Murmur from Handmade Tea. . . .

I received this tea at the beginning of the year after a tea friend signed me up for a monthly subscription to Handmade Tea. It smelled awesome and was just full of strawberry bits and cacao nibs but the white peony base had me apprehensive. However, it was gifted to me and the smell caught my attention so I got to brewing.

I made this both as a plain cup of hot tea and as a chocolate milk latte. I steeped both for 4 minutes in boiling water as per the recommended steeping parameters. In the process I managed to spill chocolate milk all over the counter, the floor, and my pajamas but I suppose there’s no point crying over that now.

I tried the latte first and I am definitely picking up on those cacao nibs. This is a whole lot of cacao flavor and not much else. Honestly what it tastes like to me is a packet of rich instant hot chocolate that’s been made with water instead of milk because it’s got the almost dark chocolate flavor (and a fairly high quality one at that) but it’s thinner than a typical hot chocolate.

The hot cup allows for more of the flavors to stand out as they aren’t being drowned out by the strong chocolate milk flavor. The base tea is floral but also has a honeydew flavor as promised on the package. Unlike what’s promised on the package, I don’t quite get the “drizzled with honey” part this tea should have per its description. There is also less strawberry flavor than I expected given the copious amounts of that ingredient in the dry leaf. What I do get is a heavier/darker taste as each sip ends and I think that is the result of the cacao.

If I am being honest, this tea is lacking a lot of the flavors described on the package which is surprising because the dry leaf is clearly built up of a variety of different ingredients that just seem to get lost in the mix. It’s by no means a bad tea but I wanted a chocolate covered strawberry and all I’m getting is a dark and fruity white tea. I wonder if maybe a smaller cup or different steeping parameters could help coax out more flavors? Luckily I still have some left I can experiment with.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  White
Where to Buy:  Handmade Tea

This tea is no longer available but click below for more information regarding  their monthly tea subscription.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Coconut Lime from Handmade Tea. . . . . .

Month two of my three month Handmade Tea subscription arrived. This time I kept that wax sealed envelope closed and decided I would let the tea speak for itself before reading the provided tasting note.

First thing I noticed was the big pieces of coconut in the blend. The scent of them takes over which makes since given the bright white coconut chips amidst a sea of black tea. When steeped up though, the malty assam base is what floods the nose leaving me a little bit worried that those coconut chips are just for show.

Sipping on the blend, I will say it is a pretty nice black tea. The malt is strong here. It is smooth but a little bit pithy and astringent as the sip finishes. I imagine that is the contribution of the lime element seeing as I have no other indication of its presence in the tea. There are also notes of raisin and stonefruits, sweet and jammy, with a drizzle of honey. Now and then there is a creaminess that I think is the coconut though it is faint and merely textural. To be honest, if I was blindly trying this, having not known the name or seen the dry leaf, I would have assumed this was a plain assam tea, not a flavored one.

So, having now tried the tea and assessed it for myself, let’s see how my observations compared to those laid out in the tasting note: “The black tea has light raisin notes along with a brisk astringency” – so far it seems my thoughts are in line with what is to be expected. “Next we add coconut chips to add a natural sweet flavor. Coconut also adds a thicker and more complex mouth feel” – I definitely got the mouth feel component here, though I interpreted as a creaminess as opposed to the described thickness and the sweetness I attributed to the base instead of the coconut. “Lastly, dried lime peel is added in to finish out the blend. The tartness and subtle sweetness of the citrus balances well with the coconut and raisin-like notes of the base tea” – this was lost on me.

In addition to the tasting note, the blender provides a message in which he also makes note of the stone-fruit flavor I picked up on in the tea. He also speaks to the fact that he believes this is a good winter tea which is an interesting point in light of the more tropical/summery coconut and lime flavors. However, having drank the tea, I can see how this is better for the winter given the focus on the rich base as opposed to the lighter flavoring

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Handmade Tea

This is a selection from Handmade Tea’s monthly subscription plan. Click below if you want to learn more about this plan.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Spiced Coffee from Handmade Tea. . . . .

This sample is a SURPRISE SAMPLE from Handmade Tea, a tea-subscription company! I love blind-box subscription companies. What’s going to come? NO ONE KNOWS. It’s like Christmas EVERY. MONTH.

Handmade Tea is run by a fella named Caleb, who I think I’d like in person. He looks like a very intelligent lumberjack. In addition to mixing, he hires artists he thinks would go well with the blends. A self-professed foodie, he thinks society’s “only a few short years away from tea pairing becoming very common.”

This blurb made me realize — I would love to be a tea sommelier. I kind of already do this with my coworkers. “How are you feeling? Would you like a cup of tea? What are you in the mood for? Fruity? Flowery? Spicy? Sweet? Caffeinated? Let’s narrow it down. Here. I’ll steep it for you. I know how much to use and how long to steep it.” Yes, I realize this makes me sound like a know-it-all, but isn’t that PRECISELY what a sommelier is?

This Spiced Coffee tea is great for the mornings. It’s black and, by what I can tell from taste and how hard my heart’s pounding, a little bit of maté. (ZING, FAM.) There are also some spices and real coffee beans.

“Oh yes,” I whispered when I looked at the bag in which the Sororitea Sisters shipped this to me. “I am going to have a HEART ATTACK.”

There is nothing like a cardiovascular incident to begin a morning.

Despite the ingredients, this is a pretty mellow taste. Swishing the tea around in my mouth yielded a mellow maté flavor. (I pray maté is in this. If it’s not, I’m going to die of humiliation.) Swallowing yielded up the spices and coffee.

It’s a good brew. It’s the kind of brew an intelligent lumberjack like Caleb would make.  Thanks for the morning kick, pal!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Handmade Tea

This tea is no longer available but click below to learn more about Handmade Tea’s monthly plans.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Krampus Brew from Handmade Tea. . . . .

An awesome friend signed me up for a few monthly subscription packages from Handmade Tea. This is a company I had not heard of before so I was very excited to see what they had to offer. This past week the first month’s package arrived and it was bigger than the monthly subscription packages I have received from other companies such as Amoda and TeaTaxi. So, when I opened the package to find just one tea, I was certainly surprised.

Before me was 3 oz of Krampus Brew along with a beautifully wax-sealed envelope containing a note from the tea maker, brewing instructions and tasting notes. The tasting notes were an interesting touch because it seemed as if it were a guide telling me what I should be tasting.

I am told by the tasting notes that the base is similar to a light oolong, smooth but with a hint of smokiness. In fairness, that is pretty accurate. I am also told that the cherries sweeten the brew with a bright honey-like flavor and add a tart finish. I suppose that there is a sweetness here but I don’t know if I would describe it quite as a “bright honey-like flavor” and I certainly am not detecting a tart finish. Finally, the tasting note suggests that the cloves and cinnamon provide the classic spice taste and adds boldness to the mouthfeel. Like the description of the base, that is also pretty accurate.

All in all, it seems the tasting note I was provided is fairly spot-on. However, I am left wondering if I am detecting these things because I feel I should or if I am tasting them because they are actually there. Next month I will drink the tea first and then compare notes. As it is, this tea is mostly a sweet and spiced gunpowder tea. Pleasant enough albeit just a little boring. I expected more cherry from the big pieces in the mix but it seems they are mostly just contributing the fruity/sweet component that is hiding just beneath the base.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green Tea
Where to Buy:  Handmade Tea

This tea is no longer on the site but check below for what teas are and to learn about Handmade Tea’s monthly subscription plan.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pineapple Old Bay from Handmade Tea

Today I have a little bit of Tea Association for you but first a mini-back-story! My father is a bit obsessed with Old Bay Seasoning. Yes. Old Bay Seasoning. He puts it in everything! For Christmas he prides himself on his famous 29 egg omelette that can feed a small army. The secret ingredient? You guessed it…Old Bay Seasoning! Because my diet consists of vegan foods I will not partake in the Christmas Day Tradition but my husband, his brother, my sister, her husband, and my mother look forward to it every year. Enter Pineapple Old Bay from Handmade Tea.

july_2016_label_3ozThis was the main reason I was so excited to try Pineapple Old Bay from Handmade Tea. More of a word association or in this case a tea association. I have to give credit where credit is due and in the sample I was sent I had a MIGHTY HUGE chunk of pineapple that was gently coated in Old Bay Seasoning. It looked impressive, it smelled YUMMERS, and it tasted semi-spicy, semi-sweet, and semi-savory all at the same time. The black tea base itself was of medium strength and the flavor combo of the Old Bay and the Pineapple seemed to be MADE for each other.

I tried this another time with just the spiced black tea in the strainer. No mammoth pineapple was seen or heard from with this second cuppa. And it was just as impressive! The only difference was it wasn’t sweet because of the lack of pineapple but I was ok with that. The Old Bay was the sole hero when it was standing by itself. It still shined. Pineapple Old Bay from Handmade Tea is something of a miracle of sorts. My father would be grinning from ear to ear…that is IF I left any for him to try! Sorry Dad…but YOU’RE WELCOME Tummy!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy This Monthly Box:  Handmade Tea


logoPineapple Old Bay begins with a blend of two Chinese black teas. This is a medium base tea with bright notes. Hints of grapefruit can also be found. Large chunks of dried pineapple are blended into the base tea. This adds a juicy, tropical kick that pairs nicely with the grapefruity notes of the base tea blend. Lastly, a light dusting of Old Bay seasoning is added to the blend. This has a bit of a kick but is balanced enough to not be overwhelming. The spice kick helps balance the sweet pineapple.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!