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!

Vanilla Cinnamon Bun from Compass Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos & Honeybush

Where to Buy:  Compass Teas

Product Description:

Our most popular tea by far!  Exclusively unique to Compass Tea Company.  Slip on your fuzzy robe and slippers and warm up with this yummy tea version of your favorite dessert.  We suggest sweetening it with Amber Sugar Gems.

A great tasting and natural alternative to drinking decaf tea or coffee.  (Could also be used as a low calorie,  fat free alternative to desserts late at night.)  *Naturally  CAFFEINE FREE

Taster’s Review:

When I first opened the package of this tisane, I was blown away with how good it smelled.  The cinnamon was strong, as was the vanilla, and the combination of these two aromas was postively breathtaking!  It really does smell like cinnamon buns!  YUM!

That’s why I was just a little disappointed by the flavor.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite tasty!  But, I am sitting here, wishing that the flavor was more like the fragrance.  More cinnamon and vanilla, and a little less in the orange flavor.

The flavor of the red and green rooibos together with the honeybush creates a very pleasant tasting base that is honey-sweet with a nice nutty flavor that lends itself well to a baked kind of taste.  It compliments the cinnamon and vanilla flavors and overall, there is a cinnamon bun flavor going on in this cup.

But… why the orange?  It is as though the orange washes away some of the flavor rather than enhances it.

This is a very tasty blend … and yet, disappointing.  I do like the flavors as they are in this tisane, but… I think this tisane could have been so much more that what it is!  It could be a Vanilla Cinnamon Bun flavored tisane, and instead I have a creamy orange spice tisane.  Tasty, but just not what I expected!

Tangerine Blossom Red Tea from Shang Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Shang Tea

Product Description:

Ingredients: Organic White tea leaves, tangerine flowers petals

Made from fermented white tea leaves and tangy tangerine blossoms added towards the end of the fermentation process. A pleasant, citrus flavor complements the deeper nutty Red Tea base.

Taster’s Review:

This tea may be a little confusing to someone who may not know a lot about tea.  I know it confused me for a while, and I’d like to think that I know quite a bit about the subject.  It isn’t the tea itself, or the flavor of the tea that is perplexing, but, the wording used in the description provided about the tea.

What some may not know is that what we refer to as “black tea” here in the United States (and other parts of the world) is called “red tea” in China.  “Red tea” here in the United States is often another term used for the South African herb, rooibos.  And because the ingredients on this particular tea say “white tea” rather than “black” (or even “red”) tea, it can be a little confusing as to which tea we are actually dealing with here.

So, let me set it straight.  This is a black tea.  But I don’t recommend steeping it the same way you might steep a black tea.  I brewed this according to the package directions, which is bringing the water to a boil, allowing the water to cool for one minute, and then steeping the tea for 1 – 2 minutes (I steeped it for 2 and was quite happy with the results).

OK… now that we know what kind of tea I’m drinking, let me tell you, this really is GOOD.  The tangerine flavor is sweet, juicy and delicious without being overwhelming.  It doesn’t taste like it was over-done.  It has a lightness to it while still being a strong flavor.

The black tea is in good balance with the citrus fruit.  It has a clean, bright flavor that is brisk but not overwhelmingly bold.  It tastes… like a white black tea… if that makes sense!  You know how white tea is a little softer, more delicate, and crisper in flavor than oxidized tea?  This is a black tea that has those same white tea attributes.  Somewhat soft, delicate and crisp in taste.  It tastes like the offspring of a union between black and white teas.

This really is a fantastic tea, and one that I’d highly recommend to other tea enthusiasts.  It is great for a second infusion too.  I recommend steeping at the same temperature – boiling water that has cooled for 1 minute.  Add an extra minute onto the steeping time – and you’ll have a delightful cup of tea!

Van Wezel Anniversa-Tea from Local Coffee & Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  Local Coffee & Tea

Company Description:

The signature tea for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, celebrating 40 years of fabulous performances in Sarasota, Florida. A custom blended Rooibos with black and red currants, perfect for an intermission any time, any where.

Taster’s Review:

Tasty!  The currant flavor is strong, providing a delicious sweet with just the right amount of tart taste.  There is a nice little tangy berry twinge in the aftertaste which is quite nice.  Also – notably absent in the aftertaste – is the saccharine-y sweet aftertaste that some rooibos blends host.

I can taste the woody/nutty/somewhat tobacco-y taste of the rooibos here, I am not getting that sickly sweet taste of the rooibos.  The flavor of the currant melds well with the flavor of the rooibos, creating a very interesting cup.

I am also getting another fruit flavor in this tea – it is almost like pineapple… but not quite.  I am finding it difficult to put my finger on, it is sweet and tropical in flavor but it is not a particularly strong presence in the cup.  It does provide a very pleasant contrast though – an intriguing contrast that makes the taste buds perk up and ask “hey, what was that?”

I like this rooibos blend.  It is not overly sweet but is still sweet enough to make a delightful dessert cup – or perhaps a sweet treat just before bedtime?  It is one that you’ll feel good about serving to the kids too – it is not only loaded with antioxidants (thanks to the rooibos) but it is also naturally caffeine free and sweet enough that you don’t need to add a lot of sugar to get them to drink it!

Very nice, indeed!

%d bloggers like this: