Review: Chai Wallah Spice with Green Tea

Black Pepper Tea, Cardamom Tea, Chai Tea, Chai Wallahs, Cinnamon Tea, Clove Tea, Ginger Tea, Green Tea 1 Comment »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The recipe has a bit too much clove for my tastes."
Katie’s Teaview: 7.1/10
Other Teaviews: Jamie gave it 9/10, Raven gave it 7.8/10, Bryan gave it 7.4/10
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Since this is a green tea Chai, and Chai Wallah emphasizes not boiling the water, I skip the usual stove treatment and steep two teaspoons in 4 ounces of 190° water for 5 minutes. I then stirred in a teaspoon of sweetener and 4 ounces of warm milk. Despite the fact that this blend has a surprising amount of leaf compared to the spice, the liquor is quite pale.

The recipe has a bit too much clove for my tastes, and it lacks the depth of a really great chai mix, but it’s a decent recipe all around. The website clarifies that this recipe uses cardamom as a key ingredient, but it’s chopped so finely, you can’t identify the pods in the leaves. The taste comes through, but it lacks the punch of really fresh cardamom.

This is a huge step above bagged chais, for sure. It’s even better than some loose leaf spice blends. It’s copacetic – satisfying but not much more. Just because it’s not my personal favourite recipe, I probably wouldn’t buy it for myself. There are chai teas I would rather have on the shelf. But if you prefer something that leans a bit more towards the clove side of things, this just may be your cup of tea.

— To purchase Chai Wallah Spice with Green 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: HELPS Organic Green Tea

Green Tea, HELPS Tea, Mint Tea No Comments »
Bryan’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"Overall, this tea has pleasant, simple charm."
Bryan’s Teaview: 6.5/10
Other Teaviews: Dan gave it 6.8/10
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Helps is a pharmaceutical company that also makes teas for general well being. this tea, the organic green tea, is served in bags. the leaf is small and cut up into particles that would be known as fannings.

This was brewed western style in a 6 ounce mug, using 175 degree water for three minutes.

This blend contains organic green tea and spearmint. At first, the mixture of the two flavors caused some trouble, yielding a bright flavor reminiscient of hot pickle juice.

I waited for five minutes to let the tea cool down in an effort to blend the flavors together. The cooler liquor was very refreshing, with a more pronounced sweetness and little to no flavors that I had noted when the liquor was hot.
The color of the liquor started out as a bright pale yellow that turned into a darker, almost green color after cooling for a few minutes. This change in color had to do with exposure to the air, as well as the fact that some water had escaped as steam, leaving the brew slightly more concentrated.

Overall, this tea has pleasant, simple charm. Flavors of spearmint gently blend together with the lightly sweet and vegetal flavor of the green tea, making it more appropriate as a tea for winding down in the evenings.

— To purchase HELPS Organic Green 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: Bryan Bryan
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Review: White August Tea A Girl’s Best Friend

Black Tea, Blueberry Tea, Elderberry Tea, Hibiscus Tea, White August Tea Co. No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A wonderfully fruity black tea. One that I am easily able to recommend to anyone that likes berry teas."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 7.9/10
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One thing I really love about White August Tea is their unique names for their blends. This blend, A Girl’s Best Friend, contains Sri Lankan black tea along with blueberries, elderberries and hibiscus. It really is a pretty blend with the darkness of the wiry tea leaves along with the blue and red of the berries. To the dry nose, I am able to pick up a slight maltiness of the black tea leaves along with the sweetness of the berries.

This sample came to me as a one cup serving so I am not exactly sure of how much of the blend I used. I did follow the instructions on the sample and let it steep for five minutes at 205 degrees. The resulting liquor is a darker golden brown that still have a slight malty aroma with the scent of the berries shining thru.

This is a well rounded cup of tea with a medium mouthfeel. The tanginess of the hibiscus leads the way with the sweetness of the berries following right after. The maltiness of the black tea makes itself known at the end lingering as an aftertaste blended with blueberries.

This makes for a delightful cup of tea and I know that I will be picking some up the next time I go shopping at White August Tea. They have a wonderful selection of teas and if you aren’t quite sure just what you are in the mood for, then pick up one of their sampler packs that you are able to design.

— To purchase White August Tea A Girl’s Best Friend, 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: Grand Tea Liu An Basket Tea

Grand Tea, Green Tea 1 Comment »
Dan’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is almost like a blend of three high quality teas: up front is the sweet, honeyed flavor of a top-notch oolong (Da Hong Pao or Dan Cong); then in the middle the palette reacts with memories of an excellent, malty Assam; and yet still a third component of woody character, particularly on the finish, brings closure to the sip."
Dan’s Teaview: 8.6/10
Other Teaviews: Katie gave it 8.5/10, Geoff gave it 8.5/10, Bryan gave it 7.9/10
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Grand Tea, based out of Hong Kong, deals exclusively in Chinese teas which cover the gamut of the tea spectrum. Liu an basket tea is a whole new animal to me, and when I read about it, I was intrigued and excited to try it out. The tea is “fired” (I’m not sure what this means, exactly), then steamed and compressed into wicker-like baskets to age for a determined amount of time. This Liu an is said to have been aged 5 years after being harvested in spring 2005 from the Anhui province. Liu an can be prepared as a black tea or green tea — Grand Tea’s is green, or raw, and referred to as gua pian, which is more rare than the black variety.

The dried leaf has a very nice honeyed aroma — the extensive aging has mellowed out the smoky scents from the manufacturing process. The leaves are not unlike any average black tea in appearance: medium-sized leaves haphazardly rolled, curled, balled; a slight bit of fannings mixed in; a variable mixture of deeper chocolate hues with a sprinkling of lighter tans. Once infused, the leaves lose some of the deeper brown tones, and a muted green takes its place.

A 190-degree steep for 3 minutes produces a bright coppery cup. A subtle yet complex aroma and flavor palette emerges, giving malty, astringent, sweet, woody and savory scents and flavors all at once. Despite this, it is a very nice cup. It’s not overpowering, but is very full of flavor. It is definitely different and unique. This is almost like a blend of three high quality teas: up front is the sweet, honeyed flavor of a top-notch oolong (Da Hong Pao or Dan Cong); then in the middle the palette reacts with memories of an excellent, malty Assam; and yet still a third component of woody character, particularly on the finish, brings closure to the sip. I’m excited to make a pitcher of this and serve it over ice poolside, as I suspect it would make a terrific tea to suit just that purpose.

— To purchase Grand Tea Liu An Basket 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: Dan Dan
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Review: HELPS Kids For Rehydration Diets

Anise Tea, Bilberry Tea, HELPS Tea, Herbal Tea, Organic Tea No Comments »
Dan’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"1-word review from a 4.5-year old: "Weird!" But dad says: "Taste-wise, the cup is nice. The anise flavor is prominent, and pleasant. There is a bit of bitterness - akin to the taste of a less-sweet bitter blueberry. There's also a sharpness at the back of the throat, which may be off-putting to some kids...""
Dan’s Teaview: 6.5/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 7.8/10
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Helps Teas is a line developed by Pharmadus, which branched out from Manasul International, a laboratory pharmaceutical company based in Spain but with offices all over the world. Interestingly, their mission and philosophy (for the last 50 years) is a focus on medicinal plants. I wasn’t aware that herbal medicine could support such an apparently-huge corporation. I’m a bit lost in the whole history thing, but from what I gather, Helps is a relatively new brand. They have products targeted toward adults, and also a unique line of tisanes (HELPS Kids that are specifically intended for children ages 2-12. There are no added sugars or artificial ingredients, organic when possible, and all natural.

Since I have two kids myself, and have occasionally tried to introduce tea to my oldest, I found this line intriguing. My youngest is only 19 months, but her first birthday party was a “tea party” where several different tisanes were served to kids of all ages. Anyhow, my 4.5-year old has always just made a funny face at whatever kid of tea I have offered. I asked if he wanted to try this one, and he seemed intrigued, maybe a bit excited. He took one sip, and the one-word-review of this one preschooler can be summed up as such:

“Weird!”

He did not finish the tea. Alas, I am left to give it an adult’s viewpoint.

The tea is housed in a standard teabag with string and tag. The aroma is very berry-like with an equal licorice scent. A 5-minute infusion is recommended, which I generally stick with personally for any tisane. The aroma on the cup is slight, but similar to that of the dried bag. Three ingredients comprise this blend: Bilberry, organic anise, and organic dog rose. HELPS claims the formula was blended to specifically “fix a loose stomach, and to replace fluids”. Further research on each of these is interesting. Bilberries apparently are mostly cultivated in Europe, and go by a variety of regional names (I find it quite amusing that one of those names is “ground hurts” — which is funny enough on its own, but then the double-ententdre that it is in a tea meant to “help”). They appear very similar to blueberries, but are smaller with a more full taste, and can be very rare and expensive. Medicinal uses include potential eye/sight benefits, and gastrointestinal ailments in folk medicine. Dog Rose is also native to Europe, but can be seen growing elsewhere in the US, Africa and Asia. It’s often used in food products, but other than antioxidants, I couldn’t find any purported medicinal benefits. Anise has been known for its gastrointestinal uses as well, mostly to either prevent gas or help expel it (that’ll get the kids’ attention!).

Taste-wise, the cup is nice. The anise flavor is prominent, and pleasant. There is a bit of bitterness – akin to the taste of a less-sweet bitter blueberry. There’s also a sharpness at the back of the throat, which may be off-putting to some kids I imagine. Despite being at odds with the whole modus operandi of the company, I suspect if a dab of sweetener were added to the cup, the kids might take to it a whole lot better. Also served over ice, or at least cold, wouldn’t hurt either.

— To purchase HELPS Kids For Rehydration Diets, 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: Dan Dan
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Review: Canton Tea Co. Ye Sheng Wild White

Canton Tea Co., White Tea No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The leaves alone are worth looking at for some time - they are truly beautiful. Scent and taste follow suit."
Jamie’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Dan gave it 8.7/10
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I haven’t seen a leaf so breathtakingly beautiful in some time. The leaf of this “wild white” is stunningly gorgeous. For one thing, they are big, fat, fluffy leaves. They range in color and size from a few dark leaves to many long, plump olive leaves covered in pale golden green fuzz that edges off in your hands and coats the interior of the foil package. The tea offers a notably sweet scent with a perky sweet lilt that is not unlike some pu-ehrs. The fluffy fatness of these leaves is hard to get over.

Canton Tea Company offers the following background for the leaf, which made handling it (not to mention drinking it) even more enjoyable.

“This is a glorious, limited edition tea with a great story. This tea farm was once owned by the government but had been abandoned for many years and the tea bushes were left to grow wild. Our producer recognised the potential in the farm, the natural tea bushes, the excellent terroir and particularly the yellowy, rocky soil – perfect for giving the tea a delicious mineral note. He bought up the estate and produced this great tea from the first, small harvest of all the tea bushes that had been left untouched, in a natural state for decades.”

I used a generous 2 tsp of leaf per 8 ounces of water heated to 176 degrees as per instructions. I allowed 2.5 minutes for a first infusion and enjoyed the sight of a golden, cidery colored cup as a reward. The first infusion was sweet and dry with the mineral notes mentioned above merging with graininess as well as wonderfully fruity notes that reminded me of apricot – sweet and full but also mellow and subtle. This tea also offers a basically perfect amount of astringency. Delicious.

For a second infusion, I used the same temperature water and allowed three minutes on the steep. While this again granted a rich cider colored liquor, the taste of the second infusion was markedly different. Sweetness was prominent along with a super smooth, buttery sweet cooked fruit sort of flavor with hints of perky mineral and a breath of astringency. I find the smooth and subtle fruitiness to be wonderful for sinking into; aside from being delicious, the good flavor invites consideration. This second infusion is a treasure with many of the qualities of the first infusion maturing perfectly to present a full, delicious cup with fine sweetness and mineral qualities merging.

Again, delicious!! I highly recommend trying this one, particularly if you are someone who cherishes white teas in all of their forms, enjoys a special tea with an interesting story behind it, or find yourself wanting the mellow smoothness of a white tea with some substance and body behind it. Regardless of what camp you fall into, this tea is a delightful one that is sure to please from start to finish. The leaves alone are worth looking at for some time – they are truly beautiful. Scent and taste follow suit.

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Ye Sheng Wild White, 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
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