Petit Macaron/Whittard’s of Chelsea -Ashmanra

Photo Credit: Whittard of Chelsea

When I first tried this tea, I didn‘t know the difference between a macaron and a macaroon. Macaroons are far more common here! I have now been introduced to macarons, which I much prefer, but that’s just me! The two are very different.

This tea does have lots and lots of coconut pieces and the coconut flavor is as noticeable as the pastry like scent, the caramel, and hazelnut flavor, with hazelnut being the lightest element here. There isn’t a lot of oil floating on top like some coconut flavored teas have, nor is coconut overpowering to me.

The main thing is noticed was that as much as I loved the flavorings in this one, they did not obliterate the taste of the tea base. Quite often, flavorings will utterly mask the tea base, and tea lovers can feel a little let down. We want TEA. Here we have equal strength in the cup of tea, coconut, caramel, hazelnut, confection…how did they accomplish this?

I think the key is that over a third of the leaves in this blend are Sencha, a green tea from Japan that boosts the actual tea presence to keep it from being masked. It’s has a bit of edge that some black teas don’t have, and you end up tasting both the black and green, with the black tea lending a luscious, rich base for all the other ingredients.

I often pair sweets with unflavored black tea, usually from China, but this is a flavored tea that goes well with most sweets or serves as a decadent and chic afternoon treat on its own.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Black/Green

Where to Buy:  Whittard’s of Chelsea

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Upton Digital Pocket Tea Scale/Upton Tea – Ashmanra

Photo Credit: Upton Tea

One thing teaheads love almost as much as tea is tea accoutrements, all the little doodads and helpers and tea making paraphernalia that money can buy. Some tea people specialize in Chinese or Japanese accoutrements, some in Yixing clay or Korean ceramics, but most have an eclectic array of helpers, like timers and infusers of every size and style you can imagine.

I finally purchased an item that I have had my eye on for a very long time. You see, most of the accoutrements are not actually NECESSARY. They can be very helpful and a lot of fun. This one will be helpful. I am sure of it. Also fun, because I will be playing with tea when I use it!

When you are trying to get the very most out of your tea and you have purchased some really fine quality leaf, you want it to taste the very best. But some leaf almost defies measurement. Sometimes silver needle can be too long to rest in your teaspoon. Shou mei can be so large and fluffy that guessing what amount it takes to weigh 2.25 grams can be daunting, and again, it refuses to behave itself in a teaspoon. Loosely pressed puerh and iron cake puerh can be hard to gauge.

I tried measuring tea on my kitchen scale, but it wasn’t sensitive enough and I had to keep piling leaves on before the scale even knew tea was there. That’s when I decided to order the Upton Tea Company scale.

The scale arrived very quickly and was very well packed. I ordered the calibration weight as well, because why have a scale if you don’t know if it is accurate?

The scale was so easy to use, right out of the box. It has a nice little case and feels like it will last. It has a tare feature, naturally, and was easy to check and calibrate. It would fit in most pockets so it isn’t going to be a space hog and is very portable.

In addition to weighing in grams, pennyweight(dwt), and ounces, Upton had it programmed with a cupweight mode, meaning you place the amount of leaf you have or wish to use on the scale and it tells you how many cups of tea you can make with that amount of leaf. That is a great feature when you are determined to do a sipdown or when you just want to know which capacity teapot to pull out.

Is it necessary? No. Is it going to be helpful when I am reviewing a new tea like a super fluffy white or a very compact puerh, or when I have guests and I want to get the proportions right the FIRST time? Absolutely!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Where to Buy: Upton Tea

Description

The tremendous range of leaf styles in loose leaf teas makes measuring by volume imprecise. Our digital pocket tea scale solves this problem in a unique way, by introducing a special ‘Cupweight’ mode. In this mode, the scale displays the precise number of cups that a portion of tea will yield, based on the industry standard of 2 1/4 grams per 6-ounce cup. Note that this scale will also weigh in grams, ounces and pennyweight (dwt mode). One year limited warranty. Each scale is precisely calibrated at the factory.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Charlotte aux Fruits Rouges/Damann Freres- Ashmanra

Photo Credit: Dammann Freres

My first “gourmet” flavored tea was by Dammann Freres, and it felt like a whole new wonderful world had been opened up to me. It astonished me that they could put so many flavors into a single tea without them competing and turning it into a pure mush in which one flavor could not be distinguished from another. I remember seeing “biscuit” flavor listed and thinking, “Hah! How can you make tea really taste like biscuit? It probably just tastes like vanilla!” And then I sipped and my eyes widened and I said, “OOOOOOOOH! It tastes like biscuit!”

Not flour-y buttered biscuits from the good old Southern USA, but a lightly sweet European biscuit. They NAILED it. Oh, delightful pastry, how I love thee!

That first tea had lots of different flavors, but this one boasts of just biscuit and four red fruits. They have achieved marvelous balance with this tea, as the sweetish biscuit flavor rises hand in hand with the fruit flavors in a perfect blending. I detect mostly strawberry, not tart but not candy sweet.

The biscuit flavor keeps it feeling like a decadent grown-up tea and not a candy tea for a children’s tea time. The base has nice heft. I steeped it just below boiling and at about three minutes. (I have found that I prefer those parameters for almost all black French teas.) I definitely made nommy noises. We all cried, “Encore!” when the pot was finished.

The good news is that the second steep was just as good as the first. Bravo, Dammann.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Damann Freres

Description

A blend of black teas with the delicious scents of red fruits, combining the aromas of cherry, strawberry, raspberry and red currant for an irresistibly fruity tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Intensely Liquorice and Mint/Twinings -Ashmanra

Photo Credit: Twinings

The tea I am drinking came in a sampler pack and has a slightly different name from the one in the link provided. However, the ingredients listed and their proportions are identical, so I am convinced they are exactly the same.

I read a lot of tea reviews, and what I glean from said reviews is that I am one of the few people who really likes liquorice root. I love the sweetness liquorice root gives and I love the weird, almost indescribable throat feel and the lingering taste.

There is more mint in this tisane than liquorice, but the liquorice nevertheless makes itself known immediately. The mint is hot on its heels, however, and the cooling effect lasts and lasts.

I was pretty excited by the mention of this having blackcurrant flavor, but a little disappointed that I couldn’t taste it as much as I had hoped. There is also fennel, but I am not too familiar with the taste of fennel in an infusion so I am not sure what it adds to this mix.

Bottom line – this is liquorice upfront with lingering fresh mint taste and hint of fruitiness. It wasn’t stellar and unforgettable, but it was a decent evening cuppa.

Readers be aware: most teas or tisanes containing liquorice carry a warning that people with hypertension should not consume large amounts, as liquorice root can cause blood pressure to rise.

 


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Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy: Twinings 

Description

Liquorice and Peppermint Infusion with Blackcurrant Flavour.

Let’s take a nostalgic wander through the flavours of your past, transporting you back to your favourite sweet shop.‚  We infuse sweet liquorice and fennel with cooling peppermint to create a delectable, sweet and refreshing taste.

This infusion is made with all-natural ingredients and is naturally caffeine free so you can enjoy it any time of the day.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Four Red Fruits/Kusmi- Ashmanra

Photo Credit: Kusmi Tea

I love Kusmi’s packaging, I love Kusmi’s muslin tea bags, and I am loving Four Red Fruits!

I have tried a few Kusmi teas that ended up on my “must order” list. I can add one more now.

Four Red Fruits must be a “thing” overseas because I have had other teas and jams by that name, all of them from French companies.

First impression when I steeped this was….dark, rich aroma. Hallelujah, the tea base is going to be good on this one. I can tell by the smell! And it is.

It is so disappointing to get a great smelling tea and then find that the base is inferior and the tea tastes like watery disappointment with flavors added.

No disappointment here! The base has heft. I know I am drinking a good black tea.The company description talks about the pairing of sweet fruit against bitter black tea base, but I wouldn’t call this bitter. It is a great black tea with the nice, dark undertones you find in Keemuns and such. And it is the perfect foundation for adding these beautiful fruit flavors. They are not tart and not too sweet, just perfectly balanced. I can taste the tea and I can taste the fruit.

I have been disappointed that my favorite strawberry tea of all time was discontinued a few years ago. Now I can say I have found a tea that fills that void, even though there is more than just strawberry here. This is delightful, and I can see myself having it at breakfast and for tea time, or even with a late night snack as I am doing right now. Time to update the desert island list…


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Kusmi

Description

An organic black tea with red fruit flavors that will remind you of your favorite pastries!

If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise!

If you go down to the woods today… you’ll be picking strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, and cherries!

We certainly didn’t beat around the bush when choosing these red fruits! We wanted them to be indulgent and delicious, delicate and refined… Then we combined them with an intense organic black tea to showcase their full flavors.

In a word, we went the extra mile – and it was worth it! Get ready for an organic Four Red Fruits black tea straight from the oven! Or almost… This tea is even better with a pastry or a biscuit for your afternoon snack.

Organic tea available loose because it’s good for the planet, and in teabags for when you’re on the go.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!