- Review: The Tea Can Company Lemon Classic Tea
- Review: Driftwood Teas Organic Ruby Oolong
- Review: Canton Tea Co. Jiang Hua Dan Cong (Ginger Flower)
- Review: Shanti Tea Chocolate Strawberry Mocha
- Review: Pure Aroma Tea Formosa Orange Blossom Oolong
- Review: Canton Tea Co. Superior Organic Dragon Well
- Review: Golden Tips Tea of Darjeeling Fine Sikkim
- Review:The Tea Can Company Mango Amazon
- Review: Driftwood Tea Oriental Beauty
- Review: Mark T. Wendell Brandy Oolong
I am not that well versed in lemon flavored black teas because the few that I have had have been fairly disappointing in that they are either way too sour to be enjoyable, or the flavor is too artificial. I had high hopes for this tea because it contains only lemon peel and lemon myrtle in addition to the Ceylon tea. As I have already written about the packaging side of The Tea Can Company, I am going to focus this review only on the tea itself. I steeped my tea sachet in boiling water for three minutes to produce a reddish-coppery tea with a sweet an gentle lemon aroma. With just one sip, two things instranly struck me: 1) The lemon flavor is wonderful, being perfectly natural and not too pungent, and 2) this tea is not at all sour, but instead remarkable sweet with a flavor who's finish resembles the nuttiness of rooibos tea. I found this tea to be, for me, the ideal lemon tea because the lemon flavor is genuine and in the perfect amount to complement, instead of overwhelm, the Ceylon tea base. Although I have a fairly limited basis for comparison, I will say that this tea is the best lemon-flavored black tea that I have sampled. The Ceylon base is solid yet not too strong, further elevating my impression of this tea. The tea is very soothing as a hot tea, but also very refreshing and thirst-quenching as an iced tea, so it gets extra points for versatility.
I have had some truly wonderful oolongs from Driftwood Teas and I have high hopes for the latest that I am sampling. This is an organic tea grown in Thailand that is subjected to nitrogen increasing the natural gamma-Aminibutyric acid concentration by around 10x. The dry leaves have a strange aroma that almost reminds me of new plastic. Once brewed the liquor is a reddish amber in coloring and the aroma is definitely more appetizing though rather light. I am able to pick up hints of plums, brown sugar and juniper berries. This tea has a thin mouth feel with none of the lingering aftertaste that I so love in oolongs. Instead it has a rather sharp taste of juniper berries and cinnamon. While I am sure that this is a high quality oolong it has none of the attributes that I so love in this style of tea. I would definitely drink a cup if it was offered to me but this is not one that I would consider stocking in my own cupboard. • Water Temp: 190 degrees • Time: 2 minutes
This tea comes to us from a small farm located on the slopes of Mt. Wudong, in the Chinese province of Guangdong. The leaves can be harvested only once per year in the spring, from 40-60 year old Jiang Hua Xiang trees. They are then withered, rolled and cooled just the right amount of times to produce buttery ginger flower notes. My sample is from the Spring of 2012. The leaves are impressively long and loosely twisted – I can tell right away that I'll need a scale to measure them. Their aroma is softly floral, reminiscent of lilac, lily of the valley and narcissus. I decided that such a special leaf deserved a gongfu treatment. I followed Canton's suggestion, brewing 4 grams of leaf in 200ml of water heated to 95 degrees Celsius for 5 seconds. The cup is buttery and grassy with a hint of honey to the finish. There is also a sizable peppery yet mineral element to it that, in combination with the finish, is reminiscent of fresh ginger root. I don't know if I would have made that association on my own though. The power of suggestion is most possibly at play here. According to Canton the leaves can be brewed up to 12 times. I managed to pull 10 steeps in total. I might have been able to get a few more with longer infusion times. I re-steeped the tea adding 5 seconds each time, except for the last 3 steeps, where I added 10. My second try was similar to first cup, with it's buttery top notes. However it presented a more pronounced ginger ale flavoured finish, especially as the tea cooled. My favourite of all was the third brew, with it's more potent and well-developed ginger ale taste. The sweet finish is long lasting and leaves a slightly spicy aftertaste.The background flip flops between hearty buttery greens such as kale and Swiss chard, springtime bulbs and mineral notes. All and all this makes for a complex yet easy to drink cup. The following four steeps are quite sweet and more intensely floral. The ginger taste recedes slowly, leaving a slightly drying mineral finish in it's place. My last three cups were pleasant enough but not outstanding in any way. By the 10th, the tea is vaguely sweet, smooth, but not much more flavourful than hot water. I found this dancong to have quite a unique flavour profile. The words “ginger flower” do describe the flavour perfectly. While I also brewed some leaves the lazy, Western way with good results, it's worth infusing this tea gongfu style to get the most out of the leaves. It's quite pricey, but worth a splurge, especially since it's available in a variety of formats and currently on sale. Definitely a masterfully produced artisanal dancong!
Shanti Tea's Chocolate Strawberry Mocha is one of two unique tea blends offered. Shanti Tea combines coffee beans with tea and flavorings, I was impressed by the other blend I've had from them, their Caramel Latte so we'll see how this one compares. Shanti Tea combines coffee beans, tea (presumably black), cacao pieces, rosehips, safflowers, and natural essences together to create a unique blend of all things caffeine. Considering this cup has coffee beans in it, you would expect it to give a fairly dark liquor. To my surprise the liquor is amber gold and that is after brewing past their recommended 2-3 minutes. From my experience with their previous tea and coffee blend I chose to steep for 5 minutes. The scent of the coffee beans is definitely present with a sweet smell to it as well. While this tea is considered full bodied, you can't expect it to be as black as a cup of coffee. The strawberry is pretty evident with the sweetness of rosehips, but the chocolate flavor is lacking. It was difficult to pick up on the chocolate alone since the coffee beans carry their overpowering flavor. Milk is not recommended in this cup, so I skipped it. Their other blend, Caramel Latte was definitely enhanced by the milk, but they suggested it so I'll take their advice on this one. Overall, this blend is tasty and definitely unique, but I'd rather have their Caramel Latte tea and coffee blend instead. Still, a good blend to have on hand for coffee lovers.
This tea blends a Taiwanese oolong with orange blossoms. It promises a “light, delicate, brightly scented” cup. The maroon-coloured leaves are interspersed with orange blossom petals. The tea smells strongly of orange oil, somewhat like the softer, sweeter cousin of the bergamot oil used for flavouring Earl Grey blends. I followed the suggested directions, infusing a heaping teaspoonful of leaves in 8 ounces of water heated to 85 degrees Celsius for 2 minutes. The cup is a dark amber colour. It's quite fragrant, mixing the scent of orange zest and powdered ginger root. Taking a sip, the taste blends the flavour of oranges in many forms: zest, fruit and flower. Again there is the zing of powdered ginger, especially in the finish. The tea is smooth to the taste but leaves an odd drying sensation in the mouth. It's otherwise quite soothing and satisfying. I brewed the leaves again for 3 minutes. The tea base comes through more strongly this time, lending malt and biscuit notes to the blend. The orange flavours are still going strong. The long-lasting aftertaste is more like orange flower water at this point. Unfortunately the dry feeling is also still present. I steeped the tea again 2 more times, for 4 and 5 minutes respectively. Both cups are thin and watery. No unpleasant element surfaces but the flavour has only a hint of orange to it. I would stop at cup number two next time. On the upside, the waxy orange blossom petals add something special to the look of the steeped leaves in my infuser. Overall I found this tea to be quite flavourful and well blended. It offers complex and soothing fruit and flower notes, as well as a touch of spice. My only caveat would be the dry feeling this tea leaves in the mouth. Otherwise, it's definitely a good value for the money at its price point.
Over the years, I've tasted a lot of bad green tea. From stale, dusty, teabags sold under generic labels, to stale, crumbling, leaves stuffed into glass jars in upscale/natural grocery stores, I've spat out many mouthfuls made from such mistreated leaves. Somewhere along the way, I learned what an excellent, fresh, properly packaged and prepared green tea is supposed to taste like. I can't remember the where or when of that happy event. What I do know is that it tasted like this Dragon Well from Canton Tea. Co. The uniqueness of this superior (highest grade) leaf was evident at first sight and sound. Shaking the package sounded like I was shaking a box of matches. No other tea leaves sounded quite like this. There were no sticky, smashed-up bits in the package. The small leaves were crisp, folded thin and flat, (designed to look like bird beaks!) and completely individuated. They didn't cling together like leaves that are twisted during processing. This surprising and fun appearance had a bit of danger, though. If I tipped the package ever so slightly, these dense little beak-sticks would have scattered everywhere. That would have been a tragedy. This is a famous Chinese tea-one of China's "Top 10,"and touted by many as number one on the list. I easily understood why. The taste was pure, clean, and green. It seemed the consummate balance between sweetness and briskness. Nothing distracted from that true tea flavor. It takes cooler (about 160 to 175 degrees) water to brew the best Dragon Well. It tastes divine after about two minutes, and if you keep adding water, a heaping tablespoon (or two) of leaves in a 12 ounce pot will keep you going for several rounds. Highly recommended. I rate it a 10.
Golden Tips Tea hasn't made much of an impression on me yet, but this is a game-changer. The leaves are small and deep brown with streaks of silver. I steep at 195° for three minutes and get a cup that smells brilliantly fruity and herbal. Temi's Sikkim never fails. This is sweet and light with a beautiful hay flavour with herbal and floral notes and a fantastic hit of peach. Sikkims can sometimes have a dry finish, but this has a fruity juicy hit at the end. Steep two is five minutes. It still smells brilliant. It's milder, and the flavours are a bit muddled, but it's still a delicious cup. This is easy enough to drink and unbelievably low priced that is could be an everyday cup of tea. But it's delicious enough that it seems special. It's definitely the sort of thing I could buy in large batches and drink all the time.
Living somewhere where mango grows in abundance, I have developed an intense love of this fruit. So of course I was happy to sample Mango Amazon black tea from The Tea Can Company. The tea is listed as containing black tea, mango pieces, marigold flowers, and mango and passion fruit flavors. It is not clear to me if these fruit flavors are naturally or artificially derived. I poured boiling water over my tea sachet and let it steep for three minutes. I instantly noticed a strong flowery scent coming off the tea, and as I took my first sip, it was the flowery element instead of the fruity element which caught my attention. Floral notes can be, in my opinion, hit or miss, and in this case, as I was hoping for a strong mango flavor and instead got a pretty intense floral flavor, this was a miss. I would have preferred to see the floral contribution subdued a bit. After getting past the floral notes, I focused on the fruity flavors, and I found that the mango was really hard to discern, and was masked by the pungency of the passionfruit flavor. There was a hard-to-describe sharpness to the flavor which I found could only be controlled with the addition of some rock sugar. I noted that this tea was decent as a hot tea, but better suited to be taken as an iced tea. Overall, this isn't necessarily a low-quality tea, but just one whose flavor profile doesn't meld with my taste buds. If you are expecting a strong hit of mango, you will likely be disappointed, but if you like flowery flavors, this one may serve you well. This is one of several Tea Can Company teas I have reviewed, and while it is certainly not a bad tea, it is my least favorite of all that I have sampled.
Driftwood Tea's Oriental Beauty is an oolong tea that comes from Hsinchu County, Taiwan. Oh Taiwan, I am so enjoying your teas! Oriental Beauty is also known as Dong Fang Mei Ren, you may have also heard the name Champagne Oolong as well. This oolong is definitely a beauty, the leaves are a tie-dye of colors from white tips, to dark brownish black middles and ends. What is so interesting about this tea, and it may sound gross, but tiny insects take their time and nibble on the leaves. What results is an initial oxidization while the leave is still attached. Due to the damage by the insect, chemicals are released by the plant and an aromatic honey flavor is produced. I followed the European brewing instructions for this tea, brewing a tablespoon of leaves in 8 ounces of water at 190 F for 4 minutes. The first time I had this tea I was at a loss of words in how to describe it. Different than any other oolong I've had thus far. It is medium bodied, the scent is of cinnamon and an almost woody, smoke scent. There is a lasting finish of sweet honey and fruit. The second brew at 4 minutes is so sweet, almost plum like as Sophie noted. I couldn't stop drinking! A longer steep at about 7-8 minutes is amazing! All I can say is you have to try this one for yourself. This is a very layered cup with flavors of smoked wood, cinnamon, sweet honey, and plum. This tea makes me hunger for summer and honey bees! (As well as fresh honey from friends!)
I feel as though I am rather spoiled as I have spent the last couple days immersed in my sample of Brandy Oolong. This rather unique oolong is rather heavily oxidized and has just recently been introduced to those of us in the West. And boy am I delighted that it has finally made it. The dry leaves are long and twisted and a dark chocolate brown. The aroma they give off is that of molasses. Once brewed, the liquor is a dark amber and the aroma is still that of molasses but with some spice too it now. This tea has a very silky texture to it with a bit of dryness at the end of each sip. It has a very rich flavor with malt, spices and dark molasses which becomes even thicker as it cools. Very tasty indeed. This is a tea that takes to being resteeped with grace. I was able to get resteep it four times with a fifth being very possible as the leaves had more to give. And at just over $4 an ounce, this tea is a real treasure at a very low cost. I know that I plan on picking some up the next time I order. Water temp: 195 degrees Steep Time: 2 minutes