Mintberry Pine Green Tea Blend from M & K’s Tea Company

MintBerryPineTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  M&K’s Tea Company on Etsy

Tea Description:

Sweet roasted sloe berries doused in honey and liquid hibiscus, tossed with fresh spearmint and 3-distinct green teas, paired with real pine needles. That’s Mintberry Pine. It’s our limited-edition green tea holiday blend that offers a more complex, subtle taste (as opposed to mint exploding in your mouth with the force of a white hot sun). If you’re a green tea lover, mint lover, berry lover, or all three, this tea is perfect for you. Get it while it’s here!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I saw that M&K’s Tea Company had some really intriguing holiday blends, I decided that I needed (yes, needed) to try them!  Fortunately, they understood this need and they offered a Wintertime Tea Sampler!  This sampler offers five different teas:  Moroccan Mint, Pine Needle Tea, Winterwolf Tea, White Vanilla Peppermint and this Mintberry Pine Green Tea.  These samples were all packed into a special sampler package that’s just the right size for stocking stuffers.  It’s a handsome package, something that Santa would be proud to give!

Before I received my package, I received a message from Marty (the “M” of M&K’s, I think!) explaining that the Mintberry Pine (and the Pine Needle Tea) are both very subtle teas.  He recommended steeping them a little longer than the package directs and to allow plenty of steep room for the leaves (let them steep loose in the teapot instead of using an infuser tool).

To steep, I grabbed my small teapot (4 cup size) and dusted it off – it’s been a while since I’ve used this!  I have gotten spoiled with my Breville!  I warmed the teapot and poured the contents of the sampler into the teapot and heated 16 ounces of water to 180°F.  Then I poured the water into the teapot and let it steep for 3 1/2 minutes.  The package suggests 2 – 4 1/2 minutes, but I couldn’t bear to let a green tea steep longer than 3 1/2  minutes.  I was willing to sacrifice a little of the mint, berry and pine flavors but I didn’t want a bitter green tea.

Yes, the flavors are a little subtle, but I like that I’m tasting all the elements of this tea and that the green tea doesn’t taste bitter.

I like the subtle flavor of the mint here.  I like that I have a crisp, cool minty taste without it tasting like I added a shot of mouthwash to my cup of green tea.

The berry notes add some sweetness and not a lot of tartness (which I was a little apprehensive about because I saw liquid hibiscus up there in the description).  There is a light, tingly tart tone that tickles the tongue (try saying that five times fast) in the aftertaste, but that’s to be expected with berry blends.  I’m also picking up a delightful honeyed note from the honey roasting process.  Nice touch.

The pine needles are the softest flavor component of the three elements in the name of this tea.  I do get a very slight, resinous pine note to this that hits the palate right at the start and then it quickly disappears and reappears just after mid-sip, just to remind me that it is there.  It’s very faint and it’s something that I think I’d have missed if I didn’t search for it.

However, as I continue to sip, I taste more and more of the pine, and by the time I’m halfway through my second cup of this tea, I’m getting a nice pine note.  It never becomes a strong presence, but it certainly is a noticeable presence at this point.

And let us not forget that we’re drinking tea here.  There’s a soft, buttery note of green tea.  It’s lightly grassy (and I think that the grassy tones accentuate both the pine and the mint notes in a positive way), and it has a nice mouthfeel.  It’s not bitter nor is it overly astringent, even though I steeped it longer than I typically would steep a green tea.  I think that this could have even gone another 30 seconds to 1 full minute longer without bitterness!

Overall, a very unique blend.  Certainly festive and definitely different from the other teas that everyone else is producing out there!  Bravo M&K!

Witch’s Brew Black Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

WitchesBrewTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  M&K’s Tea Company on Etsy

Tea Description:

Broo! Spooked ya, scared ya. This tea doesn’t have real witches inside (apparently that’s illegal), but it does have witch hazel bark! Witch’s Brew combines sweet Ceylon tea and hearty Assam tea with sleepy-inducing chamomile and a host of other herbs in order to blend into this secret holiday brew. Try it with some cream and sugar for a real treat!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:
By now, you may have already read some of my praise of this Etsy company.  One of the things that I’m so pleased with is their customer service.  But I didn’t go into detail with why I’m so impressed with them.  Here’s my tale:

I placed my order with them and the next business day, I received an email telling me that the order has shipped.  Along with that email, I was provided a tracking number (I like that.  It’s not something that all companies do, but I think they should.  It would provide great peace of mind to their customers.)

Later, I received a message from M&K’s that there was a problem with my shipment.  Apparently, the package that I was sent wasn’t my order, it was someone else’s, but they were sending out the correct package.  They told me to keep the wrong package as well.  I told them that to “compensate” for the loss, that I would be writing about the “extra” teas that I’d be receiving.

When the wrong order arrived, I was aghast at how many samplers were inside the box!  Wowza!  It was an exceptional opportunity to try so many of this company’s teas – teas that I hadn’t ordered in my original sampler.

A couple of days later, the teas that I had ordered arrived.  Inside the box was not only the five samplers that I ordered but a free sample as well (I like that too.  Again, not something that all tea companies do, but I think they should.  It not only feels like a “free gift” for the customer, but it may well turn into additional business for the company.  If the customer likes the sample that they try, they might order it again.)

In addition, there was a handwritten note thanking me for my order.  I really appreciate those little touches.  It makes me feel like I’m buying from a real person and not a company.  It makes me feel like that person sees me as a real person and not just a number.

So, even though this company made a mistake with my order, they more than made up for the error.  I appreciate that a lot.  And while the mistake was an “error in my favor,” I have no doubt that M&K’s made it up to the person who was “shortchanged” with this mistake.  That just seems to be the kind of company that they are.  And that’s the kind of company that I appreciate and want to do business with.  And because it seems like companies like this can be a rarity (I’ve found quite a few WONDERFUL tea companies that are a pleasure doing business with), you want to continue to do business with them so that they stay around!

Let’s get on with this review, shall we?

This Witch’s Brew is actually the first tea from my actual, original order with M&K’s.  The ingredient list intrigued me:


It looks like a recipe straight out of a witch’s recipe book, doesn’t it?  Well, except for the Ceylon and Assam tea.

witchesBrew1I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, as it does look like a lot is going on with this blend.  But, I was intrigued by it so I decided I’d give it a try.  That’s one of the cool things about these samplers.  You get just enough to “try” out the tea and the cost is minimal.

The black tea offers a solid background of flavor without being too powerful.  It doesn’t overpower the herbs and spices in this blend – and this tea does seem to be a little more about the whole of the ingredient list (at least for me!) so I’m glad that I can taste these other flavors.

I am getting a fair amount of flavor from the licorice root and I taste the honey roasted-ness of it.  I don’t know that I’ve tried honey-roasted licorice root before, but I do like the way the honey roasting softens the bite that I’d normally experience from licorice root.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that sharp snap of the licorice root, but it’s nice to get a sweeter, more subdued licorice note too.  I also am getting a sweet flavor from the toffee notes and the honey notes meld nicely with the toffee.  I think that these two components work together to complement each other and bring out the best in one another.

The chamomile is a fairly strong flavor which actually kind of surprised me.  I hadn’t expected to taste much of the chamomile in the presence of other strong flavors in the cup, but I am getting that apple-y note that I often get from chamomile.  And I think that the floral notes of the chamomile accentuate the helichrysum flowers as well, because there is a flowery note to this as well.

The tea, toffee, honey roasted licorice, chamomile and helichrysum are the strongest notes, but I’m also tasting a light nutty flavor from the rice, and other herbaceous flavors.  Notes of bitter that I attribute to the skullcap.  I think that the bitterness might be accented by the witch hazel bark and the cat’s claw.

Like I said, this tea has a lot going on.  Maybe a bit too much going on, and I could have done without the bitterness that I experienced from a few of the herbs in this.  That said, even with the notes of bitter, I’m enjoying this beverage and am nearly finished with the cup.  I find that the flavors become smoother and more unified as the cup cools, so if you do get try this one, I recommend letting it cool for a few minutes first.

Steeping parameters I used:  1 heaping bamboo scoop of tea in the basket of my Kati Tumbler, 12 ounces of water heated to 205°, steeped for 3 minutes.

Peppermint Bark Black Tea from 52Teas

Peppermint-BarkTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

My wife has been hounding me to make a peppermint bark tea. She makes peppermint bark every year at Christmastime and it’s all gone now and we’re back on the diet bandwagon, so I agree, it’s time for a peppermint bark tea. This is a blend of our premium black teas, fresh cut peppermint and organic flavors. I realize that almond bark is not really white chocolate, but I used some organic white chocolate flavoring (along with a bit of marshmallow to sweeten it up) to approximate the flavor, and wow is it delicious! I went easy on the peppermint–there’s nothing worse than a tea that tastes like mouthwash–and I think I struck a pretty awesome balance. 

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

When I opened the pouch of this Peppermint Bark Black Tea from 52Teas, I was pretty surprised that I didn’t get a huge whiff of peppermint fragrance.  I kind of expect that from a tea with mint, because mint tends to be an overpowering scent.  But while I could absolutely smell the peppermint, it wasn’t a strong aroma.  I mostly smelled black tea.  I could also pick up a slight nutty note that reminded me of almonds and a hint of a alcohol-ish note that reminds me of the smell of extract.

The brewed tea smells a little bit minty, a little bit sweet and more than either of these two things, again, I’m smelling tea … and again, I’m surprised that the mint notes are not more prevalent.  However, after reading the description, I think that is what Frank (the chief Zoomdweebie at 52Teas) was going for anyway.  He didn’t want this to be a sip of mouthwash … and it isn’t (and definitely doesn’t smell like it either!)

The flavor is really nice!  I taste mint, but I taste other things too.  I taste the tea – It is a smooth, robust tasting black tea base.  It’s not the strongest flavor that I taste … instead this cup is a compelling combination of flavors where everything sort of melds together deliciously to offer up a confectionery delight.  I don’t know that what I’m tasting is white chocolate peppermint bark in a teacup, but, I like what I’m tasting.

I taste the nutty flavor of almond and I taste the sweet white chocolate.  The white chocolate is actually the flavor I taste least, but it is elevated by the addition of marshmallow that adds a sweet, “fluffy” kind of taste that gives the cup the “confectionery” sort of flavor that I mentioned before.

As I said, I don’t know that I’m tasting peppermint bark.  But, I like what I’m tasting, and if I were given a piece of candy that tasted like this, I’d be more than happy to devour it!  It may not taste like the peppermint bark that I’m used to, but that said … I think I might like this better than the peppermint bark I’m used to!  A very tasty cuppa!

On The Third Day of Christmas, Della Terra Teas Sent Me This Tea…

It’s the third day already!  Christmas is almost here!  Wow!

Without further ado, I will go right into today’s tea, because it’s a good one!

Peppermint Perfection

Day3Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Della Terra Teas

Tea Description:  

On the third day of Christmas we have ourselves some French hens.  Well, that is fine of course, but wouldn’t you rather have a cup of some amazing peppermint tea?

Well, here it is!  Peppermint Perfection, pure vanilla and peppermint create this creamy, peppermint-y tea!

Taster’s Review:

I couldn’t find this tea on Della Terra Teas’ website, but I did find their Peppermint Bark tea, and I thought that they might be the same tea, so I contacted Della Terra Teas to find out!  (And may I just say that the customer service at Della Terra Teas is top notch!  They get back to me via email promptly whenever I have an issue.  I like that in a company.)

I asked them whether or not the Peppermint Perfection and the Peppermint Bark teas were the same teas, and here is what they told me:

Actually, though similar, the peppermint perfection has one part more vanilla than the peppermint bark.

That’s really about the only difference other than maybe just a wee bit more mint flake.

So, this tea is similar to the Peppermint Bark, which is formerly known as Candy Cane Lane.  So let’s find out how much the additional vanilla and a wee bit more mint flake changes things up, shall we?

Mmm!  This is really good.  The aroma of the dry leaf is reminiscent of the aforementioned Candy Cane Lane, although I think that the extra vanilla seems to enhance the chocolate-y fragrance just a tad, because I could really smell the chocolate when I opened the pouch this time.

And I can really taste the chocolate too.  There is a delicious concinnity of chocolate and vanilla to this cup, and the peppermint is strong without overpowering the cup.  The black tea is a little less represented than the flavors here, but, I find that as the tea cools slightly, that I’m picking up on more black tea notes.  Everything balances out very well.

This is a tea that certainly benefits from a few moments to allow the tea to cool slightly.  The flavors become more distinct after about three minutes of cool time.  It’s still a tea that I prefer to drink hot (just not straight from the teapot hot!) and it’s a perfect tea for this time of year.

This was one of my oldest daughter’s favorite teas from last year’s box (well, the Candy Cane Lane was!) so I am happy that a new version of it was included in this year’s box so that I can share some more of this tea with her.