Review: JING Ali Shan Oolong

JING Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Daniel’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"Each infusion was so close to the ideal. Perhaps I initially mishandled the tea, setting up future brews for failure. Perhaps the tea was of a season's past and lost many of its subtleties. But I find it hard to believe the inherited qualities of the tea itself were the issue..."
Daniel’s Teaview: 6.9/10
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jingalishanJing Tea has seemed to have earned a sturdy and commendable reputation over the years, and I always look forward to my next go-round with any one of their teas. Better yet, I was able to sample one of my favorites: the addicting, Taiwenese oolong from the Alishan Mountain Range.

From first exposure, Jing’s very own Ali Shan is inviting, with tightly rolled leaves emanating an intoxicatingly sweet, floral, and especially creamy bouquet. The aroma is simply spot on with a desirable Ali Shan, and the compressed leaves promise multiple infusions with a similar flavor profile.

Sadly, the aroma is depressingly misleading, though I feel obliged to note immediately that the disappointment of the tea is probably primarily (if not entirely) due to the age and simple packaging of my particular sample. It is as a result difficult to assign in confidence a reliable rating and review to a respectable vendor’s surprisingly lackluster product.

Whatever the culprit, Jing’s Ali Shan is much more mineraly than expected and not so lush and saccharine. Without a doubt, the tea still holds strong orchid notes, but this is in spite of a plainer, almost thinner brew than that of a leading Ali Shan. There is still some sweetness as well – almost that of vanilla – that can be enjoyed for the first three or four infusions with a gongfu brewing method. But infusions had to be long, thus disintegrating any chance for a long-lasting session and crowding out the best of high elevation, Taiwanese oolongs in favor of a harsher and less complex liquor.

Each infusion was so close to the ideal. Perhaps I initially mishandled the tea, setting up future brews for failure. Perhaps the tea was of a season’s past and lost many of its subtleties. But I find it hard to believe the inherited qualities of the tea itself were the issue, primarily because of the quintessential aroma and secondly because of my consistent and repeated satisfaction with Jing. Despite the relatively average rating assigned, I hope for both the sake of buyers and those at Jing Tea that I’m wrong on this one. Honestly, there’s a strong likelihood that I am.

— To purchase JING Ali Shan 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: Daniel Daniel
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Review: Terrace Bloom Blooming Jasmine

Green Tea, Jasmine Tea, Terrace Bloom No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"It's not a particularly mild or subtle jasmine tea, but it's delicious."
Katie’s Teaview: 6.9/10
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terracebloomjasmineTerrace Bloom is a company specializing in privately sourced teas from Yunnan, China. They are brand spanking new, so as of this review, they only have three teas available, all of which I got the chance to sample. The first thing I noticed about their teas is that the person in charge of packaging and marketing materials is amazing. My sample bags arrived in clear bags, tucked into the most beautiful pouches made of flowers pressed in pulp paper. I love the logo and the packaging, and everything looks very professional.

I was warned ahead of time that the “blooming” in the name of this tea doesn’t denote a literal flowering tea, but just a signature jasmine blend, so I’m not surprised when I see the bags full of big leaves and bits of flowers. I brew one bag in 6 ounces of 185° water for three minutes.

The green base is robust, blended with a strong jasmine scent and flavour. This isn’t a delicate, sweet jasmine, and there’s a strong, though not unpleasant, bitterness. It’s not a particularly mild or subtle jasmine tea, but it’s delicious.

I steep again for one minute and get a cup that’s much milder, though still flavourful. It’s less bitter, and more aromatic than flavourful, and overall I’d say I enjoy it better. The first steep is good, but the second one is great. It’s actually kind of nice to get one rich infusion and one tame one from the same teabag.

Since this tea comes in silken pyramid infusers, unsurprisingly, it’s a bit expensive per cup. But I enjoy having some bagged teas around, so this would be worth keeping around. Besides, Terrace Bloom promises that eventually they’ll expand in to loose leaf teas.

— To purchase Terrace Bloom Blooming Jasmine, 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 Whistling Tea Kettle Snowflake

Almond Tea, Black Tea, Cinnamon Tea, Coconut Tea, The Whistling Kettle No Comments »
Melanie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I figure since I have craved this tea ever since I tasted it, I ought to give it a high rating."
Melanie’s Teaview: 9/10
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whistlingkettlesnowflakeI checked out The Whistling Tea Kettle’s website before choosing to review a few of their teas. It’s a wonderful website with lots of tea options, Tea Ware and even a Tea of the Month club!

When I chose Snowflake, I knew that I generally like teas with almond, teas with coconut and teas with cinnamon. But I couldn’t quite imagine what these 3 flavors would be like together.

The sample packets were quite large so I was able to have several cups of tea. I usually have one cup, form my opinions, have a second cup and begin writing the review in my head. If I made a mistake in brewing I like to make sure I have a third cup before writing the review. And I like to spread those cups out over time to make sure I’m not just influenced by a nice sample.

Well, in this case, I drank my sample up in 3 days!! After the first cup, I craved another cup so much I couldn’t resist and brewed up a second cup that day. I forced myself to wait, but I continued to crave this tea! It was delicious!!

It was a nice dark tea, with little bits of coconut sprinkled throughout. It had a wonderful nutty scent. I used one teaspoon in my tea strainer. I brought fresh cold water just to boil and then I steeped it for 5 minutes. This was perfect!

It looks light, not heavy, but I found that it took milk wonderfully! It had a naturally sweet flavor which made it a perfect afternoon treat or dessert tea. The coconut flavor actually takes a backseat to the almond and cinnamon, which I liked. The cinnamon was not very strong, but I was amazed at how well it blended in with the other two flavors.

I’m not sure why it’s called snowflake as it doesn’t conjure up winter flavors for me. I tend to prefer certain teas in certain seasons. This was much more like coconut almond flan that I might make in the fall. I say that because it blends a taste of summer with a taste of fall. But a name is not really important. The flavor is and I loved the flavor of this tea.

I figure since I have craved this tea ever since I tasted it, I ought to give it a high rating. If you like dessert teas, and enjoy nut flavors, I would encourage you to try this tea. I think you’ll be as surprised as I was at what a great experience it is!

— To purchase The Whistling Tea Kettle Snowflake, 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: Safrante Saffron Tea

Black Tea, Saffron Tea, Safrante Tea No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The base tea is brilliant; it's bold and rich, standing up beautifully to the distinct flavour of the added saffron."
Katie’s Teaview: 8/10
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saffrantelogoIf you don’t know what saffron tastes like, it’s hard to describe, and it’s the sort of complex taste that people tend to describe and experience differently. I’d say it tastes umami and floral and almost musty and it’s delicious and really expensive, so I don’t get to often taste it, so the idea of tea makes me really happy. After steeping one bag at 195 degrees for 3 minutes, I get a bright orange-red cup that smells brilliantly of saffron and rich black tea. The cup is smoother than I expected, only picking up a bit of bitterness from the base tea. The base tea is brilliant; it’s bold and rich, standing up beautifully to the distinct flavour of the added saffron.

It’s a good balance of the tea and saffron, and it’s a bold flavour overall but not harsh. Very satisfying and exactly what I hoped for out of this blend. I’ve had two saffron-focused tea blends before: One was a black tea and saffron blend from a different company, and it was pretty tasty but not particularly memorable. The other, from this company, was a green tea and saffron blend, and I found it somewhat disappointing. I’m happy to say that this blend surpasses both the others.

It’s unique and delicious, and I’m not entirely sure how to buy it, since it’s not even listed on the website. Or something I can find on Amazon. And that about covers my ability to find things to buy on the Internet, so I gave up already. I’ll enjoy the rest of my sample, and it’s the sort of thing that if I saw it on a grocery store shelf, I’d definitely pick up a box.

— To purchase Safrante Saffron 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: Dachi Tea No. 9 Emerald Alpine

Dachi Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
CJ’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"A good, basic, Alishan, if there is such a thing."
CJ’s Teaview: 6/10
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dachitealogoEmerald Alpine is one of Dachi Tea Co’s. Alishan (high mountain) oolongs. Dealing only in Taiwanese teas, Dachi does non-Mandarin speaking tea lovers a favor by giving English names and numbers to their teas.

Sure, I enjoy looking up the meanings of Chinese words and characters. I have learned a lot doing so. But an Alishan from one tea company can be vastly different from another. Add that fact to the variations that occur between teas harvested in Spring verses Fall, varying weather conditions and processing methods, and you get a hundred different lightly oxidized teas all referred to by the Chinese word, “Alishan.” It can get confusing.

All Alishan processing requires constant monitoring to get the right amount of oxidization, and thus, flavor.   Any mistake ruins an entire batch of leaves. Thus, they all get my respect.

Still, I have my favorites, and this isn’t one of them. It is a high-quality batch, promoted by Dachi as having notes of buttered toast, magnolia, and sugarcane. The scent of the leaves, indeed, was buttery and sweet.

For me, the taste of the first brew was tangier than the aroma suggested. I tasted pineapple, and some floral undertones. The finish was nice and dry.

The second infusion also had a nice astringency. I like a tea with such a bite. But the other flavors are too subdued to make this a really stasfying cup. I rate it a 6.

— To purchase Dachi Tea No. 9 Emerald Alpine, 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: The Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Co. Blood Orange Black Tea

Black Tea, Blood Orange Tea, Orange Peel Tea, Orange Tea, Safflower Tea No Comments »
Alexa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The water temperature for this tea is extremely important to get right - but when it is right, the tea is sweet, smooth, and heavenly! "
Alexa’s Teaview: 8.9/10
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kentsussexbloodorangeKent & Sussex is a British company, providing high quality tea and coffee. I think they have a great website, allowing you to find teas from certain places around the world. They also have a way for you to find tea according to health benefits. Their Blood Orange Black Tea looked like a very good blend to me. The second I opened the bag, I smelled a lovely, citrusy aroma. Consisting of Ceylon, orange peel, and red safflowers, the leaves smell strongly of oranges. The tea leaves are also very stunning with the contrasting Ceylon and red safflowers.

I steeped 1 teaspoon of leaves in one cup of water for 4 minutes. The water temperature for this tea is extremely important to get right. I had one cup made with boiling water that was more bitter and astringent. I had another cup with slightly cooler water that was sweet, smooth, and heavenly. Make sure the water you use is hot, but not quite boiling (around 200F).

This black tea is amongst the smoother blends I’ve had. It’s got the traditional astringency of a black tea with a hint of sweetness from the blood orange peel. It almost reminds me of eating a chocolate orange. I’ve had a cup of this tea everyday since I got it and I’ve yet to become tired of it. The blood orange flavor is just so refreshing and warming mixed with the Ceylon. I think this is a perfect breakfast tea or an early afternoon pick-me-up.

Along with the lovely flavor, there are some potential health benefits. The tea has red safflower which can help soothe nerves and can help strengthen your immune system. The Ceylon contains some caffeine that will help energize you as you start your day. All in all, I would say this is a delicious, high quality Ceylon. I highly recommend it.

— To purchase The Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Co. Blood Orange 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: Alexa Alexa
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