“The Big Chill” – January’s Steepster Select Box

I hope you’ll bear with me as I do something a little different with tonight’s post.

As a subscriber to the Steepster Select program, I receive a box with three different teas.  Each month there is a different theme.  This month’s theme is “The Big Chill.”  The box also includes a postcard size card that offers some insight on the theme, as well as the teas that are chosen.

Here is the description of The Big Chill:

For when winter seeps into the bones and dull skies numb the spirit, we have just the teas to warm you through and through.

A smokey black tea, fire crackling at your feet.
A chai with warming spices, heat spreading from sip to fingertips.
A peppermint-blended green tea, the remembrance of holidays past.

Seasons greetings from Steepster.

This month, I have already reviewed the smoky black tea and the chai with warming spices, but have not yet reviewed the peppermint-blended green tea.  That’s because I already reviewed this tea back in November, and since it was such a short time ago, I didn’t feel the need to review it once again.  My thoughts on this tea haven’t changed:  it still tastes crisp and minty and refreshing. However, I didn’t want to let January close without having mentioned the third tea.

The teas that were chosen for this month’s Steepster Select were all wonderful teas and were perfect for the chosen theme.  The smoky tones of the Lapsang Souchong evokes thoughts of a warm, cozy fire roaring in the fireplace.  The spices in the chai warmed me from the inside out, helping me to stave off winter’s cold.  And this delicious Moroccan Mint from Earthbound Tea is cool and sweet, reflective of the crisp chill in the air.

I can’t wait to discover what next month’s Steepster Select has in store!

Lapsang Souchong from Dr. Tea’s Tea Garden

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Dr. Tea’s Tea Garden

About This Tea:

The story goes that Lapsang Souchong was first created when the Wuyi region’s annual tea drying process was interrupted by army movement. To compensate for the missed drying period, tea farmers hung their tea over pinewood fires, consequently imparting a distinctive smoky flavor and aroma. Our Lapsang Souchong is sourced by Mark Ukra, co-owner of Dr. Tea’s Tea Garden, who comes from a family of Middle Eastern tea merchants dating back 400 years. Drink Lapsang Souchong plain or try it as a spice or rub for cooking.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

January’s Steepster Select box brought teas that to help warm us up from Winter’s Chill.  The first tea that I tried from the box was this Lapsang Souchong, which is a little unusual for me since it’s one of my least favorite teas (well, not this Lapsang Souchong, but Lapsang Souchong in general is one of my least favorite teas).

But this is no ordinary Lapsang Souchong.  This is easily the best that I’ve ever tried.  Now, I can’t say that I’ve tried a lot of Lapsang Souchong teas, as it is one of those teas that I tend to avoid, but I have tried a few, and I’ve even managed to – slowly – get my palate more accustomed to the unique flavor experience of Lapsang Souchong.  While I am slowly gaining an appreciation for this strong, smoky tea, it is still sometimes difficult for me to get past it.

This Lapsang Souchong from Dr. Tea’s Tea Garden has been a real eye-opening experience for me.  I am not just “appreciating” this tea … I’m LOVING it!

The first couple of sips are quite smoky.  But once I get past those first sips, I find wonderful flavors await me.  I can actually taste the pine here, and that is something that I didn’t really experience in previous Lapsang Souchong tastings.  I may have tasted mere hints of pine in the distance, but, mostly what I tasted was smoke and the caramel undertone.  Here, the pine is quite distinct and it is lovely.

The caramel undertones are there as well, giving a very pleasant sweetness to the smoky overtones.  But what I find especially enjoyable is the way that the caramel undertones meld with the pine notes.  The flavors here are deep and intriguing.

A very unique Lapsang Souchong, and I have Steepster Select for bringing it to me!

Moroccan Mint Green Tea from Earthbound Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Earthbound Tea

Product Description:

Green tea, freshly picked peppermint, and a soothing minty taste. What more do you need?

Taster’s Review:

I have tasted many “Moroccan Mint” teas, but like with Earl Grey teas, just because they have the same name, that doesn’t mean they taste the same.  Some are mintier than others, and some are so minty that you think you’re sipping on mouthwash instead of tea.  Some have so little mint flavor that you might be left wondering if someone mislabeled the package.

But this Moroccan Mint from Earthbound Tea is just right.  It offers a nice balance of both mint and green tea flavor.  Earthbound Tea does not indicate what type of green tea is used in this blend, but based upon the appearance and flavor of the tea I would guess it is a gunpowder green.  It has a lightly sweet flavor with notes of a buttery/toasted nut flavor in the background, which gives a nice contrast to the crisp, vibrant flavor of peppermint.

The two ingredients – peppermint and green tea – are pretty evenly matched.  The peppermint does not overwhelm the delightful flavors of the green tea, which means a clean, minty taste without tasting like a mouthful of toothpaste.  It has a uplifting flavor – just right for that boost that we all seem to need at mid-day!

White Mu Dan Peony from Earthbound Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Earthbound Tea

Product Description:

White Mu Dan Peony or “White Peony” is a rare tea that comes from the Fujian province in China. Only the tips and the beginning of the first two leaves are plucked. When infused, this tea has a unique nutty flavor that is mild and sweet.

Taster’s Review:

There are a lot of tea companies out there, and it would seem that most of them have a White Peony or Bai Mu Dan white tea in their inventory.  However, one shouldn’t assume that just because they are all “White Peony” or “Bai Mu Dan” teas that they are all alike… because I’ve tasted some very good quality Bai Mu Dan teas and some not so great Bai Mu Dan teas.  This one is a very good one!

This is actually one of the stronger white teas I’ve encountered.  It has a very smooth character with deliciously sweet nutty notes.  While many white teas tend to be “delicate” – often to the point of having an undistinguished flavor – this White Peony stands out amongst them.

I would recommend this White Peony to the white tea skeptics out there that find white tea to be too weak or bland.  This White Mu Dan Peony may just change their thoughts about white tea!