Review: American Tea Room Big Red Robe Oolong

American Tea Room, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavor of this tea is certainly woodsy and roasted, and it is exactly what I crave in an oolong. "
Vanessa’s Teaview: 8.8/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 9.2/10, Geoff gave it 7.3/10, Sophie gave it 7.8/10, Jamie gave it 9/10, Troy gave it 8/10, Chelsy gave it 7.9/10, Lynn gave it 8/10, Raven gave it 8.3/10, Katie gave it 8.2/10
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americanbigredrobeoolongAmerican Tea Room describes their Big Red Robe as “a heavily fermented oolong with lush twisted long dark roasted leaves that create a woodsy and deep lasting flavor”. A nutshell description of this tea is, for the most part, pretty much captured in the ATR description. The appearance of this tea lets you know right away that you are not dealing with your everyday average oolong. In lieu of the typical emerald green nuggets, these leaves are long and loosely curled up, with a dark brown color. In terms of volume, this tea’s leaves are much fuller than those of a typical black tea, but in terms of color, this tea’s leaves are just a shade lighter than black tea leaves. The flavor of this tea is certainly woodsy and roasted, and it is exactly what I crave in an oolong. I am not always sold on the flowery nature of Ti Guan Yins and other oolongs that can be just a bit too heavy on the floral scent and/or flavor. I much prefer oolongs like ATR’s Big Red Robe, which offers a mellower, albeit weaker, flavor. Although I did love (and very much so) the general flavor profile of this tea, I did note that the flavor was a little thin. With many oolongs, a very little volume of leaves typically goes a long way, but with this one, I found that more leaves are necessary to avoid a diluted flavor effect. I was able to get a decent second infusion out of my leaves. The second infusion was comparable in flavor, although a bit gentler in strength. This tea is more along the lines of the smoky/earthy oolongs that I love, so this was undoubtedly a big hit with me. I would recommend this oolong to anyone. Those that like toasty oolongs will be satisfied with the quality of this tea, while those that typically prefer floral oolongs may find themselves pleasantly surprised at what this tea has to offer.

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Teaviews Member: Vanessa Vanessa Reviewer
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Review: Tiger Spring Real Earl Grey

Bergamot Tea, Black Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Tiger Spring Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"The bergamot oil used is very zesty, verging towards the bitter, giving the tea a dry, bitter aftertaste reminiscent of juniper berries or under-ripe grapefruits."
Sophie’s Teaview: 5.8/10
Other Teaviews: Chelsy gave it 8.3/10, Jamie gave it 6/10, Geoff gave it 6.7/10
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tigerspringrealearlgreyThis is my first time sampling something from the British Tiger Spring. They are touting this tea of Chinese origin as being more traditionally made. It has been flavoured with authentic bergamot oil in a drum, rather than through a more modern process using synthetic products. The tea is said to have a more citrusy nose to it as a result.

The scent of the bergamot is relatively subdued but flaunting a peppery bite to it that many other Earl Greys don’t have. The tea leaves are unevenly oxidized, ranging from a pale tan colour to a deep charcoal. The purple mallow petals interspersed amongst the leaves add an element of visual appeal to the blend. Using the brewing instructions provided on the website, I steeped one heaping teaspoon of leaves in boiling water for 4 minutes. The walnut-coloured cup has an overall fainter scent than the dried leaves. Surprisingly, the biscuity aroma of the tea takes over that of the bergamot oil. In terms of flavour, the tea base is of good quality, sturdy against the strong, citrusy notes of the bergamot, but the two seem to be fighting each other rather than forming a harmonious blend. The tea’s sweetness I detected in the aroma is nowhere to be found in the taste. The oil used in this case is very zesty, verging towards the bitter, being reminiscent of juniper berries or under-ripe grapefruits. This tea is on the stout side and can definitely take milk and sugar. You may indeed want to add a little something to tone down the dry, astringent finish of the bergamot. The leaves can be pushed through another 4 minute infusion to yield an acceptable second cup. The flavour of the tea is more subdued now, revealing the bergamot oil in all it’s glory, its acrid grapefruit-like notes intensely engaging the back of the tongue. Experimenting with more water and/or fewer leaves does tone down the presence of the oil, but that just makes for a weak tasting, unexciting Earl Grey.

This product evidently has a decent standard of quality. Those who like their Earl Greys on the zesty side may be interested to try this offering, especially since the 250g format is currently 20% off at the time of writing. Perhaps I’ve been corrupted by too many years of drinking cheap, synthetically flavoured Earl Greys but the unpleasantly lingering aftertaste of the bergamot oil used seemed too much like the bitter pith and not enough like the juicy flesh of the fruit. Although it is drinkable, all in all, it didn’t totally rock my world.

— To purchase Tiger Spring Real Earl Grey, 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 Reviewer
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Review: Tea Spree Almond Rooibos

Almond Tea, Rooibos Tea No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"What is really special about Tea Spree, in my opinion, is that the product doesn't merely get handled and packaged with care, effort and fun. It's also dead delicious."
Jamie’s Teaview: 10/10
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teaspreelogoI’ve got to admit, the Tea Spree website is pretty cute. I generally can’t stand musical websites. You know the kind where you go to the page and then nearly fall out of your chair or startle to the ceiling when some crazy music starts blaring out at you? Well, the Tea Spree website features music, sort of mellow and beachy and a little whimsical…maybe even a little weird, depending on how you feel about this sort of thing. Not exactly tea like, but somehow, it really worked well. I would definitely say it’s a whimsical website. Enjoyable, with or without music. The reason that the whimsicality works so well is that all of the packaging that Tea Spree has worked on also features this whimsical quality – the tea bags are silken pyramids with a little cord attached. The little silken bag is then further packaged in a pyramid shaped wax lined paper “pouchlet”. The attractive (and even a little precious) presentation calls out to be a wedding favor, a special thank you, a gift for a mom or sister or hostess or yourself. It’s cute and makes you smile, but also manages chic and classy.

Packaging, like musical websites, are not typically my greatest area of interest, so that I’m swayed is surprising even to me. (I got the impression that these teas are generally served in upscale hotels and in the hospitality world, so presentation would have obvious importance). What is really special about Tea Spree, in my opinion, is that the product doesn’t merely get handled and packaged with care, effort and fun. It’s also dead delicious. I loved this almond rooibos offering. It was superb! In fact, if I could fault it for anything, it would be that the blend isn’t offered loose in a tin. Even a cute, pyramid shaped tin or box.

The blend is simple. The ingredients are as follows: organic rooibos, almond, solomon’s seal, and almond essential oil. The solomon’s seal was a surprising addition to me, since I’ve only previously enjoyed it as a beautiful part of my garden, but I found that it is described as having a nutty flavor and is an ingredient in some other tea offerings I noted online as well. What this scant teaspoon of almond infused rooibos does in hot water is just wonderful. I steeped for six minutes in my travel mug and had a lovely, rooibos colored brew waiting for me. The taste surprised me. I found the almond really delicious. Very mellow, warming, sweet and with a more toasted almond taste than the sort of almond you might expect from an extract, which pleased my taste buds enormously. Even toasted isn’t exactly the taste descriptor I’m looking for. It was a sweet, mellow, eminently drinkable, hushed sort of almond flavor. The nuttiness came across, to be sure, but also I found this blend to be rich and buttery and just wonderfully right in the sweetness department, especially with a couple of drops of liquid stevia added. I also should mention that this tea bag was very sturdy in strength. My travel mug holds 12 ounces and the bag handled this very well. I was a little concerned when I poured, having meant to just pour eight ounces, hence I allowed a bit longer steep. But I shouldn’t have worried.

This, truly, is an excellent cup of dessert rooibos. Perfect choice for evenings, and would be a mood saver on a dark winter afternoon. Or a rainy day. Or any day! I would love to see this rooibos blend offered in a clever and attractive tin as a loose leaf alongside the sweet and whimsical, somehow tropical packaging currently offered. As a gift idea, this is well worth checking out. The teas are offered on their own or in assorted packages so the recipient, be it yourself or a special person you have in mind, can enjoy multiple offerings. If the others offered are as good as this singularly delightful almond rooibos, there should be no room for disappointment.

— To purchase Tea Spree Almond Rooibos, 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: Jamie Jamie Reviewer
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Review: KTeas China Rose

Black Tea, KTeas, Rose Tea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"China Rose is a gentle tasting tea. The roses give it a natural sweetness and the tea base is well suited to this tea with no rough edges to smooth away."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 7/10
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kteaslogoIt seems as though it is the season for summer colds and everyone around here besides myself has succumbed to the virus. So needless to say, I have been the one making Nyquil runs. So now that I have everyone settled, it is my time to relax. I wanted a tea that would take me away from all the sniffling. When I opened my sample of KTeas’ China Rose, I just knew that I had my prescription for relaxation.

The leaves in my sample appear to be a typical black tea, a deep blackish brown, thin and wiry. They do appear to be a higher quality then a lot of flavored teas and there aren’t any broken leaves within. There are a few bits and pieces of rosebuds scattered amidst the leaves. The aroma of the dry sample is sweetly floral but not really rose scented. It is just a pleasant floral scent that I wouldn’t mind using as an incense.

I brewed up a four cup pot using one tablespoon of tea and a water temp. of 210 degrees. I let it steep for three minutes. The resulting liquor is a golden brown in color with not a lot of aroma. I can catch just a hint of roses here and there.

China Rose is a gentle tasting tea. The roses give it a natural sweetness and the tea base is well suited to this tea with no rough edges to smooth away. This is a tea that I would sip when I am curled up with a good book and just want to relax. Would I purchase this tea? Sure, especially if I was already planning on picking up some other teas from KTeas. And right now they are having a sale on this blend and several others as they are trying to clear them out to make room for some new packaging.

— To purchase KTeas China Rose, 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 Reviewer
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Review: Drink the Leaf Clouds and Mist

Drink the Leaf, Green Tea, Mao Feng Tea, Wu Yi Tea No Comments »
Troy’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Buttery Vegetable flavor from a good green tea."
Troy’s Teaview: 7/10
Other Teaviews: Raven gave it 6.4/10, Chelsy gave it 8.7/10, Geoff gave it 4.1/10, Sophie gave it 8.1/10, Katie gave it 6.6/10, CJ gave it 9/10, Christopher gave it 8/10, Samantha gave it 8/10
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drinkleafcloudsmistTea always manages to astound me, that you can get something tasting of beautifully of fresh leaves and green vegetables with one type of processing, and something strong, black and rich with another bottles the mind, my mind is bottled. Little dusky dark green leaves unfurl to a rich dark green and release a pale yellow liqueur which tastes beautifully of boiled and buttered artichokes, and smells a bit of steaming freshly cooked spinach.

Sometimes you need sweet, but often you need rich, delightfully bitter vegetables, no mater how many knee jerk revulsion’s you experience from childhood bitter is a perfectly valid part of the flavor spectrum, and though this tea doesn’t overly exemplify it, it does frame it rather well. Its not strong, it doesn’t assault the tongue, it just sort of falls on a cushion of buttery velvet and work its way about from there. Its a very tasty leaf and I’d recommend it as a decent daily drinker.

— To purchase Drink the Leaf Clouds and Mist, 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: Troy Troy Reviewer
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Review: DoMatcha Ceremonial Matcha

DoMatcha, Green Tea, Matcha Tea No Comments »
K’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The most standout aspect for me is clearly the lingering sweet finish."
K’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Lynn gave it 8/10, Jamie gave it 9/10, Vanessa gave it 8/10
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domatchacanWhile I have made matcha in a variety of bowls and cups, I only recently acquired my first handmade, entirely unique chawan. The only matcha I had on hand was getting old and very difficult to whisk, so I have been aching for the day when I could finally make a respectable matcha in a respectable vessel. Unfortunately, my not-especially-respectable tea budget for several months went towards said chawan and, since I was on Etsy anyway, several other tea apparatuses. I should really stop visiting that site.

But at last the time has come. I have completed the tea, chawan, whisk trifecta, and I am so very excited. The matcha itself comes in a crazy-adorable tin with a pop-tab-type lid. I almost can’t bring myself to crack it open. At about $25 for 30 grams, this is priced right in the matcha middle. It isn’t expensive enough that I expect perfection, but it’s well above your cooking-grade tea. I also appreciate that DoMatcha has a second flush, less expensive matcha, so you know they aren’t trying to pass the lesser quality off as the premium stuff. While on the surface it may seem pricey, I learned very quickly that cheap matcha will sit on my cupboard going stale while with every sip of the good stuff I’ll think, “So worth it.” This is quality stuff, and though it is also available in an organic version, today I’m sampling the original flavour.

Now to see if it’s worth it. I’m not exactly optimistic at the start. All the ‘health information’ they provide paired with the North American-style website and the fact that they appear to be based out of Vancouver make me worry that the tea is more gimicky than quality. Once I open the tea, the sweet, bold scent of the matcha is prominent. It is somewhat lumpy, and I am finicky, but I am easily able to sift it to get a beautiful, vibrant green powder.

The tea whisks up into a nice froth easily enough, and despite it sitting for several minutes from the preparation to the last sip, few bubbles managed to escape before I had the chance to drink them. The tea smells sweet and robust. It has an excellent mouthfeel and an overall smoothness. The tea has a very brothy/soupy texture and is sweetly vegetal. It is a delightful cup overall.

The most standout aspect for me is clearly the lingering sweet finish. I was unable to eat much of anything for some time after finishing my chawan of tea because all my food tasted mediocre underneathe the delightful aftertaste that lingered on my tongue. The memory remained distinctly at the front of my mind for hours, making me crave another cup.

It is hard to find a decent tea from Canadian companies, let alone a quality matcha, which is another reason I find myself surprised at how much I enjoyed this tea. I am quite pleased and excited for my next cup. It is certainly a matcha I would happily purchase again and proudly offer to anyone who wanted to drink it, experienced tea drinkers and matcha virgins alike.

— To purchase DoMatcha Ceremonial Matcha, 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: K K Reviewer
» Read more about this reviewer on K's profile page.
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