PRODUCT REVIEW: Chai Matcha Latte from Matcha Mountains

Where to Buy:  Where Matcha Mountains Products are sold

Product Description:

Spice up your life this season with our chai matcha latte made from organic freshly ground spices cardamon, cinnamon, cloves… and japanese matcha. Accent our chai with a cinnamon stick or dollop of whip cream and enjoy hot or cold.

Taster’s Review:

THIS IS SO YUMMY!

This is a perfect Matcha Latte … and a perfect Chai Latte for that matter.  It is so good.

This is gently spiced – not something I would categorize as spicy.  More like warm and soothing.  It is sweet but not cloying.  It is smooth, rich and creamy.  The combination of adding steaming milk and the Matcha make for a very foamy, frothy beverage.

The Matcha base tastes vibrant.  It has a light vegetative taste.  It isn’t as vegetal as a typical Matcha.  Perhaps that is because it’s a latte mix, or perhaps it’s because the spices cancel out some of the grassy tones, or it could be because the milk offsets the vegetative qualities of the Matcha.  But if you’ve tried Matcha in the past and found that strong vegetative taste to be a little off-putting, try this!

I absolutely LOVE this Matcha Latte.  I love it so much, in fact, that my cup is empty!  I don’t usually finish off the cup before I finish writing the review… but, in this case, it tasted so good I couldn’t stop!  It’s a yummy treat!

Tropical Mist Sencha from SpecialTea Brew

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  SpecialTea Brew

Product Description:

Chinese Sencha Green Tea, marigold petals, cornflower petals, fruit pieces, flavor.

Taster’s Review:

This is a delicious tropical tea. It is flavored lightly so the green tea is the primary focus of this cup, and that’s the way it should be.

The green tea is a Chinese Sencha and it is light and buttery.  The creaminess from the butter taste lends itself well to a smooth, silky mouthfeel that lingers well into the aftertaste.  It is not astringent.  It has a mild sweetness to it that melds well with the fruit flavors.

The description does not go in to detail about the tropical flavors that are used in this blend, but, I can detect a pineapple note.  It is very much a seamless fruit flavor – like a tropical superfruit.  I hesitate to call it “tropical punch” because this tea is in no way like punch.  This is green tea gently flavored with a tropical essence.  However, you know how when you drink tropical punch, it is difficult to discern which fruits are in there?  In that way, this tea is similar.   The aftertaste is sweet with a hint of tartness that tickles the tip of the tongue.

This is nice served hot, but it is spectacular served iced!  A delightful summertime refreshment!

Sweet Potato Pie Honeybush from 52Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Product Description:

Here is the tea I wanted to create for Thanksgiving, and was then going to include in the 12 Teas of Christmas Sampler. It took me some time to perfect it, but I hope that while it might not be as seasonal as releasing it for Thanksgiving, you will all still find it delicious. Here then, is our Caffeine-free African Honeybush blended with real dried sweet potato bits, cinnamon and natural flavors. ENJOY!

Taster’s Review:

Even though 52Teas is one of my favorite tea companies (definitely in the top three!) I was kind of uncertain about whether or not I would order and try this tisane.

I love sweet potato, but, my experience with sweet potato pie is limited.  I have tried fewer than a handful of sweet potato pie flavored teas, and only one sweet potato pie.  Unfortunately, though, that one sweet potato pie was horrible.  I mean… it was just plain inedible.

But that’s the fault with the baker who decided that the niche he was going to fill was the need for sugar-free/unsweetened sweet potato pies, and I am sorry to say that while the idea may be good … and in someone else’s hands with someone else’s recipe, an unsweetened sweet potato pie might be really tasty.  But, in the hands of this particular baker – not so much.

But I’m getting side-tracked.  This horrible sweet potato pie incident has nothing to do with 52Teas so I decided I’d give this tisane a chance.

And I’m glad I did.  This is really tasty!  The aroma is well-spiced, heavy on the cinnamon and ginger.  But it tastes neither too cinnamon-y nor too ginger-y.  Rather, the spices are more of an accompaniment to the stronger flavor of the sweet potato.  In fact, this tastes a bit like the mashed sweet potatoes that I make for Thanksgiving.

I can also taste a hint of buttery pastry to this and that is what really makes this tea for me.  Even though it is a faint taste, it is so yummy and it keeps me sipping the tea just so that I can experience the flavor of the buttery crust.

This is yet another delicious tisane from 52Teas.  I am very satisfied with it and glad I tried it.  I do recommend adding just a little sweetener to this to bring out some of the flavors.  I used a tiny drizzle of agave nectar and it tasted good, but I think next time, I’ll try a little bit of brown sugar … I think it will be even better!

If the sweet potato pie that I mentioned at the start of this review tasted anything like this, it would have been a winner!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Chai Masala Spice Blend from The Chai Cart

Where to Buy:  The Chai Cart on Foodzie

or visit The Chai Cart website for more information

Product Description:

Make any tea into “Masala” tea by adding this magical blend of eight spices known for culinary flavors and therapeutic qualities.

When brewed with black tea and milk, this spice blend makes a bold, fragrant and smooth cup of Masala Chai that will transport you to India in just one sip.

The magical mix of eight spices is perfectly balanced so that no single spice dominates the palate. The boldness of cloves and nutmeg with the spice of ginger are balanced with the fragrance of cardamom and the sweetness of cinnamon. Fennel and white and black pepper add further layers of complexity.

This blend can also be used with green tea or rooibos as well as in soups, stews and countless recipes that need to be spiced up!

Taster’s Review:

This blend of spices is so versatile that it could be used in just about anything.  I considered grinding it fine and using it as a rub on a pork loin, but then, remembering that I still had a teeny-tiny bit of my Sweet Caramel O’Mine tea, I decided that I would use my sample of this spice blend as an enhancement for a cup o’ Spiced Sweet Caramel O’Mine.

I used three teaspoons of the spices with three teaspoons of the tea blend.   This made a very pleasant 3 cups of bold and spicy tea.  I added a dollop of honey and found that it was just perfect served this way.  To make a latte, I would have reduced the amount of water that I used to brew (only 2 cups of water) so that the milk wouldn’t dilute the flavors.

And … OH MY GOODNESS.  This is good.  Somehow the spices bring out the burnt sugar aspect of the caramel, giving this an almost sweet-and-savory kind of taste.  I think the nutmeg and the caramel compliment each other so well!

The main spice flavor that I’m tasting is the ginger, which when combined with the white and black peppers give this cup a very peppery kick!  The cinnamon comes just after the ginger, and the cardamom and cloves add pleasant dimension.  I can’t taste much of the fennel here, and while I do like fennel, perhaps it is a good thing that I can’t taste it too strongly with this tea.  I think it might taste a little too funky with the caramel.

I really like this blend.  I think I may be buying a tin of this in the near future so that I can use it on my next pork loin roast.  If I do this, I’ll be sure to post a review and the recipe on my Foodie Blog!

Darjeeling Tukdah TGFOP from Culinary Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Darjeeling

Where to Buy:  Culinary Teas

Product Description:

Bright, lively and full of flavor. Has a lovely muscatel character with a hint of nuttiness, an excellent 1st flush Darjeeling.

Taster’s Review:

This is a very unusual Darjeeling.  It is almost like a combination of Darjeeling and Assam teas!  It has many of the characteristics I expect from a Darjeeling, but also some of the characteristics of a high quality Assam.  Interesting… very interesting, indeed!

I can immediately sense the muscatel – I can smell the wine-like notes as well as taste them.  But where this differs from a typical Darjeeling is that it isn’t as light-bodied.  This tea is a little more solid and strong.  Not quite as hefty as an Assam, but certainly not as sparkling as a Darjeeling.  This seems to fall somewhere in the middle, making for a delightful medium-bodied tea.

There is a delicious undertone of malt to this tea, as well as a lovely honey-caramel sweetness.  There is also a decidedly masculine note to this tea, almost “leathery” in presentation.  There is also a toothsome quality to it – which is quite different than most Darjeeling teas that I’ve encountered.  Like I said, this is really an unusual Darjeeling – unusual, but delicious.

This is a tea that I would recommend to the lovers of both Darjeeling and Assam.  It makes for a great morning tea for the Darjeeling fan, and a great late afternoon tea for the Assam enthusiast.  And for someone who just loves tea… you should really try this one!

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!

Green Caramel from The Persimmon Tree

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green Tea & Red Rooibos

Where to Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Product Description:

Ingredients:  Organic Green Loose Leaf Tea, Organic Rooibos, Caramel Pieces

Characteristics:  Bold, Organic

Flavors:  Sweet, Grassy

Taster’s Review:

This tea is a yummy treat, and while it does have a certain dessert-like taste to it, it is one that would be equally as nice to have as a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon or as something to get you through the doldrums that hit just before lunch!

The base of the tea is light-to-medium bodied, with a sweet, fresh green tea taste and a hint of roasted nut flavor that is very complementary to the sweet caramel-y flavor.  I can also taste subtle notes of buttery taste – I don’t know if this is from the caramel or from the green tea – but it certainly adds to the YUM factor.

The overall cup is sweet and crisp, and while it does have a certain comforting appeal to it, it is also rather invigorating!   I am loving this tea!

Because this tea has a very autumn-y kind of feel to it, I prefer it served hot.  It doesn’t need any additions because it’s delightful as is.  It might even be alright iced too, but to be honest, I finished it up so fast that by the time it would have cooled to judge it on its merits cold – it was all gone!  This would be a delightful accompaniment to a tray of fruit (fresh apple slices, perhaps?)

What a pleasant way to spend the afternoon!   YUM!

Jasmine Pearl from Objective Tea

Photo belongs to AmazonV

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  At the time of writing this review, the website for Objective Tea appeared to be closed.

Product Description:

Origin: Yih Ling Yih, Taiwan (3900 ft)
Cultivar: Moli Lu Xiang Pian
Cultivated: 2009

Breathing in the rosy aroma of jasmine never seems to get old. This green tea, flavored with young jasmine flowers will have you brewing tea all day long. Jasmine is used as a stress

reliever in traditional chinese medicine, and taking in the sweet scents of jasmine pearl you will know why.

Taster’s Review:

While doing my basic research for this review, I could not find the website for Objective Tea, and it would appear that they are no longer in business.  However, this is such a delightful jasmine tea that I felt it needed to be celebrated in this review!

I love jasmine pearls.  For the longest time, they were probably my favorite tea.  Since that time, I have discovered many “favorites” but jasmine pearls still remains right there at the top – probably within the top five.

This is one of the finest jasmine pearl teas I’ve encountered in recent memory.  It has a very pleasing jasmine essence that is fragrant and delicious.  The green tea is soft with light vegetative tones.  It has a light sweetness to it that compliments the floral notes of the jasmine very well.

The jasmine is vibrant.  It has a slight sharpness that borders on being slightly bitter, but, it is nothing that I would consider overwhelming.  Instead, I am finding it to be an agreeable contrast to the sweetness of the cup.

I steeped this in my gaiwan using short steep times, and then I filled my special Jasmine Yixing mug with the first five infusions.  The combination of these multiple infusions delivers a smooth, supple mouthfeel with buttery background notes and a beautiful jasmine flavor that lingers in the aftertaste.

I love this jasmine tea, and even though I am so enjoying this, it is almost bittersweet, since this will be the first and last time I’ll be able to enjoy it.

Have Hope – Citrus Strawberry White Tea from Teamotions

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Teamotions

Product Description:

Flavor Profile Delicately sweet with bright notes of mandarin, tangerine, and strawberry.

Ingredients White Tea, Oatstraw, Schizandra Berry, Ginger, Safflower Petals, Strawberry, Natural Flavors.

Taster’s Review:

This is such a deliciously unique tea!

The fragrance of the dry leaf is amazing – I can smell the citrus tones, a light amount of spice from the ginger, and the strawberry!  Together, these scents create a mesmerizing aroma.

The flavor is light and crisp.  The white tea base has a delicate vegetative taste.  It is clean and fresh.  There is a soft, barely-there mouthfeel and a light astringency.

The fruit flavors are nicely balanced and appeal to the palate with sweet, tangy and tart notes.  The ginger is not overwhelming here and adds just a hint of zesty spice.  I don’t remember having tasted oatstraw in a tea before, so I don’t know if I’m tasting it now or not, but, oatstraw is very beneficial to health and I’m glad it’s there!

As I sip, I can feel the stresses of the day melt away.  I can even feel the tension in my shoulders lighten a little!  This is an amazing tea, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to try it.

Root 66 Tea from Monterey Bay Spice Company

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane/Spice Melangé

Where to Buy:  Monterey Bay Spice Company

Product Description:

Roasted dandelion, chicory root, and sarsaparilla root get you started towards Root 66 Tea. Creating a robust and dark infusion, this herbal tea exudes a mouth-watering natural earthiness. Good for your liver, Root 66 Tea also twists in a bit of the exotic: the lively sweetness of coconut and the slight chocolate taste of carob. With lingering licorice airiness, this herbal makes a fantastic coffee substitute or a dessert tea!

IngredientsSarsparilla root, chicory root, roasted dandelion root, carob pods, cinnamon, fennel, crystal malt and coconut.

Caffeine Free

Taster’s Review:

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m always a little leery of herbal blends such as this.  I’m always afraid that they’ll taste too medicinal for my personal taste, so I find myself always putting off trying them.

And I am really sorry that I put off trying this one as long as I did, because it’s rather tasty!  It has a sweet, root beer-like taste to it which is enhanced by the spices and malt.  It has a slightly roasted taste to it too, and I like how the coconut and sarsaparilla taste together.  It’s really much better than I imagined it would be.

The Sarsaparilla root gives this tisane its root beer taste.  The licorice-y taste of fennel and the cocoa notes of the carob enhance the sweetness of this cup while the cinnamon gives it a nice warmth in the background.  There is a roasted note to this as well from the chicory and roasted dandelion root which adds depth to the cup.

But what really makes this tisane special is the coconut.  I love the combination of flavors – it’s sort of like a chocolate and coconut flavored spiced root beer!

This tisane has a little bit of an herbal/medicinal aftertaste that I would define as almost peppery – it’s the dandelion!  However, this aftertaste doesn’t linger very long.  And because I enjoy the flavor of the tea so much, I can overlook the aftertaste.

I am sipping this now as a hot beverage – it is cold and wet outside and I am enjoying the warm, cozy comfort of a hot tea, but I think that this blend would be even better iced – it would be a great substitute for soda!  Just a little pinch of sugar will enhance the sweeter notes and make it an irresistible treat for the kids.  It’s naturally caffeine free, so there’s nothing to overstimulate them, either!

This is YUMMY!

Four Seasons from Tula Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tula Teas

Product Description:

Si Ji Chun Wulong

Mr. Liu’s Garden

Dong Ding Mountain, Nantou, Taiwan
2010 Harvest

Our fantastically nuanced Four Seasons Oolong is from Dong Ding Mountain in Nantou, Taiwan. Four Seasons is a varietal developed in the 1980s.  This one was specially grown and handmade by a tea competition judge who is known for his tireless work in working with and developing new tea varietals that are naturally pest-resistant (to eliminate the use of pesticides) and adaptable to climate change.

Read more here

Taster’s Review:

The fragrance of the dry leaf is very enticing and beautiful.  It has a fantastic floral scent that reminds me a bit of a dew-drenched flower garden in the springtime just as the sun begins to warm the leaves and petals.  The aroma carries over to the brewed tea as well, making this a very inviting tea to sip.

And I am glad to accept that invitation, because this is truly a remarkable Oolong.  The flavor is delightfully complex with notes of creamy butter and flower, hints of vegetation and spice, and a delicious background of fruit-like flavors.

The sip begins softly with a whisper of creamy goodness, and then a sharp, sweet floral quality emerges.  All the while, I can taste the notes of crisp apple and a hint of plum.  The sip ends with a bit of cleansing astringency that leaves just enough of the spice notes and a tangy note of citrus on the palate to enjoy in the aftertaste.  It’s really a delicious cup.

This tea is aptly named, because all at once it has flavors that represent all four seasons:  Spring with its beautiful floral tones; Summer with a sweetness of sun-ripened fruit; autumn with a hint of nut and spice, and winter with its warm, comforting buttery notes.

I really enjoyed this Oolong.  Each infusion (I managed six from one measurement of leaves!) is very flavorful and unique in its own way, so please do yourself a favor and savor each infusion!  You’ll be happy you did!

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!

Organic Silver Needle from Teahouse Kuan Yin

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Teahouse Kuan Yin

Product Description:

Silver Needle is the rarest and most prized of white teas. It is comprised of only the downy tea buds before they open, so that they resemble soft white needles. Its flavor is extremely fresh, because so little processing takes place in Silver Needle production. The leaves are very lightly oxidized, and undergo no frying or rolling process. Our Silver Needle is IMO-certified organic.

Taster’s Review:

I love the light, crisp taste of this Silver Needle!

Generally speaking, most white teas possess a delicate flavor, however, this seems to be even more delicate than most of the white teas I’ve tasted in the past.

The flavor is somewhat floral – like a mist-covered, flowery meadow lies somewhere in the horizon, but, not easily seen.  It whispers of its presence to the palate.  There is also a hint of a leafy flavor:  not quite vegetable, and not quite grassy, but somewhere in between, and ever so faint.

This is such a pleasant, sweet tea.  Very relaxing and meditative.  These needles can be resteeped several times with no loss in flavor, so I encourage you to take full advantage of the unique and rewarding taste that awaits you!  I brewed this tea in my gaiwan, using a little extra leaf and steeping for a very short time.  By steeping this way, I find that I really get the most flavor and enjoyment out of the tea… even the steeping process becomes a restorative exercise!

A lovely tea, indeed.

Chocolate Mint Rooibos from TeaScapes

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  TeaScapes

Product Description:

This rich full-bodied tea brews to a reddish orange liquor. The chocolate pieces create a creamy taste and the mint is bright and refreshing. This Chocolate Mint Rooibos tea can be consumed both as a hot beverage and as an iced drink.

Taster’s Review:

Yum!  This is good stuff!

The aroma is delicious – very minty, but with a nice chocolate-y scent too.  I can also smell the rooibos … which smells like, well, like rooibos.

I am happy that I can’t really taste the rooibos, though.  Perhaps a faint nutty flavor or woody flavor here and there, but nothing very pronounced or strong.  As I am not particularly fond of the flavor of unflavored, oxidized rooibos, I find the lack of rooibos flavor here to be a good thing.

The strongest flavor is the mint.  The taste is clean and crisp, just like I’d expect from a strong minty taste.

But before it has a chance to be TOO minty, the chocolate notes hit the palate.  Mmm!  Chocolate!  The chocolate is a milk chocolate-y kind of taste.  It is not as strong as I personally would like it to be (but then, I always say that about chocolate), but there is a good amount.  The result is a tisane that tastes a bit like a mint chocolate chip ice cream (well, except for the fact that this is hot!)

The finish is minty fresh with just a whisper of chocolate.  This would be a great low-calorie, low-fat, caffeine-free dessert substitute!  Delicious!

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!

Hibiscus Berry from Rishi Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Rishi Tea

Product Description:

Luscious currants and delicious forest berries complement this fruity and balanced blend with a wonderful scarlet red infusion that refreshes and rejuvenates.

Taster’s Review:

As I’ve said on several occasions, I’m not a big fan of hibiscus.  Generally speaking, it is too tart for my personal taste.  But, I know that some people out there love the stuff (otherwise, the tea companies wouldn’t be selling it, right?) so when I decided to give this tisane a try, I did so on the premise that I would be fair and objective about the tisane and try not to let my own personal feelings get in the way.

But you know what?  I’m actually enjoying this!  I am surprised that I am actually enjoying it.

I steeped it for just five minutes.  I find that steeping hibiscus-laden tisanes any longer results in a very thick, syrupy, tart cup.  But, five minutes is just long enough to extract flavor and a little bit of body out of the hibiscus without going overboard on the tartness.

And while this IS a tart tisane, it isn’t too tart.  I don’t pucker up when I take a sip, but I do feel that sourness hit the back of my tongue – and its ALMOST a pucker.  I did add a dollop of honey and I am sure that helped to curb the tartness a bit, but it also did something else too; it added definition to the blueberry, currant and mango flavors.

I love that I can taste the sweetness of the mango, and the thickness from the hibiscus makes the mango flavor almost nectar-like!  I can also taste the blueberry peeking through.  It’s a very flavorful, fruity cup and it is one that I am sure kids will LOVE (and this is much better for them than soda pop, even with the honey!)

So, it just goes to show you, don’t let the name of a tea affect your decision to try it.  If I had done that, I wouldn’t be drinking this tea right now, and I am liking it!

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!

Jasmine Snow Dragon Premium from Shang Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Shang Tea

Product Description:

Ingredients: 100% Organic White tea leaves, Jasmine flowers- Antioxidant Rich

Truly a treasure tea, freely rolled tea leaves open to present a delicate and beautiful jasmine flavor. Jasmine Snow Dragon is a signature tea of Shang Tea .

Taster’s Review:

Do you love jasmine?  I mean, really love jasmine?  If your answer is yes, then have I got a tea for you!

I happen to LOVE jasmine tea.  The aroma is intoxicating, and the flavor elevates me to a place of pure joy when I sip it.  And this Jasmine Snow Dragon from Shang Tea is one of the BEST jasmine teas I’ve ever tasted.

From the moment I opened the pouch of this tea, I knew I was about to try something very special.  The aroma was so sweet and floral – it took my breath away.  It smelled like I was walking into a jasmine jungle!  Now, I don’t know if such a place exists, but if it did, it would smell like this tea.  It was as though I were surrounded by jasmine vines and shrubs while the petals “rained” down upon me.

And that amazing fragrance continues with the brewed tea.  Do be sure to inhale deeply before taking a sip of this tea.  My nostrils fill with the delightful scent of jasmine.

And the flavor!  OH!  The flavor!  It tastes so extravagant!  So luxurious!  (Forgive the exclamations!)

The jasmine flavor is very pungent – sweet floral notes with a bit of a sharp, bitter taste from the jasmine.  To the point where it might be off-putting for those who do not love jasmine.  But if you do love it – you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

The white tea base is very soft but it is not completely overpowered by jasmine.  There are soft, fresh notes from the white tea with the faintest whisper of vegetative taste.  The overall cup is sweet, very floral and just enough bitterness to keep it all interesting.

I recommend brewing this one in your gaiwan, using a little extra leaf and very short steeps.  This will get the most sweetness out of the jasmine without allowing it to develop to the point of being more bitter than sweet.

I LOVE this tea!  LOVE it!

Japanese Quince Green Tea from Byron Bay Tea Company

Tea Type: Green Tea

Where To Buy: Byron Bay Tea Company

Product Description:

A brightly-coloured infusion, with jade green undertones, this exotic blend balances the sweetness of quince with a delicate base of Japanese green tea. Green tea is prized for its antioxidant constituency and subsequent benefits to health (particularly digestion). The result is a rejuvenating, aromatic and refreshingly palatable tea that can be enjoyed any time of the day.

Tasters Review:

I can’t say as I have had too many or any Quince flavored teas YET but after tasting this one from Byron Bay Tea Company I surely want to try more!

The sweet green tea taste is delightful – the quince was MADE for this tea and it’s juicy but not tart in the slightest – and the Jasmine isn’t over the top or even that strong at all but gives it an overall ‘pretty’ factor that completes the cup.

The Quince is the key and it is good!  Overall, it’s a gentle, fruity, sweet, yet pretty flavored green but I like this!   I really like this!

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!

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