Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stocking Stuffers, Angels, and Christmas Wishes

A couple of weeks ago, I finished my internship that I had the opportunity to do this semester. I had so much fun working with the four awesome women who ran the show that I wanted to do something for them when I left.

I found a holiday tea stocking stuffer set by Adagio and thought they would make great gifts for the girls. I bought small, individual, decorative wreaths (that are actually supposed to go around candles), put a tin of tea in a silk bag, tied a ribbon around it, and put the bag in the center of the wreath. I thought they were really cute!

Christmas is only a couple of days away so… I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I will leave you with pictures of our angel ornaments on our Christmas tree. Oh, and more tea reviews are coming soon!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Unusual Oriental Jar

At least that was the name on the tag that was on this jar. While browsing the local treasure mart, I found this guy in one of the booths surrounded by “unusual sake sets.”

The jar is about 4 inches tall and a little over 2 inches in diameter. I think I’m going to see if I can use this “jar” as a cup instead. I am going to try to find a strainer that will fit inside the cup, so I can put the strainer in, add the leaves and water, place the lid on while steeping, and when the tea is ready I can remove the lid and the strainer full of leaves and drink my tea out of an awesome tea cup.

What do you think?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday and Winter Sales!

Black Friday Sale!

Still don’t know what to get that person who has everything? I think I can help.

For today only, Yogic Chai is having a huge sale! Type in the coupon code “blackfriday” (without the quotes) and receive 40% off all of Yogic Chai’s blends. Hurry, because this is for today only!

Winter Sale!

Mighty Leaf is having a Winter Sale starting today and lasting through December 3rd. You can save up to 30% on tea pouches, loose teas, and select tea gifts.

Those are huge savings! So, there is no excuse not to surprise that special someone with unique blends and gift sets from Yogic Chai and Mighty Leaf.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Simple Leaf’s Chloe Review

Type: Green
Origin: Pussimbing Estate in Darjeeling, India
Price: $4.95 for 1oz; Sale price of $11.95 for 4oz. (regular price $13.95)
Vendor: The Simple Leaf
Brewing Method: 1 teaspoon of leaves (2.5-3.0 grams), 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 170°F-180°F, steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Overall Score: 2.8 out of 5

Chloe is carefully grown green tea from Darjeeling, India. The typical green tea aroma – very vegetal and grassy - hits me when I open the package. There are nice, big, whole leaves in this particular package. The different shades of green make the leaves very pretty to look at.

The aroma of the tea is very light and vegetal. It has a hint of nuttiness in the background. The liquor is a pretty yellow color.

The aroma was great, but the taste was not. The first sip was bitter. After that I managed to taste the grassy flavor of the green tea. Once I got over the bitterness, the flavor that I got from the tea really wasn’t that pleasing. The taste was very sharp and coarse and from the aroma I was almost expecting a light, slightly nutty flavor. The astringency was minimal, however.

I brewed this for a little over 2 minutes with 170°F water, which is what the instructions recommended. Brewing it for 30 seconds to 1 minute at 160-165°F might take away the bitterness, but even then I still think it will have that same coarse flavor.

Maybe I just had a bad cup. I will try brewing this again at different parameters and see what happens. If my opinion changes, I will let you know.

*** UPDATE ***

I tried this tea again but with the brewing parameters of 165-170°F water and steeped for 1 min.

The bitterness was reduced drastically. I could finally taste the tea on the first sip without having the look for it through the bitter screen. However, the taste was still distinctly coarse and almost metallic. In other words, the lack of bitterness this time was a huge plus, but this tea is no where near my number one.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Neglect x2

I have had these two pieces of teaware on my shelf for a while. I’m sorry to say that I have been neglecting them… but I can explain!

I know I bought this cute little Yixing pot around the same time I obtained my tea table, but I can’t remember exactly when that was. I am guessing around 4-5 months ago. Anyways, it has been collecting dust because I had not been able to find a tea to dedicate it to. However, I have finally decided to dedicate its being to Ti Guan Yin (Iron Goddess).

Yes, Ti Guan Yin is an oolong. -GASP- I know, I know, you can go ahead and point out the several times I’ve stated how much I hate oolongs on TeaChat. Go head, I won’t stop you. The reason I have decided to dedicate this Yixing pot to an oolong is because… well… that just seems like the right thing to do.

From what I’ve seen and heard on TeaChat and talking with other tea experts, most tea enthusiast use their Yixing pots with either oolongs or pu erhs. Because I do not drink pu erh tea, at the moment (it’s on my list of things to try), I figured that my only other option was oolong. The reason I choose Ti Guan Yin is because out of all the oolongs I have tried, Ti Guan Yin is the one that I could tolerate the most. Besides, you never know, I might actually start to like oolongs -GASP- by doing this.

Stay tuned for posts and pictures regarding the seasoning process that this little guy will be going through.

Now, on to previously neglected teapot number two. This is a tetsubin that I picked up at Hubbard and Cravens in Indianapolis. Before I got this sweetheart, I had wanted a tetsubin, but all the ones I found were not that attractive to me. I like color (hello, have you seen the background for my blog?). But, tetsubins normally lack color. Nevertheless, I continued my search for one when I finally found this pretty thing.

It is adorable! I am not sure how many ounces it holds, but I know it is just the right size to serve one person. I love the stand that came with it. The teapot seems to sit so proudly on top of it. Together, the whole thing is gorgeous. Ok, so it is a little girly with the flower in the center, but it still has that “cast iron” attitude.

However, I have been afraid to use it. I have heard horror stories of tetsubins rusting if not rinsed and dried completely after use – especially around the area where the handle connects with the teapot (water loves to settle in there). But, as you see here, I was able to get up the courage to use it… because it is too pretty to just sit on the shelf forever. I christened it with a pot of Plucker’s Pick Brunswick Garden Ceylon BOP tea.

A review of the Ceylon BOP tea can be found here. But, for now, I’m off to make some more tea!

See more photos of these teapots on flickr.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Simple Leaf’s Decadence Review

Type: White
Origin: Rungmook Estate in Darjeeling, India
Price: $15.95 for 1oz
Vendor: The Simple Leaf
Brewing Method: 1 teaspoon of leaves (2.5-3 grams), 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 160°F-170°F, steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.8 out of 5

Decadence is a delicate white tea from Darjeeling, India. The loose leaves are huge, long strands – and by long I mean a good inch and a half. They are a beautiful mix of light greens, dark greens, and whites.

The aroma of the dry leaves is very fresh and vegetal. It reminded me of the smell of spring, where everything is lush and full of life.

The aroma of the tea is light, but, once you find it, it has a fresh, crisp smell. The liquor is a pretty pale yellow color.

I have had many white teas, but I don’t think I have ever tasted a white tea as smooth as this one. It has a very delicate taste. It is very crisp, light, and I think it is safe to say refreshing. There is not even a hint of bitterness or astringency anywhere near this cup. I think this tea would be best served after a meal, because I think if this were served with food, you might lose the delicate flavor.

This tea is not an “every day” type of tea – you will notice that when you take a look at the price. However, you can serve this tea to your special guests… kind of like breaking out “the good wine” on those certain occasions.

I think this would be a nice tea to get when entertaining guests during the holidays. Serve this to fight the tryptophan from the turkey so you can stay awake enough to actually watch the football game (and tea also aides in digestion too… for those second and third helpings)!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Plucker’s Pick Ceylon BOP Review

Type: Black
Origin: Ceylon
Price: $5 for 1oz; $16 for 3.5oz.
Vendor: Plucker’s Pick
Brewing Method: 1 teaspoon of leaves (about 2.5-3 grams), 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 4-5 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.9 out of 5

Ceylon BOP or Broken Orange Pekoe is a specific grade of tea from the Brunswick garden in Ceylon. As you can see, the leaves are finely broken, but not necessarily in the form of dust. The site of the leaves is rather dark, but I do see some pretty light brown specs in there. The aroma of the dry leaves is fantastic. It is not very pungent, but when you do get a whiff it is very earthy and malty.

The aroma, however light, of the freshly brewed tea is great, as well. The same stimulating malty smell follows through in the steeped leaves. The liquor is a very dark brown color.

The aroma may be light, but the taste is not. The taste is hearty and brisk. Like most black teas, this is a full bodied brew. It is not bitter or astringent. The pleasant aftertaste lasts quite a while.

I heart Ceylon tea! The reason I like Ceylon over other blacks, like Assam for example, is because it is a very hearty and stimulating tea, but it is not too harsh on the palate. It is not smoky or spicy. Ceylon teas have so much character while not being too strong at the same time. Because of this, Ceylon teas can stand up well to milk or sugar, but it is not necessarily needed.

I am totally making me another cuppa!

P.S. There are more pictures of Plucker's Pick Ceylon BOP tea on my flickr page.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Organic Detox Infusion Review

Type: Herbal
Origin: United States
Price: Sample (regular price - $9.95 for 15 pouches)
Vendor: Mighty Leaf
Brewing Method: 1 pouch, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 4-5 minutes.
Overall Score: 3.7 out of 5

Organic Detox Infusion is a delicate mix of organic peppermint, organic burdock root, organic dandelion root, organic spearmint, organic licorice root, organic red clover flowers, and basil. I could smell the mints immediately after opening the package. This blend was really colorful – I could see a lot of greens, whites, reds, and yellows. There were a lot of large bits in the pouch and very little dust.

I could smell the mint and the licorice in the finished brew. It definitely didn’t smell as minty as the dry leaves. The liquor is a deep yellow color.

I was afraid that I might not like this tea after I saw that one of the ingredients is licorice. However, after I tasted it, I quickly found out that this blend has just the right amount of mint to hide enough of the licorice so I don’t make a funny face after swallowing.

The licorice and mint is all that I taste, really. The mint creates a nice cooling effect in my mouth and throat. I can taste the peppermint slightly more than the spearmint. The cooling effect is not too overpowering - like the “I-just-ate-a-whole-candy-cane” type of feeling – it seems to be just the right amount of mint.

So, even though this has the dreaded (in my opinion) licorice in it, I think I could see myself drinking this tea again. The mint takes my mind off of the licorice and leaves a pleasant sweet, cool aftertaste.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Organic Green Dragon Review

Type: Green
Origin: China
Price: Sample (regular price - $9.95 for 15 pouches)
Vendor: Mighty Leaf
Brewing Method: 1 pouch, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 170°F-180°F, steeped for 1-3 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.4 out of 5

Organic Green Dragon consists of high-grade Chinese Longjing green tea leaves. I was excited to see nice, big, whole leaves in the pouch when I opened the package. The leaves were a beautiful dark green color. The aroma of the dry leaves was more buttery than grassy.

The aroma of the brew is very nutty and buttery. There is still a hint of grassiness in the background. The liquor is a light yellow color.

The taste was a 180 from the aroma. I could taste the grassiness of the green tea first, and then was left with the slightly sweet, buttery, nutty taste. The nuttiness of the tea reminds me a lot of Dragon Well, but with twice the nutty flavor.

I would say it is a brisk, but mild, light bodied tea. I thought the tea was a tad astringent and little bitter. However, I brewed this tea for 2.5 minutes, so I think brewing it at 1 or 1.5 minutes might take away that bitterness. I could feel the drying affect in my mouth, however, it didn’t bother me any.

I really like that this tea is organic and the only ingredient is the Chinese Longjing. That means I know exactly what I am drinking and I don’t have to worry about any evil natural flavors. In conclusion, this tea was put on the list of “greens to buy.”

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bengal Breakfast Review

Type: Black
Origin: Base of the Himalayas
Price: Sample (regular price - $14.29 for 2oz.)
Vendor: Teatulia
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 3 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.2 out of 5

According to Teatulia’s website, Bengal Breakfast is 100% organic black tea from the base of the Himalayas. The aroma of the dry leaves was very subtle; I couldn’t smell much, but what I did smell was the typical aroma of black tea. Most of the leaves in the pyramid were whole, dark leaves – which is always good to see.

Teatulia's instructions said to steep this tea for 1-2 minutes. All of the black teas that I have ever had said to steep for 4-5 minutes. So, I compromised and steeped it for 3 minutes. The aroma of the freshly brewed tea is unlike any black tea that I’ve had so far. It was very subtle and reminds me a lot of the aroma of oolong tea. The liquor is a reddish-orange color.

The tea was not as bold as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I would still consider it a full bodied tea. However, since this tea was described as Teatulia’s “boldest black tea,” I guess my expectations were a little different.

Nonetheless, this tea is very smooth and pleasantly malty. Even though it is not as bold as Irish breakfast (which really kicks you in the butt), it is still rather brisk and lively. It is not bitter, but a tiny bit astringent. The aftertaste lingers for quite some time. I think I can safely conclude that this would be a great addition to any breakfast!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fruit-flavored Teas by George Carlin

A couple of days ago I was reading George Carlin’s book, “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops.” I stumbled upon this bit and just had to share it. Here, Carlin expresses his opinion about fruit-flavored teas… an opinion that he and I share.

Fruit-flavored Teas:

I would like to talk to you about fruit-flavored teas. These would be teas that are flavored like fruit. Fruit-flavored teas. You need to understand that. These are not fruits. They’re teas.

But they taste like fruit. All right? They have names like strawberry kiwi, lemon berry, orange mango, wild cherry, blackberry and cranberry. They taste like fruit. And they sound like fruits, too, don’t they? They’re not. They’re teas. Fruit-flavored teas. And frankly, I don’t understand this.

Personally, I’ve always been of a mind that if you’re looking for fruit flavor, if you’re genuinely interested in something that tastes like fruit, and you find yourself in the tea section, you’re probably in the wrong aisle.

My advice is, if it’s fruit flavor you’re after, play if safe, go ahead and get some fruit. I have found in my experience that fruit almost always turns out to be reliable source of fruit flavor.

Another good place you may wish to look for fruit flavor would be in fruit juice. Fruit juice is made by squeezing the juice out of the fruit. Apparently, the juice that runs out of the fruit has fruit flavor. Perhaps that’s why they call if fruit juice. It doesn’t taste like tea. For tea taste, you would need to get some tea.

So let’s sum this up: If it’s fruit flavor you want, you can’t go wrong with fruit. Or, as I’ve pointed out, fruit juice. Don’t be ordering tea. Tea has tea flavor. It’s not like fruit. It’s more like tea. If you want tea, I say order tea. That’s a different experience. It’s known as “having tea.”

Have you noticed, by the way, there are no tea-flavored fruits? Take a clue from nature.”

Ok, one difference is that I will actually DRINK fruit-flavored teas. They are not my favorite kind of teas but every once in a while they can cure a sweet tooth craving. However, when I have my choice, I will still reach for the stuff that has not been fooled around with.

George Carlin rocks! Period. Rest in peace… your ability to speak your mind, no matter what the consequences, has led the way for the rest of us.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Choice Organic Tea’s Chamomile Citrus Review

Type: Herbal
Origin: Egypt
Price: Sample (regular price - $8.49 for 15 pyramids)
Vendor: Choice Organic Teas
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 4-5 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.1 out of 5

Chamomile Citrus is what it says it is – chamomile and orange peel, but with some hibiscus thrown in, as well. The leaves definitely smell very flowery and fruity. I saw a lot of white, yellow, and orange colors in this pyramid of whole leaves. I could actually see the long stems on the whole chamomile and hibiscus flowers.

I could smell more of the chamomile than the citrus while the leaves were steeping. The liquor was a very deep yellow, almost tan, color.

The taste was so sweet and floral. The citrus provided a nice, fruity aftertaste. The brew had that “apple” flavor that I have heard described with chamomile. It was not astringent or bitter at all. It was actually very sweet. If you want to add sugar to this, then I think you are crazy! The taste was also very crisp and clean. It was mellow and the aftertaste didn’t last very long.

The Choice Organic Tea reviews stop here… for now. I am not particularly into bagged tea, but there were a lot of whole leaves in the pyramids of each of the teas that I reviewed. Also, I love how these teas were organic and fair traded. Their website has loads information, plus all kinds of teas to choose from so check it out when you get the chance!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sweet Liquorice Mint Review

Type: Herbal
Origin: Not Stated
Price: Sample (regular price - $8.49 for 15 pyramids)
Vendor: Choice Organic Teas
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 4-5 minutes.
Overall Score: 2.5 out of 5

Sweet Liquorice Mint is an herbal blend of liquorice, peppermint, and spearmint. The peppermint was what I smelled first when I opened the package. That aroma was followed by spearmint. The leaves are really colorful with green, white, and brown pieces in the pyramid.

I could smell more of the liquorice as the leaves were steeping. The mints were still in the background, though. The liquor is a vibrant yellow color.

I personally do not like liquorice so I knew this review was going to be interesting. When I took a sip, I instantly knew this tea was not for me, but for those of you who like liquorice, I will try to write an unbiased review.

The sweet liquorice was what I could taste at first – and it really is sweet. The mint no longer had a strong presence after the leaves were steeped. It seemed to be all about the liquorice. There was a little bit of a cooling effect in my mouth in the aftertaste, but not as much as I thought there would be considering there are two kinds of mints in it (but I am not sure what the ratio of liquorice to mint is in this blend).

The reason this tea received a low score is because of my personal preference only. I did not enjoy this tea because I just don’t like the anise flavor. If you like these flavors then you might want to try it out for yourself to see what you think instead of just going by what I say. If you would like to know more check out the descriptions and reviews on Choice Organic Tea’s website.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One Year of MySI!

If you check the blog archive, you will notice the first blog entry I made was on October 15th, 2007. Thus, today marks the 1 year anniversary of My Steeped IdentiTEA!!

During the year:

There have been major changes throughout the year. This is my first (and only) blog, so when I started it, I had very little knowledge about blogging and very little knowledge about the subject I was blogging about - tea. When I set up the blog I simply used my two favorite colors, black and green.

I became busy with work and college classes so I didn’t do much to the cosmetics of the blog; I just concentrated on taking pictures and writing posts. I loved my teaware so much that I felt like they needed to have posts of their own, so I wrote about that at first. Then, I used the blog to keep notes on teas that I’ve tasted.

I found out later about doing “reviews” of the teas that I had obtained. It was great because these reviews let me keep notes about what teas that I’ve tried and it provided an honest customer opinion for people looking to buy tea.

I was shaky about how to do a review at first. I wasn’t sure what all information was needed to provide a descent review (which is why my reviews were freakishly long). However, hopefully I’m starting to get the hang of it.

During the summer of 2008, I was not working and taking only one college course so I had loads of time on my hands. Because of that, I started playing around with the color scheme and layout of the blog.

As you can see, I finally decided on the colors of black, orange, yellow, red, and brown. I felt like these colors enhanced the pictures of tea that I was taking. It took several weeks, but I taught myself HTML so I could edit the blog layout to have three columns with the color scheme and layout that I had picked out.

This last year with this blog has definitely been a huge learning experience with blogging and with tea. I have learned so much about both. My only problem has just been finding time to post.

What is to come:

I am still making changes to the layout of the blog to see what works best. Because of that, I welcome any and all feedback to anything about my blog (seriously! I love comments!).

More reviews are on the way! Several teas have been sent to me and I am eager to try them and post about them. While school is in session, the only time I have to do reviews is on the weekends… hence the long periods of time between posts.

I am hoping to fix that by not just posting reviews. I would like to start posting about other tea related events, whether it is news, useful information, my observations, comments, and/or findings concerning tea, etc.

Another new thing that will, hopefully, come up in a few months is me obtaining a better camera. The camera that I use now is my parent’s cheap digital camera. It’s a great camera for pictures of people or objects three feet away with a lot of natural light that only needs an auto focus. However, I need a camera that can take excellent close up shots of tea leaves, the liquor of the tea, and all of the other details. More than likely I will need something with a manual focus and zooming capabilities, among other things, but I know nothing about cameras and photography as of this moment.

So, in the next couple of months I will be looking up everything I can about getting the right camera for me with the right features at the right price. If you any photography advice to offer, I would greatly appreciate it!

Therefore, that is what is to come in the following months. I hope to have another great year of learning new things and sharing new ideas. Thanks for staying with me for this long! I hope to not disappoint in the years to come… because I’m just getting started!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Caffeine + Free Time = Me Being A Dork

This weekend homework was extremely light and the boyfriend was away in Chicago, so that allowed me to get a lot of tea reviews done (among other things). Once I finished my reviews and chores, I still had a boat load of free time.

My creativity got the best of me and the following video is the result. It is a video that I made for my boyfriend while he was away. I am posting it on here because it does mention tea in it. My friends and family who have seen it said it is funny and cute. Let me know what you think.

This is what happens when I have had way too much caffeine and free time.


There is no inside joke between us about my thumbs – that was just me being random.

I know “ear things” could be called something different like, “head set, ear piece, head phones, etc.” but I like saying “ear things.”

Actually, I did make the video so I could use my new eye toy that I got for $9 (and because I missed him, of course)! The eye toy has great quality for being a cheap webcam, even though it was made to be used with a PS2. I bought it at one of those “used games” stores. Hurray for deals!

For those of you who do not know, Psychological Egoism is a theory that says every action that one does is done to only benefit one’s self… if it benefits others, that is just a bonus.

The “Rock Band/Bastard” is an inside joke. My boyfriend is visiting his brother in Chicago and his brother owns Rock Band. Sometimes I go with him to Chicago and we all play it together, but this time I didn’t go… so I was jealous that he got to play it.

“All 6 kitties, I mean 7” – His parents have 5 cats and he has 2 which makes 7 cats total. I took care of them all while they were gone.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Earl Grey Review

Type: Black
Origin: India
Price: Sample (regular price - $8.49 for 15 pyramids)
Vendor: Choice Organic Teas
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 4-5 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.3 out of 5

Earl Grey is a blend of Indian black tea and bergamot oil. Pieces of orange peel and safflower petals have been added to this blend, as well. Holy citrus batman! When I opened the package I had to hold it away from me because the citrus smell was really intense.

The aroma of citrus is one of those scents that are easily detected so I’m sure the intensity of the citrus aroma in this tea is not necessarily a negative (at least that is what I think so far). When it comes to appearance, the blend in this pyramid is really pretty. The dark tea leaves make the bright orange peel and safflower petals really stand out.

I could really smell the bergamot while the leaves were steeping. I could smell the black tea, also, so that meant that the citrus aroma was not overpowering everything else in the tea. The liquor was a deep orange color.

I have been turned off to Earl Grey’s in the past because the ratio of black tea to bergamot oil was way off. There was always way too much citrus flavor. I was worried that this tea was going to be the same way, from the amount of citrus aroma that came out of the package.

However, I liked this one. I could taste the hearty, full bodied black tea and the bergamot oil was left in the aftertaste. It was a little astringent but not bitter. I will stress the heartiness of this brew. This blend was really intense. It is a nice pick-me-up kind of tea and would probably make a great companion to those early mornings.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

English Breakfast Review

Type: Black
Origin: Vietnam and India's Assam region mixed with Ceylon
Price: Sample (regular price - $8.49 for 15 pyramids)
Vendor: Choice Organic Teas
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 4-5 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.5 out of 5

English Breakfast is a delicate mix of organic black teas from Assam and Ceylon. When I inspected the dry leaves, I could smell the hearty Assam tea. The leaves were a mix of very small light brown and dark down bits. It did not look like there was any dust in the pyramid, but the leaves were quite tiny.

I could smell the malty Assam as the tea was brewing. The liquor was a very dark reddish-brown color. No wonder this blend is called English Breakfast - the aroma was very bold and hearty but also bright and cheery at the same time.

The taste will definitely wake you up. It was very bold and intense. The full bodied Assam with its hearty, malty taste was up front and then I was hit with its smokiness in the aftertaste. However, it is not as smoky as an Assam tea alone, so I think the Ceylon helps smooth it out.

The taste is not bitter at all. Although, if you wanted to add milk or sugar I think this tea would stand up well to either of them. It is not astringent, but refreshing, actually. The Ceylon tea probably plays a big role in caging the astringency because the smokiness of the Assam tends to dry out the mouth. Ceylon teas are one of my favorite black teas because of this refreshing factor.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chai Latte: Dark Chocolate Chimp Review

Type: Chai
Origin: Not Stated (My guess is India)
Price: Package of 6 different chai lattes for $8.25
Vendor: Coffee Masters (I could not find the set that I bought on their website)
Brewing Method: added 3 tablespoons of powdered mix to 8 oz. of water, then added about 2 oz. of 2% white milk.
Overall Score: 2.5 out of 5

While vacationing in Branson, Missouri I found a chai latte set in a small souvenir shop. These lattes are in powdered form, so it just dissolves in hot water or milk – no steeping required. Nevertheless, I thought I would try them out to see how they taste compared to “real” chai.

No, that was not a typo in the title. Dark Chocolate Chimp (all of the chai lattes in this set have some animal in the title) is a mix of spices with some dark chocolate coco powder added. The full list of ingredients include: cane sugar, non-dairy creamer (coconut oil, corn syrup solids, sodium caseinate, mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, lecithin) honey granules, dutch dark cocoa powder, black tea extract, black tea powder, natural spice blend, natural flavors. Yummy, right? Ha! There is also 135 calories per serving in this faux chai.

Both in the dry powder and while the powder was being mixed into the hot water, the chocolate aroma stood out. I could not distinguish any other spices that might possibly be found in chai (for example: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, etc.). Of course, I’m not exactly sure what was in the “natural spice blend.”

The taste was more intense than I thought it would be. I expected it to taste watery, but it did not. It was creamy (which I’m assuming had a little help from the milk). Other than that it just tasted like hot chocolate… well, really bad hot chocolate.

I did not much care for the taste at all. It was a little bitter and, I want to say, sour. I couldn’t taste any certain spice, but my mouth felt hot after swallowing each sip so I’m sure cinnamon had to be in there somewhere.

I did not even drink half of this chai before I sat it aside. If you want “real” chai instead of this instant chai, then I would recommend Yogic Chai instead.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Breakfast Tea Sale!

School has begun, which means no more sleeping in until noon and laying around all day in your P.J.'s! For those of you who are out of school, the same old daily routine can get boring, mundane, tiresome... well you know how it is.

Mighty Leaf wants to help you drag your butt out of bed and greet the day with something other your bunny slippers. From now until September 18th, select breakfast teas have been discounted!

That's right! Save 20% on select breakfast teas from Mighty Leaf by clicking on the picture to your left! Start jazzing up your mornings with Organic Breakfast, Organic Earl Grey, Orange Dulce and many more! Your bunny slippers will thank you for it!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Estate Blend Darjeeling Review

Type: Black
Origin: Darjeeling
Price: Sample (regular price - $8.49 for 15 pyramids)
Vendor: Choice Organic Teas
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 4-5 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.8 out of 5

Estate Blend Darjeeling is simply organic black tea from the Darjeeling region. When I opened the package, I couldn’t smell the tea until I took out the pyramid and held it to my nose. Once I did that, I could smell the sweet, fresh Darjeeling. The leaves in the pyramid looked completely whole with very little dust.

Ah, who doesn’t love the aroma of a good Darjeeling? The subtle muscatel aroma was what I could smell as the tea was brewing. I really loved this aroma compared to other blacks because it was so distinctive and wine-like. The liquor was a gorgeous light orange or tan color.

The taste was amazing. I felt like I should have been drinking it from a wine glass instead of a teacup. The sweet, muscatel flavor was bold, but it did not linger for long. This was a refreshing brew with no astringency or bitterness at all.

One thing I noticed was that after brewing the leaves, the pyramid was ballooned to its full shape. The leaves had opened up so much that there was no more room in the pyramid. In other words, I was glad this tea was in the pyramid instead of a regular bag, because otherwise the tea would not have much room to open at all. However, I still think loose leaf is the way to go if one has the option.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Jasmine Green Review

Type: Green
Origin: China
Price: Sample (regular price - $8.49 for 15 pyramids)
Vendor: Choice Organic Teas
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 160°F-170°F, steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.3 out of 5

Jasmine Green is an organic green tea base infused with the essence of jasmine blossoms. The sweet, floral jasmine presented itself when I tore open the package. The jasmine scent was not over powering, but it prevented me from smelling the green tea. The leaves were rather dark for green tea; however, there were a lot of whole leaves and very little dust.

The jasmine aroma was the only thing I could smell as this tea was brewing. Like I said before, though, the jasmine was not over powering. I keep noting this because I have had jasmine teas in the past that were so fiercely infused with jasmine that it almost made me sick to drink. From the way this tea smells, I think it will be pleasant to drink. The liquor is a bright yellow color.

After sipping on this tea, I concluded that it was one of the better jasmine flavored teas that I have had. The floral flavor from the jasmine filled my mouth and then left a sweet aftertaste. The one negative thing was that I couldn’t really taste the green tea in this brew. Nevertheless, the tea was not bitter or astringent at all. I thought the tea was sweet on its own, but I’m sure adding sugar would enhance that quality.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tea Pouch Sale!

Now through September 2nd, Mighty Leaf is wanting to help you celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fall with a tea pouch sale!

See the nifty picture to your left? You can start saving 30% on all Mighty Leaf tea pouches by clicking on it.

If you want a sneak peak at what Mighty Leaf has to offer, check out my reviews on Chamomile Citrus, Green Tea Tropical, and Orange Dulce.

Why wouldn't you want to save up to $14 per box on yummy, delicious teas? Exactly! So, here's to enjoying the rest of the summer in style!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fukamushi Sencha Supreme Review

Type: Green
Origin: Shizuoka Prefecture
Price: $22.95 for 110 grams (approx. 4 oz.)
Vendor: O-Cha
Brewing Method: Per Instructed – 3.0g of leaves, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 150°F-160°F, steeped for 1 minute.
Overall Score: 4.7 out of 5

According to O-Cha’s website, Fukamushi Sencha Supreme is a first rate, first flush green tea. It was harvested in the first round of picking in 2008. It is described as a very intense green tea and tends to be more astringent than other greens.

I barely opened the package and I could smell the grassiness of the leaves. The aroma of the leaves was hard to describe because it wasn’t sweet smelling, but very vegetal. The dry leaves are so pretty. They are very dark green specks which ranged from dust to rolled up leaves about a ¼ of an inch long.

More of the vegetal aroma was present during the steeping process. The liquor was an amazing green color. My camera doesn’t do it justice.

Wow, they were not kidding about the intense flavor. Each sip I was hit with a bold grassy, vegetal flavor that lasted a long time in my mouth. This tea was slightly bitter and quite astringent, just like O-Cha said it would be. I really didn’t mind the astringency so much because the supreme flavor is what made me really like this tea.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gotcha, Matcha!

Finally! While in Chicago with my boyfriend and his parents, I was able to obtain my first matcha set! I have wanted one for a while!

I will pause so you can cheer, dance, break open the wine, or however you celebrate.

I say obtain instead of buy because my totally awesome boyfriend is the one who actually purchased it for me. In fact, he planned the trip to the mall in Schaumburg just so he could surprise me with the Teavana store that was in there. Ok, say it with me: awwwww.

I have to buy all of my teaware and loose leaf tea online because the only tea that my small town has is the overly sweetened stuff from McDonalds. In other words, seeing all the teaware and loose leaf bins on the shelves in Teavana was freaking sweet! I wanted to buy the whole store! What really sucked, though, is that there was a “now hiring” sign in the window… and if I wouldn’t have lived 3 hours away I would have put in my application immediately.

Aside from the matcha set, I bought myself a bamboo tea tool (haha, tea tool… haha) set and a set of four cups. No tea table is complete without the proper set of tools, so I couldn’t pass that up. The drinking cups I bought are beautiful! Don’t you think? I absolutely love the green one!

It was hard to pick from all the awesome teaware that Teavana had in their store. I’m happy with the new additions to my collection and I walked out of there with a few ideas for Christmas.

Here is a description of each of the tea tools that is on the box that the tools came in:

Mini Whisk – Ideal for stirring tea with sugar, milk, matcha, honey, and lemon in delicate tea sets.

Hot Lid Tongs – A handy tool for removing lids from hot tea pots or handling sugar cubes. The bamboo is gentle enough where it will not scratch or damage the paint on the outer surface of a delicate tea pot.

Tea Scoop – A traditional handmade 6 inch bamboo spoon. Its wide head and long handle make it a comfortable tool for measuring out scoops of loose leaf tea.

Demi Spoon – A universal handmade 6 inch bamboo spoon.

Chashaku – A traditional matcha measuring scoop made from a single piece of bamboo. It is typically used in matcha tea ceremonies.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jade Green Review

Type: Green
Origin: China and India mix
Price: Sample (regular price - $8.49 for 15 pyramids)
Vendor: Choice Organic Teas
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 160°F-170°F, steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.1 out of 5

Jade Green is a mix of organic Chinese and Indian green teas. I could smell the grassy green tea as soon as I tore open the package. The leaves are very tightly rolled up bits and can easily be viewed through the fabric of the pyramid.

The one thing that immediately concerned me was the amount of tea in the pyramid. There really wasn’t that much in the bag. I broke out my digital scale and weighed the tea to find out that the whole pyramid (tea, string, paper tag, and fabric) only weighed 2.2 grams. Subtracting about half a gram for the pyramid itself, which means there was less than 2 grams of tea here.

The reason I was concerned was because normally the “rule of thumb” is 2.5 grams of loose leaves per cup of water. Also, some instructions I have for Chinese green tea is 3-4 grams of loose leaves per cup of water. I know this was being kind of picky, but the leaf per water ratio can greatly affect the taste – in good ways and bad ways.

While steeping, the tea gave off a luscious, sweet, grassy aroma. The liquor is a bright yellow color. Going back to my issues of how much loose tea was in the pyramid, I started to think that maybe Choice Organic put that amount of tea in there because of how much room the leaves needed to open up. However, after steeping there was still over half of the pyramid that was empty.

I was not as pleased with the taste as I hoped to be. The tea definitely had the usual green tea – vegetal and grassy - taste to it. However, it was also a little bitter and almost sour. There is a small amount of astringency (but I don’t think I’ve found a green tea, yet, that has none). Even though the flavor was light bodied, it was not watered down. Because of that, I can safely guess that Choice Organic knew what they were doing by putting less than the usual amount of loose leaves in the bag.

I love drinking green tea that hasn’t been overly flavored with fruits, flowers, herbs, etc, so I was very excited to try this one. However, this wasn’t exactly my favorite green tea, but it was nice to have a cup of green without all of the additives.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lychee White Review

Type: White
Origin: India
Price: Sample (regular price - $8.49 for 15 pyramids)
Vendor: Choice Organic Teas
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 160°F-170°F, steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.2 out of 5

Lychee White is an organic white tea base with natural lychee flavor and organic osmanthus flowers. When I opened the package I could smell the lychee right away. The overall aroma was fruity but flowery at the same time. The translucent pyramid allowed me to see the white tea leaves along with bits of osmanthus flowers.

The lychee aroma was more intense as the tea was brewing – it smelled really flowery. The liquor was a dark yellow color.

The lychee is definitely present while drinking. The tea had a very sweet, flowery taste between the lychee and the osmanthus flowers. However, I could not taste the white tea at all and I wish I could. The brew was not bitter or astringent. Even though this tea had an overwhelming flowery taste, it did not last long in my mouth.

That last paragraph was a challenge to write because the flavor of this tea had almost no after taste, at first. That sounds weird, I know, but I literally drank half of the cup of tea before I could write about what it tasted like. Normally, I only have to take a couple of sips to start writing; drinking more to confirm my opinion. But, this tea did not coat my mouth right away like some teas I’ve had.

Overall, I was pleased with this tea. Even though I could not taste the white tea, the lychee flavor presented itself quite nicely.