Vanilla Haze from Tea, Oh!

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tea, Oh!

Product Description:

Get lost in this sweet, nutty hazelnut vanilla tea.

Taster’s Review:

This is nice!

The black tea base is brisk and strong.  Its assertive flavor does not get lost amid the flavors of vanilla and hazelnut – this is definitely TEA!

The vanilla flavor is creamy and smooth and helps to curb some of the sharper edges to the black tea.  The hazelnut tastes nutty and slightly sweet and is really delicious with the vanilla.  There is also a background note that is slightly earthy to this cup.

This is a tea that you want to keep an eye on while brewing as it can become bitter if over steeped.  I steeped it for 2 minutes 45 seconds and I can taste hints of bitterness; fortunately it is not off-putting.  However, I think that a longer steep time would have resulted in a rather bitter cup.

Vanilla Haze from Tea, Oh! is so lovely and complex!  A very contemplative cup – one that you want to brew on one of those “take it easy” kind of afternoons so that you can just sit and enjoy all the pleasures this tea has to offer.  Particularly nice with a drizzle of honey and a splash of milk to bring out the creamier aspects of this cup.   YUM!

A Nice Cup of Shut the Hell Up (Signature Blend) from Adagio Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Adagio Teas

Product Description:

Very biting tea smoothed over with a caramel smile. Great to wake up to, especially if you are dropping the coffee habit. Great for the early morning attitude enhancement with the added benefit of enabling you to think beofre you speak. Shut the hell up and give it a try.

Created by: Travis Pelt

Taster’s Review:

As some of you may know, I’m not particularly fond of Lapsang Souchong so I generally avoid them whenever possible.  I find the strong, smoky character of a typical Lapsang Souchong to be rather off-putting.

However, I am slowly developing an appreciation for strong, smoky teas such as Lapsang Souchong, but, suffice to say that while I am usually willing to try a tea with Lapsang Souchong in it, it is not something I probably would want to try.

But that all went out the window when I saw the name of this signature blend from Adagio Teas (created by Travis Pelt).  I knew I had to try it!

And I really am glad I did – this is actually really good.  The tea is very strong – ROBUST!  But what makes this tea especially good to me is the balance of tastes.  It is a smoky tea, but it isn’t too smoky.  It is, in fact, one of the most thoughtful blends I have encountered – and by that I mean that the underlying caramel-y notes of the Lapsang Souchong are highlighted with the addition of the caramel flavored black tea.  The sweet, creamy notes of the caramel are enhanced by the malty notes of the Assam.

The three types of tea create a very harmonized and yet hefty blend!  It is a little chewy and has a nice bake-y taste.  It makes a perfect morning tea, but I am actually enjoying it later in the afternoon at the moment – it is the perfect accompaniment to Dulce de Leche cookies from the Girl Scouts!  YUM!

Earl Grey Lavender from Tea Addiction

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tea Addiction

Product Description:

Ingredients: Blended black tea, lavender, jasmine, and flavoring.

Is the stress of life getting to you?

Enjoy a cup of Earl Grey Lavender with its relaxing lavender scent and flavor. The beautiful purple flowers are said to ease headaches, insomnia, and stress. The addition of jasmine flowers is thought to relieve stress, elevate the mood, and aid in digestion. This steep is definitely not the typical Earl Grey!

Taster’s Review:

As the above description suggests, this is not the typical Earl Grey – but it is an excellent Earl Grey!  Superb!

When I opened the package, my nose was greeted with the beautiful fragrance of bergamot, lavender and a hint of jasmine.  I did not expect to see so many flower blossoms and petals in the tin – this is definitely a tea that you need to shake gently before opening to redistribute the flowers evenly throughout the tea.  A small amount of effort to exert for one of the very best lavender flavored Earl Grey teas I’ve ever tasted!

The black tea flavor is pleasantly brisk and offers a nice background flavor.  While it lends its strong flavor to the cup, it seems perfectly content to allow the flavors to really come through and express themselves fully.

The lavender is strong, but it doesn’t overpower the blend.  Instead, it is masterfully balanced with the bergamot, giving just enough of its flavor to the bergamot to accent some of the flowery notes of the fruit.  I can also taste a hint of the jasmine.  It isn’t a strong jasmine presence but that little note of jasmine adds a very interesting dimension to the cup.

As I’ve already eluded to, this is a well-balanced cup.  The bergamot does not try to overwhelm the lavender just as the lavender does not overpower the bergamot.  And somehow, the addition of the flowery flavors not only enhances the flowery taste of the bergamot, but, it also allows the citrus flavors to shine through.

The overall cup is sweet, feminine and juicy!  I love this!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Authentic Chai Concentrate from Third Street Chai

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

For more information, visit:  Third Street Chai

Product Description:

A generously spiced blend of fine black tea and freshly-milled aromatic spices.

Ingredients:  Filtered Water, Evaporated Cane Juice, Fair Trade Certified Organic Black Tea, Organic Cardamom, Organic Clove, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Ginger, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Fennel, Organic Nutmeg, Citric Acid.

Taster’s Review:

Having already tried the Spicy Ginger Chai Concentrate from Third Street Chai, I felt confident that I’d also like this “Authentic Chai” Concentrate from the same company.

And I do.  This is actually quite similar to the Spicy Ginger Chai except, obviously, it isn’t as spicy.  While this chai still has some detectable ginger flavor, it isn’t nearly as spicy.  This is the chai for those who like their chai lattes to be a little more gently spiced.

But make no mistake, the spices are still here.  This is much more like a coffee house chai – smooth and rich in flavor, but even-tempered enough to enchant even those who are otherwise put-off by the spicier things in life.   Personally, I like the heat of the ginger in the Spicy Ginger Chai.  That being said, I think that this slightly milder version is a better accompaniment with meals and especially with that morning scone!

YUM!

I really love these chai concentrates from Third Street Chai.  It lets me enjoy a delicious chai latte any time of the day with very little mess or fuss.  And the price of one 32-ounce concentrate bottle is about the same price as one chai latte from the local coffee house!  This chai from Third Street Chai is the best of both worlds:  convenience and value!

Red Panda Picked Darjeeling from Chi of Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Chi of Tea

Product Description:

The Red Panda always picks freshest Darjeeling teas! The Red Panda is the mascot of the International Tea Festival in Darjeeling! This blend of farm fresh Darjeeling tea comes from the Red Panda’s personal stash of 2010 Second Flushes and 2010 Autumn Flushes. Creating a rich, yet balanced cup with rich notes of muscatel grapes and sweet florals.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the very best – if not THE best – second flush Darjeeling teas I’ve encountered.  It is so incredible!

As some of you may know, I have been on a quest to find that “ideal” Darjeeling – one that matches that very first Darjeeling experience that I had several years ago.  I had come to the conclusion that I put that particular Darjeeling on such a high pedestal that no Darjeeling – no matter how good – could match it.  But now… I think I have found the Darjeeling that is worthy to take that coveted place.

Now, I’m not saying that this is the same Darjeeling … instead, I think this one is better.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a Darjeeling quite like this one.

It has such a lovely sweetness to it which is a perfect compliment to the muscatel of this Darjeeling.  The muscatel is fruity and slightly floral, with just a hint of musk.  This possesses that “Darjeeling” crispness but it is different because it doesn’t come across as astringent as other Darjeeling teas.  It is also a different crispness because this Darjeeling is not as light-bodied as a typical Darjeeling.  So while this does taste crisp and clean, it also has more body and substance to it.

There is no bitterness to this tea.  It is incredibly smooth and absolutely delicious.  The aftertaste leaves me with a pleasing muscatel essence and a hint of that honey-esque sweetness.  Truly a lovely experience, this Darjeeling!

This tea is available in very limited quantities.  At the time of this writing, there were only 14 samples left – and by the time this review publishes, it may be sold out (in which case, I’m sorry!)  A truly fantastic Darjeeling – I do hope that Chi of Tea is able to get more in stock!

Spicy Chocolate from Kusmi Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Kusmi Tea

Product Description:

Black tea from China flavored with natural essences of chocolate and spices.

Taster’s Review:

I am so happy to be able to try this tea.  It is one that I’ve wanted to try for a long time, and it seems like every time that I am tea shopping, this tea is sold out!  Fortunately, my SororiTea Sister, TeaEqualsBliss, sent me a sampling of it!  Thank you Jennifer!

And the verdict?

I love it!

The chocolate level is nice.  Of course, it would be better with more chocolate, but that’s the chocoholic in me.  It has a nice amount of chocolate and it is in a pleasing balance with the spices here.  It tastes like a good quality dark chocolate.

Kusmi Tea does not specify what kind of spices they use in this blend (although I am sure that if I had the tin I could read the ingredients, provided they aren’t written in French!) but to me it tastes like ginger and perhaps a little cinnamon.  Maybe some cardamom?

The level of spice is not what I would classify as “spicy,” that is, I don’t find this to be overwhelmingly hot or spicy.  But that isn’t a bad thing, because I think that if it were spicier in this particular blend, it would overthrow the balance of flavors that I’m experiencing, and that WOULD be a bad thing.  I like it just the way it is.

The black tea base is a strong one and can be tasted with the other strong profiles.  There is a good deal of astringency to this tea, it clears the palate very well, leaving only a  faint note of pepper and of chocolate in the aftertaste.

It is not bitter, although I suspect it could be that way if it were steeped too long.  I steeped my cup for 3 1/2 minutes and it produced a delicious cup.  It doesn’t need sweetener, but, I found that a small amount of agave nectar helped bring out some of the sweeter notes of the chocolate.

This one is really good, folks!

Keemun Finest Chuen Cha from Butiki Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Product Description:

Grown near the Huang Shan mountains in the southern Anhui Province, Keemun in China, this tea is a relatively strong. Subtle notes of cocoa, leather, dried plum and wet earth can be noted.

Taster’s Review:

This is one bold, stimulating cuppa!  If I wasn’t awake before I started sipping, I’d be awake now!

My first reaction to the taste of this tea is “wow!  Smoky.”  But as I continue to sip, I realize that it is less “smoky” than it is almost charcoal-esque.  Not that it tastes as though I’ve steeped some of charcoal briquettes or anything, but it has that sort of essence about it.

It is a very earthy and masculine tasting tea, but underneath these assertive flavors is a wonderful sweetness.   A molasses-y sweetness!  I also get the flavors as described in the product description above.  I taste notes of a savory cocoa, a rustic leather, sweet dried plum and damp earth.

Together, it becomes a deliciously complex cup of tea.  At first reaction, I was a bit uncertain about this tea, but now, as I am finishing the cup, I am realizing just how good this really is.  It’s good for multiple infusions too!

This tea is powerful stuff!

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