Each year Lupicia Tea, a Japanese tea company, comes out with a Sakura collection to celebrate cherry blossom season. The collection changes each year and for 2021 the theme is traditional Japanese culture that has been handed down through the generations, such as crafts and traditional Japanese patterns. The collection is well balanced and features a green tea, a decaf tea, black tea, rooibos, even a sakura matcha! The tins this year are beautiful and feature a lovely floral motive. I have wanted to try teas from Lupicia’s Sakura collection for some time so I decided this year that I would order a few.
The first one I am reviewing is Sakura & Berry. This has a black tea base with salted cherry leaf, rose petal and flavoring. The description says that this has a “sweet strawberry flavor.” The dry leaf smells amazing and actually made me think of when my mom would make me strawberries and cream oatmeal as a kid. I steeped the tea up at 212 degrees for 3 minutes.
I really love this one. The first taste is a nice fruity strawberry flavor, nothing too strong. It actually has the same strawberry flavor as strawberries and cream oatmeal but without the cream aspect. On the second taste I get a hit of the black tea base, it is smooth and mellow. I had hoped that I would get taste of the salted cherry leaf however that didn’t come through in the flavor.
Overall this is a tasty strawberry tea in a beautiful tin and certainly worth trying if you love strawberry-flavored teas. I really enjoy Lupicia tea, in fact their rooibos-based honeydew melon tea is in my top 5 favorite teas of all time! If you are interested in the Sakura collection I would not wait as fulfillment for the US comes from the online Hawaii Lupicia store and they get very limited amounts of inventory on these special edition collections.
Want to Know More About This Tea?
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Lupicia
We are happy to announce the arrival of our seasonal SAKURA & BERRY tea: A blend of Darjeeling and Nilgiri black teas with salted cherry blossom leaves, mixed with sweet strawberry flavor and aroma. Popular as a hot or iced tea, try it with a bit of milk! A LUPICIA Hawaii staff favorite. (Only available in limited quantity)
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
This is one of the more difficult oolongs I’ve tried to decipher.
Some are your basic sudokus while others are kenkens. This one is a different puzzle. A kendoku!
It has mineral quality the twists along with a unique vegetal feel. They say cucumber as a descriptor and I can definitely taste a bit of that fresh vine picked taste but there is also a hint of green bean, freshly chopped. Feel like I am making a salad.
The flavor becomes a bit charcoal heavy as the steepings progress.
One of my nostrils is being difficult so I am having a bit of trouble evaluating what it is that is in my nose.
Citrus maybe? This is very different for one of Master Zhang’s oolongs but it just goes to show his breath of knowledge and tea making prowess.
Want to Know More About This Tea?
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
This tea originally premiered in the Sept. 2020 Tea of the Month Club box! Master Zhang cultivates this rare Cai Cong (菜聪) varietal to encourage biodiversity on his high elevation plot in Daping, Anxi. His careful processing has brought out a surprisingly floral-fruit flavor in this tea along with deep osmanthus florals and a sweet, long aftertaste. The light oxidation of this tea’s traditional finish complements the dessert-like flavors of Cai Cong with a buttery, creamy finish.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
When I see those lovely spiced teas, I always get so jealous. Being one that just doesn’t care for overly spiced teas or chai blends, I always feel like I’m left out of some cool kid’s tea drinking club. I look at them longingly and try them on occasion, but always find myself having to add in a ton of agave or cream to help offset the brew. And yes, I know that is part of the chai tea latte set up, but I want to be able to taste the actual tea itself, not just the add ins.
Enter White Cap Chai from Beach House Teas.
First off, this chai tea doesn’t have your traditional tea base. Instead of having a black or even green tea base, this blend has a lovely white peony tea base that sets the tone in a more subtle way. No fear of having a very bitter or astringent brew where you have to add in sweeteners or cream- no, this tea base has an all around lighter feel.
Add in your traditional spices like fennel seed cloves, peppercorns, cardamom pods, star anise, ginger, orange peel and my favorite part- cinnamon chips- not just a dusting of cinnamon but honest to goodness large enough so you can see cinnamon chips. I should say that about all of the ingredients. No need to squint your eyes to see that these inclusions are high quality and might I add organic.
The brewing parameters on the package had me a bit scared-1 heaping tsp with 6-8 oz- allow to steep for 6-8 minutes at 212F. White tea is more delicate so I was worried about brewing at boiling but after timer went off at 6 minutes worth of steeping, I was so very happy I did. I should have know that Beach House Teas would have my back and not steer me wrong.
Right out of the gate there is this lush slightly floral silky feel and some very bright flavors that provide this wonderful first sip. I instantly fell in love with the cinnamon flavor that has a soft twist of ginger and a hint of the fennel undertones. As this is still a chai tea, those more noticeable chai flavors like cardamom and clove notes are present but they are more apparent towards the end of each sip. Towards the end of each sip and after the sip is over, you are left with this spicy peppercorn touch on your tastebuds.
I eagerly sipped down my first cup and went back to brew more. I’m a huge fan (if you couldn’t tell) of this tea and highly recommend anyone who isn’t a chai or spiced fan to check this tea out. The flavors are light and crisp and are not heavy like a traditional chai or should I say the chais I’ve experienced in the past. Heavier chais do have their time and place, but for me- White Cap Chai has stolen my heart. This may be my new morning tea!
If you are interested in checking out this (and I highly recommend you do!) blend or any others, Beach House Teas is offering a 20% discount for our readers- just enter tealover3 at checkout!
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: White
Where to Buy: Beach House Teas
White Cap Chai is a lighter version of the traditional chai making it delicate and unique. This beautiful chai is made with 100% organic white peony tea leaves and organic spices. It’s a modern twist on a sweet and spicy classic. The chai gives you a smooth, mellow taste with subtle layers of flavor.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
If you’ve been a loose-leaf tea drinker for any amount of time, you’re familiar with 52 Teas. And if you’re familiar with 52 Teas, you know that their constantly-rotating blends are in high demand– due to their limited-edition status, sure, but first and foremost thanks to their delicious sip-a-bility and seriously crave-able flavors. (Raise your hand if you’ve got a hoarded stash of 52 Teas somewhere in your tea cabinet. *raises hand*)
All of this to say: to know 52 Teas is to love 52 Teas. And also to be kind of sad that once your favorites are gone, they are ne’er to be reblended.
… until NOW! Anne and her team at 52 Teas have heard the cries of thirsty tea lovers everywhere and started to offer a permanent line of some of the very, very best sellers– Marshamallow Treat Genmaicha (yum), Pancake Breakfast (yumm), and Graveyard Mist (yuuuuuummmm). You’ll find these three under the special 52 Teas delineation, D’s Teas.
I’ve been sipping on these three for the past few weeks, and friends: they are worthy of not only a permanent spot in Anne’s offerings, but also in your tea cabinet. Keep your eyes peeled for a separate review post to come highlighting tasting notes and other tea musings, but first, I wanted to share some of Anne’s perspectives on why she brought these three back in particular. I had a chat with Anne the other day (all while sipping a fresh, creamy, minty cuppa Graveyard Mist)– read on to hear what she had to say about this new permanent offering from 52 Teas.
Mary: Hi, Anne! Thanks for chatting with me. We all know and love 52 Teas’ ever-changing stock of delicious tea blends. What inspired you to add these three in particular to a permanent rotation?
Anne: When Amethyst and I decided to take over 52Teas, we talked about creating a permanent line of teas because I knew that there were some teas that people would want in stock all the time based on reading other people’s reviews and tasting notes of certain teas. The three that most often came up when favorites were discussed were these three. Then when we took the reigns, I found that I the thing I was asked about most often was reblending teas. I get at least one or two requests per day. The three teas that are requested most often are these three teas, so when we decided it was time to start the permanent collection, I knew I wanted to start small and grow from there – so I chose the three teas that were most often requested knowing that having these teas available permanently would make most of the regular customers happy.
M: What, if anything, is different about the D’s Teas teas as compared to your rotating 52 Teas blends?
A: The biggest difference is that when one of the D’s Teas sells out, it will be reblended as soon as possible and available again soon. Another difference is that there are more large pouches available of these teas – they’re tried and true and most of the customers love them – so when I’m packaging D’s Teas, I package more large pouches and when packaging the rotating blends, I package more taster pouches. Eventually, we’ll have different labels for the D’s Teas.
M: What kind of feedback have you gotten from tea lovers about these three over time that encouraged you to keep them as permanent offerings?
A: We’ve only been doing this for 2 years (we took over 52Teas in June 2015) but when we first started talking about taking over, we did a poll of sorts on Steepster, asking people what reblends they’d want in the start-up Kickstarter. These three got the highest number of votes in that poll. And over the course of these 2 years, when we’d reblend these teas and as soon as they sold out, we’d have people asking for more. I even had one customer order a full pound of the Graveyard Mist at one point. These teas are big fan favorites. I decided that if the people really want these, that I should make them available to them when they want them. I can’t do that for every tea that we’ve made (we’d definitely have a storage space problem if we tried!) but for a few favorites like these three, we can make room for them to be a permanent part of our collection.
M: Which of the three is your personal favorite?
A: I like all three for different reasons, so I think it would really depend upon my mood. Pancake Breakfast is the only black tea of the bunch and I usually personally prefer black teas – especially earlier in the day when I need a caffeine boost. I love the balance between starchy/savory and sweet in this tea – and maple is one of my favorite flavor profiles so this tea has a big place in my tea-loving heart.
When I want something cool and minty, Graveyard Mist is nice. The mint is not overbearing because of the soft, sweet note of marshmallow. I think that this tea, in particular, helped me gain an appreciation for Spearmint. Before really working with this tea quite a bit (since the 52Teas take-over), I would always lean more toward either Peppermint or Wintergreen over Spearmint, but working with this tea helped me to appreciate the subtle nuances of Spearmint – it’s actually a much nicer herb to work with than Peppermint: far less assertive and much more amenable when paired with other flavors.
When I want something sweet and dessert-y, Marshmallow Treat is a tea that I’ll reach for again and again. Marshmallow Treat actually has a little bit of history – when Frank originally crafted the tea, he did so using Matcha infused Genmaicha and mini marshmallows. I fell in love with that blend. The subsequent reblends from Frank were not as good, in my opinion, because he didn’t use the Matcha infused Genmaicha and he switched from mini marshmallows to marshmallow root. I actually prefer the mini marshmallows – I’m not vegan – but now that I’m doing the blending – I also recognize the need to be inclusive and not shut out my vegan customers. I want everyone to feel welcome at 52Teas and not excluded from something we offer which is why we strive to keep all our teas vegan, gluten-free and allergen free (except for coconut). However, now that I’m doing the blending, I do use a Matcha infused Genmaicha. It’s more expensive, but I love the difference it makes to the cup so it’s worth it to me.
M: What types of teas or flavors of blends do you most enjoy creating?
A: Banana is a favorite flavor of mine. I find it kind of funny, I’m not a huge fan of bananas on their own, I’ll eat a banana now and then – I like them but I don’t love them. However, when it comes to banana flavored things, I’m usually a big fan except for Banana Runts, I don’t like them but I’ve been told that sometimes the banana flavored teas that 52Teas creates (before I took over) taste like Banana Runts. I don’t get that – it doesn’t translate to my palate like that, but to each their own, I guess! Other flavors I enjoy working with are marshmallow and maple. The truth is that I really enjoy what I do, so most flavors excite me, especially when I get to taste test the finished product. It’s a pleasure to find out if the flavor worked or not – a bit sad when it doesn’t but it’s kind of fun to find a way to (as Tim Gunn would say) make it work!
M: And finally, I’ll admit– I’ve just always wanted to know this next one. How do you find inspiration for your endless, deliciously-flavored blends?
A: I’m inspired by so many things. I find most of my inspiration from recipes that I happen across on the internet. I’ll see a recipe for a cookie or a cocktail or something and I find myself wondering how that would work in a tea. Shopping also provides inspiration. I get inspiration from customers too – they will often write me with ideas. When I read the tasting notes or reviews from customers, they let me know the things that I’m doing right and the things I’m doing wrong and I find that information invaluable and I try to apply that feedback to my future blends so that I’m continually learning. I love tea – and ultimately, the tea blend needs to pass my own taste test – if I don’t like something, I won’t sell it – but I greatly value the input from others too – because not all palates are the same.
Thanks, Anne, for your abundant tea-knowledge, and sharing your delicious talent with us all! Check in soon for a thorough review of these three fan fave teas.
Here’s the scoop!
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Learn even more about this permanent line of teas and more about 52Teas in general here!
Continuing the Birthday Par-TEA (yep- you can call me a nerd now), I thought I’d share some of my favorite teas that I’m currently obsessing over. Earlier this morning I wrote a post about my favorite vessel for brewing tea- The WALL Tea Infuser from Boreal Wildcraft. So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to chat about the teas I’ve been enjoying with this brilliant mug.
I recently did a review of this tea and am still drinking this tea on a daily basis. I’m a HUGE fan of genmaichas so when you combine that gorgeously toasted tea with a marshmallow flavor. . .I’m 100% on board!
This tea is part of A Quarter To Tea’s Spring Collection. . one that I had to pick up several ounces of. If you are a fan of floral teas, you have to check out Lauren’s Honeyed Apricots and Amonds Chun Mee. After one sip of this tea, I was back on the website buying 2 oz. I’ll be reviewing this tea shortly on its own but just had to share the love for this spring inspired blend.
This blend of marshmallow root, green tea, spearmint, and vanilla provides such a lush and haunting flavor that I’ve declared this tea as my ultimate favorite tea. Graveymard Mist is one of those teas that relaxes me and I’ve found so much comfort drinking this brew. From having sinus infection to having a bad day at work, this tea delivers a spot on flavor that just creates a soothing and relaxing feel. Luckily, our beloved Anne (aka LiberTeas) recently reblended this tea so I was able to get my hands on a new batch. (Thank you, Thank you Thank you Anne!)
My husband and I shared a pot of this tea the other night and this new batch delivers all those same feels as the blends that Frank blended a few years ago. I feel a petition needs to be created to keep this tea in stock at all times.
Wendigo Tea Co is one that really opened my eyes to what a high quality straight tea can deliver. All of Skye’s teas are ripe with amazing robust flavors and the fact that they are all named after different mythical creatures makes these teas even more alluring to me. Highly recommend these teas and they brew up gorgeously each and every time. Plus, the fact that you are able to enjoy these teas for multiple steepings. . .you can’t go wrong.
My personal favorites are Yeti, Bigfoot, and Nessy, but the King Dragon Oolong is something to behold.
Can we just take a moment and chat about this tea company? I mean c’mon. . .combining marvelously high quality teas with dinosaurs. . .it’s such a great match! The logo alone gets me every time. A Dino Tea Party!
Extinction Event is a blend of black dragon and white jasmine pearls. The flavor is phenomenal. Rich and robust with lingering notes of a floral finish. This is another tea I’ve spent many tea sessions with. To make sure that you get an equal flavoring of both teas, Tea Historic has even prepackaged the teas for you for easier preparation. I’m excited to check out the rest of the line of teas they offer.
Being a sucker for a green tea mint combo, I am always on the hunt for different ways to spruce up this combination. And that is where they amazing ladies at The NecessiTeas and BlendBee come into play.
Linsey at The NecessiTeas has graciously reblended and created different blends for me based on her current lineup of teas. She takes dessert teas to a new level! With teas like Strawberry Cheesecake, Carrot Cupake, and her new blends- Jelly Bean and My Peeps. . .I’m gobbling these teas down like it is nobody business.
For being flavored teas, I’m able to even pull out up to three steepings. Flavors are spot on and even though you do have to buy in larger quantities from her site, trust me. . .it is worth it. Her hand blended beauties are teas you just can’t get enough of.
If you don’t follow Linsey on Instagram, I highly encourage you too. Her pictures are amazing and incredibly drool worthy!
BlendBee offers customized teas with fresh quality teas and inclusions that are second to none. Jamah’s attention to detail on each of her blends is outstanding and her customer service is amazing. I’ve had several conversations with Jamah through email where I’ve felt like I’m being a bother and a pain because I’d like this blend this way or this blend that way and she is always so incredibly courteous.
Along with BlendBee’s pre-made blends, you can also create your own. I’ve made blends like Orange Cranberry Yum (don’t judge my names, I’m terrible at being creative- ha!) and Honey Lemon Green. The process is incredibly simple and the fact that you can include different herbals to add in a healthy kick makes the experience even better. I drink BlendBee teas daily and have found myself consistently looking for these blends in my stash to share with others. I’ve even served these teas at my nieces birthday parties and have shared several pots of these teas with my dad.
These are just a few of my favorite teas that I’ve been enjoying but that is what makes tea such an amazing experience. There are so many different brilliant teas out there that I have yet to experience from companies that I have yet to meet. I have so many different teas that really are my favorites that I keep on hand at all times, but these are just a few that have recently captured my love and affection.