Review: Naivetea Da Yu Ling Oolong

Naivetea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"I found this tea to be rather lacking in complexity for a high elevation oolong. Not one that I would personally recommend."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 6.5/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 9.1/10
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There are some vendors that I keep heading back to when I am looking to add more to my oolong collection and Naivetea just happens to be one of those. I have never gotten an oolong from there that wasn’t top quality. My sample today is a high attitude oolong that has a delicate floral aroma reminding me of lilies and just a faint touch of jasmine. It is a lightly oxidized oolong. The leaves are a dark olive and folded up into rather large fists of goodness.

I set it up to brew using 2 tablespoons of leaves to 1200 ml of water. The suggested water temp is slightly higher then I usually use but I went with it setting my Breville at 200 degrees for 2 minutes. The liquor is a pale yellow and the aroma now is nutty with a floral overlay.

This tea has a really delicate flavor of hazelnuts and flowers. I find the flavor to be rather flat and lacking in complexity. Would I refuse a cup if it was offered to me. Not at all. But this isn’t one of the oolongs from this company that I would purchase for my own personal use.

— To purchase Naivetea Da Yu Ling 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: Shaiha Shaiha Reviewer
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Review: The Spice and Tea Exchange Berry White Tea

Berry Tea, Blueberry Tea, Green Tea, Hibiscus Tea, Jasmine Tea, Organic Tea, Raspberry Tea, Rose Hip Tea, Schisandra Tea, Schizandra Berry Tea, Strawberry Tea, The Spice and Tea Exchange, White Tea No Comments »
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"From such a pretty harmony amidst the leaves, sweetening helps bring the tea in better balance and pull more berry from the tangy hibiscus and rosy plum flavours apart the base tea's savour. "
Raven’s Teaview: 5.6/10
Other Teaviews: Chelsy gave it 7.7/10, Vanessa gave it 6/10, Katie gave it 5.2/10, Dan gave it 7.8/10
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Close your eyes and say Berry White, and there’s a slew of people musing over a sexy baritone, Barry White. A berry white tea may be just as dreamy but in not quite as sultry a way. That’s not to say berries aren’t sexy but white tea always seems more innocent, which is particularly why I was eager to try a berry bonanza in a white tea. Berries certainly groove with black tea, jive with oolong, pop in green tea but I’ve always thought they’d sing ever so sweetly in a white tea, having never tried such a combo. So The Spice and Tea Exchange’s Berry White looked ever so right, ringing in with a bounty of berriness. Although the tea is listed under green tea and called a white tea, the tea is organic and based on both green and white teas of some kind. Its band members also include blueberries, raspberries, schizandra berries, strawberries, rosehips, hibiscus and jasmine flowers along with natural lychee and plum flavoring.

At $4.98 an ounce (at this writing), it is a bit costly but one can see why looking at the tea. The website photo is more vivid but it really doesn’t do the tea justice since the bounty of dark pigments escape into the dark hues of the photo. There’s almost more fruit than tea leaves so it’s certainly not chintzy. I don’t know that I can identify all of the berries mentioned in the ingredients amidst the leaves as crimson rosehip hull pieces and pink-beige genmaicha-like berries are the most abundant, a bit more than the smallish sage and dark brown leaves and stems of the white and green teas. There is the occasional blueberry to delight, but generally the tea looks like a simpler combination than it sounds. Yet the array of reds and pinks along with their varying shapes is quite visually enchanting. So if there are others, like me who eat their cereal reading the cereal box, the tea’s entertainment goes a long way.

Stepping onto stage, the leaves aren’t quite as jazzy but the light to medium bouquet has a cuddly softness and wonderfully, the base teas and the fruitiness chime in equally. The scent croons with a light sweetness, rather than the concentrated sweetness of raisins, but it has a pleasantly natural, delicate berriness, reminiscent of dried currants or dried cranberries and hibiscus. While the white and green teas have a dandy aroma, a bit dough-like with hints of cumin and cedar leaves, it is quite savoury which seems to muffle the fruitiness some. Regardless, the perfumed fruitiness of the bouquet still has an inviting tone.

To amp up the vibe, The Spice and Tea Exchange offers general but wide ranges for brewing amounts and times, so I turned on the volume with two and a half teaspoons of tea for three minutes at 170°F to play to the white tea of the base. It is fun making sure to include a bit of every colour when doling out the leaves and the tea does put on a show as the infusion changes hues, blooming into a medium dark pinkish tan. The colour is, indeed, most becoming a berry tea. Yet, the poured cup isn’t as dazzling with a faint cloud and quite a bit of suspended dust sized particles that don’t seem to want to settle. The bouquet is chipper and bright spirited with a medium tangy scent. While it has a natural fruitiness and some sweetness, it is more tart, as the hibiscus and rosehip predominate. Yet, they do add a pleasant bit of red jamminess to turn up the berry volume whereas the sweeter notes bop with a plum tinged groove, along a wave of rosy lychee. Although, each note is easily separated, they do come together for a berry chord if listening for one, rather than blaring of berry. So the berry-ness of the tea falls into the tempo kind of cranberry-ish or like a sour red currant jelly. The white and green teas aren’t strong yet there is a flicker of pine green leafiness in the scent that reminds me of strawberry leaves.

Unfortunately from there, things go a little off-key. Boy, is it sour. The hibiscus seems to pretty much play diva, as the solo artist of the sip show. There is some doo-waps from the rosehips for their kind of jammy red pepper savour but it’s hard to hear much of the music behind the tartness. While the tea has a light to medium body, it doesn’t have weight to fall roundly. It might be the stealth of the acid but it almost evacuates itself in the sip without any sense of dryness or much tea. Yet, it does have a medium aftertaste of hibiscus that echos amidst a bit of a dry feeling in one’s mouth. While the tang isn’t so much to pucker, it still swings more sour than sweet but the hibiscus does have some fruitiness so the flavour is not so far from a tart berry flavour. It’s just unfortunate that the base tea also gets drowned out. Only after sweetening the tea could I find it, which was a great realization. I’m just not sure it made a melody. Although the reedy, white bean flavours of the base tea was fine enough, the tea didn’t really find its pitch. The flavour is much rosier with a pleasing touch of plum but it seems a bit flat and more hibiscus than berry against the earthier base tea.

In case the tea needed some warm-up, a rat-tat-tatta for one more round yields a much less colourful cup with a light to medium dusty rose that is still hazy but sets the berry mood. The bouquet seems nicer and a bit more berry-like from the combination of scents of a lovely plum jam, a twitter of pulpy rose from the rosehips and the hibiscus tang. The cup’s tune on the other hand, is rather similar to the first but since it isn’t quite as tart, the flavour seems closer to berry, perhaps like a mix of under-ripe white and red raspberries.

A third cup’s scent maintains the sweet tart lyric, humming a cranberry ditty from a rosehip plum choir. The light body gains a hint of reediness from the base teas to lend more cushion to the swallow amidst the hibiscus, rosehip flavour. Although the tea is less sour, it feels more puckery with a bitter tinge on the finish.

At the end of the album, the Spice and Tea Exchange’s Berry White does put on quite a performance. From the eye-catching leaves and the colourful cups, the tea drinks with just as much spirit. It’s just unfortunate that the players don’t find a better harmony. Sweetened, the tea does have more rhythm to enjoy, although it’s liveliness is bound to win more with hibiscus fans.

— To purchase The Spice and Tea Exchange Berry White 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: Raven Raven Reviewer
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Review: California Tea House Tiramisu

California Tea House, Chocolate Tea, Hazelnut Tea, Rooibos Tea No Comments »
K’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It suits its name well."
K’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 7.5/10, Laura gave it 7/10, Emma gave it 9/10, Kari gave it 7/10, Chelsy gave it 8.7/10, Jamie gave it 8.5/10, Sophie gave it 8.8/10, Shaiha gave it 7.3/10, Shaiha gave it 7.3/10
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californiateatiramisuI have had the opportunity to try some really exceptional tea leaves from California Tea House, but their flavoured blend haven’t excited me nearly as much. This one doesn’t have me running to my computer to buy more, but it’s solid.

The rooibos provides a solid, sweet base to the blend, adding an interesting depth while providing a honey-like foundation. The coffee flavour adds its characteristic bitterness, though it is balanced by the sweet toffee, which carries through to the aftertaste. My favourite flavour is hazelnut, which adds a beautiful nuttiness. My least favourite flavour, as it almost always is in chocolate teas, is the chocolate. It’s good, but I want more of it. Without a strong chocolate component, the blend is too thin to satisfy me.

This rooibos is decadent; it’s interesting. With a touch of sugar, it’s the perfect dessert substitute, and it suits its name well. I don’t love it, but it does its best.

— To purchase California Tea House Tiramisu, 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
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Review: ThepuriTea Jasmine Silver Needle

Jasmine Tea, thepuriTea, White Tea No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Rather than pushy or overly pumped up, the floral scenting is pleasantly permeating. The jasmine also adds a certain depth to the delicate nature of the silver needle."
Jamie’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Kyle gave it 8.9/10, Sophie gave it 9.1/10, Shaiha gave it 7.2/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

The Puritea offers a silver needle scented with the well loved floral perfume of Jasmine in its catalog. The leaves are fat and a little bit dry looking (sounds redundant in describing dry tea leaf, but truly, the leaf is somewhat parched looking). The leaves are silver green and just lightly fuzzy. There are dark, silver and olive colored leaves, all an inch long. Jasmine flower clusters and petals punctuate the tea leaf.

The scent is floral and sweet, not too heady.

I infused two teaspoons of the long leaves in 8 ounces of 190 degree water and allowed a first infusion time of three minutes. The color of the liquor is similar to a pale honey. It’s pleasant. The taste is sweet and gentle but with a good viscosity to the body and the jasmine serves to fill out the silver needles’ delicacy with a silky sweet floral fullness that is quite nice! The finish is quick and clear, which is a contrast to the bit of richness offered by the floral scenting. I like it.

I find the jasmine scenting in this tea to contribute to the good natural sweetness already possessed by the white tea. It’s mild but also thorough in the scenting. The jasmine isn’t super forward in flavor; rather than pushy or overly pumped up, it’s pleasantly permeating. The jasmine also adds a certain depth to the delicate nature of the silver needle while at the same time the jasmine itself is delicate enough to keep a good balance of flavors in each sip. I enjoy the silky honey sweetness of the cup.

A second infusion is also delicious (I used a five minute infusion time for all my second steeps). I also experimented with a very light sweetening of one second infusion with a little liquid stevia. This was a good move. The second infusion, regardless of how you take it, is a nice golden cup with more silver needle feeling but also a faint floral quality that is more of a sweetness in the background than a distinctly jasmine-y taste experience.

This is a good tasting jasmine white tea. Pleasant and enjoyable.

— To purchase ThepuriTea Jasmine Silver Needle, 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: Thunderbolt Tea Singbulli Muscatel (2011 Second Flush)

Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Orange Pekoe Tea, Single Estate Tea, Thunderbolt Tea No Comments »
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Quintessentially Darjeeling but thirst-quenching."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8.9/10
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I tore open the bag and was greeted by a pastiche of browns, golds, and partial-greens. It looked like a second flush alright, and the muscatel aroma was in full effect. Spice wasn’t as strong on the nose as, say, with a first flush, but it was pleasant to whiff. The experience was a pleasant contrast to the muted aroma from another Singbulli I had the day prior.

The typical approach would’ve been to use water just off a boil, 1 tsp. per 8oz. of water, steeped for two-to-three minutes. I went with a PINT of water, 2 tsps. and a full three-minute infusion. It was morning. I was tired. I needed a pick me. Granted…most people don’t turn to a Darjeeling for a morning cuppa.

(Funny occurrence: I actually had difficulty fishing out the do-it-yourself teabag filled with tea leaves. They sank to the bottom of the pint glass, and I had to use a matcha chashaku – bamboo spoon – to fish ‘em out. Tea snob FAIL.)

The liquor brewed darker than I expected – a very bold and deep amber. The aroma was all Darj with very little detraction. It was straight-up musk as the name indicates. As for taste, this was extremely pleasant. There was a bit of a bitter bite on the front – which I’m starting to think is a Singbulli trait – but it gentled very nicely to a smooth, winy note that lingered long past the sip. Quintessentially Darjeeling but thirst-quenching.

— To purchase Thunderbolt Tea Singbulli Muscatel (2011 Second Flush), 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: Geoff Geoff Reviewer
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Review: ThepuriTea Dan Cong

Oolong Tea, thepuriTea No Comments »
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The fruit flavors alternate in the mouth bouncing from fresh to dry and intensifying into a very satisfying rich, hearty autumnal flavor of very ripe peach, baked fruit, dried apricot. "
Jamie’s Teaview: 8.5/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 7.8/10, Katie gave it 7.7/10, Vanessa gave it 9.3/10, Troy gave it 7/10, Nicole gave it 7/10, Shaiha gave it 7.9/10
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Of the oolongs, Dan Congs are very special indeed as they come bearing the gift of almost unreal scents and accompanying flavors. This Dan Cong has a scent to the dark colored, long, dry leaf that is simply fabulous – the peach and apricot scents, especially peach, are almost overwhelming.

I used a couple of teaspoons of leaf per 8 ounces and steeped in 190 degree water for three minutes to start. The cup is copper brown and a unctuous, luxurious honeyed peach scent positively rolls off the cup. The tea tastes toasty from processing, positively and intensely fruity. The finish is dryer and a little astringency kicks in along with nuanced toasty aftertaste with plenty of fruit flavor. As the tea cools a tiny but, the peach flavors become more mature. The fruit flavors alternate in the mouth bouncing from fresh to dry and intensifying into a very satisfying rich, hearty autumnal flavor of very ripe peach, baked fruit, dried apricot.

This tea is very smooth and has wonderful fruit, wood and toasted flavors abounding. It’s excellent.

The second infusion is less fruity and has some subtle floral qualities. The processing flavor or roasted quality is still a big figure in taste offering a minerality that is pleasant and hard to pinpoint.

A third infusion is another reward, different again and also enjoyable. The aftertaste of fruit doesn’t linger so much but the light astringent close leaves a clean taste behind. Jammy, fruity flavors are forward in the cup rather than the closers, though more subtle than previous cups.

I enjoyed these cups and would recommend this as a Dan Cong worth taking a sip of if you have the chance. The Puritea has a welcome option of a $3.00 sample size that would let you have a trial run of this oolong to decide if it is one that appeals to you.

— To purchase ThepuriTea Dan Cong, 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
» Read more about this reviewer on Jamie's profile page.
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