Ancient Forest Black Tea from Art of Tea

ancient_forestTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Art of Tea

Tea Description:

A specialty of the southwest province of Yunnan, this unique tea is harvested from ancient trees on the protected land of Jingmai Mangjing’s Blue Mountains. 100% organic, hand picked and sorted, this black tea steeps a rich, earthy infusion with notes of cedar and honey.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The description of the “creamy texture and notes of amber and honey” this tea purports to provide made me particularly eager to try it. It certainly sounds divine, after all. I was even more interested when I learned that the base tea is Yunnan, as it’s one of my favourite black tea varieties. The dry leaf is relatively small compared to some I’ve tried, with no leaf over 0.5cm and some decidedly smaller. They’re mostly a uniform black-brown, but there are a few golden-flecked leaves as well. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-brown, the scent a touch mineral and a touch spicy, with a deeper woodiness underlying.

I liked this one so much straight off that I hardly realised nearly half of it was gone before I’d even really started consciously thinking about the flavour. The first thing to say is that it really is creamy, and that’s with no additions. It has a very smooth, silky texture and an underlying richness of flavour that really makes “creamy” an appropriate word, even if it’s not quite the same creaminess I’d associate with dairy. It’s the only word for it, nonetheless. The initial flavour is a mild earthiness, a little like wet forest floor only not so pungent as that perhaps suggests. I’m reminded of an aged black or a pu’erh, although the flavour here is milder than either of those typically are. It’s definitely in the same kind of territory, though. I get a woodiness in the mid-sip; resinous and a little cedar like. It pairs really well with the underlying earthiness – it seems like they’re two flavours of a kind. The aftertaste is a touch mineral, in the way of wet rock, and is again in keeping with the damp, earthy, fresh flavours I’ve tasted so far. It’s a tea that really holds together well, and one where all the flavours are complimentary.

I enjoyed this one, and it’s a tea I’d definitely drink again if the opportunity arose. It’s flavourful and fairly unique among the teas I usually drink. Certainly an encouraging experience for my first Art of Tea!

Winter Forest Green Tea Blend from ArtfulTea

WinterForestGreenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  ArtfulTea or ArtfulTea on Etsy

Tea Description:

A festive blend of almond and orange with a strong pine-like flavor. Chinese sencha and Japanese bancha combine beautifully with refreshing orange and nutty almonds for a lift in any season!

Ingredients: green tea, orange slices, almonds, pink peppercorns, safflower and natural flavors.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yeah, I know that it’s the middle of summer right now and we shouldn’t be thinking about winter right now, but, when I read the description of this tea, I just couldn’t resist ordering it as part of my ArtfulTea Sampler.  The idea of almond and orange in a green tea was definitely enough to spark my interest, but then when I read “pine” in the description, I was sold!  I needed to try it!

And this is totally yum!  I’m so glad I decided to give this one a try.

The green tea base is a combination of Japanese Bancha and Chinese Sencha, and these two teas impart a sweet, slightly grassy, slightly buttery taste to the cup.  The mouthfeel is thick and soft, evoking thoughts of a rich broth, but it tastes more sweet than a savory broth would.  There is no bitterness to the cup and very little astringency.  The astringency is something that I pick up on when I focus on the sip.  Just after the sip is finished, I start to notice a slight dryness.  It’s very slight – so slight that those who are sensitive to astringency would most likely not even notice it unless they’re actually trying to find it.

The buttery notes of the tea seem to marry well with the almond notes.  I suspect that the green tea has some nutty tones to it that accentuate the almond flavors, elevating them into a strong focal point of the sip.

The orange is a little less dominate than the almond.  The orange is nice though, because it brightens the cup, adding just the right zesty flavor where it’s needed.

And I do taste a subtle pine note to this too.  I’m not sure where it comes from, unless it’s part of the “natural flavors.”  It’s not an overwhelming note, but it is there.  I like it, it adds a certain crispness to the cup, like the sensation of the cool, invigorating air in winter just after the snow has fallen.

If I had to describe this in a couple of words, I would say that this tastes like a winter dessert.  Like an almond cake or pastry with a drizzle of orange icing, eaten on a winter evening just after the holiday tree (a fresh, real tree!) has been decorated.  It’s quite nice!

Forest Fruit Black Tea from Tea of Life

TeaofLifeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

As I start a tea to steep, I find myself wondering – anticipating? – what the tea will taste like.  This Forest Fruit Black Tea from Tea of Life has the flavors of strawberry, blackberry, black currant and cherry, so obviously I was expecting a very fruity tea.

But, what what surprised me – happily! – is that this tastes more of tea than it does of fruit.  Oh, the fruit flavors are there and they’re loud and clear, but, the black tea base is robust and has a strong, solid black tea flavor.  It doesn’t take a back seat to the fruit notes.

Instead, I taste a medley of fruit notes that sit just beneath the black tea notes.  Strawberry pops out first with a sweet-tart cherry note coming in just after.  The blackberry notes seem to weave their way in and out of the sip and are sometimes more difficult to discern than the strawberry and cherry.  The black currant is most recognizable at the finish, when I notice a sort of tart note, and the astringency of the black tea makes that more distinguishable.  It’s almost “wine-ish” at the finish.  The aftertaste is like a blend of the four fruits, with a prominent berry tingle on the tongue.

An enjoyable black tea blend from Tea of Life:  it’s sweet, fruity and flavorful.  I find it especially nice as it gets cooler, making this an ideal choice for iced tea.

Black Forest Tea Blend from Naked Teas Galore

Black-ForestTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Naked Teas Galore

Tea Description:

This tea shares aromatic notes with merlot wine – chocolate, cherries, dried fruit and flowers. To taste, this blend is classic chocolate and cherries. Ceylon makes for a light black tea base – the backdrop for a fudge-y chocolate start and cherry on the finish. Add a splash of milk and a little sugar to mimic the whipped cream topping.

Learn more about this blend here.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda’s Monthly Tea Tasting Box here.

Taster’s Review:

When I read the name of this tea:  Black Forest Tea Blend from Naked Teas Galore, I got excited.  Black Forest to me means the cake – you know what I’m talking about, right?  The dark chocolate cake that’s topped with a glazed cherry topping and whipped cream.  YUM.

But then I read the ingredients.  Carob?  Ick.  Why carob?  Why not cacao shells?  Such an amazing chocolate flavor can be extracted from cacao shells.  I’m a chocoholic and I don’t like carob because carob DOES NOT taste like chocolate … at least not a good chocolate.  It tastes like carob.  It tastes like a poor man’s chocolate.  It tastes like imitation chocolate.  Ugh.

So, now my expectations are not all that high when it comes to this tea.  I’ll still try it and hope for the best.  Let’s see what happens.

OK … so this isn’t too bad.  It’s actually kind of tasty.  The chocolate flavor is a little weak (then again, this is a usual complaint of mine when it comes to chocolate teas, right?)  The cherry flavors come through nicely.  It’s not a super strong flavor, but, it’s enough to let you know it’s there.

The juniper berries offer a sharpness to the cup, again – not an overly strong flavor, but it does add some “focus” that I think this tea would lack if it wasn’t there.  I am also enjoying the rose notes that I taste.  Not something I’d normally expect in a Black Forest cake, but, I enjoyed it in the tea.

The black tea base is smooth and flavorful.  There is a sort of creaminess to the cup that develops as the tea cools, and I find this particular aspect of the tea quite enjoyable.  It is a medium-bodied black tea, so there’s not a lot of gusto to it, but, the flavors and tea meld well together to create a palate pleasing taste.

Overall, it’s not a bad tea.  I taste cherry, I taste a creaminess, I taste black tea.  I even taste a hint of something that could be chocolate if you don’t try to hone in on that particular note.  It’s certainly not as terrible as I thought it might be given that it’s flavored with carob rather than chocolate; I was able to finish the cup without grumbling.

I do still wish that Naked Teas Galore chose to employ cacao shells or nibs rather than carob, but, this tastes alright.  Not something I’d buy again, but I’d drink it again if it were offered to me.

Enchanted Forest Blend from ESP Emporium

EnchantedForestTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green Tea & Yerba Mate

Where to Buy:  ESP Emporium

Tea Description:

This blend of mellow Sencha and spicy, green mate is a real surprise. Richly decorated, it captivates not only with its striking look, but also develops a completely new and aromatic taste. The tempting aroma of Black Forest Cherry cakes, refined with a little sweetness and attractively decorated, make this blend a much sought-after specialty. An exceptional creation which proves that tea always has something new to offer.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

This Enchanted Forest Blend from ESP Emporium is a tasty blend, but, even though I’m not hating what I’m tasting … I’m a little disappointed.  The description suggests “Black Forest Cherry Cake” and I’m not getting that from the aroma or the taste.

What I do taste is a sweet, vegetative green tea, and the earthy notes of yerba mate.  It has a refreshing taste to it and I can definitely feel the invigorating effects of the yerba mate.  It has a fresh, crisp flavor, and I taste very subtle hints of floral tones.  It is a pleasantly sweet, vegetative cup with a light brothy texture.

But, if I’m supposed to be tasting cake-y flavors, well, I’m not.  No black forest, no cherry, no chocolate, no cake.  And there’s nothing in this blend that even suggests at these flavors except for a vague, indistinct tart note that could be very faint insinuation of sour cherry flavor.  But even that note is something that is so barely there that doesn’t even seem worth mentioning.

So, I was hoping for a chocolate-y, cherry Black Forest cake dessert-y type tea blend … but what I got was a blend of earthy yerba mate and refreshing Sencha.  Tasty, yes … but not something I’d recommend to others.