Review: Lalani & Co. Jade Mountain ‘The Honey Special’ Spring 2013

Lalani and Co, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I love the mouthfeel and the aftertaste, but I can't seem to find the brilliance I want from this leaf."
Katie’s Teaview: 7.7/10
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lalanilogoThis company specializes in having a few, fresh, quality teas on hand, and their marketing and packaging give off a very premium vibe. It’s a business model I can get behind as long as the teas are amazing. The first tea I sampled (one of their senchas) from them was in fact amazing, so I look forward to trying another of their world-class teas.

The leaves are beautiful deep green balls. I put 6 grams of the leaf in a preheated 5-ounce glass teapot then steep at 185° for one minute. I get a bright honey gold liquor that is both clear and beautiful. The aroma is nutty, chocolatey, fruity, and sweet. All the lead up to drinking this tea has been wonderful, and I take my first sip with high expectations.

And I’m… Confused. The name of this tea has honey in it, and the most prominent taste I get is chestnut followed closely by apricot. It’s nutty and fruity and barely, mildly sweet. Sweet in a distinctly non-honey way. The thick, oily texture coats the tongue, leaving a lingering roasted taste. It’s an interesting balance of hearty and fruity.

I steep my second infusion for two minutes. It’s equal in quality to the first and very good, but admittedly a darker oolong than I generally prefer. It has a nutty, chocolatey aftertaste. It’s rich and roasted, yet easy to drink.

I add a minute per steep. By my sixth infusion, the cup is getting bland, but I get a total of seven acceptable cups, a satisfactory amount for a tea of this calibre.

I try another infusion with less leaf and more time, and I have my husband do a blind taste test to see if he names honey as a flavour note, but neither attempt really shines. So what’s the verdict? It’s good, very good, but it’s not amazing. I love the mouthfeel and the aftertaste, but I can’t seem to find the brilliance I want from this leaf. I’m especially disappointed by the lack of honey sweetness.

— To purchase Lalani & Co. Jade Mountain ‘The Honey Special’ Spring 2013, 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: Golden Tips Mankota Exotic Assam

Assam Tea, Black Tea, Golden Tips Tea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavor was a true delight though unless I knew in advance, I would have thought that I had stumbled onto a flavorful darjeeling."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 8.6/10
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goldentipslogoI have been horrible about doing up reviews lately as life has been hectic which as I think about it is all the more reason to try out new teas and review them. After all taking the time to truly appreciate a new time is a little oasis of calm. So no more breaks.

I think that I found the perfect tea to lure me back into reviewing. I was dragging slightly this morning so I decided to try out a new black tea. The vendor, Golden Tips, is one that I am rather familiar with as I have been enjoying their teas for years. They have been in business since 1933 and personally I have always found that their customer service to be first rate.

My sample this morning was vacuum packed so I was assured of the freshness. When I opened the packet, I was greeted with fragrance that was both earthy and yeasty. The leaves were a dark brown for the most part though there were a lot of golden ones.

I set them up to brew using boiling water and a steep time of two minutes. The aroma once brewed was a real surprise as it was really fruity with a really strong muscatel to it. A hint of malt but nowhere as a strong as I would expect from an Assam.

The flavor was a true delight though unless I knew in advance, I would have thought that I had stumbled onto a flavorful darjeeling. The cup was smooth with just a touch of astringency. It was fruity rather with just a whisper of malt though it did come through strong as the cup cooled. There was a light fruity aftertaste also.

I would love to keep some of this Assam in my personal stash as a treat in the morning. The pot I made disappeared in record time and I wish that I had more so I could have started on a second pot. Highly recommended for flavor just don’t expect it to have the normal Assam maltiness.

— To purchase Golden Tips Mankota Exotic Assam, 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: Eco Cha Red Jade Black Tea

Black Tea, Eco Cha No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavour has notes of malt, honey, fruit, and a subtle smokiness."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.2/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

ecocharedjadeEco-Cha is a relatively small company specialising in artisanal Taiwan teas. They have a great website, amazing shipping rates, and a plethora of information about every tea. This tea is from Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County, Taiwan, a region deservedly famous for its black teas. The leaves are dark brown in colour with a long and twisted shape.

I brew according to their gong fu directions, filling my teapot 1/2 full and brewing at 195° for 20 seconds. I get a deep amber liquor that smells of malt, fruit, and honey. The flavour has notes of malt, honey, fruit, and a subtle smokiness. There’s even a rarely-found but distinctly noticeable hint of mint. “Gan” is a term popular in Chinese tea tasting, and it refers to a minty flavour as well as sensation. While this is a Taiwanese tea, I feel the need to bust out the word here, since it’s not just a mint flavour, it’s a minty character.

My second, one-minute steep is on par with the first, although it has even more of that amazing gan characteristic. The cup starts to mellow by my 2-minute steep three, but it remains complicated and supremely interesting for the remainder of the infusions, each of which I increase by a minute.

It has an insane amount of depth and character, finished with a brilliant, lingering aftertaste. I don’t tend to keep many black teas on my shelf, but this is one I’d definitely buy.

— To purchase Eco Cha Red Jade 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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Review: California Tea House Chunky Cherry

California Tea House, Cherry Tea, Green Tea, Rose Tea, Sencha Tea No Comments »
Alexa’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"Despite having a strong cherry smell, the flavor is very natural. The slightly astringent sencha and sweet cherry is a good marriage."
Alexa’s Teaview: 6.8/10
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californiachunkycherryChunky Cherry was my first tea experience from California Tea House. This tea company is family owned. They started the company by selling tea in California farmer’s markets. They create small batches of tea to ensure the best quality and fresh ingredients. Their Chunky Cherry is a mix of Japanese Green Sencha, dried cherries, and rose petals. I was also excited to find that their websites lists the health benefits of their teas as well. They explain how green tea helps the mind focus and can lower your risk of heart disease. Green tea also helps regulate blood glucose.

Like most senchas, this green tea smells very grassy. The sweet cherry smells lovely mixed with the floral aroma of the rose petals. I steeped 1 teaspoon in one cup of water for about 3 minutes. As the tea steeped for a few minutes, the cherry aroma grew stronger! It reminded me of a cherry flavored LaffyTaffy.

Despite having a strong cherry smell, the flavor is very natural. The slightly astringent sencha and sweet cherry is a good marriage. The rose petals add a nice floral element, which of course blends nicely with a grassy sencha. The sencha is very mellow and doesn’t leave a bitter aftertaste. I was a tad worried about the cherry and rose flavors mixing together harmoniously. If the two are overly strong, they might not merge well.
The cherry was stronger then the rose so the flavors blended fine.

I tried the tea a second time, steeping longer- closer to 4 or 5 minutes. By allowing the cherries to steep longer, more flavor was extracted. Though still nice and mellow, I enjoyed the stronger cherry taste. As someone who loves cherry and rose flavors, I really enjoyed this tea. The sencha doesn’t quite compare to some I’ve had as of late, but for a blended tea, it was decent quality.

— To purchase California Tea House Chunky Cherry, 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: Baily Tea USA Ginger Ceylon

Baily Tea USA, Ginger Tea No Comments »
Melanie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I didn't just rate this on the first cup. The next day, even with a package full of new teas to taste, all I wanted was another cup of this ginger tea."
Melanie’s Teaview: 8.5/10
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BailyteagingerI was excited to receive generous samples of pure Ceylon Tea from Baily Tea and I have several reviews in process. When I opened my package, I happened to be having a flare of a chronic illness I deal with which causes a lot of stomach problems. Ginger is excellent for an upset stomach, so I immediately put water on to boil to try this Black Ceylon Ginger tea.

Bailey Tea is a family run business and their teas are 100% Ceylon from Sri Lanka. I was intrigued that they have the ability to pack and ship teas within hours of being processed. What a great assurance of freshness.

It was packaged like a typical teabag, but the scent was a delicious fresh ginger scent. I wondered if the ginger would over power the ceylon tea as it can often be a very light flavored black tea.

I steeped it in a mug for 5 min and I really enjoyed the scent of ginger as it brewed. The cup of tea came out nice and dark and the ceylon carried the ginger really well. It was a much stronger cup of tea than I expected, and yet not stiff like an Assam or a blend. The ginger was fairly strong, but ginger can often have quite a spicy kick to it, and this tea is flavorful without taking a bite out of your tongue!

As I often do with black tea, I added a touch of sugar and dash of milk. The tea held up great to milk and sugar and added a nice creaminess to the tea. I really enjoyed the whole cup. My stomach felt better too!

So, all in all, this was a great first cup of tea from Baily Tea. But I didn’t just rate this on the first cup. The next day, even with a package full of new teas to taste, all I wanted was another cup of this ginger tea. I finished my samples off in record time. I would definitely like to have a box of these tea bags around, and I think it would be especially nice in the Autumn and Winter.

If you like ginger, I would definitely recommend this ginger tea!

— To purchase Baily Tea USA Ginger Ceylon, 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: Cameron Tea Assam, Premium Grade

Black Tea, Cameron Tea 1 Comment »
Daniel’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Straight-shooting and emblematic of black teas, Cameron's Assam is no-nonsense, refreshing, and unforgivably bold."
Daniel’s Teaview: 8.4/10
Your Reviews: 10/10
1 reader review | Add your review »

cameronsunmoonlakeMy reviews of Cameron’s collection are well behind the recent barrage of excellent reviews from fellow tea drinkers, so for practical purposes, my praise for the company itself will be concise. Obviously, the team at Cameron Tea knows what it’s doing. Each and every tea from what seems to be a shop directly nestled in Taiwan is demonstrably sui generis. Such stated, Cameron’s Taiwanese selection focuses on classics and, insofar as specific varietals, does not delve far from the norm.

Straight-shooting and emblematic of black teas, Cameron’s Assam is no-nonsense, refreshing, and unforgivably bold. Initially, I found puzzling the name of this tea, given that Assam is actually a region in India, known very well for its production of black tea. But in the early 20th century, the Taiwanese imported to their home state the famous tea, finding Sun Moon Lake (the region in which this tea is found) as the most ideal and reliable region for growing it. This, expectedly, is from where Cameron’s stock of Assam is sourced.

As a tea found in the popular blend English Breakfast, Assam black is robust and minutely astringent. Cameron’s Assam embodies both of these characteristics, and adds to its blend a phenomenally smooth taste and mouthfeel. A slight smokiness is detectable, or perhaps more accurately, a minor woodiness. For a tea so full-bodied, this special Assam is certainly not without an enjoyable sweetness.

Each infusion presents an intricate blend of caramel and subtle creaminess with a smooth and rounded mouthfeel. Notes are subtle, however, and are nothing in comparison to the general boldness of this tea’s brew. In rushes a strong, slightly tannic wave off the end of each sip, which quickly dissipates due to the dryness of the tea. To be sure, every brew of this tea is nothing short of substantive but the dryness does have the potential to give off the perception of a thinner tea.

Interestingly, Cameron’s Assam (both premium and competition) is noticeably sweeter than its Indian counterparts, perhaps due to Taiwan’s favorable climate for lush and thick varieties of essentially any class of tea. Cameron Tea of course must be awarded some of the credit for harboring a superb product.

Comparatively, Cameron’s Assam is among the best of its kind. But an Assam is still a fairly simple tea. For this reason, a rating can only reach so high. Rest assured, for any Assam lover, this is your new favorite buy.

— To purchase Cameron Tea Assam, Premium 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: Daniel Daniel
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