

Tea at Sea generally features quite reasonably priced teas. You can try all of their 11 teas for 10$! Sadly this offering only seems available in sample sizes – perhaps it’s just a glitch with the website? I can definitely see myself ordering from them in the future. This is a truly excellent Yunnan black – creamy caramel and buttery bread notes round out more astringent tobacco and wood tones. It’s definitely worth a try, especially at this price point!

— To purchase Tea at Sea Yunnan Organic 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: Craft of Tea Fancy Rose & Peach

Craft of Tea, Green Tea, Peach Tea, Rose Tea No Comments »
Alexa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"If you are a fan of rose water, then you’ll love this blend. "
Alexa’s Teaview: 7.9/10
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craftrosepeachCraft of Tea is a unique tea company. You can purchase their tea on their website or you can subscribe to their company. When you subscribe, they send you tea samples every month. This is great for people who don’t want to commit to large amounts of tea and want to try a variety.

Fancy Rose & Peach is a white tea mixed with peaches and rose petals. This tea looks and smells quite fancy. The leaves are beautiful! The white tea is light green and the rose petals are a soft pink. The leaves smell like mild white tea, fragrant rose petals, sweet peaches, and a hint of vanilla. I love all these flavors so this tea smelled lovely to me.

I steeped 1 teaspoon of leaves in one cup of water at 180F. I let the leaves steep for about 4 minutes. The tea smells mellowly sweet with a dash of perfume from the rose petals. There was also a grassy aroma to the leaves. The flavor is unique and a great change from plain green tea. The peach flavor is light, making the green tea the star (as it should be). The rose petals add a romantic element to the tea. If you are a fan of rose water, then you’ll love this blend.

I also ended up brewing a big pitcher of iced tea! This blend makes a wonderful iced tea. I brewed 4 teaspoons in 3 1/4 cups of water at 180F. I added 3 teaspoons of honey and then let the leaves steep for 15-20 minutes. After straining the leaves and letting the tea cool off, I stuck it in the fridge to cool. When cool, the rose flavor seems to stand out even more. The honey brings out the peachy notes. It’s a perfect beverage for summer afternoons.

— To purchase Craft of Tea Fancy Rose & Peach, 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: Alexa Alexa
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Review: Origin Tea 2005 CNNP QiaoMu GuShu Raw Pu’er Cake

Origin Tea, Pu'er Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It's good now, but in a few years it could be really great."
Katie’s Teaview: 8/10
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originpuergushOrigin Tea is a small company based out of Taipei, Taiwan, and it specialises in having a few high quality teas on hand. This raw puerh was held in “natural Taiwan storage”. I decide to gongfu the entire sample (13 grams or so) in my 11 ounce yixing.

After a quick rinse, I steep with boiling water for 30 seconds. The liquor is a beautiful dark red, and the flavour has the telltale sharp astringency of a raw puerh, but you can tell it’s been mellowed somewhat by age. The flavour is smoky and roasted, mildly malty with a sharp berry fruitiness. It definitely hits the higher notes of a puerh, lacking any real earthiness or robustness, but despite the ‘wild’ flavour to this tea, it’s got a smooth, smoky finish.

I steep my second infusion for 30 seconds, and I get a cup that’s bright and acidic but not really bitter or harsh aside from a mild, balanced astringency. There are notes of berry and smokiness, almost like a mild lapsang souchong or a quality Keemun. Steep three is the best one yet since the astringency is starting to mellow but the flavour is still very strong.

I get a total of nine steeps before the leaves peter out. Overall, it’s a good tea, but I feel like it would mellow and mature with a bit more ageing. It’s good now, but in a few years it could be really great.

— To purchase Origin Tea 2005 CNNP QiaoMu GuShu Raw Pu’er Cake, 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: Aap Ki Pasand Fine Darjeeling Dark Roast

Aap Ki Pasand, Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is a very nice Darjeeling, with lots of flowery muscatel notes. It’s not the most sophisticated tea I’ve had but certainly an enjoyable cup for everyday use."
Sophie’s Teaview: 7.8/10
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aapkipassandlogoThis is my first time trying a tea from this company. Browsing through their website, I wish there was more emphasis on the features of their teas versus labelling them by the colour of their cloth bags. This particular offering is available in “deep brown velvet packaging”. Like a dutiful boyfriend, it promises to deliver chocolate and flowers. The choppy-looking leaves are a rich shade of chocolate brown. They don’t have much of a scent as far as I can tell, just a hint of grass.

I brew a level teaspoonful into 250ml of freshly boiled water for 3 minutes. As I pour the water, a lovely muscatel scent wafts from the leaves. The dark coppery cup features some soft malt, toasted bread and flower notes. There is also a tinge of cocoa, muscatel and crisp celery. The overall effect is quite balanced and smooth, without any acidity or roughness.

I re-brew the leaves again for 3 and a half minutes. The taste and feel are a little more rugged this time, mint and burnt bread flavours leading the way. The cup gets smoother as it cools, malt notes becoming more prominent. It’s really a decent second steep, especially as far as black teas are concerned.

I try a last attempt, following a 4 and a half minute long infusion. It’s quite bland. Really I should have quit while I was ahead. There are some malt notes, with vegetal undertones, but not much else. On the plus side, the results are still completely smooth.

This is a very nice Darjeeling, with lots of flowery muscatel notes. It features a good amount of natural sweetness. I found no milk or sugar were necessary. It’s also very cheap. It’s not the most sophisticated tea I’ve had but certainly an enjoyable cup for everyday use. The fancy cloth bag would also make this a good choice for a gift.

— To purchase Aap Ki Pasand Fine Darjeeling Dark Roast, 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: Lalani & Co 2nd Flush Himalayan Imperial Black

Black Tea, Lalani and Co No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is an easy drinking tea with just a hint of dryness at the end of each sip. And the flavor. Oh my! "
Shaiha’s Teaview: 8.2/10
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lalanihimimperialblackToday I am in for a real treat in that I get to sample a tea from Lalani & Co. They are a family ran company that specializes in single batch teas. They don’t have a large catalog but it changes frequently as they sell out of the batches.

The leaves of this tea are a dark charcoal black with a spicy, sweet aroma. I set up the leaves to brew using boiling water and a steep time of two minutes. The resulting liquor is a rich reddish brown with a malty fragrance that has a touch of cocoa.

This is an easy drinking tea with just a hint of dryness at the end of each sip. And the flavor. Oh my! It’s almost like drinking a cup of rich hot cocoa without all the calories. Along with the dark chocolate, there is bit of malt that works perfectly to cut the sweetness. Pure decadence. My only regret is that this batch is sold out so learn from my mistake and if you find one you like, snag it immediately.

— To purchase Lalani & Co 2nd Flush Himalayan Imperial Black, 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: Tea Drops Cardamom Spice

Black Tea, Cardamom Tea, Cinnamon Tea, Ginger Tea, Tea Drops, Vanilla Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The cardamom is strong, as it should be, but it doesn't overpower the black tea, and the sweetness is surprisingly well balanced."
Katie’s Teaview: 7/10
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teadropscardspiceTea Drops is a niche company, specialising in one product: A nugget of ground tea and sweetener that you throw in with water, stir, and drink. No mess, no fuss. Like a dish detergent or laundry pod that you don’t have to measure, it’s unbelievably easy to use and comes in a few different flavours. They’re perfect for travelling, somewhere you don’t have access to steepng equipment (like work), or for the supremely lazy. They’ve definitely sold me on the concept of Tea Drops before I’ve even tried one, so the big question is whether they taste good enough to make them a great product or if the flavour means they aren’t worth it.

I toss my flower-shaped drop into a cup then pour in hot water. The drop dissolves instantly, and I find I don’t even need to give it a token stir for it to be ready to drink. The liquor is an opaque, murky brown, not exactly pretty, but not a surprise either.

The scent is an appealing sweet and spicy, and the flavour matches. The cardamom is strong, as it should be, but it doesn’t overpower the black tea. The sweetness is surprisingly well balanced, and the fact that they don’t overdo it is a huge plus for me. The cup has the bitterness and astringency of a CTC-style leaf, not too strong, but balanced by the added sweetener. It benefits from a splash of milk, but it’s not necessary. I’m actually a little surprised by how smooth the cup is. Top of the line leaves, when ground into powder and whisked like a matcha, give you an extremely smooth cup, but if you prepared a very low grade leaf this way, it would be basically inedible. This falls somewhere in the middle, not devoid of harshness, but not overly bracing, either.

One big downside is that there ends up being quite a bit of sediment in the bottom of the cup, rendering the last sips undrinkable. There also aren’t many flavours available on the site, but I imagine that will change with time. Finally, unsurprisingly, the price per cup is high, not unfairly so, but higher than I tend to pay for my teas. But as the occasional splurge for desperate situations, like when you’re travelling, it’s a great idea.

— To purchase Tea Drops Cardamom Spice, 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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