Review: The Whistling Kettle Scottish Caramel Puerh

Almond Tea, Butterscotch Tea, Caramel Tea, The Whistling Kettle No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"The add-ins are great, but the base tea is just OK."
Katie’s Teaview: 6.9/10
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whistlingketcaramelThe leaves of this blend are a dusty brown, mid-sized, curled. There’s some bites of dried almonds and whatnot, and it smells amazing. I brew a teaspoon with boiling water for four minutes and get a rich amber-brown liquor that smells mildly sweet with the rich fishy/earthy scent of the puerh.

At first the tea is disappointing. The caramel is mostly in the aftertaste. It’s a brilliantly sweet, nutty aftertaste, but at first it’s the only really delicious part of the tea. But as I sip, the sweetness grows, building on itself into something more obviously sweet and much more pleasant. So in the end the caramel toffee flavour is there, and that helps a lot, but that brings me to the base tea.

It isn’t a bad base tea, but it isn’t great. Maybe it’s just personal preference, but I expected a smooth, mild base puerh. But while it’s got a pleasant earthiness, it’s surprisingly acidic and not particularly smooth. When I think about caramel toffee, I think smooth and sweet, and this cup only has half of that down. I steep again and get a milder cup, though very similar to the first.

In short, the add-ins are great, but the base tea is just OK. I wasn’t in love with this tea, but I got a few samples from The Whistling Kettle, and this was my least favourite. I found the other teas I tried more enjoyable, so even though this wasn’t a great sample, I’m not turned off of this company.

— To purchase The Whistling Kettle Scottish Caramel Puerh, 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: Lochan Tea Doke Black Fusion – 2nd flush 2015

Assam Tea, Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Lochan Tea, Organic Tea No Comments »
MaryAnn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Doke Black Fusion gets its name from the unique joining of Assam tea stock grown in a Darjeeling climate. This is a complex tea. It is probably smarter than I am, yet comforting in an edgy way."
MaryAnn’s Teaview: 8.2/10
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LoochandokeblackHow exciting to receive samples of Lochan Tea’s 2015 products. Although Lochan also serves as a wholesale of other fine Indian teas, I follow the development of the handmade teas from their own organic gardens in Bihar with great interest.
Doke Black Fusion gets its name from the unique joining of Assam tea stock grown in a Darjeeling climate.
Dry leaves: medium sized in general with variation, wiry, tightly hand rolled, very dark in color. Rich complex earthy smell.
Infusion: Mild tannin aroma in addition to earthy, musky smell first noticed in dry leaves. Leaves do not unfold with first infusion due to tight rolling. Second infusion leaves unfurl but my experience is less complex aroma and taste.
Liquor: Amber color. Sweet aroma, some traces of rose, reminds me of a dark oolong. Sweet taste mixed with buttery, slightly bitter and malty, mild astringency. Tastes notes bounce around the mouth in lively fashion – hitting back, mid, and front of tongue before settling contentedly at back of the mouth.
This is a complex tea. It is probably smarter than I am, yet comforting in an edgy way.

— To purchase Lochan Tea Doke Black Fusion – 2nd flush 2015, 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: MaryAnn MaryAnn
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Review: California Tea House Chunky Cherry

California Tea House, Cherry Tea, Green Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"Despite this being somewhat simple, it does deliver on the flavour it says it will, and it's even a realistic cherry taste. "
Katie’s Teaview: 6.3/10
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californiachunkycherryI love cherry green teas. In recent years, I haven’t been sampling as many flavoured teas as I once did, but cherry teas are one of the first teas I fell in love with, so they hold a special place in my heart. They are so perfect when done right, but, whether it’s from using too cheap a base tea or too fake a cherry flavouring, they’re also extremely easy to get wrong.

The dry leaves are a beautiful forest green colour, but after steeping, they turn a definite shade of brown. The liquor is a disappointing red-brown colour that smells very mildly fruity. I’m not expecting much, but I’m pleasantly surprised.

It’s distinctly cherry with the bitterness of the green base tea serving to offset the sweetness of the fruit rather nicely. Cherry teas often have a floral component, cherry blossom or rose usually, and now I see why. It adds a nice level of depth that this blend seems to be lacking. It has a few token rose petals, but I can’t taste their floral flavour at all. Still, despite this being somewhat simple, it does deliver on the flavour it says it will, and it’s even a realistic cherry taste.

So why didn’t I give it a higher score if the flavour is exactly what the flavour should be? Aside from not having much depth or character, it’s just not a great tea experience overall. The flavour is there, but the appearance isn’t, and the aroma is definitely disappointing. It hits some of my targets and doesn’t others, making it an ok blend, but considering some of the amazing cherry teas I’ve had, not one I’d chase after.

— 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Hacienda Sangay Premium Black

Black Tea, Hacienda Sangay Teas No Comments »
Melanie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"There was very little bitterness to it. I would compare it most closely to a ceylon, though I could taste a bit of a berry undertone."
Melanie’s Teaview: 6.5/10
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If you weren’t aware that black tea was grown in Ecuador, you are not alone. As a person who enjoys a pot of black tea every morning, I was excited to try this tea. I don’t think I’ve ever had tea grown in South America.

I can’t tell you very much about the company because the website is in Spanish and I don’t speak or read Spanish well. But I can tell you that this tea is Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified. Rainforest Alliance is “an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods.” They work to conserve wildlife; safeguard soils and waterways; protect workers, their families and local communities; and increase livelihoods in order to achieve true, long-term sustainability.

The tea was a pretty typical looking round teabag. I used 3 teabags in a 4 cup pot and steeped them for 6 minutes. The tea was a nice reddish brown, and it brewed up strong enough to add milk and sugar.

There was very little bitterness to it. I would compare it most closely to a ceylon, though I could taste a bit of a berry undertone. There isn’t any smokiness or maltiness to this tea.

It’s a nice step up from the black tea you buy in a grocery store. I could definitely replace my inexpensive teabags with is tea. And it feels really good to know that the tea you drinking is fair trade and certified by the organization that is dedicated caring for our tropical rainforests.

— To purchase Hacienda Sangay Premium 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: Melanie Melanie
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Review: JING Tea Cassia Oolong

Oolong Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Largely roasted barley with an underlying nuttiness."
Katie’s Teaview: 7.7/10
Your Reviews: 2.5/10
2 reader reviews | Add your review »

jingcassiaoolRoasty oolongs aren’t generally my favourite. They’re great and all, but I find I consistently like jade oolongs better; however, I’ve been trying to branch out and sample more teas out of my comfort zone lately, and this looks amazing. Produced in Fujian, China, this Wuyi oolong’s leaves are twisted, 0.5-1 inch long, and largely a uniform dark brown colour. I brew according to the website’s recommendation: One tablespoon per cup at around 195° for three minutes.

The cup is a beautiful rich brown liquor that smells roasted, nutty, and a hint creamy. The flavour is largely roasted barley with an underlying nuttiness. It’s slightly smoky and the roasted taste gives it a sort of coffee flavour. It has an acidic, citrusy aftertaste and a very dry finish.

I steep again for three minutes and get a lighter brown liquor. It’s smoother than the first steep, lacking the bright acidic aftertaste, but keeping all the character and complexity. I was disappointed to find that by the four-minute third steep, the tea is already starting to fade. The quick fadeout is the only thing I find disappointing in this tea, and it’s something I find happens often with twisted-leaf oolongs. I get a couple more acceptable steeps, but nothing lives up to the first two infusions.

However, for the couple steeps I pulled out proper flavour, this was brilliant. The problem I’m having with JING Tea right now is that their descriptions of their teas are far more descriptive and useful than mine. Sometimes I don’t get the same impression as what the sellers have written, but in this case, I find their tasting notes spot on.

— To purchase JING Tea Cassia 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Tea Cha Tea Ginger and Peach Sencha

Ginger Tea, Green Tea, Peach Tea, Sencha Tea, Tea Cha No Comments »
Melanie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It had a nice balanced flavor of ginger and light undertone of peach."
Melanie’s Teaview: 9/10
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teachagingerpeachIf you’d like to expand your tea tasting experiences, TeaCha has just the thing for you! They offer a 13 month subscription to a full spectrum of international teas! I love the first sentence on their website page “What’s TeaCha?”

“We believe in living curiously, eating naturally, and learning adventurously”

I received a package that is very similar to the monthly subscription with several teas I will be reviewing. The package arrives as a box that, when opened is like a large tea passport! Inside this beautifully designed folder are two packets of each tea – five different teas in all. On the other side, each tea has a corresponding insert.

I love this insert – especially if you are not familiar with the tea you are about to taste. It has the title of the tea (in this case “Ginger & Peach Green Tea”). Then it tells you the tea family (“Green”), the tea type (“Blend”), the antioxidant level (5 of 5), the caffeine index (2 of 5), the preparation time and temperature and lastly, the things this tea goes well with (options include milk, sugar, lemon, honey, plain). This information card makes me so much more willing to try teas I’m not familiar with!

When I opened the bags, at first I was disappointed to find teabags instead of loose leaf. But as I looked closer, I was impressed with the size of the leaves. You don’t usually find tea leaves this large and full in a teabag. Also, the bags were very large allowing the tea to steep well. I actually found it kind of nice not to have to clean up my tea strainer.

I followed the instructions on the card and heated my fresh cold water to 185 degrees. I steeped it for 3 minutes.

It was amazing and so sweet, just as I expect from sencha tea. It had a nice balanced flavor of ginger and light undertone of peach. I also enjoyed the grassy tones of the sencha which just made the peach and ginger taste farm fresh.

I steeped the bags a second time, adding a minute to the steep. Again, it was a delicious cup of tea. Still sweet, though both the peach and ginger were toned down. On the third steep (again adding a minute), the tea was very light, and the peach had all but disappeared, but still and enjoyable cup of tea.

I also brewed some of this tea, let it cool down and put it in the fridge to try as iced tea. It was awesome! The ginger and sencha make such a good pair – sweet and spicy. As I often find with fruity green blends turned into iced tea, the peach was barely noticeable.

I really enjoyed this tea both hot and iced and I’d happily include this among my favorite teas – especially as a spring and summer tea!

— To purchase Tea Cha Tea Ginger and Peach Sencha, 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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